Mobilizing on Behalf of Life

Why is it essential to mobilize, to gather as a community and march, as engaged Buddhists, as active and aspiring EcoSattvas, as citizens of Planet Earth, at the Peoples’ Climate March this coming April 29th? The Venerable Bikkhu Bodhi, Chair of Buddhist Global Relief, makes it explicit. For another perspective on how Buddhists can engage on the climate, see the companion piece by Bikkhu Bodhi, Let’s Stand Up Together.

Among the many challenges facing us today, as both Americans and global citizens, none demands our attention more urgently than the rising tide of climate change. The global temperature is gradually increasing, and the consequences of a hotter climate stifle the imagination. They include unbearable heat waves, long droughts, more violent floods, species extinction, and lethal food shortages. Everyone on earth will be affected; no one will be spared the terrible ravages of a changing climate.
There is no longer any room for doubt that it is human activity that’s been spurring climate change. By our reckless over-reliance on fossil fuels we are heating up the earth’s atmosphere, and it is only by concerted action that we can avert full-scale devastation. Above all, we must make the shift toward a future powered by clean, renewable sources of energy. The means of making this shift are already available to us. The technology is here; the knowledge of how to apply it is at our disposal. All that is lacking is the political will.

Human civilization is in the crosshairs of this administration. As people of conscience we cannot, we should not, stand by and watch from the sidelines.

Yet, while the scientific consensus on the climate crisis is clear, we face a formidable obstacle in the administration of Donald Trump and his cabinet of oil executives and climate change deniers. This administration, funded by powerful fossil fuel interests, prefers fiction to fact, falsehoods to truth, and is prepared to lead us in exactly the wrong direction. Trump has already announced his team will be promoting even more pipelines, more extraction of fossil fuels, which will only promoting even more pipelines, more extraction of fossil fuels, which will only increase the likelihood of full-scale catastrophe. Human civilization is in the crosshairs of this administration. As people of conscience we cannot, we should not, stand by and watch from the sidelines.
To block this ominous policy we have to fight back—to fight back peacefully, in love and compassion for all of life, making a shared commitment to a sustainable future. This will require a massive display of resistance from the American people. Together we’ll have to oppose Trump’s policies and insist on a rapid transition to a cleanenergy economy. To move us toward this end, the nation’s major environmental organizations have initiated a People’s Climate Mobilization that will culminate in a HUGE climate march in Washington D.C. on April 29th. At this march, hundreds of thousands of people will come together and walk shoulder to shoulder, demonstrating that we reject Trump’s energy policies, that we are pledged to usher in a sustainable future.

…to fight back peacefully, in love and compassion for all of life, making a shared commitment to a sustainable future…will require a massive display of resistance from the American people.

It is imperative that as many people as possible join this march, and as Buddhists it’s crucial that we turn up in significant numbers. Our faith commits us to the timeless values of compassion, peace, and wisdom, and in no area today are these values needed more badly than in inspired action to protect the climate. We must come forward and march together with people from all over the world—marching for our own sake, for future generations, and on behalf of our voiceless brothers and sisters all around the world. It is only by acting together—in a massive show of strength—that we can bring into being the future for which we yearn. For details, see [insert link to???]. Thank you, and I hope to see you at the march.

With blessings,

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi Chair,
Buddhist Global Relief

 


Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk and translator of Pali Buddhist texts. He is also the founding chair of Buddhist Global Relief, an organization dedicated to helping communities worldwide afflicted with chronic hunger and malnutrition. He was appointed editor of the Buddhist Publication Society (in Sri Lanka) in 1984 and its president in 1988. Ven. Bodhi has many important publications to his credit, either as author, translator, or editor, including the Buddha — A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya (co-translated with Ven. Bhikkhu Nanamoli (1995), The Connected Discourses of the Buddha — a New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya (2000), and In the Buddha’s Words (2005).

Let’s Stand Up Together

In “Let’s Stand Up Together,” as published in the Spring 2017 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, and on LionsRoar.com, Bikkhu Bodhi outlines the fears that may influence some Buddhist teachers and leaders to hold back from engagement with and responsiveness to ethical “issues of public concern.” Examining the difference between engaging in party politics versus speaking out on and standing up for social justice, he calls for a pan-Buddhist alliance to take on ” a program of collective resistance inspired by a…. vision of human interconnection.” Also read Bikkhu Bodhi’s Mobilizing on Behalf of Life, a call for a strong Buddhist presence on April 29th, 2017.

Image courtesy Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Rome, 2015.

 

I recently came across a news report stating that 2,500 religious leaders had signed a petition urging Congress to reject Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees as “a cabinet of bigotry.” I looked over the list of signatories, designated by religion, and saw only one who identified as Buddhist. This observation reinforced my puzzlement as to why Buddhist teachers and leaders in the U.S. are not more outspoken in addressing issues of public concern. Considering that Buddhism is widely hailed as the preeminent religion of peace and compassion, why, I ask myself, aren’t we more visible as advocates of peace, basic sanity, and social justice?

