Apparently we are counting down (up?) to person-number-seven-billion expected to be born on 31 October.
Our population has increased at a phenomenal rate. We reached:
3 billion in 1960,
4 billion in 1974,
5 billion in 1987, and
6 billion in 1999.
And now – 2011 – we shall reach 7 billion.
Just how many people can this little planet of ours support? As John Feeney succinctly put it growth is madness. Why we should countdown as if it is a celebration is beyond me. And if the above pattern is anything to go by we should reach 8 billion by 2022.
Will we be counting down then again? Will we be thinking this is a momentous occasion?
This is an English translation I made of an essay called If the world were a village of 100 people: food edition by Ikeda Kayoko (ISBN 9784838770045). As far as I know it is only available in the original Japanese. There are many interesting and important facts in it, so I felt it important to get an English translation out there. This translation is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 unported licence.
Grilled salty pike and simmered taro, with rice, miso (bean paste) soup and pickled vegetables … that was the hearty meal one have in Japan forty, fifty years ago.
Everyone had 112kg(*see notes at the end) of rice to eat for one year – twice as much as we have today.
Do you still think this is a poor person’s meal? Back then, Japan produced close to 80 percent of all its food needs.
And now in the twenty-first century … the world has 6.7 billion people.
If the world were a village of 100 people and we look how we live with food what do you think this would look like?
I used to meditate at night because it was the only time I could do it … or at least that was the excuse I gave myself. Actually while I was at Bukkokuji Temple in Obama, Fukui the routine was to meditate once in the morning (twice during winter) and three times at night. So my belief for a long time was that night meditation is the best.
But this is simply not true.
For lay people a morning session is usually the best because it is the time when we have least to do, less rushed by life. It is also quiet as everyone is still asleep and therefore one can concentrate better. One is also fresh from rest.
At the Temple as monks one can concentrate because that is the life monks have chosen, to devote their lives to save all others. Lay people do not have this “luxury”.