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Sep 26
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Climate Warriors: Move to Karme Choling

Photo by Adam Bixby on Unsplash

By Mike de Give

Karme Choling announced in April a fundamental shift in how it operates. Instead of depending on programs as its main source of funding, KCL is inviting people to live on the land and form a new community of practitioners.

There’s a group of us already living at and around Karme Choling that calls ourselves The Foragers. We don’t speak on behalf of Karme Choling, but we do speak up. And we hope to influence the things that happen here.

This post is a call to Climate Warriors. It’s essential that you be part of this new community so you can influence it. 

Move to Karme Choling!

We believe that climate change is real, and that it’s caused by human activity. We believe that our system of government is incapable of addressing this issue. We also believe that good people who would like to live differently are paralyzed by fear of climate chaos and societal breakdown, and overcome with guilt about our collective complicity in the state of our planet. 

Our vision is to become a hub of resilient communities around the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. We aspire to develop food security by planting a food forest, building root cellars and instituting a canning process for the vegetables we grow. We want to feed the Karme Choling community and be a food-and-garden resource for local sangha members, while at the same time training our minds with meditation.

Our one-acre organic garden is a living classroom, with enthusiastic soil that’s been worked for 30 years by a master of Master Gardeners, Jan Enthoven. Karme Choling can be a place of teaching — and learning from others — about how to survive what’s to come, and disseminate this learning throughout the mandala. We need farmers and gardeners, as well as people who want to learn to become farmers and gardeners.

Our community includes healers who can help us make friends with the fear and guilt we hold. We also have the precious gift of meditation, and the profound, brilliant Shambhala dharma. And most importantly we have the support of each other and the aspiration to live in a sane and just society. 

We face a huge curve to sustainability and justice — like much of the rest of the United States. This old farmhouse is chained  to the electrical grid, full of leaks, and has an ancient and irresponsible heating system. We do not generate even a watt of energy from renewable sources. We rely heavily on fossil fuel. We’re not sustainable or carbon neutral. We’re not racially diverse. 

Come here and help The Foragers change that.

We’ve got land and exertion and meditation and each other. We offer a container of kind society. 

I’ve heard people say it’s cruel to declare that “chaos should be regarded as extremely good news” when the racial injustice in this country is beyond the boiling point and there’s a pandemic still raging. With the lives of loved ones cut short, hundreds of thousands falling ill, and our society falling into familiar and destructive patterns of misbehavior, to assert that there is “good news” seems insensitive to our collective suffering.

Except there’s a window opening right now at Karme Choling. And if there’s good news, it would be a mistake to overlook it.

I sense that our hearts are calling on us to ride the energy of this chaos into a saner way of living.

And way down here, near the end of this article, where fewer people will be reading, I will confess that I don’t know much about climate change. I’ll admit that I’m scared to read past headlines about melting ice shelves and continents of floating garbage and methane events and societal breakdown. I’m scared of my dystopian nightmares gathering energy. 

But there are people here who are braver and smarter than I am, who can look in directions that I can’t bring myself to look, and who nudge me out of my cocoon. I’ve learned that not being a climate expert or an environmental activist doesn’t bar me from wanting to evolve, and it doesn’t have to shut down avenues to building a saner society.

Join The Foragers! ([email protected])

Move to Karme Choling! www.karmecholing.org/residency-2

I’ve lived at Karme Choling for three years. Perhaps you have lived here awhile as well, or at least visited for meditation retreats. This place will drive you nuts. Or maybe expose the aura of craziness you are already radiating. Whatever. Because this is also a place with great potential, even amongst the chaotic backdrop of the world and the general discord within our own sangha. I think we can feel into that potential and bring it into being, in some form.

If that is something you want to be part of, join The Foragers.

Mike de Give has been a resident at Karme Choling.

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4 responses to “ Climate Warriors: Move to Karme Choling ”
  1. Am I the only one who wonders what happened to my sangha? KCL has converted to a politically correct commune, even banning fashionable or imagined thought crimes such as “unconscious racism” or “insensitivity to the experience of others”. And goodness forbid that anyone should decide to have sex. The requirement to sit about 4 hours per week means that there’s only a nominal connection between the new commune and the former practice center.

    Now there seems to also be a growing millennialist cult talking about “how to survive what’s to come”. What is to come? Is there an apocalypse I haven’t heard about? Have people learned nothing from the earlier, panicked escape to Canada, when they didn’t turn out to be in the vanguard of escapees from apocalypse? Are senior sangha really preparing to lock down and build a survivalist cult in the relative wilderness of northern VT? What happened to working with one’s world? What happened to the Buddhist path? We may very well face bad times ahead. Heat waves. Famine. Floods. But isn’t that always true? And it’s also always true that the melodrama of apocalypse worry provides a very seductive sense of purpose.

    I’m reminded of a public talk VCTR once gave at KCL. I think it was Thanksgiving, maybe late 80s. Someone asked about the end of the world. He answered that, “Unfortunately…… the world’s not going to end.”

  2. Barbara Stewart
    Sep 27, 2020

    The first settlers of the Rocky Mountain land that is now Shambhala Mountain Center went with the idea of forming a self-sufficient community, which they would support by crafts and growing their own veggies and so on. That was in the early 70s. The land wassoon turned into a major program centre where numerous teachings and dharma programs have been held. Jim Lowry wrote about this in his book, Taming Untameable Beings.
    So it’s interesting that Karme-Choling is harkening back to the past to turn itself into the kind of community that the first Pygmie settlers in the Rockies were attempting.
    Meanwhile, is there any way to explain to newer students that “Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news” is about meeting the chaos of the world — racism, financial struggles, illness — by looking reality in the face and working with it as a warrior, as usefully as you can, rather than evading or ducking or complaining about it, and also about realizing that our sufferings have been shared in one way or another since being began? That level of misunderstanding is frankly really depressing.

  3. Craig Adams
    Sep 27, 2020

    Bravo Mr. de Give!
    A brave call for a much needed initiative. You have inspired me to work harder to raise more good food for my family as part of a community infused with the dharma and meditation. For those considering such a move, I can attest to the deeper value of being a part of the day to day householder life at Karme Choling, a different kind of practice that brings one closer to others and the land that gives us sustenance. (Can’t think of a better place to wear away at our habit of what Jem Bendell calls “othering”).

  4. Megan Gilles
    Sep 26, 2020

    How about a vegan diet for everybody there! That would be very good for the climate and very good for buddhists who still think that if they do not kill and exploit the animals themselves it does not do any harm.
    Ahimsa is also good for so call Vajrayanists…….
    Maybe you already changed you diet in the last years…… but I remember 3 very meaty dishes a day…… and a lot of milk……the meat not even organic……same with the milk…… although I am pretty sure that cows who are raised organic do not want to die…..

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