Thich Nhat Hanh & Deer Park Monastery Go Solar!

As people around the world celebrated the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21, 2007, Thich Nhat Hanh and the 1,000 people attending his latest retreat, came together for the ground-breaking ceremony and unveiling of solar panels that will allow Deer Park Monastery to rely 100% on Solar power. “Deer Park's conversion to solar energy is one way that we lighten our steps on the Earth and truly arrive as responsible and loving children of the Earth.”

At the direction of Nhat Hanh teachings, they are actively engaging the problem of global warming. The photovoltaic solar panel system will be permanently installed in October. Supplied by Sacramento based Solar Inc., it will produce 66-kilowatts, providing all Deer Park's electricity needs and expected to perform for 25 years. Based on current electricity usage at the monastery, converting to solar energy will prevent the release of 120 tons of CO 2 into the atmosphere per year. Any solar generated electricity not used will be fed back into the grid.

“Every one of us can do something to protect and care for our planet.We have to live in such a way that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren.
Our own life has to be our message””—Thich Nhat Hanh

See Also

"Our Environment:
Touching the Gift of Life"

Excerpts from
Thich Naht Hanh's speech

This project, which will help preserve the environment, is a major financial investment with the price of approximately $530,000.00. Originally the project costs were significantly higher, but by performing energy audits and with the help of SDREO, they incorporated all energy efficient measures possible, including converting their entire lighting system, which reduced their total energy consumption by thirty percent. They've secured $182,000 from a rebate issued by the government of California. They still need to raise an additional $350,000 to cover all costs for this important community environmental project. If you'd like to help Deer Park's Go Solar! Project or to directly offset some of your own personal impact (travel, etc.) to global warming (and as a bonus know exactly where and what difference your monies are making), a tax-deductible contribution can be made via www.deerparkmonastery.org. Click here to download their Go Solar! info brochure, which will be available in the near future on Deer Park's website.

Every year thousands of people come to Deer Park to learn and experience the joy of simple living and practicing mindfulness in the hidden mountains of Escondido. The conversion to solar power will provide an opportunity to educate young and old about environmental issues and serve to inspire others. Deer Park's community reaches out to many diverse populations, and wishes to model the way for a sustainable future.

In addition to converting to solar energy, Deer Park has initiated other ecological projects: every Tuesday, they have a Car Free Day. They invite everyone to join them and enjoy a car free day at least once a week. Did you know that every mile you drive your car releases one pound of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere increasing global warming? North America, with almost one car per driving age citizen, releases the most greenhouse gas of any nation. You can learn more ways to reduce your carbon footprint and join over 45,000 others who have pledged car free days by signing up at www.carfreedays.org . Deer Park's vehicles have also been converted to run on reclaimed veggie oil and they recycle all possible materials. They've also been chosen as a demonstration site for an “Earth Tub,” a large scale composting unit with an auger, by the County of San Diego. Plans exist to hold joint educational workshops on composting on a regular basis. These will be open to the general public in the near future with hopes to also help increase support for organic gardening.

“When we are in harmony with each other, we are also in harmony with the land, with the plants and animals. We see our close relationship with every person and every species. The happiness and suffering of all humans and all other species are our own happiness and suffering. We inter-are... As human beings we see that we are children of the Earth and not separate from the soil, the forests, rivers and sky. We share the same destiny.” (from an excerpt of their Offering dedication speech for the solar energy project. Click here to read the complete speech)

Thich Nhat Hanh and Deer Park are mindfully walking their talk and being the change we wish to see, here and now.

Our Environment:
Touching the Gift of Life

Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and considered to be one of the world's foremost spiritual teachers, has been and is currently in Southern California as part of his U.S. Tour; conducting mindfulness retreats, Peace Walk and Day, public speaking, and dedicating the conversion of Deer Park Monastery to 100% Solar energy in Oct. On Oct. 2, he will be the keynote speaker on “Walking Together in Peace” at USD's 18th Annual Social Issues Conference. (more info at www.sandiego.edu/csl/social_issues/sic_18th/sicmark.php). On Oct. 6, he will deliver the keynote speech No Death, No Fear at UCLA's Mindfulness and Psychotherapy: Cultivating Well-being in the Present Moment Conference (see www.uclaextension.edu/mindfulness).

