Laudato Si is a great title for Pope Francis’ brave, direct encyclical on our collective human responsibility for polluting and endangering our home here on earth. Francis of Assisi was the first European environmentalist. He wrote his Canticle to the Sun back in 1223 in Italian, and this 2015 encyclical by our modern Francis, eight centuries later, is named Laudato Si after the 5th line in the Canticle. “Laudato sie, mi Signore cum tucte le Tue creature” translates as:
Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures
All “creatures” on this earth give simple, pure praise by their very existence and diversity. Canticle of the Sun is, in a way, a “Third Testament”, more evolved than the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament, in Genesis 1: 26, clearly expresses God’s wish that we be masters of all the other creatures. It is easily seen as flawed and human-centric when viewed in today’s precarious setting by all but the most closed minds. Here I offer an original song about interconnectedness. It is called Sapphire, after the iconic photo from space that helped us realize how beautiful and precious is Planet Earth. The New Testament tells Christians that God the Father sacrificed his son, Jesus, to redeem humanity from our sins.
Brother Sun and Sister Moon… What I call the “Third Testament” was perceived back in 1223 by the revolutionary genius and sensitivity of Francis of Assisi and by indigenous peoples many millennia ago. In Canticle of the Sun Francis personifies even the inanimate to show the intimacy of every thing in our universe. Here, Francis celebrates not the triumphant division of creation into masters and chattels, but the oneness and interdependence of all living and non-living things on earth. What the “Third Testament” tells us, if we are truly listening, is that we must now struggle in extreme hasteto see creation as one. We must see our “enemies,” in love and vulnerability, as partners in our urgent struggle.
I have a few of Bob Marley’s songs in my repertoire, but have been listening closely to his music lately for a number of good reasons. Here is something I’ve just realized that stopped me in my tracks:
Don’t Worry I just sang carelessly for a while, getting the words of the first two lines of the verse wrong. Now I realize that I missed a universe of meaning in those two, seemingly simple, lines:
Rise up this morning
Smile with the rising sun
I italicized above the words I was getting wrong. I would sing them:
Woke up this morning
Smile at the rising sun
But how much was missed by not listening carefully enough!
Rise: Bob rose up; he did not simply open his eyes passively and enjoy the sunlight. He stood up and saw his doorstep. He probably walked over to it. This song represents a conscious, deliberate act.
With: Bob smiled with the rising sun. Not an accidental choice of words here, I think. For Bob, the sun was smiling too. The human and the sphere that sustains him were smiling together. They were friendly. Bob didn’t put a distance between him and the sun; I can almost imagine the two of them standing and even taking a drink together. I don’t know what Bob drank, but to me they were sharing a close, almost chummy, moment.
The three little birds also were singing one song – a melody pure and true. They were singing with and for Bob and the Sun.
The message for me: if we realize how ephemeral, illusory and interconnected life is we will not worry, because every little thing gonna be alright.
The title of this blog is one of the slogans used in The Main Practice (Training in Bodhichitta). This is one very useful activity of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. Bodhichitta is the state of having an awakened heart-mind. It is useful in alerting us to opportunities to avoid the consequences of giving in to our natural tendencies to react negatively to objects, people or situations..
I am not a Buddhist, but I suffer from unnecessary anger. I also believe in the interconnectedness of all sentient beings. I have found this practice of allowing suffering and healing to “ride the breath” a useful way to become aware of mounting aggression and often avoid losing my temper over something stupid. Continue reading “Three Objects, Three Poisons and Three Seeds Of Virtue”