O Buddha, lead us to the green light
By Op Rana (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-03 07:54

O Buddha, lead us to the green light

Of late, a journalist friend in India has been bombarding me with forwards. Most of the files are jokes, some new and interesting, others old and stale. Just a couple of days ago he forwarded me something that I would like to share with readers. It goes something like this:

One day, one of Buddha's disciples approached him and said humbly: "Oh teacher, you are so concerned about the world and its matters, I hope you looked to your disciples' needs too."

Buddha: "Okay. Tell me, how can I help you".

Disciple: "Master, my attire is torn and beyond decency to wear. Can I have a new one, please?"

Buddha saw that the robe was indeed beyond repair. So he got the disciple a new one. The disciple thanked Buddha and retired to his room. Though Buddha had met the disciple's need, he was not totally content.

So next morning he went to the disciple and asked him: "Is your new robe comfortable? Do you need anything more?"

Disciple: "Thank you, Master. The robe is very comfortable. I need nothing more."

Buddha: "Having got a new robe, what did you do with the old one?"

Disciple: "I am using it as my bedspread."

Buddha: "Then have you thrown away your old bedspread?"

Disciple: "No Master, I am using it as a curtain."

Buddha: "What about your old curtain, then?"

Disciple: "Being used to hold hot utensils in the kitchen."

Buddha: "Oh, I see so what happened to the cloth used in the kitchen earlier?"

Disciple: "They are being used to wash the floor."

Buddha: "And the old rags used to wash the floor?"

Disciple: "Master, since they were torn to shreds, we could find no better use for them than as wicks in the lamps one of them is in your room now."

Buddha smiled and left the room.

In today's world, (especially to urban dwellers) it may appear ridiculous, absurd or even debasing to even think of emulating the disciple's example. But, we can at least try to find the best and optimum use for our resources - both at home and in our workplaces. We are trapped by the trend in the tragedy of waste - call it a comfort trap, if you will.

The tens, if not hundreds, of water bottles (some of which have not even been opened) one sees lying on pavements, roads and parks in Beijing make me feel we have forgotten what life was like until some decades ago. We no longer reuse even the most reusable of products.

This historical disconnect is discomforting news for the planet. The West broke its ties, unwittingly though, with nature at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. It didn't even bother to look back at its history of destruction because capitalism's ideologues projected it as a marvel of achievements and victories.

The world still seems to be seeing through the tinted glasses of palimpsest, for it has been repeating the mistakes, and in much greater measures. This is leading toward certain doom because we are devouring resources in a matter of years that the Earth will take thousands of years to reproduce.

The champions of the market may call it the environmental doomsayers' "cry-wolf" chant but the only way to avoid doomsday is to treat the Earth well. We have to treat it well to right all the wrongs.

And we have to treat it well because it was not given to us by our parents but borrowed from our children.

E-mail: oprana@hotmail.com

(China Daily 07/03/2009 page12)