Launching a New Campaign: Living the Change

Together with a broad range of faith and non-faith partners, we are launching today a new sustainability initiative and encouraging your participation. The core of this campaign is an invitation to, in the context of supportive community, face the difficulty of our unsustainable personal and household carbon emissions and then, grounded in our deepest values, commit to meaningful response. Specifically, the campaign is calling for

  1. Commit to reduce
    Dharma teachers, Sangha leaders, Sangha members, experienced meditators and brand new practitioners are invited to commit to reducing personal / household carbon emissions in three specific areas, transportation, diet and home energy.
  2. Courageous, compassionate sharing
    To build community, learn from one another and normalize these efforts, we invite participates to share their experiences with keeping commitments, the challenges, rewards, beautiful surprises, vexing frustrations, spiritual insights and logistical roadblocks encountered along the way.
  3. Affirm Goodness
    Join people within and across spiritual communities in local events celebrating our efforts to Live the Change during Earth Care Week, October 7 – 14.

Earth is a blessing. She supports life and is the basis of all our economies. She conveys beauty and evokes our recognition of something greater than ourselves. She is our temple, our mosque, our sanctuary, our cathedral. Our home.
— Living the Change campaign

GreenFaith and our funding partners believe that people can make and sustain significant changes in their lives when they are grounded in their deepest values and supported by communities of meaning. In this energized collaboration, One Earth Sangha is honored to represent Mindfulness and Buddhist communities in partnering with The Bhumi Project, representing Hindus; the Global Muslim Climate Network; Hazon representing the Jewish faith, The Global Catholic Climate Movement, Living Witness, representing Quakers; even the World Evangelical Alliance representing Evangelical Christians and more. In a time when divisiveness is on the rise, we are deeply inspired by this diverse set of organizations in beautiful cooperation, each sharing both the particular gifts and challenges of our Paths, in this project to honor and protect life.

So Many Questions

Together, we’ll be exploring the beauty and the very real challenges in this campaign in the coming weeks and months. Even in our own conversations, we wrestle with difficulties and want to open these up with you. Questions like,

  • Isn’t this a distraction from the real change we need in public policy and checks on corporations? Don’t we all need to keep our focus on systems change?
  • Even if they are not a distraction, at this stage, do household sustainability measures really matter?
  • What about the unsustainable behavior of communities, organizations and governments? 
  • Do people really change their behavior and if so how? 
  • How can we break the deafening silence on climate without alienating others or isolating ourselves? 
  • And anyways, what does all this have to do with my practice, Dharma or Mindfulness? 

The first of these is articles comes out tomorrow: Déjà vu, Recyling 2: Haven’t We Been Here Before? 

Connect, Connect, Connect

The campaign is just underway. We’re hoping you will be able to participate in the following support events, which are all about making connections, and even organize your own.

  • Join our Living the Change webinar on July 26, 12:00 – 1:00 pm US Eastern with Susie Harrington and Lou Leonard. Registration opens tomorrow.
  • Get inspired by people actually working together across lines of difference in multi-faith collaboration at
  • Call for leaders at all levels to make, keep and increase their reduction pledges by joining a local People’s Climate Movement’s Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice event on Sept 8.
  • If you live in Northern California or will be in the Bay Area for the Global Climate Action Summit, join us for a day of inspiration and practice at our daylong, Loving this Earth: Engaging Mindfully in the Healing of Our World at Spirit Rock.
  • Pledge and share your pledge. You’ll soon have the opportunity to pledge your own commitments to reduce personal emissions and then share that with one person, a few friends, your sangha or social media followers
  • Engage your community: Share this initiative, develop pledge buddy and other commitment support ideas and start planning your celebration events for Earth Care Week, October 7 – 14 ( potentially followed by the fall EcoSattva Training series!)

Finally, while on the topic of Earth Care Week, just like in previous years, the final Sunday, October 14 of Earth Care Week marks the opening to this fall’s EcoSattva Training with a community webinar. Registration and more details coming soon, but you might want to start gathering interest and planning your meeting times!

