Waiting for COP26 or why there is a vigil outside parliament

By Katja

Outside Parliament

As I cycle towards Parliament Square, fond memories of past vigils come to mind- particularly of a chilly february morning at the lent interfaith vigil, and of the rebellion vigil.

When I arrive at the Vigil, there are 8 of us, some familiar and some new faces. This is the first Friday for this vigil, but a group called ‘Westminster Rebellion’ is organising a rota so that different XR groups are present at parliament every day the parliament sits, until COP26. Originally COP26 was supposed to happen this November in Glasgow, but then it got postponed November 2021 at the beginning of the pandemic – the conference centre in Glasgow is now a temporary hospital on stand-by for people suffering from Covid.

But back to Parliament Square. The faith vigil, which is happening mostly online at the moment, is being held in front of Westminster on Fridays, and today I am part of it. After freezing in February, I have  come prepared this time. It turns out my many layers are not needed  as it’s actually a mild day, the sun is coming out for a bit to greet us, it seems. 

Sitting there we do attract some curiosity from passers-by. Some people are walking past, slowing down, looking. When I am not meditating I am trying to make eye contact. A few are stopping to talk to us, either in support or because they have questions.

I am actually doing a good chunk of meditation that afternoon, then I take a break and get into a conversation with a fellow vigiler. We talk about how this is different to meditating for example in front of a police line at a roadblock. Is this an effective action? We are not causing disruption today, but we are working with our minds in meditation, and sending a powerful signal – about unity as an interfaith vigil, and about the importance of acting on climate change.

Photo by Melanie Nazareth

I think for a while I used to run away from interfaith things, weary of difficult conversations about past and present injustices. But I have come to realise that people that are part of a faith or spiritual tradition often have a kind of superpower. At least that’s how I think about it now. Our actions come from a place of very deep conviction, or faith, and we also have the power of being part of a community. And when we come together, we do send a powerful signal of unity in divided times.

And then COP26. People say a major factor will be the next US government. But that’s not within my sphere of influence, so I keep focussing on what I can influence. And that’s why we sit here and meditate. And protest. And have conversations. 

Reflecting that night at home I am being reminded of a sequence of offerings sometimes used for the mandala offering practice.

The outer offering, what other people can see,  is us sitting there outside Westminster – a reminder to the government to act on climate change.

The inner offering, my sense experience, is one of calm and non-violence.

The secret offering, what this means to me, unity and non-separation.

May all beings be happy.

Katja is a member of XR Buddhists

A day with the High Speed 2 (HS2) Protests

By Joe Mishan

Joe at Euston

I’m standing on a green in front of Euston Station on a grey October day. Around and above me are the majestic old plane trees so characteristic of London’s green spaces. Unfortunately, this space is due to be converted into a taxi rank to make way for the new High Speed Rail (HS2) depot extension.  

One of the tree protestors tells me that he’s been up in the trees for 35 days and that he’s prepared to stay there for as long as it takes. He’s originally from Rumania, energetic, articulate, and clearly knows the tree climbing business (he says he can also dig tunnels if he needs to). So far the tree protesters have been left alone by the police but this is going to change when they start wanting to cut down the trees. The Euston site is only one of the many sites along the HS2 route being occupied by protestors trying to stop the destruction of ancient woodlands. The previous week I was at Jones Hill Wood near Wendover, where protestors were camping in the trees and in tunnels, holding out against the aggressive National Eviction Team in miserably damp muddy conditions. The trees there are nothing less than majestic: huge beech and oak trees soaring into the sky. I know it’s cowardly but I’m glad not to be there as they are put to the chain saw, which is likely to be very soon. 

Jones Wood

In Euston the XR drummers start up with their instantly energising and compelling beat, and we troop off up the road to Euston plaza to hand out leaflets. There’s a great little playlette put on by 3 witches who mix a (vegan) brew in their cauldron to magically instill sanity into the decision makers for HS2. I fervently hope it does the job.   

