What is Love Asking from Us?

This conversation is released with the premiere of the documentary ‘Where Olive Trees Weep’, along with 21 days of talks on Palestine with leading historians, spiritual teachers, trauma therapists, poets, artists and more: https://www.youtube.com/live/pGXoQUSYzWk

What is Love Asking from Us? Reflections on Gaza and the Bodhisattva Path
With Dr. Gabor Maté & Tara Brach

Dr. Gabor Maté and the Buddhist teacher Tara Brach come together to explore the heart-wrenching situation in Gaza through the lens of the Bodhisattva path. They will explore the question of what spirituality means in the face of injustice and suffering, and why many spiritual teachers have remained silent on the crisis in Gaza. Drawing from the Bodhisattva path—the commitment to alleviate suffering for all beings—Dr. Maté and Tara Brach reflect on the importance of compassion, solidarity, and engaged spirituality in responding to the oppression and trauma experienced by the Palestinian people. This conversation is an invitation to examine our own spiritual practices and to consider how we can embody the Bodhisattva spirit in today’s world, breaking the silence and standing in solidarity with those who are suffering.

‘Where Olive Trees Weep’ is a poignant, heartbreaking film about the struggles and resilience of Palestinian people under Israeli occupation. It explores themes of loss, trauma, and the quest for justice. We follow, among others, Palestinian journalist and therapist Ashira Darwish, grassroots activist Ahed Tamimi, and Israeli journalist Amira Hass. It features Dr. Gabor Maté as he offers trauma-healing work to Palestinian women tortured in Israeli prisons.

The program expands on the themes explored in the film and provides a larger historical and social context. Access to the program and the film is by donation.

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National Trust Bank Better – Drop Barclays: Let’s Protect Our Future Together

I’ve always admired the National Trust for its unwavering dedication to preserving our precious landscapes and historic sites. As a member, every visit to their beautifully maintained properties is a reminder of their commitment to conserving the very essence of Britain. That’s why it’s so disheartening to learn that the National Trust continues to bank with Barclays—a financial giant that undermines the very principles of conservation we hold dear.

Barclays is currently the largest funder of fossil fuels in Europe. Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2016, Barclays has pumped an astonishing $235 billion into fossil fuel companies through bonds, loans, and share underwriting. This financial support not only facilitates the ongoing exploitation of fossil fuels but also bankrolls the expansion of pipelines and oil projects, which are the antithesis of a sustainable future.

As I delve deeper into the issue, it becomes clear that Barclays’ actions are in stark contradiction to the urgent calls from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA has stated unequivocally that there must be no new fossil fuel developments if we are to achieve net zero emissions by 2050—a target that is crucial for the health of our planet and future generations.

Seeing the National Trust associated with Barclays is troubling. How can an organization devoted to protecting the beauty and integrity of our countryside continue to align itself with a bank that funds environmental destruction? It’s a juxtaposition that doesn’t sit well with me, and I’m sure many of you feel the same.

We have an opportunity to influence positive change. By urging the National Trust to sever its ties with Barclays and choose a banking partner that aligns with our values, we can take a stand for the environment. There are many financial institutions that prioritize sustainable investments and support initiatives aimed at creating a greener and more sustainable future. These are the institutions that should hold the funds of the National Trust.

The National Trust has always been a beacon of leadership in the UK charity sector. By making a conscious decision to bank with institutions that are committed to sustainability, the Trust can set a powerful example. It’s about more than just money—it’s about showing that we, as a community, will not support businesses that harm our planet.

I believe that our voices can make a difference. I encourage you to join me in calling on the National Trust to bank better by dropping Barclays. Together, we can ensure that our contributions to this beloved organization are used to promote a future where our countryside and heritage are preserved, not just for us, but for generations to come.

Let’s rally for a change that reflects our shared commitment to a sustainable and beautiful Britain. Sign the petition today and let’s take a stand for the environment we cherish so much.

