Buddhist teacher, co-author of 'Awakening Joy'
As a Buddhist teacher I've been interested in finding true happiness through directly opening to suffering. A major interest and focus of my teaching has been awakening the natural joy that is within us. But two years ago after reading Bill McKibben's brilliant, sobering book, Eaarth, I had to face the harsh realities of climate change. My optimism was shaken as I came to terms with the fact that the future looks pretty bleak.
Although the current picture can seem pretty depressing, it's also been heartening to see that more and more people are starting to become aware of the dangers connected with the most crucial issue facing us today. As a wise friend of mine says, "We're in a race between ignorance and consciousness."
This past June fifty senior teachers met at an International Vipassana Teachers Conference at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, Calif., where I teach. On the agenda was Climate Change: specifically the role Buddhism might play and the responsibility of those who share the teachings.
As the teachers attending energetically discussed the issue, across the floor was a scroll of 2000+ names of meditation students who had signed a request for teachings and guidance on wise response to Climate Change. Leading the discussion was Bob Doppelt, a longtime practitioner who coordinates the National Partnership for Climate Solutions, a non-partisan group of organizations that has worked with the White House to encourage and support their efforts in dealing with Climate Change.
Bob's very moving and provocative presentation was based on a book he wrote From Me to We which outlines five principles needed to shift the consciousness of the population in a meaningful response to the imminent danger. How would we respond to this challenge?
As a result of that gathering this week, October 1-7, Buddhists around the U.S. and abroad are participating in the first annual Earth Care Week. Communities are gathering to share teachings and participate in activities exploring climate change as ground for our awakening. The website One Earth Sangha has been established to be a repository for these teachings and exchange of ideas with regard to the Dharma and Climate Change. You can get a sense of some activities planned for this week here. Perhaps you'll be motivated to organize something in your own community. You don't have to be a Buddhist; your care and support of the Earth is enough.