Evidence Based Religion

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village 2011

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, known as Thay by his followers, was interviewed by Jo Confino, and executive editor of the Guardian on December 22, 2011 in Plum Village, Dordogne, France.

The interviewer asked,

“One of the things that you said in your talk is that the Earth, planet Earth, Mother Earth is not the same as the environment. And you said we need to go beyond environmentalism and just having environmental activists. Can you just tell us a little about what you mean about that?”

When you come to know that the Earth is not just the environment – that the Earth is in you and you are in the Earth, then you touch the nature of interbeing.

Thay goes on to expand on these ideas and points out that the highest form of prayer is when the one who prays is the one you pray to.

He explains the idea that mindfulness and not economics is needed to protect nature.

Thay introduces the insight that we have a great need for an evidence based religion in order for civilization to avoid being destroyed by global warming. Just like science requires physical evidence to verify a theory before it can be accepted, we use the power of mindfulness, concentration, and insight to find evidence for ourselves about or interbeing with the Earth, the Sun and the whole cosmos.

For example, cosmologists have found scientific evidence that everything in and around the Earth and solar system came to be because of previous generations of stars that apparently died in this section of the universe. These so-called dead stars are actually continued in us. We are nothing but stardust!

So what would a evidence based religion look like? Through the right view on our relationship to the Earth – the view that we inter-are with Mother Earth, we will have our own personal evidence needed to do what we can to help save our civilization.

Thay pointed out that even if we fail to save our civilization, the Earth will recover in a million years or more, and life will continue from then. Perhaps our continuation in this form will be in a more enlightened society.

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