Climate change ... and Coming back

The following extract is taken from 'Finding the eye of the storm' by Mary Jayne Rust, published in 'Depth Psychology and Climate Change - The Green Book', edited by Dale Mathers:

 'Getting to know the more-than-human world offers rich metaphors and mirrors for the self, we come to know ourselves as human animals. As we move down into the body, the constant chatter inside the head falls away and our other-than-rational ways of knowing come to the fore - intuitive knowing, five senses knowing and emotional knowing. These different ways of knowing are described by Jeanette Armstrong of the Native American Okanagan tribe. According to Okanagan teachings, an individual human is made up of four capacities which operate together: the physical self, the emotional self, the thinking, intellectual self and the spirit; self. These capacities are parallel to 'mind' and connect us with the rest of creation' (p. 24).

And from the introduction of ' Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet' by Thich Nhat Hanh we hear:

'The beauty of the Earth is a bell of mindfulness. If you can't see it, you must ask yourself why. Maybe something is blocking the way. Or maybe you are so busy looking for something else you can't hear the call of the Earth.' (p.1)

'Mindfulness helps us stop the distraction and come back to our breathing, paying attention only to the in-breath and out-breath, we stop our thinking and, within just a few seconds, we awaken to the fact that we are alive, we are breathing, we are here. We exist. We are not non-existent . "Ahhh," we realise, "I am here, alive." We stop thinking about the past, we stop thinking about the future, we focus all our attention on the fact we are breathing. Thanks to our mindful breathing we set ourselves free. We are free to be here: free from thinking, anxiety, fear and striving.'

'When you wake up and you see that the Earth is not just the environment, the Earth is us, you touch the nature of interbeing. And at that moment you can have real communication with the Earth. That is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship, you will have there love, strength, and awakening you need to change your life.' (p.2).


Any practice where we focus on the body, or on the breath in the body, can bring us back into connection with ourselves; with the earth beneath us, and possibly to the sky, stars and galaxies beyond.

To some, all this this may sound fanciful, but in our frankly divided, separated and alienated world, even the possibility that connection, interconnection, or 'interbeing', through the simple human act of sitting, lying down or walking mindfully on this earth, can bring us back to greater ease and balance, offering us a different way of 'being with' this earth, may well give us possibilities for acting on this planet with greater care, love and compassion. 

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One Blade of Grass

And here's an extract from Henry Shukman's autobiographical book, 'One Blade of Grass' :

'All I had really wanted, all along, was to be taught to love this world, and now I had. Even if there were another, better world, I didn't want it. Zen opened an unknown wellspring that gushed like the watch fire of love, the Roman candle in the heart I first tasted many years ago on the beach in South America: a fount of love that never ceased welling up. As Juan de la Cruz said in the sixteenth century:

'How well I know that fountain which gushes and flows

though it be in the dark of night.

After which there is nothing to do but share and serve.

In the end it's all a fairy tale. In the end, all Zen saves us from is ourselves. It may be a little inaccurate but not unreasonable to say that in the end, all Zen is is love.' (p.322)

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What you practice grows stronger

From Tara Brach’s ‘ Trusting the Gold’: -

‘If you practice obsessive worry or blame, these pathways in your body and mind become deeply grooved and familiar. They imprison you in a small, tight, and endangered sense of self.
If you practice thoughts of gratitude, curiosity, and care, the ego-self becomes porous and your goodness easily shines through.                                                                            You can choose what you practice. Why not choose to cultivate the goodness and let the gold shine through?’ (p.49)

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Original Love

The following is an excerpt from the first online 'Original Love ' programme led by Henry Shukman  (

'...that deep love is already here and we can most definitely get tastes of it long before we have any awakening ... practice all the way through should be, can be, about getting those tastes - we don't have to be struck by lightening ... we can get real tastes, in all manner of ways, of the belovedness of existing .. right now, you don't have to be some enlightened master, whatever that might be, I certainly don't know, but you don't have to be that, in order to taste this love, and when we taste love, we're good, it's almost as simple as that.. we humans .. we go through an awful lot of suffering, some more, some less ..but basically, everyone's going to get some of it, and we're all going to lose everything in the end anyway, and we all know that, so we're in a precarious situation. But we're also in an incredibly beautiful situation because we've got this precious, precious awareness, and we've got these precious hearts, and when our hearts are touched by love, or open to love, even the tiniest little bit, somehow our life, in some way, is okay, even when we're facing very difficult losses, very grievous situations - if we can find, just open a crack to love - it makes all the difference. And this is what practice ie really about, I believe, is opening up to little tastes of love, and a little taste is all you need. It's like water, there's the great ocean, and there's the little muddy puddle in a parking lot, and a little muddy puddle is the same water. So whether you get vast love of awakening, or a little drop of dew from a smile from a child, it's the same love, and that's all we really need, I've come to believe .. ' (July 2021)

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What it Means to Be a Human Being

Two extracts from the Henning Mankell's 'Quicksand - What It Means to Be a Human Being', published in 2014, just a year before his death.

The first forms part of the Dedication:

'This book is also dedicated to the baker Terentius Neo and his wife, whose name we don't know. Their faces can  be seen in a fresco painting at their house in Pompeii.

Two people in the prime of life. Their expressions are solemn, but they also appear to have a spiritual dimension. She is very beautiful, but looks unsure of herself. He gives the impression of modesty.

They seem to be two people who take their lives extremely seriously.

When the volcano erupted in AD 79, they can't have had much time to grasp what was happening. They died there, in the middle of their lives, buried underneath the ash and the glowing lava.' 


The second is from the Epilogue:

'Endless numbers of people surround you as you travel through life. Some you notice briefly, then forget. With others you make eye contact, which leads to a kind of emotional connection. And sometimes you have a conversation with some of these people.

And then you have your family, your friends, your workmates. All those who are close to you. Some move away, or your relationship cools, or they let you down in some way, and friends sometimes become enemies..

But most are simply folk who happen to live at the same time as you do. Miillions of people who pay a short visit to the earth, whose stay overlaps your own.

Since being diagnosed with cancer I often dream about walking along streets where lots of people are jostling their way past others. It can be quite difficult to make progress. My dream sometimes places me briefly in a theatre, or a cafe, or in an aeroplane: I am searching for someone. Someone who knows me, someone who is also searching for me.

Then the dream ends and I nearly always wake up with a feeling of great relief. There is nothing frightening about all these people who accompany me or have accompanied me as I journey through life. It is more a feeling of curiosity about who they actually were - I would have liked to get to know so many of them better.

Such as the woman in the Stephansdom cathedral, the tango dancers in Buenos Aires, or the girl in the camp in Mozambique who was reunited with her parents.

And the lumberjack and the businessman he killed in northern Sweden sixty years ago.

All these unknown people exist alongside me. For a short time they have been part of my life. I share it with all of them.

Our real family is endless, even if we don't know who some of them were when we met them for an extremely brief moment.'  (p 302 -303)


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