racism, Right Action, Social justice, Uncategorized

Can you hear these voices?

Can you listen as if it was your sister speaking? Your grandson? Your niece? Your father? Your aunt?

Kimberley Jones, US Black Lives Matter Activist 

In the Buddha’s teaching, all beings have been our mothers and fathers at some point in the past …

Trevor Noah, South African comedian 

Whether or not we “believe” in rebirth, we might approach that teaching as an invitation to connect to our shared humanity, and try to listen to these voices as if they were our own family and friends speaking directly to us …

Meyne Wyatts, Australian actor 

How will we respond?

Aamer Rahman, Australian comedian of Bangladeshi descent


Recent podcasts

2020-06-04 Resmaa Menakem ‘Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence’

On Being with Krista Tippett


2020-06-03 An Uncomfortable (But Meaningful) Conversation About Race

Dan Harris in conversation with Lama Rod Owens


2020-06-01 “You Can’t Meditate This Away” (Race, Rage, and the Responsibilities of Meditators)

Dan Harris in conversation with Sebene Selassie


More resources on undoing racism on this page from my website.

Please feel free to let me know about other voices that speak to you.

Insight meditation - vipassana, mindfulness, retreat, Uncategorized

An online course AND a real, live retreat!

stone jizo 2

Due to a few last-minute cancellations, there is now space in the six-week online course “Cultivating Resilience: learning from the Heavenly Messengers” which starts this weekend, 13 June.

See here for more information


labyrinth view

And, at the end of August, Julie Downard and I will be teaching a real, live, nine-day retreat in the beautiful natural environment of Te Moata Retreat Centre in the Coromandel.

Registrations for that retreat are now open and filling fast, so please register here if you’re interested.

community, ethics, Right Action, Social justice, Uncategorized

The Police Killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis

Wherever you are in the world, you may have seen the recent video from 26 May of police officers standing over an unarmed black man lying on the ground. One of those police officers kneels on the neck of the black man, George Floyd, for at least nine minutes, preventing him from breathing. He dies on the way to hospital.

How to respond? At the least, we can get more informed about these increasing incidents of racial injustice and police brutality. It’s painful, but the escalation of this violence relies on us continuing to turn away, feeling powerless, not wanting to get involved.

Can you find one action to take, no matter how small, to try to mitigate this suffering? Even if it’s just to donate to groups such as the ACLU that are working for social justice. See links below:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/26/george-floyd-killing-minneapolis-protest-police


Reverend Al Sharpton

Get your knee off our necks

Delivering the eulogy at a memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Reverend Al Sharpton said: ‘George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks.’ In an emotive speech punctuated by several standing ovations, Sharpton said the sight of diverse crowds of protesters across the world gave him hope that real change would come to the criminal justice system.


Rev William Barber

America must listen to its wounds. They will tell us where to look for hope

Only if the screams and tears and protests shake the very conscience of this nation can we hope for a better society on the other side of this


Trevor Noah


Insight Meditation Society guiding teachers’ response

The murder of George Floyd strikes the hearts and minds of so many with feelings of outrage, sadness, and grief, all the more that it was undeniably so overt, as if such actions were somehow acceptable. It is only because of the courage of the young woman who recorded it all, that the truth of the matter is unavoidably and forever there in front of our eyes, removing any illusion that the killing was somehow defensible or due to any action on the part of Mr. Floyd. …

All actions have their genesis in our hearts and minds. The light of awareness is in this moment shining brightly upon the tragic manifestations of hatred, ignorance and delusion that led to the death of George Floyd. Delusion blames others, creates enemies, and fosters disconnection, sustaining the illusion of separateness upon which war, racism, and injustice rest. True lasting change will only come when we awaken that sense of personal and shared responsibility and compassion for all.

For white people in our sanghas, there is a responsibility to educate ourselves about the historic and current expressions of racism and oppression so that we can be a positive force for the good.  We are called upon to see and come close to the magnitude of the suffering before us, and not turn away once again as if these devastating events are singular occurrences. It is not enough to practice loving-kindness and compassion in the solitude of our meditation; we can all strive to have them manifest in our actions, actively seeking ways to address the immediacy of the suffering as well as its many underlying causes.

