The Earth as Witness: International Dharma Teachers’ Statement on Climate Change

Endorsement Sought by Dharma Teachers and Sangha Members Worldwide

This statement is also available in Chinese (traditional and simplified), Spanish, French, ThaiGerman and Italian.  If you would like to help make other translations available, please contact us.

Climate change is the most serious issue facing humanity today. It is already seriously impacting economies, ecosystems, and people worldwide. Left unchecked, it will cause tremendous suffering for all living beings.

A group of Dharma teachers from Africa, Europe, Asia, Canada, and the U.S. have issued a statement describing core Buddhist insights into the root causes of the climate crisis and ways to minimize its potentially tragic consequences. Over 100 leading Dharma teachers from around the globe have already signed it. The teachers seek the endorsement of the statement by other Dharma teachers as well as Sangha members worldwide. The teachers hope that by signing the statement both Dharma teachers and Sangha members will make solutions to climate disruption a central focus of their personal and collective activities. The teachers also hope that signers will use the statement to describe the Buddhist community’s perspective on the causes and solutions to climate change in interfaith dialogues, policy debates, and other public forums.

A draft version was hosted here on our site and your feedback, along with that of other teachers and sangha members, has informed the statement below. We invite your signature on the statement as well as your responses to its content and implications as well as ideas for its use within and beyond our community. Post a comment below or send an email to connect@1earthsangha.org.

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The Earth As Witness:

International Dharma Teachers’ Statement on Climate Change

Today humanity faces an unprecedented crisis of almost unimaginable magnitude. Escalating climate change is altering the global environment so drastically as to force the Earth into a new geological age. Unprecedented levels of suffering for all life on Earth, including human, will result. Significant reductions in greenhouse gases and other actions will be needed to reduce climate change to manageable levels. But more fundamental changes are also needed, and this is where we can draw guidance from the rich resources of the Buddha’s teachings, the Dharma. This statement briefly describes core Buddhist insights into the root causes of the climate crisis and suggests ways to minimize its potentially tragic consequences.

As a starting point, the Dharma states that to formulate meaningful solutions to any problem we must first acknowledge the truth of our suffering. As shocking and painful as it may be, we must recognize that without swift and dramatic reductions in fossil fuel use and major efforts to increase carbon sequestration, global temperatures will rise close to or beyond 2 degrees C. This increase will lead to injury and death for millions of people worldwide and the extinction of many of the Earth’s species. Millions more will experience severe trauma and stress that threaten their physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. These stresses will, in turn, trigger social and political unrest. In a grave injustice, low-income communities, poor nations, and people systematically subjected to oppression and discrimination, who contributed little to climate change, will initially be harmed the most. Even worse, as frightening as it is, if we fail to make fundamental changes in our energy, manufacturing, transportation, forestry, agricultural, and other systems along with our consumption patterns with utmost urgency, in mere decades irreversible climate shifts will occur that undermine the very pillars of human civilization. Only by recognizing these truths can we adopt a meaningful path toward solutions.

The Dharma teaches us the origin of our suffering. The majority of the world’s climate scientists are unequivocal that on the external physical plane climate change is caused by the historic and ongoing use of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases they generate when burned. Destructive land management practices such as clearing forests also contribute by reducing nature’s capacity to sequester carbon. The Dharma informs us, however, that craving, aversion, and delusion within the human mind are the root causes of vast human suffering. Just as these mental factors have throughout history led to the oppression, abuse, and exploitation of indigenous peoples and others outside the halls of wealth and power, craving, aversion, and delusion are also the root causes of climate change. Climate change is perhaps humanity’s greatest teacher yet about how these mental forces, when unchecked in ourselves and our institutions, cause harm to other people and the living environment. Led by industrialized nations, the desire for evermore material wealth and power has resulted in the reckless destruction of land and water, excessive use of fossil fuels, massive amounts of solid and toxic waste, and other practices that are disrupting the Earth’s climate. However, by acknowledging and addressing these internal mental drivers, we can begin to resolve the external causes of climate change.

The Dharma offers hope by teaching us that it is possible to overcome the detrimental forces of craving, aversion, and delusion. We can use the climate crisis as a catalyst to acknowledge the consequences of our craving for more and more material wealth and the pursuit of power and realize we must change our assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors. We can use the climate crisis as a catalyst to educate ourselves about planetary processes so we understand that the Earth has ecological limits and thresholds that must not be crossed. By learning from our mistaken beliefs and activities, we can create more equitable, compassionate, and mindful societies that generate greater individual and collective wellbeing while reducing climate change to manageable levels.

Finally, the Dharma describes a pathway of principles and practices we can follow to minimize climate change and the suffering it causes. The first principle is wisdom. From this point forward in history we must all acknowledge not only the external causes of climate change, but the internal mental drivers as well, and their horrific consequences. To be wise we must also, individually and as a society, adopt the firm intention to do whatever is necessary, no matter what the cost, to reduce the climate crisis to manageable levels and over time re-stabilize our planet’s climate.

The second Dharma principle is ethical conduct, which is rooted in a compassionate concern for all living beings in the vast web of life. We need to make a firm moral commitment to adopt ways of living that protect the climate and help restore the Earth’s ecosystems and living organisms. In our personal lives, we should recognize the value of contentment and sufficiency and realize that, after a certain modest level, additional consumption, material wealth, and power will not bring happiness. To fulfill our wider moral responsibility, we must join with others, stand up to the vested interests that oppose change, and demand that our economic, social, and political institutions be fundamentally altered so they protect the climate and offer nurturance and support for all of humanity in a just and equitable manner. We must insist that governments and corporations contribute to a stable climate and a healthy environment for all people and cultures worldwide, now and in the future. We must further insist that specific scientifically credible global emission reduction targets be set and means adopted to effectively monitor and enforce them.

The third Dharma training, and the one that makes all of the others possible, is mindfulness. This offers a way to heighten our awareness of, and then to regulate, our desires and emotions and the thoughts and behaviors they generate. By continually enhancing our awareness, we can increasingly notice when we are causing harm to others, the climate, or ourselves, and strengthen our capacity to rapidly shift gears and think and act constructively. Mindfulness increases awareness of our inherent interdependency with other people and the natural environment and of values that enhance human dignity rather than subordinate people, animals, and nature to the craving for more material wealth and power.

Earth held in two hands

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.

When we come together to celebrate our love for the natural world and all of the beings that inhabit it, and when we take a stand to counter the forces of craving, aversion, and delusion, we reclaim our own inner stability and strength and live closer to the truth, closer to the Dharma. Together, we can seek to ensure that our descendants and fellow species inherit a livable planet. Individually and collectively, we will be honoring the great legacy of the Dharma and fulfill our heart’s deepest wish to serve and protect all life.

 


519 Dharma teachers thousands of practitioners have signed this statement. Teachers are shown below and practitioners are listed here.

