Last week I was at a festival in Somerset called Buddhafield. The name probably tells you all you need to know. Yes, there were buddhas and Tibetan singing bowls and prayer flags and lots of people in colourful clothes and some people in no clothes at all.
I went to a number of workshops, of which several were based on The Work That Reconnects (WTR), a methodology designed by the ecologist and Buddhist scholar and wonderfully wise Joanna Macy about 40 years ago. She describes it thus:
“The central purpose of the Work that Reconnects is to help people uncover and experience their innate connections with each other and with the systemic, self-healing powers of the web of life, so that they may be enlivened and motivated to play their part in creating a sustainable civilization.”
So, in other words, it’s a holistic approach to ecological conservation, recognising the interconnection of everything on Earth by reconnecting with ourselves and with each other.
In practice, it seemed to require lots of staring into the eyes of strangers for several minutes at a time, which is a terribly un-British thing to do, but is actually incredibly powerful. I couldn’t help but think that if our global leaders were compelled to do these exercises, we would probably live in a dramatically different world.
There were also exercises that involved finishing such cheerful sentence stubs as: “When I think of the collapse of our civilisation, I feel sad because…”, or “When I think about the world we are leaving our children, I am concerned about…”.
I was sufficiently impressed with the work to want more, so I am going to a workshop on Deep Ecology, led by one of the session leaders from Buddhafield, in Bristol this Saturday.
When I came to look back over my notes from the festival, I found an unexplained reference to something called Shambhala Warrior Mind Training, which sounded cryptic and intriguing. Google led me to a short video of Joanna Macy explaining the Shambhala Prophecy, and also to the code of the Shambhala Warrior. The code really resonated with me, especially in my blissful post-festival state of peace and love, so I had it printed out and framed, and it now sits on my desk as a constant reminder of how to be in the world.
To some of you, it may seem rather abstract and hippie. To me, though (and to many of my compadres at Buddhafield, I’m guessing), it’s a recognition that our ecological crisis can’t be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it, that a fundamental shift in consciousness is required, to a worldview in which everything is connected, so that as we transform ourselves, we transform our reality.
“Hold in a single vision, in the same thought, the transformation of yourself and the transformation of the world.”
If you want to download the pretty pdf version that I created for my desk, click here. You’re welcome.
And here is a video of Joanna Macy talking about the prophecy of the Shambhala Warriors. I highly recommend it.
Shambhala Warrior Mind Training
Firmly establish your intention to live your life for the healing of the world.
Be conscious of it, honour it, nurture it every day.
Be fully present in our time. Find the courage to breathe in the suffering of the world.
Allow peace and healing to breathe out through you in return.
Do not meet power on its own terms.
See through to its real nature – mind- and heart-made. Lead your response from that level.
Simplify. Clear away the dead wood in your life.
Look for the heartwood and give it the first call on your time; the best of your energy.
Put down the leaden burden of saving the world alone.
Join with others of like mind. Align yourself with the forces of resolution.
Hold in a single vision, in the same thought, the transformation of yourself and the transformation of the world. Live your life around that edge, always keeping it in sight.
As a bird flies on two wings, balance outer activity with inner sustenance.
Following your heart, realise your gifts.
Cultivate them with diligence to offer knowledge and skill to the world.
Train in non-violence of body, speech and mind.
With great patience with yourself, learn to make beautiful each action, word and thought.
In the crucible of meditation, bring forth day by day into your own heart the treasury of compassion, wisdom and courage for which the world longs.
Sit with hatred until you feel the fear beneath it.
Sit with fear until you feel the compassion beneath that.
Do not set your heart on particular results.
Enjoy positive action for its own sake and rest confident that it will bear fruit.
When you see violence, greed and narrow-mindedness in the fullness of its power, walk straight into the heart of it, remaining open to the sky and in touch with the earth.
Staying open, staying grounded, remember that you are the inheritor of the strengths of thousands of generations of life.
Staying open, staying grounded, recall that the thankful prayers of future generations are silently with you.
Staying open, staying grounded, be confident in the magic and power that arise when people come together in a great cause.
Staying open, staying grounded, know that the deep forces of Nature will emerge to the aid of those who defend the Earth.
Staying open, staying grounded, have faith that the higher forces of wisdom and compassion will
manifest through our actions for the healing of the world.
When you see weapons of hate, disarm them with love.
When you see armies of greed, meet them in the spirit of sharing.
When you see fortresses of narrow-mindedness, breach them with truth.
When you find yourself enshrouded in dark clouds of dread, dispel them with fearlessness.
When forces of power seek to isolate us from each other, reach out with joy.
In it all and through it all, holding to your intention, let go into the music of life.