...Buddhism for Urban America
Urban Dharma Newsletter... March 18, 2003
2. Letting Go (The Dhammapada)
3. Acceptance and Letting Go ...by Venerable Lama Yeshe
4. SKILFUL MEANS: LETTING GO ...by Ajahn Sumedho
5. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week: Orange
County Buddhist Church
6. Book Review: Guided Meditations:
For Developing Calmness, Awareness, and Love ...by Bodhipaksa
7. Peace Link: The Earth Charter
of Night and Day?
then said: The darkness of Night is less in the sky than in
the mind. For which of us cannot create the illusion of Night
by holding a large hollow gourd over his head?
different the Day, the Master continued. It is beyond Man's
capacity, even for an instant, to create the appearance of Day.
the petulant youth persisted: What if one were to gather a thousand
candles in a single room?
Master responded: A thousand candles do not equal a Day, even
in a small room - say nine and a half by eleven.
thousand candles, Master?
thousand candles Master?
thousand candles, Master?
hundred thousand candles, Master?
give up, the youth exclaimed.
bad, the Master shouted. You were only off by six!
Letting Go (The Dhammapada)
go the past, let go the future, and let go what is in between,
transcending the things of time. With your mind free in every
direction, you will not return to birth and aging. (348)
Acceptance and Letting Go ...from 'Living Dharma' by Venerable
Lama Yeshe Losal
meditators lead lives based on selfishness, they are likely
to bring exactly the same approach to their meditation and will
be short-tempered, angry, uptight meditators. If their ambition
is to have a completely silent mind, and people close-by make
noises, they will think that all these people around them are
disturbing their meditation and taking away their peace of mind!
Eventually, every noise will become their enemy. When we think
like that, we become very emotional, and then where is our meditation?
Therefore, if we notice that we are becoming short-tempered,
uptight and getting headaches, we should know that we are meditating
in a wrong way. Never allow yourself to meditate like that!
is a challenge. If we can make it part of our meditation, we
will really make progress. If we are able to somehow incorporate
the noise into our meditation, we will feel confident that we
can literally meditate in the middle of the traffic. Noise can
no longer bother us.
meditating, some people get disturbed by what they see. They
close their eyes in order not to see what is in front of them,
but then something else will start disturbing them. They want
to get rid of all sorts of things and their sight becomes their
enemy. Meditation should not be an excuse to blame something
or somebody for taking away our inner peace. This is a wrong
way of thinking, because if we accept everything that comes
our way, then nothing can bother us anymore and our inner peace
is there all the time. The point is that whatever obstacle arises,
if a meditator blames that for not finding inner peace, then
eventually every object becomes our enemy.
me give you an example from my own life. When I began my long
retreat in Woodstock, New York, I had a nice house next to the
monastery and all the conditions were wonderful for practice,
so I was very happy.
soon after my retreat started, the monastery decided to start
a major building project right next to my house. The whole area
became a building site, full of heavy machinery, so my whole
house was shaking. They even cut off my electricity and water
supply! I was very upset - I felt that my retreat was ruined.It
gave me so much trouble I could hardly meditate.
got really bad and I was so upset by the noise and shaking,
but then my teacher came to see me and said: the noise is your
meditation. This really helped me. I stopped fighting it, and
began to accept it. This was a real turning point. It is very
important for a practitioner to accept noise. If you don't,
if noise becomes your enemy, then eventually everything will
be your enemy and you will be unable to practise. During your
meditation if you are bothered with noise instead of seeing
it as your enemy, you should make it your friend. So this was
a very important lesson for me.
