environment

Healing Social and Ecological Rifts Part 1

  Issue Contents Introduction from the Journal Editors by Gabe Dayley and shah noor hussein Introduction from the Guest Editor by LaDawn Haglund An Ecodharma Prayer of Earth Adam Lobel This poem was composed spontaneously near a red cardinal in western Pennsylvania on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, amidst a global pandemic, rising temperatures, melting ice, and mass extinction, April 2020.  Death Denial, Human Supremacy, and Ecological Crisis: Indigenous and Euro-American Perspectives James Rowe & Darcy Mathews We live in a period of heightened environmental crises and scholars have long pointed to narratives of human supremacy as central drivers of ecological destruction. We explore an overlooked but powerful explanation for stubborn attachment to the idea of human supremacy in the Euro-Americas: the political force of death denial. Human feelings of fear and belittlement in the face of finitude easily become fuel for compensatory attachments to narratives of supremacy. In making this connection between death denial and narratives of human supremacy, we draw on the work of anthropologist Ernest Becker and Indigenous …

Land-Based Ethics and Settler Solidarity in a Time of Corona and Revolution

Settler colonialism has been defined as a structure, not an event, meaning that settler societies like the U.S., Canada, and Australia endure over time through racist laws and ideologies that naturalize the dispossession of Indigenous populations.1 One of the most effective strategies that settler states rely on to eliminate Indigenous peoples and their power is the idea that their knowledges are primitive and superstitious, examples of failed epistemology.2 This view is rooted in an Enlightenment-born materialism that asserts that legitimate knowledge can only be produced through narrow empirical methods, relegating the negotiations of immaterial life to the social margins.3 As the colonial project progresses, legitimate knowledge production is simultaneously tethered to race and power (reserved to the white and landed), resulting in what we have come to know as modernity.4 Settler colonialism seeks to eliminate Indigenous populations in order to monopolize resources for the sake of capital. It operates through laws and racist ideologies, but also through conceptualizations of the natural world as white men’s for the human taking. Settler colonialism operates from its own …

Social and Ecological Ethics

This comment also appears in the issue “Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change” (Volume 5, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue.  At the root of the climate crisis is the disjuncture between the exponential development of the capitalist economy and the lack of an equivalent development in ethics and morality. Human and environmental sustainability requires social action based on a transformation of consciousness, from a dualistic to an ecological worldview that recognizes humanity as part of nature and the inherent equality of all human beings. To avoid further environmental and social collapse and conflict, it is important to recognize the history and realities of social hierarchy, domination, and oppression. Instead of speaking of a collective “we” in the context of climate action, it is necessary to explore the differential responsibilities and burdens borne by different communities for the climate and related crises. The North–South conflict over climate mitigation speaks to this reality. It is the privileged groups, especially those at the top of the global social hierarchy, that need to shift …

Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change

  Issue Contents FEATURE Contemplating the More-than-Human Commons by Zack Walsh In Response Social and Ecological Ethics by Asoka Bandarage Drala of the Landscape: Rights of the River by Rachel DeMotts Beyond Theory: Relating to Dominant Systems and Manifesting Social Alternatives in Dharma Communities by David Kahane FICTION The Tale of Stormtamer by Austin R. Pick In Response A Buddhist Depiction of Ecological Dystopia by Holly Gayley Cover design and 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.

Drala of the Landscape: Rights of the River

This essay also appears in the issue “Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change” (Volume 5, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download 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 …

Collaborative Forest Management

Contemplating the More-than-Human Commons

This essay also appears in the issue “Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change” (Volume 5, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download 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 …

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

This essay also appears in the issue “Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change” (Volume 5, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue.  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 …

Photograph by Alicia Brown

Inner and Outer Ecologies: Contemplative Practice in an Environmental Age

This essay also appears in the issue “Teaching Contemplative Environments” (Volume 4, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue.  “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” –John Muir At first sight, it may appear that contemplative practices stand at odds with environmental protection efforts. After all, the word ‘environment’ generally refers to the natural world outside of us, rather than the internal one within us. Moreover, environmental work aims to change widespread behavior and thus focuses on government policies, economic incentives, technological innovation, cultural norms, and other structures of power. These operate in the political realm, and thus call on environmentalists to externally project their efforts. In contrast, contemplative practices seemingly invite one to go ‘inside.’ They involve exercises that allow the practitioner to become more aware of one’s interior landscape. Whether they involve sitting meditation, yoga, journaling, dance, prayer, or textual study, contemplative practices cultivate a sensitivity to subjectivity. They encourage becoming intimate …

Photograph by Holly A. Senn

Teaching and Learning in Nearby Nature

This essay also appears in the issue “Teaching Contemplative Environments” (Volume 4, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue.  Conceptual Framework: Learning in Nearby Nature Parks and public green spaces can support exploration, restoration, and meaningful action. Kaplan, Kaplan, and Ryan define nearby nature as: “The settings we emphasize are not the wild and awesome, distant and dramatic, lush and splendid. Rather, the emphasis is on the everyday, often unspectacular, natural environment that is, or ideally would be, nearby. Nearby nature includes parks and open spaces, street trees, vacant lots, and backyard gardens, as well as fields and forests. Included are places that range from tiny to quite large, from visible through the window to more distant, from carefully managed to relatively neglected.”1 Nearby nature sites can foster engagement and exploration by balancing coherence (having a sense of pathway and/or order) with complexity (having depth and richness), and balancing legibility (having memorable features that help with orientation) with mystery (or the sense that there is more to explore).2 Nearby nature helps …