Addressing Climate Change by Awakening to Oneness

The Green Awakening: Touching Earth with Our Hearts

Let us embody our world together since our earth and body function in the same way. We are going to engage since our ISSUES are within our TISSUES.

The Buddha name means the awakened one which happened during his own climate crisis when he touched the earth to bear witness! Today’s climate crisis requires a “green awakening” (touch your heart 3 times) that we are ONE with all things.

The Buddha offered practical guidelines on how to respond to our present crisis in his teachings of the Noble 8 Fold Path. Today we will talk about building a new green mind-set or house. This 8 fold blueprint provides clear instructions on how to awaken and best respond. Climate change can be addressed using this profound wisdom with simple environment-friendly techniques. Skillful or right mental tools are required to save our fragile earth observing the 8 Fold Path.

The word “ECO” means home in Greek so it is about taking care of what I will call a house/Earth. Skilful or right means doing what is of benefit.

By following the Noble Eight-fold Path we can certainly minimize waste/maximize well-being. We shall now go through a quick summary of the 8 Fold Path basics in groups and how they are all interconnected as one when we minimize waste/maximize well-being;

THE FOUNDATION: Virtue/Ethics Group: Skilful Speech, Action and Livelihood

THE WALLS: Concentration Group: Skilful Energy, Mindfulness and Concentration

THE ROOF: Wisdom Group: Skilful Understanding and Thought

This mental home will protect us from the harsh weather elements caused by climate change.

(I) THE FOUNDATION: Cultivating Virtue- Skilful Speech, Action and Livelihood are the ethical basis and support for developing this home.

Our foundation becomes solid with right speech, actions and livelihood translating into virtue practices and wholesome deeds. Ethical conduct happens when we treat all things and ourselves with compassion. We cultivate virtue when we care for and respect all things since we and the earth are one.

1) Right Speech: Speak the truth with heart and meaning so as to unite not divide. It is important to clarify the facts from fiction. Be wise and give out words that are helpful regarding Climate change. Speak what is meaningful and beneficial to engage people of all walks.

2) Skilful Action: Mending Not Ending- show reverence and respect for all things, we must protect and preserve all forms of living beings. Try always to conserve life not destroy it. Also, it means eating an environmentally friendly diet (fruits, veggies, etc.) that reduce our carbon emissions.

3) Skilful Livelihood: Earning ones living in an eco-friendly way by respecting life, personal relationship and welfare of others. Causing no harm with your life or creating no problems. (It means living simply so that others can simply live- thus insuring future generations.). To achieve this end, we have to practice the Triple “S”: Simplicity + Sufficiency=Sustainability.

II) WALLS: CONCENTRATION GROUP- Skilful Energy, Mindfulness and Concentration: All this factors work together.

4) Skilful Energy or Effort: The function of energy is to support:

Prevent, Reduce, Preserve, Perpetuate: Determination to:

Prevent Climate change by changing our carbon habits;

Reduce Climate damage by eliminating energy waste or inefficiency;

Preserve our natural resources by using renewable energy;

Perpetuate our natural resources to insure that we maximize our well-being without hurting our Mother Earth. We profit and prosper from pollution prevention because when we degrade the earth we all have to pay a huge price.

At the Uganda Buddhist Centre, we employ numerous conservation and best management practices (from composting to solar light) to show our reverence for our earth and ourselves.

5) Skilful Mindfulness: Paying close attention to what is happening now with our climate, in a non-judgemental way. On the contrary, mindlessness is like hitting your thumb with the hammer when building our walls! So mindfulness is the new mental blueprint we need to securely build our sacred mental house.

Constant mindfulness results in concentration where waste is minimized and well-being is maximized.

6) Skilful Concentration: Concentrating on positive solutions to save the Earth while maintaining tranquillity and calmness of mind and body. Also, it means clearly focusing on a wholesome mind-set to increase your mental power. This mental power becomes a supporting cause for the arising wisdom and understanding to penetrate into the problem of Climate change. (Getting the walls squared requires concentration!)

(III) ROOF/CAP: WISDOM Group – Skilful Understanding and Thought interconnecting it all together SEPARATION = SUFFERING.

Now that we have the foundation (virtues) and walls (concentration) what are we missing??? We all need protection from climate change or a cap for our head, don’t we?

The roof encloses our home. Wisdom via skilful Understanding and Thought caps this structure. It interconnects the walls and foundation bringing them together

7) Skilful Understanding- the roof framework that is interconnected

The Buddha laid down the teaching on “Dependent origination” – nothing is independent in the world- “everything is interconnected”. For instance if you are mindless your roof will leak and damage your walls and foundation.

8) Skilful Thought: Thought of generosity and contentment (the ability to love the contents of your life). It means to be generous enough to give up the three major causes of Climate damage/ i.e. GREED, HATRED, AND DELUSION. Practice loving- friendliness and compassion in action for our mother Earth and her living system. (These are roofing materials safeguarding the home…)

In order to address climate change, we must skilfully think before we act. Virtuous thoughts coupled with deep understanding will secure our Firm Foundation through skillful speech, actions and livelihood. Our Walls of Concentration create skillful energy, mindfulness and focus. Our roof of Wisdom brings it together through skillful understanding and thought.

