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Our planet's trek through time and space - 20 July 2006 Back to stories index
(environment, thinking, relationship, sufficiency)

In the begining of this year when I was travelling on Nam Oo river from Phongsali to Luang Prabang province in Laos, I met a novice at a monastery in a small village in the wood on the river bank. I was staying in their monastery because my boat engine broke down and had to wait for another boat to continue down the river. I was left to stay there two nights before a boat offered me a ride to Luang Prabang. The young novice of 19 years old was from a "Lu" tribal village on the Mekong river. After dinner we had conversation in the large wooden hall surrounded by teak trees, of the monastery or Buddhist school. When the darkness started to fall he would lit the candles and we continued to talk into the early hours of the night. He was found to be extremely knowledgeable and resourceful, but in rather strange way. He studied Buddhism as well as ecology. When I asked what ecology he was learning, he answered," It is about our planet and the living things on it, and their inter-connection."

I was curious and asked again what was the relationship between Buddhism and ecology. His answer was simple. According to the novice Buddhism is partly about our life and our living place which is, for us, the planet. So the study of Buddhism could center on us as well as on the life (lives) of our planet. He discribed his learning topic as "Trek through time and space" - the travelling of our planet and everying on it in time and space.

On the second night he showed me the charts he was preparing to submit to the head of the monastery. The charts were prepared in Lao alphabets but it was "Pali" language. Below I simplified the charts into simple ones showing only some important elements in English. It was quite difficult for me to translate a complex presentation into such a readable one. Even though he explained me things in very details it was my lack of life science, and general knowledge that I was able to make only part of the original charts into this presentation. Nevertheless I believe that I don't miss the main points.

Path of our planet in time/space
Path of our planet in time/space

Zone 1 and zone 7 are two extremes where life is impossible to exist. Everything is in highly unstable stage. They represent heat (too high a temperature, explosion, or collision of masses in space) and cold (too low or lowest temperature); or extreme congestion of particles (too filthy) and empty (void, there is nothing at all).

In zone 2 and zone 6, things look better but still the conditions can not support any kind of life. It is too hot, too cold, too toxic, too filthy, not yet in any kind of equilibrium, or there is not enough life (the life that we understand) supporting materials such as Oxygen and water.

Zone 3 and zone 5 are where some types of life could exist and survive. Yet these are still too harsh for human to survive. For example above 50 degree celcius temperature, or below - 50 degree celcious. Or there might be very low level of Oxygen and other food sources. Or it contains too much of Carbon and other toxic materials for human to live.

Zone 4 is the one we are currently in. It is the most favorable conditions for human and other forms of life. There we have different seasons, different places, water, Oxygen, other food sources such as plants and animals.

The path shown in the above chart is imaginary one but it shows the general pattern of the life of our planet earth. In the begining it was inhabitable: no life could exist. Later the conditiuons changed gradually and at one time in the past life started to exist. Things still kept changing and the earth has passed through many phases in which many different forms of life existed, disappeared, or survived until today.

What will happen next?
What will happen next?
We want the green colour line; that is to keep the life supporting (nice) environment for a long time. But are we going this? The red colour lines are also possibilities. What are they representing?

The natural disasters such as the earth exploding itself into pieces, a large space mass hitting our planet, passing through a space storm, etc. They are possibilities, but everyone believe (or at least like to believe) they are of very extremely low probability at least at this time. In other words, they can not happen in foreseeable furture.

Human can make disaster that could end the life on earth. For example nuclear war, man-made environmental disaster or even catastrophe. Other scenarios in which only part of the human population vanishes and the rest managed to survive are also possible.

Whatever the possibilities the novice wanted to present mental (human) side of the story. Below are main points of his report on how we can keep our planet earth in healthy conditions for long time to come. His study is based on flow of love, respect, belief, resources, etc. among human being; and sufficiency or lack of (too much) greed.

Start from the impossible
Suppose if the flow of love, respect, belief, resources, etc. are uniform among human being we will have no problem among us. No problems means there will be no war weapons of mass destruction that could transform our earth into danger zones. As well if we are always satisfied with what we have, and who/what we are, then we will not do any environmental damage that could send us to man-made disaster which in turn transport our planet into zone 3 or 5. But considering the human nature this is possible only if we have no life. That is if the planet contains only objects , or objects and animals because animal-made problems are too small in scale to the size of planet, it could survive literally forever provided there is no natural disaster.

For the human however it is different
The life had arrived on earth after the emergence of life supporting environment. The living organizm evolved and upgraded itself into more advanced life forms. Thus we human being came to the planet. With our intellgence we started to make things unbalanced - that we called civilization. The flow of love, respect, resources, etc. among us became extremely far from fair and balanced ones. We also became more and more greedy and selfish. With all these things we fought each other, developed dangerous weapons, and products to sell that damaged our own planet. Even when we realized that we were doing disaster on our own life we could not stop. Greed and selfishness are now almost always together or two-in-one with us.

There are tens of thousands of centers where millions of people come and practice to think good and do good, and to stay healthy, and to create a healthy loving society. As well, there are tens of thousands of books about anger management, love, reducing hatred, etc. However there is no real progress in the pipeline.

The novice did not attempt to produce a method or way on how to make about solving the problems of our time. However he believed that the one we did not have was (sense of) "urgency". He believed that we believed it was OK to go on the way we were. Because it looked like there was no disaster waiting on the horizon. Or we did not see the disaster coming. Or, he even wanted to assume, that we were "made" to believe that it was no problem to go on the way we were. So he tried to describe the present situation in the form of charts to tell that we/someone needed to instill the "urgency" in us.

Once upon a time there was a large river flowing between a town on one side, and villages on the other side in lower Myanmar (Burma). People crossed the river by hand paddled boats or "san-pan"s. One old man had been rowing the ferry boat for years since he was young. He kept a scoop in his boat to scoop out the water in the boat. The boat was made of wood and it was old, and thus water slowly seeped into the belly that must be taken out.

One day a passenger saw a small hole in the boat and said ", Hey old man, your boat has a hole." The old man replied ", Never mind, it has been there long time. We can manage to keep the water out by using the scoop. Let's go." There were not enough boats for the large number of passengers who came to work in the town. So the boat went into the river with full passengers. In the middle of the river the hole suddenly gave way to a larger one by water presssure. Large volume of water came into the boat. The old man screamed ", Well, now is urgent!! It is big problem."

So when we will see the urgency to change our way for the betterness before it is too late? Let's work to create a world to live for long.
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