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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Winds of Change.

changing winds swirl
clinging golden leaf shivers
smoke escapes cabin

By James R. Ure

Recently my wife and I did some cabin-sitting for our friends. Their A-frame structure is perched on a small hill deep in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado near where I live. It is miles from any sign of civilization, which is divine. They are nearly entirely, "off-the-grid" or self-sufficient thanks to solar panels and wind turbines that our friend manufactures with a buddy at his cabin a few miles away. It's a lovely home with a sea of green pine trees interspersed with small groves of quaking Aspens for a view from their front porch. We are often welcomed to come up and camp out on their property during the summer, so we were honored to give back to them by watching their homestead for a time.

Living "off-the-grid" means changing your focus on how you use energy and other resources. Knowing that the energy for the cabin was not unlimited nor on-demand like it seemingly is in the city made us much more conscious of its use. The irony is that we are already quite environmentally conscious. It underlined the truth that actually the energy we get in town isn't in-fact unlimited as we often think. It's easy to get complacent with energy use when we live in a city because it seems so permanent. Almost every time that we flip a switch, we are flooded with energy. This lulls us into thinking that this energy will always be there for us, which can never be true. Awareness of how energy is actually created; like seeing it work from wind gave me deep insight into how the way we live our lives is creating a deficit of suffering so to speak.

We put off a lot of natural suffering by our over-consumption of energy. We run our thermostat high, so we can wear shorts inside the house during the winter, and we plug in our cell phones while running the laptop and the television. This all makes for a very luxurious life to be sure, but each time we flip on the switch we are taking years off the livability of planet Earth. And, at the same time robbing our children and grandchildren from a healthy life. It's not unlike a country borrowing money to maintain a lifestyle that's unsustainable. It's a foolish game of borrowing against tomorrow to increase the enjoyment of today. And, like any form of karma this lifestyle will come back and reward us with exactly what we have invested into it.

But the hour is not too late. We can adjust our ways and live less greedily. It's easy to see greed by people who hoard money or take what isn't theirs but it's hard sometimes to see flipping on a switch as a form of greed. That's why I think if we invested in making everyone have a direct role in providing for the energy they use by hooking up all houses with wind turbines and solar panels that we could wake up in time. Awareness (as Buddha taught) is a powerful tool that can allow us to accomplish just about anything. If we don't know the full scope of what's actually going on around us, we really are living in denial and will be shocked back into reality. Isn't it better to see that reality now and adjust accordingly so that we are at one with that reality? That way, whatever is good for us will be the same thing that's good for nature because is it really a healthy life to have so much energy that we can go shopping for crap at 2 in the morning?

PHOTO: Cabin view from front porch by James R. Ure

~Peace to all beings~

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a nice retreat you were able to go to. What about building a cabin nearby your friends? Then you too could drop out of an over-consuming society, and start a small Buddhist community. That would be real change. If not your friends land, maybe get with some like minded people and by some land yourselves, and begin to live in a small community that way. Sharing your lives, and being helpmates along the way. You could even start a non-profit church, not a 501-c but a 501-d where you take a vow of poverty and all income goes into the community pot. You give up all your private property, so that you become extremely conscious of turning on the switches. :) It is going to take 30 years or more for the American consumer to go solar and wind power, at least. So by doing the above you could start within the next few years...just an idea. :)

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