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Submitted by lisamont2 on Mon, 4/23/2012, 1:29am
“Regard all dharmas as dreams.” – The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind by Geshe Chekawa
I've been testing online resources that might help us with Responsible Consumption, while also limiting myself to what humans have eaten for thousands of years. This week, due to an upset stomach and other flulike symptoms, responsible consumption has meant munching on organic rice and rice cakes, which absorb stomach acid. (You might think of rice cakes as a new technology, but the general principle of sticking rice together in different shapes has been around for thousands of years.)
I'm also working with the lojong or “mind training” slogans by the 12th-century Tibetan meditation master Geshe Chekawa. The Lojong and Tonglen Community Site lists all 59 proverbs and cites from some of the best-known commentaries, including those by Jamgön Kongtrül, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and Pema Chödrön. The slogan I'm working with now is Regard all dharmas as dreams. "More simply," writes Pema Chödrön, “regard everything as a dream. … Every situation is a passing memory.”
I just peeled a grapefruit in the kitchen. At the time, it was real, but now it's a memory. Now I'm typing these words, but that has just passed too. The experiences of typing and peeling a grapefruit don't exist any more than last night's dream.
When I'm sick, it helps to be gentle with myself and recall that whatever arises is temporary. Every situation is fleeting. Sometimes queasiness feels like giddiness or excitement. Vomiting and diarrhea can seem like a big deal, especially when I'm rushing to the bathroom. But a nightmare of being chased – running for my life – feels like much more of a big deal, when it's happening, than hightailing it to the toilet. Pema Chödrön suggests, “allow a mental gap to open, and wonder, 'Could it be? Am I dreaming this?' Pinch yourself. Dreams are just as convincing as waking reality. You could begin to contemplate the fact that things are not as solid or as reliable as they seem.” If I start to think, “Oh, poor me,” it helps to remember that this too shall pass. It's like getting caught up in a thought while meditating. Sometimes it seems like a real Buddhist breakthrough, but I know not to cling to it. In a month or so, a deeper insight will make this one seem superficial. And actually nothing's happening – I'm just sitting on a cushion watching my mind do its thing.
“Regard all dharmas as dreams” is also a great slogan for working with fear. When we know that fear will pass, it's easier to drop whatever stories we're telling ourselves about why we're afraid and stay with the qualities of the feeling.
What's On My Food? frightened me when I first encountered it. The website and iPhone app let you search more than 90 foods, including water, and provide highly specific information – the names of pesticide residues that have been found on these foods and their known or probable effects on human health and the environment. This information comes from the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America. Their Pesticide Database culls and compares data from a number of sources, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), World Health Organization (WHO), National Toxicology Program (NTP), National Institutes of Health (NIH), International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the European Union (EU), and the State of California.
Before I found What's On My Food?, I used to consult the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) list of 53 fruits and vegetables, ranked from most to least pesticides. The lowest 12 are the “Dirty Dozen,” and the 15 with the highest numbers are the “Clean 15.” When possible, I bought organic, locally grown, seasonal produce but when I only had access to conventionally grown food, I consulted my wallet guide and purchased the “Clean 15.” You can download the mobile app for Android phones, iPhone/iPad, or Windows phones, or print out the PDF.
Unfortunately, the EWG list only ranked the produce 1 through 53. It didn't say what pesticide residues had been found on the fruits or vegetables, or how these chemicals affect our health and our environment.
If I look up blueberries on the What's On My Food? iPhone app, it tells me that the USDA Pesticide Data Program found 52 pesticide residues on conventional blueberries, including 8 known or probable carcinogens, 24 suspected hormone disruptors, 14 neurotoxins, 7 developmental or reproductive toxins, and 21 honeybee toxins. A few residues were even detected on organic blueberries. This is true of many organic foods, since air, dust, and water carries pesticides to organic farms.
What's On My Food? convinced me to buy organic whenever I could, but it also shocked me to see how many pesticides were on organic food and just how hard it is to avoid substances that harms us and the environment.
Shock is just another opportunity to practice. As a form of fear, it taps into a fundamental anxiety, a sense of uncertainty, groundlessness, and fluttering fragility, that's always right beneath the surface – easy to access. When we feel fear -- the fear of suffering -- we tend to run away or shut ourselves off. But fear itself is not that solid. If we can let go of the stories we tell ourselves and gradually lean into the fear, we tap into our tenderness, our ability to love and keep our hearts open to suffering without shutting down.
We are on this journey as a community. Read all the Responsible Consumption posts and follow along as we examine our habits.
Image by Taro Taylor originally posted to Flickr as The Abyss [CC-BY-2.0 (http-//creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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