The same qualities that the Buddha taught as the basis for Awakening can be applied to our service in the world. It is time to bring consistently and persistently mindful awareness, keen discernment, energetic response, intense interest, a foundation of calm and steadiness, and a spaciousness that can hold it all.  In telling the truth and helping others in whatever way we can, we are cultivating all these qualities in ourselves; and by cultivating them in ourselves, we develop the inner resources and resilience to effectively be of help to others.

https://www.dharma.org/the-murder-of-george-floyd-imss-guiding-teachers-respond/

IMS’s diversity resources page here


Lee Pelton, president of Emerson College’s response

Today, I write to you as a Black man and as President of Emerson College. There is no other way to write to you, given recent events. …
Black Americans are invisible to most of white America. We live in the shadows – even those of us, who like me, sit at the table of bounty. Ironically, at our colleges and universities we are hyper-visible in classrooms, work places, social settings, and as we go about our daily lives. …
George Floyd was invisible. And it was his invisibility, a brutal white power structure and Chauvin’s dehumanization of him that killed him. …
Black folks are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
So, I have no words of comfort today because they would be inauthentic. They would absolve so many from coming to terms with their own silent complicity in the world in which we live.
As I wrote to someone today, “This is not a black problem, but a structural issue built on white supremacy and centuries of racism. It’s your problem. And until you understand that, we are doomed to relive this week’s tragic events over and over again. What changes will you make in your own life? Begin with answering that question and maybe, just maybe we will get somewhere.”
The most important question is: What are you going to do?

https://today.emerson.edu/2020/06/01/letter-to-the-emerson-community-may-31-2020/


Thousands in New Zealand protest against George Floyd killing

Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, after the death of George Floyd in the US.

At least four solidarity gatherings were held in the country on Monday afternoon, with massive crowds taking to their knees in the Auckland demonstration.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/01/thousands-in-new-zealand-protest-against-george-floyd-killing?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other


Info from a friend in Minneapolis:

First, here are some facts not reported in some of the national narrative right now (but captured by local MN media sources):

(1) Thousands have marched in MN and police clad in riot gear used rubber bullets and chemical irritants to disperse crowds

(2) The initial police report listed “medical incident while in custody” … this is now changing as “new information” is received.

(3) According to a local MN police training expert “a neck restraint” is currently listed as “a non-deadly force option’ in the Minneapolis Police Department Policy and Procedural Manual.

(4) George Floyd worked as a bouncer at a restaurant 10 minutes from my home and his employers, landlord, and co-workers talk about a man completely different from the official narrative of “resisting arrest”

Second, if you haven’t been following the process of police militarization and the euphemisms of “police reforms” and “police re-training” then please take five minutes to look at the below sources:

– Beyond Repair by Ricardo Levins Morales

– Chart of concrete steps to “power down policing” from criticalresistance.org 

Providing additional info and emerging action at the local level:

– Here in MN, we are almost at the 4 year anniversary of the killing of Philando Castile.

https://www.aclu.org/blog/racial-justice/two-years-after-police-killing-philando-castile-justice-continues-be-denied

– While Mayor Frey quickly responded publicly to this event, he has consistently advocated for increasing police budgets while opposing past city council measures which would split executive control of the police force between the council and the mayor.

– Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman will make the election to bring charges against Derek Chauvin and the other officers. Local MN news sources have reported on Chauvin’s past history of use of force and that he has complaints filed against him during his time on the force.

– Minneapolis city council will be reviewing the police union contract this year, and local communities are demanding radical changes in mechanisms for accountability.

-Mobilizing efforts underway contacting Frey, Hennepin County Attorney and city council and more.