maybe my noise karma was not yet exhausted, because when I did
my second retreat at Samye Ling in Scotland, I had a beautiful
quiet house with a porch, and then the monastery decided to
rebuild the Purelands Retreat Centre right on my doorstep. So
again the whole place became a building site! In fact, the workers
began to pile up their tools and dusty bags of cement right
inside my porch! But it was okay for me. I began to think, Lama
Yeshe, you must meditate for them. They are working so hard,
they are building a retreat centre for others to practise the
Dharma. You must practise for them. So I encourage all of you
to work with noise and disturbance and not to feel that they
are obstacles. Then you can meditate anywhere and find peace
no matter what.
means simple acceptance. How can we talk about being non-judgmental,
non-grasping, if we have so many judgements in our mind, expecting
certain feelings out of our meditation and completely rejecting
some other experiences? People who adopt such an attitude are
in a way like boxers going into the ring. They are thumping
and punching, but they are the losers, because there is actually
nobody to box! For a good meditator, all mental activities are
nothing more than clouds in the sky. They come from nowhere
and disappear into nowhere.
people come to tell me that it's an easy thing to say, but that
these are real things happening! Real things are happening because
you let yourself think it is really happening! If you go on
insisting that it's really there, I ask you again, how big is
it, what shape, size and colour does it have? If you answer
that it has none of these material characteristics, then how
can you call it a real thing happening? You made it real!
build up things like, for instance, friends. We think we really
like a person and start thinking of all his/her good qualities.
We build it up and that person gets better and better every
day! But when things turn sour, we start seeing faults and the
next day we notice more and more. Our belief in the reality
of our feelings is what causes so much unhappiness - unnecessary
unhappiness.These feelings may start as something very small
but day after day we nurture them and make them grow. Whenever
you meditate and you think that real things are truly happening,
just investigate what is there. Instead of running away, confront
them and say, OK, I want to introduce myself to you. I want
to know you better. If you really approach it that way, you
will realise that nothing is actually happening.
SKILFUL MEANS: LETTING GO ...by Ajahn Sumedho
wisdom springs from meditation;
meditation, wisdom wanes;
known these two paths
progress and decline,
one conduct oneself
that wisdom may increase.
HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING the First Noble Truth – suffering
– which becomes increasingly apparent as you sit here
contemplating your own body and mind. Just be aware of what
happens: you can see that when good thoughts pass by, or physical
pleasure, there's happiness, and when there's pain or negativity,
there's despair. So we can see we are always habitually trying
to attain, or maintain or get rid, of conditions. The Second
Noble Truth is that of being aware of the arising of the three
kinds of desire that we have – desire for sense pleasure,
for becoming, or for getting rid of something – and how
this arises according to conditions. The penetration of the
Third Noble Truth is to see how that which arises has a cessation.
We become aware of the cessation, the letting go, and thus develop
the Fourth Noble Truth, the Truth of the Eightfold Path –
right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action,
right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right
concentration – in other words, the path of awareness.
be aware we have to use skilful means, because at first we're
mystified. We tend to conceive awareness and try to become aware,
thinking that awareness is something we have to get or attain
or try to develop; but this very intention, this very conceptualisation
makes us heedless! We keep trying to become mindful, rather
than just being aware of the mind as it tries to become and
tries to attain, following the three kinds of desire that cause
practice of 'letting go' is very effective for minds obsessed
by compulsive thinking: you simplify your meditation practice
down to just two words – 'letting go' – rather than
try to develop this practice and then develop that; and achieve
this and go into that, and understand this, and read the Suttas,
and study the Abhidhamma ... and then learn Pali and Sanskrit
... then the Madhyamika and the Prajña Paramita ... get
ordinations in the Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana ... write books
and become a world renowned authority on Buddhism. Instead of
becoming the world's expert on Buddhism and being invited to
great International Buddhist Conferences, just 'let go, let
go, let go'.
