In 1970, the Honorable Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator and passionate advocate for protecting the environment, helped establish April 22nd as Earth Day, the national day for the environment. His ambitious endeavor compelled the World Federation of Buddhist Youth (WFBY) to examine methods to keep the most important human resource – our mind – pristine and to safeguard it from thought, speech or action that will cause others distress and ultimately bind us to the endless cycle of suffering. Hence, WFBY petitioned for April 22nd to be known as “Dhamma Earth Day” under the motto, “Clean the World, Clean the Mind.”
If one stirs water filled with dirt, the water turns brown; but if one leaves it still, it becomes clear, as dirt is isolated. The same can be said about the mind; for if it remains still, greed, anger, and desire will be separated, and the mind itself will become purer.
This special occasion reminds us to think more about our responsibilities as residents of the earth. It is a great opportunity for us to review all of our activities that may affect the conditions of the earth in other words, the environment and any actions that we can do to improve the current conditions of the earth.
The conditions of the planet earth are changing daily due to two main factors: Natural phenomena and human activities.
The natural phenomena such as flood, wild fire, and storms are part of nature itself. They are the factors that help shape the earth. The earth we live in today is a work of nature. These events that affect earth conditions are difficult to control and may not be desirable to control.
Two Virtues that Protect the World
According to Buddhism, the attitudes that help keep the world in order are
(1) Hiri (disgust/shame about bad things) When we are disgusted by something, we will avoid being near to or doing that thing. By developing this kind of feeling towards bad behavior, we will not do that type of action. For example, if we have an aversion towards stealing, we will never steal from anybody, even though no one would know we had done it.
(2) Ottappa (fear of the result of committing bad actions) When we are afraid of the consequence of something, we will not initiate any kind of action to cause it to happen. Committing bad actions may result in the suffering of others or our own selves.
People who possess the qualities of Hiri and Ottappa will not hurt or cause any disturbance to others. They will not destroy the environment or deteriorate the conditions of the earth since they hate such actions and are afraid of bad consequences.
How to develop Hiri and Ottappa
In order to develop a high level of Hiri and Ottappa, we have to have a strong determination, which can be achieved through the practice of meditation. Meditation is the best way to train our mind to be strong, firm, and calm at the same time. It helps the mind to calm down, be able to focus on the important issues and see things the way as they actually are. Especially when one attains Dhammakaya through meditation, one will feel spiritually happy and want others and the world to be at peace. People with a confused and agitated state of mind may have wrong perceptions of the things they see.
- The morning session begins at 9.30 am with a meditation session
- The offerings ceremony to the monastic community
- A meditation session and chanting of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta by the venerable monks.
- Q & A about Buddhism and Meditation.