LET US ALL minimize waste; maximize well-being.

Show reverence with generous ways of living, right action and speech securing a firm foundation of cultivating virtue;

Concentrating on harmonizing by holding or creating space creating the walls of loving- kindness. Love for earth and ourselves as one with an attitude of gratitude;

Finally, Compassion balances our Wisdom by understanding our interconnection and also generous nature.

We can respond to Climate Change with the tools to overcome GREED, HATRED AND DELUSION i.e. WITH GENEROSITY, LOVING-KINDNESS AND WISDOM/VISION.

Remember the Noble 8 fold -Path as a sacred eco-house.!

Take the word EARTH and take the “H” from the end of it and put it to the front! It spells HEART now let us touch our heart together to express ONE Response to GREEN AWAKENING- TOUCH OUR EARTH WITH YOUR HEART.

Extracted from Bhante Buddhrakkhita’s talk: “ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE BY AWAKENING TO ONENESS” held in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 7 to 13, 2009

The Role of a Missionary: A Buddhist Perspective

In May this year, I met a Roman Catholic nun at the Inter-religious Council in Kampala, Uganda. She asked me whether we have Buddhist missionaries. I answered, “There are some Buddhist missionaries in Asia, America and Europe but very few in Africa and Latin America”. She advised me to invite more Buddhist missionaries to Africa. How can we make Buddhist missionary activities more effective in Africa, Latin America and the rest of the world?  How can we spread the knowledge of and familiarity with Buddhism, not only to the privileged people in rich industrialized countries but also to the poor countries like Uganda, Africa? If we hope to effectively spread the Buddha’s message of peace, harmony and freedom to the rest of the world, it is important to uphold four indispensible guidelines – the four “P” s – of a true missionary, namely: Purification of one’s mind, Purpose of spreading the Dhamma, Propagation of the excellent Dhamma, and Patience with people’s receptivity to the Dhamma. Before “sending forth” His sixty fully enlightened beings to various places to propagate the Dhamma, the Buddha said:  “Free am I, O Bhikkhus, from all bonds, whether divine or human. You, too, O Bhikkhus, are freed from all bonds, whether divine or human”. “ Go forth, O Bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of humans and gods…Let not two go by one way.” “Preach, O Bhikkhus, the Dhamma, excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, excellent in the end, both in spirit and in the letter. Proclaim the Holy life, altogether perfect and pure” “There are many beings with little dust in their eyes, who, not hearing the Dhamma, will fall way…There will be those who understand the Dhamma” These passages provide us with the framework for the Buddhist missionary to follow in the spreading of the Buddha’s teaching… Purification of ones’ mind: The first step to take for a Buddhist missionary is to purify the mind by removing all bonds (greed, hatred and ignorance). Such a degree of freedom, even on a temporary basis, is necessary for spreading Buddhism to the rest of the world. In order to get rid of the “bonds”, it is necessary to undergo mental purification or training (meditation practice).  Of course, the act of going forth will help to accelerate this mental purification process. I am very glad that the World Buddhist Summit is building the Nalanda University, which will be a centre for training the Buddhist missionaries for the much-needed missionary work in the world. Purpose of spreading the Dhamma: The second step is to ascertain the purpose of spreading the Dhamma.  A true missionary spreads the Dhamma neither for financial gain nor to convert others followers but rather for the welfare and benefit of all beings who are willing and able to internalize the Dhamma.  Such a missionary should be motivated by compassion – the mental quality of opening ones heart for the suffering of beings in the world. In Uganda and other parts of the world, this suffering is particularly acute. I would like to extend my invitation to all Buddhists to come to Uganda to carry out such missionary work of spreading Buddhism. It would be wonderful if the Sixth World Buddhist Summit, out of deep compassion and wise consideration would focus on facilitating such missionary work in traditionally non-Buddhist areas like Africa and Latin America. Propagation of the excellent Dhamma: The Buddha advised us to propagate the excellent Dhamma: excellent in the beginning (Ethical conduct), excellent in the middle (Mental training), and excellent in the end (Penetrative wisdom).  How can we proclaim this teaching? We have to demonstrate the Holy life in its perfection and purity. We have to teach by example and precept.  Only then can we win our supporters/followers faith and confidence in the Dhamma.  In Uganda, I have taught the people in our community with this type of example and precept. A couple of years ago, for instance, we installed a borehole at the Temple and many people from our local community can now gain access to clean water.  I wanted to teach our community the practice of generosity and compassion. The local people have learned this lesson and the net effect is that they are very friendly to us. Whenever I pass through the village, the kids always say, “Bye Buddha!”  Sometimes they say, “I greet you in the name of the Buddha”, doing this greeting with palms together in the traditional sign of respect. Patience with people’s receptivity to the Dhamma: When spreading the Dhamma, one needs to be patience with other people and the way they respond or react to the Dhamma. People receptivity to the Dhamma varies a lot and we have to be patient in order to accommodate their views. Many people outside Africa always ask me whether African people understand the Dhamma. I always reply: “ Why not?” During my missionary work in Africa, I observed that many African are thirsty for the Dhamma. Please do not hesitate to come to Africa because of your uncertainty of people’s understanding of the Dhamma. However, we have to teach people who are inclined to receive the Dhamma.  Of course, sometimes the people will have no clue about the Dhamma. And these encounters can generate even humorous misunderstandings. For example, a few years ago, I met some of my fellow Africans who asked what I was doing. I told them that I was meditating. They said, “Oh sorry…! You are taking medication!”   I patiently twice repeated the word “meditation”, but they did not get it.  Sometimes, people are not receptive or prepared to understand our message, but there other Africans who understand meditation as a science that can benefit with happiness and peace. The future of effectively spreading Buddhism beyond traditionally Buddhist countries is going to hinge on the way we understand the Buddha’s original message on the spreading of the Dhamma. Firstly, we have to begin with purification of our mind (in order to be free from mental impurities). Secondly, we should remember the purpose of spreading the Dhamma – out of compassion. Thirdly, we have to use proper means (ethical conduct, mental training and penetrative wisdom) to propagate the Dhamma in its pristine way and finally we have to be patient since people’s receptivity to the Dhamma varies. Some people are ready to listen to the Dhamma and others are not. There is a high chance that people who suffer a lot, are ready to listen to the Dhamma. Let us join hands and spread the Dhamma in Africa and other parts of the world. The Dhamma is excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, and excellent in the end. May all beings be well, happy and peaceful. By Venerable Bhikkhu Buddharakkhita,

