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David Barash explains the similarities between Buddhism and Ecology in this article he wrote for Humans & Nature


By:David Barash

I was waiting to be issued a wilderness hiking permit at the North Cascades National Park Ranger Station in the small mountain town of Sedro Wooley, when this message came crackling in via walkie-talkie from a backcountry ranger: “Dead Elk by upper Agnes Creek decomposing nicely. Over.”

The report was matter-of-fact, yet startling. If you have ever been close to a large, dead, decomposing animal—especially in the summer—you know that “nice” is likely to be the last word that comes to mind. Gross. Disgusting. Nauseating. Loathsome. Certainly not nice.

Yet there was deep wisdom in the ranger's description: “Decomposing nicely” is precisely correct. I have no idea if she was aware of having verbalized such an intriguing paradox. But it doesn’t really matter. Her description was accurate, not just biologically but also Buddhistically (the final “Over,” was an especially nice touch).

That Elk, like the rest of us, is on a journey, going back to its primal stuff, with help from various seemingly unpleasant creatures: Maggots, bacteria, beetles, earthworms, and perhaps the occasional nibble from a raven or coyote. All under the watchful eye of an ecologically sophisticated National Park ranger. Deposited in the middle of a busy street, a shopping center, or a dining room, a large decomposing mammal would be inconvenient to say the least, not to mention a public health menace. But out there by the upper drainage of Agnes Creek in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington State, a dead Elk is par for the course as it decomposes very nicely indeed, its constituent parts en route back to the ecosystem from which, once upon a time, they came together to form an “Elk.” And which it—they, and us—never left.

Biologists understand this. So do Buddhists.

Read the entire article here .