Green Earth Awakening Camp 2015: Transfrom, Sustain, Thrive

Thursday 21st — Monday 25th May 2015, booking: www.buddhafield.com/gea

In just 10 weeks Buddhafield will bring you its third Green Earth Awakening Camp on the Blackdown Hills. The crew are preparing to welcome the volunteers that will help build and nurture this unique platform for creativity, community and insight.

Site Crew Needed

This is a community building exercise, not just work, work, work. We will spend nine days setting up, but you’ll be able to enjoy the event while it’s on. More information on the GEA volunteering page, or just drop us an email.

The Programme

What is it? A five day camp exploring how Buddhism can help us along the path towards community and sustainability. With green crafts, engaged dharma, social change, forest school, healing area and a daily timetable of workshops, talks, meditation, yoga, qi gong, dance and music. An intimate gathering to deepen into ourselves and a wider awareness. Tools for the mind, skills for our future.

What’s it about? Faced as we are by the threat of climate change, dwindling resources and violent conflict, it is important that we take to heart the need to transform ourselves and engage with the significant problems of the world, not from a reaction to them, but from a higher perspective of insight and love.

The theme for this year: Transform, Sustain, Thrive. By awakening our awareness we can engage in the world with a deepened presence and can begin to mindfully sustain ourselves in our daily lives, in community and in the wider world. By feeling the benefit of sustaining all life, we can become empowered to thrive.

“Fantastic — small, intimate, with rich variety of workshops both creative and informative.”
“So much on offer from fantastic, knowledgeable people.”
“Felt so safe to bring my daughters here and allow them free range.”
“The meditation area (on top of the hill) is the best site I have experienced at any festival /camp. Profound stillness.”

Here is a little taster of some of the delights to come …

Jamie Catto | www.jamiecatto.com

“We’re on a mission to make self-reflection hip for just a moment, just long enough to save us. If we can all collectively acknowledge our insanity, shrug and roll our eyes at each other at how nuts it is being a human, let alone having to pretend every day that we’re normal, the amount of energy we’ll inherit that has been wasted on the mask will be enough to creatively solve any global crisis.”

Jamie Catto, creator, producer/director of the multi-award winning global 1 Giant Leap films and albums and founder member of Faithless is now leading uniquely transformative workshops and one-on-one sessions. Drawing from the richly diverse wisdom, techniques and processes he has encountered during his ground-breaking filming, recording, philosophy voyages across all 5 continents, he is weaving these creative techniques and exercises to spark both Professional and Personal breakthroughs.

“Jamie Catto is a human icebreaker with a prow of determination and a motor of love, slicing through the frozen seas around us.” Tom Robbins

Heike Schroeder from The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research | www.tyndall.ac.uk

Dr Heike Schroeder is a Senior Lecturer and Course Director of the University of East Anglia’s MSc in Climate Change and International Development in the School of International Development. Heike teaches widely in the areas of climate change politics, globalisation and the environment, sustainability, environment and business, cities and climate change, natural resources and the environment, and forests, and co-leads a research theme of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Heike’s research examines how national boundaries can be bridged to solve trans-national or global environmental problems, and how local, national, and international decisions differ in their abilities to solve environmental problems.

Mark Leonard from The Mindfulness Exchange | mindfulness-exchange.com

Before working with the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (OMC), Mark’s career explored means to manage natural resources sustainably. Around ten years ago he came to the conclusion that wisdom from Buddhist tradition would provide the means for achieving sustainable development if it could be applied in contemporary society. Through his involvement with the OMC, he has been able to realise his vision, applying the scientific understanding of mindfulness developed in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), to mindfulness training in the workplace with The Mindfulness Exchange.

Denise Rowe with Earthdances | www.earthdances.co.uk

Earth Dances arises from a fertile meeting ground between traditional and neo-traditional pan-African dance and non-stylised and environmental movement, drawing also on threads from Shiatsu, Aikido and Shamanic traditions.

These dance and movement forms share an implicit commonality: They are dances in connection with the cosmos, they are the awakening of the whole being in relation with environment and the awakening of the body-in-movement’s wisdom, a wisdom that arises when being is awake to itself.