Note: In order to maintain the integrity of this list, we do a basic search to ensure that the names above are qualified Dharma teachers. If you believe we have made an error, in either direction, please send an email to connect@1earthsangha.org. Thank you

Gerardo Abboud, Dongyuling Drukpa Kagyu Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Andy (Jiyo) Agacki, Bright Dawn, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Max Airborne, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA, USA
joshua bee alafia, New York Insight, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Bobbi Allan, Stillness in Action retreats, Mullumbimby, NSW, Australia
Kim Allen, Insight Meditation Center, Santa Cruz, California, USA
Cecilia Amador, Shambhala, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Bhikkhu Analayo, Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, Barre, Massachusetts, United States
Ayya Anandabodhi, Aloka Vihara ( Wales and U.S.), Wales
Jikan Daniel Anderson, Great River Tendai Sangha, Alexandria, VA, USA
Mihaela Andronic, Thich Nhat Hanh lineage , Ottawa , ON, Canada
Keren Arbel, Tovana: The Israeli Insight Meditation Society, Israel
Steve Armstrong, Vipassana Metta Foundation and Kamala Masters, United States
Sally Armstrong, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Woodacre, California, United States
Guy Armstrong, Spirit Rock and IMS, Woodacre, California, United States
Shugen Arnold, Mountains & Rivers Order of Zen, Brooklyn, NY, UYA
dale asrael, Shambhala International, boulder, Colorado, United States
Carolyn Atkinson, Everyday Dharma Zen Center, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Agness Au, Shambhala, Boulder, CO, USA
Pascal Auclair, True North Insight, Canada
Victoria Austin, San Francisco Zen Center, San Francisco, California, United States
Richard Avery, Thursday Night Sangha, San Diego, CA, USA
Martin Aylward, Moulin de Chaves Retreat Centre, France
Phe Bach, Kim Quang Buddhist Temple, Sacramento, California, usa
Allan Badiner, Teach Buddhism at CIIS, and Contributing Editor at Tricycle, Big Sur, CA, USA
Sumedha Bagshaw, Ekuthuleni Retreat Place, France
Sandhya Bar Kama, Tovana, Gan Hashomron, Israel, Israel
James Baraz, Spirit Rock, United States
Susmita Barua, Lexington, KY, USA
Subhana Barzaghi, Diamond Sangha , Sydney, NSW, Australia
Itamar Bashan, Bhavana House, Israel
iñigo basterretxea, zen association alicante, alicante, alicante, Spain
Ariya B. Baumann, Winterthur, Switzerland
Sharon Beckman-Brindley, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, United States
Gael Belden, UCLA, Ojai, Ca, USA
John Bell, Plum Village tradition, Belmont, MA, USA
marvin g. belzer, ucla, los ángeles, ca, usa
Stephen Benson, Peninsula Peace and Justice of Blue Hill, Maine, Blue Hill, ME, United States
Denise Bergez, True Silent Shining, Unified Buddhist Church, United States
Venerable Pannavati Bhikkhuni, Awakening Simplicity Hermitage, United States
Isis Bianzano, Meditation Center Beatenberg, Switzerland, Ebertswil, Switzerland
Melissa Myozen Blacker, Boundless Way Zen, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Joseph Bobrow, Deep Streams Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA
Poep Sa Frank Jude Boccio, Empty Mountain Sangha/Tucson Mindfulness Practice Community, Tucson, AZ, USA
JM Dharmakara Boda, Mahabodhi Maitri Mandala in America, Los Angeles, California, USA
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Chuang Yen Monastery, United States
Bhante Bodhidhamma, Satipanya Buddhist Retreat, United Kingdom
Bhante Bodhidhamma, Satipanya Buddhist Trust, White Grit, Shropshhire, United Kingdom
Dennis Bohn, Unified Buddhist Church (Plum Village Tradition), New York, NY, USA
Sylvia Boorstein, Spirit Rock, United States
Lama Tilmann Lhundrup Borghardt, Freiburg, Germany
Sandy Boucher, Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, Oakland, California, United States
Nathalie Bourgoin, Paris, France
Emily Bower, Shambhala International, Los Angeles, CA, US
Daniel Bowling, Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation Center of Redwood City, Sausalito, CA, USA
Tara Brach, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, United States
Michelleanne Bradley, Vista, California, USA
Rebecca Bradshaw, Insight Meditation Society, Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts, United States
Richard Brady, Putney, Vermont, USA
Bhikkhu Brahmali, Bodhinyana Monastery, Perth, Australia
Leigh Brasington, (unattached), Oakland, California, United States
Caroline Brazier, Tariki Trust, Leicester, United Kingdom
Anne Briggs, Insight Meditation Community of Chestertown, Chestertown, MD, United States
Catherine Brousseau, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Arpita Brown, Edmond, Oklahoma, USA
Natascha Bruckner, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Annik Brunet, Sukhasiddhi Foundation, United States
Leila Bruno, Pachamama Alliance, Boulder, Colorado, United States
Prajnatara Bryant, Prder of Amida Buddha - Pureland, London, Ontario, Canada
Lucy Brydon, RC, Bedford, United Kingdom
ann buck, Insight LA, Vipassina Support Int., Pac. Pal., Cal, USA
Venerable Bhikkhu Buddharakkhita, Uganda Buddhist Centre, Uganda
Irene Bumbacher, Center for Buddhism Bern, Switzerland, Bern, Switzerland
Monica Burgos, Quilmes, Argentina, Buenos Aires
Domyo Burk, Bright Way Zen, Portland, Oregon, United States
Grove Burnett, Vallecitos Mountain Ranch, United States
Lloyd Burton, Insight Meditation Community of Colorado, United States
Stefano Carboni, Plum Village, Teramo, Italy, Italy
Kyogen Carlson, Dharma Rain Zen Center, Portland, OR, United States
Eido Frances Carney, Olympia Zen Center, Soto Zen, Olympia, WA, USA
Nick Carroll, London Meditative Inquiry, London, London, United Kingdom
Amaraghosha Carter, Triratna, London, UK
Catherine Cascade, Bird Haven Zendo, Cheshire, Ore, United States
Barbara Casey, Canada
Eugene Cash, Spirit Rock and San Francisco Insight, United States
José María Castelao Cámara, Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom, México, DF, México
alicia castro, sangha santiago chile, La Florida, Santiago, Chile
Donald Castro, EcoSangha at Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple, Seattle, Washington, United States
David Chadwick, San Rafael, California, United States
Phap Ho Chan, Plum Village; Deer Park Monastery, Escondido, California, USA
Susan Chapman, Shambhala, Vancouver, BC
David Chernikoff, Insight Meditation Community of Colorado, United States
Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, Sravasti Abbey, United States
Ven. Tenzin Chogkyi, Gendun Drubpa Buddhist Centre (Canada/US), Canada
Beth Chorpenning, Rocky Mountain Insight, Manitou Springs, CO
Lama Karma Chotso, Kagyu Shedrup Choling , Miami, Florida, USA
Larry Jissan Christensen, Zen Center of Portland, Portland, OR, USA
Ginger Clarkson, Insight Meditation Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
Kirtan Coan, Winston Salem Community Dharma, Winston Salem, North Carolina, USA
Pat Coffey, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, afton, USA
Howard Cohn, Spririt Rock/ Mission Dharma, Sausalito, CA, US
Mark Coleman, Spirit Rock, United States
Rev. Compassion, Peace Mountain Buddhist Hermitage, Cold Spring, New York, USA
Jeffrey Compton, Everyday Dharma Zen Center, Ben Lomond, California, United States
Carol Cook, Prescott Vipassana Sangha, Arizona, Prescott, AZ, US
Gillian Coote, Diamond Sangha, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Terry Cortés, True Virtuous Action, United States
Nigel Crawhall, Hout Bay Theravada Buddhist Centre, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
candace crossan, Spirit Rock, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Chris Cullen, Gaia House, United Kingdom
Hugh Curran, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, usa
Rosalie Curtis, San Francisco Zen Center, United States
Anne Cushman, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Fairfax, CA, United States
Valerie Cusson, Inland Empire Dharma Punx, Redlands, California, United States
Sky Dawson, IMS and Forest Refuge, Perth, West Australia, Australia
Lama Samten Dawson, Natural Dharma Fellowship, Springfield, New Hampshire, United States
Aníbal de la Vega, Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Han de Wit, shambhala europe, OEGSTGEEST, Netherlands
David De Young, Ajahn Chah Tradition, Bangkok, Thailand
Russell Delman, Embodied Life School, Sebastopol, California, United States
juliette delventhal, Spirit Rock, Bolinas, California, USA
Rev. Myô Denis Lahey, Abbot, Hartford Street Zen Center/Issan-ji, United States
Dana DePalma, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, San Anselmo, CA, USA