Sign the Petition: National Trust Bank Better – Drop Barclays

Matt Bianca

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Buddhism in Britain

“Buddhism in Britain” is a four-part series exploring how Buddhism has evolved in the UK, featuring insights from Dr. Caroline Starkey, a sociologist of religion at the University of Leeds. Starkey’s work focuses on how Buddhism intersects with British society, examining its history, cultural adaptations, and current trends.

Introduction to Dr. Caroline Starkey’s Work

Dr. Caroline Starkey, an associate professor at the University of Leeds, studies how Buddhism fits into modern British society. Her research spans diverse areas, including the Chinese diaspora, women in Buddhism, and community practices. Starkey’s work is shaped by her ethnographic approach, which involves direct engagement with Buddhist communities.

Series Overview

  1. Colonial Beginnings:
    • The series starts with how Buddhism and British society first met during the colonial period.
  2. Post-Empire Dynamics:
    • It then explores the experiences of Chinese Buddhists in Britain, especially after the British Empire’s end in Hong Kong.
  3. Modern Trends:
    • The series concludes by looking at contemporary Buddhist practices in Britain, from secular mindfulness to how social class affects Buddhists today.

The Evolution of Buddhist Studies

Traditionally, Buddhist Studies focused on ancient texts and artifacts. However, there is growing attention on living Buddhist communities, both in historical Buddhist regions and in the West. This shift highlights the importance of studying how people practice Buddhism today, rather than just its historical roots.

Britain’s Role in Buddhism’s Modern Spread

The UK has a deep history with Buddhism, influenced by its colonial past and ongoing postcolonial dynamics. Understanding this relationship helps explain how Buddhism fits into today’s rapidly changing, post-industrial society. Starkey’s expertise provides valuable insights into these complex interactions.

Dr. Starkey’s Interdisciplinary Approach

As a sociologist, Starkey’s research covers various aspects of Buddhism in Britain, including gender issues, community practices, and the experiences of British converts. Her notable works include a national survey of Buddhist and Jain buildings and her book, Women in British Buddhism: Commitment, Connection, Community.

Navigating Personal and Professional Identities

Starkey, a practicing Buddhist, grapples with balancing her religious identity and her role as a scholar. She believes that it’s important to acknowledge how personal perspectives influence academic work. This dual perspective enriches her research and provides deeper insights into the communities she studies.

From Asia to Britain: A Personal Journey

Starkey’s background, growing up in various Asian countries surrounded by Buddhist practices, gives her a unique perspective. She contrasts this with her experiences of Buddhism in Britain, which often felt foreign compared to the communal and ritualistic practices she knew from her childhood.

The Ordinary in British Buddhism

Starkey is particularly interested in the everyday practitioners of Buddhism—the “rank and file” who sustain its practice. Her research often focuses on these less prominent figures, exploring how they contribute to Buddhism’s presence and evolution in Britain.

Changing Spaces and Practices

In recent years, the way people engage with Buddhism in the UK has changed significantly. With the rise of the internet and the impacts of COVID-19, many now participate in Buddhist practices online rather than in physical spaces. Starkey notes that this shift is leading to a more individualized approach to spirituality, moving away from traditional institutions.

Matt Bianca

Conclusion

“Buddhism in Britain” traces the journey of Buddhism from its colonial introduction to its current form, shaped by modern technology and cultural shifts. Through this series, Dr. Starkey sheds light on how Buddhism has adapted and continues to evolve in the UK. The next part will delve into Buddhism’s roots in Britain during the era of empire and trade.

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How to BE the Change We Need: A Guide for Mindful Political Engagement

In today’s divisive political climate, it can be challenging to navigate issues without losing sight of our core values. This is especially true for those of us who practice Buddhism and strive to maintain mindfulness, ethics, wisdom, and compassion in all aspects of our lives.

