Category Archives: Dharma & Climate Action

The week the world changed by thanissara

Pause and take a moment to realize what a phenomenal and unprecedented happening has occurred across the globe this week in support of immediate climate action. We are witnessing the birth of a people power united across race, geography, faith, class, gender, expunging all other socio-colonial-patriachal defined “isms.”

Climate March in New York

We the people have walked and we now speak for a reality which has been dangerously twisted, distorted, denied and suppressed by the corporate-fossil fuel-oligarchic owned media agenda. This reality is catastrophic climate chaos is upon us, it is real, it is happening, and if we don’t act now, we will destroy the biosphere and render the earth unsustainable for all life. There as no one on the 2,700 marches across the globe, or the 400,000 marchers in New York City that didn’t know this to be true.

London marching
London marching

The march was a statement for political leaders gathering right now to talk our planetary future. Take another moment to watch this stunning opening offering from 26 year old poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, from the Marshall Islands at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit. As world leaders hash it out in the UN Climate Action Summit, we need to acknowledge the true leaders that are among us which is the First Nation Peoples who led our 4 mile long (7+ kilometers) people march through the streets of New York. They know the territory, they understand the disease and they have the remedy.

They have the remedy because they also understand we all have the remedy. We know this when we listen beyond our colonized minds to hear the deep, urgent impulse of sanity that is aligned to the heartbeat of the earth, of the ancestors, of the animals, and of the total web of life. This is the deep feminine primordial mother earth who births all things and who cries out to us now, each of us, to hear her urging. Stand up and be my protector. Do what you can, embody the sacred masculine and be a warrior-lover of the earth, of each other, of our best heart.



So dear friends, our task is before us. We must take the inspiration of this historic moment in the climate movement and bring it into our lives while also speaking out to share the message the best we can. While there is no turning back, it is important to remember we are doing this together.

As a Buddhist practitioner it was especially great to see a strong gathering of cross denominational Buddhists turn up to align forces with People of Faith. The determination I felt on the march from those stepping out alongside me was palpable. We must go forward and work hard to secure our collective future.  As we do so, we will see game changers happening.



Already as the momentum for change is building, results are coming in. Divestments from the fossil fuel industry are happening fast. Yesterday it was announced that Rockefeller’s divested $860million, the World Council of Churches representing 590 million people in 150 countries have divested, 30 cities in the USA, Stanford is dropping coal holdings from its 18 billion endowment funds. (C’mon Harvard, you can do it!) Especially love Dogs for Divestment! Meanwhile investments in renewables is the leading edge in the market.

What’s happening is a eco-re-evolution. When we tune into this our life will start changing, inwardly and externally. As the truth is all things are interconnected, the coming years of this energy and consciousness re-evolution will impact us all in destabilizing, challenging and positive ways. So time to put our practice to use as we connect with refuge, community and our own inner spirit and guidance.

Yesterday I observed Flood Wall Street and had the honor of hanging out with David Loy most of the day as we walked with this activist happening. David was not averse to getting arrested (I was not  up for arrest – not right now anyway.) As we became surrounded by police and as the march moved into a “sit down” David and I went for coffee, aware that it was turning into a long day with an inevitable outcome.

Polar Bear gets arrested
Polar Bear gets arrested

As those on the front line aimed for the belly of the beast, our capitalistic-addicted-steriod-crack-pumped-disembodied-bull-market-machine, (commonly called The Stock Market), David and I talked Buddhist fem-eco-activist-evolution. More about that later, meanwhile, here’s David’s talk from the Eco-Dharma conference in August, Tale of Two Icebergs.

David & DaRa (from NY Insight)
David & DaRa (from NY Insight)

I’m going to finish off by reverting once again to my dear friend Gayle Markow and her “bring it home” advise, after the great joy of walking with a million+ people, across the world, for our mother earth.

Today was truly remarkable because of the really Huge numbers of people that did turn out, their enthusiasm, their creativity, their diversity (in the positive extreme), the enormous positive energy of this march that went on an on and on and on, it was fulfilling and hopeful.  And we All have a lot of work to do to save our Home, our planet, our Mother Earth. This magnificent demonstration was the culmination of much planning and organizing, but Only the Beginning of the Serious Journey to be undertaken. May we all go forward shoulder to shoulder. Much love from NYC. 

I echo that – Much love from NYC – what a city! What a week!


The Climate Train – A Kaleidoscope of a New World Dawning by Thanissara

earthFrom Emeryville Berkeley CA to New York Penn Station, we were a tribe of nearly 200 diverse peoples, rolling along 3000 miles of train track through exquisite ancient lands. We shared fifty remarkable workshops with the energy of a movement whose time has come. There was clear diagnosis of the forces of destruction, a refusal to succumb to despair, a commitment to dissent, and a determination to see through the energy revolution now needed on our planet.

