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Buddhism: Mindfulness and Ecology Essay

Buddhism: Mindfulness and Ecology Essay Assignment 1: Discussion – Human Responsibility

Context: Many of the leading voices of Buddhism offer reflections on the significance and meaning of caring for our common home. Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, is the spiritual leader for the people of Tibet. His teachings include a respect among all religions of the world as well as concern for our connection to nature. He is the temporal leader of the Tibet government-in-exile.

Eijun Linda Cutts is a senior Zen Dharma Teacher and Soto Zen priest and served as the Abiding Abbess of Green Gulch Farm Zen Center. Her video “Preaching for the Planet” is a reflection of “the relationship between Zen practice and taking care of the environment”.

Buddhism: Mindfulness and Ecology Essay

 

Task: Choose one of the following options and write a critical essay of 300 words describing the view of human responsibility in environmental and ecological issues and the expression of compassion for other beings.

 

  1. Three messages and two videos by the Dalai Lama related to the topic of this course, http://www.dalailama.com/webcasts/category/0/publish_date/10or
  2. The Zen Center video http://sfzc.org/about-zen-center/principles-governance/green-practice/video-zen-practice-and-the-environment(Transcript)

 Buddhism: Mindfulness and Ecology Essay

 

Assessment: The Discussion Rubric will be used to assess this assignment.

Assignment 2: Mindfulness Practice Commentary

Context: Buddhism, with its many schools and interpretations of the various teachings on the nature of reality, is a profoundly intellectual and scholarly approach to spirituality. However, the quintessential component that most approaches to the Buddhist teachings share is an unremitting emphasis on meditation practice as the means through which the individual may realize their Buddha nature, the intrinsic human capacity for enlightenment, the development of boundless wisdom and compassion.

 Buddhism: Mindfulness and Ecology Essay

Task: Assignment #2 (for both Undergraduate and graduate students) is presented as a mini retreat of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is a meditation technique to develop attentiveness through disciplining one’s mind to stay in the “now.” No escaping to daydreams of the past or promises of the future. No indulgent forays into long streams of discursive thoughts. Being present to the moment is the portal through which an individual can develop awareness: wisdom and compassion.

This “retreat” has several sections. The most crucial element of the retreat is to STOP YOUR SPEEDING and distracted state. You will be preparing and serving a sacred meal. You should allow all the time needed to thoughtfully, appreciatively, do the shopping and preparation. It is not necessarily a solemn occasion but rather a time of staying constantly present and relating to every detail completely: sights, sounds, smells and tastes.

 

Make out your shopping list first. Consistent with the work of Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Buddhist practitioner whom you will read in this section, please think of a VEGETARIAN meal and ingredients (Thich Nhat Hanh’s community is vegetarian and vegan, because they do not want to consume suffering).

Leave yourself sufficient time for preparation. If possible, engage your family’s help. Set the table so that it is aesthetically pleasing with flowers at the center. Take infinite care with the details, utensils just so, etc.

Be sure you, your family and friends lock away phones and computers during all sections of the practice. No electronics including cameras. Please do not take photographs at the sacred meal retreat. One of the fundamental Buddhist tenets is that everything, all phenomena, is changing constantly, so trying to freeze a moment on film is a denial of this quality of existence. We are going to be purists for the duration of the retreat. In daily life many Buddhists are avid photographers. People might leave their watches behind and turn clocks facing the wall when possible.

Buddhism: Mindfulness and Ecology Essay

No more than eight people at table works best. You should offer thanks for the bounty of the Earth which you are about to enjoy and which you had the honor to prepare for your family/guests. Enjoy the meal and the presence of the participants. Everyone should engage in the cleanup with as much attention to detail and as much pleasure and appreciation for the meal so thoughtfully prepared and happily eaten.

The final section of this “retreat” is to write a commentary on your experience of preparing and eating the sacred meal. Include the following ideas: Why might the meal qualify as sacred even though Buddhist belief does not include a “God” principle either as a specific deity or an abstract principle? What was the mood or the quality of the exchange among guests? Did you think people were trying to stay mindful, not only with the food and drink, but also in their conversation? What was the group sound like during the meal: joyful, boisterous, argumentative, delighted?

Buddhism: Mindfulness and Ecology Essay

Write a 500 word commentary on your experience, including responses to the above questions. In your commentary include a response to Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem in Earth Prayers p348-349. Did any of these ideas enter your thoughts while participating in the sacred meal retreat?

 

Delivery: Post your commentary to Week 5 Discussion Forum. Respond to two other students’ commentaries in the Forum.

 Buddhism: Mindfulness and Ecology Essay

Assessment: The Discussion Rubric will be used to assess this assignment.

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