Groundspring Network and Landworkers Alliance | landworkersalliance.org.uk

Calling all starter farmers, urban veg growers, beginner beekeeping collectives, CSAs, emerging dairyers, meat producers, educator….

We are a collective of entrant farmers, growers, woodsmen, beekeepers, cheese makers, mushroom pickers, and more. We are a burgeoning community spread across the UK, finding a bigger voice and new energy in coming together. We come from many different “camps”; organic/biodynamic/permaculture/forest gardening, some of us don’t subscribe to any particular camp, we are above all non-denominational. We are young and old in years. We work in both urban and rural landscapes. As individuals starting out in sustainable agriculture we are not isolated and alone, hopeless and surrounded by endless fields of industrial agriculture. We are already acting to build a resilient food system for our future. We are braced and booted and seek to be united.

And here are just some of the other workshops on offer…

  • The Work That Reconnects
  • Permaculture Principles and Design
  • The Permaculture Association
  • Growing Self Love
  • Compassionate Communication
  • Co-ops and Community
  • Eco-Feminism
  • Eco-Psychology
  • Embodied Presence Contact Improvisation
  • Nature Writing
  • Building an Eco House
  • Focusing
  • Introduction to Buddhism
  • Harmony Singing
  • Storytelling
  • Rhythms and Body Percussion
  • Yoga
  • Qi Gong
  • Foraging
  • Peg Loom Weaving
  • Spoon Carving
  • Felt Making
  • Blacksmithing
  • Basket Weaving
  • Willow Dome Construction
  • Drop Spindle

Keep checking our Facebook page for more updates.

Buddhism and the Natural World: Deep Ecology, Deep Dharma

Kamalashila lives in West Hampstead, London, with Dharmacharini Yashobodhi. In 1974 he was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order by Urgyen Sangharakshita who gave him his Dharma name, “Kamalashila” — “He whose conduct (śila, Sanskrit) is like a red lotus (kamala)”. He’s the author of Buddhist Meditation: Tranquillity, Imagination and Insight (Windhorse Publications, 3rd Revised edition edition 2012) and leading this year’s Buddhafield Total Immersion Retreat, a month-long, silent meditation camping retreat in Devon.

He is by temperament rather shy, quiet and thoughtful, but he has been active for forty years teaching meditation, establishing communities, writing and leading Dharma study. In 1976 he founded the West London Buddhist Centre near Earls Court; he moved to Wales in 1979 and became a founder of Vajraloka Meditation Centre and later Vajrakuta, Triratna’s first residential Dharma study centre. He also has longstanding connections with Buddhafield and EcoDharma.

This is a talk he gave to members of the Triratna Buddhist Order (then still known as the Western Buddhist Order) in 2005. Some of the themes he covers are very relevant to Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening Camp (May 16–21 2014).

You can find this and many other talks by Kamalashila on Free Buddhist Audio.

1. Parami: introduction (3:15).

2. Kamalashila: environmentalism in the early days of the FWBO; Vajraloka; reactions in ’80s & ’90s; a contemporary shift (2:47).

3. A personal experience of participation in nature; nature and Buddha Nature; alienation from the natural world (4:52).

4. Deep ecology as a way to insight; changing our sense of identity and ownership; deep ecology and ethics (4:26).

5. Aldo Leopold; owning beings and land as unethical; the experience of being in the countryside; meditation and the “Four Great Elements” — “Mahabhutas”; nature and seeing beyond ego (8:40).

6. Transcending self & other; our limited idea of “all beings” and the experience of other creatures (3:07).

7. Not dismissing non-humans; relative separation from the natural world; anthropocentrism versus ecocentrism; awareness of non-human beings and ethics (5:33).

8. Communal living; single sex; the underside of the development of communities; mixed communities and the benefits of other mixed environments (4:31).

9. Sangharakshita’s book review on DH Lawrence and the Spiritual Community — four principles of spiritual community; sexual relationships and community living (7:17).

