Earth Care Week inspires Buddhist activism, online statements

Buddhist communities throughout North America, as well as several abroad, are making a point of expressing their concern and positive aspirations for the future of our planet as part of Earth Care Week, October 1-7. The effort to raise awareness and stimulate activism is being organized by the newly-formed online resource site, One Earth Sangha. (Read our previous post about OES here.) Besides the variety of local events, two Buddhist teachers — James Baraz and Jack Kornfield — have issued statements that are echoing across the internet. (More, with video, after the jump.)

In “Earth Care Week: Buddhists Respond to Climate Change,” teacher and author James Baraz recalls the urgency with which many Buddhist leaders recently have been confronting climate change, and discovers optimism in the basic Buddhist notion that it is suffering itself that most often acts as the catalyst for awakening.

“We just might wake up,” Baraz says, “and realize how precious life is and how much we love this planet and all the life on it. We can discover a new way of living together where greed is not the main principle driving success, oil is not king and huge corporations run by a small group of the rich and powerful aren’t the ones who makes the rules for the rest of us.”

One of Baraz’s commenters amplifies the point, citing activist Paul Hawken’s view as to how we might abandon despair

“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.”

In “All the Technology in the World Will Not Stop Climate Chaos,” author and mindfulness pioneer Jack Kornfield directs our focus to the ongoing need to gain a deeper and deeper sense of the interconnectedness and interdependence of life and all that supports it. (An #earthcareweek tweet quotes John Muir: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”) Let such a sense guide your actions, he urges:

“Global climate change is real. And it can become a vast tragedy, or through our collective action — action born of interconnectedness — we can still make a huge difference. We must begin, one person at a time and one step at a time, to make changes in the way we live on this earth. Above all, we must each stop encouraging the use of dirty fossil fuels, and we must stand up for clean energy.”

See Kornfield’s video statement here:

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