COP26: Reflections from Bill & Robert

COP26 has come and gone. Policy-makers from the rich countries predictably hailed it as a triumph that keeps alive the Paris agreement to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C, while climate scientists and activists including Greta Thunberg call it out as a failure, that still leaves us heading for extreme warming, and call for mass direct action.

Scroll down to read a reflection on the experience of COP26 by Bill of Earth Holders. But first, upcoming Earth Holders events, and even some good news:

Celebrate two years of Earth Holders Edinburgh!

Some of you may recall that the launch event for Earth Holders Edinburgh was on Sunday 8th December 2019. So, we’re going to be two years old!! 

This seems like a good time for us to come together, celebrate what we’ve achieved (such as bouncing back after lockdown to a regular schedule of New Moon gatherings and Silent Rebellions, and reaching more than 80 newsletter subscribers), take stock of where we are, engage with new people, brew a new vision for Earth Holders, and find a way forward for mindful activism after COP26.

Remember that all our events are open to everyone, whether you’re an experienced activist or not, whether you identify with any particular spiritual tradition or not. We hope to see you there!

Bill’s reflections on his experience of COP26

Whatever COP26 was, it was a marker in time. A time when we were told the world was to get together to look again at the Paris Agreement and how we were to hold climate change to 1.5 degrees. Looking back, when I first caught the train to Glasgow on the morning of that first meeting of the Interfaith COP coalition, that marker seemed very distant. It became even more distant with the pandemic. Then all the planning and meetings and discussion manifested into our prayers for COP in George Square, with wet but smiling faces as we stood in the faith bloc on the Global Day of Action. Now it is over, that distant marker passed and receding. The joy of comradeship of holding together even with the awareness of the COPs inevitable failure, the memories of Earth Holders welcoming the Pilgrims with our biggest attended Silent rebellion to date, are now but cherished memories.

I remain in this moment but reflective of the journey travelled. These two weeks in Glasgow gave us a focus, to let the world know how much this mattered to us and our children. There is no doubt they heard us, that we contributed to that outcry of pain for our world. We know this because so many of the delegates said so, in particular the global south and indigenous nations. But hearing is one thing and action another, and so we have a pale reflection of what might have been. I don’t underestimate the complexity of their task, nor the motivation of many, least of all the nations who so reluctantly signed to save what had been agreed.

The question we have now is what next for Earth Holders? I hope with imagination and a renewed sense of urgency we can meet on the 8th to look again after our two years together. To share some of our cherished moments. Give thanks to all those who stood with us be they friends and family, Interfaith, XR, or church or Sangha. To look at what these two years have taught us and what lessons have been learned. I take heart from what we have achieved together as Earth Holders, from the hundred thousand of campaigners who stood with us shoulder to shoulder as we marched to Glasgow Green and those supporting us worldwide. The Zen Buddhist Sangha in Edinburgh arrange the candles on the altar in a V shape as a reminder of the wild geese. They remind us of how the geese fly together, alternating leading, giving strength to those needing support. In the Celtic tradition wild geese are harbingers of both spring and resurrection. I look forward to Earth Holders and our native wild geese to discover how we fly together and find our flightpath in this new dawn.

Please keep on using the sky
As you know how
Riding the wind
with your eyes wide open
tracing the shoreline
(along with something else it’s harder to define)
and throw out a cry or two now and then
for those of us down here who care

— From The Bird Path by Kenneth White

For the Earth,

Bill & Robert

for Earth Holders Edinburgh

This is from Earth Holders News by Earth-Holders. You can subscribe here.

Come stand together at the commencement of the most important summit in human history!

You are invited to the COP26 Vigil in George Square, Glasgow on Sunday 31st October!

The future of our planet hangs in the balance. Interfaith Scotland and Interfaith Glasgow, with the Scottish Religious Leaders Forum, invite you – at this critical moment – to join people of all religions and none in expressing your love for life on earth and the shared hope that COP26 will commit leaders to the actions necessary to save it!

This unique prayer and meditation vigil will bring together people of all backgrounds in Glasgow and – via a livestream – around the world, in a powerful, symbolic act of unity and solidarity for our planet.

Witness religious leaders and faith community members coming together in Glasgow’s main square, united in a common commitment to climate justice, to mark the beginning of COP26 and to launch Scottish Interfaith Week, which shares the COP26 theme: ‘Together for Our Planet’.

All participants – whether joining in person or online – are invited to pray or hold in their thoughts the COP26 negotiators: that they may have the courage and wisdom to work together and to make the commitments necessary to safeguard the future of humanity and all life on our planet.

If you want to be assured of an official, physical place at the vigil you can book on Eventbrite.

The event will be streamed online via YouTube at tiny.cc/COP26VigilLive

Silent Rebellion with Earth Holders before COP26

As part of an Interface event to welcome the COP26 Pilgrims to Edinburgh the Edinburgh Earth Holders are facilitating a meditation/silent contemplation on our interconnectedness with all of creation; expressing love for the Earth and all life.

