A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Breakfast from Thailand

Yesterday I talked about the interconnectedness of all sentient beings. At times when we are first learning to meditate, we sometimes feel alone. Yet we are not alone, rather even when on our cushion at home or at the Temple, we are surrounded.  I ate congee for breakfast this morning. The brand of rice I prefer is grown in Thailand, and brought over here in 18kg bags on pallets within containers. Then it is trucked to a warehouse where it was unloaded, stored and sent to the store where I purchased it. Then the bus I took to get home had a driver, was maintained by others with parts made who knows where. The water I used to make the congee is from a dam that was built about 50 years ago, and piped to my dwelling by a system built by others. I won’t continue with the rest of the ingredients from breakfast, but I can assure you to be meditating this morning at a Temple were not the result of only my actions. Now realize that each person who was there this morning had a similar web, and perhaps at some point those webs intersected, at a point beside us being at the same place and doing the same thing this morning. I enjoy math problems, but forgive me as I leave this one up to those who are trying to solve Newton’s question of how to describe the arc of a projectiles curve, according to gravity and the dynamics of the air resistance, temperature etc. Now consider that the water buffalo that was used in the rice harvest, the actions of the air, rain, and sunshine to produce a grain of rice. This is why I have mentioned that it was why environmentalism caused me to follow Buddha. There is a saying you hear sometimes: “If a tree falls in the forest with no one to hear it, does it make a sound? This is a very human centred view point. Firstly physics tell us the movement through the air, the impact of the tree on other vegetation around it as it falls; its impact on the ground will produce sound waves. There will be animal life that will hear it, as well as insects, perhaps it will impact on a lake or stream and the fish will feel the waves, from the trees interaction with the forest. If it falls in the spring and destroys a bees nest, perhaps fewer blossoms will be pollinated in the area. Fewer pollinated blossoms means fewer fruit, which means reduced food supply, and along the chain the impact continues. 2600 years ago Buddha talked about how all life is interconnected; there is no divine position of humans as many religions claim. Mankind is a part of the wheel of life, not set apart and above it, it was like this 2600 years ago when the Buddha taught, it is still the same today, and if mankind ever spreads to another planet, we will become part of its wheel of life. Learning how to live with what is necessary is becoming more urgent with every passing day. Setting aside global warming, to avoid the discussion being sidetracked, the world does not contain enough of key resources for us all to have a western consumerist lifestyle.


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