Swamini Sri Lalitambika Devi, Mahakailasa Ashram, New York, NY
Ven. Dhammadinna, Bodhiheart
Rev.C. Collins Dhammaratana, Contemplative Traditions, Hillsborough, NC, USA
Chas DiCapua, Insight Meditation Society, United States
Sue Dirksen, Santa Cruz, CA., USA
Uddyotani Doherty, Triratna, Leeds, WEST YORKSHIRE, United Kingdom
rinchen dolma, sangha activa, barcelona, barcelona, Spain
Yonathan Dominitz, Tovana, Insight Meditation Society, Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel
Bob Doppelt, United States
Lama Irene Dordje Drolma, Montchardon Buddhist Centre, Switzerland
Anna Douglas, Spirit Rock, United States
Julie Downard, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand
Joan Doyle, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA, US
Venerable Ani Drubgyudma, Flower Dance Temple, Pitcairn, New York, USA
Suzann Duquette, Karme Choling Shambhala Meditation Center, Barnet, Vermont, United States
Bonnie Duran, University of Washington and IMS/SRMC, Seattle, WA, USA
Curtiss Durand, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Davis, California, USA
Tamara Dyer, Insight Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN, USA
Joshua Eaton, independent journalist, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Loreto Egana, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Jan-Michael Ehrhardt, Friedenshof-Community, Neustadt am Rübenberge, Germany
Sudaya Elmhirst, Triratna, Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Joseph Emet, Mindfulness Meditation Centre, Montreal, Canada
Marcus Epicurus, Free Sangha Forum - Theravada, Tillamook, Oregon, USA
Steve Epstein, Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Marie Ericsson, Vipassanagruppen, Stockholm, Sweden
Betsy Faen, Beaches Sangha, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Floyd Fantelli, Bozeman, MT, USA
Barry Farrin, Diamond Sangha, Doonan, Qld, Australia
sean feit, Spirit Rock, Yoga Tree, Piedmont Yoga, SF Insight, Oakland, CA, United States
Norman Feldman, Gaia House and True North Insight, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Gaylon Ferguson, Shambhala International, Boulder, CO, USA
Peter Fernando, Original Nature Insight Meditation, Wellington, North Island, New Zealand
Anushka Fernandopulle, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, California, USA
Gendo Allyn Field, Upper Valley Zen Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire, United States
Lyn Fine, Plum Village Tradition, Berkeley, CA, USA
Rev. Danny Fisher, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Ian Hakuryu Forsberg, Hokoji, Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, United States
Suvinita Bev Forsman, Dharma Field, Minneapolis, MN, United States
Joanna Friday, Rhode Island Community of Mindfulness, United States
tiffany gallop, Morya Federation, mount laurel, New Jersey, usa
Dharmachari Garava, Triratana Buddhist Order, Sheffield, United Kingdom
David Gardiner, BodhiMind Center, United States
Jean Gardner, Parsons The New School for Design, New York CIty, New YOrk, United States
Wendy Garling, Concord, MA, USA
Steve Ghan, Richland, WA, USA
Andrea Daido Ghisleri, Dojo zen Sanrin - Zen soto, Savigliano, Italy
Muli Glezer, Tovana Insight Meditation Society Israel, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Maggie Gluek, Sydney Zen Centre, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Gaelyn Godwin, Houston Zen Center, Houston, Texas, USA
Joseph Goldstein, Insight Meditation Society, United States
Thor Gonen, Bhavana House, Israel
sonia gonzalez, cancun, quintana roo, Mexico
Trudy Goodman, InsightLA, United States
Cindee Grace, Eureka Mindfulness, Eureka, California, United States
Ruby Grad, Portland, Oregon
Michael Grady, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, United States
Linda Graham, San Rafael, California, United States
Mary Grannan, Deep Spring Center, United States
Lucinda Green, Rocky Mountain Insight, Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States
David Greenshields, Centre for mindfulnesd, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
randall gribbin, Insight Meditation San Antonio, Texas and Wimberley Sangha, Wimberley, Texas, Canyon Lake, TX, USA
Cynde Grieve, Shambhala, Halifax, NS, Canada
Bobbe Gripentrog, Singing Bird Sangha, Tucson, AZ , USA
Stephen Gross, Sukhasiddhi Foundation, United States
Esteban Manuel Gudiño Acevedo, Budismo Pragmático, General Roca, Rio Negro, Argentina
Patricia Shingetsu Guzy, Zen Center of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States
Sabine H. Kalff, Buddhist Center Zollikon, Switzerland
Ruben Habito, Maria Kannon Zen Center, Dallas, Texas, USA
Robert K. Hall, M.D., El Dharma of Todos Santos, Mexico
Suvaco Hansen, Totnes, Devon, UK
ko shin Bob Hanson, Milwaukee Zen Center, Neshkoro, Wisconsin, USA
Rick Hanson, San Rafael, CA, USA
Acharya Moh Hardin, Shambhala, Halifax, NS, Canada
Susie Harrington, DesertDharma, Moab, UT, USA
Zenkei Blanche Hartman, San Francisco Zen Center, United States
Suzanne Harvey, Natural Dharma Fellowship, Nashua, NH, United States
Nancy Hathaway, Kwan Um School of Zen, Surry, Maine, USA
Isshin Havens, Jisui Zendo (http://aguasdacompaixao.wordpress.com) - Soto Shu, Porto Alegre, Rio Grand do Sul, Brazil
Samuel Haycraft, Hu Kuo Temple, Laguna Woods, CA, United States
Shundo David Haye, United States
Tarchin Hearn, Wangapeka Educational Trust, New Zealand
Shaku Jo\'on Gregg Heathcote, Buddhist chaplain at the University of Newcastle + Shin Buddhist priest, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Sarah Heffron, Moab, UT, United States
Kokyo Henkel, Santa Cruz, California, United States
Steven Hick, True North insight and Ottawa Insight Meditation Community, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Larry Higgins, Shambhala- Austin , Austin, TX, United States
Winton Higgins, Sydney Insight Meditators, Sydney, Australia
Glenda Hodges-Cook, Louisville Vipassana Community, Louisville, KY, USA
Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts, Heart Circle Sangha, Ridgewood, NJ, USA
Kurt Hoelting, Mindfulness Northwest, Clinton, WA, USA
John Holl, UU Sanghas, San Diego, CA, USA
Erik Hoogcarspel, Instituut voor Filosofie, Rotterdam, Netherlands
David Hope, Shambhala, London, UK
Vincent Horn, Heart Mind Studio, Asheville, NC, United States
Myphon Hunt, Everyday Zen, Yuba City, CA, USA
Chân Niệm Hỷ, Plum Village, United States
Jill Hyman, Insight Santa Cruz, Los Gatos, Ca., US
Catherine Ingram, Living Dharma, New York
Christopher Ives, Stonehill College, Watertown , MA, USA
Sanford Jaffe, Vajrayana Institute, Narrabeen, NSW, Australia
Will James, Tallowwood Sangha, Bellingen, N.S.W., Australia
Helen Jandamit, The House of Dhamma, Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand
Marty Janowitz, Shambhala, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Berget Jelane, San Jose Insight Meditation, United States
Lama Döndrup Jennifer Grant, Sukhasiddhi Foundation, Fairfax, CA
Lynne Ji-En Lockie, Chattanooga Insight Meditation Group, United States
Dharmacarini Jnanacandra, Triratna Buddhist Community, Essen, NRW, Germany
Jayanta (Shirley) Johannesen, Canada
Acharya Richard John, Shambhala, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Sujatin Johnson, Order of Amida Buddha, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Robyn Judge, Earth, Perth, Wa, Australia
John Julian, Monash University, tecoma, Victoria, Australia
Ingen K. Breen, San Francisco Zen Center, At Large, US, UK, Eire.
Will Kabat-Zinn, Spirit Rock , Albany, CA, USA
Marco Antonio Karam, Casa Tibet Mexic, DF, DF, Mexico
Loraine (Jitindriya) Keats, Lismore, NSW, Australia
Lynn Kelly, Dhammagiri Forest Hermitage, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Karin Kempe, Zen Center of Denver, Denver, Co, USA
Bhikkhu Khemasiri, Kloster Dhammapala, Switzerland
Dharmacharini Khemasuri, Triratna Buddhist Order, Sheffield, UK
Eileen Kiera, Mountain Lamp and Plum Village, Deming, Washington, United States
Michael Kieran, Diamond Sangha, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Sumi Kim, Buddhist Families of Durham, Durham, North Carolina, USA
Lila Kimhi, Jerusalem, Israel
Ruth King, Insight Meditation Community of Washington and Mindful Members of Charlotte, United States
Sunya Kjolhede, Windhorse Zen Community, Alexander, North Carolina, United States
Bodhin Kjolhede, Rochester Zen Center, Rochester, New York, United States
Melanie Klein, Shambhala, Boulder, CO, USA
Sakyashasanadhara Wesley Knapp, Sakya Thubten Namgyal Ling Canada, Goodwood, Ontario, Canada
Paul Knitter, Union Theological Seminary Emeritus, Madison, WI, USA
Paul Koeppler, Waldhaus am Laacher See, Bonn, Germany
Dr. Sylvia Kolk, Germany
Sandra Kopka, Insight Meditation Sangha of Rio Arriba County, Dixon, United States