Thich Nhat HanhAs Jack Kornfield, Phd, author presenting at the UCLA event, describes “Through his being and his words, Thich Nhat Hanh invites us into the reality of the present… He has gotten us to see the depths of dependent origination in a flower. In the midst of it all he has taught us to breathe, to smile, to live with a free heart. And most importantly, in our troubled world he makes no false division between inner awakening and engaged compassion. To his eye, like his forbearer Mahatma Gandhi, every being matters, everything is sacred. “

Thich Nhat Hanh's key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future. Dwelling in the present moment is, according to Nhat Hanh, the only way to truly develop peace, both in one's self and in the world. Another core concept is “Interbeing”: Nothing can exist by itself alone. Everything depends on everything else in order to be.

Last year he addressed UNESCO, proposing concrete steps to reverse the downward spiral of violence, war and global warming. During his current tour he continues to expand on the urgent state of our environment and the necessity of our mindful action. We're grateful to be able to present excerpts of some of the highlights from his talk, “Our Environment: Touching the Gift of Life,” delivered Aug. 29, 2007 in Denver , CO .

In October Thich Nhat Hanh turns 82 years old. At the end of this talk, it was lovingly conveyed that the only thing he wished for his birthday is “for people to promise to help this planet to survive, for our children, grandchildren and descendants. Please pledge to help save the planet by having one day a week/month or more, without using your car, and try to live in a way that we can preserve the environment and help the young generation to have a future.”
Click here to download the Pledge: The Earth Peace Treaty Commitment Sheet,
plus learn more at www.carfreedays.org and www.deerparkmonastery.org

Thich Naht Hanh ~
Excerpts from his talk, “Our Environment: Touching the Gift of Life”

Our full presence brings about the full presence of life, of the environment. What I would like to say here is that our mind and our body inter-are, they do not exist separately as two entities. ..The first fact we would like to make is to look deeply into the nature of our body and of our mind. We'll find out that their nature is the nature of inter-being. The mind cannot be there without body and the body cannot be there without mind…. ~~~~~~

There must be elements around us and friends that will support us in thinking and speaking in the Line of Right Thinking and Right Speech. When we do something, a physical act, it can have the power of protecting, of saving, of supporting, of bringing relief that also is an element of healing to us and to the world. With compassion in us, we will repeat that kind of action several times a day, because love, compassion, always calls for action. When you are full of compassion, even if you don't take action, action will take you.

When we look at the orange tree we see the orange tree is producing beautiful leaves, beautiful blossoms, and beautiful oranges, and they are the best thing that an orange tree can produce, can offer to the world. We are human beings. We also offer to the world every moment of our daily life; that is our thought, our speech, and our act. You want to offer the best, the best kind of thought, the best kind of speech, and the best kind of action, and these are our continuation whether we want it or not, that is Kamma, action.

When this body disintegrates, we cannot bring along anything like a diploma, or fame, or wealth. We have to give up everything. The only thing that follows us is our action, the fruit of our thinking, of our speech, and of our acts during our lifetime.

~~~~~~

You are your environment. Your environment is what you have created personally and collectively, and that is why there is another step for us to make. You should transcend your duality… You are not only this, you are this. When you look up at the stars, the moon, you know that you are the stars and the moon. When you look at the mountain and forest, you know that you are the mountain and the forest. You are not only this, and there is interaction always between the two forms of environment.

~~~~~~

The social environment is very important because it can help touch and turn on the good things in us, or the bad things in us. If you think that you cannot do anything right now to change your environment, you have to think of ways in order to change the environment.

