I’ve been reflecting on the environmental crisis, and as I do, I find myself in the darkness, as I imagine we all are to some degree. And that says something; something we shouldn’t brush aside or try to make go away.
This is a place for sharing truth—and the truth right now is darkness. I sometimes reflect on how I’ve been practicing meditation, morality, restraint, generosity, sharing, and simplicity for more than forty years with as much integrity as possible. I shouldn’t have to feel this bad, this hopeless, this guilty. Yet when I look at this crisis, I’m in the dark.
Recently I’ve been on retreat in the woods at Cittaviveka Monastery. Back in the 1970s, we were very fortunate to have been gifted about 150 acres of woodland to look after. Much of it had been commercially planted with nonnative trees, and it had become void of wildlife.
Consequently, we’ve been attending to it, trying to rewild it, and taking out invasive species. It took at least twenty-five years, but the woodland is making a comeback. The trees are growing, the birds have returned, and there are otters in the water. That makes me feel good—that’s something I was part of.
The feeling is more than an idea; it arises because I can smell the fresh air and hear the life around me. I realize, ”That’s where I belong. I’m on this Earth.” There’s love and respect for the natural world, as well as an attitude of restraint toward it. These mental qualities happen naturally through knowing where we are. We’re all in, and form a part of, a living system—it’s not just decorations, or a theme park, or a screen saver.
It’s the real thing: it breathes, it’s messy. Something in me lights up at that.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the article, “Heart Light in Dark Times.”