Category Archives: sustainable living

Death By Peanut Butter

remember running free? ~d nelson

remember running free? ~d nelson

It’s said some stared in disbelief
& others turned away
while a brave few spoke out
from their hearts.

peanut butter jar ~d nelson

peanut butter jar ~d nelson

At one time they’d all
been human beings,
stopping to smell flowers,
moving towards total,
collective awakening.

flower calling out

flower calling out

But slowly the masses consumption,
with all of nature on the menu,
transformed them into mindless rats
racing towards their
just reward awaiting
baited in traps.

creamy illusion

creamy illusion

It tastes so good, he said.
It feels so good, she said.
Creamy, delectable, satisfying
their mind’s need for more comfort
in their increasingly uncomfortable,
polluted, heating-up situation.

trapped

trapped

Fortunately, all species ancestor’s aspiration
for descendant’s resilient survival
blossomed in conscious heart’s & minds
resulting in a change of diet
just before finishing
off the last jar.

scurry towards nature

scurry towards nature

It is exactly because the Buddha was a human being that countless Buddhas are possible ~Thich Nhat Hanh

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Follow the Cones

Do such sweet words poetically expressed
upon touching heart’s inner sanctuary
inspire loving thoughts, words & deeds,
or not?

cone leaders 2 ~d nelson

cone leaders 2 ~d nelson

Sometimes I need bold, clearer instructions,
which act as safety cones along the road
backed by highway patrol officer’s enforcement.
Bright orange traffic cones
offering guidance for wise, safe passage.
Because who wants to get hurt?

I witnessed Thich Nhat Hanh
compassionately offering firm words of mindfulness,
Breathe, that’s an order!
And though not the same as “Smile, breathe and go slowly”,
still poetic to my heart,
while clearer to this retired
public health officer’s mind –
that stopping,
returning
to the present moment,
aware of what is happening,
assessing what has happened,
& what may come to pass
is essential, necessary, of utmost importance
for a future to be possible
for all living things, including people.

cone leaders ~d nelson

cone leaders ~d nelson

Do travel carefully, dear friends
with your loved ones & neighbors
along life’s fragile path
taking heed of the cones
that are offering clear signs
of what is up ahead.
After viewing these orange cones
this post leaves you with tender poetry.

When and Why
When I bring you coloured toys, my child, I understand why there
is such a play of colours on clouds, on water, and why flowers are
painted in tints-when I give coloured toys to you, my child.
When I sing to make you dance, I truly know why there is music
in leaves, and why waves send their chorus of voices to the heart
of the listening earth-when I sing to make you dance.
When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands, I know why
there is honey in the cup of the flower, and why fruits are
secretly filled with sweet juice-when I bring sweet things to your greedy hands.
When I kiss your face to make you smile, my darling, I surely
understand what pleasure streams from the sky in morning light, and
what delight the summer breeze brings to my body-when I kiss you
to make you smile. ~Rabindranath Tagore

When You’re Gone, Where Will We Bee?

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

nature's sweet gifts

nature’s sweet gifts

If only my words could fully express the luscious taste, smell, texture, experience of fresh, pure honey. Used as an medicine by ancient Egyptians. Used as a fragrant sweetener and immunizer to me and countless others. Breathing in, watching the honey drizzle slowly down upon a piece of bread. Breathing out, tasting an intense blossoming of joy in my mouth. Feeling a rapid rush of energy throughout my body. How can I express gratitude for having enjoyed honey all throughout my life, while sharing to those of you in the future who may not ever have this experience. Honey is a miraculous gift of bees, and sadly, now the bees are disappearing. It’s being called, “colony collapse syndrome.” Mindfulness is always of being aware of something, and this is something that is happening in the here and now.

Since 2007, when beekeeper David Hackenberg first reported the disappearance of his bee colonies, the decline of bees has become more widespread. Often colonies of millions of bees gone overnight, with few dead bees found. Disappearing without even a trace. I am greatly concerned, as I’m sure you are, also. One in 3 bites of food we take comes from fruits and vegetables pollinated by bees. They are now importing bees from Australia and elsewhere to pollinate crops in California, as well as other agricultural states. This is not at all sustainable.

sunflower bees 3

sunflower bees 3

We can learn a lot from bees. They work in harmony and unity. Selfishly they perform their roles diligently, whether they are a worker or a queen. Being a female, matriarchal society helps explain their cooperation and nurturing.

