Author: Zack Walsh, Asoka Bandarage, Rachel DeMotts, David Kahane, Austin R. Pick, Holly Gayley

Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change

Download Special Issue: Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change   Illustrations by Alicia Brown Comments The Arrow welcomes comments in response to issues we publish. Please submit comments for review to editor[at]arrow-journal.org. Comments may expand on an idea, raise questions, or make a critique. They should be no more than 500 words. Regardless of the stance toward the article that a comment takes, comments should be substantive and respectful, engaging the merits of the argument.

Beyond Theory: Relating to Dominant Systems and Manifesting Social Alternatives in Dharma Communities

This essay also appears in the special issue “Dharma, De-Growth, and Climate Change.” Click here to download and read the entire issue. We live in a time of seemingly inexorable devastation and destruction. Carbon emissions and climate change intensifying. Ecosystems ground up by consumerism, ignorance, and greed. Industrial agriculture destroying topsoil and causing vast animal suffering. Marginalized and poor people oppressed and disenfranchised with increasing brutality. Refugee flows growing, together with cruel backlashes. And complex feedback loops through which these and other dynamics reinforce and accelerate one another. At the same time, Buddhists practice with the teaching that basic goodness or emptiness underlies all phenomena. We work with the view that between the cracks of our torn and troubled societies is enlightened society, and that simple acts of genuine kindness and conversation can transform situations. In this essay I bring the inquiry into dharma, degrowth, and climate change down to the level of practitioners and communities of practitioners. In particular, I explore how it is that different groups hold different degrees of awareness of the …

Drala of the Landscape: Rights of the River

This essay also appears in the special issue “Dharma, De-Growth, and Climate Change.” Click here to download and read the entire issue. In March of 2017, the Maori people of New Zealand finally won a 140-year long battle to have the Whanganui River legally enshrined as their ancestor. This recognition bestowed rights upon the river as a living being, with its own identity, rights, and duties. This means that New Zealand law now acknowledges its third largest river as a “living whole,” protected by two human guardians and accompanied by an initial $110 million in government funding to address past maltreatment and ensure continuous protection for the river.1 “We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that from our perspective treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as an indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management,” stated Gerrard Albert, who was the Whanganui iwi tribe’s head …

Collaborative Forest Management

Contemplating the More-than-Human Commons

This essay also appears in the special issue “Dharma, De-Growth, and Climate Change.” Click here to download and read the entire issue. The Stern Review on The Economics of Climate Change claims that reducing emissions by more than 1 percent annually would generate a severe economic crisis, and yet, climate analysts tell us we need to reduce carbon emissions by 5.3 percent annually to limit global warming to 2°C.1 Moreover, there is no evidence that decoupling economic growth from environmental pressures is possible, and although politicians tout technical solutions to climate crisis, efficiency gains from technology usually increase the absolute amount of energy consumed.2 The stark reality is that capitalist accumulation cannot continue—the global economy must shrink. Fortunately, there exist many experiments with non-capitalist modes of assessing and exchanging value, sharing goods and services, and making decisions that can help us transition to a more sustainable political economy based on principles of degrowth. One of the best ways to generate non-capitalist subjects, objects, and spaces comes from systems designed to manage common pool resources like …

Images associated with four subjectivities

Losing Our Confidence: Four Subjectivities of the Present

In May 2015 a group of young people from Europe, Mexico, and the United States came together in Mexico City and Pátzcuaro, Michoacán for the Ziji Collective Leadership Retreat. The Ziji Collective “is a global network of inspired young people, dedicated to the…radical view that human beings and society are fundamentally good,” and the work of creating “a society that is uplifted, caring, gentle, and wakeful.” In this pursuit, local Ziji groups “work through the practice of meditation; through the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and wisdom; and through collective action.” Although we came from different places, we connected through our shared experience as young people facing an uncertain future of climate change, debt, limited options for rewarding stable work, disappearing free time, technology and media disconnecting us from each other and our bodies, surrounded by overt and subtle forms of violence. We explored ways to support each other across borders by initiating collaboration and establishing communities of practice. Over enchiladas in Pátzcuaro’s busy square and during contemplative walks in the gardens of the Casa Werma retreat …

