An old story goes like this: Zhuangzi sat on the shore of a river, fishing. Two politicians, sent by the emperor of China, came to him. They said: "The emperor sends us to tell you that he wants you to manage one of his states.“
Zhuangzi answered: "I've heard that there once was a turtle. It lived 3000 years and died. It is said that the emperor keeps its remains in a box. So answer me: What do you think would this turtle prefer? Being dead and dried up and to be honoured by the emperor, or to be alive and rejoice in the mud?“ The two politicians answered: "To be alive and rejoice in the mud, of course.“ Zhuangzi said: "So it's the same with me. I prefer to be alive and rejoice in the mud. Leave now!“
So this is the wisdom of an ancient wise man, and not only of him. Many philosophers preferred to lead a humble life and to do as they pleased, not being hindered by wealth, profession or obligations. As Sokrates once said: "How manyfold are the things I don't need!“ And, according to the New Testament, Jesus said alike: "Don't collect yourself riches which will be eaten away by rust and mold.“
If there are chains of steel in prisons and chains of gold (consumerism) in society which bind you, isn't it better to be free of them?
Today I pondered about wisdom and ways to go through life. Not only because I watched too many "Kung Fu – The Legend Continues“ - although it's a splendid series I strongly recommend watching on YouTube.
Sometimes discussions bring me to the point of reflecting on what's going on, the meaning of life and so on. Quite entertaining, I say. Only reflecting upon things and situations and pondering can bring you to good results. As a way of a thousand miles begins with a single step it's at least somewhere to begin with.
I'm not wealthy or rich or a bum. I'm living in a society with a comfy social system that cares for you if one stumbles – although there are pitfalls, too. Every thing has got at least two sides, if not three (speaking of coins and swords)
I can use the luxury to think and reflect about things. What I found out is this: There's a lot of vanity and nonsense. Sounds a bit pessimistic, but it isn't. For there is beauty in many things. You can get insights looking just at a cup of tea, it's structure, the smell of the tea, the colour of the porcelaine, the colour of the tea itself... When the cup was formed, what was the most important thing in it? It's the emptyness. Without it you can't fill in your favourite hot drink – in my case it's tea.
So being devoid of certain things doesn't mean you're a person suffering misery. Only if you think you're missing something then you're in misery.
Many people are running after every fad they can get. This perfume, this new style of clothing, this strange electric apparatus and this new toy... Not that I condemn anything. I'm not judging. Everybody has got to go their way, although sometimes it even annoys me, I confess.
And this consumist attitude and superficiality ruins everything: Deep insight, friendlyness, nice behaviour, joy of heart, ecological systems... It even kills people.
Greed is the reason of suffering. That's not new. And it's not from Karl Marx, although he COULD have said it. It's what Buddha said. And it's the same what the newly elected Pope of Rome says.
Sometimes people are trying to convince me: „But you desperetaly NEED a wrist watch. You NEED a microwave! You NEED a telly.“ Etc. They can't imagine to be happy without such things. Although happiness comes from within, being in balance with nature. As I said: I'm not judging.
Some people are hearing, but not listening. It's all "But, but, but, but.“ Like a chicken. It's the perfect sound for a chicken, nothing wrong with it. But is it the right sound for a human? You have got to decide yourself. Decide about the "buts“ and the consumerist attitude.
To be honest, I would feel a bit bad without my books and Buddhas I've got. But they are only symbols and things meant to disappear over the time, as nothing lasts forever. Not you, not me, not the nice neighbour, not the Eiffel Tower or even Mount Rushmore. Everything is in flow. Life is in flow, and even death is a part of life, if you believe in karma and reincarnation or not. But those things disappear over a long long time. Changes go slow in nature.
Well, rabbit A may be eaten by a fox and rabbit B may live a bit longer, but things never change REALLY rapidly – although of course it makes a difference for rabbit A.
The changes made by the asteroid which killed off the dinosaurs did not come overnight. The changes needed some decennia to make a full impact – no pun intended.
If man is changing things rapidly by cutting down whole forests, killing off entire species in no time, poisoning whole ecosystems with fracking or pollution with pesticides or even radiation or meddling in ruining and raping even the genetic information of life itself, it goes against the rules and flow of nature.
Therefor mankind is in misery and has to pay high prices for what they did. Every thing you do, gets a reaction. In others, in yourself, in your environment and social peers.
If a pebble is thrown into a lake or pond, the ripple effect goes out. Circular waves are building and reaching the shore and going back. Every living being has an effect on the whole world. You know the story about the amazonian butterfly which causes a thunderstorm somewhere in Asia. It's the same with all things, may they be nice, questionable or nasty.
You may think: What is this creature talking about? Well, it's about being sustainable by NOT doing things. A non-action is an action, too. Not everybody has got the opportunity to decide for him/herself what's right or wrong. In some societies it's a sacrifice, in others it's a luxury.
So I decide NOT to use or buy certain things, but only to consume/buy the things I see as necessary: Clothing which can be worn for years, LED lamps which will survive me, buying organic healthy food if I can afford it. I even haven't got a dishwasher, cleaning my cups and plates with my hands, and no washing machine, using the bath tub for it. Well, you may say that even a bath tub is a luxury, and you may be right.
I'm not that ascetic. I'm more a sustainable and pragmatic person. I like to prepare my food and not buying it pre-cooked, frozen or else.
That's no holier-than-thou attitude, it's just the way I see and practice things. You may share it or not. I'm happy being a vegan and reducing suffering on this planet. Animals – as I see it – are sentient beings, able to enjoy life and able to suffer. But they don't need to suffer for me. Ethical reasons, ecological reasons, my love for life itsel: It's all one.
When once my time will come, I would like to leave a nice planet for our children and grand children to live in. With clear skies and drinkable water, with soil they can feel tickling under their feet, with food that can be eaten. And with this I mean EVERY child on Earth, may it be Irish, Bantu, Han-Chinese or Native American or a member of the animal kingdom.I wish you all to become lucky, to be free from pain and to live in peace.