Pollution is a byproduct of Ignorance

January 8, 2020 0 By Tenzin Gyatso

Existential Crisis

Many of us might not understand what the word existential means. It’s an adjective, that refers to existence. Existential has a lot to do with ‘ism’ and study of philosophy. So existential is a word used mostly in philosophical ways.  
  Pollution on the other hand is used in very literal, physical ways. When people talk about pollution they are usually talking about garbage, litter, and more lately pollution has come to include more invisible contaminants, like CO2.   
And though CO2 might be a stretch. It also seems like we’re on the right track. You see, it’s not necessarily a question of how visible something is, but a question of it’s impact. We rely on scientists to determine the impact of CO2, and other air pollutants. The must be tracked, in emission, abundance and historical levels. Gathering such data is difficult, I would think, but we have to trust scientists as people.   
This can be tough as people have prejudice. This is something we should trust too. And unfortunately if we trust both of these things we might be left scratching our heads over what to think. I know I wonder what to think every day. Which I think is more intelligent than jumping to conclusions and using partial facts as battering rams.    The truth is every fact is partial. There is no material truth that is completely valid. In order to discover completely valid truths one must turn inwards. But even making a big deal out of that now is ridiculous. Such valid absolute truths merely point towards the impermanence of all things. Which we will get into later.   
The problem we’re examining now is that of pollution. We have a strong tendency to believe pollution to be things. Pollution is the thing of trash, the measure of CO2, the garbage and waste of humanity. And it is. But the worst of pollution is not the material waste. The worst of pollution is of the invisible kind.   
We’re not talking about noxious gases here, nor are we talking about the sentless death of CO2. The worst invisible pollution is our own ignorance. That is ignorance is the root, and the pollution shows up as aggression, lust, envy, pride, greed, laziness and gluttony. We’ve been aware of this kind of pollution for thousands of years. Christians call it the Seven Deadly Sins.   
The Buddhists have their own, known as either the 3 or 5 Poisons, which are the same, the root being ignorance, and the ignorance further manifesting as passion and anger in the Three Poisons model and further as envy and attachment. However the hair is split, it can be again subdivided. The kind of poison is not as important as realizing the poison. Which is again another chapter.   
The thing is we are turning away from spirituality and into materialism. The pollution of the outside world only happens because we as a people have neglected our own inner worlds. We have forgotten, as a society, that what happens out there, and how we act in it is an indication of what is going on inside us.   
What we hate about others is what we do ourselves. Take for example the little Miss Greta climate activist. She says things really well and becomes a hero to those that feel climate change is the most pressing problem. However she speaks with so much vehemence, casts so much blame, and is so prideful in being better than those she accuses. This is an example of pollution. It’s the better than thou mindset. Now Greta is only a child so it’s not such a big deal. What’s worse is those that believe themselves to be better than violence, those that have forgotten the Seven Deadly Sin’s yet think that their state of mind is beyond contamination.    
I wish not to pick on liberals here, but in my experience more conservatives are aware they are shitty humans. There is a strong strain of liberal that gets my whole peer group of millennial ill labeled. This group of people does this by aggressively attacking opposing viewpoints as small minded.   
We can say this again. Many people believe they have such a good understanding and surety of the world, that they cast violent accusations of those that have not managed to achieve such an enlightened understanding.   
By no means is this simply a liberal problem, but one would expect those of higher education and means to know better than less educated traditionalists. Both conservatives and liberals do this. In all honesty we all do this, to a greater or lesser degree.    
This is where we must start.   

We must become the scientists for ourselves. This is what spirituality should be. Religion is trusting the scientists, but spirituality, as far as I’m concerned, must be a personal exploration. We are missing this. As a society we are inclined to trust. It’s easier to put our faith out there, into our clergy, or our scientists, or even our politicians. We put our trust out there like there’s some external perfect thing that will save us, out there.  
  We’ve gotten it wrong, we’ve bought into external systems instead of trusting the light of inner salvation. This is something we all have, and can be guided too, but we cant find it if we rely on the Clergy or the Scientists to do it for us.   
Forgetting ourselves, even though we may benefit, we must begin an inner exploration if we wish for our society to become anything more than it is now. Of course we have alternatives. We could have a pollution free, global warming free world, full of horrible people. Which doesn’t sound much different than today.