As long as I remember, I have viewed our Western and Global way of life as unsustainable. I always felt there was/is something wrong: war. I kept hearing Wake Up Calls: the two World Wars, the decision to develop the Atomic Bomb, the Nuclear Arms Race, the Vietnam War, growth capitalism, population growth, environmental degradation. Wake Up Calls! Many individuals have heard them. Sometimes institutions hear, but mostly the calls have been unheeded institutionally and societally.
Now we finally have a ‘Wake Up Call’ everyone will hear: Global Warming, the 6th Extinction, the Anthropocene, Mass Extinction. The WAKE UP CALL of the ENTIRE EARTH. Dogen says, “The Entire Earth is the True Human Body.” Now the Entire Earth is Calling!
The biophysical capacity of the earth has been exceeded; there is no way to go back. We have already destabilized the entire earth: our True Human Body. Already there has been immense species extinction. Now we are on the endangered list.
My line is: “This is the Last Century of Life as we have known it.” And we need a ‘line’ to remember, to remember and accept, and to re-member: reforming our world within ourselves, with others, and with the Human Body of the Entire Earth.
What are we going to do? The job of Buddhism is to heed Wake Up Calls. First of all, we need changes in how we live individually and institutionally.
And next? There is no way to know. It will be a cascading complexity. But I want this Sangha to use the next 10 years to investigate and evolve what we can do as a Sangha in Europe and in the United States to alleviate and to respond with courage and creativity.
I want us to use this next decade to develop our Sangha, Individually, Dharmically, and Institutionally. And I want us to establish the leadership and shared vision necessary to respond Compassionately, Wisely, and effectively (to whatever extent possible) – and again: Compassionately!, Compassionately! – to this ongoing, transformational tragedy!
At present, there are no governmental agencies or societal structures on the planet that have the means to respond effectively to this transformation – now already in. As yet, there is no common will and no common recognition, except, I believe the widespread global unrest suggests the world already knows unconsciously.
I don’t know how I say this so calmly. Nevertheless, we need to start with calmness and acceptance – and go from there – here. I have always laughed at end-of-the-world predictions. Now we have one I can’t laugh at! Let’s not have the inaction of blind hope. Let’s have informed, intelligent. Hope!