Zen and Conservation

One is All.  All is One.  Very Zen, right?  Well, very Conservation too.  In this blog, we will explore how Zen is relevant to conservation and can even inspire conservation efforts – perhaps with The Conservation Foundation.


Spring flowers, autumn moon,
Summer breeze, winter snow –
When the mind is free from unnecessary thoughts,
Every season is just perfect!
Ekai Kawaguchi

Every season is perfect – even Illinois winters (sorta).  Zen has always held the natural world in high reverence – often the contemplation of nature is seen as a means to enlightenment.  Certainly, interaction with Nature is important for physical and mental health.  Now, conservation may or may not lead to enlightenment.  But conservation is all about saving nature.  Simply put, The Conservation Foundation saves land and saves rivers — and they’ve been at it for nearly 50 years.

Everything is interrelated.  Nothing exists alone.
Ultimately, what can be said to exist without every other thing?
All things are parts of One Thing.

Like Zen, conservation of land and water recognizes the balance and interrelationships in nature.  It recognizes that land, water, air, animal, plant, mineral are all part of one environment.  Conservation increases wildlife habitat and improves plant and animal biodiversity.  Conservation also results in resilient human communities.  Local conservation helps mitigate climate change on a global basis.  The Conservation Foundation’s work with streams in Northeastern Illinois can positively affect downstream areas in the Mississippi Basin and Gulf of Mexico.

With all our philosophies,
with all our grand and enhancing ideas,
we cannot escape life as we live it.
Star-gazers are still walking on the solid earth.
D.T. Suzuki

Meditation in movement is a hundred,
a thousand, a million times superior
to meditation at rest.


These two sayings are basically urging us to recognize that we need to take care of the environment that we live in.  We need to actively take care of our environment.

Founded in 1972, The Conservation Foundation is one of the region’s oldest and largest not-for-profit land and watershed conservation organizations dedicated to preserving and restoring open space, protecting rivers and watersheds and promoting stewardship of the environment in northeastern Illinois.

Nothing feels quite as good as working hard (or meditation in movement) at work worth doing (except maybe a nice massage afterwards)!  Volunteers are an integral part of achieving the mission of The Conservation Foundation, and there are many ways to get involved.  We need an army to extend our reach on the land, in the water, in the classroom and in your neighborhood.  Join up today!  And afterwards, celebrate with a glass of Zen-fandel (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Feel free to comment on this blog and tell us what inspires your conservation efforts.

By Steve Stawarz, Oak Brook
DuPage County Advisory Council Member

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