Wisdom Practices for a Global Movement
We are at a crossroads. Climate movements have emerged In Europe, North America and some southern nations pressuring government leaders to, for the first time, take meaningful steps both nationally and globally. But our policy response remains far less than what is needed to limit the risk of climate collapse. Progress to date has come despite low engagement from most of society, which has stagnated in some form of denial, distraction, or disconnection. The bold action required for effective mitigation and adaptation is unlikely without greater public support. At the same time, activist communities face their own emotional challenges, frustration and a growing sense of despair. Their resulting responses are often polarized, fueled by anger and blame, thus inhibiting the increased support needed from natural allies and the public at large.
In this important moment, the practices of mindfulness, compassion and wise response have much to offer. In the West, the Buddhist tradition has manifested as mindfulness practices as a way to alleviate personal suffering. But its potential reaches far beyond the isolated individual. Buddhist teachings, non-theistic in nature, provide profound insights into our interdependent existence with all of life and the transformative power of turning toward difficulty, whether personal or collective, with wisdom and compassion.
Unlike most spiritual traditions, mindfulness practitioners can identify as Buddhists or use the teachings as a secular complement to other beliefs or humanist approaches. This provides multiple entry points for Buddhist-based wisdom traditions to influence climate action and catalyze a transformation of the sustainability movement The growing western Buddhist and secular mindfulness communities can be activated, while also building greater resilience among current climate activists. In short, practices from the Buddhist tradition can not only add numbers to the movement for responsible environmental action, but, more importantly, increase its efficacy and resilience.
One Earth Sangha’s mission is to bring the essential wisdom and practices from the Buddhist tradition to collective engagement on critical ecological crises. We assert that activism is more effective and sustainable when grounded in mindfulness and compassion and that social engagement is an essential part of the spiritual path. We bring these two forces, and their corresponding communities, together through teachings, community building and mindful action.
Our accomplishments to-date reflect our strategy with layers of offerings that build upon and inform each other.
Wisdom and Practices
Supported by a guiding council of teachers and leaders within many branches of Buddhism in the West, One Earth Sangha is well-recognized as a primary source of “EcoDharma” – the application of Buddhist wisdom to our ecological crisis. Our voice embodies an engaged compassionate perspective. Instead of battling specific individuals or groups, reduced and fixed as them as “the enemy,” we challenge their actions as expressions of greed, hatred and disconnection, patterns that all humans are vulnerable to. We take the long view, endeavoring to be courageous, even fierce and yet without bias, unshakable in our commitment to the welfare of all beings. Our offerings regularly integrate an understanding of how other social movements including racial and economic justice inform, support and compliment ecological concerns. Through a steady flow of insights, reflections, practices and fresh perspectives, our audience receives support for developing a stable, rational and compassionate response to our collective challenges.
At the center of our strategy is spiritual community or “Sangha.” Research shows that a sense of community provides critical support to individuals in facing and responding effectively to the problems facing our world. Local groups, or “EcoSanghas,” gather individuals from within one tradition, across many or affiliated with no tradition at all. These groups explore teachings, practice together and organize engagement activities. EcoSanghas are a natural complement to our EcoDharma offerings, in many cases emerging organically around our online trainings. We provide critical support to these groups by helping them connect, inspire and collaborate with one another.
In the Buddhist understanding, the unfettered heart naturally responds with wisdom and compassion. We provide the teachings and inspiration for response that is deeply grounded in individuals’ skills, passions and circumstances. Members are supported to explore a diversity of responses from developing healthy and sustainable solutions, to interrupting forms of destruction, advocating for environmental justice and supporting the transformation of consciousness to help heal the human/ earth relationship. We provide encouragement for local EcoSanghas to initiate their own actions, and help them to network regionally. In our partnerships with interfaith groups such as GreenFaith and Interfaith Power and Light, we act as an organizing point to bring the Buddhist/mindfulness communities and perspective to broader interfaith initiatives. We foster a form of heart-based, collaborative and unshakable activism, not driven by fear, anger or the need for immediate results and instead grounded in continuous spiritual practice.
One Earth Sangha has been a key player in the emergence the Buddhist response to climate change, providing a hub for information, connection and organizing. Early in its formation, our co-founders were invited to provide core leadership with Natural Dharma Fellowship in the breakout “EcoDharma Conference” at Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in the summer of 2014. The “Mindfulness and Climate Action” series mentioned above catalyzed strategic discussions that led to the formation of the Buddhist Climate Action Network, which remains our close partnership. As a founding member of the Global Buddhist Climate Change Collective, we assisted with and promoted the delivery of the Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change, presented to the UN Climate Negotiators at COP21 in Paris on November 28, 2015. We provide support for the development of tradition-specific responses such as the Earth Holders Sangha which is emerging out of the Thích Nhất Hạnh / Zen tradition. Finally, we collaborate with leading interfaith groups such as GreenFaith and Interfaith Power & Light. In particular, we worked with GreenFaith to the Buddhist-mindfulness contingent of the People’s Climate March.
As an online Sangha that promotes and supports local practice, local Sanghas, and local engagement, we strive to model sustainability in our operations. Still, our digital platform contributes to the carbon footprint of our hosting data centers. In 2015, we migrated from our website operations away from a hosting service that used carbon offsets to compensate for relatively dirty energy sources. Thanks to our amazing volunteer tech staff, we are now self-hosted on Google Cloud services, ranked highest among all cloud computing services by GreenPeace’s Clicking Green report. Google data centers are on track to run on 100% renewable sources by the end of 2017.
A Place to Practice
What does it mean to live in accordance with Buddhist principles in the context of global climate change? What would our lives look like if we were to respond to the environmental crisis as an expression of our Buddhist path? How can Buddhism, with its understanding of greed, hatred and delusion, as well as its deep exploration of our connectedness and inter-being, contribute to a conversation about broad-scale transformation? How do we actualize the Bodhisattva vow and help ourselves and others fully awaken to the truth of a warming world?
One Earth Sangha will offer a place to live our way into the answers to these and other questions. As the founders and staff of One Earth Sangha. we feel privileged and honored to hold this space. We are an all-volunteer organization and so always looking for help. See how you can get involved.