Zen & Ecology
Ekos Executive Director Sean Weaver is a Zen Teacher in the Diamond Sangha Zen lineage. Here Sean explains a Zen approach to environmental practice.
What Does Zen Ecology Look Like?
“Well, when we experience the unity of our connection with nature, we cannot see it as separate from our self or our culture. Many people who work the land become very intimate with that place and it seeps into their bones. When this place is violated with pollution or some form of degradation, this is felt very personally. Such people become compelled to look after it and defend it. This leads to a deep sense of compassion for the land.”
Does this compassion extend to people?
“If it didn’t it would not be truly compassionate. When we see deeply into our interconnected world, nature can hardly be worthy of concern whilst people are somehow unworthy. We do away with ‘us-and-them’ – this distinction is irrelevant. Instead we grapple with the challenge of how to care for our ecological and cultural community. The needs of people who are involved in damaging nature also become our needs. We solve environmental problems by solving these human problems of people who we identify with.”
How would this influence an approach to environmental issues in politics?
“For a start, we would not use adversarial approaches. Anyone who has truly tasted interconnection, recognises that inclusiveness and kindness are far more potent and enduring than divisiveness and hatred.”
Isn’t that just a bit idealistic?
“Ghandi changed the course of history in India through inclusiveness and non-violence. But he and his movement were also very assertive. It is a bit like this.”
And what about issues?
“When we are prepared to walk in someone else’s shoes, and avoid insulting them as the default mode of communication, we can tap into the vast political resource of common ground and mutual benefit.”
“We do not crawl in the gutter of blaming and judging. We bear witness to a problem and we act to solve this problem with our whole being – with all of our wisdom. This has integrity, potency and power in a very tangible and practical way. We can undo conflict and cultivate middle path solutions. We then have the capacity to constructively solve the countless environmental and resource management problems that are destined to arise. And each time we do, we grow stronger as a community.”