We live in a modern industrial society and what is amazing is if you look at the Tibetan lineage of Buddhism, this important figure, Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to Tibet around 800 AD, made a prophecy that said “When iron birds fly and horses run on metal wheels, the dharma will go west to the land of the red man.”
That is really precise! It wasn’t “People will feel things and it will be challenging,” though that probably is true. It was not general, it was very specific. It is really wild.
Now that wasn’t the only prophecy that Guru Rinpoche made. There was another prophecy that said at this time the world would be in an age where the emotions would be more out of control than ever before. The five poisons, the inner emotions of greediness and hatred and spacing out and jealousy and haughty pride, these things would increase and the speed of the society would increase. The sense perceptions would kind of become duller. Crops would change, there would be viruses. It’s called the five degenerations.
Also in that prophecy it said that due to the connection between the inner states of mind of human beings and the outer five elements of space, wind, fire, water and earth, because we live as subjective beings in a biosphere, and our inner emotions have effects on the outer environment, our five poisons would become out of balance. We would poison the elements and throw them out of balance. There would be extreme weather events and natural disasters. This is all really there. It has been around for a long, long time, before anyone could reasonably know that this was going to happen.
What is so interesting to me is just how precise a description it is of our problem. It is describing that the inner states of mind of humans have the power to shape and affect the biosphere we live in, and when we get out of balance inside of our own perceptual system, it is reflected in the environment around us. That is what I find most important about these prophecies. It’s not even that they’re prophecies. The point is right now in our mind stream, in our heart and our perceptions, we can go “Yes. Right.” We simply cannot deny that we do have this huge systemic problem.
Pollution is what was meant by “poisoning the elements,” literally pollution, with these inelegant, self absorbed processes designed to benefit the very few at the harm of very many.
There is an engineer, William McDonough, who wrote a beautiful book called “Cradle to Cradle” and he talks about how any design made by humans should benefit future children and generations and be as completely harmless to the environment as a tree. He said the ultimate invention is a tree, it sequesters carbon, turns it into oxygen, self replicates and its waste recreates new life. We should be so cool.
What if we truly made things that are completely infinitely recyclable and totally nonharmful to the environment? That would be perfect engineering.
Guess what that is? Nature.
So this is my view that ultimately we are in an evolution or a journey where we may or may not succeed, but the idea would be to be able to get in balance inside of ourselves so that what we do outside reflects that. It’s so simple.
The ecology of the heart is the ecology of the world, and the world is one heart, it’s one thing, one living being, with trillions of eyes.
What comes up when you hear this broad view? You might take a moment to reflect and perhaps journal your thoughts.
In my next post, I’ll talk about some of the ways we forget we’re part of things, get eclipsed into a small view, and some of the ways we can nurture ourselves into remembering a much larger view where we are part of things.