On Sunday, June 28, at noon local time, hundreds of faith communities will ring bells, chimes, shofars and gongs to celebrate Laudato Si (Praise Be), the Pope’s encyclical for the earth. The Global Climate Chorus is an accompaniment to an interfaith march of thanks that day in Rome, organized by an international team of Catholic, multi-faith and civil society partners.
Here in our little mountain town of Nelson, British Columbia, the Kootenay Shambhala Meditation Centre will join the chorus. We will recite the Heart Sutra in front of our building, timing it so the mantra –108 recitations, 108 gongs – occurs at noon. We should be able to hear the bells of the churches in our community that are also participating. Contemplating this brings me great joy.
There has been scarce little joy in climate activism. The news is unrelentingly dire, the world’s leaders so slow to respond, the suffering and inequality only worsening. The voices of Buddhist leaders like HH Dalai Lama and HH Karmapa have called us to action, and as individuals and families, in our homes, communities, and places of work and of learning, we have responded. Yet I have longed for simple actions that we can do as a sangha, and in the broader community. The chorus has provided us with that, and I bow to the organizers, and encourage other sanghas to join us.
Our teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was clear that we need a personal relationship with the earth, saying: “When human beings lose their connection to nature, to heaven and earth, then they do not know how to nurture their environment or how to rule their world… healing our society goes hand in hand with healing our personal, elemental connection with the phenomenal world.” His son and spiritual heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, is promoting conviction in the basic goodness of self, all beings and society itself as the key, saying: “…it is human nature to be in harmony with one another and the environment, and our survival depends on it.” Joining in the chorus is a proclamation of belief in the basic goodness – buddhanature – of our selves and of society. We proclaim our ability as human beings to connect with the earth, to see clearly, and to act wisely, whatever our practice or faith, together.