did nothing but this for about two years – every time
I tried to understand or figure things out, I'd say 'let go,
let go' until the desire would fade out. So I'm making it very
simple for you, to save you from getting caught in incredible
amounts of suffering. There's nothing more sorrowful than having
to attend International Buddhist Conferences! Some of you might
have the desire to become the Buddha of the age, Maitreya, radiating
love throughout the world – but instead, I suggest just
being an earthworm, letting go of the desire to radiate love
throughout the world. Just be an earthworm who knows only two
words – 'let go, let go, let go'. You see, ours is the
Lesser Vehicle, the Hinayana, so we only have these simple,
important thing in meditation practice is to be constant and
resolute in the practice, determined to be enlightened. This
is not to be conceited or foolish, but resolute, even when the
going is rough. Remind yourself of Buddha-Dhamma-Sangha, and
stay with it – letting go of despair, letting go of anguish,
letting go of pain, of doubt, of everything that arises and
passes that we habitually cling to and identify with. Keep this
'letting go' like a constant refrain in your mind, so it just
pops up on its own no matter where you are.
first we have to obsess our minds with this, because our minds
are obsessed with all kinds of useless things – with worries
about this and that, with doubt, with anger, vindictiveness,
jealousy, fear, dullness and stupidity of various kinds. We
have obsessive minds that are obsessed with things that cause
us pain and lead us into difficulties in life. Our society has
taught us how to fill up the mind, jam it full of ideas, prejudices,
regrets, anticipations and expectations – it is a society
for filling up vessels. Look at the book stores here in Oxford,
filled up with all the information you could possibly want to
know, published in very nice bindings with pictures and illustrations....
Or we can fill our minds by watching TV, going to the cinema,
reading the newspapers.... That's a good way to fill your mind
up – but look at what's printed in the newspapers! It
appeals to people's lower instincts and drives – all about
violence, wars, corruption and perversities, and gossip.
this has its effect on the mind. As long as our minds are obsessed
with facts, symbols and conventions, then if we stuff any more
into it, it becomes jam-packed full and we have to go crazy.
We can go out and get drunk – it's a way of letting go!
What do you think pubs are for? There we can dare to say all
the things we want to say but don't have the nerve to say when
sober. We can be irrational, be silly, laugh and cavort, 'because
I was drunk, I was under the influence of alcohol'.
we don't understand the nature of things, we are very suggestible.
You see in our society how suggestion works on teenagers. Now
it's the punk-rock generation – everybody in that generation
thinks of themselves as punks and acts like it. Fashions are
all suggestion – for women you are not beautiful unless
you are dressed in a certain way. Cinema films suggest all kinds
of delights to the senses, and we think maybe we should try
that, maybe we are missing something if we aren't experiencing
it.... It's so bad now that nobody knows what is beautiful or
ugly any more. Somebody says that harmony is cacophony, and
if you don't know and are still subject to suggestion, you believe
that. Even if you don't believe at first, it begins to work
on your mind so you start thinking: 'Maybe it is that way, maybe
immorality is morality, and morality is immorality.'
feel obliged to know all kinds of things – to understand
and to try to convince others. You hear my talks, you read books,
and you want to tell others about Buddhism – you might
even feel a bit evangelical after the retreat – but keep
letting go of even the desire to tell others. When we feel enthusiastic,
we begin to impose on other people; but in meditation we let
go of the desire to influence others until the right time for
it occurs – then it happens naturally rather than as an
you do the things that need to be done, and you let go. When
people tell you should read this book, and that book, take this
course and that course ... study Pali, the Abhidhamma ... go
into the history of Buddhism, Buddhist logic ... and on and
on like that... 'let go, let go, let go'. If you fill your mind
with more concepts and opinions, you are just increasing your
ability to doubt. It's only through learning how to empty the
mind out that you can fill it with things of value – and
learning how to empty a mind takes a great deal of wisdom.
in this meditation retreat, the suggestions I am giving you
are for skilful means. The obsession of 'letting go' is a skilful
one – as you repeat this over and over, whenever a thought
arises, you are aware of its arising. You keep letting go of
whatever moves – but if it doesn't go, don't try to force
it. This 'letting go' practice is a way of clearing the mind
of its obsessions and negativity; use it gently, but with resolution.
