The ecological crisis isn’t a future threat. It is our present reality.
For thousands of years, Buddhist teachings have provided tools for awakening to the reality of what is—including life’s inherent impermanence, uncertainty, and suffering. How can the dharma help us to better understand and address the predicament we currently find ourselves in? What do Buddhist teachings and practices have to offer for helping us to live harmoniously—and be effective agents of change—in the face of catastrophe?
In honor of Earth Day 2022, Tricycle is bringing together leading Buddhist teachers, writers, and environmentalists for a donation-based weeklong virtual event series exploring what the dharma has to offer in a time of environmental crisis. This week’s events will explore three dimensions of the ecological crisis: the spiritual and psychological roots of the crisis, dealing with the difficult emotions that arise, and taking meaningful action.
Event replays will be made available to all registrants after the end of the summit.
This is a donation-based event. The suggested donation is $30.
Humanity has found itself in the middle of the sixth mass extinction. How did we get here—and how are we to live together in this world? Building on Batchelor’s essay “Embracing Extinction,” (the cover story for Tricycle’s Fall 2020 issue), Stephen and Tricycle Editor-in-Chief James Shaheen will explore the extent to which psychological and spiritual factors lie at the roots of the climate crisis and whether Buddhists need to pay greater attention to understanding the role played by systemic biological, social and political conditions.
The ecological crisis is not only a technological, economic and political problem but also—and most fundamentally—a spiritual challenge: it is about our relationship with the Earth, which is our mother as well as our home. What does Buddhism offer that can help us understand our situation and respond appropriately? In this talk and Q&A session, Zen teacher and Ecodharma author David Loy suggests that while traditional Buddhist teachings do not address the environmental crisis directly, there are important parallels between what Buddhism says about our usual personal predicament and our collective predicament today.
Through storytelling, contemplation and symbolic consciousness, many cultures have lived in a relationship with the Earth that is embodied, emotional and intuitive. In the West, we have largely lost this embodied relationship to the natural world, relating to nature instead from the rational, empirical perspectives of science and law. In this conversation, moderated by Mary Evelyn Tucker of the Yale Forum for Religion and Ecology, writer and activist Terry Tempest Williams joins dharma teacher and Green Buddhism author Stephanie Kaza to explore how Western Culture’s ways of relating to the Earth have played a critical role in the climate crisis—and how we can reclaim a deeper relationship to the natural habitats that we call home.
We must look at the climate catastrophe as a moral challenge and a situation directly affecting our character and integrity, says Roshi Joan Halifax, the celebrated Buddhist teacher, author and activist. In this conversation, Roshi Joan is joined by Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Buddhist practitioner, to offer perspectives on the moral challenge we face individually and collectively. Together they will discuss our ethical responsibility to co-create the world we wish to live in, and the cultivation of the bodhisattva attitude, which includes the capacity to be morally sensitive and to have moral discernment so that we can be guided by our deepest values as we meet our imperiled world.
As we face the reality of climate catastrophe and the failure of capitalism, we can recognize the relevance of the Buddha’s central teaching of dependent co-arising—or interbeing—of all things. A play of give and take emerges that can foster a sense of belonging and reciprocity with other beings and the living Earth. Pain for the world, when not politicized, pathologized or repressed, but recognized and respected, motivates people from all backgrounds and political persuasions to act, when and where they can, on behalf of the life of our planet. They become known as a Planet People. Join beloved Buddhist teacher and environmental activist Joanna Macy for a conversation on our dharma as human beings and Earth inhabitants, and the path forward from here.
As we navigate the challenges of the climate crisis and related uncertainties, it’s critical that we tap into the deep well of resources available to nurture and sustain us. Weaving together strands from behavioral and psychological research, contemplative wisdom and practices, and climate activism, this panel will explore the power of connection, community, and compassion to buoy us as we rise to our calling to serve and live fully during these times. In partnership with the Mind & Life Institute, join us for a conversation on emotional wellbeing in a time of crisis with Dekila Chungyalpa, Brother Phap Dung, Elissa Epel and Susan Bauer-Wu.
How can we return to a state of planetary health—and what does it look like to take responsibility to intervene in the health of the Earth’s systems? Celebrated environmentalist Paul Hawken is joined by Jonathan Rose of the Garrison Institute and Buddhist teachers and activists Tara Brach and Konda Mason for a discussion of meaningful actions to achieve planetary health. The conversation—building on Hawken’s latest book, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation—is hosted in partnership with the Garrison Institute as part of their Pathways to Planetary Health (PPH) Forum Spring 2022 series.