Granted, our numbers are small, but I don’t think that is the only reason for our reticence to speak up. Several other factors may also be involved. One is the adoption of the dharma as a path to personal happiness to be pursued mainly in the silence of the meditation hall. A second is the fear that political activism will fire up our passions and shatter our fragile calm. A third is the belief that active engagement with worldly events is an entanglement in illusion. And still a fourth is the view, widespread among dharma teachers, that we must welcome everyone and not risk alienating potential students by expressing our political convictions.

Politics today is …. an arena where great ethical contests are being fought, contests that have a crucial impact on everyone in this country and on this planet.

Now, I believe that teachers whose primary job is to teach the techniques of meditation practice should not expound their personal political views from the cushion. It’s also unfitting for heads of dharma centers to use their authority to endorse candidates for office or throw their community behind a political party. Nevertheless, I would draw a sharp line between political endorsement and advocating on public issues, and I would hold that to address such issues is well within a dharma teacher’s domain. Politics today is not merely a battleground over power and position; it is also an arena where great ethical contests are being fought, contests that have a crucial impact on everyone in this country and on this planet. If, from fear of upsetting others, dharma teachers shy away from addressing these critical matters, their silence could even be considered an abdication of their responsibility as spiritual leaders.

There are certain convictions that we as Buddhists hold and consider inviolable. We believe, for instance, that every human being possesses intrinsic dignity, that everyone should be treated fairly, that those fallen into hardship should be protected and given the chance to flourish, and that the resources of the earth should be used judiciously, out of respect for the delicate web of nature. The inauguration of Donald Trump as America’s new president is likely to strain each of these beliefs to new limits. We’re entering a turbulent time when it won’t be enough for us merely to adopt the dharma as a regimen of resilience, a means of maintaining inner balance against the shock waves rippling across the social landscape. We’ll need a bolder agenda, a program of collective resistance inspired by a radically different vision of human interconnection, one that affirms our duty to respect and care for one another and to maintain a habitable planet for generations yet unborn.

If, from fear of upsetting others, dharma teachers shy away from addressing these critical matters, their silence could even be considered an abdication of their responsibility as spiritual leaders.

If, as upholders of Buddhist faith, we’re to make our distinctive mark on public policy, we may have to establish a Buddhist advocacy group, a pan-Buddhist alliance grounded in the recognition that hot political disputes are also burning ethical issues on which we should take a stand. Through such an alliance we can bring the power of Buddhist conscience out into the public arena. Since our numbers are relatively small, we won’t be able to make much of an impact on our own. But we can join with progressive leaders of other faiths who share our convictions, advocating together on behalf of human decency and in defense of our embattled democracy. We can call, in unison, for a policy of global generosity in place of rash militarism, for programs that protect the poor and vulnerable, for the advancement of social and racial justice, and for the rapid transition to a clean-energy economy. To stand up and speak out in support of such ends is not necessarily to meddle in party politics. It is, rather, to bring the moral weight of the dharma to bear on matters that affect the lives of people everywhere—now, and long into the future.


Reproduced with permission. Originally as published in the Spring 2017 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, and on LionsRoar.com.


Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk and translator of Pali Buddhist texts. He is also the founding chair of Buddhist Global Relief, an organization dedicated to helping communities worldwide afflicted with chronic hunger and malnutrition. He was appointed editor of the Buddhist Publication Society (in Sri Lanka) in 1984 and its president in 1988. Ven. Bodhi has many important publications to his credit, either as author, translator, or editor, including the Buddha — A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya (co-translated with Ven. Bhikkhu Nanamoli (1995), The Connected Discourses of the Buddha — a New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya (2000), and In the Buddha’s Words (2005).

Gathering a Mindful Presence for the People’s Climate Mobilization

Standing Up for All Children of All Species

Leaders from Buddhist communities throughout the United States are forming a coalition to help organize the April 29 People’s Climate Mobilization in Washington DC and around the world. The coalition, calling itself Protectors of Indra’s Net, is mobilizing for a strong presence from the Mindfulness/Buddhist community. We aim to bring the unique gifts of Dharma communities to the march and support the viability, dignity and freedom of all beings, near and far, born and yet to be born .

The image of Indra’s net, named after the Vedic god Indra, is used in Buddhist sutras to describe the interconnectedness of the universe.

The image of Indra’s net, named after the Vedic god Indra, is used in Buddhist sutras to describe the interconnectedness of the universe.

