Overview of Teachings/Beliefs on Climate Justice
Today, we must place resistance to climate change at the core of our Jewish faith.
A prayer for our earth is not enough. Calling for healing is not enough. Our faith demands kindness. But it also demands that we resist injustice and work to end oppression. And what is the story of the Jewish people if not a story of resistance and a struggle against oppression?
The Torah teaches us that our connection to the Earth is sacred. Humanity is first shaped from the earth itself by God’s hand. Our earliest prophets were shepherds and farmers who understood deeply their responsibility to care for the divine gift of creation. They remembered that the punishment for our early sins was a Great Flood. God promised Noah he would never punish humanity that way again. But God never promised to stop us from doing it to ourselves. That’s up to us. We must take up the responsibility.
If we are to take seriously our Jewish faith, we must take seriously the fight against climate change. We must take seriously the fight against the fossil fuel companies, banks, and governments which are driving this crisis. We must resist the easy path of quoting the Torah on Saturday and accepting the destruction of our climate on Sunday.
That is why we—as Jews, as a chosen people of God—must demand an immediate end to any new oil, coal or gas projects, a phase out of existing fossil fuel projects, and a deep investment in a rapid and just transition to a clean energy future. These are the steps truly needed, according to the science of climate change and the teachings of the Torah and the Talmud. No bridge fuels, no temporary expansions of drilling, no delays. The end of fossil fuels must begin now.
To do less is to break faith—faith with our own neighbors, faith with our children and grandchildren, and faith in God.
The one who dwells in compassion would not have a conflictual volition;
The one who dwells in loving-kindness would always act most appropriately
Dhammapada, Taisho 4: 210
“If daughters and sons of good families wish to give rise to the highest, most fulfilled, awakened mind, what should they rely on and what should they do to master their thinking?” The Buddha answers, “We have to do our best to help every living being cross the ocean of suffering. But after all beings have arrived at the shore of liberation, no being at all has been carried to the other shore. If you are caught in the idea of a self, a person, a living being, or a life span, you are not an authentic bodhisattva.
O noble-minded people, if you can help all sentient beings equally without discrimination, you will then consummate the full and perfect compassion, with which, if you accommodate sentient beings, you can then make all Tathagatas happy and satisfied. In this manner a Bodhisattva should accommodate and embrace all sentient beings.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings,
Radiating kindness over the entire world,
Spreading upward to the skies,
And downward to the depths,
Outward and unbounded.
Metta Sutta, “Loving-Kindness”
“We, enjoying the savory earth, feeding on it, nourished by it, continued so for a long while. But since evil and immoral customs became rife among us, the savory earth disappeared.”
Aggañña-Suttanta, Digha Nikaya 27.
When this exists, that comes to be. With the arising (uppada) of this, that arises. When this does not exist, that does not come to be. With the cessation (nirodha) of this, that ceases.
Samyutta Nikaya 12.61
As we are together praying for Peace, let us be truly with each other.
Let us pay attention to our breathing.
Let us be relaxed in our bodies and our minds.
Let us return to ourselves and become wholly ourselves.
Let us be aware of the Source of Being common to us all and to all that is.
Evoking the presence of the Great Companion, let us fill our hearts with our own compassion—towards ourselves and toward all living beings.
Let us pray that all living beings realize that they are all nourished from the same Source of Life.
Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be the cause of needless suffering.
Let us pray that we may live in a way which will not needlessly deprive other living beings of air, water, food, shelter, or the chance to live in health.
To study the Buddha way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things.
When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away.
No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.
With reverence for Life and with awareness of the sufferings that are going on around us, let us pray for the establishment of peace in our hearts and on earth.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Protect the earth. Live simply. Act with compassion. Our future depends on it.
His Holiness Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa
Prayers and Liturgies
|BAll Our Might
|During the weeks around Passover, Jews and allies will gather outside the branches and offices of the banks and asset managers that exacerbate the climate crisis by investing their money in Fossil Fuel Pharaohs: oil, gas, and coal companies. We will publicly proclaim today’s fossil-fueled plagues, and lift up matzah as a symbol of urgency, calling on these financial institutions to move their dough. It is long past time for them to honor their commitments and stop funding fossil fuels. Only then can we leave the polluting past behind and move towards a just and livable future.Dayenu’s mission is to secure a just, livable and sustainable world for all people for generations to come by building a multi-generational Jewish movement that confronts the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action.|
|The Time to Act is Now: A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change
(One Earth Sangha)
|David Loy, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, and John Stanley co-authored this call to action in 2009 and updated it in 2015 in preparation for the COP21 climate negotiations, where leaders presented it to negotiators. Hundreds of Buddhist leaders have signed it, making it “the first time so many Buddhist luminaries came together on any global issue to speak with one voice.”|
|Buddhist Faith Statement on the Environment||Buddhist leaders from Europe, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Vietnam penned this statement about the environment.|
|Buddhist Prayer for Planet: Right Mindfulness
(by Martin Palmer)
|In this Buddhist prayer, prayed during COP26 in November 2021, FaithInvest founder Martin Palmer addresses the theme of humans not simply being managers but instead an active part of the world around them.|
|Manzanita Village Precepts
(submitted by Michael Richardson, from Manzanita Village)
|These Five Householder Precepts encourage awareness and harmony in our interactions with one another and the earth.Michael is a core organizer with the Rivers & Mountains GreenFaith Circle in the Upper Hudson Valley and practices engaged buddhism in the Zen Peacemaker Order.|
|Dedication of Merit
(submitted by Irene Woodard)
|These resources speak to various Buddhist teachings that can inspire our environmental action. Whatever the occasion, we conclude with a dedication of merit in order that whatever is accomplished is dedicated for the benefit of all beings.Irene Woodard is Vice Chair of the GreenFaith Board. She is the owner of TrueBlooms—a floral business which uses seasonal, fresh, local flowers—and one of the founders of The Shambhala Touching the Earth Collective, the Shambhala Buddhist environmental initiative.|
|Zen Verses for Environmental Practice
(by Robert Aitken Rōshi)
|In celebration of Earth Day, One Earth Sangha offers this pure blessing of contemplation, gratitude and intention from the late Zen teacher Robert Aitken Rōshi. May it offer inspiration for your own responsive relationship with our magnificent home.|
for Leading Worship/Liturgy
- Alliance of Religions and Conservation information on ecology and Buddhism website capture. This information can also be found in Faith in Conservation by Martin Palmer with Victoria Finlay, published by the World Bank in 2003.
- An article, “An Assessment of Climate Engineering from a Buddhist Perspective”
- Article “Spirituality and Ecology from a Buddhist Perspective Engaged Buddhist actions across Asia” by Somboon Chungprampree (Edited by Jane Rasbash and Fletcher Harper)
- Mission Dharma Teachers’ Statement on Climate Change
- A Sampling of Prayers and Religious/Spiritual Statements for #LightForLima
- Multifaith document of prayers for #LightforLima
- World Healing website capture of prayers
- Breathing meditation/prayer document from OurVoices