Meditation is a skilful letting go, deliberately emptying out
the mind so we can see the purity of the mind – cleaning
it out so we can put the right things in it.
respect your mind, so you are more careful what you put in it.
If you have a nice house, you don't go out and pick up all the
filth from the street and bring it in, you bring in things that
will enhance it and make it a refreshing and delightful place.
you are going to identify with anything, then don't identify
with mortal conditions. See what identification is – investigate
your own mind to see clearly the nature of thought, of memory,
of sense consciousness, and of feeling as impermanent conditions.
Bring your awareness to the slower things, to the transiency
of bodily sensation; investigate pain and see it as a moving
energy, a changing condition. Emotionally, it seems permanent
when you are in pain, but that is just an illusion of the emotions
– let go of it all. Even if you have insight, even if
you understand everything clearly – let go of the insight.
the mind is empty, say ' Who is it that lets go?' Ask the question,
try to find out who it is, what it is that lets go. Bring up
that not-knowing state with the word Who – 'Who am I?
Who lets go?' A state of uncertainty arises; bring this up,
allow it to be . . . and there is emptiness, voidness, the state
of uncertainty when the mind just goes blank.
keep stressing this right understanding, right attitude, right
intention, more towards simplifying your life so that you aren't
involved in unskilful and complex activities. So that you don't
live heedlessly, exploiting others and having no respect for
yourself or the people around you. Develop the Precepts as a
standard, and develop nekkhamma – renunciation
of that which is unskilful or unnecessary – and then mentally
let go of greed, let go of hatred, let go of delusion.
is not being averse to these conditions; it is letting go of
them when you find you are attached. When you are suffering
- 'Why am I suffering? Why am I miserable?' Because you are
clinging to something! Find out what you are clinging to, to
get to the source. 'I'm unhappy because nobody loves me.' That
may be true, maybe nobody loves you, but the unhappiness comes
from wanting people to love you. Even if they do love you, you
will still have suffering if you think that other people are
responsible for your happiness or your suffering. Someone says,
'You are the greatest person in the world!' – and you
jump for joy. Someone says, 'You are the most horrible person
I've met in my life!' – and you get depressed. Let go
of depression, let go of happiness. Keep the practice simple:
live your life mindfully, morally, and have faith in letting
important for you to realise that none of us are helpless victims
of fate – but we are as long as we remain ignorant. As
long as you remain ignorant, you are a helpless victim of your
ignorance. All that is ignorant is born and dies, it is bound
to die – that's all, it's caught in the cycle of death
and rebirth. And if you die, you will be reborn – you
can count on it. And the more heedlessly you lead your life,
the worse the rebirth.
the Buddha taught a way to break the cycle, and that's through
awareness, through seeing the cycle rather than being attached
to it. When you let go of the cycle, then you are no longer
harmed by it. So you let go of the cycle, let go of birth and
death, let go of becoming. Letting go of desire is the development
of the Third Noble Truth which leads to the Eightfold Path.
Orange County Buddhist Church
South Dale Avenue Anaheim, California 92804
(714)827-9590 FAX: (714)827-2860
County Buddhist Church (OCBC), located in Anaheim California,
is a member of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA), headquartered
in San Francisco, California. The temple belongs to the Jodo
Shinshu Hompa Hongwanji Ha tradition of Buddhism and the Mother
Temple is the Nishi Hongwanji located in Kyoto, Japan.
a.m. Service in English
a.m. Dharma School
Adult English Class
Adult Japanese Class
p.m. Service in Japanese
at 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Mini Chapel, next to the main sanctuary.