Joyce Kornblatt, Sydney Insight Meditators/Cloud Refuge Sangha, Blackheath, NSW, Australia
Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock, United States
Doug Kraft, Carmichael, CA, USA
Gregory Kramer, Metta Foundation, United States
Jacqueline Kramer, Hearth Foundation, Sonoma, CA, USA
Anna Kranz, Project Wellbeing, Barossa Valley, SA, Australia
Kirsten Kratz, Gaia House, United Kingdom
Lisa Kring, Insight LA, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Kritee (Kanko), Cold Mountain Zen, Boulder, Colorado, United States
Peter Kuhn, Donovan State Prison Buddhist Services, San Diego, CA, USA
Thubten Kundrol, FPMT, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rainer Künzi, Meditation Centre Beatenberg, Switzerland
Donna Kwilosz, University of New Mexico, Corrales, New Mexico, United States
Karunavaca Lake, Triratna Buddhist Order, Nottingham , Notts, UK
Patrick Lambelet, Lama Tzong Khapa Institute (FPMT), Pomaia, Italy
Daniel Landry, Insight Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California, USA
Stefan Lang, Zentrum für Buddhismus, Switzerland
Zohar Lavie , Tovana & Gaia House, UK & Israel
David Lawson, Deep Spring Center, United States
Gerard Lee, Plum Village Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Ven. Chung Ohun Lee, Won Buddhism International, New York, New York, USA
Taigen Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate, Chicago [Soto Zen], Chicago, Illinois, United States
Dianne (Nan) LeRoy, Listening Heart Sangha, Portland, Oregon, United States
Noah Levine, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, United States
Peter Levitt, Salt Spring Zen Circle, Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
Linda Lewis, Shambhala, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Ven. Chimey Lhatso, Karma Yönten Ling, Malmö, Sweden
Lama Tilmann Lhundrup, Dhagpo Kagyu Mandala, Germany
Joy LiBethe, Insight Meditation Community of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA
Keiryu Lien Shutt, United States
Charles Allen Lingo Jr, Breathing Heart Sangha, Plum Village Tradition, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Myo On Susan Linnell, Albuquerque Zero Zen Center, Albuquerque, N. M. , USA
Adam Lobel, Shambhala, Pittsburgh, PA, 15224
Jeremy Logan, Masterton, New Zealand
Bopchi Eduardo Lopez, Mar de Lotos Templo Zen (Lotuses Sea Zen Temple), México City, DF, México
Kakumyo Lowe-Charde, Dharma Rain Zen Center, Portland, Oregon, United States
David Loy, Sanbo Kyodan, United States
Ven. Seikai Luebke, Ventura Co., CA, USA
Luke Lundemo, Conscious Living Project, Jackson, Mississippi, United States
Haju Linda Lundquist, Zen Buddhist Temple/Buddhist Society for Compassionate Wisdom, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Ilan Luttenberg, Buddhism in Israel, Israel
Allyn Lyon, Shambhala, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, USA
Jose Manuel Maceiras, Comunidad Budista Soto Zen, Valencia, Valencia, España
Prakash Mackay, Wailuku, HI, USA
Joanna Macy, Berkeley, 94705, USA
Manny Mansbach, Vermont Insight Meditation Center, Brattleboro, VT, USA
Daniel Hoshin Marighetti, Centro Zen de la Flor Dorada / Asociasion Budista Zen del Uruguay, Montevideo, Uruguay
Genjo Marinello, Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji, Seattle, WA, USA
Anna Markey, Insight teachers of Australia, Adelaide, Sth Aust, Australia
Eshu Martin, Zenwest Buddhist Society, Victoria, BC, Canada
Heather Martin, Salt Spring Vipassana , Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada
Brandon Massey, Great Vow Zen Monastery, Astoria, Oregon, United States
justine mayer, Diamond Sangha Zen, Darwin, Australia
Kosho McCall, Austin Zen Center, Austin, TX, USA
Myoshin Kate McCandless, Mountain Rain Zen Community, Canada
Mary McCawley, Human Race, San Tan Valley, Az, USA
Kim McCluskey, Founder Sun In My Heart, ely, Minnesota, usa
Juntoku Justin McCoy, Soto Zen , California, United States
Catherine McGee, Gaia House, United Kingdom
John McIlwain, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Christopher McLean, Insight Meditation, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Christopher McLean, Insight Meditation, Blackheath, NSW, Australia
Acharya Noel McLellan, Shambhala, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Karen McMains, Red Cedar Zen Community, Bellingham, WA, USA
J Richard Mendius, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, San Anselmo, CA, USA
Denkô Mesa, Comunidad Budista Soto Zen Canaria, Arico, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Dr Manish Meshram, Gautam Buddha Unviersity, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
Jared Michaels, San Francisco Zen Center, San Francisco, CA, USA
Nathaniel Michon, Dharma Seal Temple / Koyasan Betsuin, Rosemead, California, United States
John Mifsud, East Bay Meditation Center and Spirit Rock, United States
Willa Miller, Natural Dharma Fellowship, Cambridge, MA, USA
Richard Miller, Integrative Restoration Institute, San Rafael, California, United States
Teresa Miller, Charlottesville, VA, USA
Tony Mills, Plum Village, Lismore, NSW, Australia
Alison Moore, Thai Forest tradition, Innerleithen
Melissa Moore, Shambhala , Petaluma , CA, USA
Colin Moore, Teacher at Golden Buddha Centre Totnes, student of Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Totnes, Devon, United Kingdom
Jessica Morey, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education, North Andover , MA, USA
Annie Morris Wieland, Stop CSG Blue Mountains, Katoomba, A, Australia
Robert Morrison, Natural Dharma Fellowship
carol moss, INSIGHTLA, malibu, California, USA
Rev. Mary Myers, Helix Healing Ministery, Community of Mindfulness, Pine Bush, NY, USA
Judith Myers Avis, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada
Björn Natthiko Lindeblad, Sweden
Charmi Neely, Mindfulness Meditation Group of Staunton-Waynesboro , Staunton, Virginia, United States
Shinmon Michael Newton, Mountain Rain Zen Community, Canada
Sr. Chau Nghiem, Plum Village International Community, Atlanta, GA, usa
Vien Nguyen, Boat of Compassion sangha, North Potomac, Maryland, USA
Zoe Nicholson, The Lantern Initiative, Newport Beach, CA, United States
Wes Nisker, Spirit Rock, United States
Mark Nunberg, Common Ground Meditation Center, Minneaopolis, Mn, US
Tashi Nyima, New Jonang Buddhist Community, Dallas, Texas, usa
Sarana Nona Olivia, CA, USA
Beng Chung Ong, Subang, SL, Malaysia
Walt Opie, Berkeley, California, USA
Mary Grace Orr, Spirit Rock, United States
John Orr, New Hope Sangha, United States
Susan Orr, sacramento buddhist meditation group and sacramento dharma center, sacramento, ca, usa
Pat Enkyo O\'Hara, Village Zendo, NY, NY, USA
Pornchai Pacharin-tanakun, Mahamakut Buddhist University, Bangkok, Thailand
Ji Hyang Padma, Walnut Creek, California
Koshin Paley Ellison, New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, New York City, NY, USA
Pam Parins Fisher, Dancing River Mindfulness Community, Grafton, Wisconsin, USA
jJohn Peck, Editor-translator, Philemon Foundation, Brunswick, Maine, USA
Bob Penny, Red Cedar Zen Community, Bellingham, Washington, United States
Carol Perry, Melbourne Insight Meditation Group, The Channon, NSW, Australia
Rev. Inryu Bobbi Ponce-Barger, All Beings Zen Sangha, Washington, DC, USA
Yanai Postelnik, Gaia House, England
Renee Kenshin Potik, Tower Meditation Sangha, Fresno, California, United States
Gawaine Powell Davies, Sydney Insight Meditators, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Ian Prattis, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Maria Rosa Ramon Boirras, Sangha Actuva, Barcelona, Cataluña, España
Larry Raskin, Watertown, MA, USA
Tina Rasmussen, Awakening Dharma, San Rafael, California, USA
Mitchell Ratner, Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center, Silver Spring, MD, (Plum Village Tradition) , Takoma Park, Maryland, United States
Leslie Rawls, Plum Village, Charlotte, NC, USA
Tejopala Rawls, Triratna, Melbourne , Australia
Terry Ray, Insight Meditation Community of Boulder, United States
Reginald A. Ray, Dharma Ocean Foundation, Boulder, CO, United States
Susana Renaud, La Casa del Corazón, United States
barbara rhodes, kwanumschool of zen, berkeley, ca, usa
Elizabeth Rice, InsightLA, Camarillo, CA, United States
Diane Rizzetto, Bay Zen Center, Oakland, CA, USA
Johann Robbins, Impermanent Sangha, United States
Shinshu Roberts, Ocean Gate Zen Center, Capitola, CA, United States
Di Robertson, Southern Insight Meditation, Christchurch, New Zealand
Satyavani Robyn, Amida , Malvern, UK
Felipe Rodríguez, Shambhala, Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Nancy Roffey, Flowing Waters Sangha, Toledo, OH, USA
Sharda Rogell, Spirit Rock, Fairfax, CA, USA
