Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Earth Hour Metta Meditation Still On Because It Is Not Celebratory In Nature, All The More Love Is Needed In Times Of Sadness

News of Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s death had prompted WWF Singapore to cancel their celebration of Earth Hour and just have a simple 60+ Earth Hour logo with LED candles and lights off. Many other malls followed suit. However one event is still appropriate to continue on. That is Earth Hour Metta Meditation.
Metta is an ancient Indian language word for loving-kindness, which is love without expectations. During this event, participants are invited to sit down during Earth Hour and spread this loving-kindness to the Earth and all beings on it. Because meditation is solemn in nature, it is still appropriate to have this event ongoing.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew had cleaned up Singapore’s River, established Singapore as a Garden City, and established water recycling in Singapore. Many of his plans are environmentally conscious and yet Singapore is not perfect in being 100% green. We can still be more civic minded in not treating the recycling bins as rubbish bins and vice versa.
So in truly being appreciative of his foundational efforts, we should not slack in our efforts to help make Singapore more environmentally friendly. This is especially urgent since Singapore is now depending on the last landfill of the country, which is estimated to last another 30 years at the rate of rubbish generation of Singaporeans.
However, the more fundamental concern maybe the geographical one. As a low-lying island, Singapore is very vulnerable to sea level rise. Even as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts sea level rise by the end of this century to be about one meter, if global warming is left unchecked, you can bet that the sea level rise will go beyond one meter and much more. So Singapore of 50 years independence (and much longer history as a port city) might only have a few more centuries to live on the same land. Unless we somehow figure out how to float the entire island, or build underwater cities.
earth hour metta meditation
Earth Hour Metta Meditation is organized by Gratitude Corner (Environmental Protection Projects) of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, the largest temple in Singapore. It is supported by Metta Round the World, a project aimed at creating more loving minds in the world for peace, harmony and happiness. The event is free for all (regardless of religious inclination) to come, no registration. From 7pm onwards, the public can come to the monastery to behind the Hall of Great Compassion (the first hall from the entrance) and learn about some exhibitions and videos of environmentalism and how Buddhism can contribute to address the problem. There would be talks around 7:50pm and the meditation, guided by a Venerable (monastic) will start at 8:30pm until 9:30pm.
Meditation is another word for mind training, or mental development. In Metta Meditation, we train to be familiarized with loving without any expectations. Too often we demand some form of return from whomever we pour our efforts into, and when we do not get it, we would feel sad and demotivated to continue on the work. This is very applicable in the scene of environmental protection. Just like Mr. Lee Kuan Yew who had worked away his life for the sake of Singapore, we can take to his example and contribute what we can for the sake of a safer earth to live on.
As such, in the work to protect the environment, we cannot lack this motivation of Metta, or Great Love, loving-kindness. Despite the attitudes of others around us being not environmentally conscious, ordering meat (it does harm the environment), not recycling and so on, we can do the opposite and be environmentally friendly out of our innate love. Once we are established ourselves in being green and having Great Love, we can spread it around and influence others to do the same.
In a study done in the United States of America, they had found a significant drop in violent crime in Washington, D.C., from June 7 to July 30, 1993 due to approximately 4,000 participants in the Transcendental Meditation programme. The statistical probability that this result could reflect chance variation in crime levels was less than 2 in 1 billion (p < .000000002). As such, the power of the mind, especially collectively is significant to change our world.
Metta Round the World aims at gathering the people round the world (Buddhist or not) to meditate on Metta together for peace, harmony, and stability in the world. In line with that, knowing that climate change contributed to the war in Syria, it is only natural to include being green as part of the practice of loving-kindness.
If nothing else, this event teaches the participants to reflect in themselves, to develop that sense of love and compassion for the world and act accordingly. As we change, we have the power to influence others (without expectations), and thus at the end of the event, we dedicate this act towards a sustainable planet, and the memory of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, wishing him (wherever he is now) and all beings to be well and happy.
It is also worth mentioning that this year is the year in which the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference would be held in Paris. The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. For the first time, China and United States, the two biggest carbon emitters of the world has agreed to work together to change climate change. So we also dedicate this act of loving-kindness to the success of this conference. Just as our leaders act on the top, we can act from the bottom to help make a better future for our next generation.
May all of us be well and happy! And not just during Earth Hour, go beyond the hour!