Similar colony collapse was experienced in France. Research suggested that pesticides and other man-made chemicals were at the root cause. After certain pesticides were banned in France and Germany, bee populations began to thrive, again, within a year. In the US many pesticides are sprayed. But use of systemic pesticides is widespread. These chemicals slowly release their toxins throughout the life-cycle of the plants. As bees gentle dance and pollinate they are exposed. A probable theory of colony collapse disorder is the synergy of chemicals used in agriculture. Big agriculture seems to control power over leaders, and thus wise laws and regulations are not implemented. Yet, when our friends, the bees, are exposed to toxins, they die. It is also well known that farm workers have extremely high rates of morbidity and mortality. I hope I am doing enough myself, by not using toxins on plants. Not destroying the delicate balance of nature, intentionally or unintentionally. This is a prayer to those of you in the future.

sunflower bees 2

sunflower bees 2

Caring for the bees is caring for ourselves. I’m encouraged that many young bee keepers and farmers have adopted an ethic to work in harmony with the environment. We are now paying the real price of cheap food. This karma/cost is making the mother of us all sick. Mother Earth is resilient and many are able to hear her calls. In the sounds of birds, bees and climate’s new order of winds and storms.

Dear children, dear friends in the future, have you heard or seen a buzzing honey bee? How can I describe the taste of honey to you?

sunflower bees 1

sunflower bees 1

Am What I Ate & Will Eat

When we have peace, then we have a chance to save the planet. But if we are not united in peace, if we do not practice mindful consumption, we cannot save our planet ~Thich Nhat Hanh

pure pumpkin ~d nelson

pure pumpkin ~d nelson

You are what you eat
was the mantra infused
during undergrad dietitian training
many decades ago.
Filled with PRO, CHO, Fats, Vit, Min & water
felt nutritionally fit back then.
With daily walking & biking
felt physically fit, too.
No need to panic,
I’m organic.

scales don’t tell the whole truth!

Now seeing clearer
we are what we consume.
This precious winter squash
containing nothing less than
a true miracle of
sunshine, rain, earth, hard work
patience of time and good fortune
along with its ancestor’s seeds.
Can I prepare & eat it joyfully
with gratitude & reverence
for all the conditions
which give complete nourishment,
for my existence?

Slowly chewing each bite
30 or more times,
calling it by its true name
pumpkin.
So many beings do not have enough to eat.
May I eat just enough
to keep up good health,
not become overweight
eating more than my fair share
of this precious earth’s bounty.

What comes in through my eyes,
ears, nose, taste & touch
also feed my body, mind, heart & soul.
May I consume so that health,
peace, happiness & well-being are maintained.
Aware that many websites, books, movies, songs
likely are not healthy for me or others.

My deepest desire is also a type of food.
By wanting to care for myself & help others be well,
acting to preserve our precious planet
& reverse the process of climate change,
I add my humble eating habits’ intention,
to your courageous eating habits’ intention,
to humanities potential awakening
– for a future to be possible
with mindful consumption,
one simple squash at a time.

With a lot of help from my (spiritual) Friends

 

making the serious joyful

making the serious joyful

One interesting thing about greed is that although the underlying motive is to seek satisfaction, the irony is that even after obtaining the object of your desire you are still not satisfied. The true antidote of greed is contentment. ~ The Dalai Lama

May we all have the spiritual friends needed to support us in these difficult times.
To help us see our inner lotus
as well as our deep mud
so that we may cultivate our gardens
and create beauty for ourselves and the world.

With support of others
great difficulties can be faced.
Together we can study, learn and live
in such a way that we cause less harm
to people, animals and the earth.

May our mindfulness grow
and practice of the four elements of love
that we can overcome
the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion.

faith's symbols

faith’s symbols

May we cultivate enough compassion
that we can bow to those we oppose,
to those whose actions create war
and destroy the earth
for they have so deeply helped us
see how much we truly care for life on earth.

