Kaspa has written an article/Dharma Glimpse for the XR Buddhists website based on his dharma talk from last night’s practice session. How can we welcome all of our reactions to the climate crisis, and move towards compassionate action without expectation of results?
Three videos of Kaspa talking about environmental activism.
Getting Arrested for Touching The Earth – a talk at Buddhafield Festival, Kaspa tells the story of his arrest for demonstrating with XR, about intuitive compassion and finding an appropriate response to the climate crisis.
Two XR Buddhist Co-coordinators in Conversation Kaspa and Katja talk about activism at the Triratna Earth Sangha Confernce:
And finally, with Katja again, in conversation with David Loy
At the beginning of the week the IPPC released its sixth report. You’ve probably seen the headlines in newspapers and on the radio and television. The headline from the IPPC press release is: climate change: rapid, widespread and intensifying.
This is a longer post than usual. But it’s an important topic to address. Perhaps the most pressing issue of the day. I also wanted to share with you the video from last Saturday’s practice session, which included our first refuge ceremony since the temple’s change of name: Practice, Sh*t, and refuge.
Over the past few weeks the news has been full of flooding in Europe and wildfires around the world, in Turkey, Greece, California, Siberia and so on. The fire in California now covers 724 square miles. There have always been forest fires there, but the climate crisis means they are bigger, more damaging and more unmanageable.
On Monday morning I sat and watched the beginning of the live-streamed press conference from the IPCC. I listened to a couple of speakers and then I couldn’t listen any more. I stood up and decided to get on with the day’s work. I went into the bedroom to change into my painting clothes, collapsed onto the bed and sobbed.
After a minute or so I picked myself up, got changed and carried on with my day. Throughout the morning the grief and upset sat just behind my other thoughts and feelings.
Later that day Professor Kimberly Nichols tweeted and asked: How do we find the courage to face the climate crisis?
She suggested there are five stages of Radical Climate Acceptance:
All the Feels
I guess I was in ‘all the feels’.
I’m fortunate to have spaces where I can share my emotional response and be heard. I’d encourage you to find those spaces as well. (Like our listening circle on Saturdays at 6pm) It’s so important to be able to hear and feel our own reactions to what’s happening in the world. Being listened to with compassion, or listening to ourselves with compassion can help move us through those stages outlined above.
I’m also fortunate to have found a community within XR Buddhists that has a shared purpose in facing the climate crisis. But I still sometimes wonder how other Buddhists might or might not face this emergency.
Some might say that what’s important for Buddhists is to become awakened. We know this world is one of suffering, and the Buddha taught either to leave this world of suffering by entering nirvana after death, or to become enlightened within this world of suffering depending on who you ask. He didn’t say much about making the world a better place.
There aren’t many/any examples of the Buddha being an activist. The advice he gives to kings is very good advice, but he delivers it in a very diplomatic way, and unlike some of us he was never arrested for meditating in the road and stopping traffic.
But over and over again we are implored to be kind. We are taught to make compassionate responses to each other and the world.
We are now in a state of global emergency – and what can be more kind and compassionate than facing that together?
The most important thing we can do is talk about the climate crisis and to put pressure on our leaders to make and enforce the changes we need. 67% of carbon emissions come from fossil fuel. Whilst personal change is important, personal change along won’t mitigate that.
Satya is travelling to London in a couple of weeks to demonstrate on the streets again, some of us from the temple community will go up and join her for a day. Satya and I will be on the streets again outside the international conference on the climate in Glasgow in November.
How? As Buddhists we are fortunate to have practices and teachings that support us to do the inner work that is required to both be effective responders and to demonstrate a way of being that is not based on greed, ill-will and ignorance.
When we make our responses to the climate crisis it is important to bring both of these aspects together: To choose wise, effective action and to do that action in a way that embodies compassion and loving kindness for all.
I encourage you to have courage and to find your own compassionate response to this emergency. There are lots of resources on the XR Buddhist website. Or drop us a line if you want to talk things through.
Yesterday’s vigil was awful. I woke late and grumpy, and dragged myself round to the temple car park. It was bitterly cold. My thick mittens couldn’t keep my thumbs from numbing, and my body was getting ready to shiver. Towards the end of the hour the word running through my mind was ‘endurance’.
Today it snowed on me. Tiny floating specks of white. I opened my eyes for a few seconds and their dancing made me smile. A man said ‘thank you’ as he passed. My thumbs went numb. I was happy.
Yesterday was bitter and today was very fresh. The temperature was the same, but the weather inside my head was very different.
Of course, we often have as much influence over the weather inside as we do the weather outside. I’m not saying ‘change your mindset and everything will be fine’.
On bad-inside-weather days, we might remember to be gentle with ourselves. We might manage to give ourselves free reign with the biscuit tin, or fall asleep for twenty minutes on the sofa between appointments. We might make ourselves a nice cup of tea.
On good-inside-weather days, we might remember to open ourselves up to glory, to deliciousness, to grace. To the love of all the Buddhas.
I attended an event last night where we were asked to get into pairs and say how we felt about the Climate & Ecological Emergency. I listed fear, frustration, and numbness, but as my partner spoke I realised I hadn’t mentioned the emotion tops my list.
Guilt. Guilt at buying the pizza wrapped in plastic rather than making our own dough in our perfectly good bread machine. Guilt at driving the dogs to a walk. Guilt at having the heating up so high. Guilt at not donating more of my spare money to buy trees. Guilt at not challenging a colleague who has their facts about the climate crisis all wrong.
I could go on. You may see the items on my list as trifling matters, but I see them as the exact equivalent of bigger ‘sins’ against our dear Earth – my greed, hate and delusion is the same as the stuff inside the directors of the oil companies, the banks, the governments. I have a smaller-scale life and so I leave a smaller-scale oily footprint, but I’m not innocent.
What, then, to do about this weight of guilt? This is where the ‘bright’ from our new temple name comes in. We begin by looking at ourselves by the light of the Buddha. This light is soft and kind and wise. It shows up all the hidden wounded parts of us. It shows us how these wounds are fiercely protected by all the parts of us that end up harming ourselves, others and the Earth. It shows us that these parts are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances, and that rather than being ‘lazy’ or ‘cruel’ or ‘weak’ we are
As we see ourselves in this light, hopefully we also begin to soften. Our guilt transmutes into compassion – no wonder we needed the quick fix of supermarket pizza, no wonder we didn’t speak up to our colleague. Goodness, it’s a miracle that we were able to get up, get dressed and take out the rubbish this morning!
As my eco-guilt dissolves, there is space for eco-joy. Yes, I’m still sorry about the extra plastic, and maybe next week I’ll manage to make dough, and – look at the frost sparkling in the sun this morning. Listen to that crow’s happy monologue. Look at the shreds of mist draped across the valley.
Coming into a closer relationship with the Earth and enjoying that relationship is something to be celebrated. Soaking up joy will resource us, and we’ll be more likely to make good choices or take small actions. We’ll also infect others with our love of the planet, who will find themselves naturally wanting to look after her.
Action motivated by love and joy is powerful. We can make space for everything – the rage, the despair, the sorrow – these feelings all have something to show us. And, if we get stuck in anything, including guilt, we are turning away from the Earth.
She is beautiful, and she is lit by the love of the Buddhas. Just like us.