In many ways, global warming is a perfect expression of karma and interconnection. The coal pulled from the mountains of western Virginia and burned in Ohio creates carbon pollution that warms Earth and melts the glaciers of Tibet, flooding villages in Nepal and draining into the Indian Ocean, which raises sea levels, which flood the US Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia. This is the most truly global of our human challenges; it knows no boundaries.
But just as the causes of climate change travel through the interconnected web of life, so do its solutions. This September, UN Secretary General has called the heads of state from every country on Earth to New York this September to discuss how to make sure that negotiations toward a new climate treaty (due to be finished in Paris in December 2015) succeed. You’d be forgiven if the phrase “climate treaty” led to dismissive thoughts of Copenhagen from 5 years ago. But a lot has changed since then, including significant action at home in key countries, including in China, Brazil, Mexico and recently the United States. This domestic progress lead many to think that Paris could be different. And let’s face it, we can’t solve this problem without coming together across cultures and countries.
Without formal invitations, tens of thousands of teachers, nurses, ministers, electricians and dog walkers will travel to New York to join a party that looks to be the largest public march for climate action — the People’s March. They’ll come by train and bus and bicycle to show the leaders of the world that the people of the world are watching and looking for leadership. And in the process, they’ll connect with each other and be reminded that they are not alone in working for a better future.
One Earth Sangha will be there, bringing not only “numbers” to this demonstration of care but our presence, our voice and, when needed, a powerful silence. You are invited to join us, either in-person or via global online events, about which you’ll be hearing much more. In the article below from Dharma teacher Santussika Bhikkhuni, she firmly seats our participation in this global event in the context of individual and communal practice.
There is a point at which our dharma practice takes center stage in our lives. From then on, it informs and influences everything else we do, how we care for our children and our aging parents, do our jobs, interact with everyone we meet, even how we eat, sleep and breathe.
This “everything” certainly includes how we engage in the important moral and social issues of our times. At this moment in human history, the structures that have developed and the use of fossil fuels and technology have brought us, in the industrialized nations, to a point where we are all engaged in the overuse, contamination and pillage of the earth, to the point of endangering all life on this planet. Nothing could be farther from the intention and practice of dharma.
The practice requires that we take a hard look at what is happening, mindfully experience the feelings that arise, and seek out appropriate action to extract ourselves from these destructive practices and set the correct course towards wholesome, sustainable, and compassionate living. Because of the complexity of our society, how interconnected we all are, not just spiritually but also economically and politically, we cannot do this work of course correction individually. None of us is in a position to stop, by our own volition, no matter how hard we try, the destruction we are engaged in. The systems themselves must be changed. So we need to come together, en masse, to create the change that is needed.
As we, the people of planet earth come together, dharma practitioners have a special gift to offer into the process. We have the opportunity to bring the practice into this massive and extremely important context. We come with a quiet dignity, a depth of calm, and all the mindfulness and compassion we can muster. We certainly won’t be the only ones. Serious practitioners of all faiths will be there to support this process towards a powerful, positive conclusion.
This event, the People’s Climate March, is intended to be for everyone. As the description of the event says, “This will be a family-friendly event. The tone and tenor will be dignified, fun, impactful and empowering, and we are committed to making sure that it is permitted, peaceful and safe for all who come.” There is nothing intended here that goes against our principles as practitioners. In fact, what would go against those principles would be to sit idly by as the world burns in the flames of our destructive practices.
So now we have this opportunity to act, to make a real difference, to lend our moral voice to this great movement. This is a movement that is for the benefit of all beings, like nothing that has ever happened on this planet before. We all, every living being on Earth, are in this together. We all face the same danger. As we act by participating in this event, we are taking up the care and protection of all future generations of all species on Earth. This is dharma in action.
I hope to walk with you as we go together to bend the course of history.
Are You In?
You can join One Earth Sangha in this global event in two ways:
- Come Together in New York City
If you can work it out, we’d love to meet you at the event in Manhattan. There are buses coming from all over the US and even a train, the People’s Climate Train, bringing Sangha members from San Francisco through major northern US cities arriving in New York. We’ll be gathering as a Buddhist community at the New York Insight Center on Saturday morning to meet, practice together and prepare for Sunday’s march. Get more details on the in-person event here.
- Come Together Locally
Avaaz is organizing a Global People’s Climate March with events on September 21 all around the world. Whether you are 2, 20 or 2,000, we invite you to gather with sangha members and others in your community to share practices, images, quotes, and your earth-loving, earth-action Dharma! Sign up for the Global People’s Climate March on Avaaz and let us know if you’re interested in organizing Sangha members in your region.
Finally, we would love to hear from you! Comment below or send us an email and share your ideas and comments.