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Thread: Hemlocks and Trout

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Hemlocks and Trout

    I had the pleasure of talking with a neighbor yesterday about the plight of hemlock trees in the Southeastern US. Apparently there is an invasive insect that is killing these trees by the thousands. The US spent millions trying to figure out how to stop this pest, however this technology is only being used on private lands. The neighbor explained to me:

    "You know it's not just the hemlocks that will die. Over ten thousand species of plants and animals depend on the unique climate that the hemlock provides. People think the forest is composed of many seperate organisms. It really is just one big organism, composed of many parts. No more hemlocks, no more trout."

    Gassho
    C

  2. #2
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    While that all sounds very nice, it's not true. Nature is brutal and if one species of tree dies out, others will come in and fill the niche. Most likely, the hemlock is, for some reason, more robust than other trees, and has kept them from growing. If they were to disappear, other trees would grow and replace them. I wouldn't worry too much about something like that.

    When you walk through a forest, you can see this at work. You can see the taller trees and how the keep the others from getting enough light. You can see saplings trying to survive, that don't make it. If the taller tries die, the saplings will take their place. There are even some trees that give off sap that kills other plants. I'm not sure which one it is, but there's a tree here in the UK where you can see that nothing grows beneath it. (I'm not good with plant names.)

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    -----

    I know nothing.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    While that all sounds very nice, it's not true. Nature is brutal and if one species of tree dies out, others will come in and fill the niche. Most likely, the hemlock is, for some reason, more robust than other trees, and has kept them from growing. If they were to disappear, other trees would grow and replace them. I wouldn't worry too much about something like that.

    When you walk through a forest, you can see this at work. You can see the taller trees and how the keep the others from getting enough light. You can see saplings trying to survive, that don't make it. If the taller tries die, the saplings will take their place. There are even some trees that give off sap that kills other plants. I'm not sure which one it is, but there's a tree here in the UK where you can see that nothing grows beneath it. (I'm not good with plant names.)

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    Yes it is true, the niche will be filled by other species, however because of the UNIQUE nature of hemlock, 10,000 natives species that depend on THESE trees specifically will also be endangered. For example, the ground temperature created by hemlock forests is on average 7-10 degrees cooler than in forests of ANY other tree. This will create a completely different ecosystem. Other plants ARE actually filling in the niche, and those are OTHER invasive species not native to the Southeastern US. The trout population here is dependent on the hemlock forests, and ONLY hemlock forests.

    Regardless of the actual outcome or ecological science, the point is nature is extremely interconnected. Not hemlock. Not trout. There is trout and there is hemlock , but there is also trout/hemlock.

    Gassho
    C

  4. #4
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Here is a post from the Nature Conservancy that validates what Clark is saying. Not wading into an arguments, here, but this is a "keystone species."

    http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives...re/hemlock.xml

    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  5. #5
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Okay, but I think part of the problem is assuming that what exists now is what should exist forever. Something else was there before the hemlocks, and something else will be there after them.

    Gassho,

    Kirk


    (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)
    -----

    I know nothing.

  6. #6
    But they do make nice Christmas trees. A lot of tree farms grow them. Me thinks like Kirk.

    Kind regards. /\
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    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  7. #7
    Oh I think you are both right. Clark is describing the elephant's tail, which is interconnectedness. And kirkmc is describing the elephant's trunk, which is impermanence.


    Gassho
    Lisa

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Oh I think you are both right. Clark is describing the elephant's tail, which is interconnectedness. And kirkmc is describing the elephant's trunk, which is impermanence.


    Gassho
    Lisa
    I like that Lisa - thank you

    Gassho

    Willow

  9. #9
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    This thread was supposed to be about hemlocks and trout. How did we get to elephants?

    Gassho
    C

  10. #10
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Quick question here. Accepting that Clark is addressing the idea of interconnectedness, and accepting that Kirk is addressing the idea of impermanence, what do we do with the first of the Bodhisattva vows? If we are to strive to save all sentient beings, and I believe trout are among them, does not the first vow still require us to act?

    Is stonefaced indifference the way of the Bodhisattva?


    Gassho,
    Juki
    Last edited by Juki; 07-06-2014 at 01:57 AM.
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Way to bring a thread to a screeching halt Juki with a deep existential query! ( I'm joking!)

    Actually a great question....

    Is stonefaced indifference the way of the Bodhisattva?

    I used to think that ambivalence and emotional neutrality was the "default setting" at the intersection of impermanence, interconnectedness, and the fact of suffering. It is sort of like saying "life sucks and then you die" so I will avoid joy and lightness just so I'm not surprised when the sky falls on me, which it inevitably will.

    Then I let go of my assumptions.

    Impermanence and interconnectedness in my opinion as a novice priest and even more clueless human being allow me to marvel at the cycle of life, death, appearance, disappearance. Life, in all its rawness, in the animal and plant kingdoms has beauty and ugliness... and these are all impressions created by our own minds. I experience joy and wonder at trees blooming, rotting, and crowding one another out. For me, honoring the First Bodhisattva vow does not mean that we attempt to interrupt or not recognize the cycle of life, death, and change, but rather attempt to live in recognition of both impermanence and our interconnectedness. We are all one. Trout, hemlocks, people. The latest strategy in forest management is to let wildfires burn (when populated areas are not threatened), rather than thin out fire-prone zones. If you are required to act under the First Bodhisattva vow as a forest service manager, would you cut down trees to save trees or recognize the wisdom of nature and the process of forest maturation (of which fire is an essential component) and let things take their course (I'm framing things a bit simply, but hope you see my point)? Saving all sentient beings does not mean that we stand around the gene pool ready to throw in a life preserver (remember Monja Isshin's comment regarding the different types of compassionate action and the motivations for each?).... rather, that we act and live in accordance with the reality of suffering around us.... at least in my view..... The requirement to act is a slippery slope..... sometimes not acting is an act in itself (my forest fire example).... perhaps our actions are guided by our understanding of the vows and shaped by our practice of the precepts. To really mess things up, consider the fact that the way we act one day may not be the way we act on another.....