Contemplative Praxis for Social-Ecological Transformation

Abstract The growing critical reception of mainstream mindfulness interventions often concerns itself with the social and ethical dimensions of mindfulness practices and their current inability to effectively address social and ecological problems. While Buddhists often advocate recontextualizing the practices in their original ethical frames, such proposals inadequately account for Buddhism’s historic biases and secular practitioners’ unwillingness to conform to Buddhist norms. Likewise, secular practitioners who argue that ethics implicitly informs mindfulness, but who forgo explicit ethical considerations, are often uncritical of the inner workings of power and injustice shaping mindfulness. This paper presents a dual critique of Buddhist and secular approaches to mindfulness, and attempts to outline dialectical and integral approaches that synthesize aspects of both. This dual critique lends itself to a post-secular synthesis of ethics and mindfulness, as irreducible aspects of each other informed by a non-binary understanding of religion and secularism. Finally, this synthesis is explored in light of several existing theoretical and practical examples of contemplative practices developed to support personal, social, and ecological transformation. Keywords: Contemplative Studies, Mindfulness, Social Change, …

The Tale of Stormtamer

There is nothing whatever to remove from this, Nor the slightest thing thereon to add. Truly beholding the true nature – When truly seen – complete liberation. —Uttaratantra (vs. 154), attributed to Maitreya1 This is how I heard it. One time in Ivy Field, near the place where the lake waters meet the streets of Wind City, where drowned buildings can be seen to the east and the south, tall and ruined, tenements where white laundry flaps like surrender flags and merchants sell their wares from skiffs through open windows, everywhere calling “Hey Cheecago!” and thus invoking the city’s proud old name to stir their business, ’Treya talked up the masses gathered there, speaking the truth to everyone. In the Long Before, when Ivy Field was a place where ritual games were played with great pageantry, the people harnessed rain to make the grass there ever-green, and changed the night to day with a fury of stolen light, chanting and roaring and eating too much. Now Ivy Field is a sanctuary for all who seek …

Expanding Awareness: How Patterns of Interaction Support White Supremacy

Lately, I’ve been feeling a deep sensitivity as I move about my world—a vulnerability, a brewing sadness, that comes, I believe, from the rawness of beginning to peel back the layers and peer into the depths of my own internalized oppression. I see how often I let myself become small, allow someone else a final thought to keep the peace, and ignore the use of words like “ghetto” (when a place is not) and “afro” (when a hairstyle is not) to protect a white friend from feeling uncomfortable if corrected. Often these subtle aggressions happen closest to home, when engaging with my friends and other seemingly aware white individuals. To be clear, these people are not racists. They’re activists supporting marginalized populations, creatives dedicated to raising social consciousness, and general do-gooders making not enough money to do meaningful things. No doubt upon reading this, they will stand by my side and say, “write on!” (pun intended). Yet the fact that even individuals conscious of the oppression of marginalized populations inadvertently reinforce their own privilege indicates …

Contemplative Empowerment and Social Change

Download the Complete Issue: Contemplative Empowerment and Social Change   Cover design by Alicia Brown   Download Individual Articles Below Editor’s Introduction We are pleased to share with you our first peer-reviewed collection, embodying The Arrow’s mission to create a space for rigorous, scholarly investigation of the relationship between contemplative practice and teachings on the one hand and issues of politics, economics, ecology, and activism on the other. With this issue, we break new ground in the field of contemplative studies by examining directly the ways in which mindfulness practices and contemplative teachings can be put in service of responsible citizenship, social justice, and social transformation. With the commodification of mindfulness and yoga continuing apace, and with most scholarly research on these practices still focusing on their individual benefits—psychological and physiological—we are thrilled to publish this first peer-reviewed issue, featuring articles that bring the political relevance of such practices and teachings into relief. In “Good-for-Nothing Practice and the Art of Paradox: The Exemplary Citzenship of Ta-Nehisi Coates,” Dean Mathiowetz explores meditation as one method that …

#makingrefuge at Mind & Life’s 2016 International Symposium: Opportunities for Decolonizing Contemplative Studies

In November, more than a thousand scholars, practitioners, and activists met in San Diego to discuss the future of their work at the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS). In the opening address, the new president of Mind and Life, Susan Bauer-Wu, outlined her vision for the community, explaining that her goal is to build bridges and break down silos—disciplinary, methodological, institutional, and geographic. Compared to prior meetings, ISCS 2016 was indeed more diverse, gathering members of the community from 33 different fields, a fourth of whom came from outside the U.S. and a half of whom were newcomers. This diversity was bolstered by the fact that Mind and Life had recently created an advisory committee and taken concrete steps to support diversity through newly created research grants and funding opportunities. Over the last few years, I have been a critic of mainstream mindfulness, so I was grateful to witness a conscious shift at ISCS 2016 toward situating mindfulness in social, political, and ethical contexts. The symposium was unusually self-reflexive and self-critical, exhorting its …