Our Partners

One Earth Sangha is honored to work on this initiative, organized by GreenFaith, with our partners from Mindfulness and other spiritual traditions.

Are you inspired, concerned, skeptical, excited, nonplussed? Great. We want to hear from you in the comments below!

May our collective efforts nourish the potential for a new way to flourish, a diverse, justice-oriented and sustainable way, that protects and respects beings, similar and different, near and far, born and unborn.

Loving this Earth

Engaging Mindfully in the Healing of Our World

In conjunction with the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, on Saturday, September 15 from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, Spirit Rock Meditation Center and One Earth Sangha will host an exploration of the power of mindful presence to meet global ecological crises with active compassion. This special day of inspired teaching, music and conversation will feature Julia Butterfly Hill, Jack Kornfield, Joanna Macy, Anam ThubtenVerlinda Montoya, James Baraz, Naomi Newman and more. This event will be live-streamed so we encourage you to gather with others in your community to join all day or the sessions that work with your schedule.

News Flash!

We’re delighted to report that we’ll be joined by Christiana Figueres, the architect of the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement and co-coordinator with Governor Jerry Brown of the Global Climate Action Summit. Christiana is a practitioner in the Plum Village tradition and has spoken publicly about the role that her teacher, Thich Naht Hanh, and her practice played in supporting the forging of the Paris accords. The program will feature Christiana in conversation with Spirit Rock founder, Jack Kornfield, and One Earth Sangha co-founder, Lou Leonard.

Live the Change

This event is part of One Earth Sangha’s collaboration with partners in the faith traditions to bring fully embodied and spiritual grounded, response to ecological crises. Learn more about Living the Change here.

Join Us on September 15th

Whether you’re brand new to meditation or sitting at the precipice of enlightenment, we hope you’ll join us for this unique opportunity to meet this historic moment with a wise and responsive heart.

In a spirit of dana or generosity, all donations will be shared between One Earth Sangha and a Spirit Rock green project for honoring the land. Advanced registration and car-pooling is required.

Inviting Your Support

Generosity is a powerful force,

one that has a way of multiplying.

Between now and year’s end, the multiplication is immediate.

Thanks to one of our generous supporters, if you donate by midnight on December 31,
your contribution to One Earth Sangha be matched, 
dollar for dollar.

“Tara Healing” Original art generously offered by © Jayna Simpson

It has been an extraordinary year. Global environmental change is now manifesting in losses, sometimes devastating, for millions of people around the world. In this year alone, we bear witness to the large-scale suffering caused by climate-charged fires, hurricanes and floods. The world continues to lose the great wealth that is our natural biodiversity and every day, millions of individual animals are treated as units of production instead of dignified, sentient beings.

Meanwhile, empowered political leaders seek to distract our attention and divide social cohesion all while granting more advantage to the already advantaged. We face ever-accumulating and simultaneous environmental and social justice crises, evidenced most recently in Puerto Rico, a perfect storm of climate-charged weather, political callousness, and aggressive racial bias resting on a deep history of the objectification of people and planet.

As you look forward to the coming year, knowing our challenges will continue, what will guide you? What connections, practices and wisdom will help you respond in a way that affirms, nourishes and protects basic goodness?

We at One Earth Sangha have never been more honored to collaborate with all of you to bring the wisdom and practices of the Dharma to this global moment. We support a vision of spiritual engagement on collective issues that includes but is not limited to resistance, that sees and counters harm but is not defined by it. Indeed, we find our own freedom not despite our conditions but through them.

We look forward to continuing this collaboration with you in 2018, exploring new projects and partnerships. But we cannot move forward without your support. With gratitude and humility, we invite you to include One Earth Sangha in your year-end giving.

Now is the time! A generous donor has agreed to pledge up to $5,000 in matching funds if you donate between now and midnight, December 31.

