you have not yet been defeated

An XR Buddhists/Plum Village Touching the Earth event at Glasgow COP in November 2021

I spent most of 2021 planning for COP in Glasgow, I helped to organise an interfaith pilgrimage from London and Bristol all the way to Glasgow. I stayed in Glasgow for the duration of the conference, along with many other activists peacefully holding space in the streets. On the last night of the conference I took part in an overnight interfaith vigil with many of the people I’d travelled with in the previous months. We lit candles and sat together and took turns to walk silently in small groups down to the conference centre with our placards and send our love to the people inside who were working on getting a deal. I remember being disconnected from everything in Glasgow – but I cried that night. I cried leaning against the chain link fence, where we had tied our ribbons with their messages of hope. I cried as dawn broke with all the anger I felt there being so little to show for our year of efforts.

It took me several months after coming back to recover from being away for so long, and from the heartbreak of another COP opportunity wasted. And life turned again, I had to find work, retrain, and reorientate my life. And so this year I’ve been far less aware of COP, and it’s taken me a while to find space to stop and breathe and allow myself the openness to engage a little with what is happening. COP is happening in Egypt this year from the 6-18th of November. And there will be vigils once again.

I go through cycles in my relationship with activism. Sometimes the scale of the challenge seems so vast, and the immediate results so vague and minimal that my motivation dwindles. But what I come back to is that just because I live in a world of complex political, social and economic systems – it doesn’t let me off the hook from engaging. I can’t control what happens in the outside world, but I can choose to turn towards suffering. To witness it. To be present for it. I can choose that.

There were emails fluttering into my inbox about COP, about vigils, and about political prisoners in Egypt and it’s taken me a while to turn towards that suffering. I was sent this article about COP by Naomi Klein about what it means to have COP in Egypt.

The Egyptian communities and organisations most affected by environmental pollution and rising temperatures will be nowhere to be found in Sharm el-Sheikh. There will be no toxic tours, or lively counter-summits, where locals get to school international delegates behind their government’s PR. Organising events like this would land Egyptians in prison for spreading “false news” or for violating the protest ban.

Naomi Klein

In the article, she focuses on a British-Egyptian citizen Abd El-Fattah who is being held in prison in Egypt on terrorism charges for a post he made on social media about torture. He is a pro-democracy activist and figurehead of the 2011 uprising. A book of his writing, many of which were smuggled out of prison, has just been published. It is called You Have Not Yet Been Defeated (the title of this blog post). The title reminds me that I am not in prison, and I can speak out, and that there is still hope.

So I’ve bought the book. And I’ve signed up for some vigil slots. And so my COP this year is going to be less on the streets. But I do want to use this as an opportunity for myself to turn towards suffering, particularly the intersection of political struggle and climate. I’m grateful for all the activist work that is happening, often at much greater cost than I face when I go to the streets or even when I am arrested. This year I’m going to spend some time understanding more about what is happening in Egypt, and sharing that with people when I have the opportunity.

If you would like to take part in the daily vigils in London they will be outside the Carriage Gate entrance to Parliament between 1 and 2pm daily between 6th and 18th November – more information here. Sarah MacDonald is also organising a daily vigil between 1200 and 1300 on College Green in Bristol during COP and you can contact her at for more information.

By Mikey.

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the August 2021 Rebellion and what to expect

XR Buddhists meditating in Trafalgar Square

What happens during an XR Rebellion?

Rebellions are a planned series of actions with a particular focus or aim. There is something for everyone: marches, speeches by activists and writers, arty actions as well as more confrontative actions like blocking roads and occupying buildings. And police of course, and press folk with cameras and questions. XR Buddhists often engage with walking or sitting meditation in the midst of it all. There’s also an active ‘well-being’ presence providing emotional support and training and giving information to new rebels. Plans of course change as the rebellion unfolds  – things don’t necessarily (hardly ever) go to plan – just like real life.

What is planned for the next Rebellion?

The next XR rebellion is planned to start in London on Monday 23rd August and run for two weeks at least. The focus is on challenging the Government’s support for the fossil fuel industry and the financial system which supports fossil fuel extraction and use.

In the lead up there is a ‘Kill the Bill’ march on the 21st protesting against the Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (which BTW won’t be law by August), and trainings for people new to XR on the 22nd (which are then available throughout). But the XR proper rebellion starts on Monday 23rd. The focus will be on disrupting the financial districts in London which are supporting the fossil fuel economy, probably with road blocks, occupations of buildings and marches. More ‘high-impact’ actions are planned for the 2nd week.

I can’t come for the whole two weeks though.. 

Not a problem! Whatever time you have available during this time will be valuable. Many rebels will be doing only one week or a day or two when they can, and others will be taking part in the ‘digital rebellion’ which can be done from home. 

A row of revels sitting in meditation in front of a low wall. The wall is strung with banners and flags. Members of the public look on.
Members of XR Faith Bridge including XR Buddhists outside 10 Downing St

What’s it like to be part of it?

It’s exhilarating and tiring, moving and sometimes scary. But always there’s an experience of being part of a community with vitality, meaning and purpose. Sometimes planned actions don’t work out and it’s frustrating and disappointing. It can be physically uncomfortable and maybe you won’t get to shower as often as you’d like. But it’s powerfully uplifting to be taking action in a community which also cares deeply about our precious and imperilled planet. It’s probably the most effective cure for hopelessness about the climate crisis available.

What will XR Buddhists be doing?

All our actions are rooted in our commitment to peace and compassion; they are strictly non-violent; this is also a founding principle of XR as a whole.

Whenever possible before an action we gather as a group in a quiet place to connect with ourselves and each other, and to reflect on why we are taking this particular action. 

What about arrests: is this compulsory?

Absolutely not! Arrests get a lot of air time but only a small proportion of rebels actually get arrested: others cannot do so or choose not to because of their particular life circumstances. For every person arrested there are about 20 other rebels doing non-arrestable actions, providing their particular skills in a wide variety of ways, such as well-being support, doing non-arrestable actions, offering their skills as artists or cooks or tech support. Whatever your particular area of skill and passion there is a place for you.

I can’t actually come to London this time. Is there anything I can do? 


Before: Come to our meetings and contribute your ideas and get involved in planning and offering your skills  – such as art, writing or experience with tech etc. 

During: help XRB with ‘back office’ support posting pics on our website, take part in XR’s ‘Digital Rebellion’ specially designed for folk to do from home, post supportive messages on XRB chat and join our protest meditations by meditating at home at the same times. 

After: Come to the review meetings, share your experience and offer support.

This would be my first rebellion. Is there anything I need to do to get prepared?

Yes. XR’s Non Violent Direct Action training. (NVDA) is an essential training for all rebels. This training introduces Extinction Rebellion’s tactics of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience, with discussion of the rationale, logistics and do’s and don’ts of XR actions. Then there is ‘Know your Rights’ training which provides essential information on your rights at protests, your rights when talking to the police, and your rights if you do get arrested. See link to XR trainings below.

Who do I contact and how to I find out more? 

Join the August Rebellion Telegram Group

For any questions please do not hesitate to contact XR Buddhist by email on  we’d love to hear from you

Click here for details of XR training sessions.

And check the events page for our next introductory “Welcome” meeting and find out more about XR Buddhists, meet others and ask your questions. 

You will find personal accounts of actions from individual members here.

You will find a wealth of other information videos and talks that might interest you on our website also.

We look forward to seeing you at a meeting or on the streets!  

Warm wishes

XR Buddhists

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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.

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