Dr. Kai Romhardt, Netzwerk Achtsame Wirtschaft and Sangha Berlin-Zehlendorf, Berlin, Germany
Jo-ann Rosen, Dharmacharya, Ukiah, California, United States
Eve Rosenthal, Shambhala, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Adrianne Ross, B.C. Insight Meditation Society, Canada
Daryl Lynn Ross, True North Insight, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Donald Rothberg, Spirit Rock and East Bay Meditation Center, United States
Peggy Rowe Ward, Unified Buddhist Church, Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Kirsten Rudestam, Insight Santa Cruz, santa cruz, CA, United States
patricia rudolf, vercheny, 26340, France
Jung-Gil Ryoo, Jung To Society (JTS), Seoul, Korea
Lawson Sachter, Windhorse Zen Community, Asheville, NC, United States
John Salerno-White, Tiep Hien Order, Plum Village Tradition, Vacaville, California, United States
Paramacari Samaneri, Isivana Vipassana Hermitage, AIr Itam, Penang, Malaysia
Margot Sangster, Vancouver , BC, Canada
Ayya Santacitta, Aloka Vihara (Austria and U.S.), Austria
Ayya Santussika, Karuna Buddhist Vihara, United States
Jeff Scannell, Montpelier Insight Meditation, Vermont, Montpelier, Vermont, USA
Gregory Scharf, IMS;SRMC, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
David Schneider, Shambhala, Cologne, Germany
Jill Schneiderman, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12603
Lucy Schwabe, Wellington, New Zealand
Doreen Schweizer, Valley Insight Meditation Society, United States
Khaisear Seck, Ratnavihara Buddhist Learning Centre, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Renate Seifarth, Insight Meditation, Germany
Hozan Alan Senauke, Clear View Project, Berkeley, CA, USA
Hozan Alan Senauke, Clear View Project, Berkeley, CA, USA
Jeanie Seward-Magee, Thich Nhat Hanh Sangha, Canada
Baruch Shalev, Plum Village tradition, Israel, Jerusalem, Israel
Shelagh Shalev, Mindfulness Thich Nhat Hanh Sangha Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Richard Shankman, Metta Dharma Foundation, United States
shamini shanmugam, subang jaya, selangor, Malaysia
Maureen Shannon-Chapple, Insightla, Los Angeles, USA
Rae Shao-Lan, kenwood, CA, USA
Gina Sharpe, New York Insight Meditation Center, United States
Huifeng Shi, Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Fo Guang University, Jiaoxi, Ilan, Taiwan
Dan Siegel, Oakland, California, USA
Judith Simmer-Brown, Acharya, Shambhala International, Boulder, Colorado, United States
Arvind Singh, Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
Ruby Sinreich, BPF Member, 27516, NC, USA
Christine Sloan, Shambhala, Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia, Canads
Tempel Smith, Spirit Rock, United States
Rodney Smith, Seattle Insight, United States
Bryony Smith , IMS, Barre, MA, USA
Stephen Snyder, San Rafael, California, United States
Hokai Sobol, Croatia
Nyaniko (Oren J. Sofer)
Maria Elena Sol Trujillo, Comunidad Interser , San Salvador, El Salvador
K V Vidyananda Soon, Malaysia
John Shoji Sorensen, Golden Foothills Sangha - Clear Mind Zen, Folsom, California, USA
Andy Spence, Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Eric Spiegel, Shambhala, Spencertown, New York, United States
Shodo Spring, Soto Zen, Faribault, MN, United States
Upali Sraman, Harvard Buddhist Community, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Douglass St.Christian, Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Claire Stanley, Vermont Insight Meditation Center, Brattleboro, VT, USA
Ralph Steele, Just Life Transition Meditation Center, United States
Ange Stephens, Sebastopol, USA
Bhante Sujato, Bodhinyana Monastery, Australia
Taehye Sunim, Bodhidharma Association, Lerici, La Spezia, Italy
Rev. Heng Sure, Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, United States
Janet Surrey, Metta foundatio, Newton, Ma, USA
Michelle Sutton, Budding Flower Sangha , Highland , NY, United States
Mark Sweitzer, Eco-Dharma Sangha (Colorado), Boulder, CO, United States
Alfonso Taboada, Shambhala, Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Stephanie Tate, Glass City Dharma, Toledo, OH, USA
Natasha Tavares, Ontario College of Teachers Member, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
George Taylor, Presbyterian Church, USA, Spokane, Washington, USA
Erin Taylor, Original Nature Insight Meditation Centre, Wellington, New Zealand
Frank Taylor, Wakefield, MA, USA
Frank Tedesco, True Dharma International Buddhist Mission, Largo, Florida, United States
Christy Tews, Carson City, NV
Amma Thanasanti, Awakening Truth, Shakti Vihara, United States
Doreen Thompson, Tashi Gatsel Ling, Freeport, ME, Gray, ME, USA
trish thompson, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Viet Nam
Reverend Daito Zenei Thompson, www.sarasotazen.org, Sarasota, Fl, USA
Christopher Thurston, Awake~NC, Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Christopher Titmuss, none, Totnes, Devon, England
Ricardo Toledo, Viento del Sur Diamond Sangha, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
John Travis, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Nevada City, CA, USA
Leslie Tremaine, Insight Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz , CA, USA
Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women, San Diego, California, USA
Kuladitya Turnbull, Triratna Buddhist Order, Sheffield, UK
Kathryn Turnipseed, Albuquerque Vipassana Sangha, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Santikaro Upasaka, Liberation Park, Norwalk, WI, USA
Wollmer Uzcategui, AMIDA VENEZUELA, San Juan de los Morros , Guarico, Venezuela
Jeanne van Gemert, Duke University, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Bruno Van Parijs, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Berchem-Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Belgium
Andre Vellino, Ottawa Pagoda Sangha (Thay Nhat Hanh Tradition), Ottawa, Andre, Vellino
Ursula Velonis, Center for Peace Through Culture, Berkeley, CA, USA
Ron Vereen, Triangle Insight Meditation Community, Durham, NC, United States
Dokushô Villalba, Comunidad Budista Soto Zen, Valencia, Valencia, España
Mako Voelkel, Austin Zen Center, Austin, TX, USA
Fred von Allmen, Meditation Center Beatenberg, Switzerland
Ursula Flückiger von Allmen, Meditation Center Beatenberg, Switzerland
Victor von der Heyde, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Karma Justin Wall, MOCD , Tn, USA
Glenn Wallis, Diamond Sangha, Dunedin, New Zealand
Jisho Warner, Soto Zen, Sebastopol, California, USA
Melanie Waschke, Germany
Veit Weber, Shambhala Centre Fredericton, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Claudia Webinger, Ganden Chökhor Meditation Center, Switzerland, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland
Bradley Weigold, Laughing Rivers, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Thanissara Weinberg, Dharmagiri S.Africa / USA, South Africa
Kittisaro Weinberg, Dharmagiri S.Africa / USA, South Africa
Sandra Weinberg, New York Insight Meditataion Center, New York, NY 10016, USA
Arianna Weisman, Insight Meditation Center of the Pioneer Valley, United States
Pamela Weiss, Spirit Rock, United States
Tzungkuen Wen, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Julie Wester, Spirit Rock, United States
Sylvia Wetzel, Germany
Kate Lila Wheeler, United States
Justin Whitaker, academic, Bristol, United Kingdom
Diane Wilde, Sacramento Insight Meditation, Sacramento, CA, USA
Brooke Wiley, LeTort Spring Sangha, Carlisle, PA, USA
Cheryl Wilfong, Vermont Insight Meditation Center, E Dummerston, VT, USA
Jenny Wilks, Gaia House, United Kingdom
Peter Williams, United States
Dean Williams, Jijuyu-ji Zen Sangha of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH, US
angel Kyodo williams, newDharma Community, Berkeley, California, United States
Gayle Wilson, Center for Mindfulness, Placerville, California, United States
Diana Winston, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center and Spirit Rock, United States
Jikyo Cheryl Wolfer, Olympia Zen Center, Port Angeles, WA, USA
Lori Wong, Insight Meditation Central Valley, Modesto, CA, USA
Al Wood, Human Kindness Foundation, Los Angees, California, United States
Irene Woodard, Shambhala, Rosendale, New York, USA
Amala Wrightson, Auckland Zen Centre, New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand
Larry Yang, Spirit Rock, East Bay Meditation Center, and Insight Community of the Desert, United States
Evan Zaleschuk, Zuru Ling Mindfulness and Healing Centre, White Rock, BC, Canada
Antonio Zambrana, Comunidad budista soto-zen Luz Serena, Málaga, Málaga, España
Wendy Zerin, Insight Meditation Community of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
janey zietlow, Burnsville, NC, usa
Annabelle Zinger, Quelle des Mitgefühls, Germany

