Sangha Reflections: On Earth Medicine

· Earth Initiative, Reflections · ,

Increasingly these days I notice how a play of light, a sound, a smell can send me back in time. I live in the same town I grew up in. During Ango this spring I was struck, during one of these moments when the feeling was particularly intense, by the realization that this place is, in a very real way, a part of me.

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Photo by Partha Chowdhury

Arousing the Aspiration for the Unsurpassable

· Teachings · ,

by Eihei Dogen, translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi

The high ancestor of India [Shakyamuni Buddha] said, “The Snow Mountains [the Himalayas] are like great nirvana.”

Know that this is a precise analogy, intimate and direct. To take up the Snow Mountains is to speak of the Snow Mountains. To take up great nirvana is to speak of great nirvana.

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Photo by Mike Kniec

From Braiding Sweetgrass

· Earth Initiative, Essays · ,

by Robin Wall Kimmerer

My father loves wild strawberries, so for Father’s Day my mother would almost always make him strawberry shortcake. She baked the crusty shortcakes and whipped the heavy cream, but we kids were responsible for the berries. We each got an old jar or two and spent the Saturday before the celebration out in the fields, taking forever to fill them as more and more berries ended up in our mouths. Finally, we returned home and poured them out on the kitchen table to sort out the bugs. I’m sure we missed some, but Dad never mentioned the extra protein.

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Photo by Tambako The Jaguar

The Most Amazing Challenge

· Earth Initiative · ,

by Paul Hawken

The evening before I gave the commencement speech, I threw the original away. That night, at a dinner given for those receiving honorary degrees, I got the distinct impression that some of the trustees and officials were not happy about my being the commencement speaker. I was introduced as Paul “Hawker,” and someone read a desultory bio. I had a crisis of confidence and wondered if I should even be there. I decided that my mandate was to talk to the eight hundred young people who were graduating the next day, not to try to please the bishops and faculty and alumni.

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Photo by Flavio

From The Work of This Moment

· Earth Initiative, Essays · ,

by Toni Packer

Making resolutions becomes a comforting
reassurance that we will accomplish in the future
what we are not ready to do right now.
Postponement is the perpetuation of inattention.

When a dish comes tumbling down from a shelf and one sees it happen, the hand immediately stretches out and catches it. Falling, seeing, and catching are one complete action.

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Photo by Donna Todd

Icebergs and Shadows

· Earth Initiative, Essays · ,

Further Adventures in a Landscape of Hope
by Rebecca Solnit

After the Macondo well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, it was easy enough (on your choice of screen) to see a flaming oil platform, the very sea itself set afire with huge plumes of black smoke rising, and the dark smear of what would become 5 million barrels of oil beginning to soak birds and beaches.

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Photo by Bureau of Land Management

An American Land Ethic

· Earth Initiative · ,

by N. Scott Momaday

One night a strange thing happened. I had written the greater part of The Way to Rainy Mountain—all of it, in fact, except the epilogue. I had set down the last of the old Kiowa tales, and I had composed both the historical and the autobiographical commentaries for it. I had the sense of being out of breath, of having said what it was in me to say on that subject. The manuscript lay before me in the bright light, small, to be sure, but complete; or nearly so. I had written the second of the two poems in which that book is framed. I had uttered the last word, as it were. And yet a whole, penultimate piece was missing. I began once again to write:

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from Life on Mars

· Earth Initiative, Essays · ,

by Tracy K. Smith

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Photo by Shinji Hoffman

Orchard Revival

· Earth Initiative, Essays · ,

by Linda Shinji Hoffman

An apple tree was concerned
about a late frost and losing its gifts
that would help feed a poor family.

Can’t the clouds be generous with what falls from them?
Can’t the sun ration itself with precision?

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Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil

Only Justice Can Stop a Curse

· Earth Initiative, Essays · ,

by Alice Walker

Let me start (but not end) with a curse-prayer that Zora Neale Hurston, novelist and anthropologist, collected in the 1920s. And by then it was already old. I have often marveled at it. At the precision of its anger, the absoluteness of its bitterness. Its utter hatred of the enemies it condemns. It is a curse-prayer by a person who would readily, almost happily, commit suicide, if it meant her enemies would also die. Horribly.

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