That's what the people in this book can teach us, if we take the time to listen, listen deeply to their words. And perhaps the beauty of their lives can provide the much needed, incentive to actually make the changes we must if we have any chance of not loosing all the elephants, or living in a war-torn world. That's very very serious. So we really need to change. And lots of us, and soon.
Sometimes Ito-san lets out just a little bit of his disappointment. “For the sake of money, and for the sake of ‘economic activity,’ people try to change things, products, works of art--everything--as quickly as possible. To win at competition, everyone tries to do this."
Even though it is the nature of the universe to change, the ‘change’ originated by human activity is too violent. Floods of cars and airplanes, the acceleration of transportation, mass movement of merchandise, the forced cultivation of vegetables in all seasons, excessive lighting and air conditioning, and limitless information: the change is much too intense. The human body and spirit cannot withstand this kind of acceleration. This is what I hate the most.
Now when he says "It's better to be poor," what he means is just living a very very simple life. Not traveling very much. Using motors less. Finding fulfillment inside. The training of the spirit.
Is that the answer to catastrophic climate change? If everyone did that, starting with you and with me, we could allow the people of Bangladesh to get what they need, their own "enough" and still keep a beautiful planet. We need international agreements, scientific help, more efficient ways to provide for people, but the hardest part is simply using less.
Andy Couturier spent 4 years studying sustainable living in rural Japan. There, he worked with local environmentalists and wrote for The Japan Times. Couturier has also built his own house with hand tools, and has taught intuitive writing for more than two decades. He is a student of many different Asian philosophical systems and is fluent in Japanese.
Sign up for the