Engaging with climate change as a Buddhist

In Totnes I had my first introduction to DANCE – the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement. Dharma is an Indian word and concept that has many meanings and nuances in different religions but in the context of Buddhism my understanding is that a simplified definition would be the teachings of Buddha and a ‘right way of living’.

One of the founders of DANCE, the inspiring Rob Burbea, kindly explained what had driven him to start the network. The interview will be in the documentary we are compiling of the journey. The idea behind DANCE is to create a space where people can connect and explore a wider range of possible responses to climate change within Buddhist teachings, and to discuss their feelings.

Upon arriving in Bristol I met my first DANCE member. Lindsay Alderton and I crossed paths through her work in Global Power Shift UK, where many climate change groups are coming together to form a larger movement. In conversation it turned out she was also a member of DANCE in Bristol, as was her friend Julia. They had done a range of activist actions that you might expect from other climate change groups, but the thing that struck me as noticeably different was the manner of contemplation. Conversations were much more present, listening and open, more contemplative and exploratory. Their behaviour suggested little attachment to tactics and more of a focus on a process of development and openness. Lindsay kindly did an interview for me and it was very obvious to me that she had emotionally processed a lot more of the trauma of climate change than the vast majority of people I have met, it was not an abstract intellectual concept, but an emotional reality that was driving the motivations of her life.

The purity of her intentions and statement of her truth was very moving and inspiring for me, leaving me feeling strengthened. When you meet someone with a pure intention to reduce suffering and protect our future it restores your trust and your faith, it is easier to connect and to bring out those things within yourself.

The teachings which arise out of Buddism have brought a great deal to the world and I look forward to them bringing a lot more to the responses to climate change.



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