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

by Rev. Domyo Burk

Recent Posts

Learning to Tolerate Cognitive Dissonance

Sadly, the relief I found during my experience of nonviolent direct action quickly disappeared as I resumed my ordinary daily life. I was released from jail before dawn on a Friday, and by Monday I was fully immersed back in the surreal ethical conundrum that is modern life in an industrialized society.

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Time For Contemplation: Turning Toward the Absolute

Last week I was at a meditation retreat at a Zen monastery. For six days we kept complete silence – not even making eye contact with one another – and sat in meditation for about 7 hours a day. We followed a schedule from 4am until 10pm, trying to stay in the present moment as we ate, worked, and rested. I turned my cell phone off for the duration, and didn’t read or write. Part of me worried about what kind of crazy shit might happen in the world while I was off-line, but I...

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Civil Disobedience as a Cure for Cognitive Dissonance

I spent last night in jail because of an act of civil disobedience. After 10 hours spent occupying a very hot and stuffy office, 45 minutes with my arms tied behind my back with sharp plastic zip ties, and 5 hours spent stripped down to one layer of clothing (not including underwear) in a grim 10'x12' concrete jail cell with 11 other women, I'd never felt better.

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Life is Beautiful

I'm talking about the way life is beautiful in an absolutely unconditional kind of way. The way you notice out of the corner of your eye - yellow leaves scattered across the green grass... a spider's web wet with dew... a child's broad and innocent smile... The kind of beauty that's not only without fanfare, it's absolutely silent. This most profound, pure, and unrestricted beauty can't even be directly shared with other people, except in the intimacy of recognizing someone else has seen it, too.

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What’s the Problem?

Occasionally I cry myself to sleep. The last time I did, I just couldn't stop thinking about polar bears and elephants. I sobbed as silently as I could in order not to wake my husband. My whole body clenched in grief and my pillow became wet with tears as I contemplated a world without any polar bears or elephants living in the wild.

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What Does Zen Have to Do with Climate Action?

I just spent the night in Eugene, Oregon, with a dear friend and Dharma sister, Seido. We’ve been practicing Zen together for over 20 years. Way back in the day, I would travel to the Eugene Zendo with one of my teachers. After he gave the evening talk to the group, Seido and I would stay up until the the wee hours, passionately discussing the Dharma. What did it mean to be fully awake in this life? How did we bring about such awakening in ourselves? Twenty years later, Seido and I are...

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I Need You

One thing I didn’t anticipate when considering increased involvement in activism was the amount of support I’d need from my husband, my family, and my friends. I’ve always been an independent-minded kind of person. I can’t abide anyone telling me what to do unless they’re paying me, or I’ve explicitly requested them to teach me something. I’ve probably been especially sensitive about this because women throughout history have been subject to the authority of their parents, husbands, and male...

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Dueling Realities

Today my little Extinction Rebellion group met at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market to stage a very mellow “action.” Six of us wore sandwich board signs with tombstones, each one reading “RIP” something-or-other. We had RIP birds, RIP forests, RIP coasts, polar bears, bees, and the last sign read “RIP Humans?” We processed solemnly and slowly through the farmer’s market...

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Just Below the Surface: Grief

I have work to do and relationships to maintain, but not far below the surface is a deep well of grief. Certain things tap into that well, and as a result, tears flow from my eyes. Stories of human kindness. Good writing that points toward the ineffable experience of being alive. Things that are noble and true. Occasionally a sentimental commercial. Sometimes I hate how thin the layer is between my ordinary daily reality, and this vast, still reservoir of heartbreak. People who know me are...

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Like-Minded Souls

I designated today, a Wednesday, as a “day off.” When you’re self-employed, like me, there’s never really a time you can put work down with complete mental ease. There’s always something you should be doing, and it’s only your self-discipline and hard work that will allow you to make a go of it. However, I’ve found it’s useful, when possible, to designate a day “off” – when I do all kinds of stuff, just not the stuff I do the...

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Do You Believe in the Climate Emergency?

Today a report was published in the journal Bioscience, signed by 11,000 scientists from around the world, declaring “clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.” Today was also the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference, where scientists “agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act.” Despite 40 years of warnings from scientists, greenhouse gas emissions are still rising rapidly, and the...

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Refusing to Take No for an Answer

Tonight was the biweekly meeting of my fledgling Extinction Rebellion group. We meet in the community room of a local environmentally-conscious grocery store – a big, beautiful place, the kind with exquisitely arranged piles of perfect, organic produce and myriad products that are green in ways you didn’t even know could be a problem. The store lets us use their room for free, asking only that any food or drink we partake of we buy from them. This week there were only four of us....

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Thoughts on a Walk

Today was a beautiful day. By that I mean it was sunny, and the temperatures were mild. After a full day, I took my dogs for a walk around the block and relished the trees with fiery colors. In the meantime, California’s on fire. How is it I can let my heart be still and calm, while I let my dogs speed me up and slow me down as they wish? They trot along for a while, then stop suddenly, attracted by some scent. The two of them vie for the best spot to sniff, rapt and unmoving –...

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