Seeing Clearly

Residing in Central Oregon for 45 years, I have observed the population growth with a bit of dismay. When I moved here, only about 16,000 folks called Bend home and now the estimates hover around 104,000 or so—with Deschutes county twice that number. We live in a high desert ecological community with annual rainfall averaging ten to twelve inches, although we only received around six inches last year. This is not enough to replenish our aquifers even if we are not drawing water for domestic use. Unsustainable.

It is a strange habit of ‘civilized’ human beings to overpopulate areas in unsustainable ways. It is not a matter of if we run out of water here in Bend. It is only a matter of when. Of course, the farmers already know this. Some farmers and ranchers in central Oregon have been feeling the pinch for several years, causing some of them to reduce production or give up their family farms entirely. Some wells have gone dry. But, as long as lawns are green in Bend it is all okay—we have plenty of water?

Tarn and I still have some lawn but we are removing portions of sod every year, replacing it with arid-loving species. It is humbling to see our native plant garden thriving with little to no extra water from our human intervention. The desert acclimatized plants actually hate it when they get too much moisture. We can observe what nature wants to grow and choose to cooperate or not. Otherwise, we will eventually suffer the consequences.

This suffering comes from ignoring what is. In the Sanskrit language, the word for ignorance is avidya, ‘not seeing clearly’. When we do not see clearly, we make all sorts of decisions that are maladapted to our circumstances. This is what Buddha taught. Our sense of separateness from nature, our ego identity, does not clearly see the correct path because we are blind to what is. We do not see anything. No wonder the the first suggestion of the eightfold path is “right view”.

Right view is the natural mind, free from self-absorbed habitual thinking. When we practice settling the mind into its original nature, we begin to see clearly. This benefits everyone. I seriously doubt the human species will survive our ignorance. But it will thrive when we recognize the natural way of things and walk in harmony with all life. We are born to make this decision. What will you choose?

You may also like...