10. A personal vision of mixed communities; deep ecology and community living (2:27).

GEA 2014: Booking Opens

Buddhafield welcomes you to the Green Earth Awakening Camp

Engage Now, Change the Future: 16–20 July 2014

This unique event is a wonderful opportunity to come together on a Buddhafield camp for up to 500 people, at our old Buddhafield Festival site on the glorious Blackdown Hills. We will have the chance to connect with the land, to re-learn forgotten skills and to explore pathways towards a sustainable future. A child and a woman weaving willowThe Camp will feature a workshop programme of green crafts, offering the chance to make something beautiful with our own hands and learn new but traditional skills; social change workshops and ecology talks, helping us to face difficult truths about ourselves and the world; Meditation, Rituals and Dharma talks giving us the spiritual context in which to explore those truths and help us grow and change together. We all can become what the world needs now — alive, aware, in touch with the earth, connected.

A child and a woman weaving willow

  • Adults £80
  • Adult Concession £60
  • Teens (12-17) £40
  • Children (3-11) £20
  • Babies (0-2) £10
  • All inclusive meals for Adults & Teens £45 each
  • All inclusive meals for under 12s £25 each

More information and booking on the dedicated GEA webpage.

Summer Events at the EcoDharma Centre

The Eco Dharma Centre is Buddhafield’s cousin project in the Spanish Pyrenees.

Meeting The Wild

29th June to 13th July 2013

This is a retreat with an emphasis on meditatively inhabiting the wild landscape which surrounds the EcoDharma Centre. It is part of our Nature Based Practice and Learning series. It brings meditation and mindfulness into relationship with wilderness immersion.

Our deepest nature is untameable. Yet, spending so much time living in a world constructed in service of a humanity, this can be hard to remember. So step out of the narrow dusty world for a while and meet the wild. Immersing ourselves in direct contact with wild nature, and deepening that connection through meditation, mindfulness, and reflection, can heal the wounds of alienation that are so present in our times. This helps us to re-connect with deeper aspects of ourselves and the world we inhabit – in a way that is enriching, empowering and transformative.

Permaculture & Deep Ecology

20th to 27th July 2013

This course explores both the practical wisdom and the theoretical underpinnings of a shift to a life-sustaining future – set within a framework of nature and dharma based learning. It draws together the practical wisdom of permaculture design, experiential nature-based learning, and the theoretical foundations of deep & radical ecology. It weaves together study, meditation, and hands on learning.

More information, booking details and suggested donations/dana can be found on the EcoDharma website.

Green Earth Awakening 2013: Update 4

And a final update on the programme for the Buddhafield Green Earth Awakening Camp 24—27 May 2013. The weather has been pretty lovely this month and we’re hoping that it’ll bring out the best in our fabulous site, which many of you will remember as being to host of our Festival for some years. Tickets still available on the GEA webpage, where you can see the full programme. Two last additions:

Q&A on Green Wood Building

With Rob Coventry.

Rocket and Wood gas Stoves: Design & Build Principles & Demos

Come and learn about the holy trinity of wood combustion: “time, turbulence and temperature”! We’ll be lighting up rocket and wood gas stoves and discussing the simple but ingenious principles they use to harness more heat from wood (or even generate electricity!). The workshop will also touch on DIY methods and materials.

A ‘stove anorak’, Jonathan Rouse, has spent the past 12 years working on cooking stove projects across Africa, Asia and Central America for charities, the UN and businesses. He also founded Wild Stoves in 2010.

Opening Ceremony

Bring something green to wear!

Skill Sharing at EcoDharma

The EcoDharma community are looking for skill-sharers to help develop resilience in:
• Food growing.
• Wild food foraging and preservation.
• Traditional stone building.

They are looking for people to go and stay at their community in the Catalunyan Pyrenees in Spain for up to 3 months. They are particularly interested in people with experience and/or interest in skill-sharing. In return for helping them develop these aspects of their land-based learning centre and community you will benefit from the opportunity to learn new skills and be nourished by spending time living in our wild and remote community setting.

They are hoping to be able to cover your travel costs and some pocket money (and additional finance is negotiable for skilled builders) — pending funding.

Traditional Stone Building

When? September—November 2013, or end of March—July 2014.

What? They are looking for up to 8 skill-sharers to join their building team to renovate a traditional Catalan stone building. The work will be focused at Cal Victor, an old peasant Catalan farmhouse abandoned since the early part of the last century.

