A Personal Journal about Trying to Do the Right Thing in a Climate Emergency

by Rev. Domyo Burk

About this Blog

As a child, I was deeply troubled by the state of the world. I was determined to help “save” it, even though most people told me that was either unnecessary or impossible. I got a master’s degree in wildlife biology, planning to stand up for those who had no voice of their own in human affairs.

Then I left the field of wildlife biology because, frankly, I didn’t want to spend my whole life proving with scientific accuracy what we already knew to be true, but were refusing to do anything about: We were destroying the living things and systems of our planet, and causing incredible human suffering at the same time.

At a loss for anything else to do, I spent about 15 years immersed in Zen training, trying to find my way out of despair. I emerged stronger and more resilient, ready to join in the fight once again. For the last 5 years or so, I’ve experimented with lots of things and I feel like, at last, I’m on the right track to some kind of sustainable and effective action. But I’m still learning.

Especially as a Zen teacher leading a Sangha (congregation), but also as a citizen and a writer, one of the most important things seems to be waking people up to the urgency of our climate and ecological crisis, and motivating them take action appropriate to an emergency situation. However, I’ve noticed no one really cares about my insights, answers, or suggestions about what to do or how to cope. Instead, people come alive when I share my own process, struggles, and experience in an intimate and vulnerable way.

So, for what it’s worth, that’s what I’m doing here. Putting my heart on my sleeve, and reminding myself continuously that I don’t need to wrap up each blog post with some kind of bright aphorism, nugget of advice, or reason for hope. We’re all finding our own way to be alive, authentic, responsible, and compassionate in this midst of this climate emergency. The “right” thing to do in this climate emergency is face it, head-on, and explore our own hearts and minds with courage and love. – Domyo

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