No Time to Lose: A Dharma Response to Climate Change Part 2: Jack Kornfeld

No Time to Lose: A Dharma Response to Climate Change Part 2: Jack Kornfeld
This is the second post of notes from the Livestream event held on September 15th, a fundraiser for OneEarthSangha.org and in anticipation of the Climate Strike, led by students, to be held September 20, 2019.

Sunday, September 15, I attended No Time to Lose: A Dharma Response to Climate Change held at Spirit Rock, and to my gratitude, Livestreamed. As it was an all day event, I took notes from numerous speakers. I will post them over the next few days so that each person's words will have space to be digested.

The following are my notes of Jack Kornfeld's talk. The words and ideas are from him, which, once again, makes for an odd blog post.

Kornfeld told of asking his old teacher in Thailand about the struggle American students had with self-love and self compassion. The venerable answered that if the students went out in the woods and prayed for loving kindness, the students would soon include themselves. He then mentioned the Buddhist response to deforestation in Thailand was to go in the forest to ordain trees. They would ordain the largest, oldest trees as Abbots of the Forest. These sections of forest were left alone.

So the question is how do we live with climate change, and how do we practice with it?

It is best to return to the four noble truths.

One. Life has suffering.
Billions of tons of methane have been released. Glaciers and icebergs are disappearing. The polar ice caps which reflected the sun, and consequently the sun's heat, have shrunk almost to nothing in the North Pole, and actively shrinking in the South. The military and the shipping industry are just waiting for the ice to melt in the North Pole to open up shipping lanes. We are experiencing the sixth extinction.

Two. Causes of suffering.
Just as in our human lives greed, delusion, and hatred are the causes of suffering. The delusion is of our separateness. Every breath we take was breathed by someone before us, generations before us.

Three. There is an end to suffering.
Waking up from the trance of separateness.

Four. Eightfold Path.
And so forth.

Kornfeld followed with a story about Christiana Figueres, the former chief of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, who orchestrated United Nations climate negotiations in Paris, became suicidal while planning and orchestrating the Paris Climate Conference. She read Thich Nhat Hanh's books, and went to Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh's monastery in France, and was able to heal. She used the teachings not only to get through, but to teach others. One of the most important things was for countries to look at themselves not as victim, nor as perpetrator. One hundred and eighty six countries signed the accord.

Kornfeld emphasized, for us not to feel guilty. "Do not try to save the world out of anger, fear or guilt. Save the world as an act of love." He recommended a book called Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, Paul Hawken, ed. http://www.drawdown.com

This book has a list of things we as individuals and as society can do to reverse climate change, in order of importance. Paul Hawken gathered together the worlds experts on each item. The most important, are reduce food waste, rebuild the kelp forest(kelp in cattle feed causes them to pass less gas), and educate and empower women.

The earth wants to renew itself. He mentioned Chernobyl. No matter how the government tried to cover up the accident, the winds told the story. Kornfeld also mentioned Wengaari Maathi, who orchestrated the planting of fifty-one million trees, one tree at a time, [side note: by empowering women].

"Save the world as an act of love. How you do it matters."

Kornfeld finished with a Molly Ivins quote. “So keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it."

No Time to Lose: A Dharma Response to Climate Change Part 1: Joanna Macy

No Time to Lose: A Dharma Response to Climate Change Part One: Joanna Macy
This is the first post of notes from the Livestream event held on September 15th, a fundraiser for OneEarthSangha.org and in anticipation of the Climate Strike, led by students, to be held September 20, 2019.

Yesterday, I attended No Time to Lose: A Dharma Response to Climate Change held at Spirit Rock, and to my gratitude, Livestreamed. As it was an all day event, I took notes from numerous speakers. I will post them over the next few days so that each person's words will have space to be digested.

The following are my notes of Joanna Macy's first talk. The words and ideas are from her, which makes for an odd blog post.

While she was practicing walking meditation one day, recently, a minor memory replayed over and over, in her head. She heard a voice: "Just Fall in Love with What Is." She had a vision of two curtains, one uncovered the IPCC report where we have twelve years, and the other revealed Bolsonaro's election. In essence, she was being told to stop her preoccupation with herself, and accept what is happening.