The People’s Climate Movement (PCM) was launched in 2014 when it organized the historic first People’s Climate March on September 21, the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit. As heads of state from around the world gathered, 400,000 people from every walk of life marched through the streets of New York City demanding bold and urgent action to confront the global climate crisis. The Movement platform includes goals to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas pollution to combat climate change and improve public health, and also to ensure that investments are targeted to help low-income people and people of color to access good jobs and improve the lives of communities of color, indigenous peoples, low-income people, small farmers, women, and workers.

The Buddhist gathering at the People’s Climate Mobilization is being spearheaded by One Earth Sangha (as a People’s Climate Mobilization partner organization) and is joined by members from the Buddhist Climate Action Network (BCAN), Earth Holders Sangha (from the Thich Nhan Hanh tradition), Shambhala, Insight, Zen, Soka-Gakkai, and other traditions as well as Buddhist Global Relief who have engaged in environmental/climate action previously or are now stepping up to do so.

There are several ways to get involved!

Live Webinar, “Deepening Our Outer Practice”

Online, Saturday, April 1st, 12:00 – 1:30 pm US Eastern time

To underscore that this is a movement, not just a moment, and to integrate Earth Day, we’re considering launching a month of Deepening Our Outer Practice with a live, online webinar on April 1st. We’re inviting teachers from all traditions to submit interest in contributing to this event. Stay tuned for registration details and send us an email if you’d like to recommend a teacher or yourself for a slot on the program.

Gathering and Affirming

Washington DC, Friday evening, April 28

For those who can make the trip to Washington, we’re offering a cross-tradition event in DC for the Buddhist / Mindfulness community on April 28th, the eve of the mobilization. We’re currently gathering teachers to represent their tradition by offering a short segment (e.g., 30 min) that integrates the ecological, engagement and some form of practice.  The event will likely start at 5 or 6 pm at a location here in central DC and will feature speakers and practices from diverse traditions, all affirming our participation in the March as an expression of the Dharma Path. We’ll affirm our dedication to expanding engagement in ecological and social issues and creating solidarity with other communities and justice causes. Stay tuned for details on this event.

Walking Together in the People’s Climate Mobilization

Washington DC and Sister Locations around the World, Saturday, April 29.

The People’s Climate Mobilization main event will take place on Saturday, April 29th in DC and at sister marches around the world. We’re inviting all those in the DC area and within a 12-hour bus ride to come to DC to walk together. We’ll gather in the morning for a community meditation and then join with the larger “faith” contingent for the mobilization. Again, return here for details as they evolve.

Practicing Here and Now: Ways You Can Help

Our community, all those connected with One Earth Sangha, have a critical role to play in generating a strong Buddhist presence at these events. Here’s how you can contribute:

  • JOIN: Get on the list to keep up to date: join the One Earth Sangha facebook group here, our mailing list here and the national PCM list here. Your Sangha might be interested in becoming a PCM partner.
  • SPREAD: Reach out to your local Dharma and Eco friends asking them to save the date and join you in planning participation. Feel free to capture text and graphics from this page to help send your message.
  • HOST: Those in the DC area are encouraged to offer housing to those in our community who live outside the area for the evenings of April 28th and possibly the 29th. We’ll post a housing exchange board here on One Earth Sangha so that folks can find one another.
  • TRAVEL: If your’e within 12-hours of DC, join or help organize a Buddha Bus from your area. The wonderful staff at Compassion NYC are organizing a “rolling retreat” using three buses (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha!) each with their own onboard teacher. Your bus might also offer some teacher or peer-led Dharma offerings, structured conversations and practice.
  • GATHER: If you’re outside bus range or otherwise unable to travel to DC, join or help organize a Buddhist/Mindfulness presence at sister marches in your local city or town. If there is a BCAN chapter near you, reach out! These marches are already forming so your best source for general information is the National PCM sister marches listing and partner directory.
  • INSPIRE: Generate and share your ideas for visual images and slogans that folks can use for signs and banners. Get those ideas going and return here in the next few weeks for a place to share them with the community.

Autonomism and the Women’s March

Independent dharma scholar Shaun Bartone encourages us to “Listen to America Ferrera, a US-born daughter of immigrants from Honduras, and her declaration of the mission of the Women’s March and the direction of the movement.” Ferrera speaks to the importance of acting collectively to build coalitions that support a diverse set of causes. In the coming days, as Shaun Bartone notes in this piece that originally appeared in Engage!: Engaged Bhuddism Magazine,  the process by which we do our resistance  work as Bhodisattvas and EcoSattvas is critical to our success.

Critics of the Women’s March have said that it appears to have no unified goal or policy objective, that to be effective it must be ready to “seize power,” otherwise it is a failure.

