Footsteps Steering Group member Andrew Cheffings gives a reflection on the cost of living crisis from a Buddhist perspective. Andrew notes the importance of writing from his own experience; of using some Buddhist language; and making that language understandable for those who are not familiar with Buddhist ideas:
I’ll start with the Universal Light shining through all beings. And I’ll call this ‘Buddha Light’. This ‘Buddha Light’ shines through all beings, guiding us, leading us on.
But when we meet with misfortune, like the cost of living crisis or other effects of over-use of the Earth’s resources and climate breakdown, the misfortune can seem to obscure the way forward.
In life, there are beings who can give us guidance when the path becomes difficult and unclear. These may be beings who are visible to us in ordinary, daily life, or they may be more usually invisible, like angels. Using Buddhist language, I can call these invisible guides ‘Bodhisattvas’. These are beings of great compassion who will willingly help carry the burdens of suffering beings to enable them to continue forward on their spiritual paths.
One such Bodhisattva is called ‘Samantabhadra’. ‘Samantabhadra’ means ‘universally good’. And Samantabhadra is said to be a manifestation of the Universal activity of enlightenment. And this is the activity of goodness found in the Universal Light, shining through all beings, even when it is sometimes obscured by unripeness – ill-judged and misdirected activities which obscure the light and the potential for good.
Here are a couple of the vows of Samantabhadra which explain that being’s purpose in life:
“Extinguishing all the miseries of bad states, and bringing all beings to happiness, I will act for the welfare of all beings, in all lands everywhere.”
“Acting in accord with the time, may I remove all obstructions. May I see Infinite Light face to face and go to the land of bliss.”
So, Samantabhadra is a guiding power who can help beings in times of difficulty. As Buddhists, we are encouraged to become followers of guiding powers like Samantabhadra and take part in their activities of working “for the welfare of all beings, in all lands everywhere.” When we take part in these activities of universal good we can support each other in times of difficulty and help each other stay true to our spiritual paths. And, knowing that these unseen powers are supporting us, we can act more confidently in helping alleviate difficulties ourselves. And, knowing that these unseen powers are supporting us, we can act more confidently in helping alleviate difficulties ourselves.
A great way to connect with these unseen beneficent powers is to do spiritual practice in Nature, among the trees. This can be a really healing practice, putting us more directly in touch with Creation in all its seen and unseen manifestations.
If you are concerned about the cost of living crisis and would like to support people in your community to reduce energy use, pay fuel bills and keep warm and healthy, take a look at Footsteps new Energy Champions project.