Many people feel overwhelmed with grief and despair in the face of climate change. And yet our despair often leaves us feeling paralyzed and exhausted, unable to engage. What can we do? In fact, it is these moments of overwhelm that invite the possibility of our deepest transformations. Willa Blythe Baker explores the use of spiritual practice as a way to metabolize despair into a skillful, compassionate response. In this talk and practice session, she explore five of these practices to help us meet the realities of climate change with courage and resilience, so that we can move forward as activists on behalf of the planet.
Artists throughout history have used their mediums of choice to grapple with the most pressing social and political issues of their day. In our current era of climate crisis, what is the role of the artist? How can we apply creativity to address the realities of living in a world on the brink of collapse? Novelist Ben Okri describes “existential creativity” as a mode of writing that responds to the extreme truths of our times. Okri joins Zen Buddhist priest, author and filmmaker Ruth Ozeki to discuss existential creativity, the role of art and beauty in times of crisis, and the possibility for a shift in consciousness through harnessing the power of the human imagination.
Stephen Batchelor is a Buddhist teacher and author known for his secular approach to the dharma. He is a co-founder and faculty member of Bodhi College in England, which is focused on contemplative learning and the study and practice of Buddhism as found in the earliest texts. His numerous books include Buddhism without Beliefs; After Buddhism; and his latest, The Art of Solitude.
David R. Loy is a writer, retired professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy, and teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Buddhism. His books include Money Sex War Karma, A New Buddhist Path, and most recently Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis. He is especially concerned about social and ecological issues. In addition to offering workshops and meditation retreats, he is one of the founders of the new Rocky Mountain Ecodharma Retreat Center, near Boulder, Colorado. In June 2014, David received an honorary degree from Carleton College, his alma mater, during its 2014 Commencement. In April 2016 David returned his honorary degree, to protest the decision of the Board of Trustees not to divest from fossil fuel investments.
Terry Tempest Williams is a conservationist, advocate for free speech, and author of books including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family & Place and Finding Beauty in a Broken World. Her work explores how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. Williams is currently writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School.
Dr. Stephanie Kaza is Professor Emerita of Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont and former Director of the UVM Environmental Program. She co-founded the Environmental Council at UVM and served as faculty director for the Sustainability Faculty Fellows program. Kaza is a long-time practitioner of Soto Zen Buddhism, with training at Green Gulch Zen Center, California, and further study with Thich Nhat Hanh, Joanna Macy, and John Daido Loori. She is the author of book including Green Buddhism: Practice and Compassionate Action in Uncertain Times.
Mary Evelyn Tucker is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University where she has appointments in the School of the Environment as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies. She teaches in the joint MA program in religion and ecology and directs the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology with her husband, John Grim. She edited Buddhism and Ecology with Duncan Williams as part of the Harvard Series of World Religions and Ecology. Tucker also wrote the Emmy Award winning Journey of the Universe film and book with Brian Swimme.
Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D. is a Buddhist teacher, Founder and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a social activist, and author. She is a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions and medical centers around the world, and has received many awards and honors for her work as a social and environmental activist and in the end-of-life care field. Her books include The Human Encounter with Death (with Stanislav Grof); The Fruitful Darkness; Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death; and Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet.
Christiana Figueres is an internationally recognized leader on climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010 to 2016, where she oversaw the delivery of the historic Paris Agreement. Today she is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast “Outrage & Optimism” and is the co-author of the recently published book, The Future We Choose.
Joanna Macy PhD, teacher and author, is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking and deep ecology. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, Macy has created a ground-breaking framework for personal and social change that brings a new way of seeing the world as our larger body. Her many books include World as Lover, World as Self; Widening Circles, A Memoir; Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in with Unexpected Resilience and Creative Power (Spring 2022); and Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects. Macy is retired and lives in Berkeley, California. To learn more, visit www.joannamacy.net.
Brother Phap Dung is a senior teacher in Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village community. Born in Vietnam, he escaped at the age of 10 with his family and became a refugee in the U.S. and worked as an architect/designer before becoming a monk in 1998. He is deeply committed to ecological activism, and represented his spiritual community at the COP21 talks in Paris and at the Glasgow COP26, raising an awareness of the spiritual human crisis that underlies the imbalance in the ecosystem.