This is a vital piece of work in terms of the future of the Ecodharma community as it will provide the main communal space for the community including; a living area, kitchen, office, herb drying room and accommodation.

The project will involve renovation using traditional building techniques and materials, integrated with eco-building and other contemporary elements.

Who? We are looking for people who either:
• have general building experience, or
• are experienced or interested in learning about building with stone, or
• are experienced with carpentry.

Food Growing

When? Mid-August to mid-November 2013 or April—July 2014.

What? They are looking for 3 skill-sharers to support Liam who has held responsibility for growing our food since autumn 2013.

EcoDharma’s organic annual garden was established as four raised beds (each some 30 metres long) four years ago. The long term vision is for it to become a perennial system with vegetables growing below the existing fruit trees. Their forest garden was very recently planted by a wonderful team of volunteers who planted 100 fruit and nut trees this March.

You will be supporting Liam to produce as much food as possible from the annual garden using organic techniques and permaculture principles. There will also be work helping to establish and maintain the fruit and nut trees in the forest garden.

Who? We are looking for people who:
• have plenty of practical common sense
• have some basic gardening skills and experience
• are physically able.

Wild Food Foraging and Preservation, Bread Making and Creative Cooking

When? Mid-August to mid-November 2013 or May to July 2014.

What? They are looking for 2 skill-sharers to join them foraging for and preserving the abundance of wild foods growing in their wild and remote mountain valley.

Throughout the summer and autumn they are blessed with a wide variety of wild fruits, berries and herbs as well as the food they are cultivating ourselves. They need help to preserve as much as they can for the coming year, which will include:
• Harvesting and transforming an abundance of damsons, mulberries, elderberries, figs, pomegranates and blackberries into jams, chunteys and other culinary delights and medicinal tinctures
• Foraging for, for example, rosemary, thyme, sage, yarrow, nettles, lavender and savoury to make teas.
• Baking sour dough bread and experimenting with other baking
• Using produce in the garden creatively, for example green tomato chutneys, pickling vegetables for saur craut etc.

You will join Claire and Nikki who have been wandering the valley discovering the rhythms of the land and turning them into culinary and medicinal delights; and Lou who has held responsibility for the kitchen, food preservation and baking for past 3 years.

Life at Ecodharma

Life at Ecodharma is very communally spirited and is largely shaped by a collective yearning to move more and more towards simplicity, low impact living and just being with the land. All this provides the context for a rich and nourishing learning environment and a strong sense of being very much alive …

Funding

Depending on your skills, experience and/or future aspirations you may be eligible to apply for funding to pay for your travel and some pocket money and to reimburse Ecodharma for your food and accommodation costs. There may also be scope for additional finance for skilled builders. We will discuss possible funding with you on receiving your application.

How to apply

Please email claire@ecodharma.com for more information and to request an application form. Please state which role/s you are interested in and please be sure to meet the deadlines below. These deadlines have been set to ensure you are able to meet external deadlines for funders in good time – which vary depending on the placement period.

Deadlines

30 April 2013 for placements starting in August.
30 May 2013 for placements from September 2013-July 2014.

Ethical Leather?

Ethical Aspirations and Coping with Consumption

For many, veganism is an ethical decision to protect animals from a gross manipulation. Having been vegan myself, it is a minefield of ethics; to manoeuvre oneself around the array of animal products so imperceptible in many everyday items. Photographic films and papers use gelatine made from the hides and bones of cows and pigs. Most wines and beers use fish swim bladder derivatives to improve clarity and remove impurities. A red food colouring known as carmine is made from ground beetles. Stearic acid made from animal fat is used in baked goods, beverages, car tyres and fireworks. Animal fats are also found in plastic bags, wood glue, bio fuels, shampoos, fabric softener and tooth paste.

Leather is a strong, water resistant material in high demand for use in shoes, bags, coats, hats and gloves. The leather industry is worth £593 billion a year in the UK and most leather brought into the UK and Europe comes from India, China and countries where no laws protect animal welfare. According to PETA, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals:

…In addition to the cattle, sheep, and other animals who are killed for leather in China, an estimated 2 million cats and dogs are killed for their skins each year.