Confronting Whiteness and Privilege in Eco-Dharma

“We can’t be environmental activists/advocates without paying attention to inter-dependence and intersectionality between movements.” In this article, Kritee explores how a Buddhist response to our climate crisis necessarily intersects with a Buddhist response to other social justice crises, and therefore calls us to confront whiteness and privilege, and from there to move forward into compassionate action.

Photograph courtesy Max Johnson ©

As a founding board member of Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center (RMERC), the first retreat center in the U.S to use the word “Eco-Dharma” in its name, I have been frequently engaged in discussing “What is Eco-Dharma?”

It is easy to see that Eco-Dharma combines the teachings of Buddhism and/or other contemplative traditions (dharma) with ecological concerns (eco). In his recent writings, David Loy, our Eco-Dharma elder and my fellow founding board member of RMERC, clarifies that for him:

“Three aspects or components of Eco-Dharma stand out: practicing in nature, clarifying the ecological implications of Buddhism, and using that understanding to engage in the eco-activism that our situation requires.”

These three aspects are very meaningful. The issue for me has been that most (white and privileged) people tend to think that “ecological” only means “environmental.” “Ecology” is the scientific discipline that points towards a fundamental interconnectedness of all species as well as all non-living processes and phenomena in any ecosystem; it sees humans as embedded in the cyclical processes of nature. Study of ecology also acknowledges that no species, no individual or even non-living process fulfills just one fixed role in our planetary, local, societal or family ecosystem(s). Human beings and communities have multiple identities, roles and needs which are interdependent on those of others.

“Ecology” is the scientific discipline that points towards a fundamental interconnectedness of all species as well as all non-living processes and phenomena in any ecosystem; it sees humans as embedded in the cyclical processes of nature.

So what does this multiplicity and interdependence have to do with how we define Eco-Dharma? Meditating, especially in a natural environment, will certainly help all interested environmental activists ground their activism, go beyond self-righteousness, fear, anger, and frustration and open up to their own innate courage, wisdom and compassion. I also deeply resonate with David in acknowledging that traditional Buddhist teachings need to shift in response to our current planetary crisis. We have definitely been short-selling dharma by applying it only in our individual or family lives instead of our societal and institutional issues. What I have been keen to add to the definition of Eco-Dharma is the argument that (and I’m certainly not the first one making it) ‘Eco’ in Eco-Dharma can not be just about environment or nature or what is defined as wilderness.

Even by other names that are currently associated with the interface between spirituality and activism, “Sacred Activism,” “Contemplative Environmentalism,” “Spiritually rooted action,” or the “Great Turning,” it comes down to the same issue: we can’t be environmental activists/advocates without paying attention to inter-dependence and intersectionality between movements (including the idea of “One Movement” that I have explained elsewhere).

For the purposes of this article, let us first consider this: most native people in this country, from whom Europeans stole the land, and native people elsewhere in the world, did not and do not conceptualize wilderness areas as separate from humans. Wilderness is an interconnected world in which human, plants, animals, rocks, and so on are all spiritually animated. However, in the U.S., the Wilderness Act of 1964 formally defined wilderness as areas “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Like our theft of native land, our distorted definition of wilderness breeds a sense of separation, both from our human sisters and brothers and more-than-human world of plants, animal, microbes, rock- and fire-people.

Second, well over half of this nation’s national parks were founded during Jim Crow. Not too long ago, a Berkeley Master’s student, Michael Starkey, found that Black people worked very hard to create and maintain national parks and other forested areas but when it came to acknowledging Black people and their socio-economic realities at the time, all historians (who were White) neglected their contributions. Starkey found that in wilderness literature spanning decades, nearly all actors—whether positive or negative—are white (no mention of Latinx and Asians either). He posits that we have consciously, wrongfully, imagined wilderness to be created by and for white people! The complexity of the relationships that African-Americans have felt with woods, from inter-dependence to fear, have not been acknowledged.

