There were six groups who came together to address the main theme of ‘What would Buddha do?’ by sharing reflections on the talk given by Joe, and responding to the questions’ What are appropriate Buddhist responses to the emergency?’’ What can Buddhism offer climate activism?’ and ‘Where do Buddhism and XR action converge /diverge? ‘
All groups touched on the theme of compassion pointing out that it is appropriate for Buddhists to put compassion first, and that Buddhists are more likely to focus on compassion than rage. Wisdom also needed to relate compassionately to those suffering, and that Buddhists can help others to turn towards difficult truths with compassion. Buddhism can provide a unifying soothing balm, and compassion and mindfulness are expressions of regenerative culture.
On the theme of unity and interconnection, it was said that collaboration and interfaith action help to change the shared narrative. It is appropriate for Buddhists to respond by supporting others, joining together, emphasising interconnectivity, expressing interbeing and sowing seeds of hope Also we can help our communities, including our own Buddhist communities, to get on board. Using tantric precepts, we can care for our own energy and the energy of others in the climate activism movement.
Regarding taking non violent direct action, people felt that our practice can help us to define our authentic edge with this, and respond with honesty , and also that a sense of urgency should accompany the underlying sense of compassion and love. Being out of our comfort zone is itself part of our practice, as is reflecting on the personal practice that relates to inconveniencing others, and these help us to grow. We can find ways to exercise respectful remonstration when needed. Buddhism is itself a revolutionary approach to life and radical action can take many diverse forms. We can each reflect on how to be most effective: by trying to wake others up, or by focusing on waking ourselves up ?
People felt that the qualities that Buddhists can bring to climate activism, through sitting and walking meditation and our general presence , include:-
stillness; peace; silent witnessing: embodied equanimity; dignity; determination ; the power of bearing witness; non violence and deescalation.
Finally with regard to the Buddhist faith itself, in relation to activism, participants mentioned the importance of taking refuge over and over, reliance on faith and practice, inclusion of devotional aspects into activism , and the inspiration of the timeless quality of the teachings of the Buddha.
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