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The Taoist and the Activist

Episode 110

In this episode, Taoist professor and psychologist Dr. Benjamin Tong meets environmental activist Julia Butterfly Hill, the world's most famous "tree-sitter." Julia became an international symbol of environmental activism by living for over two years high atop an old-growth redwood tree in northern California, a tree she named "Luna," which she ultimately saved from destruction.

Meeting for the first time, these two guests share thoughts on subjects ranging from compassion and attachment, to anger and finally, Nature as a spiritual path. In this unique lunch conversation, witness the contemplative tradition of Taoism, alongside the committed, activist approach of today's environmental movement.

"So often activism is based on what we are against, what we don't like, what we don't want. And yet we manifest what we focus on. And so we are manifesting yet ever more of what we don't want, what we don't like, what we want to change. So for me, activism is about a spiritual practice as a way of life. And I realized I didn't climb the tree because I was angry at the corporations and the government; I climbed the tree because when I fell in love with the redwoods, I fell l in love with the world. So it is my feeling of 'connection' that drives me, instead of my anger and feelings of being disconnected." —Julia Butterfly Hill

"We get in trouble being human beings when we are attached to how life should turn out. If we are attached to 'reputation', who makes us who we are, or whatever we are attached to, it makes for - to borrow from the language of Star Wars - 'a disturbance in the force'. Something is instantly out of balance. And it was, Lao-Tse, the founder of Taoism who said, 'Our needs are few; our wants are endless'." —Dr. Benjamin Tong

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