Added to these types of willful blindness is the issue that people of color and the poorest in the Global South (whom we sometimes refer to as under-served communities in the dharma world) have historically borne or will bear the brunt of ecological devastation, and are often at the forefront of the most effective spiritually-rooted activism. If one is curious, there is substantial research documenting how the most poisonous and polluted environment exists in the poorest or “lower” caste/race neighborhoods around the world. The privileged among us, including myself, can turn up the air conditioning, but a mother in India or living in reservations in the U.S may have to walk for miles to get a bucket of water!

We need true Eco-Dharma communities that look at the inner, or psycho-spiritual causes, and the institutional causes (institutional, corporate and political greed) of our ecological predicament.

Last, but not least, there is the issue of the same root cause leading to multiple effects! In the light of ever-growing income inequality, it is not hard to see that at least some of the institutional drivers that militantly keep poor people poor, disenfranchised, and in the most polluted environments, are the same drivers that lead to exploitation and plundering of Mother Earth within and outside this country. The sense of duality and separateness that makes us (both as individuals and institutions) objectify nature, non-human species and other humans, also makes us materialistic and causes both environmental and social-justice problems.

To fully heal and restore our sense of oneness with nature, we also need to pay attention to our false sense of separation from human beings of other social races/castes and economic classes. Environment doesn’t exist in isolation and we can’t heal it (or our relationship to it) in isolation. We need to collectively revisit how we define nature and how wilderness was created in this country. We need to create earnest inter-dependent communities that understand that different people have different privilege and abilities. The privileged ones (those with more resources and energy) need to actively include voices that have been historically suppressed. We need to question our economic and financial systems that no longer serve the planet and most beings. Most of all we need true Eco-Dharma communities that look at the inner, or psycho-spiritual causes, and the institutional causes (institutional, corporate and political greed) of our ecological predicament. These institutional causes receive very thorough analysis in David’s work.

Unless the framework of Eco-Dharma acknowledges and encompasses all these inter-connections, Eco-Dharma in this country will become white just like wilderness and the mainstream environmental movement became white in the 21st century! My humble request is that we confront this issue and ask if we will be able to serve well if Eco-Dharma becomes “White.”

My hope is that we can compassionately and skillfully keep facing these questions without blame, guilt, or anger. It won’t be easy and yet the budding Eco-Dharma movement in this country will not become wholesome without our conscious efforts with respect to these issues!

Kritee (dharma name Kanko), is a Zen teacher, scientist, activist, dancer and permaculture designer. She directs and teaches Boundless in Motion Sangha in Boulder in the Rinzai-Obaku Buddhist lineage of Cold Mountain, is a co-founder and executive director of Boulder Eco-Dharma Sangha and co-founding teacher of Earthlovego. Kritee trained as an environmental microbiologist and biogeochemist at Rutgers and Princeton Universities. As a senior scientist in the Global Climate Program at Environmental Defense Fund, she is helping to implement environment and climate-friendly methods of small farming at large scales in Asia with a three-fold goal of poverty alleviation, food security and climate mitigation / adaptation.

Five Practices for Working with the Immense Challenge of Climate Change

“The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased at record speed last year to hit a level not seen for more than three million years, the UN has warned.”
— The Guardian, October 30, 2017

Immense, enormous, vast, colossal, boundless, overwhelming: even the Webster’s list of synonyms for the word ‘immensity’ seems to acknowledge that a common reaction to large scope and scale is the potential to feel overwhelmed. While our social justice challenges have always been substantial, since human societies came into existence, the scope of climate change challenges we face has gone from potential to real to substantial to vast in just the last 50 years. As followers of the Buddhist Path, we may be accustomed to considering big, boundless, and potentially destabilizing concepts like no-self and groundlessness; how then can we find our path as we acknowledge the immensity of our effects on the planet? Lama Willa Miller offers five practices that can anchor us even in these times of staggering change.

Fire scar on the Northern California landscape. This image, acquired October 21, 2017 by NASA’s ASTER instrument, depicts vegetation in red, while burned areas appear dark gray.

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have come and gone, leaving hundreds dead. We’re left facing a dire reality: we live on a warming planet. Homes blown apart. Lives lost. Ecosystems flattened. This is how climate change arrives at our doorstep.

