MR: That contact.
Sensei: Yes. I think it's a challenge here in the city and in Mt. Tremper. We're surrounded by the vitality and robustness of the city and the beauty of these mountains. You look out the door, and you may not see any obvious signs of climate change. There are signs, in fact, but it's not necessarily obvious to everyone to make the connection. The news stations don't make the connections. Most of the media reports on storms, droughts, floods, and other major weather related events are presented as though these are all isolated occurrences. They don't present them as part of the movements of a planet being affected by things that are happening in a cohesive way.
MR: The other thing that comes to mind is something that I've heard both you and Ryushin Sensei talk about, and that is that the other kind of person who comes to Buddhist practice does so through the experience of delight and love for life itself. I'm wondering if there are people who are doing the Earth Initiative work who aren't so much touching in with the pain of it but are more filled with the delight.
Sensei: I hope so. I hope there are people who are drawn and moved by delight. I talk about that in meetings and when I give talks, and my sense is that both are there. When we come into practice because of the pain in our lives, it's really not just pain. It's the yearning for relief from that pain. Isn't this a love for life? We want to be free of fear and pain so we can be completely alive and able to fully and joyfully live. So really, it's our concern and caring for life; that's love. It's not just about stopping the destruction in some sort of abstract way. It's for love of all that is being harmed that we come and practice selflessly, serving each and every thing.
MR: Thank you.
Sensei: Thank you.
For more information on the Green Dragon Earth Initiative visit our website at: www.mro.org/zesi.
Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei is abbot and resident teacher of the Zen Center of New York City: Fire Lotus Temple and Head of the Order for the Mountains and Rivers Order.
Valerie Meiju Linet, MRO is a writer and a social worker at AIDS-Related Community Services. She lives in Boiceville, NY.