“How will this affect the seventh generation?” ~ The Haudenosaunee
Have two choices, up or down,
Buddhas only one.
Try as you like you’ll never
Toss a stone out of this world.”
~Anonymous Buddhist poem
Bicycle In The Park Stock Photo By Feelart – Coutersy of Freedigitalphotos.net
In his ‘Seven Wonders” book, John Ryan shares the story of a meeting between the Dalai Lama and economist John Kenneth Galbraith. Dalai Lama, using a koan asked M Galbraith: “What would the world be like if everyone drove a motor car?”
A Buddhist koan, as Ryan explains, is a question that may not have logical answer, but in the way to find this answer or solution, we may be hit with a flash of enlightening.
And how that world would be? Is it desirable, realistic or achievable having everybody driving their own car? Take five minutes and imagine all the things that need to happen for all to have and drive a car, now take another five minutes and imagine the consequences of this, in the implausible reality that this were achieved: imaging the use of energy and raw materials to manufacture the vehicles, the fuel needed to run them, the pollution, the accidents, injuries and deaths, the traffic jams, the amount of soil covered by roads and highways, the amount of stores and workshops to repair and maintain them, the landfills full of debris once they are no longer usable or desirable…imagine the amount of money and effort put on maintaining the roads for them to circulate…
“Business as usual can only proceed if we close our eyes to where it is taking us”
~Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone –
Active Hope or How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy”
A few years ago, I started an internet group named “For a future without cars”. I wasn’t aware of Dalai Lama’s koan, I just felt the weight of all the above, on the top of cars and the culture that supports them being discriminatory, individualistic and terrible inefficient as a way of transportation. I decided not to attempt to drive anymore. Even when sometimes, like today, it may lead to funny, embarrassing or even dangerous situations (I took the wrong bus and ended up in the middle of nowhere, crossing a highway and coming late to an important meeting, a surrealistic experience while it lasted!)
Ryan’s book is a wonder in itself: written in 1999, it mentions seven sustainability wonders that are as current today as they were then and still will be in years to come.
Sustainability wonders are technologies, uses, tools or even beings that have demonstrated to be nice on the Earth, accessible to all, use renewable resources, promote or invite fairness and inclusiveness, make people healthier, happier or more resilient and are fairly easy to build, maintain, learn and use.
These are the seven “wonders” Ryan talks about in his book:
Environmental scientist Donella Meadows wrote a blog some years ago about this same book and the Seven Sustainable Wonders. She mentions that she started seeing wonders all around her: the root cellar, the basket, the olive tree, the sari, the compost pile…and invited her readers to continue thinking on other “wonders”. Her blog can be read here: “Seven-plus Wonders of Sustainability”
After the roller-coaster that has been my experience with community groups, gardens, learning, facilitation, people, etc. I can think about some other sustainability wonders:
Do you agree? Do you have others in mind?