Buddhist activist and teacher Joanna Macy invites us to meditate on our intimate coexistence:
You know your lives are as intricately interwoven as nerve cells in the mind of a great being. . . . Out of that vast net you cannot fall. . . . No stupidity or failure or cowardice can ever sever you from that living web. For that is what you are . . . rest in that knowing. Rest in the Great Peace. . . . Out of it we can act, we can dare anything . . . and let every encounter be a homecoming to our true nature. . . .
In doing this practice, we realize that we do not have to be particularly noble or saint-like in order to wake up to the power of our connection with other beings. In our time, that simple awakening is the gift the global crises hold for us. For all its horror and delusion, nuclear war, like the toxins that our factories spew into our world, is also the manifestation of an awesome spiritual truth—the truth about the hell we create for ourselves when we cease to learn how to love. Saints, mystics, and prophets throughout the ages saw that law; now all can see it and none can escape its consequences. So we are caught now in a narrow place where we realize that Lao-tzu, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and our own hearts were right all along; and we are as scared and frantic as a cornered rat—and as dangerous. But if we let it, that narrow cul-de-sac can turn into a birth canal, pressing and pushing us through the darkness of pain, until we are delivered into . . . what? Love seems too weak a word. It is, as Paul said to the Romans, “the glory to be revealed in us” [8:18]. It stirs in us now.
Macy particularly challenges people of faith to act on the teachings of our spiritual founders:
For us to regard the threat of climate catastrophe, nuclear war, the dying seas, or the poisoned air as a monstrous injustice suggests that we never took seriously the injunction to love. Perhaps we all thought that Gautama [the Buddha] and Jesus were kidding or that their teachings were meant only for saints. But now comes the daunting revelation, that we are all called to be saints—not good necessarily, or pious, or devout—but saints in the sense of just caring for one another. One wonders what terrors this knowledge must hold that we fight it so and flee from it in such pain. Can our present capacity to extinguish all life tell us this? Can it force us to face the terrors of love? Can it be the occasion of our birth?
In that possibility we take heart. Even in confusion and fear, with all our weariness and petty faults, we can let that awareness work in and through our lives