Richard Winter’s book, How to BE the Change We Need, offers a thoughtful and non-partisan approach to thinking about political issues through a Buddhist lens. Richard emphasizes that being a Buddhist doesn’t necessitate aligning with a particular political ideology—whether left-leaning or right-leaning. Instead, he advocates for a mindful and compassionate engagement with politics, recognizing that the political sphere is an integral part of human nature but also a potential source of polarization and suffering.

As Buddhists, it is crucial to engage with political matters directly and wisely, using our practices to mitigate suffering both within ourselves and in the broader world. Richard’s book provides a clear framework for how we can do this, encouraging us to stay true to our principles while thoughtfully considering political issues.

We believe that a campaign to encourage people to read How to BE the Change We Need would be immensely beneficial. It’s not just about promoting a book; it’s about fostering a mindful approach to political engagement. By reading and applying the insights from Richard’s work, we can all contribute to a more compassionate and understanding world.

Let’s take this opportunity to delve into How to BE the Change We Need. It’s more than a book on meditation and politics; it’s a guide to engaging with the world thoughtfully and compassionately. Whether you’re new to political engagement or looking to deepen your understanding, this book offers valuable perspectives that can help you stay connected to your practice while addressing important issues.

Join us in this journey of mindful political engagement. Read How to BE the Change We Need and discover how you can contribute to positive change in a way that aligns with your values and principles.

Matt Bianca

https://buddhistmeditationforeveryone-richardwinter.ampbk.com

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David Loy – the new ecosattva path

This was recorded as part of the first Triratna Earth Sangha Conference, 2021:https://www.triratnaearthsangha.network

              David Loy is a (retired) professor of comparative philosophy and religion, a writer, and a teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. His most recent book is Ecodharma: Buddhist teachings for the ecological crisis. He is also co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center in Colorado, USA. I was stunned by his wisdom and perspective and I want to share this with you and encourage you to listen to the talk. Three years on, it seems even more relevant.          He asks what does Buddhism offer that can help us understand and respond appropriately to the unprecedented ecological challenges that face us now? The Buddha lived in a very different time, but Buddhist teachings have important social and ecological implications for our times. Perhaps the most important is the bodhisattva—or “ecosattva”—path. How shall we understand the bodhisattva path today? In what ways might it need to be updated, to be the most helpful for us today? 

          “Buddhism has to change. I think that we have to really acknowledge this an incredibly dangerous time….We have to look at institutionalised greed, institutionalised ill will and institutionalised delusion and karma and figure out ways to address that…..If we have the delusion that we’re going to be able to do it just by disconnecting and dissociating ourselves from the rest of the world and focussing on our meditation….it just isn’t going to work, especially in the kind of time frame that we find ourselves in now”

See: https://www.davidloy.org and https://rmerc.org In addition to teaching at the Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center and working with a few private students, he offers workshops and retreats, online and in person, mostly on ecodharma and other aspects of socially engaged Buddhism. 

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Mindful money

Where you bank Matters! 

As Buddhists we are encouraged to cultivate and practice compassion, both for ourselves and our world. Some of the ways we do this are well known to us, such as in our relationship with others, ourselves and the world.

But how are our financial choices harming or benefiting the world? Are they also an expression of compassion?

With no consultation with us our bank may be using our money in a manner directly contrary to our Buddhist values; in ways that cause serious harm to the planet, people and other living beings. 

Many high street banks are major financiers of the coal, oil and gas projects which are directly responsible for the climate crisis. In 2022 the five big UK high street banks (Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Lloyds, and NatWest) provided £37 billion of financial support to fossil fuel companies [1]. 

These banks are also financing industries like nuclear weapons, arms manufacture, single-use plastics and old-growth forest clearance; furthermore these projects are frequently associated with human rights abuses, and poor workers’ rights.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

The Mindful Money Campaign

The Mindful Money campaign is inviting individual Buddhist practitioners and their Dharma centres to become more aware of the impact of their banking choices, and to change their banking practices where necessary. . 

Some banks actively create benefit and avoid harm, investing their money in areas such as community housing, renewable energy projects, rewilding, and sustainable farming.