– Learn and donate. Below are two local organizations working now to power down policing and empower our neighbors and community members:

MPD150

MN ACLU


This is not just a USA issue

432 Indigenous Australians have died in custody since 1991
Aboriginal people whose family members have died in custody express solidarity with people on the streets of US cities protesting against the death of George Floyd

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/01/deaths-in-our-backyard-432-indigenous-australians-have-died-in-custody-since-2008

Uncategorized

A couple of new online practice options

 

This one-day online workshop offers an opportunity to develop and strengthen our natural resilience and capacity to meet life’s inevitable challenges with more steadiness, ease, and even appreciation.

Using the Zoom platform, we will meet together online to explore a variety of practices from the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, alongside the four brahmavihara heart practices of kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, to directly experience the possibility of a balanced heart – no matter what our current circumstances might be.

The day will include a mix of silent and guided meditation, plus some dyad (pairs) practice and small group discussion.

Because this is a group learning process, participants are asked to make a commitment to attend the whole workshop. We ask that you register for the day by emailing. Registration is free. Login information will be sent the day before the retreat.

Day: Saturday May 23
Time: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm PST
To register: bimsretreats@gmail.com


stone jizo 2

June 13-14 – July 18-19: Six-week class series – ONLINE

Cultivating resilience in challenging times:

Learning from the “heavenly messengers” 

This six-week online course offers an opportunity to develop and strengthen our inner resources of kindness, compassion, calm and clarity, through an exploration of what are traditionally known as “the four heavenly messengers.”
In Buddhist teaching, these are four archetypes that symbolise the existential challenges we face, and the way to overcome those challenges. The four are a sick person, an aged person, a dying person, and a contemplative.

At first glance, these messengers might not sound so heavenly, but by learning how to relate to their messages skilfully, they help us to live our lives with more ease, happiness, and peace.
The course is best suited to people who have sat at least one seven-day silent meditation retreat, but prior Buddhist study is not necessary.

Each two-hour class will include a short dharma talk, some silent meditation practice, dyad (pairs) practice, and small group discussion.

During the six weeks of the course, you will be invited to maintain a regular sitting practice and keep a practice journal, to help inform the discussion during each meeting.

Because this is a group learning process, participants are asked to make a commitment to attend all six sessions of the course, and to allow at least two hours a week for personal study and reflections to be shared with the group.
Feel free to contact Jill if you have any questions about this.

Teacher: Jill Shepherd http://jill0shepherd-insightmeditation.com

Cost for all six sessions: $50 + dana*

Times and dates:

Option 1 (30 people max) FULL – please apply to be on waiting list

Singapore SGT 7:00-9:00 a.m. Sunday mornings 14 June – Sunday 19 July 2020
Sydney AEST 9:00-11:00 a.m. Sunday mornings 14 June – Sunday 19 July 2020
Auckland NZT 11:00-1:00 p.m. Sunday mornings 14 June – Sunday 19 July 2020
San Francisco PDT 4:00-6:00 p.m. Saturday afternoons 13 June – Saturday 18 July 2020
New York EDT 7:00-9:00 p.m. Saturday evenings 13 June – Saturday 18 July 2020

Option 2 (30 people max) Just a few places left

Singapore SGT 3:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday afternoons 14 June – Sunday 19 July 2020
Sydney AEST 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sunday evenings 14 June – Sunday 19 July 2020
Auckland NZT 7:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday evenings 14 June – Sunday 19 July 2020
London GMT 8:30-10:30 a.m. Sunday mornings 14 June – Sunday 19 July 2020

To register: https://events.humanitix.com/six-week-dharma-study-class-series-online

anxiety, community, compassion - karuna, dukkha, fear, Uncategorized

Karuna-virus

Kuan Yin sunbeam

In the Buddha’s teachings, karuna is a Pali word that means compassion. There’s a lot going on around the world right now, and due to coronavirus, many people are navigating intense suffering on multiple levels simultaneously: The suffering of health challenges, food insecurity, financial distress, longer-term economic uncertainty, separation from friends and family – or having to be with friends and family in ways that are stressful!