HS2 is a high-speed rail line starting from Euston. The first stage goes to Birmingham and then it branches off to other northern stations such as Leeds and Manchester. It will cut 20 minutes off the journey time from London to Birmingham, and in the process the route will wreck 683 local wildlife sites 33 SSSI’s and damage or destroy 108 irreplaceable ancient woodlands. The estimated cost is £127 billion (yes billion!).  It’s been condemned by a range of environmental organisations such as CPRE RSPB and the Woodland Trust who have described it as ‘environmentally devastating’. HS2 is surely the epitome of the grand old infrastructure project that should have been consigned to the history books long ago. Like a nuclear power station or a motorway, it is a massively expensive project that could be easily discarded in favour of cheaper simpler and less environmentally damaging options. Protesters want the money to be used to improve the existing lines and build or improve local transport options, at a fraction of the cost. 

I leave Euston in awe of the protestors determination skill and bravery. The protest continues. If you’d like to contribute or find more information please go to the website here: https://standforthetrees.org/   

Update from HS2 Rebellion on Twitter:

Still in Rebellion

By Kaspalita

Faceless Bureaucrats

The September Rebellion is over, but we are still in rebellion.

We are in rebellion against business as usual. We root ourselves in the reality of a heating planet, and in the catastrophic consequences of continued heating. We do this in the face of the denial and greed of corporations and governments and the super-rich.

We rebel in our daily lives, making choices based on reducing harm and in improving the health of the world.

We rebel in our conversations and communication, speaking up for the endangered and the extinct.

We rebel by resourcing ourselves: by learning about the impact of racial oppression and institutional greed, ill-will and ignorance on the climate crisis.

We rebel through our continued protests and demonstrations, on HS2 building sites and in towns and cities across the world.

Three weeks ago I dressed as a Faceless Bureaucrat and slowly marched with other rebels through Worcester city, dipping my hands into a globe filled with (fake) blood, before ‘dying in’ in the city centre. Last weekend Satya and I sat in vigil for an hour, in the rain, in love and grief for the earth. Someone will sit in vigil in the centre of Malvern every Saturday between now and COP 26.

Satya and Kaspa in vigil

We rebel through our personal practices and reflections. We investigate what it means to be human and how our own greed, ill-will and ignorance affect others and the world. We practice compassion and love.

We rebel in our thought and planning, asking what will our next actions be? Where do I want to put my energy? How can I best affect change?

We are in rebellion.

For more information on sitting in vigil, visit Earthvigil.co.uk

To find out about local actions and actions across the country contact your local XR group, or the national XR website.

To find out more about XR Buddhists contact info@xrbuddhists.com, sign up to the newsletter, or come along to a Zoom meeting.

Buddhists Across Traditions: Black History Month

Buddhists Across Traditions presents four talks throughout Black History Month: Honouring our Ancestors, Healing Ourselves, Nourishing Ourselves and Celebrating our Ancestors.

For Black History Month-UK (October) we have curated a series of compelling events, assembling a diverse array of powerful, pioneering international Afrikan descent monastics, elders, teachers and practitioners from various traditions (Mindfulness, Buddhist, Afrikan spirituality & psychology) coming together to honour, learn from and celebrate Afrikan heritage contributions.

For joining details see our events calendar, or the Buddhists Across Traditions Facebook page.

XR Buddhists promote these events in the spirit of friendship and solidarity. Some XR Buddhists are members and facilitators within Buddhists Across Traditions.

Continuing Online Vigil

The faithbridge vigil outside Downing Street on the Monday before the London Rebellion

The online vigil offering during the recent XR Rebellion Vigil for the Earth was a powerful and much appreciated space for multi faith prayer and meditation sessions with practice focused on our love for the Earth and grief for life lost. The desire of many who were involved is to have something of this going forward.

Twice a week for one hour with input from various faith groups reflecting the diversity of tradition and practice within XR Faith Bridge we will create a space:

  • To bear witness for the Earth
  • To provide a regenerative space of spiritual resourcing for all who wish to share in it
  • To enrich our spiritual practices by experiencing and sharing in each other’s traditions and practices
  • To build a community of respect, support and friendship by creating  a shared sacred space
  • To prepare ourselves for the next period of rebellion

Sessions will take place on Sundays at 7pm and Wednesdays at 9 am beginning with offerings from different faith traditions on Sunday 27th September at 7pm. Please join us, you are welcome wherever in the world you may be.

