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).

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.

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.