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The Winds of Change

Knowing when to stop walking one path and move to another is a lifelong challenge for many of us. I persist with the belief that tireless effort is necessary to achieve my goals. This is a great virtue and I’m proud of myself when I do this. But noticing the pride alerts me to the dangers of stubborn refusal to recognize signs that the time has come to move on.

Accepting the limits of my actions, the defeats, the disappointments, the unfulfilled dreams and hopes, is necessary but the courage to do so is elusive. The ego’s voracious appetite for validation keeps telling me that I’m not good enough and have to keep trying to get what it needs. But I know that the dragon I am attempting to slay is just too strong and I am exhausted and deformed by the struggle.

Mayumi Oda, artist, activist, and modern Buddhist revolutionary, made a radical change in her life in 2000, at the age of 59. She moved onto a ranch in Hawaii called Gingerhill Farm, to grow organic turmeric, ginger, and medicinal herbs while building a sustainable community based in ethics of kindness, love, and compassion toward their gardens, food and one another.

From her autobiography, Saarasvati’s Gift:

I had worked day and night for nearly a decade and still hadn’t brought any significant change to the nuclear industry. When I told people about DU (depleted uranium) and plutonium, no one seemed to care. The military-industrial complex was too big a dragon to slay, and I felt exhausted. When I started this work, I was told it was naïve to think I could stop the plutonium industry. I was determined to bring about change, but now I was seeing how small I actually was in the face of the nuclear crisis.

I could foresee a huge nuclear disaster in Japan—an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown—and knew my family would evacuate to Hawaii. So I decided to end my work as an antinuclear activist and begin working to create a healthier society in other ways. Still feeling strongly that we have to adopt renewable resources and move toward a solar economy, I decided to establish a solar-oriented, organic-farming community in Hawaii. In this way I could begin to repair society and heal the earth.


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