Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Meditation for Climate and Immigration, September 29, 2019
On behalf of Portland Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Kendall was asked to lead a meditation at the Climate Strike for Immigration Justice in Portland Oregon, September 29, 2019. The photos are by her partner, Sue St. Michael (posted with permission).
Come home to the body and breathe. Breathing, we are aware of the river that runs through Portland and the land on which we stand. This river that we call the Willamette was named by the Clackamas people. They called it
Wallamt. The Clackamas were one group of the Chinookan people who lived on this land and migrated with the seasons and the weather, for thousands of years. Chinookan people took care of the land, respected and protected the land. They believed that land belongs to itself and to the Great Spirit; it is the job of people to protect the land, the water, the air, and all creatures that live here.
We say the names of the nations who protected this place.
We say their names, and if we are descendants of settlers who took the land violently from the people, we breathe into our sorrow for the ignorance and the violence of our ancestors. They caused great suffering. That is part of our legacy.
Imagine the Wallamt as it was before the colonizers came. For native people the river was a means of transportation, useful for migration from one place to another.
Our butterflies represent migration. In a world without political boundaries, migration is as natural as the changing of seasons. Creatures move when seasons change. They follow the food. They adapt to climate changes by migration. Migration is natural. Butterflies, elk, insects, birds, and people migrate.
Walls and political boundaries are not natural. People create them. People can tear them down and erase them.
Our umbrellas are emblazoned with flames. The umbrellas represent climate change, fires and floods, massive hurricanes, upheaval. Drought. Death. When the land goes through upheaval naturally, creatures naturally move to a place where they can survive. If the land is poisoned and polluted because of greed, violence, and ignorance, creatures are forced to move. If, in that forced migration, they meet barriers, walls, barbed wire, and guns, they are trapped by unnecessary suffering.
Migration and climate have always been in relation. We are aware of our connection with the climate around us. We are aware of our connection with migration.
Breathe in the truth of our interconnectedness with each other, with land, with water, with migration. Breathe in community, balance, empathy.
Breathe out the violence of political boundaries that permit migration for a chosen few and prevent migration for those without money and power.
As we breathe out suffering, as we face the danger of climate change and the need for migration, emotions arise. Anger at the consequences of greed, ignorance, delusion. Outrage at injustice. Determination to create justice where there is injustice.
Breathe in our determination to protect water, our determination to protect this planet and all beings.
Aware of comrades breathing with us, gratitude arises. We are grateful for each other, breathing in and out together, working for climate and immigration justice. Standing together, interconnected with each other and with life, we vow to protect the water, the land, and all beings.