Monday, September 22, 2014

A Final Image from the PC March

Here is a wonderful photo of Buddhist nuns Ayya Santussika and Ayya Santacitta during the March on Sunday by Thanissara:

NY Times article on the People's Climate March

Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets

Here are some excerpts from this New York Times article by Lisa W. Foderaro:

Legions of demonstrators frustrated by international inaction on global warming descended on New York City on Sunday, marching through the heart of Manhattan with a message of alarm for world leaders set to gather this week at the United Nations for a summit meeting on climate change.

Coursing through Midtown, from Columbus Circle to Times Square and the Far West Side, the People’s Climate March was a spectacle even for a city known for doing things big, and it was joined, in solidarity, by demonstrations on Sunday across the globe, from Paris to Papua New Guinea.

“I’m here because I really feel that every major social movement in this country has come when people get together,” said Carol Sutton of Norwalk, Conn., the president of a teachers’ union. “It begins in the streets...”

...From as close as the Bronx and as far as at least Rome, the demonstrators came in vast numbers. At one point early in the afternoon, the march came to a halt because the entire 2.2-mile route was full, and more than two hours into the procession, people were still setting out from the starting point near Columbus Circle.

Organizers, using data provided by 35 crowd spotters and analyzed by a mathematician from Carnegie Mellon University, estimated that 311,000 people marched the route. The signs that marchers held were as varied as the movement: “There Is No Planet B,” “Forests Not for Sale” and “Jobs, Justice, Clean Energy.”

The climax of the march came in the early afternoon. All along the route, crowds had been quieted for a moment of silence. On Avenue of the Americas at 57th Street, there was an eerie silence as marchers raised their arms and looked down.

Then at exactly 1 p.m., a whistle pierced the silence, setting off a minute-long cacophony intended as a collective alarm on climate change. There were the beats of the drums and the blaring of horns, but mostly it was whoops and cries of the marchers.

Last week, meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that this summer — the months of June, July and August — was the hottest on record for the globe, and that 2014 was on track to break the record for the hottest year, set in 2010.


Mindfulness and Climate Action: A Series of Online Conversations with Buddhist Teachers

An Initiative of One Earth Sangha, Buddhist Teachers Collaborative for Climate Action, and Conversations That Change The World from Maestro Conference

As part of Earth Care Week this October, the Dharma Teachers International Collaborative on Climate Change and One Earth Sangha will launch a set of five online conversations with leading Dharma and mindfulness teachers, listed below. This introductory series will be followed by a three-month online interactive program for aspiring “EcoSattvas” beginning Earth Day, April 22, 2015. Offered free to everyone with the invitation to donate, the conversations will be hosted by Dharma teacher Thanissara Weinberg and One Earth Sangha founders Lou Leonard and Kristin Barker as part of Maestro Conference’s Conversations That Can Change the World. We aspire to offer context, guidance and a practice to support this extraordinary journey, as we engage the immense struggle of our times with hope, fearlessness, and vision. To sign up, click here.
Join us, as together we can bend the course of history. See schedule below.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Latest from Thanissara: BUDDHISTS ROCK!

Here's an excerpt from Thanissara's blog, written by her friend Gayle Markow: 

The Climate March is gonna be huge. Seriously. Huge. And it will transform the movement for change. This is gonna be a wild and interesting ride. Not just the march, which is gonna be Huge. But the next few decades. Because the Earth, and mainly the survivability of our human (and lots of other) species is Seriously at risk, like Never Before. We’re moving rapidly toward what they call the “tipping point” where it will be too late to reverse, to salvage things. It’s already not clear whether we’ve already passed that point, but there seems to be some hope that we haven’t, but that also we don’t have much time, actually hardly any time.
There is a tremendous sense of urgency here. It’s contagious, and at the same time, hopeful. Because people – in large numbers – have gotten serious. I think we might be witnessing the “hundredth monkey effect." Wow. So, anyway, that was my day. If you can, get out and demonstrate tomorrow, and then be sure to watch the news, and see what kind of news we make here.”
Thanissara adds (follow her on Twitter here):
Back to NY Insight for a moment. The day included speeches on climate, Dharma, and activism, by Ayya Santacitta ("we are in climate chaos and there’s nowhere to hide"), Ayya Santussika (who reported on the Climate Train, Tar Sands and the Climate Pledge), Bhikkhu Bodhi (who talked of transforming fear into samvega – urgency – and desire into fearless compassion), David Loy ("a shift of relationship to body, self and earth"), Wes Nisker (the mystery of our cosmological reality, conveyed with humor and lightness), Rev TK ("nuclear waste is like having no toilet in your house!"), and myself (journey out of denial and reading from The Heart of the Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra.) 
Read full post here. (Photos courtesy of Thanissara)