The Zoom link for joining is a recurring link for each Sunday and Wednesday

https://zoom.us/j/5563941413?pwd=S0RIUnAzT25QM2MwVjhDQU9hejhVUT09
Meeting ID556 394 1413
Passcode  if needed 246824

XR Buddhists join Cardiff Faith Vigil for the Earth

“This vigil is beautiful in its simplicity and powerful in its intent – to come together as people from different faith communities and from all philosophies, and to sit together in our grief and our deep love for our planet.” 

XR Buddhists in Cardiff are joining members of different faith groups from the 1st-4th of September, outside of Welsh Parliament, will hold vigil for our planet, whilst setting the intention for our government to act now against climate change. All are welcome, of all faiths and experience, we invite you to take your seat, breathe and sit with love and grief. 

Where will we be? 

  • Join us on the steps of the Senydd building (Senydd Cymru – Welsh Parliament) in Cardiff Bay between 10am-6pm 
  • Welsh Parliament, Pierhead Street, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF99 1SN 
  • We will be holding signs with ‘Faith Vigil for the Earth’ and looking friendly! 
  • Any location changes will be announced in our telegram group: https://t.me/joinchat/MupYARiviEBLlSKs-mzRew 

How do I join in? 

When is the Vigil? 

  • 1st-4th September, 10am-6pm each day. 
  • You can spend as much or as little time with us as you like. Take as many breaks as you need – there are lots of food shops and cafes nearby. 

Will it be safe? 

  • This action is as non-arrestable as possible. We will not be blocking any roads, paths or causing disruption, we will be sitting outside of the Senydd building and do not expect to be moved on.  
  • We will also have a steward at all times to chat to the public, ensure social distancing and welcome anyone who joins us. 
  • We will have beautiful 2.5 metre ribbons between us for social distancing, as well as wearing masks. We will also have sanitiser. 

Do I need to be part of XR Buddhists, Extinction Rebellion or faith group? 

  • No, this is open to all people, regardless of faith or group to sit in quiet solidarity with the earth.

What do I need to bring? 

  • You might want to bring something to sit on – a chair or cushion or blanket – suitable clothes (do check the weather for rain!) and something to drink and eat. Please wear a mask at all times. Also some hand sanitiser! 

In love and grief, XR Buddhists Cardiff

Online multifaith vigil

The 40 day vigil outside Parliament

Online Vigil for the Earth

During the September Rebellion, from 7pm on Monday 31st August until 7pm on Monday 7th September, multi-faith prayer Vigils for the Earth will be held in London, Cardiff, Great Malvern, Lewes, and in other locations. Here is an invitation for those of us who will not be attending the Rebellion in person to offer prayer and support to those who are from our own homes and from the heart of our own faith traditions.

To join with the online vigil there is a rota here https://signup.zone/RwXDtpQpqSRnSagit where each of us can sign up for as many hour long periods as we choose from home. Please add your name by the times and days you wish to commit to being present. If there is someone in the space already then do add your name too. It will only increase the beauty and power of the vigil to have several of us present in mindful attention at one time.

There will also be  a vigil Zoom room available for joining with others should you wish to from 6-10pm on the 31st, then during the times listed below each day. You can access the Zoom room at this link  https://zoom.us/j/95056325615?pwd=TzQyNUZnUDROTHVMazNPdHFMMmN4Zz09 with the passcode 134125 if needed.

Just need to click the link to join us. You are very welcome to do so for a few minutes, or for however long you would like.

The room will be open as follows

Monday 31/08

1800 – 2200

Tuesday 01/09 to Sunday 06/09 inclusive

0800 – 1100
And
1700 – 2115

Monday 07/09

0800 – 1100
And
1800 – 2000

We hope to have short live feeds from London, Cardiff and Manchester and members of different faith traditions will be offering to facilitate reflections, prayers, meditations, and readings online.

If you would like to offer to facilitate a session for a few minutes or longer please contact bee.durban@zoho.com with details of what you would like to share and when.

You can read more about the physical vigil here http://www.satyarobyn.com/vigil/, which will give a sense of the beautiful act of love and resistance being planned and which those of us from home can now be a part of.

Finally, there will be also be 9 minute pauses in the Rebellion every day at 9am and 9pm and we are all invited to join with the pause wherever we may be.

