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Thay’s Teachings of Oneness with Mother Earth Are Embraced by Heather Lyn Mann

14 Jun 2018 2:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

With gratitude to FCM member Carol Green for this article


The environmental community has gone after big issues, like scientists’ reports about melting permafrost in the Arctic and rising seas, but has not brought them down to the personal level, said Heather Lyn Mann, Buddhist spiritual ecologist who spoke recently to the Florida Community of Mindfulness and other groups in the Tampa Bay area.


This big-picture reality is frightening and creates fear and division, she said.  There is another, more mindful, way to look it. Yes, it is reality, but there is hope, and there are things individuals can do by taking a mindful, dharma-based approach.


Mann, of Charleston, SC, is a co-founder of Earth Holders, an organization in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village tradition that sponsors retreats with Plum Village monastics during their annual U.S. tours, publishes quarterly newsletters and offers information and dharma-related insights into lessening harmful climate change.  Their website, www.earthholders.org, also is a resource for plant-based nutrition. Mann’s visit was sponsored by the Buddhist Climate Action Network, led by FCM’s Andrew Rock.

Five million people live in 2.5 million homes less than four feet above sea level in the U.S., she said.  Sea level is expected to rise two to seven feet in this century. “Notice what happens in your body when I say that,” she said.  “Do you feel angry?  Sad? Notice what comes up for you. Sometimes we push away, disagree with each other.  This is multiplied across the world. This is what the early stage of climate discovery looks like.


“I use tonglen. I breathe in that strong emotion, and I breathe out compassion. I encourage you to stay with reality and look at the causes and conditions that brought us to this point. Deep looking requires changes. We have the delusion of separate self in our society, a separation between self and others and separation between self and the Earth. It is a dangerous dualistic form of species arrogance that we can commodify resources and exploit other people for our own benefit. We think we can tolerate harm to the climate because America will be ok and other countries won’t.  But America won’t be ok. Our objectifying is grounded in other-making.


“What is our relationship to the planet?  I hear environmentalists say our species is horrible, or sometimes they say we are superior.  That doesn’t fit for me.  Also, we are not equal to nature; we have to have an ‘other’ to be equal to it. We ARE nature. We are dependently co-arising.  The inside and outside dissolves. We can embrace our reality and oneness. Carl Sagan said, ‘We are the Universe contemplating itself’.


 “In Earth Holders, we approach happiness as the cure for the climate crisis, and one of the ways we can be happy is to fall in love with Mother Earth all over again.


“Falling in love with Mother Earth is equal to heaven on earth.  It’s sacred all the time.  When you are one with the Earth, you can see it has qualities of endurance and stability and accepts everyone without discrimination.  We do not worship it; that would be to create an ‘other,’ but we can be one with it, which puts us in deep communion. Love means ‘to be one with’.”


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