ECO newsletter

Interfaith and climate change

Welcome to the first edition of the Eco Newsletter from the Brahma Kumaris Environment Initiative.  This edition highlights our work related to Interfaith and Climate Change as it is an area that is growing in terms of its importance and influence.  

All over the world people are adjusting to the new reality of living with Covid 19 and evidence from several studies suggests that the pandemic has had a positive influence on sustainable consumption.  Once awareness is heightened, it needs to be strengthened by a compassionate mind-set and inner determination to keep the vision of a sustainable world alive.  This is a vision that is shared by many faiths all over the world.

This is why, since COP 15 in 2009, we have been drawing attention to the impact that our consciousness has on the environment and that scientific advancement alone will not be the answer.  Our pattern of over-consuming has gone out of control and has created a lot of inner discontentment in the individual and collectively in our societies.  I would define ‘the new normal’ as being in a higher state of consciousness or awareness, where we naturally think of the impact of our thoughts, values and actions on others and the environment.  We describe the spiritual trajectory as: awareness, attitude, vision, and action.  The seed of awareness may not be immediately visible but it guides all levels of our expression, much as a seed in the soil governs the growth of a tree.

In preparation for COP 26, our recent participation in Together for our Planet: Faith Groups Roundtable revealed a number of positive initiatives that inspire hope.  The roundtable is one of a series of consultations organised by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS); this time with participation from faith-based organisations from the four devolved UK nations.  This newsletter also highlights some other online initiatives we have been involved with namely Faiths Unite: Visions for Transformative Climate Action and Making Choices that Care for Ourselves and our Planet.  

As we move forward into 2021, we know that collaboration and sharing is the way forward.  This multiplies our work and makes it much more effective.  However, let us take time for some ‘inner work’ as well.  It is time to set aside fear and hopelessness and to reflect with deep appreciation on the Divine gifts that we have.  By connecting our inner gifts of peace, love and wisdom with the appreciation of the gift of our beautiful planet, we can achieve harmony and abundance.

BK Jayanti
European Director of BKWSU,
NGO representative to the UN, Geneva


Making choices that care for ourselves and the planet

A conversation based on informed scientific knowledge and spiritual awareness.

In November last year,  Brahma Kumaris hosted an online event in collaboration with Faith for the Climate, as a contribution to Green Faith's Living the Change project. 

The speakers were:  Canon Giles Goddard, Chairperson of the Faith for the Climate network and Vicar of St John’s Church, Waterloo, London, Sister Jayanti, Director of Brahma Kumaris Centres for Europe and the Middle East and Prof. Dr. Mark Lawrence scientific director at the IASS in Potsdam. 

 When it comes to such a crucial issue as climate change, we may sometimes doubt whether our individual choices can make any kind of meaningful impact on a situation of such magnitude and complexity.  Yet the kind of change needed today will not happen just through hope or wishful thinking. It may only be when each one of us takes that personal responsibility to make changes in our own lives that we will see the kind of quantum shift needed in the world to bring about transformational change.  To explore the importance of our choices today, we join three speakers in conversation who are all leaders in their field, three people whose lives and choices have for many years reflected their value and caring for the Earth.  

Watch the event here 


Faiths Unite: Visions for Transformative Climate Action

In the first event The World We Want on the 27th October, Faith Biddle opened by saying: “Our interfaith climate conversations are part of what spurs us on to do the work that we maybe do predominantly individually.”  Reverend James Bhagwan from Pacific Conference of Churches started with a challenge to the dominant narrative on the climate crisis: “Where we speak of death and destruction, we choose to speak life, especially when we come from an area that is deeply affected by climate change.”  Mohamed Mohideen from the Islamic Council of Victoria highlighted the strength of interfaith collaboration and the importance that “we believe in each other, share with each other and come together.”

 During the second event on the 3rd November COP26: Ramp up the Ambition! the last question asked panellists to reflect on a more personal question:  What does climate ambition mean to you from your heart, outside of your role? And how can these interfaith efforts strengthen us on a daily basis? Professor Roy from Asian Institute of Technology felt she was driven primarily by the desire to do no harm to others and also added : ”But love is the sole driving force. If we are driven by love, I don’t think we can do harm to others.”  For Moema Miranda it was also a question of love and its ability to motivate: “These moving feelings are those that keep us going […] We can more connect with an open love, with a kind of love that can involve all of Earth.” Some of the panelists also emphasized the importance of taking action.  Sarmad Iqbal said: “All our actions have an impact on the most vulnerable.  This compels us to act.  The motivation of faith will help us to stand firm.” 

 The third event on the 10th November was entitled:  Hope for the Future.  Chiara Martinelli introduced the event and emphasized the supportive role faith plays in the struggle for climate.  Chiara reflected that hope is not just a wishful word but can be generative, offering a clear vision and determination to achieve climate justice. She emphasised the value that the experiences of different faith traditions can bring to this discussion.  Father Joshtrom reflected that the climate crisis is huge but that just as God brings David, a small boy, to fight the giant Goliath in the Bible story, the climate crisis will be faced from below. “From the below, from the peripheries, we see people come together to fight for climate justice and the human family.”  Khulekani Magwaza of the Lutheran World Federation emphasised the significant role of faith communities in climate action: “they can serve as a moral compass for implementing climate policies and strategies”, as well as offer examples for society at large.  He closed by re-emphasizing the theme picked up on by other speakers also: that faith gives support to ambition and hope. 

UNFCC: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

IUCN : International Union for Conservation of Nature

To read the full report click here


A guide to talking with the five major faiths

Recent research highlights the importance of language when talking to different faiths about climate change.

The guide was intended to provide practical guidance for climate communicators, both inside and outside faith communities, about what language works well and – crucially – what language might pose an obstacle for communicating with any specific faith group.

In April 2015,  GreenFaith asked Climate Outreach to develop and test language around climate change that could mobilise activity across five main faith groups (in alphabetical order: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism) in the run-up to the 2015 world climate conference in Paris.

They started by consulting a team of faith experts about the messages they found had been most effective in their work. They also drew on a wide range of research, educational materials and faith-based climate change statements. 

They found that there were certain expressions that worked across all faiths and some that were only acceptable for each faith individually.  They stressed that the results were meant to be a guide and not a rule book and thereby not prescriptive in any way.   Nonetheless, it was a pioneering piece of research which provides valuable information that can be built on and explored further.    For the full report click here 


‘Be the Change you Want to See’, ‘When I Change, the World Changes’ by Valeriane Bernard

Living the Change is an Interfaith project Brahma Kumaris was actively involved in since its inception.  Valeriane Bernard tells us more about the values behind its name.

When the initial team started to work on the idea and concept of a Faith-Based project that would promote lifestyle changes, it was not yet called ‘Living the Change’, and I was among the people who supported the name “Living the Change”. These words resonate deeply in me, their significance is related to “Be the change you want to see” from Gandhian philosophy. The Brahma Kumaris have a slogan that sums up the task at hand: ‘When I change, the world changes’.

To read more - https://livingthechange.net/blog/be-the-Change

 


Meditation on Giving to Nature

We are constantly taking from nature, from her beauty and her resources.  This short 5 minutes meditation explores how we can give something back just by creating peace within our own minds.  For the meditation please click here

To experience other meditations from our eco.brahmakumaris.org website, please go to this page.