Snaking through mountains, along riverbeds, past the stake outs of our Petro Empire – oil refinery’s, targeted fracking grounds, graceful and noble rivers, now polluted — we, First Nation Peoples, Faith Leaders, People of Color, white haired granny’s and granddads, tattooed and pierced beautiful youth, musicians, artists, scientists, political buffs, and even many of our Amtrak hosts, were of one voice.

earth on fire

Climate catastrophe is now. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We wait no longer for the powerful to chart our suicidal trajectory. We the people are standing up for the rights of Mother Earth, for the return of the Sacred, for a USA and world that practices social and economic equity. We are unstoppable!

Reflected in words of Elder Bing Gong, quoting his Buddhist master in a workshop on Eldership, we taste an exquisite flavor of our truth.

This human body truly is the entire cosmos

Each breath of mine, is equally one of yours, my darling,

This tender abiding in “my life”

Is the fierce glowing fire of inner Earth,

Linking with all pre-phenomena.

10557673_10152713668453395_5991929044823195638_o Flashing to the distant horizon

From “right here now” to “just this”

Now the horizon itself, Drops away —

Bodhi Svaha!!

Myogen Steve Stucky


The Train … Part 2, by Thanissara

As we pulled into Denver CO, we were warmly welcome by a great rally on the Amtrak platform. A wonderful crowd cheered us on as more folks joined the train with a great send off from their community. Ayya Santussika spoke – “If they don’t pay attention to our March, we’ll be back with more marches, and more….”


As the train chugged on through the magnificent landscapes of the Rockies, we passed a meadow on our descent. Amma Thanasanti stood with a friend holding a wide banner cheering us on (picture will be uploaded later!) A very sweet moment!


Today 1st Nation Elder John Pappan of the Omaha Indigenous Council NE spoke about time to listen to the First peoples of this land. They are the ones who have always been connected with the earth and who are guided by spirit to protect it.

His work with the Indigenous Council on Tar Sands involved making an unlikely alliance with Nebraska farmers. As a group they organized a great activist happening earlier in the year at Washington DC; the Indian-Cowboy Alliance. He spoke of the importance of being in equal alliance, and the patient work of communication. Listening to the farmers complaining that Oil companies come onto their land, uninvited, to assess the possibility of extracting oil. How disempowered they felt. “Ah” said an Indian Grandmother, “I get it. You are now the Indians.”

We are all now the “Indians” as our rights to a healthy environment are stripped away. And we are also all part of the same gathering, known for time immemorial by the 1st Nations, of deeper spirit who now moves within us to reclaim the sacredness of the earth, of the children, and of all living things. John spoke with great gentleness, honesty and encouraged us all to take the most difficult journey from “head to heart.” He said sometimes he gets “goosebumps” when he feels the new world that is on its way, as to the prophecy of his people.

John L Pappan, President, Indigenous Council NE
Talking about the reclamation of the sacred

The next workshop was with Peter Clay who joined the train last night. He is part of the Great March for Climate Action, a group of about 30 walking across the country, from LA (from March 1st) to arrive in DC on November 1st. This is a huge and inspiring undertaking. (When I have more internet connection, I’ll post a most inspiring speech from one of the Marchers.)

The last workshop I attended, and was part of, was a “panel” of interfaith representatives, hosted by Ayya Santussika. (I say a “panel” but it was a 30 people squeeze in a small train car, with everyone invited to speak.)

Represented were Christian, (Unitarian, Catholic, Quaker, Episcopalian), Buddhist (Theravada, Insight, Thich Naht Hahn), Jewish, Mohawk 1st Nation and others. Many points were raised which generated a web of connection that led us into a discussion about our times where there is no “other.” Yet at the same time, there are those who oppress. The core issue of how to meet violent oppression without enmity was spoken to extremely powerfully by 1st Nation Cherokee Pennie Opal Plant. She has been on the front line, with many other activists, doing prayer circles outside of the Chevron plant in Richmond East Bay, a traditionally marginalized community. (Pennie noted that prayer circles rattled the industrial folks more than demos.) Pennie spoke of making a point of warmly greeting every police officer and Chevron worker before their acts of prayerful resistance. Over time some of the police have become their protectors.

A young man in the meeting spoke passionately about how the police function as the oppressive arm of the corporate empire. How he witnessed tear gas cans being thrown at children during Occupy in Oakland. Pennie spoke of the need for the grandmothers – the grey haired ones – to lead, to be in front, to create the least violent atmosphere. It is hard for police to beat up a grandmother. She apologized for not being at the Occupy, that they were caught unawares, however, she stated, they would not be caught unaware again.

If you are interested, here is a list of workshops on the train.

