The ecological damage from clearcutting is widely documented, but what
about the spiritual effects of this destruction on practitioners?
The ecological damage from clearcutting is widely
documented, but what about the spiritual effects of this destruction on
practitioners? According to Mayayana Buddhism of Tibet, whether one
improves one’s spiritual condition in future lives depends in part on
whether one takes and destroys or preserves and protects life. Much
killing occurs in present logging practices. A mature fir tree has 60
million needles with a needle surface of an acre. Imagine how many
lives are involved with a single tree and how many are extinguished
when one is cut down. A person who has the good fortune to be born a
sentient human risks being reincarnated into lower realms by a
disregard and disrespect for fellow living things.
In Mahayana Buddhism terms a human being in Oregon today with a
functioning mind would be considered to be in a very auspicious
situation, the result of eons of good lives and acts. This is because
we are fortunate to meet the basic conditions for being able to proceed
further in spiritual development. Those conditions being; living in a
country or location where religious teachings are available, being able
to study them, and possessing a mind that can grasp them.
According to this tradition ordinary existence (samsara) is divided
into six realms or psychological states. Our daily life is spent in one
or another of these realms, and after death we are reborn into one of
them. One of these realms is that of the “pretas”–the hungry ghost
realm. It seems to describe the state of some of our timber industry
friends and supporters.
If one examines the writings and speeches of clearcutters and
deforesters two themes emerge: there is an intense hunger to find
forests to cut and simultaneously the last few years have broken all
records in the amount of forests cut down. What we are seeing is a
simultaneity of poverty and richness. A special kind of insatiable
hunger where the more you possess the more deprived you feel. This is
the emotion that dominates and pervades the realm of the hungry ghosts.
The physical representation of this state is the image of a being with
a gigantic belly, a very thin neck and a tiny mouth. No matter how much
the hungry ghost eats, its stomach can never be filled. It is said that
beings about to be born into the Hungry Ghost Realm are attracted by
visions of; burnt wood, black shapes, forest wastes, stumps and the
Mayahana Buddhists believe that the proper attitude for forest
activists to have towards clearcutters and deforesters is compassion.
While they are causing great damage to the external physical
environment they also create internal spiritual damage to themselves.
But it is not only clearcutters who have much to lose.
Environmentalists must be conscious of the ways in which they engage
and enmesh themselves in issues. Environmentalists who react to
deforesters with paranoid intrigue instead of compassion can bring
about spiritual problems for themselves-possibly by entering another of
the six realms the realm of the “Asuras” or “Jealous Gods”. In this
realm the things seen prior to reincarnation are wilderness, forest
groves and revolving rings of fire. If someone dropped you in the
middle of a wilderness you would have to be on guard against
everything, danger could come from any place at any time. This is the
realm of pure politics, of high intelligence and communications; of
relationships as lifestyle and livelihood. The realm of the diplomat.
Intrigue and winning become occupation and entertainment. Fighting and
quarreling bring continuous misery. The primary color that dominates
the jealous god realm is red.
Altogether there are six realms of Samsara, in ascending order they
are. 1.Hell, 2.Hungry ghost, 3. Animal, 4. Human, 5.Jealous Gods,
If foresters avoid the Hungry Ghost realm and environmentalists avoid
the Jealous God realm we will improve the environment and ourselves.
©2008 Jim Britell
All rights reserved.
May not be reproduced without permission.