Friday, 23 April 2010

Our precious human rebirth in the context of dirt

Why are human lives so precious, not just being a winner in the human rebirth lottery makes a life precious. A situation with enough wealth, freedom and peace and access or interest in learning as well as authentic wisdom teachings is on this planet a difficult thing to be born into. Its not as simple as just having money, we need to often engage in some activities to create the renunciation it takes to break from the "consumer coma" that we are mindlessly sleep-walking in.

The fact that the title of the film "Dirt, the Movie" may not be of any interest to most of us shows how far removed we have become from something we should all rejoice in. This film does actually reflect on our mistaken grasping and confused world view and many of the people in it are very spiritual or philosophical. One woman says "the value of diamonds is just a concept the real wealth is the dirt or soil that provides us with what we need". This living dirt was once considered common and easily accessible to everyone is becoming less and less available. How can we practice mindfulness and care while we avoid chances to investigate where our food comes from and who benefits or suffers in the acts of delivering this much needed food to our table. In developed wealthy countries the resources we take for granted are too expensive to be kept for the third world countries where they are still being exploited. In these already poor countries even deeper drought and poverty is the result of the choices we make every day.

I believe that the buddha's intention was that we utilise a broad feild of knowledge which will help us to understand the dharma. Cultivation of food, care of the dirt and soil was once considered a central part of human life and common sense. Where fertility existed abundance followed allowing people torelax and have more time to enjoy life or turn to spiritual pursuits. As for me, I have strong concerns about the environment and sustainability but as I have explored this topic I have really come to a conclusion. How can I sit by when my food is produced in ways that result of deprivation of people on the other side of the world. How can I even know the effect of my actions and abandon harmful behaviour if I don't generate an awareness of the truth behind food. Finally how can I live long if I don't care for the lives of others - my actions are not separate and independent.

A simple decision to take an interest in gardening vegetables and doing something unexpected like establishing a garden I found had more in common with a whole generation of people who were raised to understand where food comes from and "grow their own". Suddenly some practical wisdom was opened up to me which was so interesting it pulled me away from endless hours of websites and fruitless discussions, and I decided to do the best I could. There is a story of a hummingbird who "did the best he could" in "Dirt, the Movie". I hope you will be entertained by this fabulous, inspiring film should you be lucky enough to find it.

I choose gardening, even as a monk - if you don't garden and or buy from organic local producers then you participate in a lot of destruction and killing. If you are a buddhist but not protecting the environment aren't you allowing the destruction of that which allows countless beings to find happiness. I am not expecting everyone to get out and start a farm, but start the journey with a few pots of herbs and it will get you thinking. One day you will shudder to think what you have supported once you hear how the soil was lost, due to the same old self cherishing that brings all the suffering in this world. When you become empty of energy, health you might question the food you eat and why it was devoid of nutrition and become shocked at how you ignored all the warnings as just the ramblings of a bunch of fringe greenies.