Right Action in the Anthropocene: A Buddhist Response to Global Warming
with Bhikkhu Bodhi and Guests
Friday, September 6th, 2019 | 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Saturday, September 7th, 2019 | 10:00am – 5:00pm
Friday Night Speakers: Kristin Barker, Kevin Krajick, Shephali Patel, and Regina Valdez
Saturday Daylong Teachers: Bhikkhu Bodhi, Reverend Damon Mkandawire, Kristin Barker, Reverend Massango R. Warakula, Regina Valdez and Stephen Roylance
Anthropocene: /ˈanTHrəpəˌsēn/ “The period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.”
Wildfires in the west, flooding in the northeast, extensive groundwater loss in India and droughts in Central America that prompt thousands of small farmers to flee the countryside in an exodus of survival. These are just a few examples of suffering from man-made climate change. There has to be something we can do, but what? The answers are different for everyone, but they all stem from the place of action, or, Right Action.
Right Action, as part of the Noble Eightfold Path, describes a way of living that is committed to refraining from harming living beings and taking what’s not given. How can we apply this moral concept to our lives when so much of how we live is predicated on modes of harm: driving increases carbon emissions, raising cattle for human consumption and even growing rice increases atmospheric methane concentrations? Heating and cooling our homes, using plastic bags when we buy our groceries–all these actions drive us ever closer to the tipping point of climate change. What, then, is the ‘right way’ to live in the Anthropocene?
We’ll begin with a panel discussion Friday night with leaders at the forefront of the climate emergency. They’ll help us understand our part in global warming and what we can do about it. On Saturday we’ll deepen our understanding and hear from activists in the field. We’ll also hear from climate leaders in Africa, in Zambia and Zimbabwe, on how the actions of the global north are affection billions in the global south.
Join us for this important event as we explore the causes and conditions that have brought us to this place in time, the dukkha of extinction and human suffering, and the solutions that we can bring to bear in this critical time of our world.
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Reverend Damon Mkandawire lives in Mebereshi, Zambia, where he serves as a minister with the United church of Zambia. He is an environmentalist, theologian and gender activist. Growing up surrounded by copper mines, Damon has firsthand knowledge of environmental degradation and its potentially deleterious impacts on human health and welfare. Zambia, like much of Africa, sits at the the cross-section of climate change environmental exploitation. He has frontline experience of living in an extraction economy that views the natural world as merely a means to an economic end. Damon spent years as an Environmental Officer at the Konkola Copper Mines, one of Africa’s largest producers of copper, and continues to work towards national and international environmental justice.
Regina Valdez became an acolyte to Earth’s majesty the first time she stood at the cliffs of Monterey Bay. An environmentalist of many years, Regina has marched, read, written and spoken on behalf of Mother Earth’s sanctity. Her writing has appeared in Lion’s Roar, The Elephant, and Tricycle Magazine. An Engaged Buddhist, she completed EcoSattva training through One Earth Sangha, helped form New York City’s Draw Down group, is a GreenFaith Fellow and Climate Reality Leader, trained by Al Gore and the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, II. An adherent of the Thai Forest lineage and member of the Community Dharma Leaders 2019 cohort, she looks forward to twining the dharma’s natural and environmental roots to traditional ecoDharma teachings.
Reverend Massango R. Warakula, an Ecotheologist, grew up in Zimbabwe, land of the Shona/Ndebele people, whose spiritual understanding was informed by the surrounding environment. Mountains, rivers, trees and animals were all held as sacred. Everyone in Zimbabwe belongs to a certain animal totem and indeed, Massango’s very name means ‘tree.’ During his lifetime, however, he’s borne witness to the corporatization of natural resources. Rivers once deemed sacred were turned into waste dumps. Sacred mountains and shrines were destroyed, and water borne illnesses such as cholera and typhoid proliferated. Having traveled to Geneva to attend a Green Churches Conference organized through the World Council of Churches, Massango continues to work for goodness, justice, and environmental stewardship.