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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, October 21, 2002
    Do the poets' words carry any force for change?
     
      Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them.
      Consuming desires are endless; I vow to stop them.
      Bio-relations are intricate; I vow to honour them.
      Nature's way is beautiful; I vow to become it.
    - the four Bodhisattva vows modernised by Alan Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Philip Walden illuminate an article on Buddhism and reverential ecology in the current Resurgence which popped through the door today. Popped through in timely fashion, to inspire a sermon for next Sunday which I doubt I'd have got anywhere with otherwise today, leaning heavily on Thich Nhat Nanh's Love Letters, extracted from Anger: Buddhist wisdom for cooling the flames.

    I struggle sometimes with Resurgence, "An international forum for ecological and spiritual thinking", because to someone concerned with such things but also conscious of realpolitic, it seems a bit too soft sometimes. It's beautiful to read and deeply inspirational, but can such thinking connect with realpolitic in any sort of effective way - that's the challenge.

    Or - do the poets' words (blog top) carry any force for change? Well, yes, they do, because they carry three vows - to save, stop, honour - statements of intent which demand positive action, along with the profound vow - to become nature's way - which anticipates activism from a heart deeply immersed in the very stuff being saved, honoured.

    From there, it's only a short step to, for instance, Democratic US Congressman Dennis Kucinich's major speech questioning the "war on terrorism" and his new Bill HR2459 which aims to create a Department of Peace in the US.

    From there the possibility emerges of, for instance, an Assembly of the Poor in Sian, a nonviolent people's movement which protests against the government's development policies, championing the ways of the old wisdom which sustained traditional communities for centuries, and still could.

    From there, because 'there' is at the very heart, deep quality emerges. It's mystical, yes, but that carries a power which can be translated into effective action. It's not that soft after all. Or, at the risk of sounding like a tissue-paper ad, it's soft and strong. So I am strengthened reading Resurgence. It provides encouragement to be part of the forum they promote, to find depth to sustain the struggle:
      Loaves and Fishes


      This is not
      the age of information.

      This is not
      the age of information.

      Forget the news,
      and the radio,
      and the blurred screen.

      This is the time
      of loaves
      and fishes.

      People are hungry,
      and one good word is bread
      for a thousand.

      - David Whyte, from the Resurgence anthology Earth Songs