In The Practice of the Wild, the poet Gary Snyder writes, ”The world is our conscious, and it surrounds us. There are more things in mind, in imagination, than ‘you’ can keep track of – thoughts, memories, images, angers, delights, rise unbidden.”
We are formed by the world. It resembles the mystery of our minds. Still, the world is suffering: Water shortage. Climate chaos. Mass poverty. Mass migration. Terrorism. Financial greed. And so forth.
What to do? In the same essay, Snyder stresses, ”An ethical life is one that is mindful.” Becoming mindful is the challenge.
Of course, we all know it. The world — our planet — needs our care to survive. Yet, it seems as if the planet is wrapped more in sweet and symbolic words than actual concrete actions. Saving the planet has become a moralistic quest. We have forgotten, “the shared ground of our common biological being,” as Snyder writes, that is to say; you have more in common with a lion than what differentiates you from it.
Saving the planet is our responsibility, some say. Some even wants to save it, because they feel guilty. They are concerned about the fear of suffering from future guilt, as when our kids or our friends kids confront us, “Why didn’t you do anything?” However, guilt, fear, and responsibility … I am not sure that it works. At least it doesn’t seem like it’s working. Instead, I suggest that we save the planet out of love.
It’s that simple. We need the planet because we love the sun, the rain, and the wind. We need the planet because we love how we are connected with every being that breathes. We need the planet because we live here; our memories, love stories and miseries are embedded here. We don’t love the planet because we need it for something as vague as career, status or prestige.
Out of love. That’s the best intention for everything. Out of love we plant small seeds, then we nurture them, take care of them, and we do so because deep down we know that survival of the fittest doesn’t rule the world (only capitalism works that way). On the contrary, in life it’s compassion, care, and love that rules. It’s because I care that some life will go on living.
Do you care?
An ethical life is mindful, well, a mindful life is one that tries to live here and now in our bodies. Here and now is also how Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari defined utopia in What Is Philosophy?, ”Utopia does not split off from infinite movement: etymologica1ly it stands for absolute deterritorialization but always at the critical point at which it is connected with the present relative milieu, and especially with the forces stifled by this milieu, Erewhon, the word used by Samuel Butler, refers not only to no-where but also to now-here.”
Utopia. Nowhere is always now and here. We don’t need more contemplation, not even higher ideals or moral categories. Rather we need to connect with the present. Becoming more mindful. Mindfulness of the body, for example, can be practiced by watching the breath when goes in and out, listening to the sounds, noticing the smells in the air, becoming aware of what we put in our mouth. Awareness is the key, not judgment. Mind and body are indistinguishable like Alberto Contador and his bike.
To love is not an intellectual project. Don’t your lips shiver when you kiss your lover? Do you love your kids out of responsibility? Out of guilt? No, because that’s not love. You love them because you love them.
Don’t you love the place where you live? If not … move to Mars.
For more on mindful philosophy, I have published the essay “Philosophy of Everyday Life” in the Journal of Philosophy of Life.