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Touch the Earth in January/February


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

This is an update from the local earth sangha, Touch the Earth Forum, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The twenty authors of Spiritual Ecology, edited by L. Vaughn-Lee, seem to agree, the path of our history has led us away from a respectful, spiritual, interdependent relationship with the earth.  This disconnect has led to the environmental problems we now encounter, whether pollution, extinction or global warming, or psychological problems, problems of the soul.  The collective suggests that the solution resides in reestablishing the connection between our inner selves and the outer world.

This inner self, identified as the universal spirit, soul, consciousness, Anima Mundi, was thought to be developed and reinforced through the philosophies and practices of the “ancients” or global indigenous peoples. Many thanks to Rayne for leading us through this thought provoking book, which generated great discussion, agreement and disagreement. Some felt that while the messages were insightful, many of the book’s contributions were shallow and naive, certainly about indigenous cultures, and couched in “new-age” jargon. We each had our favourite authors, I responded to Australian Zen roshi Susan Murphy and Minnesota First Nation leader, Winona LaDuke. All this took place on the day Neil Young met the press with his campaign (concert tour) to raise money for court fights over First Nations treaty obligations and permitting expansion of Shell’s Jack Pine tar sands mine.  I’ve given up on the American news industry when it comes to coverage of global warming and environmental issues.

After watching CBC’s reaction to the Neil Young – Diana Krall tour, I’m about to give up on this network as well.  What a bunch of irrelevant precious talking heads they’ve become. The global environment is under siege and CBC is concerned over the rights of musician/celebrities to air their opinions and take action. Of course, I am quite willing to admit to getting old and cranky.

And now for something different.  The February Forum meeting will be held Tuesday evening, Feb. 25.  This allows me to get away to visit family in Arizona. Yes! On the 25th we will be reviewing and discussion a book that should be required reading for every Canadian, certainly every Alberta, that being Andrew Nikiforuk 2010 Tar Sands -Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, Greystone Books.  This timing will give you plenty of time to acquire and read Tar Sands.

Contact Touch the Earth Forum if you would like to attend.  You are invited and welcome to the Forum.

The siege on our planet is not letting up and increasingly I’m hearing subtle changes in word use – “prevention” is being replaced by “adaptation” suggesting the battle for the earth has been lost.  Do something!

January 29, Wed., Severn Cullis-Suzuki will be speaking at the University of Alberta as part of their Sustainability Speaker Series.  Tickets (free) can be gotten through the U of A Office of Sustainability web site.  Highly recommended; this charismatic marine biologist, complex young woman has taken up the mantle of her famous father, David.

Walk in Beauty,
Charles Schweger

Picture of Charles Schweger

Charles Schweger

Charles Schweger considers Trungpa Rinpoche and then Thrangu Rinpoche to have been his teachers. Thrangu Rinpoche encouraged him to pursue eco-buddhism, and Touch the Earth Forum began in 2010 as a non-sectarian group for practicing buddhists. Charles has academic degrees in geology with lots of botany and has taught in Anthropology at the University of Alberta for 37 years. His work has centred on the paleo-ecology of the North, climate change and geoarchaeology. Charles loved doing field work throughout the arctic and is grateful for the opportunities to work with Indigenous people and to walk in wilderness. These experiences continue to feed into his buddhist practice, which in turn adds much to his experience of the natural world.
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