Wise action in the face of climate change can be an important and satisfying part of our practice. During the first week of October (1-7 October 2013), Earth Care Week will unfold. We invite you to join the global sangha in this annual expression of brave presence with the natural world in this time of great change. With support from One Earth Sangha, you can bring Earth Care Week to your own community and your daily practice.
At the recent International Vipassana Teachers’ meeting, the idea of “Earth-Care Week” was born. Each year, during the first week of October, Earth Care Week will bring teachers and members of the greater sangha together to both celebrate our natural world and address the major environmental issues of our time, including climate change. Through various events during Earth Care Week, the community will explore ways to bring care for our planet into our practice and engagement with the world. One Earth Sangha will contribute to Earth Care Week by hosting online conversations, sharing resources and engaging sangha members from all traditions to join the conversation. Already teachers and sanghas from other traditions have decided to join in this event. Everyone is welcome!
You can make Earth Care Week an authentic expression of your own and your community’s connection to our changing planet. We’re offering here some possible themes with ideas to get you going and we’re inviting you, our community, to add your own:
Care for the earth is deeply woven into Buddhist wisdom teachings. Consider exploring the relationship between various Buddhist traditions and care for the earth. What mindfulness practices can enhance our understanding of right relationship with the earth? How can Buddhist teachings and practices provide a compassionate container for all that arises within us? What is the support in Buddhist tradition for engaging on social issues in the public sphere?
- Idea: Offer and solicit Dharma talks on nature, caring for our natural world, and practicing with our responses to climate change.
- Idea: Explore Socially Engaged Buddhism with your sangha. Learn from sangha members and other sanghas what it means to manifest active compassion in the world.
- Idea: Offer an environmental film night or evening of poetry readings with discussion afterwards on a wise response to the climate crisis (and share your film ideas here!)
- Idea: Offer an all-night sitting in solidarity with the humans and other species suffering from climate disruption.
What is the significance of and what are strategies for living and working sustainability? What does mindful consumption look like as a practice? How can we support each other as individuals, spiritual communities, neighborhoods and businesses to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel-based energy and toward carbon-free power?
- Idea: Share commitments to and resources for personal energy audits.
- Idea: If your sangha manages one or more buildings, create a solar panel project as community practice.
Learning: Climate and Justice Education
What is the social impact of climate change and other environmental threats and how are they distributed across humanity? What are the local efforts to address environmental justice?
- Idea: Take some time as a community to learn about how climate change is and will continue to affect your community. Share what you learn with your sangha and notice what arises — both within you and the group. Brainstorm actions to prepare for the impacts of climate change in your own backyard.
- Idea: Reach out to a sangha in a nearby community with different demographics than your own. Exchange ideas about what climate disruption and suffering means to each. Listen to each other’s history and get to know common as well as different challenges.
- Idea: As a sangha, explore how climate change is already affecting communities all over the world. Look as well at the impact on the non-human world.
What wisdom can the various Buddhist lineages, faith traditions and secular movements bring to our understanding of the spiritual and moral dimensions of climate change? Can we join together on existing initiatives or create new ones that enable us to act on these shared understandings?
- Idea: Reach out to the “green groups” of local Buddhist sanghas or other faith traditions to create new relationships, learn from each other’s experience and support each other’s efforts.
- Idea: Create conversations with environmental justice groups. Add numbers to their events and support their leadership.
- Idea: Create or join local cooperatives that organize buying power of sustainable products and services.
Climate change is usually approached as a looming crisis. And from this vantage point, many people shutdown, unable to move further to action. Can we face this great challenge of our time as a joyful expression of our love of this life? Can we help our communities see the wonders of a better future as we move beyond dirty energy and into a safer world?
- Idea: Take a field trip to your local park or wilderness area. Reconnect with the natural world to which you are so intimately connected. Hold the feelings of joy and sorrow together as you cultivate energy and inspiration.
- Idea: Start a community Solar Coop, where individuals join together to take power into their own hands and build the clean energy world of tomorrow.
- Idea: Hold a community workshop based on Joanna Macy’s “Work That Reconnects” and support each other on the path to forgiveness and joy as part of the Great Turning.
Everyone is invited! Whatever it is that lights your heart and is your Dharma doorway into Earth-Care Week is welcome. Given that the week is just around the corner, there isn’t a lot of time to plan. So let this first year’s event be about planting seeds. Let this be a beginning for integrating environmental and social justice practices into your sangha throughout the year.
Last but not least, we invite you to share it all with the One Earth Sangha community. Inspire one another! Share what you’re planning, ideas and resources, strategies and how it’s all going. You can add to this post with a comment below, share a resource using our resources form or send us an email. Whatever works for you, please join the conversation on Earth Care Week here at One Earth Sangha.