Given that social contagion works not only in relation to anxiety, but to positive mind-states too, I hope that in whatever ways we can, this coronavirus situation can be used to spread karuna-compassion to all who need it, including ourselves.

Personally, I have just landed in the UK a couple of days ago and am in social isolation and lockdown in Birmingham. I’m still getting myself set up here, but I wanted to at least offer a few resources for helping reduce the stress and anxiety that so many people are dealing with right now. I’ll keep adding more resources as I find them, and please send me links to any that you might have found helpful.

If anyone would like an individual meeting online to talk about your meditation practice in these challenging times, you can make a booking on my booking calendar now. As usual, these meetings are on a dana basis, but if money is an issue at the moment it’s fine to still meet with me.

I will also be converting some of my planned retreats into online offerings, so please check my revised teaching schedule on this page.

A few selected resources to support karuna-compassion

Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure

Among my academic colleagues and friends, I have observed a common response to the continuing Covid-19 crisis. They are fighting valiantly for a sense of normalcy — hustling to move courses online, maintaining strict writing schedules, creating Montessori schools at their kitchen tables. They hope to buckle down for a short stint until things get back to normal. I wish anyone who pursues that path the very best of luck and health.
Yet as someone who has experience with crises around the world, what I see behind this scramble for productivity is a perilous assumption. The answer to the question everyone is asking — “When will this be over?” — is simple and obvious, yet terribly hard to accept. The answer is never.
Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened. And so, while it may feel good in the moment, it is foolish to dive into a frenzy of activity or obsess about your scholarly productivity right now. That is denial and delusion. The emotionally and spiritually sane response is to prepare to be forever changed.


Judson Brewer – US Neuroscientist and Addiction Psychiatrist

A Brain Hack to Break the Coronavirus Anxiety Cycle
Uncertainty about coronavirus spreads anxiety through social contagion. This New York Times article offers some ways to minimize that.


IMS teachers including Sharon Salzberg, offering daily metta/kindness meditation

https://www.youtube.com/user/InsightMeditation


Zohar Lavie – UK meditation teacher

2020-03-14 Coronavirus and the support of the Dharma – Part 1 31:38
We are living through an unusual period. As coronavirus spreads, much of what we take for granted is being shaken. There is uncertainty and fear around us, and also within us. How can Dharma teachings and practices support us? How can we deepen understanding and compassion in the midst of it all? This talk offers reflections on possibilities that are available to us, including practices that we can engage with, lean into, and cultivate.


Tara Brach – US meditation teacher

2020-03-18 Facing Pandemic Fears with an Awake Heart 59:14
While it’s natural to feel fear during times of great collective crisis, our challenge is that fear easily takes over our lives. This talk explores how the mindfulness and compassion of the RAIN meditation can help us find an inner refuge in the face of fear, and deepen our loving connection with each other.


Jill Shepherd

2020-03-26 Guided meditation: orienting to compassion 26:18
A guided meditation orienting to compassion, in response to coronavirus

2020-03-26 Short talk: some responses to the coronavirus/karuna-virus situation 15:37
A few reflections on the coronavirus situation, and the possibility of cultivating karuna/compassion as a resource for ourselves and others

