In 2013, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a book about the importance of humanity recognizing our connection to the Earth and to each other. In this excerpt, he gently reminds us to listen to the bells of mindfulness that ring every day to wake us up to our dire global situation. When we are awake, we can use our power to decide our destiny. Are you awake and walking mindfully on Mother Earth?
By Thich Nhat Hanh
The bells of mindfulness are sounding. All over the earth we are experiencing floods, droughts and massive wildfires. Sea ice is melting in the Arctic and hurricanes and heat waves are killing thousands. Before us are forests are disappearing and the deserts are growing. We are becoming extinct every day while ignoring the ringing bells.
All of us know that our beautiful green planet is in danger. Our way of walking on the earth has a great influence on animals and plants. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the condition of the world. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps. We have to hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet. We have to start learning how to live in a way that a future will be possible for our children and grandchildren. If we continue to live as we have been living, consuming without a thought of the future, emitting dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide, then devastating climate change is inevitable. Much of our ecosystem will be destroyed. See levels will rise in coastal cities will be uninvited, forcing hundreds of millions of refugees from their homes, creating wars and outbreaks of infectious disease.
We need a kind of collective awakening. There are among us men and women who are awakened but it is not enough. Most people are still sleeping. We don't have to sink into despair about global warming and: we can act. Urgent action must be taken at the individual and the collective levels. We have the power to decide the destiny of our planet if we awaken to our true situation, there will be a change in our collective consciousness.
The key to the future of the world, is finding the optimistic stories
and letting them be known. ~ Pete Seeger
Scientists are now calling this geological epoch, the Anthropocene, the 6th greatest extinction in the history of the earth. The actions of human beings have been as destructive as the asteroid that hit the earth 65 million years ago. We have accelerated the extinction of species to dangerous levels and permanently damaged the biosphere of our one and only planet. We have degraded the air we breath, the water we drink and the land we live on. It now takes a planet and a half to satisfy our current life style. We live on the brink of global catastrophe and yet we are still waging war against the “other”.
Like Cain from the old Bible story, we have not learned how manage our fear and anger so we can solve our inner conflicts. Like Cain, we blame the other. Now the weapon we use is not a knife but nuclear missiles capable of destroying all life on earth. We have not learned the simple lessons that every spiritual teacher has taught us-- to love one another. Instead, we often live entranced by media stories, ignoring the reality of the suffering we cause on this planet. This trance will lead us further down the road to extinction if we do not wake up.
The world needs a miracle right now. Miracles are possible. A miracle is something that happens when you change your story, when you wake up and change the way you think. Stories are the key. And we are all natural story tellers. We tell ourselves stories every day to make sense of our daily experiences. Stories speak to our deeper selves, our subconscious minds and our emotions. Stories have the power to transform our thinking, to motivate us to reclaim our voices so that we turn around and begin walking on the road towards evolution. It’s not too late. We have just enough time. Are you ready to walk with us?
The modern myth of human progress through worshipping the gods of science, technology, democracy, and capitalism has fallen on hard times. Despite the extraordinary expansion of knowledge and a cornucopia of inventions, it is becoming disturbingly apparent that things have not turned out the we had anticipated. Industry and technology have given us dazzling products with one hand and robbed us of clean air, pure water, healthy soil and natural landscapes with the other hand. The gleaming edifice of democracy has become tarnished by special interests and public apathy. Human values of decency and civility, a feeling of community, common-sense morality — all are being undermined by the vast juggernaut of technological change, multinational mega-corporations and a bureaucratic government that has lost the support of the people.
On a psychological level, our global anxiety partially stems from the fact that human beings today no longer grow up with one universally accepted cultural myth. A culture’s myth provides a common lens of fundamental beliefs, values, icons and images through which its members view reality. In today’s global village, the ordinary person now has hundreds of such myths and paradigms competing for his or her loyalty.
Whether a peasant farmer in a remote African village or an office worker in an American metropolis, each inhabitant of this planet is exposed to an unprecedented variety of belief systems. Our minds are oversaturated with contradictory world views. Anxiety thrives on this uncertainty and confusion. Joseph Campbell speculated that:
the failure of mythology and ritual to function effectively in our civilization may account for the high incidence among us of the malaise that has led to the characterization of our time as “The Age of Anxiety.”[i]
What if there was a compelling universal global myth that could unite us all as one family with a common origin and a shared destiny? We have recently written a new, inspiring myth that can help you respond effectively with the anxiety of living in the world today. Stay tuned and we will let you know when it is published.
[i] Joseph Campbell, Primitive mythology (New York: Penguin, 1969/1976).
Stories are powerful. They shape our reality and influence our thoughts and actions. It is clear that the story of Make America Great Again is not going to solve the social, economic and environmental problems our country and the world face today. We need a story that will make the whole world great again; a story that unites us, not divides us. Because the truth is, we are all in this together. We are one family living on one planet.
If you are feeling anxious about what the next four years will bring and are looking for a story that will energize and uplift you, then this story,was written for you. It tells how humanity woke up from the trance of Empire, stopped fighting and created a happy healthy planet. Weaving history and psychology, science and indigenous wisdom into an epic story of life on this planet and beyond, Human Earth Awakening transforms "his/story" into a "his & her story" that includes the global voices of men and women, native peoples and Mother Earth herself.
In these challenging times of social unrest, eco-catastrophe and spiritual crisis, this story resurrects an ageless vision of love and peace. The first step to social change begins with a clear vision which can lead to an evolution of mind, body and spirit.
Let's step into a future of possibilities and solutions together, remembering our deep connection to one another and to the Earth.