Downshift. . .
We are seeing a perfect storm of past and present crises that together represent a watershed moment in the history of our species. We are witnesses to, and participants in, a transition from decades of poorly thought out growth to decades of economic inequalities.
True growth and development is in harmony with the needs of people and the rhythms of the natural world. Humans are part of the universe, not its masters. This awareness of the interrelatedness of all things, as expressed in Buddhism, is also lived in the traditions of indigenous peoples throughout the world.
Today it is essential that Buddhists think critically and challenge the old outdated fetishes of self indulgence and spending in order to save the old ways. Buddhist leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and Sulak Sivaraksa have been emphasizing this for years, and now the crunch has arrived. If humanity is to survive and thrive during this century, we must quickly learn to accept — indeed, to embrace — the need for limits. Buddhist teachings emphasize that this does not require a reduction in the quality of life. On the contrary, a creative “downshift” will help us to focus on what is most important in life.
If, in the midst of converging global issues, we wish to enhance our awareness of the interrelatedness of all things, and promote genuine spiritual contentment, we must emphasize and live by another way of life: the steady-state economy. In this fashion we can minimize, for ourselves and others, the social difficulties of transition from decades of old energy growth to decades of inclusive and rewarding contraction.
Peace and Love, Jim
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