Philosopher Josef Pieper defines the essence of bourgeois
living as "taking for granted." It is true that those who live in
homes where the water always runs through spigots take water
for granted. And when people always have money they take their
next meal for granted. Our lives are filled with assumptions
about the universe serving us all the time. This is false thinking.
Will it take catastrophes to awaken us to the truth that all is gift?
An earthquake reminds us that not even the stability of the
ground underneath our feet should be taken for granted. Death
reminds us that not even breathing itself can be taken for granted.
As the forests disappear and the soil and waters become increasingly
poisoned, we learn that we cannot take air or water or soil for granted.
One way to learn not to take for granted is to voluntarily do without.
This is best done in a ritualized context where the community does
without together and supports one another through the difficult process
of letting go.
For example, go without water for three days. Go without food for five
Go without meat for two weeks. These are ways to learn to cease taking
for granted. Every overdeveloped person and culture should undertake these
periods of fasting. In doing so we learn the basics of gratitude, for not one
created the waters or the air or the soil or the foods that we take for
Fasting also allows us to identify, at least partially, with those millions
world's poor who can never take eating a meal or drinking good water for
Gratitude changes our lives. It fills us with energy and vitality. When
I was twelve years old, I had polio and could not walk for six months. The
doctors could not reassure me that I would ever walk again. As it turned out,
I did get my legs back. But I learned a lesson in the process that I have
forgotten: don't take for granted.
I had taken my legs for granted, legs that work , legs that run and play
legs that take me exactly where I want to go. When my legs returnd to me I
filled with gratitude-not gratitude for the "miracle" of my legs being
rather gratitude for having legs at all, legs that work. I was filled with
promised myself that I would not waste my legs for as long as I lived.
FROM WASTE TO RECYCLING
One of the overwhelming sins of the "First World" is that of waste. WE are a
civilization whose major product is waste, and we appear to be the only
species that wastes more than it recycles. What we give back to the universe
is often not blessing-it is poisonous and nonrecyclable goods. The
industry-that industry that was the very first to support a young politician
Adolf Hitler in German politics sixty yearg ago-has developed plastics and
Styrofoam that appear simple and cheap but in fact cannot be disposed of even
in five hundred years.
Our cities are being inundated by our own refuse. We have no way of
with the nuclear waste that has proliferated from military and
civilian power plants. This lethal plutonium will "live" for at least another
years: Joanna Macy suggests that instead of burying this radioactive waste in
order to deny it, thus making life intolerable for generations to come, we
to keep it visible above ground, and build monasteries around it to remind us
of its lethalness and our mortality. These "guardian sites' would become holy
places of pilgrimage for persons who regard the planet as a sacred trust.
We also waste our youth and their talents and gifts. When hope dies,
takes over. Whether that waste is expressedin the form of crime or drugs,
or prison, despair or sexual addiction, it is living proof of the depth of
haunts our consumer society.
How does a consumer society stop wasting? By restoring relationship to
center of our lives and life-styles. If we considered our relation to generat
come, for example, we would cease giving out plastic bags in grocery stores.
Recently I accompanied a friend (who is an extrovert) to a supermarket late
at night. "Plastic bag or paper?"
She replied in full voice, "Plastic? Plastic won't disappear for 500
The cashier sheepishly responded, "Our manager tells us to push the
because it is cheaper." ...............
The greatest waste of all is the waste of our human gifts for ingenuity, good
work, healing and joy. If "joy is the human's noblest act," then to waste our
gift for creating joy it is to squander the noblest
potential of our species.
(book Creation Spirituality Matthew Fox)
... All diseases come into our bodies through the foods that we eat the only
get rid of them is through fasting....
Submitted by Mirna
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