A special observance of the Earth Hour: Metta Meditation

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by Ng Xin Zhao

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In conjunction with Earth Hour, 28th March 2015, 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm, Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery Gratitude Corner organised a special observance: Metta Meditation. It was not a fancy festive celebration. It was a solemn but insightful reflection of how we can remind ourselves that the Earth is ours to protect.

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The event was held in the open area behind the Hall of Great Compassion, for the participants to be close to nature and to remind all of us to have a lifestyle that is consistent with a sustainable planet.

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To change our lifestyle, we must first change our actions.Our actions are influenced by our speech, which in turn is influenced by our thoughts and views. To let our participants have a better understanding of sustainability, a one and half hour educational sharing was conducted before the Earth Hour. The video, on melting glaciers, the interdependence of climate change, evidence of rebirth and the hopes and calls to have a green future and to work together to find a solution, that was screened was very inspiring. We also screened the official Earth Hour 2015 video! The objective of Earth Hour is not to be green only during this hour, but to go beyond the hour, and integrate green habits into our daily lives.

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Posters depicting the story of ‘The Gift: A Magical Story about Caring for the Earth’ were put up to share with participants the green efforts of the order of the Sangha. In the story set in the Vinaya, CullaVagga, Ananda described how their belongings were recycled and reused.

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A key part of the event was the Dharma talk by Venerable Chuan Guan. He shared how practising the Dharma and the action of simply turning off the air-conditioner is one of the best ways to be green. In practising non-greed and non-attachment, one will not be bothered if the air-conditioner is on or off. An air-conditioner requires up to thousands of watts of electricity, and most of the other appliances in our home use up to a few hundred watts of electricity. Compare with a standing fan of only 75 watts!

Participants were introduced to the concept of Metta Meditation. Imagine we are all living in a small fishbowl – anything that we throw at the earth is actually throwing into our small fishbowl. We are all interdependent, thus having love for ourselves and other sentient beings means having to love the small fishbowl that we all live in! Metta Meditation is the practice to cultivate loving-kindness – the sincere wish for all sentient beings to be well and happy. During the Earth Hour (8:30pm-9:30pm), we had a guided Metta meditation. Metta Round the World had been our supporter, spreading the idea for this event to all its participating organisations around the world!

The photograph is adjusted for longer exposure so the sky appears brighter than what the naked eye would see. There is an unexpected glow from the dragon carving too!

The photograph is adjusted for longer exposure so the sky appears brighter than what the naked eye would see. There is an unexpected glow from the dragon carving too!

Our photographer took the opportunity to capture breathtaking pictures of the monastery set against a background of complete darkness. And our participants and volunteers enjoyed the event very much as it gave them the opportunity to reflect and to remind themselves to be mindful. They urged us to hold this very meaningful event again next year!

“The selected venue which was in an open space instead of an enclosed area is very helpful. Though it was just for a short session, it was a fruitful one! During the one hour lights-off when the area was in total darkness and in mute silence, I felt very closely connected to the nature. It was like I am in an empty space, the universe; calm and peaceful. Hah! It may sound exaggerating but this is truly what I felt”

- Cheng Yee, Volunteer

“Earth Hour Metta Meditation was an excellent opportunity for me to reflect upon the scarcity of Earth resources and develop mindfulness of how our way of life can have irreversible consequences on the Earth and future generations to come. I am also more grateful to Earth for providing an environment for Buddhism to flourish. 感恩!”

- Yi Hao, Participant

The event ended with the dedication of merits to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, founding Prime Minister of Singapore and all sentient beings as well as for a successful Climate Change Conference 2015.

The issue of climate change is an urgent one. In the spirit of loving-kindness, we hope this event will spread to more temples and monasteries around the world and we can use the power of loving-kindness to help in the call for sustainability efforts!

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