Dying from Embarrassment?

Mark Twain noted that humans are the only animals that blush. Or need to. As I work with shovel and pickax to remove more water sucking sod from our front yard, I think about the embarrassing amount of energy and moisture we waste on something we cannot eat. A recent report indicated we have ‘sufficient’ water resources in Bend to last through 2040. This was stated as a good thing. Eighteen years of water, and then we run out? All the while we continue expanding our local population with new homes surrounded by inedible green.

Maybe this could be a definition of samsara (cyclic existence): using resources to make things pretty on the outside while ignoring what’s happening with our inner awareness. Extreme drought conditions in our area is ignored by those of us fortunate enough to afford discretionary water use. The farmers are not so lucky. They use water for something that can be eaten and are experiencing a precipitous drop in available irrigation resources.

We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg regarding climate change and the associated effects of water availability. If we were an intelligent species we would consider adding the word ‘sustainability’ to our vocabulary. Buddhist practice is all about sustainability. We infuse our actions with loving kindness and sustainable support for the benefit of all beings equally (according to our capability). This necessarily translates into wise use of resources. 

We cannot grow infinitely on finite water. We should feel embarrassed and act now—before we all die from embarrassment.

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