Buddhist declaration

August 2020 version

XR Buddhists stand with our fellow Buddhists and all faith groups in Extinction Rebellion at this most momentous of times.

The climate emergency brings both the most terrible of possibilities and the most transformational. The possibility of mass extinction of life on this planet is forcing upon us a truth long forgotten by the so-called developed world: that all things are connected. We have lived too long in a delusion of separation, disconnected from the astonishing grace and beauty of the life forms with which we share our world.

This delusional state of separateness has paved the way for the widespread and critical harm our way of life has had upon the Earth and on marginalised people and communities. And in our hearts we have also paid a heavy price: a sense of meaningless, and of personal and spiritual loneliness has become pervasive. The climate crisis demands that we choose between awakening to the truth of interdependence with the human and non-human world, to heal and to grow into a new relatedness, or face terrible consequences.

And the way to this awakening is love. In Buddhist practice, as in many faith traditions in different forms, we invite this blossoming of a loving heart through meditation, ritual, and our wisdom teachings.

With our dear friends in this emerging and courageous movement, we sit and walk in the light of love and the spirit of the awakened heart.

May wisdom and love prevail

Staying open

By Paul

Paul as a Green Spirit featured in The Economist

I found myself at the October Rebellion emerging fresh out of a profound  experience at Buddhafield Festival.

At the festival in July I had engaged in Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”, and having set an intention to  “tussle” with Mara in the Going Forth part of the Spiral a penny the size of the London Eye dropped and I realised that the Mindfulness work I had been doing with International Corporations over the last 20 years  was simply not working in a world on the brink of Ecological melt down.

I discovered that my attempts  to influence business leaders to really embrace sustainability was not going to do the urgent  job needed, and the organisations I truly thought could be part of the solution had become a big part of the problem.

It was time to let go of this work, and more importantly in order to do the work I was being called to do, to  abandon the income that came with it.

That set  me free to embrace XR and its Vision and values.

After a few days at the Ocotber Rebellion, despite  enjoying being part of the  crowds of beautiful people , marvelling at  the silence of the  London  streets, and indulging in  the joy of the Samba bands , I started to feel a little bit like a tourist.

It was time to commit.

So I contacted my affinity group and announced myself “arrestable.”

This was a huge commitment for me and the feeling that came with it is difficult to describe, but it had  a distinct flavour of letting go of self and of fear, and of purpose and  joy.

Then unfolded a saga of waiting….. and waiting…. and waiting.

In that time I felt truly held by the Bodhisattvas around me. They were caring for me, looking out for me, and protecting me.

In the end, despite receiving the requisite 5 warnings, the police changed strategy at the last minute and I (and a few others ) were left, a  little confused and slightly bereft.

I imagine it might be like working up  to a blind date where the actual date didn’t show up  in the end.

By the time the massive Samba band arrived on the scene and surrounded we arrestables, it was obvious that arrest was not going to happen.

But the story didn’t end there.

I was due to attend  a family event in Liverpool on the Friday night, and so on my last day the one thing I wanted to avoid was being arrested. I headed for Trafalgar Square with an intention I often use which is “stay open to possibility.”

 My call was answered within minutes. Ping went my phone, it was Chrissie a very good friend, and part of an XR group in South Devon.

“Hi Paul Are you around?” She asked.

“Hi Chrissie, I am actually, what are you up to?”

“ I’m at the Church in Waterloo, can you get round here, straight away, we need a hand “?

“ Ok, I’m on my way”

I arrived and found Chrissie with a few Green Spirits and lots of Red Rebels.

Without really having lots of time too think it through within the hour I was fully dressed and in procession with the Reds and Greens. Over the next 5 hours I experienced one of the most profound meditation experiences that I have ever had in my 26 years of practice. Providence had moved in big time, and Goethe’s words have never been truer.

Next week in London, at the 2020 Rebellion I will endeavour to  be mindful and to “stay open to possibility at every opportunity”!

With love and solidarity,

Paul

Paul is a Trustee at Jamyang Buddhist Centre, he has studied with many teachers, and most recently with Stephen Bachelor, on his Secular Buddhism programme at Bodhi College. He regularly offers Mindfulness based courses for both activists and the wider communities. He no longer offers work to Corporations. All is work is given freely.