Inner Dimensions of Climate Change Report by Kami Dvorakova
The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change Conference May 12-16 2010 was a powerful gathering of young contemplatives who shared interest and passion in both spiritual practices and environmental actions. Following the United Nations Framework of Climate Change Convention in Copenhagen on Climate Change, the organizers, Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) and Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA), recognized the desire of young contemplative leaders to participate in environmental transformation and decided to host a retreat for American spiritual leaders. With financial support from DDMBA, around 50 young people and 10 spiritual mentors, who seek positive changes in their diverse communities, gathered in the natural setting of Dharma Drum Retreat Center in upstate New York to discuss the inner and outer dimensions of climate issues. The purpose was set: to establish a young spiritual alliance that will promote a mindful shift and conscious actions towards a more peaceful and sustainable global community.
During the retreat, as young spiritual leaders and activists, we meditated, discussed, shared, contemplated, sang, danced, and, maybe most importantly, showed love for each other and for our Mother - Mother Earth. We praised her and honored her in different ways and we strengthened our bonding with her. In the next few paragraphs I would like to share with you a glimpse of my experience from this extraordinary gathering.
In our overproducing and resource-depleting world, we need to transform our thinking through mindful contemplation and increased environmental awareness. At the Inner Dimensions conference, young contemplatives felt the urge to execute green actions and contribute to emerging spiritual movement across traditions. Several overarching topics that were crucial for spiritual and environmental shift toward global awareness arose throughout our many discussions.
First, to spread an environmental mindfulness and to deepen our love for the Mother Earth, we need spiritual practice for ourselves that allows us to be aware of our actions in the present moment. Consequently, by filling our spiritual core with inner strength and self-motivation, we become more attuned to the Earth under our feet as if we are kissing her with every step we take. Mindful awareness of our resources and the way we are using them open our eyes to the beauty and interdependence of everything in the world. Specifically, it helps us realize that organic, locally oriented, and possibly vegetarian style of living is one of the sustainable ways of being a green-friendly community.
When we begin to explore an individual level of the present moment, we also take part in cultivating a mindful society. To make the necessary adjustments, we need people of all traditions who feel and share this urgency for change. Through contemplation, we naturally increase our environment-friendly awareness which in turn becomes a very powerful drive for a global shift. At the conference, the voice of contemplatives sounded across spiritual traditions, representing one large global community.
At the same time, it could be difficult to make the transition from individual to global consciousness without guidance and wisdom. To create a bridge between these two perspectives, we need mentors who will instruct us as well as give space to our own individual actions and experiences. There can be a thin line between teaching and guiding new leaders; however, those we met at the conference gently guided us to learn more about our inner strength and potential while encouraging us to explore our innovative ideas.
One of the specific ways we were shown to deeply explore our relationship to the Earth was through the Sacred Water Ritual. In this ceremony, we experienced all these themes - the individual relationship to Mother Earth, the community energy, and guidance to the deepest levels of bonding to the Earth. At the beginning of the ritual, we placed a previously selected stone in our water bowls, as these served as representations of the Earth and Water elements. Then, we began our journey - walking meditation - through the woods. By seeing the reflections of Sun in the water and noting a gentle breeze touching the water surface, I realized that the Fire and Wind elements were present as well. At one point, I was holding in my hands all four elements of our planet - Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind. I was amazed: I held the entire Earth. Through this demonstration, we felt the responsibility for the whole planet all at once that made us reunite with the Mother Earth.
During this conference, we experienced the strength of our contemplative voice and the potential power of our actions as a community. We were also reconnected to our global green consciousness, a sentiment shared across all traditions. If our objective resonates with your heart, please participate in any type of spiritual and environmental action – together we can make the shift to a more conscious and sustainable society.