As you may have heard, President Obama today unveiled his second-term plan to address climate change. His speech envisioned three obligations for America: ”cutting carbon pollution in America, leading international efforts to cut global emissions, and preparing the U.S. for the costly impacts of climate change.” You can read the full transcript here, and watch it online here.
Al Gore hailed the speech as “the best address on climate by any president ever.” Indeed, it creates an important and necessarly moral mandate for the country.
Though the President’s involvement is important, climate change is a problem that requires “all hands on deck.” Policy-making is crucially important, yes, but we all need to be involved in our own ways — including Buddhist communities.
One exemplary effort in this regard comes from One Earth Sangha, a new collective formed in coordination with Gaia House in the UK and Green Sangha in the Bay Area, and dedicated to “expressing a Buddhist response to climate change and other threats to our one home.” The group recently posted a petition online, requesting teachings and leadership on climate change from Dharma teachers within the Insight meditation community. They write:
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 as members of the greater Insight Meditation sangha are asking our Dharma teachers for their guidance and leadership in addressing the issue of climate change. According to our tradition, teaching is offered in response to a genuine request – coming from a readiness to hear, consider and engage with the truth of how things are. This request, signed by members of the sangha, will be taken to Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California this June, where it will be presented to the 60-80 senior teachers from the global Insight Meditation community as part of a session dedicated to the Dharma of climate change.
The Dharma offers great potential to help individuals, and society as a whole, accept the realities of climate change and respond with wisdom and compassion in action. This crisis has the potential to not only align ourselves with nature and reduce social inequity, but can also lead to the greatest awakening of the human mind and spirit ever seen.
We invite you to be part of this process by adding your name to the request below. We are coordinating with sanghas everywhere with hopes of gathering thousands of signatures. You can help us spread the word by sharing this with your fellow practitioners in-person or through online tools such as email, Facebook or Twitter.
In the Buddha’s moment of awakening, it was the Earth herself that confirmed his fundamental belonging, his right and power to be free. Will we confirm that belonging ourselves, awaken to this crisis and respond?
If you are so moved, please sign below then share and share and share!
Though they recently submitted a copy to the teachers’ gathering, if you’re a member of the Insight community, you can still sign here.
For my part, I am a trained and certified Climate Leader with Former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps. As a certified Climate Leader, I’m charged to go forth and present on climate change to various groups and communities. I’ve decided that I would like to make Buddhist communities a special focus of mine in this regard. As a Climate Leader, it is my hope that by offering presentations with the best and most up-to-date information on the climate reality I might help others in the Buddhist community and elsewhere get started and discern their best ways of responding. If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like me to come talk to your sangha/community/organization about climate change, request a presentation at my page on Climate Reality’s site and I’ll come talk to you. When I’m traveling and available to give presentations in other places that I find myself, I will make that known. (I’d also certainly consider coming to you wherever you are, but that will depend on my availability and you will have to cover my travel expenses.)
I hope you’ll become more involved in the climate movement if you’re not already. If you’re looking for a place to start, consider showing your support for the President’s speech with a “thank you” note.