Requesting Teachings and Leadership on Climate Change

Our time on this Earth will be profoundly shaped in the coming years by how human society responds to the growing threat of climate change. With the first wave of impacts already upon us, an era of climate suffering has begun and will only worsen. This suffering will be borne unevenly, exacerbating existing environmental injustice and environmental racism, as those least responsible for its causes bear an undue share of its burdens. Even so, many opportunities remain, particularly in the next few years, to take action that will minimize these impacts and set the world on course for a safer and more just future.

Buddha Touching Earth SignaturesWe as members of the greater Insight Meditation sangha are asking our Dharma teachers for their guidance and leadership in addressing the issue of climate change. According to our tradition, teaching is offered in response to a genuine request – coming from a readiness to hear, consider and engage with the truth of how things are. This request, signed by members of the sangha, will be taken to Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California this June, where it will be presented to the 60-80 senior teachers from the global Insight Meditation community as part of a session dedicated to the Dharma of climate change.

The Dharma offers great potential to help individuals, and society as a whole, accept the realities of climate change and respond with wisdom and compassion in action. This crisis has the potential to not only align ourselves with nature and reduce social inequity, but can also lead to the greatest awakening of the human mind and spirit ever seen.

We invite you to be part of this process by adding your name to the request below. We are coordinating with sanghas everywhere with hopes of gathering thousands of signatures. You can help us spread the word by sharing this with your fellow practitioners in-person or through online tools such as email, Facebook or Twitter.

In the Buddha’s moment of awakening, it was the Earth herself that confirmed his fundamental belonging, his right and power to be free.  Will we confirm that belonging ourselves, awaken to this crisis and respond?

If you are so moved, please sign below then share and share and share!

With Blessings to All Beings,

  • Lou Leonard & Kristin Barker – Insight Meditation Community of Washington DC, USA
  • Brigid Avison – Oxford UK Sangha
  • Di Bligh – Bristol UK Sangha
  • Elizabeth Little – Green Sangha, Oakland, CA, USA

Dear Teachers,

The scale of the challenge presented by Climate Change is perhaps unprecedented in human history. Already it is a cause of immense, destructive suffering to many species and ecosystems and to many of the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth. The world’s most respected climate scientists are unanimous that we indeed live in a time of emergency in which urgent action is needed.

We feel profoundly grateful for the teachings of the Buddha Dharma and we believe that they have a great deal of wisdom to offer not only to Buddhist practitioners but to wider society at this time of immense challenge. Spiritual and moral guidance is needed if we as a human society are to respond adequately and appropriately to this emergency.

We are therefore writing to ask you for your leadership, guidance and teaching as we seek to explore the relevance of the Buddha’s teachings amidst the crisis that we face. Together we need to find a wise, engaged and active Buddhist response. We wish to encourage you to reflect deeply both as individuals and as a teacher body and to speak about this issue and give guidance.

We hope that the forthcoming Teacher Meeting at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in June 2013 will provide an opportunity for teachers to discuss this issue as a matter of priority, and to begin to formulate wise, collective responses on behalf of the global Insight Meditation community. As members of this community, we are ready to engage with you as you do this.

With thanks and appreciation for your sharing of the Buddha’s teachings in a world that needs to hear them.

The Request for Teachings above was signed here on One Earth Sangha by 1330 sangha members and, in combination with those gathered in-person and online, totaled over 2,000. You can read more about how it was presented at the International Vipassana Teachers meeting in June of 2013 and the response it has since inspired in our update from the meeting. The request is closed to new signatures.

3 Comments on “Requesting Teachings and Leadership on Climate Change

  1. Does signing mean leave a facebook reply? Sorry I didn’t see a place to “sign” specifically. If this reply box is it, then I’m signing right now! Thank you!

    • Hi Cheryl, You can sign the “Request for Teachings” just by filling out the form above below the letter that starts with “Dear Teachers.” By providing your name, your email address and ideally your local sangha, you’ll be adding your “signature.” Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.


  2. The most important cause of climate change, and one of the few we can do something meaningful about is animal agriculture. Using animals for food, even on the most “humane” farms, creates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector according to a 2006 report from the U.N. If you are are talking about climate change, you must talk about the animal agriculture that is its major cause.

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