Green Space as a Pure Land

I just came across a Facebook post from WYPR (Baltimore’s public radio station), about re-imagining the city’s Inner Harbor. I noticed that and in the comments there are people wishing to see the area turned into green space.

There is much to like about urban living but, in my time at Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood, I learned to value green space as there is not much of it around there. True, there is a nice little park that sits within Charle’s Street and Monument Street, but in my view, it’s not quite enough. I found that being surrounded by pavement and brick was one contributing factor in what came to be a three-year depressive state.

Bridge, Japanese Garden, Arch, Park

Now that I’m back in the Hagerstown area, where I am surrounded by mountains and trees, I’m feeling a little better. Part of it could be because I’m back home, but I credit a lot of it to all the green around me.

I felt the same reaction at Amida Mandala. Just being among the greenery and flowers of the temple garden helped bring about a sense of ease. Going up to the top of the Malvern Hills was a little taste of freedom. I feel the same way in places like Chua Xa Loi near Frederick and Hagerstown’s city park.

Spaces like these act much like a pure land. If one were to read about Sukhavati, one might imagine a vast park, lush with trees and pools that shine with jewels. I would guess that many Buddhists of the past imagined the Pure Land to be similar to the early viharas, just a little more adorned with decorations.

In light of climate change, it would be wise for us to create as many green spaces as possible. Creating pure lands, whether they’re protected forests, pocket parks , or even just some flowers in a pot, is essential, not only for conservation, but also for our hearts, which not so long ago dwelled among leaves.

We should also remember that a young bodhisattva, known as Siddhartha, found refuge under a tree.

In brief:

We NEED green space.

Not retail space.

Namo Amida Bu

Image from Pixabay

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