Macy told us that we are entering a time of "bardo," that is a huge change in the conditions of your existence, according to Tibetan Buddhism. Climate crisis is a bardo. Enter it together. Enter from the East where the Mirror Wisdom Buddha resides. The mirror is to us and our world.

There are three realities:

Business as usual

The Great Unraveling-which is accelerating

The Great Turning-Inspired by the wheel of the dharma

The world, maimed and burning as it is, is alive. You are a part of the earth. You are the earth. We cannot stop climate change to go back to what we were before. We can build a society that works within. We need to learn how to take care of one another. We need to find our way back to each other. Indigenous traditions show us how. Take stock of your response to a society in collapse so:

As I face the world collapsing, what I am grateful for is:

As I face the political economy collapsing, what I fear is:

As I face the political economy collapsing, what I will try to remember is:

Even though the economy is big and noisy, it institutionalizes the three poisons. 

Consumer, growth orientation: Greed

Military industrial complex: Hatred

Media: Delusion

Don't privatize your grief. It is a collective phenomenon. It's the other face of love. The political economy holds on to its power by pathologizing our grief.

In Light of Pentecost

Today is Pentacost Sunday. I celebrated twice, first with the Earth Holder Sangha, online, from home. The topic was "Being a Lotus in Today's Sea of Fire." Our facilitator, George, referenced an early book by Thich Nhat Hanh called _Lotus in a Sea of Fire_, and asked, "Can we be that lotus - one that is fresh, beautiful and strong, amidst today's raging seas of hatred, tribalism, greed and indifference?"

The lotus flower referred to is from the Lotus Sutra, referring to a flower rising up from the fire, much as it rises from the mud. The mud and the muck is just as much a part of the lotus as is the bloom itself. It's beauty and strength comes from the muck. One of the Plum Village nuns shortened the saying to No Mud, No Lotus, for Thich Nhat Hanh's, calligraphy. The metaphorical flower that stays fresh, cool and beautiful in the fire, does so by zen practice, compassion, mindfulness, meditation, and keeping centered. He brought up a quote by Justice Ginsburg arguing with Justice Thomas, that his argument had more heat than light. Essentially, by modeling these practices, being the light, much compassion can be generated to alleviate day to day pain, suffering, and indignities, and inspire others to learn to alleviate the suffering of our broken world. Our earth is literally and figuratively on fire. George envisioned us as lotus flowers with little solar panels in the center, offering light, and I imagine, cooling relief.

Next, Kimberly and I attended the Pentacost service at Holy Faith Episcopal Church, a truly multicultural church with a bilingual service that we drive thirty minutes, or more, to attend. Father Francisco's sermon reminded us that the church was born in the fire. Much like today, the church was born during a declining empire, with pain and suffering for most. If we do the actual work of the church, that is feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, visiting the incarcerated, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick, and clothing the poor, we too, can walk through the fire. Inspire rather than preach. Be the light and ANSWER the call. "The fire next time," kept going through my head, reminding me that we are most likely in the proverbial "fire next time." I am reminded time and again that my liberation is bound with the other oppressed, and that I must continue be anti-racist and work against white ideology, that sin with particular meaning and unhealed history, in this country.

The service did end with a hymn that I loathe. "They will know us by our love." I think that's the title. I have had it as an ear worm throughout the day. I do not like to consider myself Christian, because of how much petty meanness, pain, and suffering have been caused by those in the church today, all the way back to the crusades, and further, I am sure. When I see lights, like my seminary professors, and Francisco, Gene Robinson, and the womxn of Black Lives Matter, Aisha Mason, and Anthony Manousos, my Unitarian Universalist activist brethren and my wife, whose lights have been lit by those who have gone before, I can step back, and place them in the continuum of those who have thirsted for justice.

How does one shine a light on for others in the midst of a world of Racism, Nationalism, Homophobia, Transphobia, Ableism, phobias of the poor and the different, and finally, a Climate Emergency. Answer the call, and care for your spirit first. It's both/and, not either/or. In order not to not burn out, the Zen practices will help allay the inevitable suffering that goes along with my passion for making a small difference. How do you take care of your spirit, and are you?

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