These thoughts were recently shared by two senior luminaries of engaged Buddhism,
Ajahn Sulak Sivaraksa and Joanna Macy.
Please enjoy this inspired, edited version of their talk:

I look forward to again being with my spiritual friends in the blogosphere
when I return from retreat and participating in the UN Climate March.

If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Paddling the River Back to Ask Why

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors.  All of them are alive in this moment.  Each is present in your body.  You are the continuation of each of these people.  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

river house ~d nelson

river house ~d nelson

So mighty stand stone dwellings within sandstone cliffs of what we now call Cedar Mesa.
What did you call it, dear ancestors?
We might call you Anasazi, ancient peoples what did you call yourselves?
Perhaps answers are present among the thousands of petroglyphs that adorn the mesa.
Stories of your community living in harsh desert heat and wind
protected by solid rock comforted by San Juan River’s life-giving waters,
expressed in simple imagery surviving ravages of time.

proud desert big horn ram

proud desert big horn ram

We paddled downstream into strong head-winds
making our way to your snake house to ask advice.
Help us re-weave our broken connections to all our relations,
our blood ancestors, animal ancestors, plant and mineral ancestors.
Help us remember from where we came so that we may stop living in forgetfulness.
How can we re-connect with what matters -the source of our being?
To have most gratitude for the air, soil, water and earth
that sustains us and all life.

Our curiosity is heartfelt and humble.
All that visibly remains of your ancient village are these piled rocks,
drawings and small artifacts of small dried corn and pottery.
Some say you disappeared when the environment no longer supported your existence.
Hopi’s and other pueblo tribes say you are their ancestors.
Petroglyphs and artwork on their Reservations support their being your descendants.

Butler Wash petroglyph

Butler Wash petroglyph

What can you advice to us, we who have paved over the world,
consuming it with great appetite
and suffer greatly from having severed our roots?
I will continue to listen in the wind and silence
for your dear blessings as I’m certain your compassion is rock solid
for the continuation and survival of your descendants and all living things.

Oh Mercy Mercy Me, I used to mow your lawn

Oh mercy mercy me
Ah things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east. ~Marvin Gaye, from mercy mercy me (the ecology)

mower 2 ~d nelson

mower 2 ~d nelson

Back when barely a teenager
I roamed around neighborhoods
pushing the family lawnmower and rake
looking for tall, green grass
knocking on doors
making a few dollars
then heading to the music store
& buying a latest album.
Remember wearing down the grooves
of “What’s Going On”
Marvin Gaye’s soulful call to wake up.

As a kid green grass was experienced as a given.
Not viewing it as an emerald of the universe
not seeing dandelions as golden messengers of peace for all;
not valuing sun, rain and earth which, seemingly offer freely
conditions so that I could mow their limitless growth
for my personal benefit & profit.

Some decades later it’s clearer, what’s going on;
things, including the weather, are not what they used to be.
I hear there’s a never-ending blizzard going on east of here.
As lawns in this western US dry up from lack of winter rains
a memory pops to mind from the Air Force base where I was stationed almost 40 years ago,
of painting dead grass-green to appease an inspecting General’s command.
We smirked, saluted and said, “yes sir“, then passed the spray cans.

Imagine if so many communities now facing
impending water rationing could paint grass-green! yet
what of those who make a living landscaping and mowing lawns?
It’s not just teenagers anymore.
In time will their jobs face obsolescence?
And who else depends on rain,
sun, earth for their livelihood,
for food, to bathe, to forage,
for life?

Recently Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
offers honest, direct guidance:

“So take refuge in Mother Earth and surrender to her and ask her to heal us, to help us. And we have to accept that the worst can happen; that most of us will die as a species and many other species will die also and Mother Earth will be capable after maybe a few million years to bring us out again and this time wiser.”

Humbly we continue offering gratitude for rain.
May we live in such a way
that respects and conserves our ancestors:
water, soil, and remaining earth’s bounties
so that children a hundred years from now
will clearly thrive with resilience born
from wisdom to live in harmony
with or without green grass lawns
respecting economic needs
to give back, not just taking
from our biosphere
of which we are made.