Wednesday, 18 June 2014

EcoDharma Buns

It's raining outside this morning - soft, feathery. The sort of rain that comes to mind when I read the Gaelic blessing - one of the oldest in Christian heritage

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be ever at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand

Across the Anglican Church, the Quakers, the Catholic Church - a broad sweep of Christian denominations worldwide - followers of Jesus are paying attention to the grotesque injustice of the effects of climate change on the poor, and are recognising the need to protect the natural world. And, as in the Celtic blessing, recognising how interknit we are with the soil in which our food grows.

It's not only Christians that are feeling a strong calling to incorporate climate change into their religious worldview. On Sunday 15th June at the Cambridge Buddhist Centre, EcoDharma buns came into being - a discussion and shared practice group of Buddhists who are concerned about the state of the world. It did not involve buns, but a fair amount of chocolate, cake and flapjack were consumed... The day was organised and facilitated by Oscar Gillespie, with an opening talk by Yogaratna, and delicious vegan quiche provided by Vimalabandhu. In his talk, Yogaratna stressed the need for an integrated practice. Engagement with world issues - on a political and economic level - low-carbon living, ethical procurement and consuming, activism - these are not add-ons, but as much of the spiritual practice as one's daily meditation.

For me it was very heartening to discover how much reflection and contemplation has been going on surrounding these issues already. Oscar provided a whole glut of material from across the Buddhist tradition - mostly from living teachers who exemplify their beliefs in how they live. Although it can always seem like we're never doing enough in the face of a problem of this scale - huge numbers of people, from all across the world, care. In fact, they profoundly care, and deeply reflect. While the current economic and political systems attempt to smother activism with consumerism, when those systems break apart - as they will - who will guide us? We will look to the prophets, the visionaries - and those who got on with what they had to do.

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