Thanksgiving 2015: World’s role in our liberation
It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation.
Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up — release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature.
For some of us, our love of the world is so passionate that we cannot ask it to wait until we are enlightened.
— Joanna Macy
Today my students bring in their “up” drafts — their first complete draft of their problem-solution-action 8-10 page research paper, the draft they’re in the process of fixing “up” after getting their ideas down. Their “dental” drafts are due next Monday–this is the draft where they and readers check every tooth– and then their final drafts are due on Weds. Dec. 2.
I am grateful this Thanksgiving to those students who have allowed themselves to feel the pressure from the world, to wake up, to care, to put their attention to solving a problem in the world: to not just talk about the problems they see in the world and point to fingers at “those” people who should do something, but who have actually gone and done something, or are in the process of doing something.
And in that process of doing, of taking action, to feel the guiding presence of the world.
“Educating” others is not enough. We each need to take action. The world can’t wait.
Why? Because not enough people aren’t listening, paying attention. The “education” is all around. Few people want to do the hard work of changing, of remembering to bring their reusable water bottles, plates, etc. Our life of consumption is so easy, too easy.
Saturday I took my husband and a friend to see Gyre: The Plastic Ocean, where a group of artists explored the lasting legacy of plastic by using found plastic objects as their media in a traveling exhibit from the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. The show closed Saturday Nov. 21 at USC Fisher Museum of Art . We were the last people there.
Both consider themselves environmentalists. But this art show shocked them, and fortunately I knew enough about the issues and questions they raised to help them understand that we can’t just sweep up all the plastic in the ocean: 10-20 million tons of which end up in the oceans each year according to World Watch: “A recent study conservatively estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing a total of 268,940 tons are currently floating in the world’s oceans.” That’s a lot of plastic, but the oceans are huge and it is broadly dispersed and in many tiny pieces.
The only solution to the destruction of our oceans and our planet is for each of us as individuals to change our behavior, to understand how hard that is, and to find ways to work together to change.
We must stop using so much plastic. We must understand that there is no “away”– no “there.” There is only HERE. And here is a special place. Our only place. And if we don’t change, we will have no place.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr: Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
I’m doing what I can. And every day I do my best to do it better as an individual, as a mother, and as an educator.
This Thanksgiving, what are YOU grateful for?
Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo Weekly Wake-ups provide a thread of inspiration to set the week on the path to awakening. A caretaker of a tradition, Leslie is one of the only westerners trained in the rare Buddhist art of silk applique thangkas, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave his blessings to Leslie’s work and encouraged her to make images that speak to the spiritual aspirations of people across religions and cultures. Her fascinating story is the subject of the acclaimed documentary film, Creating Buddhas: the Making and Meaning of Fabric Thangkas.