Thanissara, Pennie, Ayya Santacitta


The Train… Thanissara

7.30am, Amtrak rail station, Emeryville East Bay CA. We arrive into a swirl of people as a great buzz as excitement ripples around the station lobby. James Baraz and Wes Nisker are here to see us of. At the station – our first rally – banners and speeches from a 1st Nation elder, Santiago, from Venezuela, Valerie Love – wondrous all round organizer from Center for Biological Diversity – Ayya Santussika & Pennie Opal Plant 1st Nation Cherokee who said we are the immune system of the planet rising up.


The stationmaster appears. His well practiced voice bellows across the courtyard…finishing his announcement; he requests we write our senators with Amtrak appreciation. His train from California to Chicago is threatened with closure. “Especially write those guys below the Madison Dixie line,” he concludes.

Finally, the great grey California Zephyr pulls in. I have no idea how this is going to work as dozens of us lug our suitcases and burgeoning bags of dry foods along the platform. Cheering us on, another Amtrak worker in orange jacket, his two fists punching up to the sky yelling “Democracy Now.”

We tumble onto the train, 150 of us for now, more joining later. I find my spot. Almost immediately we have our first workshop… Shannon Biggs & Pennie, “Change local laws to stop fossil fuel interests.” “Corporations are not people.” Michael Brune, ED of Sierra Club, “We are the fossil fuel companies worst fu#king nightmare.” (I don’t imagine the 170 of us snaking our way to New York – but our contribution to what will be an unstoppable people’s movement to demand climate action.)

After offering the stack of dry food to Santussika and Santacitta Bhikkhunis, I figure my living space for the next 4 days, pressing and pulling levers for optimum reclining coach seat comfort – mmm not quite a right fit – and disappear into a dreamy slump. Later, we stroll through the car, enjoying a great tribe of colorful and diverse new friends, admiring pizzazz t-shirts and buttons (badges in UK speak.) My favorite statement, Wake the dreamer, Change the Dream. At Reno we stop and pile out to greet a group of activists are on the platform who are there to cheer us on – more banners and shouts of “Obama, Obama, we don’t need climate change trauma.”

More people join the train, I check out creature comforts, connect, chat, stroll, nap, and with Ayyas Santussika and Santacitta, attend the rolling workshops. Sitting together in the observation car; words of diagnosis, dissent and determination swirl around as the train picks up speed and wends its way through communities impacted by fossil fuels, particulalry the heart lands of Nevada, Utah and Colorado, which are in crosshair for Tar Sands Oil. We hear about Tar Sands activism, Community Resistance, Non-violent Communication, Climate Justice, Putting a Price on Carbon, Trans/queer Ally-ship, Climate Chemistry, Money in Politics as Obstacle to Climate Treaty, Indigenous Resistance – about 50 workshops in all are being offered over 4 days on the train.

33Everyone on board is straight into climate chaos reality, talking its impact and solutions. It’s too much to capture, but I want to bring your attention to two practical initiatives, which can join. Climate Citizens Lobby focuses on a dividend-revenue neutral fee on carbon-based fuels. This is an organization that has access to the House and Senate. They are currently negotiating with senators and those involved in the political process. CCL proposes a very realizable, win-win carbon neutral policy. The other initiative, just launched is The Climate Mobilization Pledge, putting climate action on the level of World War Two mobilization.

While we roll through the most magnificent landscape of mountains, high desert, pine forests, tracking the great Colorado River, This feels the exactly right place to be. As night falls, I have the feeling expressed so well by Arundhati Roy “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

Peoples Climate March – Journey to New York by Thanissara

I’ve created this new blog to share my journey to New York to join in the historic Peoples Climate March, along with tens of thousands of others, including over 1,000 organizations.  Here’s the info if you missed it!

I’ll be leaving next Monday on the California Zephyr to travel with 170 Climate Activists and People of Faith on a 4 day, 3 night journey across America – via Chicago – onto New York.


I’ll keep you posted on the journey – what’s happening – events on the train, folks joining in, and so on. We arrive on the 18th – rest up, to start the events.

I’ll be in NY for 10 days, there’s a lot happening – If you can’t make it, I hope you can join me on this journey via this blog. They’ll be Faith gatherings, an event at NY Insight with myself and Santacitta, Santussika, Pannavati Bhikkhunis, Bhikkhu Bodhi, David Loy, Wes Nisker…They’ll be activist happenings – like Flood Wall Street – I’ll  keep you posted with pics and updates.

Here’s our Banner for the March


The Peoples Climate March is just the beginning (well, not exactly, environmentalists have been at this a looong time), but this is the beginning of the Peoples Movement to secure a sustainable planet. Join us, as we become an unstoppable force.

OK – see you “on the road!”

Thanks to Diane Wilde of Sacramento for designing our Buddhist Banner – and thanks to Valerie Love of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Ayya Santussika Bhikkhuni, for arranging the Climate Train.