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It’s Bleak and a Buddhist Monk Offers Suggestions

annapolis green reads

“We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be.” – John Holdren, a Harvard energy expert, as quoted in the book, The End of Ice.

The End of Ice book coverThe End of Ice by Dahr Jamail was a challenging read for many of us. There were no reassurances that all will work out for the environment and for humankind. Jamail wrote about what he has seen on his global adventures of the disruption to the environment caused by the climate crisis and he supports his observations with facts. With such a well balanced book, denial is not an accessible space for us to embody. Instead, he calls for an acceptance and an appreciation of what is still here in the present moment. There is a spiritual aspect to his perspective which some of us in the group found comforting. We also found it a stark and stunning wake up call and thought that many more people should read this book to recognize the level of degradation of the environment.

As Jamail says on page 216, “No one knows if the biosphere will completely collapse. Our future is uncertain. Given the fact that a rapid increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere coincided with previous mass extinctions and that we could well be facing our own extinction, we should be asking ourselves, ‘How shall I use this precious time?’ Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us of the value just in being present with what is happening to the planet: ‘When your beloved is suffering, you need to recognize her suffering, anxiety, and worries, and just by doing that, you already offer some relief.’”

Thich Nhat Hahn, the renowned Buddhist monk, addresses suffering in many of his books. He referenced the environment a bit in his book, The Art of Living, and offered this lovely sentiment: “Mother Earth is always doing her best to be as beautiful and fresh as she can be, to be as accepting and forgiving as she can be… And we, who are children of the Earth, can learn from her. We can learn to be as patient and tolerant as she is. We can live in such a way that we cultivate and preserve our freshness, beauty, and compassion.” His writings have been very helpful to me as I move from hope toward acceptance. From a place of acceptance, I can feel motivated to act with clarity and not feel quite so devastated by the harsh reality around me.

the water knifeOur next book is The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction novel. We will discuss it on Monday, September 27 at 7 pm. If you would like to join our discussions, please contact me.


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