According to the teachings of Buddhism everything is impermanent and therefore it is possible for us to change our environment for the better. You might like to sit down and have a discussion to find ways to change, to improve the quality of our social environment. We can practice as a family, as a neighborhood, as a city or as a nation. We know that the social environment is very crucial in determining our future.

~~~~~~
~ Ring of the Mindfulness Bell ~

If we are capable of recognizing that beautiful river as something that belongs to the Kingdom of God, and then we will do our best in order to preserve it, not to allow it to be polluted. If we recognize that this planet does belong to the Kingdom of God, we would like to cherish it, protect it, so that we can enjoy it for a long time, and our children and their children will have the same to enjoy. But without mindfulness, not only we don’t profit, we don’t enjoy the kingdom, but we are truly harming it by our lack of mindfulness, our lack of responsibility, our craving.

I have a report on how we use our land and water and forests in the United States of America for food.
Land: Of all of the controlled land in the U.S., 87 percent is used to raise animals for food. That is 45 percent of the total land mass in the U.S.
Water: More than half of all the water consumed in the U.S. is used to raise animals for food. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat. It takes only 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat. That is 25 versus 2,500 gallons of water.
Pollution: Raising animals for food causes more water pollution in the U.S. than any other industry. Animals raised for food produce 130 times the excrement of the entire human population; 97,000 pounds per second. Most of the waste from factory farms and slaughterhouses flows into streams and rivers, contaminating water sources.
Deforestation: Each vegetarian saves one acre of trees every year. More than 260 million acres of the U.S. forest have been cleared to grow crops to feed animals raised for meat. An acre of trees disappears every eight seconds. The tropical rainforests are being destroyed to create grazing land for cattle. Fifty-five square feet of rainforest may be cleared to produce just one-quarter pound burger.
Resources: In the U.S., animals raised for food are fed more than 80 percent of the corn that we grow, and more than 95 percent of the oats. The world cattle alone consume a quantity of food equivalent to the caloric needs of 8.7 million people, more than the entire human population on Earth.

Mindfulness helps us to be aware of what is going on. Our way of eating and producing food can be very violent. We are eating our mother, our father, and our children. We are eating the Earth. The scientists tell us that if we can reduce the eating of meat by 50 percent, it will be enough to change the situation of our planet. In clearing the forest, raising animals for food can produce a lot of pollution, create a lot of CO2 also.

I have sat with the Buddha for long periods and consulted him about the situation of global warming, and the teaching of the Buddha on this is very clear.
It is a very strong teaching.

~~~~~~~~~~~

If we continue to be irresponsible like this, if we don’t care about protecting this wonderful planet, and then we will allow it to be burned with global warming, and then maybe 70 percent of mankind will die. The ecosystem may be destroyed to a very large extent, and we will need millions of years in order to start a new civilization, because everything is impermanent.

Many of us will not accept this. “Oh, no. God has created this world, and God will not allow things to go like that.” But the fact is that we are not only ourselves as 5 skandhas, we are our environment. And that is a process of self-destruction, destruction.

Many of us seeing the course of destruction, become victims of despair and fear. And before global warming brings death and destruction, we already died, of fear and of despair. We’ll die of mental illness before we die of flood, and the heating up of the planet. That is why the Buddha encourages us to accept the death of this civilization.

Breathing in, I know that this civilization is going to die. Breathing out, this civilization cannot avoid dying. We have to learn to accept the end of this civilization of ours. If we can accept, we’ll be more peaceful. We accept our own death, we accept the death of our civilization, just like the case of an individual person.

And when we have accepted it, we know that another civilization will be born later on, maybe one million, two million years after. We touch the truth of impermanence and we will have peace, and when we have peace, there will be hope again. We will see that with this kind of peace, we may make use of the technology that is available to us in order to save this planet.

With fear and despair, we are not going to be able to save our planet, even if we have enough technology to do it. Scientists are telling us that we have enough technology to save our planet, but psychologically, mentally, we are not capable. We are not peaceful enough. We are not enlightened enough, awakened enough, to do it.