With the destruction comes a wider acceptance of the scientific reality— and a growing motivation to contribute to solutions. But destruction also brings despair, fear about the future, grief, and panic. As we grapple with our new reality, contemplative practice can offer techniques for holding these challenging truths.

Spiritual practices are not alternatives to swift, wise action. They are complementary disciplines to education and activism. Spiritual resources can help us move from desperation to sustainable activism.

How do we get from anger to compassion?

Spiritual practices may not provide concrete climate solutions, but they do have the potential to shift consciousness. Practices and teachings can address how we relate to our grief, despair, and fear. These resources help restructure our understanding of what it means to be human, now, on our home planet.

Here are five tried and true contemplative practices from the Buddhist tradition that can help us hold the truths of climate change, species extinction, and the ecological crisis in our hearts and minds. While this list of practices is not by any means exhaustive, it is a beginning. Even though their roots are ancient, these practices are timely as we encounter the truth of suffering on a global scale.

1) Find a grounding in ethics

Some people see climate change as an ecological issue. Some see it as an economic issue. Some see it as a social issue. But, we know that human actions are at fault. In this sense, climate change is an ethical issue. Our beliefs about justice — the values that we hold most dear— form the bedrock of our actions. These values are largely learned and assimilated from our culture. Each of us — as individuals and from within our communities — can influence the values upheld by our culture.

Climate change is happening because of what we have valued and how we have conceived of our identity as human beings on this planet. The values have come from a dominant industrial ethos. Climate change, therefore, isn’t just a matter of what we can do. It’s a matter of what we should do. Contemplative traditions teach moral reflections on our actions, speech, and thought. The Buddha emphasized ethics, śila, as a fundamental training for his monks. His monastic code of ethics was constructed around the idea of ahimsa, or non-violence. Essentially, the Buddha taught that ethical actions are those arising from a commitment to non-harm, gentleness, and simplicity.

Spiritual practices are not alternatives to swift, wise action. They are complementary disciplines to education and activism. Spiritual resources can help us move from desperation to sustainable activism.

Buddhism and other religious traditions have long identified love and compassion as motivators that drive effective and sustainable action. If we extend śila to our relationship to land, water, natural resources, and animals, then non-harm, gentleness, and simplicity become points of reflection for change-making.

Later Buddhist traditions developed rules of conduct, oriented towards compassion, such as the Bodhisattva precepts. These precepts extend from the idea that bodhicitta, or wise compassion, is the ground of ethical action and speech. We too can ground our activism, social engagement, and resistance in wise compassion. We can make our activism not about what we are working against, but what we are working for. If we place our activism and relationship to the earth squarely among our deepest values and beliefs, we are more likely to turn again and again to the issue — not out of obligation, but out of genuine commitment.

2) Welcome uncertainty

If there is one thing that climate scientists agree on, it is that we don’t know for certain what will happen as the earth warms. Evidence indicates that tipping points and crises cannot be averted. We have no how idea how much we can slow or ameliorate the suffering. We do not even know how long our species — and others — can survive changes that destabilize the conditions necessary for life. We are stepping into the void.

We want to know if our children and grandchildren will be able to visit the shoreline, walk in the forest, breathe clean air, and live in safety. It is human to fear that the world as we know it may be ending. This uncertainty can feel deeply unsettling.

Many of the Buddha’s teachings focus on uncertainty, not as an inconvenience, but as a source of liberation. The Buddha taught that nothing is certain, because nothing transcends impermanence. He called impermanence a “mark of existence— an undeniable truth of what it means to be alive. To encourage his monks and nuns to face their mortality, he sent them to meditate in charnel grounds — open-air cemeteries — where they could witness decaying corpses.

The Buddha was not trying to torture his disciples. He was trying to free them. While awareness of our mortality stirs our deepest fears, it also frees us from the chains of attachment that bind us. The loosening of attachment helps us open to the truth that nothing is certain. Nothing can be taken for granted. This is how we learn to love the truth for what it actually is.

