Call Me By My True Names

The gift of Truth excels all other gifts.”
~ The Buddha

I had a beautiful day today: a day with my Permaculture class… what makes this (as well as the other, and the first) “my” class is the connection we make with people who know and decided to care…

A cat drinking water in a pond of Southland Farms, Vancouver BC
A cat drinking water in a pond of Southland Farms, Vancouver BC

I still remember the day I made my first connection with people from a Transition group: I had been reading book after book, watching documentaries and videos about climate change, peak oil, overshoot, resources depletion and so many other things…I had visited forums, blogs and online groups. It was a race to know more, to understand. I was feeling like Neo in The Matrix when he discovers that all what he suspected (that something was deeply “wrong” with this world) was actually true. It was both a disturbing and liberating moment.

But I still had to meet Trinity, and Morpheus! I was terribly alone and felt the burden of carrying a huge “secret” that nobody else seemed to know: even at home I couldn’t speak without getting into a fight or being considered crazy…

I met them an autumn October morning in 2012: our “passport” was the book “The Transition Companion” by Rob Hopkins. We “recognized” each other with a smile…we talked for what seemed hours, and when I finally came back to work I was feeling exhilarated, excited…and knowing that my world had changed forever.

Here is where we met:

Expresso Cafe - Newton (Surrey, BC)
Expresso Cafe – Newton (Surrey, BC)

The things that followed that meeting have shaped my current life and continue to influence it: after taking my first Permaculture course and engaging with more community work, I have met the most caring and beautiful people: people who believe there is a solution, people who may cry and despair at night but wake up again in the morning ready to act…people who build gardens and connections , people who teach and share, people who live and think and feel beyond the invisible but suffocating walls of this “matrix” we are in, some of who have already crossed the line but still reach out to us, the ones who are in transition…

The tears I have shed,

yesterday, have become rain

and rain melts my despair.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

I am Samsara (“the continuous flow”)

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”
~ Thích Nhất Hạnh

Sometimes things connect in magical ways: we are studying evolution in my botany class. We are also reviewing some genetics (and the new concepts of epi-genetics) and how all organisms on Earth (plants and animals alike) have very similar DNA…through Permaculture I have re-learnt to look at the world in a different way: “we are all connected” started our teacher today’s class…the same words I had written in a book I shared with him before the class even started…

At some point we talked about Deep Ecology, The Great Turning and watched a few documentaries, the one that stayed in my mind was How Wolves Change Rivers…how a little change in any ecosystem (or any system for what matters) may work wonders…or bring the ecosystem to collapse…

In my first PDC (2013), our teacher asked us to choose a card: each card represented an element (from air and rocks to worms and trees), he then asked us to “be” that element and write from its perspective in life. To do this we had to allow ourselves to actually experience how it was like to “be” that element or being…for some limited time, I was the wind, an earthworm, water, a wild plant and a bear…it was a truly humbling experience, as well as an inspiring one. We can live an entire life with the eyes closed…

Coming back to my everyday reality of busy-ness, study and hard work, I am reminded that not only I breath the oxygen these surrounding trees had produced, not only every cell in my body is fed (directly or indirectly) by plants that feed all life on Earth: I am also connected to those I cannot and may never see: those who are paid $1/day to make the clothes I wear, those whose economies have been destroyed by globalization, those whose countries are suffering from wars fuelled by my “needs” and those who had lost everything through the changed climate caused by my “progress”…

…as I celebrate the interconnectedness of all life and the cosmos, I am also reminded that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link

We Need an Army

Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
~ Gautama Buddha

If anything I’ve learned from both Transition and Permaculture is that we have to act.

“All hands on deck” told me another Permaculture teacher: the ship is sinking…we need urban gardeners and people creating food forests everywhere, but we also need everyday people doing everyday things in a truly conscious way: from saving water and energy to preserving food, from writing blogs and articles to organizing block parties, from teaching and learning to acting and getting our hands dirty, from thinking and feeling to doing…

…every single drop counts: a giant ocean is made of millions of them…

The challenges we are facing and those still to come are probably the worst we would ever have as a species, but we are not facing them alone: we are driving others to the edge of extinction by destroying their ecosystems; we are destroying the same soil that has given us birth and dreaming with sending plants to colonize Mars…the only way to face all this (yes, we have to face it) is by speaking the truth openly, the only way to handle all this is by doing a bit everyday…a bit in our lives with the things we have and in the places we are…

“Our earth is like a small boat

compared with the rest of the

cosmos, it is a small boat,

and it is in danger of sinking.

We need a person to inspire us

With calm confidence,

To tell us what to do.

Who is that person?

The Mahayana Buddhist Sutras

Tell us that you are that person.

If you are yourself, if you are

At your best, then you are that person.

Only with such a person –

Calm, lucid, aware – will our

Situation improve.

I wish you good luck.

Please be yourself.

Please be that person.

 ~ Thich Nhat Hanh – Please Call Me by My True Names – The Path of Compassion

4 Comments on “Call Me By My True Names

  1. Lovely post! There’s quite a remarkable book by Joanna Macy and John Seed, who speak about workshops and becoming the ‘other’ or non human element, and allowing it to speak through you. Active Hope was also a lovely book, on workshops and how to go about exploring change, emotion and a deeper and wider sense of self and community.

    Thanks so much for sharing.


    • Thanks for your comments Nicci, I read Active Hope about a year ago and I am familiar with Joanna’s work. Our Permaculture teacher also mentioned John Seed and Joanna yesterday. “The work that reconnects” and the concepts of deep ecology and the great turning and very close to Permaculture…I would love to attend one of her workshops in the near future…

      Liked by 1 person

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