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Lions Roar : March 2010
59 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2010 ing about “stuff ”—the material things we buy, use, and throw away every day. Turning our minds to stuff and how we use it opens a vast opportunity for practice that, to my knowledge, few of us have taken advantage of. one of my favorite Buddhist teachings is the metaphor of the chariot. it asks, Where is the chariot? is it in its wheels and axle? is it in the spokes? is it in the poles that connect it to the horse and the frame? in the carriage? The answer is that the chariot is found in none of these. it is nowhere. The chariot is an illusion. it’s not a thing; it’s a process. The chariot is just a frozen moment in time when those parts come together. it’s one moment in a long history of each of those parts, and each of them will continue in some way after the chariot is no longer used. This ancient metaphor shows us the very kind of shift we need to make in thinking about the things we buy and use. We’re not buying products. We’re participating in a process that started often long before the moment of purchase. The modern version of the metaphor of the chariot can be found in a very technical, but nonetheless extremely relevant field called industrial ecology. it is a discipline carried out by chemists, engineers, physicists, and other scientific researchers who look in a very fine- grained way at the life history of a consumable and break Daniel Goleman says the key to becoming a socially engaged consumer is being mindful at the moment when we’re deciding whether to buy something. Knowing the full range of a product’s impacts is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and for the Earth. phoToBylAssekeisTensen/dreAMsTiMe