See more information on this online journey organized by WCCM France.
A review by Janet O’Sullivan
The language around climate change is changing….now increasingly described as a “climate emergency”. Recently (May 2019) parliaments in UK and Ireland, soon followed by Canada, declared ‘climate emergencies,’ as did numerous local governments, UN climate experts, environment scientists, school activists and movements such as Extinction Rebellion, and Live the Change (Green Faith). Leaders such as Mary Robinson call for renaming the crisis as ‘Climate Justice’ to also view it as a human rights issue.
How can we reach a tipping point in the politics of climate change? How do we reach a tipping point in consciousness to bring this about? (See review below of Fr. Laurence’s section in “Tipping Points for a Precarious Future”).
How can we as a global contemplative community contribute more to this change? A new individual contemplative consciousness of our interconnectedness, of our utter dependence on the natural world and a new collective consciousness is needed.
Action is slow ….opinion divided as to whether it is an economic or a moral issue; whether it is real. There is a lack of political leadership in many countries, lack of trust in scientific expertise, and a reversion to nostalgia for past identities. However, there also an increasingly urgent call for new conversations to address what is a common challenge as we face a new narrative of our future, and for mobilized action with others, not against them.
This is now an issue requiring and calling forth conversations between different fields of expertise all impacted by the effects of climate change and the need for urgent action- psychology, behavioural sciences, physical sciences, economics, business, social justice and education.
Addressing Tipping Points for a Precarious FutureTimothy O’Riordan, Timothy Lenton Oxford University Press, 2013
A review of PART 5 (1); Contemplative Consciousness. Fr. Laurence Freeman; The Spiritual Dimension.
Addressing Tipping Points for a Precarious Future includes analysis from many perspectives in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. Fr. Laurence Freeman contributed a significant chapter on the spiritual perspective with the need for a contemplative consciousness and meditation as a pathway to that consciousness.
This raised the critical question, can the outer world be transformed without inner transformation?
He puts the case that we can think and act differently and that a change in consciousness is critical at this time. Crisis in our times is often discussed in terms of tipping points, and the possibility of preparing society and its governing institutions for creative and benign ‘tips’ provides a unifying theme for the book. The conclusions from the conference on which the book is based, are that we can assess tipping points and critical thresholds on many dimensions; that we can begin to see the early warnings of their appearance; and respond.
The term “Tipping points (TPs) is defined in the book as zones or thresholds of profound changes in natural or social conditions with very considerable and largely unforecastable consequences” p3. Tipping points are processes of discontinuous, and at times disruptive, change. Generically they are critical thresholds, which offer various timescales of onset and impact. These thresholds may manifest themselves across the whole globe, or regionally, or locally.… The possibility of preparing society and its governing institutions for creative and benign ‘tips’ provides a unifying theme for the book.
Laurence Freeman: Part 5.1 Contemplative Consciousness writes of tipping points (TPs) as prophetic “radical insights into the present structure of things in terms of the greater truth” TPs are physical in terms of earth systems but also consciously with regard to human self-awareness. “they demand rethinking along fresh ways of meaning and valuing actions and outcomes.” “If we are to think radically, I would suggest an approach to a strategy for dealing with tipping points that includes acknowledging the practice of meditation as a way of metanoia, seeing in a new way.” p159
‘Contemplative consciousness (CC) is a new vantage point… a radical openness to new ways of seeing and judging where science and religion can work better together to bring about a sustainable science and economy based on wholeness” “CC specifically address the undeniable need for meaning”
He reflected on ‘memento mori’ the acceptance of death as part of contemplative consciousness (CC). “Remembering that mortality permeates all life from individual organisms to all energy systems…this spiritual wisdom can enhance consciousness and maximise our potential for experiencing quality of life” Further he spoke of the role of meditation in developing CC and “the importance of scientists and contemplative spiritual practitioners forging deeper connections. Both concerned with advancing the wellbeing of the greatest number” Science already acknowledges the psychological and physical benefits of meditation, but benefits go further- the spiritual fruits” He concludes “Relating the scientific method to contemplative consciousness promises a radical new approach to human problem solving” the chapter continues with an introduction to meditation as a path to contemplative consciousness and discusses its 3 basic elements- silence, stillness and simplicity with the focus of attention off of ourselves, non-attachment and stillness which keeps us centered and morefree from emotional attachments and our mechanical turning minds.