For example, Triodos Bank, The Co-operative Bank, Charity Bank and Nationwide all have strong ethical policies. (See below under Get Informed for more detail.)

Switching banks to an ethical one is an important form of compassionate action. It ensures our money is not being used to do harm in the world. It also sends a powerful chorus of disapproval to banks who invest simply for profit, without regard for the consequences for our suffering world. 

Here are some important actions you can take:

1. Get informed

There are many sites online which will help you assess your bank’s ethics. For example:

See how ethical your bank is with this simple tool:  bank.green 

Find more information and information on individual banks at Good with Money

Find detailed information here: Banking on Climate Chaos

2. SIgn the open letter to Dharma centres here  

3. Switch Bank 

Use this current account switch service to change your current account simply and easily. 

4. Tell the bank why you have left 

Here are letter templates for the big five UK high street banks: Barclays Template Letter, HSBC Template Letter, Santander Template Letter, Lloyds Template Letter, NatWest Template Letter.

5. Spread the word! 

Many people are understandably unaware of the harm their bank is causing with their money – and without their consent. They may also be unaware of the enormous good their money could do in the hands of an ethical bank. Tell your friends and share this page!

Thank you for your compassionate concern and your action on this issue.

[1] see Make My Money Matter 

This campaign is organised by XR Buddhists and TIpping Point’s ‘Bank Better’ 

Contact:  joseph.mishan@phonecoop.coop

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Exploring the Intersection of Greenwashing and Buddhism: Beyond Surface Appearances

In the age of environmental consciousness, the term “greenwashing” has become increasingly prevalent. It refers to the deceptive practice of presenting a false image of environmental responsibility to conceal less eco-friendly activities. While the concept of greenwashing primarily pertains to business and marketing strategies, its implications extend to broader ethical and philosophical considerations, including those within Buddhist principles.

Buddhism, with its emphasis on interconnectedness, compassion, and mindful awareness, offers valuable insights into addressing the root causes of greenwashing and fostering genuine environmental stewardship. At its core, Buddhism teaches us to look beyond surface appearances and cultivate a deep understanding of the interconnected web of existence.

One of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism is the concept of impermanence (anicca) and interdependence (paticca-samuppada). This worldview underscores the transient and interconnected nature of all phenomena, emphasizing the inherent interdependence between humans, nature, and the environment. In this light, greenwashing can be seen as a manifestation of ignorance (avijja), where the true consequences of our actions are obscured by superficial appearances.

Furthermore, Buddhism encourages ethical conduct (sila) as a means to minimize harm and promote well-being. The practice of right livelihood (samma ajiva) emphasizes the importance of earning a living in a way that is aligned with ethical principles and contributes positively to society and the environment. Thus, greenwashing contradicts the ethical foundation of Buddhism by perpetuating deception and exploitation for short-term gains.

Mindfulness (sati) is another key aspect of Buddhist practice that offers a powerful antidote to greenwashing. By cultivating mindful awareness of our thoughts, actions, and their consequences, we can develop the discernment needed to see through deceptive marketing tactics and make choices that align with our values and the well-being of the planet.

Moreover, Buddhism teaches us to cultivate compassion (karuna) for all beings, including future generations who will inherit the environmental legacy we leave behind. This compassionate perspective urges us to transcend self-interest and consider the long-term impact of our actions on the planet and all its inhabitants.

In essence, the teachings of Buddhism provide a profound framework for addressing the underlying causes of greenwashing and promoting genuine environmental sustainability. By embracing mindfulness, compassion, and ethical conduct, we can move beyond surface appearances and cultivate a deeper connection with the natural world, fostering a more authentic and sustainable relationship with the environment.

As practitioners and stewards of the Earth, let us heed the wisdom of Buddhism and strive to live in harmony with nature, transcending the illusion of greenwashing to embody true environmental stewardship for the benefit of all beings.

