Zen, ethics and ecology workshop
Zen, ethics and ecology workshop for teachers at the 2019 Spring camp in Grube Louise
Summary from Thierry Hoyois
Before the camp Roland sent this orientation text to the Sangha teachers:
“During the preparation of the spring camp in Grube Louise (25th to 29th of May 2019), workshops will be held on the theme "Zen, Ethics and Ecology".
To begin our reflections, here is an orientation text that we invite you to meditate and complete. Please send us your additional thoughts on this subject.
We will use as base the Four Noble Truths and especially the Eightfold Path with the Six Paramita, by applying the principles of interdependence, responsibility and compassion to the foundations of ethics and ecology.
Perhaps we could consider appropriate ways to highlight the benefits of ethical behaviour at different levels of society so that people who have had little contact with Buddhist ethics can have new experiences through right action. This could lead them to focus on essential questions. What values should we teach our children, how and by whom, so that they perceive themselves and their actions in a great unity instead of isolating themselves and pursuing selfish goals?
We can also look at some concrete examples where selfish behaviour and ignorance have had harmful consequences for the environment in the past. Humanity forgets quickly and we should learn from these experiences.
We could also investigate how corporations, politicians, lobbyists, justify decisions that have harmful effects on the environment. By analysing them we learn to invalidate them and find arguments for more beneficial effects for the general public”.
Roland started the workshop with a presentation of the subject based on the Four Noble Truths, the basic teachings of the Buddha, as we can really see that these teachings are ecological teachings and that they also contain an explanation about the causes of the problems: greed and ignorance.
During several exchanges of point of views, we tried to analyze the situation. It was also an opportunity to mention some books dealing with the subject, such as Fred Vargas’s “Humanity in Danger” or Yuval Noah Harari’s works. We exchanged views on ongoing movements and on actions such as the one launched by the young Swedish Greta Thunberg.
Although they had differing assessments of the intensity and urgency of the climate situation, all participants shared the view that deep reflection but also action was needed to limit further damages to our environment.
A lively debate on the means of action also took place. It was decided to ask to all the camp participants what each of them was already doing and what each of them was planning to do in the future: our wishes for the planet. Thus everyone had the opportunity to put a suggestion in a box at the reception. These suggestions were collected on the last day of the workshop and a synthesis of them was made (which is the base of the summary below).
At the summer camp in Godinne, we already want to implement some of these suggestions: more “biological” products, less plastic waste etc.
A transcription of the five sessions of this workshop is underway and will be shared, as well as the notes of the workshop that will take place in Godinne in July.
And finally, during the sesshin kito our planet was mentioned in the intentions list.
Some results of the survey made at the 2019 spring camp in Grube Louise
For ecology - Grube Louise 05/2019
What we already do:
Organic food and/or local or regional food
Adopt a vegetarian diet, and if not, eat less meat
Heat the rooms less and wear warmer clothing
Avoid buying synthetic clothing
Use second hand mobile phones
Low energy housing
Avoid plastic packaging and bottles
Do not waste anything
Do not throw waste into nature
Use public transportation rather than a car
Participate to climate action events
Do zazen during the Friday demonstrations
Support or adhere to ecological associations such as Greenpeace, WWF, NaBu etc.
Awaken interest for nature through excursions or photography
Develop permaculture gardens
Stimulate awareness of the situation and its consequences
Discuss urban traffic with local politicians
Elect “green”/ ecological parties
Initiate or sign petitions to preserve the environment
What we want to do in the future:
Choose ecology as subject in the dojo during kusen or workshops
Examine this subject with one’s entourage (family, friends, colleagues)
Work together with the Sangha on this project
To start a movement.
Decrease our consumption
Avoid waste / Target: “Zero Waste”
Use recyclable/glass containers
Use soap, biodegradable cleaning products
Increase awareness and participate in "food sharing" groups
Avoid travelling to distant destinations
Take the bike
Choose a hybrid car
Encourage urban gardening
Buy “second hand” products
Live without TV, computer and mobile phone
Use LED lamps
Become politically active
Stimulate awareness of the problem
Aim more for motivation than morality
In sesshin/camp: avoid plastic waste, bring a bottle and a Bento-style container for the rest day picnic, give homemade cupcakes as fuse.
Write to Greta Thunberg and thank her for inspiring our workshop.