Love, Mutual Care and Compassion

What they don’t see is that the most important achievement of this March is not forcing demands from the Trump Regime, or obtaining political power in government. Its most important goal is building a broad-based coalition movement that is based in love, mutual care, and compassion for all marginalized people, a horizontal movement that is least-hierarchical and most cooperative. As Marina Sitrin says in Everyday Revolutions, the success of the movement is not measured in the achievement of conventional power, but in its capacity to build and maintain horizontalist relationships in the course of realizing  its own goals. The success of an autonomist-horizonalist movement is in its power-sharing process rather than taking power over the rest of the nation.

From Power Over to Power With

In autonomist-horizonatlist politics, sustaining the process is more important than obtaining power, and love is more important than achievement, because it’s the egalitarian process and the loving-kindness that has been missing from many of our social justice movements of the past, and what is utterly vacant in our culture as a whole. What the Women’s March has achieved is far more profound than the ascent to power. It is the fundamental cultural shift from power over to power with. It is the fundamental cultural shift from rooting our society in competition, self-centredness, violence, and exclusion, to relationships of loving-kindness, mutual care, and compassion.

Shifting the culture from competition to compassion is the most profound and fundamental shift away from Capitalism to a cooperative society. It is this profound cultural shift that will sustain the relationships and the work that we need to do to finally end the inequities of racism, sexism, and class oppression. It is this profound cultural shift to a culture of love, mutual care and compassion that will empower us to save the biosphere of the planet from our own self-induced destruction. It is this profound cultural shift to a culture of love, mutual care and compassion that will empower us to establish life-giving and mutually-supportive relationships with all human beings, and loving interconnection with all living beings on this planet. It is the process of loving, compassionate, and mutually-sustaining relationships that matters most.


Shaun Bartone practices engaged Buddhism as a humanist spirituality. Shaun is an independent dharma scholar and dharmaecologist. Many teachers have shaped and inspired his passion for engaged Buddhism, including Joanna Macy, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar,  angel Kyodo williams, Sulak Sivaraksa, David Loy, Thich Nhat Hahn, and the 17th Karmapa.

Confirming our Interdependent Destiny

In observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, we affirm our mutual belonging and the interdependent destiny. As we look to the challenges ahead, this is a moment for coming together and committing ourselves to the deepest calling of our hearts.

On January 21, we hope you can join One Earth Sangha for the Women’s March on Washington in DC or at any of the Sister Marches around the world to walk together as a mindfulness community. As the March platform states,

The Women’s March on Washington is a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.

Recognizing that women have intersecting identities and are therefore impacted by a multitude of social justice and human rights issues, we have outlined a representative vision for a government that is based in the principles of liberty and justice for all. As Dr. King said, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

Our liberation is bound in each other’s. 

Be sure to register with the march organizers and then find group in your area to join. You can find a list of mindfulness community gatherings on Lion’s Roar.

In particular, for those who can make it to Washington DC,  please join One Earth Sangha, ARISE Sangha and all mindfulness practitioners for walking together.

Calling Practitioners to “Go As A River” in support of the Women’s March on Washington
ARISE Sangha invites “members of sanghas, friends, families, and other hearts wanting to join this powerful collective energy of peace” to gather in Washington, DC outside of the Starbucks coffee shop at 443 7th Street NW (7th & E) anytime after 8:30am. They will leave for the march around 9:30am. Follow the details on facebook.

Housing resources may be found here: http://mchb.createaforum.com/

From the ARISE website

Call to Practice

We invite all practitioners and Sanghas in the United States and beyond to dedicate their practice during the week of Monday, January 16th (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) to Sunday, January 22nd (the weekend following the inauguration) to cultivating understanding and compassion for ourselves and our country, and healing from the violence, hatred, and fear that has intensified during the past year’s election.  There is no true peace without justice and equity for all.

Begin by listening deeply within to develop clarity as to what you’re thinking, feeling, and perceiving in response to the events of the day.  Reflect on the first and second of the Fourteen Mindfulness TrainingsWe will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and in the world…

And: Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views…

Dedicate your walking meditation and sitting meditation practice to generating the energy of compassion and healing with each step and each breath you take.  Practice Deep Listening with yourself to with someone you don’t understand and bring Loving Speech into your conversations (see the 4th MT below). Read Thay’s “Calming the Fearful Mind: a Zen Response to Terrorism” and practice Dharma Sharing on the topics raised. These teachings are remarkably relevant today. Practice Touching the Earth (below). Listen to and meditate upon Alone Again, the song created from Thay’s poem Recommendation.  Be creative and make up a new practice.  Talk to your friends to share what supports you.  See a full list of resources below.

Call to Action

Join members of the Thich Nhat Hanh Sangha and other traditions from across the country as we march together in peace for justice for all at the Women’s March on Washington. People of all genders are invited. We will practice Marching Meditation to hold love for each other as a Beloved Community committed to justice for the disenfranchised as so many of our ancestors have done before. Sangha members will also participate in marching meditation in New York City, San Francisco and other sister cities.

This call to practice and to action is supported by the ARISE Sangha – Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity.*