Elissa Epel is a health psychologist, Vice Chair and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) who studies how stress resilience and mindfulness interventions can protect health and promote thriving. She also studies transforming climate distress into climate action. She co-leads the UCSF Climate and Mental Health Task Force and the Society of Behavioral Medicine Presidential subgroup focusing on Climate and Health Inequities, and is co-author of the bestselling book, The Telomere Effect.
Dekila Chungyalpa is an environmental and climate leader, originally from the Himalayan state of Sikkim in India, who co-founded and directs the Loka Initiative, a capacity-building and outreach platform at the University of Wisconsin – Madison for faith leaders and culture keepers of Indigenous traditions who work on environmental and climate issues. Previously, she founded and ran the World Wildlife Fund Sacred Earth Initiative and helped establish Khoryug, an eco-monastic association of over 50 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries across the Himalayas.
Susan Bauer-Wu is President of the Mind & Life Institute where she has championed “human-earth connection” as a priority focus area in bridging science and contemplative wisdom. She has held leadership, academic, and clinical positions in nonprofits, health care, and higher education, with a focus on contemplative science and practices to promote flourishing. She is the author of Leaves Falling Gently: Living Fully with Serious & Life-Limiting Illness through Mindfulness, Compassion & Connectedness.
Willa Blythe Baker is a teacher (lama), author and translator. She is the founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston, MA and its retreat center Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH, a Mind and Life Fellow, a member of Clark University’s Council of the Uncertain Human Future and an advisor to One Earth Sangha. Her most recent book is The Wakeful Body: Somatic Mindfulness as Path to Freedom. Her teaching interests include the wisdom of the body, eco-dharma, non-dual awareness and compassion.
Paul Hawken is an author and environmentalist who starts ecological businesses, writes about nature and commerce, and consults with heads of state and CEOs on climatic, economic and ecological regeneration. His work has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, Forbes, and Business Week. He has written eight books including five national and NYT bestsellers: Growing a Business, The Next Economy, The Ecology of Commerce, Blessed Unrest, and Drawdown. His latest work is Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation.
Konda Mason is a dharma teacher and earth and social justice activist. She is a graduate of the Spirit Rock teacher training program and teaches with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield on their MMTCP and Power of Awareness Programs. She teaches daylongs and retreats at Spirit Rock, East Bay Meditation Center and many other centers. She has been a vegan since 1975. She is also the founder and President of Jubilee Justice, a nonprofit working to bring climate resilient farming and economic equity to BIPOC farmers in the rural South.
Tara Brach is a meditation teacher, psychologist and author of several books including international bestselling Radical Acceptance, Radical Compassion and Trusting the Gold. Her popular weekly podcast on emotional healing and spiritual awakening is downloaded 3 million times a month. Tara’s teachings blend Western psychology and Eastern spiritual practices, mindful attention to our inner life, and a full, compassionate engagement with our world. She is founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington and has been active in bringing meditation into schools, prisons and underserved populations. Along with Jack Kornfield, Tara leads the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program (MMTCP), serving participants from 50 countries around the world.
Jonathan F.P. Rose’s business, public policy, and not-for-profit work focus on creating a more environmentally, socially, and economically responsible world. Jonathan and his wife Diana Calthorpe Rose are the co-founders of the Garrison Institute. He serves on its Board and leads its Pathways to Planetary Health program.
Ben Okri is a poet, novelist, essayist, short-story writer, anthologist, aphorist, and playwright. He has also written screenplays. His works have won numerous national and international prizes, including the Booker Prize for Fiction.
Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest. She is the author of four novels, The Book of Form and Emptiness, My Year of Meats, All Over Creation, and A Tale for the Time Being, which won the LA Times Book Prize and was a finalist for the 2013 Booker Prize and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award. Her fiction has been widely translated and published in over thirty countries. Her nonfiction work includes a memoir, The Face: A Time Code, and the documentary film, Halving the Bones, which has been screened on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities internationally. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in Massachusetts and teaches creative writing at Smith College, where she is the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities.
James Shaheen, Tricycle’s Editor-in-Chief, began his Buddhist practice in the mid-1990s, studying with teachers from a number of Buddhist traditions. He is particularly interested in Buddhism’s growth in the West and its applicability to Western politics, culture, and everyday life. He has been with Tricycle for nearly 25 years.