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A Call to Restore the Sacred Balance


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Members of One Earth Sangha joined events in New York City and around the world for the People's Climate March. Buddhist teacher and climate activist, Thanissara, gives her first hand account of this moment of global compassion in action.
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Members of One Earth Sangha gathered with other Buddhists and faith groups in an event that drew an estimated 400,000 to New York City alone. We were joined by countless others in over 2,800 events around the world on Sunday. The People’s Climate March was a global call to, in the words of one indigenous leader, restore balance to our world. In the testimony below, Buddhist teacher and climate activist, Thanissara, gives her first hand account of this moment of global compassion in action.

An estimated 400,000 converged on the streets of New York City.

Pause and take a moment to realize what a phenomenal and unprecedented happening has occurred across the globe this week in support of immediate climate action. We are witnessing the birth of a people power united across race, geography, faith, class, gender, expunging all other socio-colonial-patriachal defined “isms.”

We the people have walked and we now speak for a reality which has been dangerously twisted, distorted, denied and suppressed by the corporate-fossil-fuel-oligarchic owned media agenda. Catastrophic climate chaos is upon us, it is real, it is happening, and if we don’t act now, we will destroy the biosphere and render the earth unsustainable for all life. None of the 2,700 marches across the globe, or the 400,000 marchers in New York City are confused on this point.

The need for climate justice was quite rightly a theme throughout the NYC march

The march was a statement for political leaders gathering right now to talk about our planetary future. Take another moment to watch this stunning offering from 26 year-old poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands, to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. As world leaders hash it out in the UN Climate Action Summit, we need to acknowledge the leadership of the First Nation peoples, appropriately positioned at the front of our 4 mile long (7+ kilometers) march through the streets of New York. They know the territory, they understand the disease and they have the remedy.

They have the remedy because they also understand we all have the remedy. We know this when we listen beyond our colonized minds to hear the deep, urgent impulse of sanity that is aligned to the heartbeat of the earth, of the ancestors, of the animals, and of the total web of life. This is the deep primordial mother earth who births all things and who cries out to us now, each of us, to hear her urging: stand up and be my protector; do what you can, embody the sacred masculine and be a warrior-lover of the earth, of each other, of our best heart.

So dear friends, our task is before us. We must take the inspiration of this historic moment in the climate movement and bring it into our lives while also speaking out to share the message the best we can. While there is no turning back, it is important to remember we are doing this together.

People's Climate March, London
People’s Climate March, London

As a Buddhist practitioner it was especially great to see a strong gathering of cross-denominational Buddhists turn up to align forces with people of faith. The determination I felt on the march from those stepping out alongside me was palpable. We must go forward and work hard to secure our collective future. As we do so, the game will change.

Already, as momentum is building, results are coming in. Divestments from the fossil fuel industry are happening fast: yesterday it was announced that Rockefeller’s divested $860 million; the World Council of Churches representing 590 million people in 150 countries endorsed divestment; 30 cities in the USA have pledged divestment; Stanford is dropping coal holdings from its 18 billion endowment funds (c’mon Harvard, you can do it!). The total divestment campaign is reaching $50 billion (including of course Dogs for Divestment!). Meanwhile investments in renewables is the leading edge in the market.

People's Climate March, New Delhi
People’s Climate March, New Delhi

What’s happening is a eco-re-evolution. When we tune into this our life will start changing, inwardly and externally. As the truth is all things are interconnected, the coming years of this energy and consciousness re-evolution will impact us all in destabilizing, challenging and positive ways. So time to put our practice to use as we connect with refuge, community and our own inner spirit and guidance.

Yesterday I observed the Flood Wall Street direct action event and had the honor of hanging out with David Loy most of the day as we walked with this activist happening. David was not averse to getting arrested (I was not up for arrest – not right now anyway.) As we became surrounded by police and as the march moved into a “sit down” David and I went for coffee, aware that it was turning into a long day with an inevitable outcome.

belongingAs those on the front line aimed for the belly of the beast, our capitalistic-addicted-steriod-crack-pumped-disembodied-bull-market-machine, (commonly called The Stock Market), David and I talked Buddhist fem-eco-activist-evolution. More about that later, meanwhile, here’s David’s talk from the Eco-Dharma conference in August, “A Tale of Two Icebergs“.

I’m going to finish off by reverting once again to my dear friend Gayle Markow and her “bring it home” advice, after the great joy of walking with a million+ people, across the world, for our mother earth.

Today was truly remarkable because of the really huge numbers of people that did turn out, their enthusiasm, their creativity, their diversity (in the positive extreme), the enormous positive energy of this march that went on and on and on and on, it was fulfilling and hopeful. And we all have a lot of work to do to save our home, our planet, our Mother Earth. This magnificent demonstration was the culmination of much planning and organizing, but only the beginning of the serious journey to be undertaken. May we all go forward shoulder to shoulder. Much love from NYC.

I echo that – Much love from NYC – what a city! What a week!

Bonus Round!

Here’s an excellent interview with Thanissara from the direct action event, Flood Wall Street, that took place the day after the march. Thanissara clarifies the place of “enemy” and the power of rousing Guanyin energies in our efforts.
[youtube id=”vbVzwwjsW5E”]

You can see more sights and sounds from the March and the events that followed here

Picture of Thanissara


Thanissara embodies the integration of the contemplative with the activist. Trained in the Ajahn Chah Forest Tradition, she was a monastic for 12 years. She and husband Kittisaro founded Dharmagiri in South Africa where they integrated activism on AIDS with hosting Theravadan retreats. As senior teachers at Spirit Rock, Thanissara and Kittisaro later co-founded Sacred Mountain Sangha based in California. She has an MA in Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapy from the UK, and is author of several books, including Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth — The Buddha’s Life and Message through Feminine Eyes.
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