There will be a guided meditation, walking meditation (if the pilgrims haven’t had enough walking) and a silent sit. This will be in the Plum Village tradition facilitated by Bill Crook.

Please join us on The Mound, outside the National Galleries on Saturday 23rd from noon.

You can view the whole Pilgrimage for COP26 programme here.

Guru Nanak Gurdwara Edinburgh are providing a meal for pilgrims and supporters after the event. You can book a place on Eventbrite here.

Hope to see you there!

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet: Live event at Blackwells, Friday 15th October 2021

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

We are very lucky to have a group of monastics from Plum Village visiting Edinburgh to take part in the TED Countdown Summit. This is part of the build up to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next month.

The monastics are spending time bringing Thich Nhat Hanh’s perspective to a dialogue involving artists, scientists and leaders from around the world. If you are lucky enough to be attending the summit please don’t miss Sister True Dedication’s talk in the Friday morning session.

Sister True Dedication is the editor of several of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books including the most recent one, released in time for COP26, Zen and the Art of Saving he Planet.

After the summit there will be an opportunity to meet the monastics and talk about the book at Blackwells Book Shop, South Bridge, Edinburgh from 7pm.

If we have further details about the event we will post them here. If not we’ll just see you there!

You may also be interested in this podcast where Sister True Dedication talks about Thich Nhat Hanh’s history of environmental activism and editing the book.

The Way Out is In podcast with Br Pháp HữuJo ConfinoSr Hiến Nghiêm (a.k.a True Dedication)

Mindful Peace Walk – Saughton Park – Sunday 10 October 2021 at 12 noon

Dear Friends

At last we can walk together:

  • Venue: Saughton Park and Gardens, Balgreen Road, Edinburgh, EH11 3BQ.
  • Date: Sunday 10 October 2021.Time: 12 noon. Gather in front of the Bandstand for 12 noon.
  • Event Description: This silent walking meditation is an open event. It will be led by the lay members of the Wild Geese sangha in Edinburgh who practice in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Before the walk begins there will be a brief introduction to mindful walking as a meditation practice.
  • Cost: Admission Free. Just come along on the day. 

Alan Spence, former Edinburgh Makar, will read Sri Chinmoy’s Dreamer of Peace poem from the plaque by the statue, and add another short piece on oneness and inclusiveness.

We will also be mindful of the upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021 in the readings and in the awareness that we bring to our time together.

This is not a protest or a campaigning event, so please do not use any banners. Children are welcome when accompanied by adults. Please remember to wrap up warmly.

Please maintain social distancing, and follow all recommended COVID-19 protocols.

See you there !

Thursday Meetings at St Marks

We are very happy to be returning to meeting in person at St Marks Unitarian on Thursday evenings from Thursday 23rd September 2021.

In order to comply with government Covid guidelines we are running these meetings through Eventbrite. You need to book a ticket to attend. To register please click on the button below.

To help us all keep safe and well, and to adhere to the requirements that St. Marks place on guests, we would like everyone to be mindful of the following:

  • Please book a place before you come using the Eventbrite button above. We have had to limit the numbers to 20 to ensure safe social distancing. By booking we will know who attends each session and St. Marks may need this for ‘track and trace’.
  • Do not attend the sangha meeting if you are unwell, have tested positive for Covid or are meant to be self-isolating.
  • Please wear a face covering except when you are sitting on your meditation mat or chair (unless you are exempt). We will not ask people to wear face coverings during periods of sitting meditation (although you can if you wish) but please wear them during walking meditation.
  • Please use the hand sanitiser on arrival. This will ensure that the mats, cushions and blankets remain safe to handle.
  • There is an opportunity to make a donation whilst booking your ticket or you can make a one off or repeated donation by bank transfer, details are available at the meeting. For Covid safety we are not collecting cash donations at the moment.

Virtual Meetings Continue on Wednesday

If you would like to continue meeting over Zoom please see details of our Scotland-wide Sangha, The Scots Pines, here.

The Heart of Inclusiveness

The Scottish Sangha Spring Mini-Retreat Online Sat 20th March (afternoon) & Sun 21st March (morning) 2021

The capacity of the bodhisattva’s heart is very big, the capacity to embrace and to include. We have to practice the capacity to include, to embrace. If we practice, if we train, the capacity of our hearts will grow and we will suffer much less.”

Thich Nhat Hanh
Clare Belbin Carlile

This online “mini-retreat” is an opportunity for the Scottish Sangha to come together during this time of pandemic. We would be delighted if you could join us!

Thay uses the word Inclusiveness to convey patience, tolerance, and forbearance. It is the practice of keeping our hearts open, especially during difficult times, embracing our pain and joy as one. It provides balance and stability.

Our retreat will include our much-loved practices of sitting meditation, walking meditation & dharma sharing. Murray Corke, who was up with us from Cambridge last February, will offer us a dharma talk on our theme of inclusiveness and Susanne Olbrich will offer us a deep relaxation.