Earth from Apollo 17

Earth from Apollo 17

“Think globally, act locally.” Anon (attributed to various)

 

I was talking on a message board, talking about the Earth and what we can do about it. And then someone told me that everything I was saying was “nice” but wasn’t realistic, a bit too idealistic. I wondered why, because for me I was talking about very real subjects with very real implications. The energy in the words was very real for me.

It’s difficult to talk about global things when people are so entrenched in their local lives. For some, a global vision of things seems a bit too detached from an individual’s life. I mean, if you can’t directly deal with it “why bother?” say some.

Then there are others who get too overwhelmed by it all. I had that feeling recently when I read Battle for the Planet. There are so many issues in the world that one person can’t possibly resolve all of those. So yes, it is overwhelming. But then I set out in myself to resolve something at least, even if just inside myself.

The book gave me a vision of everything that has to be done on Earth, so I had the “Think globally” resolved. But without some balance, I’d be overwhelmed. That’s where the “Act locally” comes in, something I think really balances it out. Without it we’d be crushed under the weight of such responsibility. Think globally, Act locally says, “yes the world is the responsibility of each individual, but only take as much as you can handle.”

I’m a global realist, it’s pragmatism as if the world mattered. Although I can’t take responsibility for the whole planet, I can take responsibility of it in my local life, and it works!

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Planted tree

 “A person cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human. To become human, is what this individual person, has been created for.” Martin Buber

“Seek ye divine happiness through the hardships and sorrows of this physical world, and behold spiritual well-being in the struggles of this fleeting existence.” Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures (replace “hardships and sorrows” with “joys and sorrows”, and “struggles” with “experiences”, then you have my version of the quote 😉 )

“Lord if I worship You from the fear of Hell, throw me in Hell. If I worship You from the hope of Paradise, deny me admittance to Paradise. But If I worship You out of Love for You alone then do not deny me the Bounty of Your Eternal Beauty” Rabia al-Adawiya  

 

I hate spiritual nihilism. Sounds contradictory but I’ll explain what I mean. “spiritual nihilism” is a negative attitude towards the material world in favour of some abstract, heavenly or spiritual realm. It views the world as a mere waiting room, somewhere where you are just “passing through” or, as I saw recently in one blog, a “sinking ship to be abandoned.” These are dangerous beliefs, because, like unspiritual nihilists, we may fall into the habit of acting in this universe like our actions don’t matter, like we can do “whatever” thinking there are no real consequences to our actions and leave the world in a poor state because we have a greater destiny lying elsewhere, beyond it.

For me, spirituality isn’t about transcending this “realm” of matter, it’s about transforming it; emerging within it, contributing to the cosmic/living/spiritual/evolutionary process and then dissolving back into it, leaving it for future “contributors” or co-creators to take my place in the ongoing process of Creation. I do not need a Great Divine Authority to justify this belief nor some concept of reward or punishment to guide my actions. My ethics stand alone by my own choice, because it’s the “right thing to do” regardless of childish hopes of reward or fears of punishment. Slightly different emphasis than Rabia, but with some parallels.

Children learn from these things; reward, punishment and authority, but when they mature into adults they should (hopefully) be mature enough not to have to lean on these things. Authority is (hopefully, again) transferred from parents to child, so an individual takes responsibility for their own actions in this world by their own individual self-made ethical choice. That can take some humility, to be a building block in the creative process of the universe, instead of using the universe as a spring board into Heaven or some higher incarnation or whatever.

Then I was tagsurfing my way around and found another quoting blog with this…

 “To ‘realize Buddha in this body’ is to realize that you yourself are in fact the universe.  You are not, as parents and teachers are wont to imply, a mere stranger on probation in the scheme of things; you are rather a sort of nerve-ending through which the universe is taking a peek at itself, which is why, deep down inside, almost everyone has a vague sense of eternity.  Few dare admit this because it would amount to believing that you are God, and God in our culture is the cosmic Boss, so that anyone imagining himself to be be God is deemed either blasphemous or insane.  But for Buddhists this is no problem because they do not have this particular idea of God, and so also are not troubled by the notion of sin and everlasting damnation.  Their picture of the universe is not political, not a kingdom ruled by a monarch, but rather an organism in which every part is a ‘doing’ of the whole, so that everything that happens to you is understood as your own karma, or ‘doing.’  Thus when things go wrong you have no one but yourself to blame.  You are not a sinner but a fool, so try another way.” Alan W. Watts, In My Own Way- http://daxdefranco.wordpress.com/2008/08/14/in-my-own-way-41/#comment-166