The Heart of the Matter

April 8th, 2016 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on The Heart of the Matter

climateChangeImageEvery movement that has ever been successful in it’s aim, relies on three very fundamental, and very dynamic aspects of being – wisdom, passion, and love. These are the ingredients that create an effective revolution, if you will. And yes, even a revolution must have the balance of love. Case in point, look at the leadership of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. There were many who felt the pain, the hate, and the frustration of a segregated America, and how we relegated the African American Community to a second-class status. But it was under the leadership of Dr. King that true freedom was able to come to Black America. He clearly possessed the wisdom and the passion, but the real key to success, was the love. He didn’t approach the Civil Rights fight with anger, with malice, or with hate. He had love in his heart, and that balance is what ultimately broke through.

And yet, it can be extremely difficult to connect with the love, especially when what you’re fighting against is rooted in hate, or ignorance, or greed. The environmental movement, or the fight to bring awareness to the issue of Climate Change, could benefit from some focused leadership that reflects the wisdom, passion, and love that we saw with Dr. King. We have the wisdom, and we have the passion in plenty… but we need more of that balance of love.

Let me introduce you to Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who now lives in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Hanh was actually nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize during the Vietnamese War, by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King. In his book, LOVE LETTER TO THE EARTH, Thich Nhat Hanh makes the case that it is love, specifically our love for the Earth that will ultimately be what saves the planet as our home. In his own words:

At this very moment, the Earth is above you, below you, all around you, and even inside you. The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth. We often forget that the planet we are living on has given us all the elements that make up our bodies. The water in our flesh, our bones, and all the microscopic cells inside our bodies all come from the Earth and are part of the Earth. The Earth is not just the environment we live in. We are the Earth and we always carry her within us.

Realizing this, we can see that the Earth is truly alive. We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. Knowing this we can begin to transform our relationship to the Earth. We can begin to walk differently and care for her differently. We will fall completely in love with the Earth. When we are in love with someone or something, there is no separation between ourselves and the person or thing that we love. We do whatever we can for them and this brings us great joy and nourishment. That is the relationship each of us can have with the Earth. That is the relationship each of us must have with the Earth if the Earth is to survive, and if we are to survive as well.

If we think about the Earth as just the environment around us, we experience ourselves, and the Earth as separate entities. We may see the planet only in terms of what it can do for us. We need to recognize that the planet and the people on it are ultimately one in the same.

Hanh’s book, LOVE LETTER TO THE EARTH is a beautiful treatise on the potential relationship we could ultimately have with the Earth, and we can effectively win the battle against climate change. He represents the missing ingredient for the success of the environmental movement. We have plenty of wisdom, and plenty of passion going for us, but no one better represents the heart and soul of the Earth’s ecology than Thich Nhat Hanh.

I would highly recommend reading his very powerful and very beautiful book, LOVE LETTER TO THE EARTH. I am confident it will change the way you approach the issue of climate change. It’s a very short and easy read – 140 pages. If you have a Kindle, tablet, or iPad – it can be downloaded for $7.99.

Why not spend the next couple of evenings hanging out with Thich Nhat Hanh. Orange is the New Black and The Walking Dead will still be there, and Nextflix will make sure you don’t miss a single episode. Enjoy the read… and keep an open heart.