Meditation service consists of sitting meditation, walking meditation,
sutra chanting, and a short Dharma message. The meditation
service begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. so please try and arrive
early so that you do not disturb the session once it begins. Wear
comfortable loose clothing. You may sit on the floor on a meditation
cushion, or you may sit in a chair.
experience in meditation is not required.
the Threat of War... Rev. Marvin Harada
Recent world events leave us in an unsettling situation, wondering
if our country is about to go to war with Iraq. People
are buying up duct tape from the stores in preparation for possible
bio-chemical terrorist attacks. The President speaks strongly
that Saddam Hussein will be made to disarm, regardless.
How should we understand this situation that the entire world
finds itself in? Is peace a viable possibility?
Can we use force to create peace?
In the book, “The Teachings of the Buddha”, edited
by Jack Kornfield, there is the following quotation from the
Dhammapada, one of the oldest of Buddhist texts:
“All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death.
All love life.
See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt?
What harm can you do?
He who seeks happiness
By hurting those who seek happiness
Will never find happiness
For your brother is like you.
He wants to be happy.
Never harm him
And when you leave this life
You too will find happiness.
p. 8, “Teachings of the Buddha”
edited by Jack Kornfield
In light of the recent current events, this passage to me carries
great meaning. “All beings tremble before violence.
All fear death. All love life.”
There is a universality of life expressed here. All beings
love life. Who is there that does not? When we understand
that all beings love life, how can we propose to take that precious
life away from others?
“See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt?”
When we dualistically look at the world as us against them,
friend vs. foe, then great barriers can arise between people.
This can occur between two people, between organizations, between
countries. When we look at the world non-dualistically,
then the world is not divided between friend and foe, us vs.
them. We begin to see ourselves in others. They
seek happiness like me. They wish the best for their children
like me. They feel joy and sorrow, pain and suffering,
just like me. How can they be so different than me?
When I can see a part of myself in others, then how can I bring
harm on to others?
Shinran Shonin also lived in a turbulent and chaotic time.
There was political unrest and fighting. Even traditional
Buddhist groups brought forth persecution to Honen, Shinran,
and others who were proponents of the “new” Nembutsu
movement. Despite this chaotic time that Shinran lived
in, he offered these words that were the sub-theme of our Buddhist
Churches of America this past year: “Spread the
Buddha-Dharma and make the world at peace.” (Buppo
hiromare, yo no naka annon nare.) These words from
Shinran Shonin are also most important for our world today.
Perhaps one way to contribute to greater peace in the world
is to share the Buddha-Dharma with others.
Shinran’s teacher, Honen, experienced great personal tragedy
in his life as a young boy. His father lay dying from
a violent attack by an opposing political group. His last
wish to his son was that he become a Buddhist monk, because
hatred cannot be overcome by hatred. Although Honen as
a young boy must have felt great anger and hatred to those who
killed his father, he followed his father’s wish and entered
the Buddhist path at the age of nine.
I heard another version of this story from Honen from a talk
or sermon somewhere. That version related that it was
Honen’s mother who pleaded with Honen to become a monk.
Upon the death of his father, Honen wanted to seek revenge and
kill the murderer of his father. His mother stopped him
by saying, “If you kill the murderer of your father, then
someday that man’s son will want to take revenge and kill
you. The killing will go on endlessly for generations.”
How true those words are when we reflect on them in the context
of today’s world and society. Gang wars are always
about retaliating for something done to them. The opposing
gang must then seek revenge and retaliate back. Soon neither
side remembers what the initial conflict was about, except that
they must retaliate the most recent violence brought on to them.
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians seems to be
the same kind of example of retaliations that have gone on for
decades, if not centuries.
does it stop? When both sides have beaten each other into
The book, “Teachings of the Buddha” also has a very
meaningful passage from Buddhist sutras that I would like to
“Some children were playing beside a river. They
made castles of sand, and each child defended his castle and
said, ‘This one is mine.’ They kept their
castles separate and would not allow any mistakes about which
was whose. When the castles were all finished, one child
kicked over someone else’s castle and completely destroyed
it. The owner of the castle flew into a rage, pulled the
other child’s hair, struck him with his fist and bawled
out, ‘He has spoiled my castle! Come along all of
you and help me to punish him as he deserves.’ The
others all came to his help. They beat the child with
a stick and then stamped on him as he lay on the ground....Then
they went on playing in their sand castles, each saying, ‘This
is mine; no one else may have it. Keep away! Don’t
touch my castle!’ But evening came; it was getting
dark and they all thought they ought to be going home.
