Friday, April 17, 2015

Earth Hour Metta Meditation

28th March 2015, Saturday night was Earth Hour, from 8:30pm-9:30pm. Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery Gratitude Corner organized a special observance of the Earth Hour: Metta Meditation. Instead of the usual celebratory festival mood, it is suitable for Buddhists to have a more serious approach to a reminder event.

24 participants sat in the open, behind the Hall of Great Compassion. It's a great way to be in touch with the outside air again and to remind us.

The reminder is to have us remember to live a lifestyle that is consistent with a sustainable planet. To have lifestyle change, first our actions has to change, our actions is also influenced by our speech, which is influenced by our thoughts and it all sprang from our views. Inline with that, the Green education part was from 7pm onwards until 8:30pm. There was a 21 minute video of glacier melting, the interdependence of climate change, hope for a green future, evidences of rebirth into humans and the call for working together to have a solution. Together these videos achieved the goal of having the green view of the participants.

There are also poster stands, presenting a story in the Vinaya, Culla Vagga about how the order of the Sangha had been environmentally conscious. In the story, Ananda described how they reuse their old robes by turning them into cover sheets. With the old cover sheets becoming floor sheets, then covers for pillows and mattress, foot towels, then dusters, and finally, the old dusters are shredded up knead into mud and spread out on the flooring.

This shows the level of commitment that Buddha has for environmental protection.

We also had a time to show the official Earth Hour 2015 video! The point of Earth Hour is not to be green only during this hour, but to go beyond the hour, to commit to a greener lifestyle for the coming year and recommit every year!

Then Venerable Chuan Guan gave us a Dhamma talk about how practicing the Dhamma and turning off air-conditioner is one of the best ways to be green. In practicing non-greed, non-attachment, one is not bothered if the air-conditioning is turned on or not. An air-conditioner takes up to thousands of watts of electricity, and most of the other appliances in our home takes up to a few to a hundred watts of electricity. Or compare it with a standing fan of only 75 watts!

We are also introduced to the concept of Metta Meditation and how by realizing that we are all living in a small fishbowl, whatever we throw at the earth, is actually throwing at our small fishbowl. We are all interdependent, thus having love for us and other sentient beings means having to include loving the small fishbowl that we live in.

Metta Meditation is the training in loving-kindness, having the sincere wish for all beings to be well and happy without any expectations. During the one hour, actual Earth Hour, we had a guided Metta meditation sitting in the dark. Metta Round the World had been our supporter, spreading the idea for this event to all of it's participating organisations all around the world!

The photograph is adjusted for longer exposure so the sky seems brighter than what the naked eye sees. There is an unexpected glow from the dragon as well.
Our photographer had taken the rare opportunity of total darkness in the monastery to capture breathtaking pictures. And our participants and volunteers feedback that the event was meaningful and wishes to have it next year again!

 "The selected venue which was in an open space instead of an enclosed area is very helpful. Though it was just for a short session, it was a fruitful one; especially during the lights off when the area was in total darkness and in mute silence. I feel very closely connected to the nature. It was like I am in an empty space, the universe; calm and peaceful. Hah! I may sounds exaggerating but this is truly what I felt"
                                                                                                                       -ChengYee, Volunteer

 "Earth Hour Metta Meditation was an excellent opportunity for me to reflect upon the scarcity of Earth resources and develop mindfulness of how our way of life can have irreversible consequences on the Earth and future generations to come. I am also more grateful to Earth for providing an environment for Buddhism to flourish. 感恩!"  
                                                                                                                        -Yi Hao, Participant

At the end, we dedicated merits to the late Lee Kuan Yew, Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, all beings, and for the successful climate conference in Paris 2015 for it is the first time that all nations in the world, including USA and China, agree to have a legally binding climate agreement.

As the issue of climate change is urgent, it is hoped that in the spirit of loving-kindness, this event will spread to more and more temples and monasteries around the world and we can help use the power of love to sustain the planet!