Book Review — Love Letter to the Earth
Thich Nhat Hanh
Love Letter to the Earth
2013, Parallax Press, Berkley, California
In the Buddhist tradition, a bodhisattva is someone who offers happiness to others and cultivates love. In Love Letter to the Earth beloved monk Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that bodhisattvas don't always take human form. An animal or a rock can be a bodhisattva, as can a tree with its offering of oxygen, beauty, shade and sanctuary to many creatures. But the most beautiful of all bodhisattvas is our Mother Earth. She accepts and transforms everything, without judgment. Regardless of what is thrown at her she tries to heal herself. With patience and creativity she recovers from the hardship of meteors, droughts and earthquakes. But destruction from manmade pollution and poison in the air, land and water has caused her to lose her equilibrium.
Mother Earth is a living breathing organism. For life on this planet to continue, it is essential we help her restore balance. We must shift our focus beyond seeing Earth as an "environment" that we take from and that can do something for us. This unsustainable economic approach to our planet needs to be replaced with an attitude of ecological mindfulness, an evidence-supported understanding that Earth is not separate from us. We are not two separate entities; together we are the cosmos. "There is a revolution that needs to happen and it starts from inside each one of us." A cosmic religion, not one based on myth, dogma, or beliefs, but shaped entirely on evidence, is a practice that will benefit the universe. The foundation for such a practice, open to all of humanity, is Earth's observable and verifiable qualities: endurance, inclusiveness and stability. As Walter Schirra, astronaut on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space flights remarked, "I left Earth three times and found no other place to go. Please take care of spaceship Earth." A deeper spirituality that includes Earth will strengthen our right relationship with her.
Gail Lord is a freelance writer living in Massachusetts. Please send book review copies to 51 North Street, Grafton, MA 01519 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.