More talks on cultivating resilience in challenging times here


A beautiful video – Letter from the Virus

Stop, just stop
Halt … stop … don’t move
It’s not a request any more, it’s an obligation
I’m here to help you
This supersonic rollercoaster has run off its rails and can’t go on any further
Stop the planes, trains, schools, shopping malls, gatherings
We broke the frenetic vortex of illusions and obligations that stopped you from looking at the sky
Look at the stars, listen to the sea
Let yourself be rocked by the chirping of birds
Roll in the grass
Pick an apple from a tree
Smile to an animal in the woods
Breathe the mountains
Listen to your common sense
We had to break it
You can’t play God
Our obligations are mutual, like they’ve always been
Even though you’ve forgotten
We’ll now stop this broadcast
This endless cacophonous sounds of separations and distractions, to tell you this:
We’re not OK
None of us is
We’re all suffering
Last year, the firestorms that set the lungs of the earth on fire didn’t stop you
Nor did the melting of the poles
Or your sinking cities
Or the simple acknowledgement of being the sole responsibility for the sixth mass extinction
You didn’t listen to me
It’s difficult to listen while being so busy
Struggling to climb higher and higher
On the scaffolding of comforts you are creating for yourself
Now the foundations are crumbling
They’re collapsing under the weight of your fictitious desires
I’ll help you
I’ll light the firestorms inside your body
I’ll drown your lungs
I’ll isolate you like a polar bear on a melting iceberg
Will you listen to me then?
We’re not OK
I’m not  your enemy
I’m just a messenger
I’m an ally
I’m the force that will rebalance everything
Now you have to listen to me
I’m screaming for you to stop
Stop, hush, listen
Now look up to the sky
How is it?
There are no more airplanes
How healthy do you need to be to enjoy the oxygen you breathe?
Look at the ocean
How is it?
Look at the rivers
How are they?
Look at the earth
How is she?
Now look at yourselves
How do you feel?
You can’t be healthy in a sick ecosystem
Stop!!!
Many people are afraid now
Don’t demonise your fear
Don’t let it control you
Let it speak to you
Listen to the wise words it has to say
Learn to smile with your eyes
I’ll help you … if you’re willing to listen

Text: Darinka Montico
Voice: Giulia Chianes


A list of  ‘good news’ websites compiled by Wendy Nash, Australia

Charles Eisenstein

The Coronation

The War on Death

… The mantra “safety first” comes from a value system that makes survival top priority, and that depreciates other values like fun, adventure, play, and the challenging of limits. … The surrounding culture, however, lobbies us relentlessly to live in fear, and has constructed systems that embody fear. In them, staying safe is over-ridingly important. Thus we have a medical system in which most decisions are based on calculations of risk, and in which the worst possible outcome, marking the physician’s ultimate failure, is death. Yet all the while, we know that death awaits us regardless. A life saved actually means a death postponed.

The ultimate fulfillment of civilization’s program of control would be to triumph over death itself. Failing that, modern society settles for a facsimile of that triumph: denial rather than conquest. Ours is a society of death denial, from its hiding away of corpses, to its fetish for youthfulness, to its warehousing of old people in nursing homes. Even its obsession with money and property – extensions of the self, as the word “mine” indicates – expresses the delusion that the impermanent self can be made permanent through its attachments. All this is inevitable given the story-of-self that modernity offers: the separate individual in a world of Other. Surrounded by genetic, social, and economic competitors, that self must protect and dominate in order to thrive. It must do everything it can to forestall death, which (in the story of separation) is total annihilation.


Matthias Horx – an influential futurist in the German-speaking world

The Post Corona World
… A massive loss of control suddenly turns into a veritable intoxication of the positive. After a period of bewilderment and fear, an inner strength arises. The world „ends“, but with the experience that we are still there, a kind of new being arises from inside us.
In the middle of civilisation’s shutdown, we run through forests or parks, or across almost empty spaces. This is not an apocalypse, but a new beginning.
This is how it turns out: Change begins as a changed pattern of expectations, perceptions and world connections. Sometimes it is precisely the break with routines, the familiar, that releases our sense of the future again. The idea and certainty that everything could be completely different — and even better.

May it be so!

More soon …

Brahma Vihara practice, climate change, Climate crisis, compassion - karuna, death, Uncategorized

Continuing compassion

rescued koala

[Forest and wildlife officer Lachlan Clarke checks a koala for injuries – photo courtesy of the Guardian]

In my last newsletter and last post here, I’ve been exploring compassion as a resource to navigate all the various global challenges happening right now.