 

Attending to Suffering

Why pay attention to climate change? Because it is happening. In this first of a four-part series of posts transcribed from a July 2013 talk “The Dharma of Climate Change,” Dharma teacher Chas DiCapua invites us to attend, as part of our practice, to what is present and causing suffering. You can listen to the full audio below, generously made available by Dharma Seed.

Image from the October 2013 coal slurry spill in Alberta, Canada.

Image from the October 2013 coal slurry spill in Alberta, Canada.

How many times have you heard yourself or another student ask, “Why should I pay attention to this?” and the teacher says, “Because it is what is happening.” This is common instruction. We bring awareness of what is happening because it is presenting in our life at that moment.

There is one thing that is happening now that is not unique to any one of us. It is and will be impacting each of us for a long time. This thing is global climate change.

The reason to be aware of climate change is, on a certain level, the same reason you want to be aware of a pain in your knee. Why? Because it is happening. In order to have a correct or helpful relationship with what is happening it is good to get to know it, learn about it, connect with it, and consider what our relationship to it might be. We do that with everything – a thought, the sound of a cricket, a pain in our body. And so, because it’s happening, the practice tells us it would be good to pay attention to global climate change as well.

Paying attention to climate change can be difficult. Even as you read this, you might want to keep checking in with your bodies – perhaps notice any reactivity you might have. Now, this is not going to be a gloom and doom discussion, so you don’t have to worry about that. But it would be good to stay connected and feel your way into the question, “How am I relating to this?”

I am not going to go in to a lot of statistics, like how many feet sea level is going to rise, or how many degrees Celsius the average temperature is going to go up, or by what date will there be no ice in the arctic. That information is out there. It is available and easy to find. This is more about beginning to grapple with this situation that is impacting us now and will continue to effect us at a greater and greater level far into the future. This is going to keep going so it’s very important to consciously turn towards what is occurring.

Smoke and Mirrors

There is an interesting study in which the study subjects were put into a room and told to fill out a form. The subjects were lead to believe that filling out this form was the purpose of the study. In the room where the participants were working was an air vent. The conductors of the study, after the participants began filling out their forms, pumped smoke into the air vent. When that happened the people would see the smoke, leave the room, and go to the researchers and say “There is something wrong in that room! Smoke coming out of the vent!” This was a very natural and appropriate response.

The researchers conducted the study again, with different participants, only this time alongside the five subjects was one “plant” (who appeared to be a survey participant, but was actually “in” on the study). When the researchers pumped smoke into the room this time the plant pretended not to notice it. This person just kept filling out their form as though nothing was wrong. The study was conducted many times and each time the people who were participating in the survey displayed the very same behavior: they would look at the person who wasn’t reacting to the smoke and then they too would turn back to their work and continue to fill out their forms. The survey subjects did not get up and leave the room or respond in any way to the smoke until much, much later.

The impact of that person carrying on with business as usual was strong. In the face of one person disregarding the smoke, the natural inclination of the other participants to respond to danger went out the window.

I tell this story because this is where we are with climate change. The smoke is coming through the vents. It is very clear. But there are strong forces, which I will talk about, that are carrying on with business as usual and we all get caught up in it. We get frozen. There is no national dialogue. We are like those people who say, “Oh, someone is not reacting to this. I guess I don’t need to react, either.” For this reason alone it is helpful to consciously turn towards and start to talk about climate change. So that we break the freeze.

No Escape

For us as Dharma practitioners the purpose of this talk is to show how the teachings can shed light on the forces that have led us to this point as well as what an appropriate response might be. To be clear, climate change is not a political issue. I am not talking politically, from one side or another. Of course, climate change is discussed in politics, but what I am addressing is the truth of what is happening right now, what is going to happen in the near future, and what will be happening in fifty to a hundred years from now.

The biosphere – that layer of life on the earth that begins a few inches down in the soil and rises up through the atmosphere to where birds and insects live – is very thin. And right now, it is rapidly changing – faster than it ever has in history. The species that live in this biosphere, and in turn make up part of it are suffering, are dying off. We are currently in the midst of the largest species die-off, or mass extinction, since the passing of the dinosaurs some 60 million years ago.

People are suffering and they will continue to suffer at an exponentially increasing rate as time goes on. This is not a political issue, this is a moral issue. It transcends political, cultural, and religious boundaries because it is happening to the whole planet.

Now I just want to say even though all people are impacted, and will be increasingly impacted by climate change over time, not everyone will be impacted in the same way. Unfortunately, as with other factors such as political and economic turmoil, people who are the most advantaged are buffered against harm. The people with the least advantage bear the brunt of the destruction. It is this way with many things and it will be this way, at least to some degree, with increasing climate change.

So the people who are disenfranchised are going to bear the brunt of the suffering, but everyone will be impacted. Because even the people who might be quite buffered from the effects of climate change will experience something. Part of the way that people with advantage experience climate change will depend on how they work with that gap between themselves and disenfranchised people. If they don’t bridge that gap in some way but instead just stay in the white castle they may not, for some time, be impacted on the physical level. But to do that, to cut themselves off in this way, will have an impact.

The analogy that comes to me is what happened when the Titanic sank. The people who were in first class had life boats, and the people in second and third class did not. So there the people from first class were in their life boats while the ship was sinking and the people from second and third class were drowning. Yes, they were safe and dry in their boats. But they had to live with the knowledge that they didn’t row back. They didn’t bridge that gap.