Sing for the Climate: Buddhists Rock this Anthem of the Climate Movement

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Final Update: People's Climate March Info for Buddhists

For the NYC PC March on September 21, Buddhist Communities will meet on 58th Street between 8th & 9th Avenues, closer to 8th Avenue, at 12 noon. HOWEVER, the 8th Avenue entrance to this block will be closed, so please enter at 9th Avenue. (The official map showing “Interfaith” at 81st St is INCORRECT.)
This is the banner that Buddhists for Climate action will carry in the march.

For those traveling by Subway, we assume the 59th St. Subway station will be very crowded and involve extensive delays. So we advise approaching our gathering place from the south and considering the 50th St. stations for the C train, the E train, or the #1 train. All other marchers will be assembling north of us, using stations at 66th St., 72nd St., etc.

58th Street between 8th & 9th Avenues is the block for the Interfaith Groups, and Buddhist communities will have our own flag to identify us – there will likely be a fair number of people in robes ;-). Also, there will be march volunteers to guide you.
Please be aware that if the march attracts the numbers that we hope it will, the block might become full well before the march starts. We’ll need everybody to be flexible and recognize that if you come to the march location late or the numbers are much larger than expected, you may not be able to march with our group. Arrive early!
The most important thing is that we all show up and march!

Some sanghas will be meeting at their centers or other meeting points and traveling to the march together. You may want to check with friends and sangha members to arrange meeting points outside of Columbus Circle, as the immediate march area will be quite crowded. Have a march “buddy” to make sure you are never too lost or alone. Also, make a plan of where you’ll meet your friends after the march in case you can’t find them and/or your phone battery runs low.
You are invited to:
  • Bring hand-bells & hand-drums (be aware that sticks and metal rods are not allowed in the march);
  • Wear a unifying color in your group (some people are choosing to wear white);
  • Make/bring signs expressing Dharma messages.

Inspiring Images from the People's Climate Train, California to New York

Here are some photos taken along the way on the Climate Train as it went from near San Francisco through Chicago and arrived in Manhattan just a few days before the People's Climate March this Sunday, 9/21. All photos were provided courtesy of Sister (or "Ayya") Santacitta:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reflections by Ayya Santussika: The People's Climate Train - A powerful and empowering experience

Ayya Santussika (at center) leading a discussion on the climate train. Photo by Ayya Santacitta.
All along the way, as we passed through this great country from sea to sea, we were reminded of the devastation of climate change and the pillage and poisoning of the land and water by the fossil fuel industry. For example, we heard about the impact of Bay Area refineries from indigenous leaders. In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we smelled the smoke of the forest fires and saw it hanging in the air. In Utah and Colorado, we passed by long strings of tanker cars and open coal cars as we heard from young activists about the resistance to tar sands and fracking. 

People came from as far as Venezuela and Alaska to join the train, from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, covering the span of generations from those in their twenties to those in their eighties. We had faith leaders on the train from many traditions. Each spoke about the importance of working to change our course and connecting to spirit to find the enduring strength with which to do it. 

Living together for four days, we covered a lot of ground, learning from one another, strengthening each other, building enduring relationships and deepening our spiritual resilience. We emerged informed, energized, ready and connected. It was an unforgettable experience.

-Ayya Santussika

To read Thanissara's latest blog post about the People's Climate Train, click here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Moment of Silence During the March

At 12:58pm we’re holding a moment of silence in commemoration of the victims of climate change worldwide—and at 1:00pm we’ll sound the climate alarm.
The march is being led by communities directly impacted by the climate and economic crises, and indigenous groups from around the continent and the world. At 12:58, we’ll hold a moment of silence to honor those already lost or feeling the impacts. When you see people start linking hands and holding them above their heads, that’s the sign the moment of silence is beginning.
At 1:00pm we are going to end that moment of silence with a great, big noise—sounding the climate alarm that has been ignored for too long. You’ll know it’s time to ring that alarm and make as much noise as you can when you hear 32 marching bands blowing their horns and church bells ring from around the city (make sure bring your own noisemakers).
Coordinating tens of thousands of people in the streets like this is difficult—to help pull it off, please use your cell phone to text ALARM to 97779. We’ll send you a message that marks the moment of silence on Sunday and some basic instructions to help spread the word.

