At a time when we are seeing our French flag flying everywhere, I have rediscovered this wonderful photo. Last May, when their country had just been hit by a serious earthquake, these children proudly showed off their “I love Nepal” slogans, with big heart-warming smiles on their faces. These children have every reason to love their beautiful country.
Last week I talked about how badly people are treating this planet. Instead of admiring it, they want to possess it. They see it as their property. They persecute it until its resources run dry; they pollute and destroy it, with no consideration for future generations. A few hours later, in central Paris, people were massacring their fellow humans.
Now it is my turn to light a candle, close my eyes and reflect on this human disaster. And not just this one. There are other disasters we never talk about. They affect us less because they are far away. Yet they affect as many people: our brothers and sisters, ourselves.
When someone asked him about the attacks in Paris and the prayforparis hashtag, the Dalai Lama said he did not understand how we can ask the divine to solve problems we have brought upon ourselves. It is not logical, he said. It is up to humans to solve problems caused by humans.
So when will we start showing some humanity? Some kindness? A desire for harmony?
A few days ago I was lucky enough to meet the monk, Matthieu Ricard. It was a joy to listen to him speak. When you hear him, you feel light. You tell yourself that happiness is our responsibility. The happiness of others, first (ours comes indirectly, like the cherry on the cake). A few days later, I was in Nepal. I was helping a planter friend who is starting a great project, taking over an abandoned tea plantation between Kathmandu and Tibet. After walking for several hours between tea plants that were often taller than us, we sat down to catch our breath. We turned around to admire the view, and luckily just at that moment the sunlight pierced through. A light unlike any other. Something very beautiful, a halo of light that caressed the tea plants.
I thought about that fine English word, “enlightened”, I thought again of Matthieu Ricard, and I thought about the beauty of our planet, of course. As we sat there, my friend and I marvelled at it. It illuminated us. But why is it so difficult for so many people to feel this beauty? Why don’t they see it? Why do men keep trying to destroy our poor planet, day after day, throughout our lives? Why do they bring in their tarmac, plastic and bulldozers, their manic industrialisation and advertising hoardings, their deforestation and frenzied consumption, to lay waste to this Earth? For whose selfish happiness? And where is the Other? Who is thinking of our future generations?
Many Sri Lankans have climbed the slopes of Adam’s Peak at least once in their lifetime.
It is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, who worship Buddha’s footprint at the summit, but also for Hindus, Muslims and Christians. The ascent begins with a walk through a tea field, which you cross on your way to the top.