So everyone is going to be impacted. Everyone is going to have to deal with climate change in one way or another. For some the effects may be more physical. Other people might be dealing with it more on the level of the heart and the mind. But it is a part of everyone’s reality from here on out.

The Dharma of Climate Change

So, that is about as grim as this series of posts is going to get! What I am going to explore, in the next three installments of this series, are these two questions:

  1. How do the teachings of the Dharma shed light on the causes of global climate change.
  2. How can we respond to such a huge issue, and what might an appropriate response be.

In part 2, “How Did We Come to This?”, Chas explores the roots of global climate change.


This transcription has been edited for readability as a Dharma article. Stay tuned for the third of four posts transcribing Chas’s talk. If you prefer, listen to the full talk here on DharmaSeed:
The Dharma Of Global Climate Change

Chas DiCapua is currently the Insight Meditation Society’s Resident Teacher, and has offered meditation since 1998. He is interested in how each person can fully and uniquely manifest the dharma. He teaches regularly at sitting groups and centers close to IMS.

The Green Sangha in in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, US. is honoring Arbor Day with a gathering of earth stewards to plant native trees.

A Calling for Our Time: Feedback on Teachers’ Statement

The Earth, #1

Image used by permission from Markus Reugels, LiquidArt

A group of over 30 Dharma teachers from around the globe have been working since June on a statement that clarifies the relationship between the Dharma and climate disruption and the responsibility Buddhists have to meaningfully engage in the issue.

[UPDATE Jan. 8th, 2014] The statement below is an initial draft, published here to solicit feedback from the community. A new statement, incorporating feedback from teachers and sangha members, is now available and Dharma teachers are seeking your signature.

The group has also  described 16 core Dharma principles that apply to climate disruption.The collaborative is seeking questions and feedback from you, as the members of One Earth Sangha, and other Dharma practitioners on both the statement and principles.

You can give your feedback on the statement publicly using the comment form below.  The 16 Core Dharma Principles is offered in a separate post where you can also comment. We invite you to carefully read this statement and, as a practice in mindfulness, notice what arises with in you.  In particular, you might respond to these two questions:

  1. Given that you’ve come to this website, we imagine that you are already interested and perhaps active in the response to climate change. How does the statement resonate personally with you?
  2. Now look out to your local sangha and help us imagine how they might respond. Do you expect that this statement would resonate with members of that sangha, especially those who are not engaged or active on climate issues? If so, why? If not, why not?

As an act of generosity for the community and the cause, we invite you to share your responses with the working group and the rest of our sangha using the comment form below.  We as the coordinators of One Earth Sangha will be participating in the conversation with our own perspectives. As always, we invite you to fully speak your truth and exercise wise-speech. If you prefer to email the teachers directly, send your message to Thanissara Weinberg and Bob Doppelt.


Dharma Teachers Collaborative Statement About Climate Disruption

The Problem

Today we face an unprecedented crisis of almost unimaginable magnitude. Escalating climate change is altering our global environment so drastically as to force the Earth into a new geological age. If we continue on this trajectory without making fundamental changes, in mere decades we are almost certain to trigger planetary disasters. Ultimately, we may undermine the pillars of human civilization.

When we openly accept the fact that we are jeopardizing the Earth’s life support systems, we may experience a profound shock. Our own reaction unites us with family, friends, and many others who may share our distress. The need to negotiate these feelings, within ourselves as well as with others, is an increasingly common experience. It is because of the enormity of this crisis that we must draw together to find the most skillful ways to respond, both privately and in the larger sphere of social and political discourse.

Origin of the Problem

Climate scientists are nearly unanimous, with 95% or greater certainty, that climate disruption is the direct result of human activity. As we burn fossil fuels, clear forests, and rely on industrial systems of agriculture for our food, we spew ever more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, trapping heat and warming the planet. As global temperature rise, many fertile regions will lose their fecundity. Food and water scarcities will spread, resource wars will become commonplace, and states may collapse. Subtle feedback loops, as yet unknown, may accelerate this process faster than we expect.

But climate change is more than a mere byproduct of unbridled economic activity. From a deeper perspective it can be seen as a collective manifestation of ignorance, craving, and delusion, as the outcome of flawed assumptions that operate both at systemic and personal levels. Our market economy revolves around the twin goals of profit making and consumption, even at the expense of a stable planet. The fossil fuel corporations try to convince us we can continue to burn oil, gas, and coal forever, without damaging the natural systems that life depends on.  The media sustain this illusion with distortion and disinformation. We ourselves buy the lies with our complacency, believing we can do whatever we want, whenever we want, without having to face the consequences. Climate disruption clearly shows just how delusional those beliefs are.

Looking for a Solution

The perilous course on which we have embarked should demonstrate to us the need to envision new directions for our collective future. We must recognize the finite sustaining capacity of the Earth and the fragility of the web of life in which our own lives are enmeshed. We must replace our obsession with exponential growth and profit at any cost with a future of sustainable development: a world powered by clean energy, where poverty is eradicated, where population growth has been stabilized, and where natural systems— oceans, forests, soil, etc.—have been restored.

We must acknowledge, too, our moral responsibility to all people across the planet and to generations yet to come. By widening our focus to encompass the happiness and wellbeing of all and the preservation of the natural environment, we can minimize the suffering we are creating for the Earth and her species, other people, and ourselves. We also have a special responsibility to the most vulnerable and marginalized among us, who have contributed least to climate disruption but will suffer the most, at least initially.

A Path Toward The Solution

We already have the know-how, skills, and tools needed to reduce carbon emissions to manageable levels and eventually re-stabilize the Earth’s climate and natural systems. But action and not merely belief is necessary. Recognizing the impending crisis we are facing should move us to take personal responsibility for helping forge a solution.

The kind of action required is threefold: personal, communal, and systemic.

  • First, we must each live with greater mindfulness and moral integrity, which entails curbing our desires for material acquisitions, being frugal in our consumption of resources, and paying more attention to our use of energy.
  • Second, we must engage our friends, neighbors, and communities in honest and peaceful dialogue, to ensure they understand the gravity of our situation and are willing to join us in action.
  • And third, we must be ready to act at the systemic level, by seeking more sustainable alternatives to the deep structures—social, political, and economic—responsible for  climate change.

Each of these modes of engagement is critical. Individual effort enables us to contribute directly to protecting the planet, to live up to our personal ideals and serve as a model for others. Initiating conversations with friends and communities mobilizes people to engage in local action, the seed from which wider transformations can ripple out. And systemic change is needed to actually and effectively reduce carbon emissions.

Some types of systemic change will be technological: rapidly replacing our reliance on dirty fossil fuels with clean, renewable sources of energy; shifting from industrial-scale agriculture to small-scale ecologically sustainable agriculture. Some changes will be ideological: replacing a scheme of values that exalts private profit, competition, material consumption, and individualism, with a scheme that extols human relationships, cooperation, and spiritual self-cultivation. And some changes will be structural. Above all we must replace profligate political, social, and economic systems with new paradigms more conducive to human flourishing and to harmony between humanity and the earth.

These new paradigms and systems should acknowledge that humans are part of the earth, which is not just our home, but our mother. We can no longer pursue luxury and convenience at the cost of the biosphere. We must develop ways of living together that cherish the other living beings that, together with us, compose the earth’s ecosystems. In this we should not be afraid to engage politically, thinking we will thereby be “tainting” our spiritual practice. If change is going to occur at all, we have to stand up against the powerful vested interests that infiltrate the halls of power; we have to put pressure on our elected representatives to follow the call of moral integrity and the trail of science, not the call of the fossil fuel corporations and the trail of dogma.

As we each awaken to our responsibility to preserve the planet, we may feel awed by the immensity of the challenge. We should take heart, however, and know that on numerous past occasions people committed to human decency have, by concerted effort, overcome even the most entrenched systems of oppression. Never before has the need for concerted effort been so urgent as it is today. To engage skillfully, it is imperative that we join hearts and hands to support each other and all those seeking more sustainable models of human life. We’re facing what might well be the biggest wake up call in all human history and thus we must bring all our resources of creativity and compassion, of love and intelligence, to bear on our response.

