“In the face of impermanence and death, it takes courage to love the things of this world and to believe that praising them is our noblest calling.”
― Joanna Macy, from A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke
The quote above appeared in Richmond Zen’s recent newsletter.
Sanghas in many places are celebrating Earth Month and Earth Day (April 22) in unique ways, some of them involving their wider communities.
Richmond (VA) Zen Center members gathered on April 16 in a local park where they planted trees in November 2019. After sitting with all beings, they chanted the Heart Sutra and shared poems. The invitation was to “bring a favorite poem that speaks to you of our inextricable bonds with the planet that supports us.”
Members of Houston Zen Center (TX) painted on the sidewalk, and a beautiful Buddha emerged. Via Colori supports Houston’s Institute for Spirituality and Health. During the event on April 2-3, local artists, underwritten by sponsors such as Houston Zen Center, paint squares of the plaza or sidewalk in front of the old main post office building. You can view photos of their creation here.
Brattleboro (VT) Zen Center’s Eco-sattva group meets twice a month. The group’s purpose is three-fold: to support the individual environmental work of each member, to review what we might take on as a group, and to provide support for other groups. Topics of discussion are broad and range from social justice to light pollution to civil disobedience action.
The group has collected signatures for 350.org, and hosts a silent meditation for the earth and all beings every Saturday in downtown Brattleboro. This month the group will participate in 350.org‘s Earth Day event in Brattleboro on 4/22, by sitting in silent meditation and then marching in the parade.
Jeff Bickner, a Senior Dharma Teacher at Everyday Zen Foundation in the SF Bay Area, gave a lecture in a public health course at U.C. Berkeley on Faith and Sustainability on April 4 to 280 students.
On Saturday April 23, members of Mountain Rain Zen Community in Vancouver, BC will walk together in silent witness to Trans Mountain’s oil storage facility on Burnaby Mountain. They will “mindfully walk along the gentle footpath that borders six hundred meters of the Federal Government’s facility. In this walk we honour the spring, its creatures (including us), and our hope that soon the storage facility will shrink, rather than expand, as now planned by the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.”
Mountain Rain is also organizing a two-week Earth Care Market, with a focus on “gently used books, crafts, and art.” Proceeds from the market will be donated to the Circle of Eagles Society, which “supports Indigenous Brothers and Sisters leaving federal institutions and those dislocated from society to reintegrate into Community by providing wholistic services and culturally safe spaces.”
Alan Senauke, Abbot of Berkeley Zen Center, writes: “Berkeley Zen Center is beginning to explore principles and plans for environmental sustainability as a practice place. If you have established protocols and policies, can you share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org ?”
There are so many ways in which we can express our connection to planet Earth and all beings!
Mid City Zen in New Orleans, in partnership with the Jumpslide Artist/Activist Residency, is welcoming a guest teacher (or teachers) to New Orleans this June and July to help support our sangha in terms of practice and organization, and also enter into conversation with our sangha and our city around the many topics unique and amazing to this place (from social justice and climate change to music and masking). We are currently without a resident priest and are a peer-led sangha (with lots of help from supporting priests). We have a lovely zendo and currently offer zazen 3 mornings a week and have a Sunday morning program that includes beginner instruction, service, 2 periods of zazen, and study group. We can offer free housing (the main Jumpslide house), use of a car, and a small honorarium of $50/wk up to $200, and people can stay longer than 4 weeks if they like. Please contact Jon Voss at email@example.com if you’re interested.