Matt Bianca

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Buddhism’s Call to Environmental Action: Navigating Climate Change with Compassion

In a world increasingly affected by climate change, the urgency to address environmental issues has never been more pressing. As we grapple with the consequences of our actions on the planet, seeking guidance from various philosophical and spiritual traditions can provide valuable insights and motivation for change. Among these, Buddhism stands out for its profound teachings on interconnectedness, impermanence, and compassion, offering a unique perspective on how to approach the challenges of climate change.

At the heart of Buddhist philosophy lies the concept of interdependence—the understanding that all phenomena are interconnected and mutually dependent. This fundamental principle underscores the inseparable relationship between humanity and the environment. In the face of climate change, which knows no borders and affects all living beings, recognizing our interconnectedness with nature becomes crucial. As Bhikkhu Bodhi, an influential Buddhist monk and environmental activist, aptly puts it, “The world is a single, interconnected organism, and human beings are not separate from it but an integral part of it.”

Central to Buddhist practice is the cultivation of mindfulness—a state of non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness encourages us to observe the world with clarity and compassion, allowing us to recognize the suffering caused by environmental degradation. By being fully present to the reality of climate change, we can acknowledge the pain it inflicts on vulnerable communities, ecosystems, and future generations. This awareness serves as a catalyst for action, motivating us to adopt sustainable lifestyles and advocate for policies that prioritize environmental protection.

The Buddhist concept of impermanence reminds us of the transient nature of existence and the impermanence of all phenomena. This teaching invites us to reflect on the fleeting nature of the natural world and the fragility of life on Earth. In the face of environmental destruction, it urges us to embrace change and adapt to new circumstances with resilience and wisdom. Instead of clinging to unsustainable practices that harm the planet, we are encouraged to cultivate a mindset of flexibility and innovation, seeking solutions that align with the principles of ecological balance and harmony.

Compassion lies at the heart of the Buddhist path—a deep empathy for all sentient beings and a commitment to alleviating their suffering. In the context of climate change, compassion compels us to extend our concern beyond human boundaries and encompass all forms of life impacted by environmental degradation. Buddhist teachings inspire us to act with kindness and empathy towards future generations, recognizing our responsibility to preserve the Earth for their well-being. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, “We need to wake up to the fact that the earth is our mother as well as our home.”

Buddhism offers not only profound philosophical insights but also practical guidance for addressing the existential threat of climate change. By embracing the principles of interconnectedness, mindfulness, impermanence, and compassion, we can cultivate a deeper understanding of our relationship with the environment and inspire meaningful action to protect it. As stewards of the Earth, let us heed the call of Buddhist wisdom and work tirelessly to create a sustainable and compassionate world for present and future generations.

Matt Bianca

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Climate Change: Buddhism

From Conor Deedigan:

At last year’s ‘The Big One’ I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the XR Buddhists there as a part of an Eco Anxiety film series I am making for TrueTube a free educational site for schools, the films will come with lesson plans and are shared directly with its users (teachers and educators) for use in schools for lessons such as RE, PSHE, and assemblies. 

Today we have released ‘Eco Anxiety – Religion and the Climate; Buddhism’ featuring XR Buddhists! Link below;

Climate Change: Buddhism

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Donation from James Low

XR Buddhists would like to give their thanks to James Low for his generous donation to the work we are doing. You can find out more about James Low and his work at the Simply Being website.

James also shared this beautiful dharma poem, which we would like to share with you:

All compounded things are impermanent and arise due to the interplay of many factors.

Like a wave emerging from the ocean, forms are here and then gone.

This world, this fragile patterning of the potential of the five elements, is like a mirage.

When we grasp at the ungraspable and try to define and control the flow we forget how to collaborate with it.

Due to this we act on the world as if it is separate from our own presence here and now.

Our experience is like a dream, precise, immediate yet ungraspable.

Whether we experience happy dreams or terrifying nightmares, may we not stray from the wisdom of emptiness and the kindness of infinite inclusion!

May we all we relax our grasping and awaken to the wonder of which we are a part!

Wave on the ocean

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