Read the May newsletter online now.
14 Cambridge people of faith sat in socially-distanced contemplation on Parker’s Piece throughout today to reflect on the environmental crisis and call for @DanielZeichner MP to support the Climate & Ecological Emergency Bill.
Thanks to the wonderful Jez (@jezpete) for these photos and to the lovely Buddhists of Cambridge for taking part in this action.
The letter below comes from our friends at Buddhists Across Traditions. We encourage you to attend their short sunrise and sunset meditations that they are putting together for Earth Day on the 22nd of April. They are also coordinating a film to showcase what all the Buddhist organisations are doing for the climate emergency and we will put something together on behalf of XR Buddhists. If you would like to contribute please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by the 27th of March. Please share this letter with your local Sanghas and Buddhist groups and encourage them to respond.
Dear Dharma Practitioners & Elders,
The earth is not just our environment. The earth is our mother.(Dalai Lama XIV & Thich Nhat Hanh)
We hope this letter finds you safe, peaceful and happy.
The Earth and caring for the earth are fundamental to our Buddhist practice: the Buddha touched the earth on attaining enlightenment. You may be aware already how the destruction of nature and the resources of nature is impacting us all. Our respected teachers attribute this to ignorance, greed and separation from the earth and other living beings.
We are grateful for the numerous contributions Buddhists across all traditions and schools are making to address this. We write to you for us to collectively come together to show our commitment to our practice and the Earth- together we are one.
WE ARE THE EARTH – 22nd April, Earth Day
We invite you, along with your sangha practitioners, to come together on Earth Day to sit together and honour the Earth, generating the energy of healing, harmony and peace.
We are delighted to offer a communal online space at sunrise and sunset for practitioners across all traditions to sit together in harmony. Please join us with your sangha. We will be gathering to practice for 30 minutes at 0600 (sunrise) and 2000 (sunset) on Zoom. The zoom link for those meetings is here (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83386645643). There will be an opportunity for members to practice in accordance with their tradition. Please find attached some images to promote the event to your membership/practitioners.
We ask that you also encourage your members to take the opportunity to commit to some action to mark the day. A list of possible actions is included here.
Honouring Buddhist Earth Action Achievements
For this day we would like to take the opportunity to gather and showcase the numerous projects and commitments Buddhist groups, organisations and networks have been doing around climate, environmental justice and caring for the earth.
We would like to invite you to showcase your achievements, please send us a short submission (statements/presentations/videos) outlining what you have done/are doing by the 30th March. We will then consolidate all submissions, which will then be shared on social media on the day and also sent to relevant outlets. We will also send you a completed version for your own use on social media or other fora.
We will be honoured to showcase you in this way. Please do not hesitate to contact us on email@example.com, should you have any queries.
We look forward to future collaboration as we work across traditions to take care and raise awareness of the preciousness of our Earth. We will be in touch again to see how we may unite for upcoming milestone events like the G7 conference and the global climate change conference – COP26.
May all beings live in harmony with the earth and one another,
Kamlo, Mikey, Rehena
Buddhists Across Traditions
Who we are: Buddhists across Traditions is a UK BPOC/BAME-centered collective (with white allies and currently white-led organisations) uniting Buddhist and Mindfulness groups in service of racial healing, social equity and justice. We recognise that our practices can blossom a radically different society.
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.
2021 is going to be a big year for actions (pandemic willing!). And XR Buddhists want to be prepared for it. We’ve taken part in many actions as a group, including mass meditation, closing down banks for the afternoon, arrests for sitting in a road as well as online actions. When we had our recent workshop on ‘how will XR Buddhists change the world in 2021’ I was really taken with the number of ideas people had for things that we could do. These included:
- Massive die in to show that climate change means suffering and death
- Action in tufton street/think tanks
- Earth day action in spring
- Earth overshoot day action
- Ordain trees
- Rebellion of One
- World Water Day
- Action around flooding
- Meditate outside Newspaper/Media Corporations
- Meditate in Parks during lockdown with an info board
- Coordinated actions (vigil/sits/ silent march) in different geographies on same day: i.e. Earth day or Nov UN Climate Change Conference
- Mass chantings at the next Rebellion
We’d like to get a group together to discuss how we can turn these things into reality. You don’t need to be arrestable to join this group! Actions require lots of people, including people to take photos, to update media, to be a Legal Observer, to steward, to offer wellbeing and more.
If you would like to keep in touch with this group please join the new actions Telegram channel here. If you aren’t sure what Telegram is then you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will have our first meeting on Friday 5th March at 1700 and you can join that on zoom. As ever, details of our events can be found on our events page.
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.
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
By Joe Mishan
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.
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:
🌳💚Widespread jubilation as HS2 works will be unable to continue until Summer 2021💚🌳 https://t.co/BrQb01wgg1 Well done all at Jones Hill for the persistent, determined, ongoing protest. This highlights the need to focus on protecting wildlife on the rest of the line #StopHS2 pic.twitter.com/tRSjs5Rld0— HS2 Rebellion (@Hs2Rebellion) October 13, 2020
“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?
- You can sign up on the rota here: https://signup.zone/D9TjkAPed2LAPz6gc
- Or turn up on the day, no preparation needed!
- For live updates join our telegram group: https://t.me/joinchat/MupYARiviEBLlSKs-mzRew
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 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
1800 – 2200
Tuesday 01/09 to Sunday 06/09 inclusive
0800 – 1100
1700 – 2115
0800 – 1100
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 email@example.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.