To see the universal and all pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. A man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to truth has drawn me into the field of politics and I can say without the slightest hesitaion and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.
Our decision to live a simple, responsible, non-harming way of life every day is, of course, one form of activism, perhaps the most crucial. And our sangha’s on-going involvement with the Food-Not-Bombs free meal servings and community gatherings is another one. We also get involved from time to time with protests and direct action for various causes that seek to reduce suffering and promote a healthier and more compassionate world.
Recently (end of July, ’15) several of us in the sangha participated in an action to oppose the planned drilling operation of Shell Oil in the Alaskan Arctic. The event was a kayak blockade of Shell’s ice-breaking ship on the Willamette River here in Portland, as the ship was leaving port after repairs. We were joined by a group of climbers from Greenpeace who hung down from the St. John’s bridge to block the ship – altogether we delayed the ship for more than a day and attracted worldwide press coverage. Here’s a photo:
Here are some of our activist events from previous years:
Buy Nothing Day (’11)
Silent meditative walking though busy shopping areas.
Occupy Portland – Fall 2011
Serving food with Food-Not Bombs, working to start an environmental sustainability committee and meditation groups.
Buy Nothing Day (’09)
Touching Earth Sangha is participating in great tradition from the Adbuster folks in B.C. Canada – Buy Nothing Day. It happens every year on the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday, which is usually the biggest shopping day here in the states. They ask everyone to stop buying for a day to slow down the consumer machine, and to share the inspiring experience of what it takes to reclaim lives of simplicity and beauty. This year it’s happening this Friday, November 27th in North America, and Saturday the 28th in the rest of the world. This time they’re asking folks to refrain from using gas/ electricity – at least for non-essential appliances – so turning off the TV, cell phone, car, computer, lights, etc. from sunup to sunset, in addition to not buying anything. Please consider joining this consumerist fast, as I feel that it’s very much a part of the Climate Justice Movement. In fact, changing our lifestyles and buying habits, I’d say, is the most crucial step that we must take to alter the course of climate change – whether it’s our direct personal impact, or the corporations and governments that our dollars give power to. Our fasting is a powerful way to encourage both the public and governments to embrace this change, but we must be walking our talk as well. In addition to the one symbolic day of not buying, please consider a more permanent ban on all your purchasing of corporate products – all those plastic-packaged, far traveling, and often synthetic chemical-laden items that we’ve all grown up with. Once the habit has been broken, it’s amazing how easy it is to get along without them. And giving up patronizing corporate stores is liberating as well. This is the direct route to a new, locally based culture in harmony with the natural world and social justice.
Climate Justice Fast
As we’re sure you’re aware, global warming and climate change is perhaps
the greatest issue of social and environmental consequence in the world
today, with effects on species extinction, worldwide drought and
famine, floods and weather disasters, and even the spread of warfare and
disease. As there is a worldwide governmental meeting about the issue in
Copenhagen in December, many groups are trying to organize public
expressions of concern around the world in the coming months. Their hope
is to persuade the various governments to take real, substantive action to
reduce atmospheric carbon to safer levels (350 ppm, according to recent
scientific consensus). This will involve serious policy changes in order
to ensure that the most wasteful and polluting countries (like this one)
dramatically simplify our energy needs; and help poorer countries, already
feeling the impacts and much less responsible for the problem, adapt to
changing conditions with the least suffering and destruction.
One group, Climate Justice Fast! ( www.climatejusticefast.com ) is trying to awaken global
awareness by conducting publicized fasts of various lengths all over the
world. A core group of individuals from many different countries are undertaking long fasts (over 40 days) leading up to and through the
Copenhagen summit. Large numbers of people are
engaging in solidarity fasts of different lengths to help
spread the word and to make people’s personal commitment and resolve
palpable and intimate. The organizers are very much influenced by Gandhi
and his perspective that outer change is rooted in personal spiritual
commitment and transformation, and specifically by his method of fasting.
Touching Earth Sangha and friends will be doing a solidarity fast for four days staring on November 6th at Portland’s Waterfront Park just north of the Hawthorne bridge. Anyone is welcome to join us for any length of time. We will be spending our time mostly sitting but will be open for talking to share our message. Some folks might be able to help with video/media stuff to share what we’re doing with a wider audience. If interested, drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or just come join us. And for more info on this movement see climatejusticefast.com.
We finished our four day fast (see the Cllimate Justice website under blogs for videos of us) and now we are going to sit for a one day fast Monday December 7th at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. This is the first day of the Copenhagen Climate Conference and the 31st day of the long term fast. Please come join us!