Just today there was a moving photo essay about all the efforts that are being made to help koalas injured in the recent Australian bushfires. I find it helpful to keep orienting to positive news as an antidote to overwhelm, so here’s the link:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/gallery/2020/feb/11/drones-thermal-imaging-australia-koalas-bushfire-crisis

anxiety, climate change, compassion - karuna, death, dukkha, fear, Uncategorized

Compassion for all beings affected by the Australian bushfires

trunk red sap close

Season’s greetings from Waipu, New Zealand

I’m unexpectedly having to spend more time here in New Zealand, after my nine-day retreat outside of Sydney over New Year was just cancelled due to the bushfires in Australia.

The Blue Mountains has been a kind of second home to me, so I’ve been staying in contact with friends there who have been sending me heart-breaking reports of the situation they’re enduring.

In the face of such intense destruction, it’s hard to know how to respond from afar, but I’ve decided to make a commitment to practice compassion every day for the next two weeks, and to send out this message to see if anyone would like to join me in that commitment.
(Originally I was just going to send this message to people in Australia, but a US friend asked to be included, so now I’m sending it to everyone on my mailing list in case you’d like to join us.)

My plan is to sit for 15 minutes every day at 1:00 pm NZT, which is 11:00 am Sydney and Melbourne, 10:30 am Adelaide, 10:00 am Brisbane, and 8:00 am Perth. That’s midnight in the UK, sorry, but 4 pm on the US West Coast and 7 pm on the US East Coast.

I’ve made a fifteen minute guided meditation that focuses on practising compassion specifically for the bushfire situation, which you can find on Dharmaseed here:
https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/637/talk/60035/

Of course, you can practice compassion in any way that works for you. And, depending on the situation and how your heart feels each day, it may be that one of the other brahmavihara practices might be more appropriate. If you’re not familiar with brahmavihara practice, you might listen to this talk which gives an overview of the relationship between kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity.
https://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/637/talk/58585/

wombat and baby 1.JPG

Wombat mother and baby, Newnes Plateau NSW

What’s been happening in Australia

For those who might not be aware of the situation, more than four million hectares of Australia have burned and nine people have died since September 2019, in an “unprecedented” start to the summer fire season.

New South Wales

The total area burned in NSW is 3.41m hectares, according to the Rural Fire Service. … “To put it in perspective, in the past few years we have had a total area burned for the whole season of about 280,000 ha,” RFS spokeswoman Angela Burford said. “This year we’re at 3.41m and we are only halfway through the season.”
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/24/australian-bushfires-the-story-so-far-in-each-state

climate change, ethics, Right Action, Uncategorized

Readers suggestions for taking action in relation to climate change

Many thanks to all the people who sent in suggestions in response to my last newsletter.
Below are a few highlights, and I plan to keep updating this from time to time.

pink bike path 2

Bike path, Auckland, New Zealand


Speaking of New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand is on the ‘right side of history’ as MPs pass zero-carbon bill

2019-11-07 This landmark climate legislation has passed in New Zealand parliament, with historic cross-party support, committing the nation to reduce its carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and meet its commitments under the Paris climate accords.


MS NSW Australia

Our XR harbour project went very well – astonishing police presence for a picnic – 2 vans of riot squad police, a helicopter and a patrol boat just for little old us on some picnic blankets with babystrollers, the odd mermaid, a bit of hand-holding & banner waving at the harbour wall.


WN NSW Australia

Food: I shopped for items not packaged in plastic, were organic, and needed rather than wanted. Buying without plastic reduces your options substantially. The stuff is everywhere. I found a food coop where I take my own containers and volunteer to get a discount. I’ve given up dairy milk and make oat milk.

Travel: My neighbour gave me her electric bike. I know it’s run on electricity which is not perfect but it makes getting everywhere really easy. One neighbour swapped the car for ebikes which changed her family’s life. A keen cyclist friend said that since ebikes came on the scene there are many more bikes on the road – yay!.

Clothes: I buy black, white and grey clothes. Everything is effortlessly colour-coordinated. I buy men’s undies because they’re thicker and better made (the joys of the pink premium). An article said washing on the delicates cycle is the worst for plastic microfibres into the ocean so definitely don’t do that!