In conclusion, “this ‘contemplative dimension to the science, economics and politics of global warning will help the tipping point to ease from the malign to the benign…it must be learned through personal experience”
A review by Janet O’Sullivan
We hope you find these new resources for teaching meditation to young people useful. If you have developed any new resources, please share them with Paul Tratnyek
Meditation with Primary and Secondary School children
Meet Frankie the Still Fox
Frankie the Still Fox is a beautifully illustrated new book by Ernie Christie and Mary Hosking. In this book children are invited to learn to meditate with Frankie who is looking for silence in his life. A lovely book to read aloud with your little ones. Click on the picture to purchase.
Meet The Little Mouse
Watch this online session with Paty Sanchez from Mexico reading her story The Little Mouse in Spanish and be inspired to lead your own sessions. In Colombia, Elba Rodriguez also reads this story aloud and meditates with children on live Facebook sessions.
A Word from the Teachers
In this film teachers in two primary schools in Scotland share their experience and answer some practical questions about how to meditate with children.
The Meditation Group at Beechworth Correctional Centre began 12 years ago as a voluntary programme within the “Programmes” framework that Corrections Victoria offer.
It continues as such.
The group is considered to be an arm of the town meditation group and we look forward to the time when the men can travel into Beechworth and join our town group.
The first step was an approach to the administration at B.C.C. with a proposal for a group within the prison. They agreed to trial the idea. We partner with B.C.C. in their efforts to work towards the men’s wellbeing now and in the post release assisting a reintegration in the Community.
The group has been meeting since then on a Monday at 4.30 pm. in the Multi-Faith chapel. The responses from the men regarding attending the Meditation group have been encouraging: “I feel relaxed, I feel at peace, I feel I can keep going, I can go another day, I want to do more”.
There hasn’t been any need for the custodial staff to be present. And, as yet, there hasn’t been anyone from the town group available on a Monday to be with us at B.C.C. This would be a wonderful opportunity for a future development.
At the weekly gathering we listen to the CD’s provided by Meditatio for 10-15 mins. then meditate for 25-30 mins.
Often, we will have a number of new meditators, (solidarity in numbers when embarking on something new). So we spend extra time explaining the elements of the practice then meditate for only 20 mins. There is a short time for personal responses. The men have some “duties” after 5.30pm. Another resource has been excerpts from the ‘Dear Friends’ letters from Fr. Laurence in the newsletter.
We have a poster size Icon of Christ that stands on a table at the front of the group. We sit in a circle and one participant takes the role of time- keeper and CD operator.
The chapel is away from the main buildings and overlooks magnificent views. The beauty and the sacredness of the space, the peaceful outlook to mountains, forest trees and high skies all contribute to our knowing we are gathered in the presence of the ‘Other”.
My early approach was formal and quite reserved. I have learned that this is not necessary. Now we always welcome each other with the kiss of peace, or a handshake amongst the men. (Not too sure what the staff think of this but I believe the tradition from the early Christian Communities is a valuable one; we leave our differences, conflicts, demands and annoyances aside and we are reconciled in the peace, love and hope of Christ’s presence.)
Initially, I felt the discipline of Silence and Stillness was a lot to ask of the participants when there were so many demands made by the ‘Corrections’ daily routine. I did feel uncomfortable as I was so early in my own learning of the practice. Gradually, we became a learning circle and meditation was a welcome time apart from those demands. The practice became an embrace.
I admire those men who courageously take the risk of stepping through that chapel door.
The response from the men has been both gratifying and humbling, so much respect is shown
for the stillness and the silence. There is a gratefulness for time to share the seeking for the goodness of oneself, the goodness of others and the goodness of God.
The grace and genuine concern for each other, of Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist, is a bright shining light. This does not deny the many difficulties and harsh life problems they all must face but it certainly brings hope to tough circumstances.
There is a constant coming and going, new folk arrive and long-time group members go home. That’s the nature of our group.
It has been a true privilege to accompany the
men on our meditation path. They themselves are the path. You would be
very gratified to see how they approach the meditation time. I am always
grateful for their company each weekly meditation gathering.
Kathy Bailey 1/5/2018.
Approved by BCC Victoria 05/09/2019.
The new Meditatio Journal CRISIS is available now.
This journal is taken from the talks given at the John Main Seminar in Bruges, 2018. It includes the words of distinguished practitioners in the fields of science, politics, economics, religion, social justice, medicine and the law. The talks collected here underline the insight that only action linked to the dynamic of contemplation has any chance of bringing about true and lasting change £12.00