Encouraging Sanghas to
Turn Towards Climate Change
We invite the One Earth Sangha community to participate in the second annual Earth Care Week, October 5–12. This is an opportunity to come together with our sanghas, Kalyana Mittas, and other mindfulness groups to both celebrate the natural world and address the major environmental issues of our time, including climate change. Facing the reality of climate change requires great compassion and calls on our deepest capacities to be with truth. As with so many other difficult emotions, holding the fear and pain around climate change can be difficult and painful. Yet if our Dharma is to leave nothing out, we must not turn away.
Earth Care Week offers a chance to be with each other and feel less alone in facing this great truth of our time. Practicing together in local sanghas (no matter how small!) around climate change can uncover a path toward compassion, energy and even joy. We know from our own experience that meeting difficulty directly with wisdom and compassion naturally leads to skillful response.
“As we each awaken to our responsibility to follow the path described in the Dharma to help us protect and restore the planet and its inhabitants, we may feel awed by the immensity of the challenge. We should take heart, however, in the power of collective action.
Buddhists can join with others in their Sanghas, and our Sanghas can join hands and hearts with other religious and spiritual traditions as well as secular movements focused on social change. In this way we will support each other as we make the necessary shifts in perspectives, lifestyles, and economic and institutional systems required to reduce climate change to manageable levels. History shows that with concerted, unified, collective effort, changes that at one time seemed impossible have time and again come to pass.”
Earth Care Week was launched in 2013 by teachers gathered at the International Vipassana Teachers meeting at Spirit Rock. In proposing the annual observance, the teachers were responding to a request for teachings on climate change signed by more than 2,000 practitioners, including many members of the One Earth Sangha community. Following the meeting, the Dharma Teachers International Collaborative on Climate Change was formed and issued a statement on climate change that has been endorsed by nearly 500 Dharma teachers and more than 1,300 sangha members worldwide (and is still collecting signatures).
For the first Earth Care Week, local sanghas across the US, Canada, and the UK came up with a variety of creative ways to observe the occasion—Dharma talks, day-longs, film screenings, children’s programming, nature walks, sustainability projects, peaceful demonstrations, and direct care for natural environments. We hope you will gather fellow practitioners and/or support your teachers in bringing this important aspect of Dharma to your community this October. For ideas, check out these resources shared on One Earth Sangha:
- Summary of activities from 2013 Earth Care Week
- Dharma inspiration from teachers
- Ideas and Resources for Earth Care Week – 2014
In addition, on the first day of this year’s Earth Care Week—Sunday, October 5—the first of a series of online conversations on “Mindfulness and Climate Action” will be offered on the web, free to all. Over five weeks, October 5–November 2, Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Ruth King, David Loy, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and many other wonderful Dharma teachers will lead online conversations exploring the impact of climate change, its underlying causes, and the ways Dharma practice can inform our personal and collective response. Our hope is that local sanghas will view the course as a rich practice opportunity, inviting practitioners to participate in the online conversations and then come together for group meditation, discussion, Dharma talks, and earth-care projects.