Paper kills trees. Killing trees equals deforestation. Deforestation means a net increase in global warming. An increase in global warming results in the melting of the polar ice caps; polar ice caps melting causes floods and massive changes in the environment. Massive changes in the environment parlay famine and geo-ecological disaster.
Everything is related.
When I was asked to write a paper about Zen and the environment I was tempted to scrawl “paper kills trees” on a used paper shopping bag and hand it in. Zen isn’t about the environment; the environment is about Zen. The truth is that writing this paper will not stop the war in Iraq, the burning of fossil fuels, the prohibition of hemp, or any other issue related to human devastation of the planet.
If you really wanted to us to learn about or change the environment; you should have had us collect cans or do community service of some sort. As Lao-Tzu said the Dao that can be spoken is not the eternal Dao. Suzuki talks about an empty mind. How we choose to fill it is completely our option.
Now, in so much as this paper, the monitor I view these symbols on is ecological terror, not capable of being disposed in a standard land fill; the ink it is printed with is made with toxic chemicals, the CPU that enables me to use this machine will be obsolete and relatively worthless in a few years, the heat in the building I am typing in is provided by fossil fuels. How can I truly make a Zen statement about the ecosystem when I consciously sit here and abuse resources?
Zen or Daoism isn’t about writing or talking or any other form of discourse. Zen is experience. Now, Mr. Evans I hate to do this here---but you are forcing me to say what Mr. Hansen at NSU was so fond of telling me about my druggie left wing Eastern thought inspired stories, you are preaching to the converted.
The way isn’t something that can be taught. Remember the stories about the harder you try to attain enlightenment; the more fleeting it becomes. It transcends the old maxim “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” In the Eastern systems of thought you can’t even lead the horse to the water. The horse has to come on his own. In fact, the water may not even be real.
Snyder tells us in “Buddhist Anarchism” that first there must be a personal awakening; then a social one. The thing is most people aren’t going to get it. Having a group of college sophomores and freshman at state school in a rural part of nation read anthropologies and talking about your life in China isn’t really doing the environment any good; nor is forcing the tenets of Zen/Buddhism/Daoism/Hindi/ thought down their throats achieving anything.
Dostoevsky says in Crime and Punishment that some know and some don’t. You will never be able to change that. Everything is related, my reaction to your assignment along with your reaction to my paper etc… The circle of life as the Lakota would put it. And by this very same logic, I can tell you that actual experience regarding ecological issues is far more likely to create an awakening in the minds of our youth; then writing a short paper on Zen and the environment.