If I Break the Stem of This Flower, Can you Feel It?

I recently attended a “Zen and Climate Action” workshop at Daikozen-ji, our new Madison Zen Dojo. During his talk, Gordon Greene Roshi reached toward a flower on the butsudan (see image above) and gently held a stem between his fingers. “It wouldn’t take much strength to snap the stem of this flower,” he said, “but if I did that, it would somehow hurt you.” 

He was right; I could feel the truth of it in my body. It seemed barbaric to imagine him snapping the bud from its stem.

He continued, “And yet we had the lights on for the last hour, and it didn’t seem to hurt anyone.”

What are you connected to? What do you feel? What are you cut off from, and don’t feel?

Otto Scharmer’s Theory U suggests three divides that are creating crises in our era:

  • The divide between self and nature causes the climate crisis
  • The divide between self and other causes institutionalized racism and social injustice
  • The divide between self and self causes our spiritual crises

What does Zen offer to these epic crises? In my experience, sitting zazen brings me into samadhi where the delusion of “otherness” is pierced. I am not separate from a flower, or the flow of electricity to a light bulb, or from you. 

In this state of interconnectedness, everything that hurts our planet hurts me, too. Everything that hurts you, hurts me, too.

In this state of interconnectedness, true healing begins. We know the next, right action to take, to heal our world.

What about you? How does your Zen practice contribute to healing our world?

This 15 minute video features several perspectives on Zen and Climate Change from Gordon Greene Roshi, Ginny Whitelaw Roshi, and other IZL faculty. 

“This program is infused with wisdom and truth.
It gives each participant the skills to create
the necessary conditions to live and lead from your 
most effective self”
– Kristi Crymes, DO, Family Physician


Last chance to register for the last HEAL offering in 2019 – Nov 7-10

The 6th Annual Mindful Leadership Summit in Washington DC will connect hundreds of leaders and teachers, and is increasingly bringing the body into the picture. Ginny will be teaching a breakout session as well as a 3-hour workshop on how to hone and apply resonance for making a greater difference. Register now to receive a discount.