In Billionaire Buddha, I tell a story about a man who makes a fortune from trees and then questions the morality of wealth, property, ownership, and an economic system that destroys people and the planet. The central character wonders how humanity can justify their oppression of other species, objectifying and exploiting animals, forests, prairies, oceans, etc. We have caused the extinction of so many species . . . and now we facing the looming threat of our own extinction through a climate-crisis caused by our own actions. At the root of many of our behaviors lies the denial of the beingness – and even sentience – of all living systems. India recently acknowledged the sentience of dolphins, awarding them “Non-Human Personhood” status. How might we live differently on this beloved Earth if we cultivated an awareness of the beingness of all things, and the possibility that all beings have their own forms of sentience?
“The meadowlark, the sequoia, the humpback whale . . . how can humankind maintain its arrogant delusion of superiority when confronted with the truth of every species’ beauty? Our scientists prove the language of the birds, the intelligence of the dolphins, the social structures of the bees, the use of tools by primates, the emotions of the elephants, the alteration of environment by beavers. Nothing sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom – except, perhaps, our penchant for folly. At that, our species exceeds all others.” – from Billionaire Buddha, a novel by Rivera Sun