Saturday, December 8, 2012

Emptiness in the Age of Oil

Think the United States has never invaded another place for oil?

Ogoni State, Nigeria

The Ogoni people of Nigeria have recently been forced off their land for the last forty years.  Big oil companies such as Shell have been the chief sponsors of the Nigerian government’s human rights abuses.  The cause, of course, is the oil rich fields on the Ogoni territory.

So can we stop this human atrocity?  Some would say we can’t because we need to drive to get from one place to another.  True, but is oil the only source of fuel we can use?  If we truly tried, don’t you think we could find a way to transport from one place to another without oil?  Well, according to the Buddhist notion of Sunyata (emptiness), as explained by quantum theory, all things in this world can be reduced to particles.  They have no real existence from their own side and do not become real until the mind interacts with them and gives them meaning.  They have no inherent existence of their own and are filled with limitless potentialities.  A chariot is not merely a chariot but several pieces of wood and nails holding them together.  Thus we could find a new thing with the same potential to allow us to commute and change our world?

Equanemity After My Friend's Loss

Jack’s mother died on September 4.  Emily, one of Jack’s close friend’s cried and I put my arm around her.  I had a friend loss a parent before now.  My friend Elizabeth lost her father in a lawn-mowing accident.  After I heard about it, I kept looking at a little Ganesh pendant my uncle gave my for my high school graduation present.  Ganesh, I believe, symbolizes impermanence.  It’s the nature of all things.  When things go, you just know the world hasn’t.
                I knew Jack’s father, since he got a terminal diagnosis, stopped eating as much.  I understood this yet was wishing he wouldn’t for the sake of his health.  I realized however that this kind of behavior, according to the Dalai Lama, like all behaviors good and bad, are done for seeking happiness.  It made me realize since we seem to seek happiness, all of us in some way, believe it’s possible.
                I went to Jack’s mom’s funeral and afterwards Mom and I got a card from Jack’s father thanking us for our support.  I started carrying my little Ganesh in my coat pocket but found it a little uncomfortable.  I didn’t have a good space for it though but then I remembered learning on-line how to make little “jewelry boxes” with origami.  I made one for that pendant and several other necklaces I acquired over the years but I liked having something to carry around with me to symbolize the nature of impermanence.  Then I found a pebble someone I knew gave me one time, knowing I collect pebbles, and remembered the “Shiva’s egg” stones in the store It’s A Beautiful Day in Westport and carried it around in my coat pocket.  It was also rather relaxing to carry.
                I had the card on my desk for a while though and it was just taking up space.  But at the same time, I didn’t want to get rid of it because of the things it symbolized.  Then I remembered about how the Buddha said about letting go and I recycled it.  I also knew that the card is just a symbol for something, not the thing itself.