FILMS FOR ACTION
FILMS FOR ACTION NEEDS YOUR HELP
We don't run on ads. We run on donations. Please help us by committing $5 a month.

The 4 Vows of the Bodhi-Activist

If it makes sense to feel hopeless about the future, maybe what we need right now is some 'profound nonsense.'
By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
Jun 17, 2015
2
The 4 Vows of the Bodhi-Activist

Is humanity doomed? Is catastrophic climate change unavoidable now?

This is a question often raised in environmental circles.

One or two prominent activists [in 2015] declared they had given up on avoiding catastrophic climate change. An article 'In Defence of Inaction' by Dave Pollard was written to defend this 'rational' argument for giving up.

But you know what? Throwing our hands up in the air seems like a pretty ridiculous thing to do at this point.

Because capitalist civilization is doomed we should not work on building an alternative? Because climate change is going to wreck a lot of the planet we shouldn't try to create our alternative world?

It's hopeless, what a relief!

My advice to anyone that is feeling cynical: stop digesting apocalyptic news. As enticing as it is to find certainty in a doomed future, when so much feels uncertain, it is still just one perspective and not truly representative of a very complex world where things are “getting worse and worse and better and better faster and faster.”

Find your tribe. Imagine something beautiful and focus on creating it.

The idea of human extinction or planetary collapse is just an idea. It’s a very intellectual idea and it hasn't happened yet. Should our own happiness or present-day resolve even be driven by this abstract thinking of the future? I don’t think so.

Giving up now because of some idea of the future… nonsense! This moment right now is all we have. And even if our civilization or the planet as we know it is going to get wrecked in the future, there is and always will be great beauty in this universe, and there is more to the story of humanity than doom or salvation on the macro level.

There is beauty at the micro-level every day if we have the eyes to see it (simultaneously with the bad). Just look up at the stars on a cloudless night if you are ever in doubt.

There is also beauty at the macro level, far grander than the meta story of human survival on the planet (see the Cosmos series (old or new) for more on this. Add it all up and there are many reasons to see defeatist attitudes as illusion.

Perhaps our movement should focus on spreading some Zen Buddhist philosophy, because if it truly makes ‘sense’ to feel hopeless about things, perhaps what we need now is some 'profound nonsense’ – and that is something I've found of great value in Zen Buddhist philosophy.

For instance, the 4 Bodhisattva vows are something I have internalized subconsciously in my mind, and I think they can be applied pretty well to our planetary meta story:

“Although sentient beings are innumerable, we vow to save them.
Although our evil desires are limitless, we vow to be rid of them.
Although the teaching is limitless, we vow to learn it all.
Although Buddhism is unattainable, we vow to attain it.

If it is unattainable, how can we attain it? But we should! That is Buddhism. To think, “Because it is possible we will do it,” is not Buddhism. Even though it is impossible, we have to do it because our true nature wants us to.” – Shunryu Suzuki

So here’s my version:

Although the problems of the world are innumerable, we vow to solve them.
Although the suffering of humanity is limitless, we vow to lesson it.
Although creating a sustainable civilization may be impossible, we vow to create it.
Although saving the world is impossible, we vow to save it.

If saving the world as a human habitat is impossible, how can we save it? But we should! That is our way. To think, “Because it is possible we will do it,” is not the way. Even though it is impossible, we have to do it because our true nature wants us to.

Trending Videos
Coronavirus
Education
How Government Works
Featured Documentaries

Films For Action is a library for people who want to change the world.

Founded in 2006, our mission is to provide citizens with the knowledge and perspectives essential to creating a more beautiful, just, sustainable, and democratic society.

  • To dive in, click the Explore button above. You can filter by subject and category at the same time, and sort by newest, most viewed and top-rated.
  • Help us keep the quality of the site high by rating content 1-5 stars.
  • Add videos to our library! Half of our best content was added by members.
  • Have a question or suggestion? Feel free to get in touch.
  • Want to support us and watch some great films in the process? Our $5/mo Patrons get access to 15 of our favorite documentaries.

 

Why join Films For Action?

Goal: To rapidly transition to a just, ecologically sustainable, holistic way of living as fast as possible.

We believe the first step to achieve this goal should be an information delivery network that can amplify the impacts of all our efforts 1000 fold. 

Although Films For Action is centered around film - its true objective is the transformation of the world. This means moving away from the unsustainable paradigm we have now to a regenerative paradigm, as fast as humanly possible.  

Film is the medium of delivery -- the catalyst, the metabolizing agent to speed up, amplify and multiply the effects of every transition movement on the planet. And of course, "transition" contains it all - social justice, ecological regeneration, true democracy, egalitarian economics, universal empathy, less cultural insanity and more happiness and well-being.

All of these movements need a media ecosystem that supports this transition, rather than the media we have today which marginalizes it, ignores it, sanitizes it, suppresses it, or actively fights it. There is certainly good coverage across many different news outlets, and the quality and depth varies, but in terms of volume, the good stuff is easily lost in the deluge of superficial concerns.

Watch any network TV channel for 24 hours or read the newspaper for a week, and you will see what we mean. The dominant narratives which drive the national debate and become "common knowledge" is more often superficial, focused on symptoms rather than root causes, and reinforces the conventional "two sides" within the status quo. The lies and spin promoted by figures in power become well known, while voices that challenge and expand the range of debate rarely get heard. But most importantly, the level of repetition and volume of coverage is what counts. What gets covered day after day, and what gets covered once and is forgotten, or not covered at all? That's why we need a media movement that's dedicated to elevating the voices that aren't getting heard. We need media alternatives that make social change its primary focus. That's why Films For Action exists.

Ultimately, we're just one star in this growing constellation of new media, but we aim to do our part by cultivating the best video library dedicated to transition online, and we hope you'll join us