Here's an excerpt on the moment of silence from "Two Silences and a Big Loud Noise at the People's Climate March" by Bill McKibben in

The second silence is more significant and more powerful. It will last two minutes, from 12:58 to 1:00 p.m., and it is in commemoration of those who are the first victims of the fossil fuel industry. Some of those will be on hand -- the march is being led by frontline communities and indigenous groups from around the continent and the world, people who've watched their lands and neighborhoods wrecked by tarsands mining or fracking wells or stinking refineries, or by superstorms and megadroughts. Far more of these frontline communities will be watching from afar, in the more than 2,000 solidarity demonstrations in 152 countries. For me, this will be the most powerful part of the day, a chance to reflect on all the people I've met in the 25 years since I started writing about this mess: the people dying of dengue in Bangladeshi clinics, or rallying in the Maldives to save their homes which sit a few feet above the seas; the people even this week dying in the flooded fields of Kashmir as record flooding wrecks their meager livelihood.
And not the people alone. Yes, this is the People's Climate March, but we rally as well for the rest of creation -- for the half of species on this planet that will blink out this century if we can't bring this scourge under control. It's not wrong to shed a quiet tear for the beauty of this sweet planet.
Nor for all those people we can barely imagine, who will have to live in a world we've degraded and impoverished. Climate change is one of the most destructive things human beings have ever done; this short silence is a moment to plumb the depths of sadness and despair that have brought us together. In the normal bustle of Manhattan this silence should haunt and echo.
To read the entire article, click here

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Update from the People's Climate Train by Thanissara

Here's an excerpt from Thanissara's blog from aboard the People's Climate Train:
7.30am, Amtrak rail station, Emeryville East Bay, CA. We arrive into a swirl of people as a great buzz of excitement ripples around the station lobby. James Baraz and Wes Nisker are here to see us off. At the station – our first rally – banners and speeches from a 1st Nation elder, Santiago, from Venezuela, Valerie Love – wondrous all-round organizer from Center for Biological Diversity – Ayya Santussika & Pennie Opal Plant 1st Nation Cherokee who said we are the 'immune system' of the planet rising up... (To read more, click here.)

(l to r: James Baraz, Ayya Santussika, Ayya Santacitta, Milo Burn, Thanissara)

Climate activists boarding the People's Climate Train at the Emeryville Station.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dharma in Action (Excerpt) by Ven. Santussika Bhikkhuni

At this moment in human history, the unrestrained extraction and burning of fossil fuels has brought us, in the industrialized nations, to the point where we are contaminating and pillaging the Earth to such an extreme that we are endangering all life on this planet. Nothing could be further from the intention and practice of dharma...

The dharma encourages us to take a hard look at what is happening and seek out appropriate action to extricate ourselves from destructive practices. We need to set a new course for our society toward wholesome, sustainable, and compassionate living.

We cannot accomplish this through individual action, no matter how hard we try. Our energy infrastructure and our economic model itself must be rethought. We need to come together in massive numbers to influence the systemic changes that are needed.
Desperate to bring world leaders together in commitments of concrete action, the UN Secretary General has called a summit for September 23rd in New York City. In solidarity and support, organizations and individuals by the tens of thousands from across the US are planning to converge on New York on September 21 for the People’s Climate March, expected to be the largest demonstration for climate action in history.

[To read the full statement on the Tricycle blog entitled Dharma in Action: Our collective economic practices are endangering life on Earth. It’s time to set a new course through collective action by Ven. Santussika Bhikkhuni, click here.]

Join the PCM Thunderclap to promote the NYC March on 9/21

People's Climate March just launched a Thunderclap to promote the march -- click here to sign up with your Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr to join a huge simultaneous social media post on September 15th and make sure everyone knows that this is too big to sit out.

This September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a landmark Climate Summit at the United Nations. But we shouldn’t trust those leaders to take action on their own -- we need to prove to them that the world’s people demand action right now.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history by taking to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach. A world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

Join us on September 21st in New York City for a climate march bigger than anything before.

