Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The trees of Trinity County, the trees of Tibet: Forest fires & toilet paper....

I just got a desperate e-mail from a friend of mine who lives at Rigdzin Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Trinity Alps of northern California. "There are two large fires burning out of control right near us," she wrote. "The total acreage of these fires is currently 50,000 acres. The terrain, much of it in the wilderness area, is very steep and they are using helicopters and air tankers for hot spots, with ground crews trying to hold it back in critical areas. However, these fires will essentially burn until heavy rains come to quench the flames.

"On Wednesday we are expecting a large Alaskan front to move in with winds of thirty to forty miles an hour, blowing in our direction," my friend continued, "and this storm is supposed to last for three days. They have felt until now that the Trinity River, which is between us and the fire, would act as a break. However, with high winds, it is possible for the fire to breach the river and come in our direction.

"We are doing everything we can to defend Rigdzin Ling, and are taking every precaution. However, we are prepared to evacuate if necessary. We ask for your prayers, particularly that no harm come to anyone in the Junction City Community or to any of the fire crews, which number over 1,000 personnel. We need for the wind to be pacified and for rains to come. We will keep you posted. Please pray for us."

Tibetan Buddhists pray differently from other people. They put their money where their mouth is. First they go out and do a good deed. Then they say, "I dedicate any merit I may have accumulated from this good deed to the benefit of all sentient beings in general and to [fill in the blank] in particular -- and to their families, friends and enemies."

If you are reading this now, PLEASE run right out and do a good deed! Then dedicate the merit you have accumulated to the firefighters of Trinity County, the town folks of Junction City and Weaverville and the residents of Rigdzin Ling. Thanks.

PS: Rigdzin Ling was founded about 20 years ago by Chagdud Tulku, a Tibetan lama. His name translates as "Iron Knot" and that pretty much described him. He was born in Tibet, walked over the Himalayas as a young man in order to avoid being slaughtered by the Chinese Communist army, spent many years in Indian refugee camps before moving to California and then on to Brazil where he opened another monastery before his death in 2002.

Chagdud Tulku was a master of Pho'wa, the practice of transferring one's spirit, through prayer, from one's body to what Americans would call "Heaven" while one lay dying -- and thus neatly avoiding having to spend eternity in Hell. One can also help others to do this too and is a very useful skill to have in times of trouble and war.

Chagdud Tulku also practiced Chod -- the ability to take on the misdeeds and "sins" of others and to wash them away. This is also a very good talent to have in times of war.

For instance, when George Bush confessed on national television recently to having committed war crimes, it would have been highly beneficial for him to have a Chod master in the studio afterward. But I digress.

Rigdzin Ling monastery is losing its forests to fire. That's very sad. But what is even sadder still is the way that Tibet are losing its forests -- to toilet paper!

I ran out of toilet paper yesterday and trotted off to Lee's Market to buy more. $1.59 for four rolls -- and the package was stamped "Made in China". When I was in Afghanistan in June I also bought toilet paper "Made in China". There goes the forests of Tibet! Now every time you wipe your bottom, you are experiencing a piece of Tibet. Eeuuwww.

.PPS: Maybe you live on a desert island and forest fires are not really such a big threat to you. But for the rest of us, forest fires are becoming more and more of a clear and present danger.

According to Dr. Michio Kaku, as a result of global warming we can expect even bigger and more fierce blockbuster summer forest fire seasons -- bigger than even the huge ones we've had in the past several years. The seasons themselves will be longer, the individual fires within each season will be more frequent, each individual fire will burn longer and they will be a lot harder to put out.

The average forest fire used to last a couple of days but now it is not uncommon for a forest fire to burn for four or five weeks. And, as the planet heats up, this trend will get much worse. Expect a LOT of hardwood to go up in flames this year. And next year. And the year after that.

As a result of all this thermal activity, logging companies are gonna take a lot of hits and the price of lumber is gonna skyrocket. If global warming continues at its current rate, even WOOD may become a thing of the past. It may go the way of dinosaurs and Melmac.

And then WHAT will we use for toilet paper?

Nothing else seems to motivate Americans to DO something to stop global wrming. Maybe the threat of having no TOILET PAPER will finally cause them to spring into action!

Nothing else seems to motivate Americans to DO something to stop global warming. Maybe the threat of having no TOILET PAPER will finally cause them to spring into action!

One way to stop global warming is to vote the Bush bureaucracy neo-cons out of office! And how do you do that? How can you actually make your vote count and know that your ballot won't get disqualified or "lost"? According to Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, the best way to safeguard your ballot is to register as a Republican. That way you can be more reassured that something untoward won't happen to your ballot -- and it won't end up in the toilet.