Jataka Mind

Cross-species compassion from ancient India to Earth First! activists

Andrew Schelling

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Buddhists believe that we are all incipient Buddhas, migrating through incalculable reaches of time and space, navigating a complicated succession of births, each of us on course to ultimate Buddhahood. In other words, the stories of the Buddha's previous births are not somebody else's but our own. They recount the births and deaths we collectively come upon in our voyage. What we have begun to witness in our day among eco-activists, among radical animal rights workers, among those who draw any line against thoughtless, mechanized, greed-inspired destruction of wildlands, is a resurgence of the old spirit of the Jataka Tales. Makers of story are everywhere being born around us, wakening the old spirit, adding like Aryashura their own tales to the Garland of Birth Stories.

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