The Jodo Shinshu (Buddhist) International Office and the Plum Village’s Earth Holder Community are offering events in advance of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which runs from 1–12 November. The first event, a discussion of “Faith & Science: Awakening Compassion for the Future,” will be held on 30 October from 2–5pm EST (7–10pm UTC). The second consists of 14 daily meditation cycles aimed at connecting with the “Living Earth in us and around us” and will begin with a Special Day of Mindfulness on 31 October. (Plum Village)
The faith and science discussion, hosted by the Jodo Shinshu (Buddhist) International Office, will be held on Zoom and seeks to answer the question “What can we do for our future?” (Facebook) In particular, the topic of affordable and clean energy—the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 7—will be discussed from both faith- and science-based perspectives. Registration is available here.
The keynote speaker for the event will be Dr. Miriam Hinostroza, head of the Global Climate Action Unit in the Energy and Climate Branch at the Economy Division of the United Nations Environment Program. Hinostroza is an environmental economist with a PhD in Energy Planning and 15 years of experience in energy policy and sustainability. She will be joined by Dr. Palitha Kohona, the Sri Lankan ambassador to China and former permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Zachary Markwith, education director at Islamic Networks Group (ING), Rev. Don Castro, founder of EcoSangha and retired Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) minister, and Rev. Dr. James Fredericks, emeritus professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University.
According to Rev. Castro, “To be a Buddhist is to be both an ecologist and a conservationist. This is the vision EcoSangha strives to promote.” (Ecosangha)
Furthermore, he writes:
In terms of ecology, the Buddha fully understands the profound problem of our earth in crisis. His insights of non- duality and interdependence are applied on a cosmic scale. In fact, the late professor of Buddhist Studies, Francis Cook, in the 1970’s referred to Buddhism as “cosmic ecology.” This is not ecology in the shallow sense but “deep ecology” in the deepest sense.
Not only does Buddhist ecology encompass the study of forest and ocean systems but also human values, family life and political activities, etc.(Ecosangha)
The event organized by the Earth Holder Community, a branch of Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery in the tradition of Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, begins on 31 October with a full “Day of Mindfulness” on the theme of protecting the Earth.
“For the special afternoon we would like to invite you to create a small altar to express your gratitude for Mother Earth—you can print out one of the calligraphy to put on your altar.” (Plum Village)
Practices will run through the day, Paris time, and will be live-streamed through the Plum Village YouTube channel. Those interested can register here and receive a daily offering of practices by email.
Plum Village founder Thich Nhat Hanh has often drawn from nature and the environment in his Buddhist teachings. In 2014, he was invited to address the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Part of his statement read:
The Earth is our mother, nourishing and protecting us in every moment—giving us air to breathe, fresh water to drink, food to eat and healing herbs to cure us when we are sick. Every breath we inhale contains our planet’s nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and trace elements. When we breathe with mindfulness, we can experience our interbeing with the Earth’s delicate atmosphere, with all the plants, and even with the sun, whose light makes possible the miracle of photosynthesis. With every breath we can experience communion. With every breath we can savor the wonders of life.(Plum Village)
Engaged Buddhism / Practices for COP26 (Plum Village)
Jodo Shinshu International Office (Facebook)
What Is EcoSangha Buddhism? (Ecosangha)
Thich Nhat Hanh’s statement on Climate Change for the United Nations (Plum Village)
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