Creating a One Earth Sangha May 24, 2013By Kristin Barker SocialJustice, teachings In response to the growing threat of climate change a group of Insight practitioners in the Washington, DC area are creating a new sangha. Our mission is to create a community of teachers and practitioners to support one another in awakening and responding to environmental threats to our shared home. Beginning this summer, One Earth Sangha will gather, share and cultivate a dharmic perspective on climate change. Through our One Earth Sangha website, we will give sangha members ways to connect and support one another in practicing wise response. We will also keep you informed of opportunities to lend an honest and kind perspective, a Buddhist voice, to the larger conversation on protecting all beings from the harm of a warming world. Our time on this Earth will be profoundly shaped in the coming years by how human society responds to the growing threat of climate change. With the first wave of impacts already upon us, an era of climate suffering has begun and will only worsen. This suffering will be borne unevenly, exacerbating existing environmental injustice and environmental racism, as those least responsible for its causes bear an undue share of its burdens. Even so, many opportunities remain, particularly in the next few years, to take action that will minimize these impacts and set the world on course for a safer and more just future. We have a brief window of opportunity to take action, to preserve humanity from imminent disaster and to assist the survival of the many diverse and beautiful forms of life on Earth. Future generations, and the other species that share the biosphere with us, have no voice to ask for our compassion, wisdom, and leadership. We must listen to their silence. We must be their voice, too, and act on their behalf. ~ The Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change The sangha is the source and the work itself. We are committed to making connections that bring together the full family of environmental, Buddhist lineage, cultural, racial and faith voices in order to deepen our practice and respond to the call of our home. In this first stage, we are hosting a Request for Teachings, a letter to teachers in the Insight tradition to contemplate the dharma of and engage sanghas in solutions to climate suffering. We will take all the signatures on this request, hopefully thousands, to the upcoming International Vipassana Teachers Meeting at Spirit Rock. We invite you and your sanghas to join this effort. Why now? Super-storm Sandy, the historic Midwest drought and devastating Western wildfires have given us a taste of our future. Unfortunately, because climate change has become so severely politicized in the U.S., we have not engaged in necessary conversations. As a result, most citizens have not fully accepted what is to come. Solutions such as energy efficiency and renewable energy can reduce the suffering of a warming planet and are within our grasp, but humanity’s emotional response to the enormity of the climate crisis is creating a barrier to wise action. The Buddhist community of teachers and practitioners can play an important role in helping one another, as well as the greater human family, transform the mental and emotional barriers we all face. Our situation requires the essence of the mindfulness practice: to see, accept and respond to the way things are with wisdom and compassion. We cannot prevent what is already underway: a warming planet. The skills of mindful presence cultivated in our practice can, however, play a critical role in humanity’s conscientious response. A Place to Practice What does it mean to live in accordance with Buddhist principals in the context of global climate change? What would our lives look like if we were to respond to the environmental crisis as an expression of our Buddhist path? How can Buddhism, with its understanding of greed, hatred and delusion, as well as its deep exploration of our connectedness and inter-being, contribute to a conversation about broad-scale transformation? How do we actualize the bodhisattva vow and help ourselves and others fully awaken to the truth of a warming world? One Earth Sangha will offer a place to live our way into the answers to these and other questions.