    I am able to feel joy and even awe when I recognize interconnectedness and even the prospect of my own demise in a temporal sense (will my rotting corpse nourish a tree, or a scavenger, or give rise to some great mushrooms?).... It is when I build a sense of separateness, of identity, that I become indifferent and even insensitive. At the end of Zorba the Greek, Zorba dances in the midst of catastrophe and folly. It is the expression of life as it is. Our ability to live and dance in the midst of change and sorrow is union between ourselves and the universe.... and that is why stonefaced indifference, in my opinion, is not the way of the Bodhisattva.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 07-06-2014 at 03:44 AM.
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  12. #12
    Juki, Yugen, beautiful, thank you

    Gassho
    Lisa

  13. #13
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Thank you, Yugen.

    I see see things much the same way. I only asked the question as a way of maybe starting a dialogue intended to get people thinking about how even our own ideas about Zen are interconnected. One cannot discuss impermanence without at least thinking about the precepts and vows and interconnectedness.

    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    I fully agree with you Juki - thank you for starting this dialog. I'm interested in what folks think in this thread....

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  15. #15
    Hi all,
    An interesting topic!

    I think there is a difference between letting something happen within nature's own movements, or letting something happen which is set in motion by human action. As far as I can see, any human action has a reaction and as tiny insignificant humans we have no idea what that reaction will be most of the time. Especially when we're playing with the stuff we're made of: nature. Stopping pollution? Yes! Meddling with nature? No! Who are we that we think we know what nature should or should not do?

    Here in the Netherlands we have a nature reserve* where the policy is quite simple: Let it manage itself. There is no human interference (apart from pathway maintenance) and who would have thought... nature can actually manage itself! But it doesn't make the choices that humans would make. I'm just guessing here, but it might just be that nature takes everything as it is, without judging, adapting to each moment exactly the way it is required to.


    Coming back to Clarks Hemlock forests, perhaps this bug plague is a necessity that escapes our limited view? Maybe it's OK for the hemlock forests to perish, along with the 10.000 sentient beings... this is nature at its best! Let it be, watch and learn. Leave the poison at home. That would be my advice.

    Gassho

    Vincent



    *They actually made a beautiful documentary about that reserve: De Nieuwe Wildernis (The New Wilderness) there's hardly any Dutch language in there, mostly images. Worth watching!
    For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Hmmmmm well these responses are very thought provoking. My simple intent was to just illustrate how interconnected everything really is, that we in our habitual minds seem to see things as completely separate entities, when in reality there are no separate entities.

    Juki-My thought is we act according to our conscience, putting right action into play ( I can hear Jundo's voice here) All the while knowing that at the same time there is no problem, there is only problem/no problem. You did prompt me to ask this question...

    What EXACTLY do we mean by save all sentient beings? I am not sure saving all sentient beings means rescuing trout from environmental challenges. Not that we should not try to. What are we saving all sentient beings from? Death, destruction? My take on this is different. Are we not saving all sentient beings from Dukka?

    Yugen you always have such a beautiful way of expressing things. I also see this as reacting according to the suffering around us, doing what can be done, recognizing the impermanence despite our effort. The great mandala of life.

    VanMeerdervoot- I understand what you are saying, but maybe the reason is someone let an invasive species into the country that is devasting the local environment. In nature aphids don't jump continents. I don't think sitting idle and letting the whole world go to destruction is the answer.

    Gassho
    C
    Last edited by Clark; 07-11-2014 at 01:20 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Juki's Avatar
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    Hello all,


    Clark, my question was prompted by the fact that I had just finished a book Jundo recently recommended, David Loy's "Money, Sex, War, Karma." The issue of our responsibility vis-a-vis the environment was addressed by Loy very thoughtfully in a chapter titled "Healing Ecology." He notes that when we discuss ecological issues in terms of impermanence and interconnectedness, we must also consider the precepts and vows.


    Anyway, Loy makes the following statement:


    "Dependence on sophisticated, ever more powerful technologies tends to aggravate our sense of separation from the natural world, whereas any successful solution must involve accepting that we are part of the natural world. That, of course, also means embracing our responsibility for the well being of the biosphere, because its well being ultimately cannot be distinguished from our own well being."


    The chapter concludes with Loy stating that "we discover the meaning we seek in the ongoing, long term task of repairing the rupture between us and mother earth, our natural ground. This healing will transform us as much as the biosphere."


    So, I take it from this reading that we need to understand first that we are part of nature, not separate from and superior to it. We also have a duty to take care of the biosphere, because that is taking care of ourselves. Ultimately, however, both ourselves and the elements of the biosphere are impermanent and subject to decay.

    so, where does that leave us?


    Gassho,
    Juki
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  18. #18
    For a long time, I struggled intellectually with this apparent dichotomy -- radical environmentalism versus "the earth abides." But being out in the wilds, or out in the backyard, or even just washing dishes, the interconnectedness and the evanescence is so immediate, so visceral. For me, where this leaves me is trying to hold both perspectives, interbeing and impermanence, at once. In the moment, trying to live in tune with my local environment, while being blown away and renewed every time I look up at he stars at night. Washing a head of cabbage like it was the Buddha's head, and yet a cabbage that will rot soon if I don't consume it to sustain this fragile body.

    _/\_ Shinzan

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