Bhante Meets the Kyabazinga

On January 5, 2018 Bhante Buddharakkhita was set for a meeting with a visibly serene young King, H.R.H William Gabula Nadiope IV (Kyabazinga) of Busoga Kingdom. The meeting went for nearly an hour in Nakaseero, Kampala. Mr. Robert Ziribasanga, (the General Secretary of Uganda Buddhist Centre and LC5 Chairperson of Buyende District Local Government) introduced both of them to each other. The Kyabazinga later, expressed his joy meeting a Buddhist monk for the first time in his life. “I am glad for the first time I am meeting a Buddhist Monk,” the King said.

Bhante gave a little background about himself and how he found Buddhism to His Royal Highness, the Kyabazinga. He further said that the Buddha was born as a Prince, therefore, Buddhism has a lot in common with Kingship and governance. “Since 2008, we have been working with three kingdoms in Uganda; Tooro Kingdom, Kooki and Buganda Kingdom,” Bhante said. His speech quickly drifted along the lines of partnership with the Busoga Kingdom for development and establishment of meditation Centres in the Kingdom.

Bhante also mentioned to the King, the role Uganda Buddhist Centre is playing in education, health and economic development in its locality. It should be noted that, the Centre has drilled four boreholes in Bulega village and the neighboring communities to access safe and pure water. Also, the Centre mobilize education resources to support schools and school going children. Uganda Buddhist Centre has also organised women empowerment programs by providing skills and mobilizing resources for thus increasing household incomes and contributing towards community development.

In his speech, Kyabazinga expressed his gratitude for the work Bhante and his team are doing and for supporting kingdoms in Uganda—“this shows we are sisters and brothers”. He further thanked Bhante “for networking, mobilizing people for empowerment and development, peace-making and uniting people” all around the world. “The Kingdom welcomes everyone regardless of religious or cultural backgrounds as long as the motives are positive and developmental and support the well-being of our people”, the King added.

The King inquired from the UBC team about the UBC projects and actual interest of UBC in Busoga to which Bhante replied that “partnership and working together for development”. The King then, pledged working together with UBC to attract and enhance mutual development.

Bhante Buddharakkhita presented the King with copies of his books on “Planting Dhamma Seeds: The Emergence of Buddhism in Africa” and “Sowing Seeds of Peace: Mindfulness Meditation for Finding Peace Within”, a brochure and a calendar. Bhante invited the King to visit the Temple and visibly see the work UBC is doing in the local villages.

At the end of the meeting, a group photo was arranged.

About Busoga Kingdom

Busoga Kingdom is one of the constitutionally recognized ancient kingdoms, located in the Eastern part of Uganda. The headquarters of the kingdom are situated in Bugembe, Jinja district. The kingdom covers districts including Jinja, Iganga, Kamuli, Buyende, Busiki, Numutumba, Kaliro, Luuka, Namayingo, Bugiri and Mayuge with a population of over 4 million people.

Bhante Buddharakkhita at the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) Meeting in Thailand

As a global umbrella for all Buddhists, the IBC continues to organise international conferences to gather collective wisdom and speak with a united Buddhist voice. Bhnate Buddharakkhita is an executive member of IBC and was invited for a meeting March 1-5, 2016.

During the meeting, Bhante Buddharakkhita talked about the future of IBC. He was appointed as Executive Member, Global Outreach Committee member and Environmental Committee Member.

Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang Wangmo Wangchuk of Bhutan (President of IBC) and Ven. Buddharakkhita during the meeting.

ABU Members at the World Buddhist Summit, Japan

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