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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
66 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 1 5 we live together and relate to our environment also need to be reconstructed in order to become more sustainable and socially just. Buddhism provides a wonderful archetype that can bring individual and social transformation together: the bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas have a dou- ble practice—as they deconstruct and reconstruct themselves, they also work for social and ecological change. Actually, these are two sides of the same practice. As we start to see through the delusion of our separateness, our deep-rooted, self-preoccupied habits don’t suddenly disappear. We need to develop less self-centered and more compassionate ways of living in the world, but how do we do that? By devoting ourselves to the well-being of others, including the health of the earth’s ecosystems. Such concerns are not distractions from our personal practice but deeper manifestations of it. Bodhisattvas are able to act in the world with equanimity because they are unattached to the fruits of their actions, which is not the same as detach- ment from the state of the world. Nonattachment is essential in the face of the inevitable setbacks and frustrations that activism involves, but it does not mean that one is unconcerned about the results of one’s efforts. Given the urgency of the challenges, we work as hard as we can. When our efforts do not bear fruit in the ways that we hoped, we naturally feel some disappointment, but we do not remain stuck there. Nonattachment lets us move forward in the face of despair. Will our efforts be in vain? Have we already passed ecological tipping-points? We don’t know, yet rather than being overwhelmed by the unknown, bodhisattvas embrace “don’t know mind,” because the task of the bodhisattva is to do the best one can without knowing what the conse- quences will be. Given the urgency of the ecological and social challenges that face us today, are we not all called upon to become bodhisattvas? Hurricane Gordon photographed from the International Space Station, 2006 ©unitedstatesGovernmentWorks