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He loved the earth and all things of the earth…He knew that man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew the lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to the lack of respect for humans too.

Luther Standing Bear- Oglala Sioux

Today was one of those rare cloudy but nice days in Seattle, not too hot, not too cold.  I went with a friend and his two boys to the park next door, sat on the park bench and absorbed the atmosphere.  In looking around at the vibrant growth in the trees, grass, and flowers, I thought of a Zen proverb that says “sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.”  I smiled in this thought and our connection with nature.  The power of a seed, the change of seasons, the persistence of growth in even the most difficult circumstances.  Nature persists.

We are part of this cycle, part of a universal organism that exists on this planet and in this universe.  In a hypothesis called the Gaia principle, scientists are telling us the earth itself is its own organism with its vast range of ecosystems all connected.  I believe one day the same comment will be made about the entire universe.  All systems connected as one.  There is no “I” and the concept of “OUT THERE”.  We are one.  Underneath the covers, everything is made out of the same vibrating energy.  All connected…all brothers and sisters in unity with the persistence of life, of growth, and the foundation of love.

This connection and universal love is evident in every thing and moment in life.  Yesterday I read this great article of how a fisherman in South Africa saved a large Great White shark in his fishing nets (link to article:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/media/set/?set=a.377632012272668.75126.275115872524283&type=3).  Since this time the shark seeks him out, follows him, rolls on her back so he can stroke her stomach.  This perceived monster that we fear at its root is love.  All of nature is this foundation of unconditional love.  If you create the context that life is beautiful, and all living things are connected and of love then you will see this love appear in front of you as if a miracle.  It will be as if you were blind your whole life.  In Buddha’s words you will now be AWAKE.

The challenge is we remove ourselves from this context.  We isolate ourselves from this connection.  We isolate groups of human beings into disconnected non equal groups.  We do this with animals and treat them like production items for our consumption.  We do this with the environment.  We do this with ourselves.  We create the context that we do not fit, that we are different and we feel alone. 

I am not a TV watcher, however, my favorite show of all time is the TV series called Kung Fu.  Perhaps this is the root of my martial arts background.  In one of the shows, the young Kwai Chang Caine tells is master that he is alone.  The master asks him what he hears.  He tells him, I hear the birds above, the water below, the wind rustling the grass, and the crickets in the brush.  The master then asks him how he can be alone with all of this around him. 

We are not isolated.  This egotistical thought is the root of our destruction of this planet, of genocide and of our suffering.  Luther Standing Bear points this out in his quote, “he knew when man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”  When we isolate and remove ourselves from our connection to nature and living beings then our heart does become hard.  We lose our connection.  We can remove entire ecosystems without thought.  We walk into the store and buy our packaged meat without any concept of the suffering and pain of another living being.  We can treat other human beings with contempt because of an ideal in our mind that they are different. 

Remove these barriers of isolation.  Connect to all living beings.  Be in nature.  Be with animals.  Be with human beings.  Be connected with your brothers and sisters.  They are all around you.  You are not alone.

Call to Action:

        • Get out of your bubble.  Put time in your calendar to be with living beings.  Put time in your calendar to be in nature, breathe in the air and feel the growth around you.
        • Get present that you are connected to everything.  Get present that your thoughts, words and actions create an impact with the ecosystem that you belong on this planet and in this universe.
        • Be LOVE.

Thomas D. Craig

Author A Cup of Buddha