Many of the Buddha’s teachings focus on uncertainty, not as an inconvenience, but as a source of liberation.

There is good reason to embrace the uncertainty of climate change as a liberating practice. The more we fear uncertainty, the more likely we are to avoid thinking about climate change. In fact, our worst enemy might not be climate denial, but rather a subtle, subconscious rejection of climate change, based on our fear of the unknown.

If, however, we embrace the truth of uncertainty, we can develop the courage to stay open and engage with the world. If we can accept the fragility of life on earth, we can invest ourselves in the possibility of collective action.

3) Work with emotions

Along with the discomfort of uncertainty, climate change can evoke many other difficult emotions. Witnessing ecosystem destruction and mass extinction, we respond with grief and sorrow. Encountering denial and global apathy, we experience anger. When we consider our children’s future, we experience trepidation and worry.

Anger can be a protective energy, a healthy response to that which threatens what we love.

Recently, I was talking to a European graduate student who was writing her thesis on the power of stories to affect climate change. The primary motivator for her work, she told me, has been anger. Understandably, fear and anger often fuel activism. These primal emotions have kept us alive for centuries. They are good short-term motivators when we are in immediate danger. However, fear and anger are poor long-term motivators. Eventually, they result in stress and burnout — the insidious undoing of activists.

So, we need other chronic motivators for our work. In this area, spiritual traditions have much to offer. Buddhism and other religious traditions have long identified love and compassion, for example, as motivators that drive effective and sustainable action. The bodhisattva, a Buddhist archetype of compassion, typifies the possibility that positive and constructive emotions can be the primary fuel for activity. But how do we get from anger to compassion?

Tibetan Buddhism teaches that the states that we most wish to avoid are actually the key to our freedom. Instead of erasing emotions, we can metabolize them. If we take our reactivity into a contemplative space, it is possible to liberate the energy of emotion, transforming it into supple responsiveness.

We might start with an emotion like anger. When anger is heavily fixated on an object, it becomes isolating, contracted, and draining. When we take anger into a contemplative space, we can lighten our focus on the object and the story, turning inward to consider the emotion itself and our part in it.

The bodhisattva, a Buddhist archetype of compassion, typifies the possibility that positive and constructive emotions can be the primary fuel for activity.

When we take responsibility for our own anger, we can find its upside. Anger is not always reprehensible. It can be a protective energy, a healthy response to that which threatens what we love. That insight itself can liberate reactive, contracted anger into its deeper nature, a wiser, more inclusive resolve to act with decisiveness and courage in the interest of love.

In contemplative practice, anger can become an inspiration for empathy. We discover that uncomfortable states, while they belong to us, are not to ours alone. Many others also feel anger, including the people we have “othered.” When we recognize that this is how so many others feel, we can commune with the suffering of others. We redirect our attention from the story stimulating anger to our empathy for all those impacted by climate change — even the deniers. By redirecting our focus from a polarizing narrative to a uniting one, we start building a more sustainable platform for action.

4) Access new wisdom

In discussions about climate change, we seem to primarily access one way of knowing — the intellect. The climate issue is couched in the language of conceptual knowing. This conceptual approach — typified by Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth — is critically important. We need to know what is happening, and why.

However, our response will be much more powerful and resilient if we begin to access other ways of knowing, transforming conceptually-motivated activism into an activism of the heart.

There are two alternative ways of knowing that Buddhist practice and meditation generally rely on: bodily wisdom and non-conceptual wisdom.

Bodily wisdom

To encounter our human body is to encounter the natural world. We tend to forget that we are mammalian primates! The closer we come to the body, the closer we draw to the truth of our own wildness. This connects us to the planetary wildness that we aspire to protect.

While the mind is tugged into the past and future, the body is fully present. The body’s present wakefulness is one of its great wisdoms, and we can easily access that wisdom. It is as close to us as this moment’s inhale and exhale. While we want to stay mindful of creating a sustainable future, we don’t want to do that at the expense of missing our life. The body reminds us that we are here, now, and our presence is our most powerful resource.

