Environmental Sustainability and Shambhala
On the occasion of Earth Day 2012, we are delighted to share with our entire community a fresh initiative for the whole of Shambhala to engage meaningfully with the pressing need for environmental sustainability.
In his Earth Day message this year the Sakyong, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, states:
As the world now faces seemingly insurmountable challenges, our future is at a crossroads …. It is no longer a time when the future can be decided by one person, or even a few individuals. Rather, as a global society, we must pause and reflect on this essential theme: who are we, and what are we doing? This is the meaning of Earth Day. It is a time when humanity can reflect on who we are and how we might move forward.
The full statement has been issued on the Shambhala Times and Shambhala News Service.
We, the Kalapa Council, view the human relationship with the natural world as one of the most important aspects of creating enlightened society. We are committed to supporting all efforts to manifest sustainability throughout our community as a part of our practice.
As a result of extensive discussion in the Shambhala Congresses, we have an active Touching the Earth Working Group. Like all the international working groups, it brings together people with commitment and expertise from across the mandala to address issues of deep concern to everyone.
This group of dedicated volunteers has set about the task of manifesting environmental sustainability and awareness in Shambhala Centers where no policies or practices exist, and to augment those that do exist.
From Earth Day onwards the Touching the Earth Working Group will be launching a mandala-wide contemplation and consultation on how best Shamhala – at all levels – can adopt and put into effect the urgently needed policies and practices that will bring us into line with contemporary standards for environmental sustainability.
The Touching the Earth group has worked on a Statement of View – that it wishes all centers to contemplate and discuss.
Central to the Shambhala approach to environmental sustainability is the significance of actively transforming our views about the earth. The Statement of View being circulated for discussion, prepared by former Warrior General Marty Janowitz, asks:
So the central question becomes: how do we as individuals and as collective humanity, transform our attitudes in order to transform our world? … Responding to this danger calls for a fundamental transformation of how we live.
If we value transforming attitudes, then we need practical methods to do so. Shambhala and other contemplative traditions offer such methods. We regard such training as an extremely valuable contribution to the ecological movement. In the words of the Statement of View:
In this context the individual tasks or projects are merely the building blocks. One by one they will not have deep and penetrating impact on our planet. Tackling light bulbs, waste, local food, energy or habitats will not seem like leaps forward. But as steps they are all stages of a genuine and important journey. This is the crux of the Shambhala systems approach. Whether we turn our attention to environment, health, arts, politics, meditation or any other aspect of the spiritual or temporal realms, we always have access to our hearts and the heart of the whole system. Our basic commitment is to keep showing up and to walk forward together – energetically, with basic goodness and in the vision of the Great Eastern Sun.
With this, the view of ecology deepens for the Shambhalian from respecting interconnectedness to experiencing and invoking the elemental magic of the world:
This is the discovery of magic in our environment. Connecting with this natural, magical energy that we name ‘drala’ (energy beyond aggression), is a portal for experiencing the brilliance of the world, recognizing the existence of that vast and primordial wisdom, which is reflected throughout phenomena.
Once centers have discussed the Statement of View, a Policy and Procedures document will also be circulated for further discussion. This document focuses on sustainability at our local centers. That would then lead to local decision-making on what each center is willing to do, followed by a manageable phase of putting those local decisions into practice.
To further the work of the Touching the Earth group, a network of local Liaisons has been established at some 16 Shambhala Centers. The hope is that there will soon be a local Liaison at every Shambhala Center. These Liaisons will communicate directly with the working group, and will lead initiatives at their own centers. The passion and creativity of these Liaisons will ignite the ‘neural network’ of this initiative, allowing it to evolve and find expression.
The Kalapa Council is delighted with the progress made by the Touching the Earth Working Group and is totally supportive of this initiative. We urge everyone to engage with this view, contemplation and the action that will help Shambhala as a whole live up to the contemporary standards for environmental sustainability – and deepen our understanding of the transformative power of the teachings and practices we hold.