That is why the scientists-- those who are trying to discover ways in order to improve our technology-- we, as members of this community, of the human race, we have to practice so we can transcend our fear, our despair, our forgetfulness, our irresponsibility. A collective change of our consciousness will bring about a new way of life, a mindful way of living, a mindful way of consumption. Then the technology that is available to us will be enough to help us save this planet.

~ Mindfulness Bell Ringing ~

With mindfulness of breathing or walking, we realize how beautiful, how wonderful is this planet. It is the real Kingdom of God, and we can enjoy it in the here and the now. And when we’re able to enjoy this gift, this wonderful gift of life, we don’t need to chase after fame, power, wealth, and sex anymore....

So if we believe that power, political power or power bestowed on us by money, by fame, can bring us true happiness, thinking like that is wrong thinking. But if we can really establish ourselves in the present moment, we will find that life, with all the wonders of life, are available in the here and the now, and you can be happy right away. In the teaching of Buddha, the teaching “drsta dharma sukha vihari” is very crucial.
It means: it is possible to live happily right in the present moment.

If we can get in touch with that treasure that the farmer discovered, as it is described in the Gospel according to Matthew, and then you don’t need to run after anything else. You’ll have the Kingdom as your wealth. You have the planet, beautiful planet, as a great gift. Just enjoy it. Breathing in, you get in touch with the stars, with the moon, with the clouds, with the mountains, with the river. Making a step you enjoy walking in the Kingdom of God, and that is possible with the practice of mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful dwelling in the present moment.

Then you don’t need to consume, to run after these objects of craving, in order to be happy. The teaching of the Buddha is very clear, very strong, and not difficult to understand. We have the power to decide our destiny, the destiny of our planet. Buddhism is the strongest form of humanism we have ever had.
It is our action that will save us, our way of life, that will save us.
And if we will get enlightened,
if we get awakened to our true situation,
there will be a collective change of consciousness, and hope will be possible.Peace Walk with Thich Nhat Hanh

“Offering to the Land Ancestors for the dedication of solar electricity” speech:

We, your children of countless generations, respectfully request permission to make an offering to our mother Earth, the ancestors of this land and our descendants. Let us be aware that the ancestors of this land are present with us now and let us be aware of where we are, standing on this land with the mountains plants and all beings surrounding us. Dear Sangha, let us listen to the sound of the bell so that we may bring ourselves fully into the present moment…. (mindfulness bell)

We gather today to celebrate Deer Park Monastery converting to 100% solar power this month. The installation of solar panels will provide for all the electricity needs of Deer Park. It is our sincere aspiration to live in harmony with this land, with all the vegetation and animals living here, and with all our brothers and sisters with whom we live and practice. When we are in harmony with each other, we are also in harmony with the land, with the plants and animals. We see our close relationship with every person and every species. The happiness and suffering of all humans and all other species are our own happiness and suffering. We inter-are. As practitioners we see we are part of and not separate from the whole of human civilization. As human beings we see that we are children of the Earth and not separate from the soil, the forests, rivers and sky. We share the same destiny. We are aware that much harm has been done to the Earth out of ignorance, craving and arrogance. As children of this land we ask for your great compassion to forgive us for these shortcomings. Today we are determined to begin anew - to make all efforts, large and small, to collectively effect real change in our global ecological situation. We vow not to deplete the energy of the land and her resources with our careless actions, but rather to contribute to the regeneration of this beautiful land, bringing freshness, peace and happiness to all who come here.
Deer Park’s conversion to solar energy is one way that we lighten our steps on the Earth and truly arrive as responsible and loving children of the Earth.
With great respect we call on all our spiritual and land ancestors to protect us and to nourish us with your insight, compassion and liberation. Like young shoots of ancient trees we look to you to know our roots on this soil. We ask for your guidance and understanding to show us clearly how to proceed on our path – so that we may awaken together to restore our future.