Mobilizing for the People's Climate March by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

Excerpt from "Moving From a Culture of Death to a Culture of Life: Mobilizing for the People's Climate March" by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (Truthout | Op-Ed):

On September 21, concerned citizens from all across the United States, and from many other lands, will be converging on New York City for the People's Climate March, billed to be the biggest climate march in history. The immediate occasion for the march is the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations for a summit on the climate crisis being convened by the UN Secretary General. The march's purpose is to tell global leaders that the time for denial and delay is over, that we have to act now if we're going to secure the world against the ravages of climate change. The annual COP climate conferences have repeatedly turned out to be cop-outs, carnivals of deception launched with grand rhetoric, but ending in stalemates or hollow promises. People are ready to march in order to show that this won't do. We must recognize that climate disruption is real, that the consequences of inaction will be catastrophic and that the need for swift and effective action is overwhelming. Preserving the crucial life-support systems of planet Earth simply won't be possible with the tiny baby steps that have so far been taken. If we're going to emerge intact, what we need at minimum are binding and enforceable commitments to steep cuts in carbon emissions coupled with a mass-scale transition to renewable sources of energy.

*To read the full article, click here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Excerpt from "Buddhism and the People's Climate March" by Seth Zuihō Segall

Excerpt from The Existential Buddhist's recent post entitled "Buddhism and the People's Climate March" by Seth Zuihō Segall of the White Plains Zen Center:

Buddhism has a role to play in this world-wide emergency (of climate change). As Buddhists, we recognize the reality of impermanence, the fragile interdependence of the web of life, and the interplay of causes and conditions. We recognize the importance of seeing things as they are, and our responsibility for the care of all beings. We understand karma — the ripple effects of our actions on others and ourselves throughout space and time. 

All of our understanding as Buddhists impels us to act with compassion and responsibility. There are things we can do on an individual level to mitigate risk — weatherizing our homes, installing solar panels on our roofs, swapping out incandescent light-bulbs for LEDs, buying more fuel efficient vehicles. But those individual actions, useful as they are, are not enough to make a real difference. We must also work together collectively to change the way we produce and consume energy on a regional, national, and international scale.

It may already be too late. Even if the industrialized nations step up to the plate, the rising nations may not. But we have to start somewhere. Every journey starts where we are. Every successful international movement — consider the abolitionists and suffragettes — starts with individual acts of conscience and a dedicated minority that persists until it prevails. Sitting back and doing nothing because someone else may fail to act is, on the other hand, a guarantee for planetary disaster.

So our little sangha — White Plains Zen — will be marching alongside other Buddhist groups from the New York area — groups like the Brooklyn Zen Center, the Buddhist Council of New York, Buddhist Global Relief, the Downtown Meditation Community, The Interdependence Project, New York Insight, the Rock Blossom Sangha, the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York, the Shantideva Meditation Center, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, the Village Zendo, and Zen Center of New York City, and alongside representatives from other faith communities.

To read more, click here.

New York Insight's RSVP page for The March

We highly recommend signing up for the People's Climate March on the
as a way to track how many Buddhists are planning to attend on Sunday, 9/21.*

*Please do this even if you have already signed up and pledged to march on the main PCM website or anywhere else.

Buddhist Partnering Orgs for the People's Climate March on 9/21

Here are some participating Buddhist-affiliated organizations already signed on as official Partners for the People's Climate March:
  • Aloka Vihara;
  • Awakening Truth;
  • Brooklyn Zen Center;
  • Buddhist Association of the United States;
  • Buddhist Collaborative for Climate Action;
  • Buddhist Global Relief;
  • Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation;
  • Community of Mindfulness/NY Metro
  • Insight Meditation Society;
  • Karuna Buddhist Vihara;
  • Natural Dharma Project;
  • New York Insight Meditation Center;
  • Newark Community Meditation Center;
  • Omega Center for Sustainable Living;
  • Omega Institute;
  • One Earth Sangha;
  • San Francisco Insight;
  • Shambhala Meditation Center of New York;
  • Shantideva Meditation Center;
  • Spirit Rock Green Group;
  • The Interdependence Project;
  • Village Zendo;
  • White Plains Zen;
  • Zen Center of NYC Earth Initiative.

Earth Vigil planning Silent Meditation in Central Park before People's Climate March

Earth Vigil, an initiative of the Rochester Zen Center in Upstate NY, is planning a large meditation presence to take place before, during, and after the People's Climate March itself. We would like to warmly invite you to join us in bearing witness to the climate crisis by sitting in silent meditation together.  

We will begin on Saturday afternoon, September 20. The location is Central Park, right along 59th St between 7th and 8th Avenue. We will keep up the vigil (possibly overnight, maybe not) until some time after the march has ended on Sunday, September 21.

People are welcome to come and go as they please. Bring any meditation equipment that you'd like, and eco-friendly bubble wrap and inflatable beach balls will be available to serve as mat and cushion for those that need them.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Join New York Area Buddhist Leaders for the People’s Climate March in NYC on 9/21

We urge all Buddhist-affiliated groups, organizations and sanghas to strongly encourage their members to join The March on September 21 for this historic event.

