The Circle of Life in Going Green

Taking sides
My dilemma of having to choose between recycling aluminum and conserving water reminded me of a poignant story told by Joseph Campbell about a present-day Buddhist monk who trying to keep a 2000-year-old tradition alive in 20th Century America.

Much like going green is considered pious among the “religious” today, it is considered a pious act in the Buddhist tradition to free a condemned animal from being cooked.

For this particular monk, finding lambs and goats to set free in the New World was proving to be much more difficult than finding them in the old world, particularly in the Buddhist Mecca of Monterrey, California.

Armed with his constellation of beauties (a.k.a., New Age donors), our resourceful monk tried to collect whatever critters he could save, but ultimately had to settle for minnows he purchased from local bait shops.

While the bait shop owners do not take to the idea of selling condemned minnows for liberation, they are still in the business of selling minnows.

With buckets filled with hundreds of hopeful minnows, the relieved monk and his entourage skip and chant joyfully down the boardwalk to the beach where they will set the minnows free to live in the majestic Pacific Ocean. The monk’s joy, however, is soon replaced with horror when he realizes that his pious act has become an all-you-can-eat buffet for the hungry pelicans perched nearby.

As the pelicans swoop down to gobble up the martyred minnows, the scene turns even more chaotic as the monk and the beauties used whatever clothing they could shed to shoo and beat away the resilient pelicans.

“What is good for pelicans is bad for fish.” – Joseph Campbell

The monk had failed to learn the critical lesson of the Circle of Life, that Life is a circle.

Affecting one part of the Circle affects the rest of the circle. Or, to use Joseph Campbell’s line, what is good for pelicans is bad for fish, and this monk had taken sides.

This was the same lesson the wise King Mufasa shared with his young son Simba in Disney’s Lion King.

Life is circuitous.

Mufasa explains that, “Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.”

When Simba asks, “But dad, don’t we eat the antelope?”  Mufasa replies, “Yes, Simba; yummy. But when we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass, for we are all connected through the great Circle of Life.”

Life is designed to be a circle, or cycle.

Like when corn is planted in the earth, it springs up and becomes more corn that not only feeds the families of the earth, but also provides seed-corn that when returned to the earth, perpetuates the Circle of Life.

In a modern society where we get our corn from a box in the freezer section of the local grocery store, it is easy to forget about the circle.

When we forget that Life is a circle, whether by taking sides as the monk did – choosing minnows over pelicans – or by thinking that corn comes from frozen packages and frozen packages only come from money, our own world becomes flat, one-dimensional, and one-directional.


About the author:

Tiger Todd is the founder and CEO of Hero School and Heroes Inc. He is a motivational speaker, a business consultant, and a powerful changemaker. For the past 10+ years, he has been devoted to solving the issue of homelessness.


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    The Circle of Life in Going Green

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