Confined to wire cages in which they can barely move, these animals are routinely skinned alive and hacked apart, piece by piece, until they bleed to death. Many products made from the skins of dogs and cats are bought unknowingly by consumers because the products are often intentionally mislabelled and do not accurately indicate their origins.”

In India cows are revered as holy and thus protected by law in all but two states which forces the leather industry to operate illegally. Bribery and corruption allow a harmful practice to go unregulated. Mrs Ghandi, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment in 2000 claimed:

There is a huge amount of trafficking of cattle to both West Bengal and Kerala… I’ve seen 900 cows coming out of the wagon of a train, and 400 to 500 of them came out dead.

On the route to Kerala they don’t bother with trucks or trains: they tie them and beat them and take them on foot, 20,000 to 30,000 per day. [All Kerala’s slaughter houses are on the border.] Because they have walked and walked and walked the cattle have lost a lot of weight, so to increase the weight and the amount of money they will receive, the traffickers make them drink water laced with copper sulphate, which destroys their kidneys and makes it impossible for them to pass the water — so when they are weighed they have 15kg of water inside them and are in extreme agony.
How India’s Sacred Cows are Beaten, Abused and Poisoned to Make Leather for High Street Shops, Peter Popham, The Independent, 14 February 2000

So what are the alternatives? Pseudo–leather such as Naugahyde, Durabuck, NuSuede, and Hydrolyte have been created to satisfy the hide consumption but have not replaced the demand. Petro-chemical based materials will take 500 or more years to break down compared to the 25 to 40 years of leather.

Fish skins are now being offered as an ethical alternative to the leather industry. The skins of supposedly non endangered species, sourced sustainably, that would have been discarded as by-products from the food industry are being adapted into a reptilian style leather. The tanning of the fish skins are similar to the process used in the leather industry, minus the polluting effect of harmful chemicals used in hair removal and preservation such as aluminium, chromium sulphide and mercury.

This new leather has been adopted by the fashion industry and is bringing in the “eco” pound for its ethical credentials. The waste skins of salmon, trout, cod, wolf fish, Nile perch, pike-perch, tilapia and grass carp can be transformed into strong, lizard like clothing materials with a reduced environmental impact and the benefits of “recycling”.

This sounds like an ideal solution to the leather industry with no negative impacts, but it is important to consider that when a product becomes popular and industry backed, sooner or later an ethical intention will be pushed aside in favour of money. Fish skin leather is now made from a waste product, but its manufacture may encourage the farming of fish purely for their skins.

So how do we make a choice? We have to weigh up what is the least harmful now. Vegans may argue that any use of an animal product for our own benefit is causing ultimate harm to that creature. We need to curb our consumption of shoes, hats and bags. We need to reduce our waste of discarded materials that could be re used and re cycled. These are ethical aspirations we should work towards, but we need to focus on the here and now. Our consumption of leather is high and industry will continue to meet those demands without consideration of animal welfare. Pseudo-leather materials have been available for some time, but have never become a realistic competitor to animal based products. The use of fish skins have captured the fashion industry and could displace the abuse of farmed animals. While fish leather is making use of waste skins, the balance at present, tips in favour of this seemingly less damaging alternative. Should we put our efforts into cultivating an awareness of these alternatives to limit a destructive industry?

At Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening, a tanner and leather worker will be offering workshops on how to make and work with fish leather. The intention of this workshop is to promote a sense of self sufficiency necessary to curb our consumption and reliance on mass industry. For some, this may be limiting in reducing our impact on living beings and the use of leather in any form should be boycotted. For other’s this may serve as an intention to finding alternatives to the damaging industry that is feeding our high consumption here and now. For all of us, perhaps we can unite in recognising our aspirations towards a society whose consumption and desires do not take priority over the welfare of living beings.

Green Earth Awakening 2013: Update 1

Rosie Lancaster is workshop co-ordinator at Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening Camp 24-27 May 2013. Here’s the first in a series of programme updates.

