Dec 23rd, 2009
Lis Whitelaw writes:
You’ll probably remember from the news last weekend (11-13th December) that it was the middle weekend of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Vigils were planned to mark the desire of people across the world for the world leaders and negotiators to commit to significant measures which would reverse the trends currently affecting the planet.
That same weekend, I and a dozen or so other women were on retreat at Taraloka with Parami. On the Saturday evening, those of us on the retreat and some members of the Taraloka community held a candle-lit vigil in the shrine room. As we did it we knew that waves of such vigils were moving across the planet, starting at 5.30 pm local time, marking our solidarity with the countries most threatened by the results of rising global temperatures, countries in Africa, Latin America and small island states such as the Maldives and Tuvalu. In our shrineroom, we meditated, lit candles, passing the flame from one to another, and chanted mantras, all dedicated to attaining what the Buddha attained …. and also hoping that our political leaders found the will to forge a worldwide agreement on a effective set of climate change measures..
The countries most severely affected and climate change activists are calling for a reduction of the concentration of CO2 to 350 parts per million and on Sunday 13th December, churches across the world rang their bells 350 times to show their support for this demand. Again we joined in, but rather than ring bells we chanted the Avalokitesvara mantra – Om Mani Padme Hum – 350 times which took us about an hour. Avalokitesvara is an archetypal figure, symbolising Enlightened Compassion, and sometimes called ‘Regarder of the World’s Cries’ – a fitting figure to bring to mind in the circumstances. As we came out of the shrine room we heard the bells of Bettisfield Church beginning to ring out with the same wish for the world.
On both occasions it was intensely moving to sit in a circle of candlelight in front of the shrine, to reflect on our sense of connectedness with all beings across the planet and to dedicate our practice to those most affected by climate change.
There is a continuing series of actions that you can join in to help take climate change measure forward. Ed Milliband the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is calling for a continuing campaign of action - write a letter to keep the momentum going (this will open a new window in your browser)