At this moment of great crisis the Earth herself—along with her myriad innocent species—calls each of us to be her protectors. To effectively respond to this call to action, we already have the guidance we need in the principles laid down in the Buddha’s teachings. What we need is clear minded courage: courage to recognize the truth of our situation, courage to speak up and convey the truth to others, and courage to promote changes in the larger structures that govern our lives. When we come together to celebrate our love for the natural world and the beings that inhabit it, when we speak the truth about climate change, when we take a stand to counter the forces that threaten our climate, we reclaim our own inner stability and strength and live closer to the truth, closer to the Dharma. We must seize the opportunity before us, for our own sakes, for countless others across the globe, and for future generations, putting our differences behind us and working in harmony to create a sustainable future. Together, we can ensure our descendants and fellow species will inherit a viable planet. Individually and collectively, we will be honoring the great legacy left by the Buddha and fulfilling our heart’s deepest wish to serve and protect all life.

Responding with Wisdom: Feedback on 16 Core Principles

Gothic Wood - Used with permission from Dharma practitioner Steve Solinsky

Gothic Wood – Used with permission from Dharma practitioner Steve Solinsky

This offering of Dharma comes to us from the Dharma Teachers Climate Collaborative, a global working group of over 30 teachers headed by Bob Doppelt, author of From Me to We.  The group is explicitly seeking your feedback as members of One Earth Sangha on the principles below as well as a companion Statement on Climate Disruption.

[UPDATE Jan. 8th, 2014]The statement on climate disruption has been revised, incorporating feedback from teachers and sangha members, and is now available here on our site. The authoring Dharma teachers seek your signature.

We invite you to read each principle and, as a practice in mindfulness, notice what arises with in you.  In particular, you might respond to these two questions:

  1. Given that you’ve come to this website, we imagine that you are already interested and perhaps active in the response to climate change. How do the principles resonate personally with you?
  2. Now look out to your local sangha and help us imagine how they might respond. Do you expect that these principles would resonate with members of that sangha, especially those who are not engaged or active on climate issues? If so, why? If not, why not?

As an act of generosity for the community and the cause, we invite you to share your responses with the working group and the rest of our sangha using the comment form below. We as the coordinators of One Earth Sangha will be participating in the conversation with our own perspectives. As always, we invite you to fully speak your truth and exercise wise-speech. If you prefer to email the teachers directly, send your message to Thanissara Weinberg and Bob Doppelt.


16 Core Dharma Principles to Address Climate Change

The following Dharma principles directly apply to the issue of climate disruption:

      1. Reverence for life: From this point forward climate disruption is the overriding context for all life on earth, including humans. What we humans do will determine what life survives and thrives and in what form and locations.
      2. Happiness stems from helping others:  Our greatest personal happiness comes when we give of ourselves and help others. For example, many people instinctually help our neighbors after a natural disaster, which indicates that altruism and the desire to help others is built unto our genes. We must grow and apply this to the marginalized among us that are at least initially hit hardest by climate disruption. This is the very opposite of the greed and self-centeredness that dominates today.
      3. We suffer when we cling: The very nature of happiness is dependent on our capacity to give up our attachments and help others. This same principle must now be elevated and applied to public policies of all types.
      4. The ethical imperative: All beings matter. We should act in ways that are beneficial for both self and others, acting out of a commitment to altruism and compassion for others.
      5. Interconnection and interdependence: We must dissolve objectification of other people and nature and overcome the belief in a separate self that leads us to through a sense of kinship. Even as we let go of the delusion of an individual self that is separate from other people, we must let go of the delusion that humanity is separate from the rest of the biosphere. Our interdependence with the earth means that we cannot pursue our own well-being at the cost of its well-being. When the earth’s ecosystems become sick, so do our bodies and our societies.
      6. Renunciation, simplicity: To resolve climate disruption we must be willing to renounce attachments to things to contribute to the problem and live more simply.
      7. The relationship between the First and Second Noble Truth and capacity to learn to work with difficult states: Understanding the suffering we have created symbolized by climate disruption and how it came about and that we can learn not to identify with it and instead work through distressing states such as fear, despair, etc.
      8. Opening to suffering as a vehicle for awakening: The suffering caused by climate disruption provides an unprecedented opportunity for humans to learn from our individual and collective mistakes and manifest a great awakening. It is a special opportunity like never before. We can find ways to be happy—we can “tend and befriend” rather than fight (among ourselves), flee, or freeze. We can acknowledge that this is the way things are now, open to the suffering rather than becoming attached, and think and act in new ways.
      9. The interconnectedness of inner and outer, the individual and the collective (or institutional):  Climate disruption provides an unprecedented opportunity to understand the roots of the problem—which relate to the ways our minds work and how those patterns become embedded in collective and collective/ institutional practices and policies. This awareness can open the door to new ways of thinking and responding that will eventually produce different institutional practices and policies.
      10. Connection to diversity and justice issues. The Dharma principles and narratives must also apply to issues or diversity and social inclusion and justice. The beliefs in separateness etc that has produced the climate crisis also leads to social inequity and exclusion. People of color and other marginalized groups must be included.
      11. Buddhism as a social change agent: The principles of Buddhism help us engage with life, not remove ourselves from it. The Buddha was actively engaged with his social and cultural contexts and for Buddhism to have relevance today it must help people understand how to engage in today’s political and social contexts.
      12. Adhitthana or determination: We are called to develop resolve, determination, and heroic effort now. We must have the courage to realize that we are being called to engage in this issue and that living the Dharma will see us through the hard times.
      13. This precious human birth is an opportunity: We must always remember that it is a rare and precious thing to be born as a human and we have been given a rare opportunity to act as stewards because humans are not only the source of destruction—we are also the source of great goodness.
      14. Love is the greatest motivator: Our deepest and most powerful action comes out of love: of this earth, of each other. The more people can connect with and feel love for the Earth, the greater the likelihood that their hearts will be moved to help prevent harm. Children should therefore be a top priority. Need to help people realize what they love about life and what will be lost as climate disruption increases.
      15. The sangha—and other forms of social support–are essential: The reality of climate disruption is a profound shock to many people and the only way to minimize or prevent fight, flight, freeze responses is to be supported by and work with others so people will not feel alone, can overcome despair, and develop solutions together. We need to go through this journey together, sharing our difficult reactions and positive experiences in groups and communities.
      16. The Bodhisattva: The figure of the Bodhisattva which is a unifying image of someone who is dedicated to cultivating the inner depths and to helping others, is an inspiring figure for our times.

What Followers of the Dharma Can Do In Body, Speech and Mind

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To effectively respond to this call to action, followers of the Dharma can hold a vision of a world that is not moving towards destruction, a world that is sustainable, a world that is powered by clean energy, no longer burning fossil fuels, a world where poverty is eradicated, population growth is stabilized and natural systems – oceans, forests, soil, etc. – are restored. We can speak about our love for the natural world, children and animals, and how solving the problem of climate change is essential for their future. When there is talk of unusual weather, storms, droughts, floods, fires, increased food insecurity, spread of hunger, water shortages, spread of tropical diseases, and so on, we can point out that climate change is the primary cause.

We can inform ourselves by reading a few key articles like Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math by Bill McKibben or Our Society Is Living a Massive Lie About the Threat of Climate Change — It’s Time to Wake Up by Margaret Klein or by watching the “Do the Math” movie.  We can also get together with friends to read and discuss landmark books like Eaarthby Bill McKibben and World on the Edge by Lester Brown. We can connect with a group like 350.org that is consistently telling the truth about climate change and organizing events that move our social and political systems towards solutions and participate in those events. When we come together to celebrate our love for the natural world and the beings that inhabit it, speak the truth about climate change, and take a stand to turn the forces that threaten our climate, we reclaim our own inner stability and strength and live closer to the truth and therefore closer to the Dharma.