Really Wild Forest School

Really Wild Forest School is based in Crediton, Devon. Their ethos; “your child experiences nature and the outdoor environment in a safe, secure and hands on way and is encouraged to investigate & explore and develop a lifelong love and understanding of the natural environment. Children learn to respect all living things in the hope that they will become future stewards of the Earth. Exploring, playing and learning using a range of activities is what Forest School is all about because children learn best from direct experience. Building a sense of independence, high self-esteem and team work are integral parts of Forest School.”

Emma Byrnes is the company director at Really Wild Forest School and is a qualified Forest School Leader. She graduated with an HND in Criminology in 2006. She is an experienced facilitator, Certified Hypnotherapist and Reiki Teacher and has a Diploma in Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Emma has worked with children for nearly 20 years and has always shared with them her love of nature. She is the proud mummy and step mother of three lovely girls aged 10, 9 and a few months old.

Buddhism as Ecology

The gate of the Dharma does not close behind us to secure us in a cloistered existence aloof from the turbulence and suffering of samsara, so much as it leads us out into a life of risk for the sake of all beings.
Joanna Macy

I first encountered Buddhism within the flapping canvas of a Buddhafield dome. My first meditations were amongst the damp mist of a frost tipped Devon field. The backdrop to my Buddhist practice has been England, outside, with the green and wind. This context brought me to question our alienation from the delicate play of atom affecting atom within a cooperative environment without name and species and institution. Buddhism has shaped my mental practice, and our current cultural climate has built my assertion that to move beyond an exhausted consumer society, intent on polluting planet and thought, we need the dharma; a philosophical tool to re-integrate a disembodied mind.

Rosie

Rosie Lancaster, Workshop Co-ordinator at Buddhafield’s Green Earth Awakening

The western mind has, over time become separated from its origins, somehow autonomous from its environment. Sitting like a great head, without body and history, not relating to, but observing its linear relationships. A belief in a mind body duality existed from Plato to Descartes right up until the 19th century when existentialism broke the pedestal on which man had placed himself. Phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty went further to suggest the mind is encased within the body and all experience felt through that vehicle. Western philosophy has evolved towards a rejection of dualism and can be seen to align with certain aspects of eastern philosophies with an underlying oneness or interconnection of organisms.

Though many differences remain between the influences of western and eastern culture, Buddhism’s essential teachings take relevance in modern society as a paradigm shift emerges. We are recognising the damaging effect an affluent, contaminating society has had on its landscapes and inhabitants. The terms ‘green’ and ‘eco’ are marking a cultural move toward a sustainable relationship with the planet. But no amounts of biodegradable nappies are going to save the irrevocable damage caused to our finite resources. We need a revolution in mental processes. We need a break down of the damaging concept of ‘I,’ that enslaves us into craving more to the detriment of others. We need a radical transformation of how we view ourselves and our relationship to the planet.

Part of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha, along with impermanence and un-satisfactoriness, is the anaatman or ‘no self.’ This teaching defines us as a continually fluctuating system of processes; an interconnected web of effect and affect. By allowing the edges of what we perceive as ‘I’ to blur into an endless myriad of interconnected organisation, we cannot uphold a perception of an individual autonomous mind. By recognising our influences on our environment and the simultaneous influences our environment has on us, we can understand a duty to uphold an ethical way of being. This can be known as karma.

The notion of karma can be easily related to the principles of ecology; that all life is a complex interplay of cause and effect. Our karma, or our effect, will bounce on through the web of relationships that so delicately impress one another. Deep ecology and holistic science have grown from an understanding that all systems are comprised of sub systems and an exchange of information happens in a complex non-linear response. This is a step beyond the reductionist interpretation of nature associated with a ‘conventional’ western, scientific mind.

As the Mahayana Buddhist tradition states, we all have a ‘buddha’ nature’; a potential towards enlightenment. Our ignorance and delusion is strongly embedded, but if we cultivate enough self-conscious awareness to break through a rigid sense of identity, we can communally reach an enlightened state of existence. Mahayana is translated as ‘Great Vehicle,’ a means by which all sentient beings can attain enlightenment. One’s own spiritual journey is therefore intrinsically linked with liberation for all.

Find out more about the Green Earth Awakening Camp 2013.

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