Later, sat together in my room Lindsay told me the story of how she got involved with DANCE, the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement.
“I had all these different ideas of what you had to be to get involved. I used to say that climate change wasn’t my thing. I think about that now and it’s like saying air is not my thing. Water is not my thing, or soil is not my thing. Then my practice as a buddhist really connected with a teacher who was one of the main founders of DANCE. He brought the ethics of the practice alive – how can you live a life and not engage with the evidence that is showing us really clearly that our planet is in distress?
“One of the key things with buddhist practice, is the eradication of ignorance. I realised that despite all this study, if I don’t turn towards the obvious fact, the barrage of evidence that has been coming from our scientists for the last fifteen years, then I’m in denial. If you choose to not know a truth you’re living a lie. A form of deceit, and it’s really hard.
“There was a statistic that came out in December 2013 the RSA survey on stealth denial that said that 67% of the British public are in a state of denial when it comes to climate change. They intellectually understand what’s going on but they don’t emotionally feel it, because it’s too much to feel. The fact that the government and the people that are supposed to be looking after us, aren’t looking after us. That’s a huge thing to face, so DANCE offered me two things. One was to bring buddhism alive into these times, the ethics of what it means to be fully engaged with the difficulties and suffering of the world right now. And secondly it meant that I could turn towards that which frightened me.
“DANCE has enabled us, as a group, to support each other in feeling into this tremendous fear, sadness, grief, this suffering of our planet, and secondly to transfer that energy into action. To get off the cushion, after you’ve done your meditative practice, and bring that into service for your world.
“Last year I did a three month silent meditation retreat at Gaia house in the middle of beautiful Devon. I had this deep yearning to be of service in the world, and I didn’t know how. I’d jumped from one thing to the next for a large part of my life, trying to work out what is it, this life that I love so much and this world that I love so much, feeling this tremendous responsibility to show gratitude for that in service and how can I best do that?
“On retreat I was guided by my teacher to plug myself into that yearning, and actually getting into that feeling was a really key part, because when I allowed myself to feel into the depth of that, the world opened. Something happened, whereby I lost a sense of my own personal identity instead things opened up to the giant conversation that was taking place around me through nature and suddenly this veil of me sitting separately from nature disappeared.
“I realised that with that denial I had not been reading up on what I needed to read about. I occasionally read things in the newspaper but I wanted to actually know the facts, to know what’s going on. I wanted to get engaged and I wanted to wake up. Reading the books cracked my heart open to the suffering of our planet. It totally altered my path when I came out the other side, there was no other choice but to get involved with this great adventure of our times. And climate change is that.
“All the connections, all the people that I’ve met since then, all the work that’s flowed out of that was plugging into that deeper yearning to serve and actually waking up to what is the most fundamental, pressing emergency of this time? What is the key issue? We haven’t chosen to be born into it, but this is what it is and this is the reality. And I want to live a life that is real. I don’t want to deny the reality, this is the reality, this is what we’re facing. Let’s get to work.”