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Chief Joseph and John Cali
from the October 2009 Star Beacon
by Chief Joseph and John Cali
Thich Nhat Hanh, the
Vietnamese Buddhist monk, activist and writer, talks about “mindful
consumption.” What is mindful consumption?
Nhat Hanh’s use of the phrase “mindful consumption” has
its roots in the Buddhist Fifth Precept. Here is part of that
“Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption,
I am committed to cultivate good health, both physical and mental,
for myself, my family, and my society by practising mindful
eating, drinking, and consuming. I am committed to ingest only
items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my
consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my
family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any
other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain
toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and
That may seem a bit strict for non-Buddhists. But I
found it interesting the precept classifies as “toxic” things we
don’t normally associate with that word. Things like “TV programs,
magazines, books, films, and conversations.”
Here’s Chief Joseph.
John chose an appropriate title for our article today.
Your world some days seems to be overflowing with toxic stuff. In
our view, among the most toxic of all available to you today are
those things mentioned in the Buddhist Fifth Precept: “TV
programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations.”
With your modern technology you have so much information
— often too much — literally at your fingertips. We realize, as
John said, you don’t normally consider information, no matter what
the medium, as toxic or poisonous.
Yet, for example, if you have the habit of immersing
yourselves in hours of TV-watching every day or most days, you’re
most likely finding yourselves sad, upset, depressed, etc. There
is so much “bad” news out there, so much emphasis on the drama and
trauma running rampant in your world today.
We are not criticizing the mainstream media for focusing
on negative news. After all, that’s what sells, and they’re in the
business of making money.
But if you participate too much in the negativity, such
as negative “TV programs, magazines, books, films, and
conversations,” it will drag you down. It’s unavoidable, for what
you focus on mostly multiplies in your experience. As we just
said, the end result is you feeling sad, upset, depressed.
The negativity, friends, is toxic to your minds, your
hearts, your spirits. Ultimately it can and does negatively affect
your physical bodies. It can sicken you and even end up in
Now we know none of you consciously choose to live the
grim scenario we just painted. But you do often choose it by
default. It can sicken not only your physical bodies, but also
your relationships with other humans. The poison just spreads and
So what can you, one individual standing alone, do about
this? A lot!
We urge all of you reading this to remember you are divine beings
temporarily in human form. You may have forgotten it, but you do
know it or you would not be reading this to begin with.
When you are aligned with your higher selves — your
souls — your lives become more joyful, more peaceful, more
abundant, more loving.
In making a conscious choice to think only positive thoughts, to
read only uplifting books, to have only loving conversations, to
watch only inspiring TV programs or movies, you will be creating a
more joyful life for yourselves.
But, just as importantly, you will be uplifting and inspiring your
brothers and sisters, especially those mired in the toxicity and
A positive loving thought is far more powerful than a
negative hateful thought. The vibrations are at opposite ends of
the energy spectrum.
So each of you, as one person standing alone, have the
power to uplift those who’ve become susceptible, usually through
their own neglect, to all the negativity your world is seeing at
So we urge you to make a conscious choice to maintain
healthy habits in every area of your lives. The positive powerful
vibrations you will radiate will ripple out to the ends of the
universe, if you will.
Every loving thought you hold contributes to
the healing of the world. Every hateful thought you hold
contributes to the wounding of the world.
You are that powerful. Use your power wisely.