Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dialogue with Angela on Freedom, Veganism, and the Environment

Is there a new priest at the zen center who is vegan or recommending that Buddhist followers should be vegan? I just wondered if that had something to with you going back to vegan? Are you off cheese too?
I haven't eaten cheese for a long time ... except in some weak moments.

No ... I believe that all the priests other than Trevor eat meat. And Trevor is gone.

I'm feeling much more peaceful not eating meat.

Remember that the monks asked Buddha if he'd make vegan a rule. He said no ... that we'd have to eat what is given to us. And he died from eating bad pork ... that he knew was bad, but did not want to insult the giver.

So the stories go.
I think each person should do what is right for themselves:)
How about if that means depleting the Earth of its resources. I heard yesterday that if everyone on Earth lived as we (Americans) did, we'd need five Earths.

Imagine we are on a ship. There are limited resources on the ship, and we want the ship to go on as long of a journey as possible. We start with the premise that we'll all be free to use and to refrain from using resources as each of us sees fit. Then the environmental committee, charged with creating a sustainable environment, notices that we are depleting resources at an alarming rate. What do we do?

I believe that laws are a last resort, but certainly necessary in a case like this. In Austin, we are just allowed to water our lawns once a week when there is a shortage. I do not see an alternative to some laws like that one.

Each of us is free to follow or break the law. But, obviously, there are usually consequences for those who break it.
I think back on that anime presentation we went to where that man talked about the people in the future mining the landfills for plastic. Who knows what is in the future?

People should be taught to be more mindful of the earth for their own future. It is not enough for them to care about the future of their children. If they were led to believe that they would be reborn on earth to live in the mess that they created then they might be more mindful. Instead they are taught that they will be reborn in heaven where things are good, so they just trash up where they live now. Sad, but the reborn into a living creature and eating the flesh of the living is all mixed into that equation. Who can say what is right and wrong? Who is qualified that walks on this earth? That is what I would like to know.
I like your point that the concept of Heaven doesn't encourage people to take care of Earth. Unless we say that part of the resume that one turns in on judgement day will include how they took care of their spaceship (Earth).

Who is qualified to make judgements? Nobody knows anything for sure. But we need to be able to predict consequences in order to live. I don't drive 100 mph because I predict it might lead to disaster. So I listen to myself and others about the risks of various behaviors and act accordingly. Those who like the "rush" from risks live dangerously. Others live more conservatively.

It isn't a matter of absolutes like right and wrong. It is a matter of “it seems that this (or that) behavior will lead to these consequences.” We are constantly making decisions based on our sense of what might happen if we do or don't.
If I can keep my hummingbird feeders full for the hummingbirds that are stuck here for the cold winter and I can keep my flowers alive for the monarch butterflies that are stuck here too and I do not use poison on my yard and not eat other living flesh animals, then I am doing what I can in a small way. If everyone did something in a small way to make the Earth a better place then it would add up to something big :)
We certainly need a mix of all kinds of people doing all kinds of things. Some say that the situation is too critical on Earth for people to just go about their business. We generally go to war when we see no other options (as trying to stop Hitler in WWII). I do not know if we are at the point where we should drop our paint brushes and blow up industrial complexes. And I have no idea if that would make things worse (though I suspect that it would).

I agree that if everyone did something small it would add up to something big.

2 comments:

Kate Freeman said...

I think back on that anime presentation we went to where that man talked about the people in the future mining the landfills for plastic. Who knows what is in the future? --- Prior poster

The future? People do that now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tRt9Ia3M_8

I do not know if we are at the point where we should drop our paint brushes and blow up industrial complexes. --- Mr. Kim

Maybe you could expand your concept of ‘war’. You don’t necessarily have to blow up an industrial complex. Maybe ‘fighting the war’ could mean speaking out against the wars that already exist in a more open way, for example.

Unless of course you want to blow something up. . . I am actually looking forward to the day there are riots so that I can hurl a brick through a Wal-Mart window without much fear of reproductions. Not because of how Wal-Mart ruins small business or locks employees inside at night or discriminates against older people or fat people or women. . . but because the Wal-Mart ripped me off for $30 over 15 years ago. Bastards must pay.

Anonymous said...

Your wisdom is glowing, it unmasks your Buddha-like modesty. H.