The People’s Climate March is fast approaching and momentum is gathering. According to the vast majority of scientific experts, climate change is the greatest crisis our civilization has ever faced. World leaders including President Barack Obama will be meeting at the UN Climate Summit in New York on September 23 to discuss strategies for our collective future on this planet. Together we must mandate that they take definitive steps towards a cleaner energy future with greatly reduced pollution. As the Buddha taught, we are all interdependent, so let us march as one sangha and one voice for swift, effective action on climate change.

Sign up for the People’s Climate March and learn about other options for participating at the Buddhists and Other Mindful Activists site. 

Please commit to the People's Climate March through New York Insight.

If you cannot make the trip to NYC, consider acting locally with your sangha. For help, visit's global mobilization page

Watch Disruption—an extraordinary film about the March.


Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Founder, Buddhist Global Relief: "I am going to join the March because I believe that climate change is the greatest moral challenge we face today, asking us each to take personal responsibility for the fate of humanity as a whole. It also offers us a unique opportunity to change the dominant social paradigm, from one that extols competition and commodification to one that extols cooperation and affirms the intrinsic value of all people and all living beings on this planet."

Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, President, Buddhist Council of New York: "I am joining the People's Climate March in order to lend my voice to the growing serious concerns about environmental issues which affect all living beings on our earth. I was so disappointed when the U.S. in 2001 rejected the "Kyoto Protocol" international agreement created by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. As time passes, more people are becoming aware of the environmental impact caused by climate change. Now is the time to appeal to governments to consider this issue together on September 21 just prior to the UN assembly. We all live on this planet, and we therefore have responsibility to take care of it well."  

Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara, Abbot, Village Zendo: “I am joining the People’s Climate March because all of us ‘people’ are the ones who can make change for the well being of this, our home, the Earth. We are speaking up and supporting a healthy and vibrant Earth that can feed and nourish all beings. Let us discard the old forms of exploiting our Earth and instead embrace stewardship and care. Join us and we can make a difference!”

Ven. Bhante Kondañña, Abbot, Staten Island Buddhist Vihara (Sri Lankan Buddhist Community): “I am joining with the concerned people’s march for saving our planet. This is the only planet we have to share with other millions of living beings. Every living being is important as my own life. Each one of us is responsible for saving our earth that we are living in. Due to greed and ignorance or being unable to see the danger ahead of us, many unconcerned people are polluting our mother earth in many ways. It is time to act to make them aware of it. So, I join with People’s March to support to save this planet for all people and all living beings!”

Ven. Kenpo Pema Wangdak, Abbot, Palden Sakya Centers (Tibetan Buddhist Community): “I ask Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to give us all the wisdom of protecting our earth and the power to save, even for an extended day. May they give us the strength to change the course of the potentially disastrous chain of environmental events. May they help us to see all the things, religion, spirituality, scientific progress, history, beauty, art, including our mental peace and the enlightenment, and everything that is possibly good for humanity and that humanity aspires for, and that all the living things on this little globe, all will be in vain without the healthy Mother Earth. Let us remind ourselves that it neither is too early nor too late, neither a good time or a bad time, that there is nothing more important than this living, breathing Mother Earth, and that everything else is secondary.”

Ven. Refa, President, American Buddhist Confederation (Chinese Buddhist Community): "I am joining the People's Climate March. I believe that it is a good opportunity to expand the compassion of Buddhism. It is a way to wake up leaders of the world to face the crisis of Climate Change. It is also a chance to stop overtaking the resources of the earth. That will make the world more peaceful."  

Ven. Hwikwang, Abbot, East Regional Jogye Order of North America (Korean Buddhist Community): "You may not feel that global warming is a serious problem. But, if global warming pollution and the temperature of the earth are increased more than now, it would be very harmful to everyone. On September 21st, please come out to NYC with your family, friends, and your pet if you have one and show your concern for global warming. To keep our environment safe, clean, and healthy, we need your voice and participation."

Sensei Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Abbot, Brooklyn Zen Center: "As a Buddhist and a human being, if I am sincere in my vows to liberate all suffering, to cease from harm, and to be of benefit in this world, then to be passive or ignore the present suffering that we call 'Climate Change' would be to make my vows a farce. This may be the greatest moral and practical challenge that the human sangha has ever faced: How to face such overwhelming truths as we recognize in the state of our planet, to be fearless in the presence of fear, to be utterly committed, and to do so without hatred or denial? I hope to see you on the streets of this great city on September 21."