News

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:

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.

The Rebellion is coming

XR Buddhists will be there!

Latest rebellion plans

See this GoogleDoc for the latest timetable of actions etc.

When is it?

The next Rebellion has been announced. Local groups will take actions in their own areas from the 28th August, and from the 1st September the rebellion will concentrate on Cardiff, Manchester and London.

Where is it?

If you are in the South West or Wales and would like to get involved please get in touch with Amber at Amber.reeve7@gmail.com or check out the Cardiff vigil here and if you are in the North of England or Scotland see this invitation from XR Buddhists North. If you think you will be coming to London then you can keep in touch with what we are doing by joining our Broadcast Telegram group. Many of us are planning to stay in London for at least the first week (starting from the 1st September). If you have any questions about how to get involved or queries about what that will look like then you can contact us at info@xrbuddhists.com.

What is it?

Usually at the Rebellions XR Buddhists take part in a mixture of walking and sitting meditations.  These are an opportunity to bear witness to the climate and ecological crisis.  A Sangha on the streets.  There is no need to get arrested as part of this practise.  XR Buddhists who have been involved in previous rebellions find that it’s a very powerful experience to meditate on the earth in such public spaces as part of a group.

We are very conscious of mitigating the risk of Covid transmission during the Rebellion.  We will be practising social distancing, wearing masks and sanitising.  

Details of actions and daily check-ins are on the XR Buddhists event page.

What can I do now?

  • Let people know that the Rebellion is happening, and reach out to your Buddhist friends to see if they would like to be involved in some of the events.
  • Help us out with spreading the word by looking at these activities we require help for (both at home activities and on the street activities) and let us know if you can help!
  • Ask your Sangha if they can put something in their newsletter about the Rebellion.  You could send them one of the letters we have written to prepare the community for the Rebellion.
  • Ask your Buddhist group if they would like someone from XR Buddhists to join a meeting and talk for 5-10 minutes about what XR Buddhists are and that’s happening with the Rebellion.
  • If you are thinking of coming to London then think about accommodation.  You can either book a hotel, hostel or airbnb, or use XR’s accommodation finding service to link you with other Rebels who may have a spare couch or garden you can camp in. 
  • If you are going to take part in an action (or even if you aren’t planning to) you then make sure you have done your NVDA training.  You can do it online if you sign up to the Rebel Academy
  • Come to a planning meeting

What happens next?

We will keep updating this page and our events page with more details of what XR Buddhists will be doing.  Joining our Telegram Broadcast and Telegram Chat channel is the best way of getting the latest updates. 

Buddhist Action Month: For The Earth

June is Buddhist Action Month. This year’s theme is For The Earth.

There are lots of events happening in June on the theme of Buddhism and the Climate Crisis and Ecological Emergency. Talks, workshops and guided meditations.

I’ve added the online events that I know of to the XR Buddhists calendar. Check them out.

Buddhist Action Month was created by the Network of Buddhist Organisations. Find out more and how to host your own events here: BAM 2020

Connecting across borders

by Brighton XR Meditators

During the enforced isolation of the Coronavirus pandemic Brighton Extinction Rebellion Meditators reached out across borders to rebels in Bogota and sat together in an online vigil to commemorate those killed in defending the earth in Colombia. 

XR Meditators are drawn from all faiths and non. We were struck by our privilege and the safety of our activism when a young Colombian who joined us and asked us, with tears in her eyes, to commemorate the Colombians activists murdered. 

The online vigil

Colombia is one of the most dangerous places in the word to be an environmental activist; 50 have been killed this year. The second most biologically diverse country on Earth is vital to the earth’s biosystem. To our economic system, it is an untapped resource with a voracious land grab between mining, Palm Oil, Beef, and Cocao production, while local peoples fight for their lives and livelihoods, we in the UK safely profit from this exploitation.( UK is 2nd largest investor in Colombia.)) 

Bogata XR rebels were surprised and curious about how meditation might fit with civil disobedience and non-violent direct-action. Perhaps the radially quiet approach would attract interest in the usual noise of many strikes and demonstrations in Bogota?

A creative on-line collaboration emerged with a short video.  100 UK and Colombians sat together over zoom, while 100s more watched it live on Facebook . Reaching out across the earth we shared our opposition to the destructive and exploitative systems that kills and dominates the earth, we sat together in grief and love and a deepening awareness of our interconnection and ‘interbeing’

Using the power of social media and meditation to share our presence and our stories across the global XR community at this time of isolation felt important and significant.

Reaching out across the earth we shared our opposition to the destructive and exploitative systems that kills and dominates the earth, we sat together in grief and love and a deepening awareness of our interconnection and ‘interbeing’

Using the power of social media and meditation to share our presence and our stories across the global XR community at this time of isolation felt important and significant, and we hope just the beginning of more connecting across borders. 

XR Brighton Meditators is a group from across denominations that come together and share courageous silent sitting and walking practices in support of our planet and to raise awareness of the climate emergency and mass extinction that is already upon us. We have been involved in actions such as silent vigils in road blockades and public mass meditations. If you’d like to make contact with the group and join us in future activities, email us: BrightonXRMeditation@protonmail.com