Have you ever decided to make a serious sacrifice for a deeply-held principle, or discussed with other people your decision?
I decided around age 16 not to have any children, because of what humans were doing to the planet. It’s been one of the things that’s been responsible for me not getting married or having a long-term partner. I’ve never really discussed this with other people, it’s like I held it close within myself for many years, and I find it difficult to put a finger on the reason why.
Also I have had long periods of being vegetarian or pescatarian, not driving a car, walking and cycling places, travelling by train, living simply. All for the same reasons, although they haven’t impacted my life as much. When I was young I came across this American Indian saying, “touch the world lightly when you walk on it”, and i’ve tried to live by that.
But I’ve always felt a great kinship for the dolphins and whales and seals and penguins, and i have felt it was a crime against the natural world to do all the things we humans do — open cast mining, logging, clearing the wilderness, unsustainable hunting and fishing. We drive to extinction all kinds of species great and small, and put a huge stress on the life on Earth. I don’t think it is right to do any of that.
If you were to ask me why I don’t discuss these things I couldn’t say... anyway it just kind of came out today, and I thought it might be interesting to discuss the process of making sacrifices. It’s not something that is very popular today. In the past when a king or a chief or a man of wealth died, they would be buried with some of their treasures. Today in China they use paper representations of real things, a paper mansion to live in and (fake) paper money to spend.
Perhaps there is a Buddhist point of view... monastics make many serious sacrifices for their convictions.