Socialising: I suggest to friends to meet at home or the park for pot-luck instead of cafes and restaurants. It’s more relaxing, too.

  • Put the timer on when having a shower – 4 mins is actually quite a long shower.
  • An online horticulture course to learn to grow my own fruit & veg.
  • If I get a stain on a piece of clothing I find a natural way to turn it into a pattern (e.g. soak it in mulberries).

But I think the most useful way of working with the climate crisis is to imagine how many people are involved with making my morning cuppa – from how did the water get to my kettle, to how did I get a kettle, to how did I get the tea, mug, milk, electricity, building, and how do I pay for all these things? and then what happens when the kettle doesn’t work – do I throw it away, get a saucepan instead, what do I do with the tea leaves, the tea leaf packet, the milk container – and what are the labour conditions for all the people involved? That’s what keeps me motivated… 🙂


GC QLD Australia

New book by Ajahn Sucitto

Recently I have been listening to Ajahn Sucitto and reading his blog and other articles as well as some of his online books. This is a recently published one about the environment that others may find interesting.

Some recent blog posts on the topic too: http://sucitto.blogspot.com


SR New Zealand

Wanted to also let you know about the new most ethical KiwiSaver that has been set up in NZ if you haven’t heard about it. Caresaver. There’s a great website.  I’m switching.


AK Massachusetts USA

I am part of a group of practitioners working to take action and raise awareness about the climate crisis. Several of us practice at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center (CIMC), although we do not have any official affiliation with CIMC. Our plan is to do regular “Sitting for Survival” events in front of the Cambridge City Hall beginning next Thursday November 7. Below is a description of our action:

“Join us in holding meditative space to raise awareness of our planetary emergency. We will sit or stand in silence, bearing witness to the destruction of the Earth we love and our holding hope for a better future. Come for 5 minutes or 50 minutes, as long as you can. Show up for our children, families, ancestors, and for all living beings.”

My good friend Brother Fulfillment (Phap Man), a monk in the Plum Village tradition, has been very active with Extinction Rebellion in NYC. He has written a few articles, which I found moving and inspiring:

My Time in Jail with Extinction Rebellion: One of the Most Meaningful Experiences of My Life (Oct 23)

 

community, Insight meditation - vipassana, Insight Meditation Society, retreat, Retreat practice, Uncategorized

Insight Meditation Society 2020 Registration Now Open

Just letting you know that the Insight Meditation SOciety in Barre, Massachusetts, has just announced its 2020 retreat schedule and registration is now open. Based on previous years, most retreats tend to get fully booked within a few days, so if you’re interested in practising at IMS, best to register as soon as you can to avoid missing out.

IMS images

I’m scheduled to teach a five-day metta retreat in February 2020, the first six weeks of the three-month retreat in September, and the whole month of November at the Forest Refuge.

I look forward to meditating with some of you at IMS again soon!

Uncategorized

¿ Hope ?

cow wall peeking

I arrived back in New South Wales just as the 16th Sakyadhita International Conference for Women in Buddhism was happening in the Blue Mountains, and I was fortunate to be able to attend a keynote address by Roshi Joan Halifax on the theme of “Wise Hope.”
Her reflections on the differences between optimism, pessimism and what she refers to as “Wise Hope” struck a chord.

Since then, the word hope seems to keep appearing everywhere I look, even as the news it emerges from feels increasingly hopeless – particularly in relation to climate change. But the words of Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist also hit a nerve for me.

Instead of looking for hope, look for action.
Then, and only then, hope will come.
Greta Thunberg

A conversation with a climate activist friend in Sydney gave me plenty of leads to follow, and has inspired me to set up a new page to draw some of this information together. From the explorations I’ve done so far, it’s clear that I’m not nearly as powerless as I’d previously believed, and that if enough of us take even seemingly small actions, change is possible.

