Reflections on our October GreenFaith Actions
On the 17th and 18th of October many of us responded to the call from Greenfaith International to get together with others to meditate, hold space for reflection and be a fourth sight for public engagement .
London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Shrewsbury, Bristol and Brighton Buddhist centres took part by holding actions on 18th October outside their local Barclays banks. Barclays is the biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe, having invested nearly $145 billion since 2015.
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
On 17 October the Social Action Kula at Glasgow Buddhist Centre came together for a precious in-person meet. We were aligning with Greenfaith International's call to focus internally on our planet, on the climate crisis and our intentions to take the messages of fossil fuel divestment to the streets the following day. It was a strong morning founded on connection, movement, reflection, and earth-metta meditation, resourcing us and strengthening our purpose.
The next day, several of the Glasgow sangha, including our chair and a former chair(!), joined us in vigil and flyering outside a branch of Barclays, despite the rain. We also connected with Scotland's Christian Eco-Congregation and Reverend David joined us on his bike. Many passers-by accepted our flyer invites to bank more ethically. Some of us then carried a beautiful banner - specially made by a sangha member - along a route that took us past various High Street banks that fare poorly in the ethical rankings, stopping at each. A powerful day of collective intention.
Shrewsbury, England, UK
On Monday 18th October, Shrewsbury town centre witnessed an unusual sight: a group of black-clad Buddhists processing ritually down the main shopping street before taking their seats outside Barclays Bank for a simple action involving two short meditations. Two sangha members engaged with members of the public and Barclays customers in an entirely amicable and non-confrontational way, handing out flyers to those who wanted them. We got a warm reception on the whole, with some people maklng a point of telling us how they either had or were going to switch banks. The action made the local press, featuring as one of the headlines on Radio Shropshire before it had even taken place!
Bristol, England, UK: Meditation outside Barclays
Shantigharba led a mudra meditation evoking different Buddha qualities, including fearlessness. “What a great way to spend a wet Monday afternoon, may our collective practice have an impact for the benefit of all💚🌍☔” Cath Dixon, Bristol.
Brighton, England, UK
A group of us from Christian Climate Action and Brighton Buddhist Centre sat in meditation outside the main Barclays branch in the centre of Brighton. Some sat at a pink table helping passers by and customers learn how easy it is to switch accounts to a more ethical bank. Santacitta led the meditation including a series of mudras (or gestures) at the start of the meditation.
Sheffield, England, UK: Meditation outside Barclays Bank and a family-friendly morning at Sheffield Buddhist Centre
On Sunday 17th in Sheffield, Lilamati organised a family-friendly morning. She reports “There were 17 of us ranging in age from 3 to 80+. We read stories (Greta and the Giants is a great one for those with kids!) and 9 people gave 1 minute talks on why it is important to them that we respond to the climate crisis. Then we made window posters, chanted and did a ‘David Attenborough’ Metta bhavana sending Metta to all beings from the sea floor out into space (thanks to Khemasuri for the inspiration)!”
Faiths 4 Climate Justice, Vancouver BC Canada
The Oct. 17th day of climate action on the west coast of Canada was coordinated by Vancouver Greenfaith. Organizing team member, Christine Thuring, said, “As part of Greenfaith International, our vision is to unite and support all human beings who sense the existential threat of climate change and extinction; to honour the wisdom of all faith traditions; and to celebrate the diversity of care that we see expressed as such.” In addition to GreenFaith International's 10 Climate Demands, Vancouver Greenfaith emphasises cancelling new and expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure, like the Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipeline, and the granting of Aboriginal Title and Rights. In spite of torrential (“biblical”) downpour in the second half of the event, it was a huge success.
The Vancouver event opened with Indigenous ceremony, as is good protocol on stolen and unceded lands. Invited guests, Mary Point of xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) and Clarissa Antone of Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) welcomed the gathering with their traditional versions of the paddle song. This song would be drummed as a canoe entered another's' territory in order to convey peace and non-harm. Next, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Chief of Neskonlith Nation and Secretary-Treasurer of Union of BC Indian Chiefs, led the Seven Directions Ceremony. The Seven Directions are North, South, East, West, above (Grandfather Sky), below (Mother Earth), and inner (our own hearts). To anyone who has attended a Buddhafield event, this was reminiscent of the offerings made at the opening of every retreat.
The program that followed featured offerings of wisdom, music, and reflection from faith traditions including Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian and non-denoimational. Christine reflects, “The biggest take-away from me, which continues to unfold and resound in my heart-mind, is that we brought to life the truth of one-ness. The Coast Salish term, ‘we are one’ (nə́c̓aʔmat ct) was something I’d heard before. It was brilliant to physically experience this unity of hearts, particularly in a gathering where we were celebrating the diversity of traditions, which naturally required a delineation and separation between us. I also felt my own decolonization process shift a little bit more, along with my growing fluency in offerings and prayers.” Members of the Vancouver Buddhist Centre attended the event, including two order members and several mitras.
San Francisco, USA
As part of the series of events organized by GreenFaith, Members of the San Francisco Buddhist Center’s Green Sangha affinity group hosted a simple practice afternoon. We hung a banner on the Center that said “For the Benefit of All Beings: Divest from Fossil Fuels.” After acknowledging that we live within the occupied territories of the Ohlone and Coastal Miwok, and their ongoing presence here, we meditated together in the shrine room. We followed the sitting meditation with walking meditation through the San Francisco Mission District. Ethan led us as we walked, holding signs and ringing bells. There was a street festival happening on part of the route, and pedestrians engaged with us and our signage. Although some of the interactions, like “You’re too late!”, seem disheartening on the surface, we know that raising awareness is a complex process. For some of us, the sentiments expressed echoed the thoughts we confront in our practice, and it was useful to encounter them in the world. After the walk we returned to the shrine room for another short sit, led by Danamaya. “It was good to feel the company of other far-away sanghas as we practiced together,” said Rodashruti.
Next steps for Triratna Earth Sangha
The Triratna Earth Sangha convenors meet fortnightly via zoom on alternate timings to accommodate different time zones. All who sign up to our slack channel are welcome. At the last meeting (24th October) it was agreed that we need to formally constitute ourselves and register as a charity. We are also thinking ahead to our next big action together, which is likely to be Earth Day on 22nd April 2022.
Please feel free to get in touch with us with news and suggestions for our next newsletter by clicking here.
With metta from the Triratna Earth Sangha convening team.