Non-conceptual wisdom

Buddhist meditation also introduces us to the life beyond the conceptual mind — non-conceptual ways of knowing. The wider truth is that human experience is not just mental content. While we spend a great deal of time enmeshed in our world of ideas, there is more to the mental-emotional life than what we think and believe. There is a non-conceptual space in which all of this content arises, and that space can be sensed and widened through the experiences of body. In the practice of the Great Perfection, this space is identified as naked awareness, a part of our mind that is just experiencing, prior to forming ideas about our experiences. The space of awareness can be cultivated until it becomes a holding-environment for relative issues such as climate change.

To encounter our human body is to encounter the natural world. … The closer we come to the body, the closer we draw to the truth of our own wildness.

We can make our activism not about what we are working against, but what we are working for.

As we begin to identify with non-conceptual space, we access a non-dual mode of perception. In the non-dual mode of perception, the illusion of separateness is perforated. This illusion of separateness may be one of the root causes of the crisis we are in. When we are caught up in that illusion, it becomes somehow okay that my consumption happens at your expense. If we are to live sustainably, we need to get used to the idea — no, the reality — that we are all intimately connected. Meditation leads us there.

5) Find community

A friend of mine once attended a City Council meeting in her local community and ran into a woman who was repeatedly raising the issue of banning plastic bags. Discouraged, the woman said that she could not seem to earn the respect of the city council. My friend replied: “You don’t need respect. You need a friend. One person is a nut. Two people are a wake-up call. Three people are a movement.”

That friend was the environmentalist and author Kathleen Dean Moore, and her story inspired me. A small, committed group of people can change the world, as Margaret Mead said. Finding a community of activists might not be as daunting as we might think. It can be as simple as finding a few like-minded people and starting a conversation.

In order to gracefully lean into the challenges that we face as a planet, community is critical. But it also does double-duty, laying the foundation for spiritual life. The Buddha’s close attendant Ananda once inquired of his teacher, “Surely the sangha [spiritual community] is half of the holy life?” The Buddha answered, “No, Ananda, do not say such a thing. The sangha is not half of the holy life. It is the whole of the holy life.”

The Buddha felt very strongly about the power of community to support the path to awakening. He lived most of his life in intentional community, and identified sangha as one of the three spiritual refuges, along with the teacher and the dharma.

Now is a good time for the eco-curious in the dharma world. There is a growing community of people who seek both spiritual development and activism. If you are one of those people, now especially, you need not despair. Your people are out there.

Now is a good time for the eco-curious in the dharma world. There is a growing community of people who seek both spiritual development and activism. If you are one of those people, now especially, you need not despair. Your people are out there.

As we are propelled forward by the consequences of a warming planet, it is more important than ever that activists and contemplatives work together. We can benefit from an exchange of technologies. While I have highlighted five spiritual technologies to help contemplate climate change, activists have other tools and perspectives that can assist spiritual communities to take action. Activist communities have resources for education and technologies of peaceful resistance that can help contemplatives enact change.

While we grapple with the effects of climate change, we will need tools of resilience and inner work. As dharma practitioners, we bring essential gifts to the project of healing our world. Our challenge is to bring these gifts to bear and continue their development.

By practicing with ethics, uncertainty, emotion, wisdom, and community, we develop an intimate understanding that being human is about what we think and what we believe — and we deepen our ability to embody our work.

Embodiment sends an indelible message that peace and sustainability can become a lived reality. Even when they are imperfectly realized, we can inspire the sense that our lives have meaning, and that we are living our way into ever-increasing integrity with — and in service to — our beautiful, unfathomable and sacred world.

Five Practices to Help Accept the Immense Challenge of Climate Change originally appeared in Lion’s Roar, Oct 20, 2017 and is reprinted here with permission.

Lama Willa B. Miller is the founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, New Hampshire. She is on faculty with One Earth Sangha’s EcoSattva Training and is a member of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future.