Through insight meditation teachers such as Yanai Postelnik‘s climate activism in the UK, I knew a little about the Extinction Rebellion movement, but only recently found out about the research behind their methods:
Extinction Rebellion operates on a metric drawn from the research of political scientist Erica Chenoweth and policy analyst Maria J. Stephan. In their long-term study of campaigns for revolutionary, secessionist and regime-change movements from the past 150 years, they come to a few vital conclusions. First, that nonviolent movements have a vastly improved chance of success over those that pursue armed struggle or terror tactics, including under authoritarian regimes where the consequences of even peaceful dissent can be life threatening. And second, that you don’t need everybody: you only need about 3.5 per cent of the population to achieve a critical mass of sustained popular noncompliance.
“Extinction Rebels” by Scott Ludlum The Monthly July 2019 See full article here

Aside from direct action, there are plenty of other initiatives we could take that are less personally risky, but can have a big impact if enough of us make these changes. The book “Drawdown” describes 100 of the most substantive solutions to climate change, and surprisingly, two of the top five solutions are to do with food. Number three is reducing food waste, and number four is about moving to a plant-rich diet:

Plant-rich diets reduce emissions and also tend to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease. According to a 2016 study, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent through adopting a vegan diet and 63 percent for a vegetarian diet, which includes cheese, milk, and eggs. $1 trillion in annual health-care costs and lost productivity would be saved. … As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has said, making the transition to a plant-based diet may be the most effective way an individual can stop climate change.

A summary of solutions by overall rank from the book Drawdown can be found here

I’m mostly vegetarian myself, but as a start in this direction, I plan to try eating a vegan diet once a week. I’d also love to hear from any of you, what changes you’re making in your own lives as a result of the climate emergency, and any book references and website links you’d like to contribute to the new page.


Suggested resources from readers

from MM

An ordinary person who joined an Extinction Rebellion blockade

I’m an ordinary person who joined an Extinction Rebellion blockade. Here’s why you should too. It was way out of my comfort zone, but as a scientist I can tell you that the climate emergency is much more terrifying.


from WN

Jonathan Rowson: Integrating Our Souls, Systems, and Society

Applied philosopher Jonathan Rowson insists on holding a deeper appreciation for how our inner worlds influence our outer worlds. His research organization, Perspectiva, examines how social change happens across “systems, souls, and society.” “If we can get better and more nimble and more generous about how we move between those worlds, then the chance of creating a hope that makes sense for all of us is all the greater,” he says. We engage his broad spiritual lens on the great dynamics of our time, from social life to the economy to the climate.


from DP

Soft plastics recycling and where to recycle it in Australia

RED Group is a Melbourne-based consulting and recycling organisation who has developed and implemented the REDcycle Program; a recovery initiative for post-consumer soft plastic.


from IB

Danish–Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson exhibition: In Real Life
11 July 2019 – 5 Jan 2020 Tate Modern, London

Part of his goal here is to highlight climate change. At the Paris climate conference in 2015, and on multiple occasions since, he has placed lumps of melting ice in cities to highlight the glaciers’ demise. Here, he has cast an ice block in bronze to emphasize the space where lost ice should be. Eliasson is also capturing the ebb of Icelandic glaciers in a series of photographs, some on display. Like all his works, these seem to transport you to another world — then remind you that it is this world.


From WN

You mentioned in the blog only 3.5% of the population is required. Here are some figures:
In Australia, that’s 861,000 people
In New Zealand, 167,790 people
In the UK, 2,311,400 people
In the USA, 11,452,000 people
In Canada, 1,297,100 people
Do we know how many people in each of these countries are on board, i.e., how close are we?


From JC and JW

Here are some of the papers and books we have been looking at:

Norman Fischer “The World Could Be Otherwise”

Pema Chodron “Becoming Bodhisattvas”

https://www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf and a number of Jem Bendal’s Youtube presentations. (His work on Deep Adaptation seems really important, to support people to look at how things are)

“A Buddhist Response to The Climate Emergency” editied by John Stanley, David R Loy and Gyurme Dorje

“This is not a Drill” An Extention Rebellion handbook

“No one is too small” Greta Thunberg

“This changes everything” Naomi Klein