August 19, 2010
If you haven't been following Clark Strand's columns about Green Bodhisattvas on tricycle.com, you should be. It is fascinating and inspiring to watch Strand flesh out this idea that all ancient wisdom traditions share some type of eco-spiritual roots. His belief is that humanity has fallen out of touch with its intimate connections to Nature, and that we need to reestablish that connection urgently. Ever since his feature piece “Turn Out the Lights” appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of the magazine, Tricycle has been helping provide a forum for Strand to articulate this worldview. Through his online retreat on Green Meditation, this series of Green Koans, his upcoming “Green Bodhissatva” column in the magazine, and his teachings at the Green Meditation Society, Strand is building a framework around his idea that we need to become reacquainted with the “green” teachings of our ancestors.
Initially, I had my reservations about endorsing Green Meditation (and to be honest, I still haven’t tried it), because it didn’t seem to be rooted in anything that I was familiar with. Great, I thought, a spiritual teacher cashing in on a modern buzzword by claiming it has ancient roots. But then I had a couple of realizations: 1) “green” is a modern buzzword because we didn’t have environmental problems like this in ancient times and 2) we can learn things about how to handle modern environmental problems from ancient spiritual teachings—because they didn’t have these problems for a reason. What Strand’s “green” spirituality idea lacks in historical precedent, it makes up for with its intuitive draw. The world is facing some mind-numbingly serious environmental problems. Perhaps Strand's collection of and teachings on the "green" wisdom from ancient traditions can help alleviate some of those problems—or at least help to cleanse polluted spirits.