No one now cared what became of his castle. One child
stamped on his, another pushed his over with both hands.
Then they turned away and went back, each to his home.”
the Yogacara Bhumi Sutra
Translated by Arthur Waley
p. 16, “Teachings of the Buddha”
edited by Jack Kornfield.
As we live in a time when there is threat of war, I hope that
we do not become like this example of children destroying each
other’s sand castles. Countries and cities can be
easily destroyed with modern warfare, almost as easily as kicking
down a sand castle. However, homes and schools, families
and lives, cannot be rebuilt as easily as a castle in the sand.
Rev. Marvin Harada
Guided Meditations: For Developing Calmness, Awareness, and
Love ...by Bodhipaksa
for beginners to meditation, this CD will guide you through
the most fundamental Buddhist meditation practices, and is a
straightforward guide to working with your mind in order to
become calmer and happier.
Mindfulness of Breathing practice will help you to develop more
calmness and peace of mind; the Metta Bhavana will help you
to develop a more positive attitude to yourself and others;
and walking meditation is a powerful method of bringing awareness
into your daily life.
audio CD contains three guided meditations:
mindfulness of breathing (27.12)
Metta Bhavana (development of lovingkindness) (26.50)
the Inside Flap
these meditations are taken from the Buddhist tradition, you
do not have to be a Buddhist or to abandon your current spiritual
tradition in order to practice them. These are universal practices,
speaking to the human condition and helping us to become more
aware and more loving individuals.
practice is in four stages. After setting up our posture, we
become more aware of our bodies and relax as deeply as possible.
We become aware of the breath naturally flowing in and out,
Count just after each out breath. Count up to ten breaths, and
then start over at one.
As with the previous stage, but count just before each in breath.
Let go of the counting, simply following the breath.
Focus on the place where we first feel the breath entering and
leaving our bodies (usually the rims of the nostrils).
we become aware that our minds have wandered, we let go of our
distractions and come back to the breath once again.
is essentially untranslatable. It means "love", "friendliness",
"lovingkindness", and "empathy". It's an
attitude of caring, concern, and cherishing. It's something
we've all experienced to some degree or another. We experience
metta every time we feel concerned about someone we know, or
when we practice patience, or when we spontaneously help someone
who is in difficulties. "Bhavana" means "cultivation"
or "development", and so this is the practice of the
"development of lovingkindness". It is based on the
insight that all beings desire freedom from suffering.
metta bhavana is in five stages. As always, we begin by setting
up our posture, becoming more aware of our body and relaxing
as deeply as we can. We become aware of our emotions, accepting
that whatever we feel is where we are starting from.
Cultivate metta (love, care, forgiveness, etc) towards ourselves.
Cultivate metta for a good friend.
Cultivate metta for a "neutral person" (someone we
don't have any strong feelings for).
Cultivate metta for someone that we experience conflict with,
or for whom we feel ill will.
Cultivate metta for all beings capable of experiencing suffering
and of desiring well being.
meditation is an unstructured practice where we use the experience
of walking as an object of awareness — being aware of
our bodies, our feelings and emotions, our thoughts, and our
senses. If our mind wanders, we bring it back to our present
experience. This helps us to remain "in the moment".
can do walking meditation as part of a normal walk to work or
to the grocery store, or you can set aside some special time
to do the practice in the countryside or in a park. Other forms
of walking meditation are described on the Wildmind site.
in Scotland in 1961, Bodhipaksa has been practicing meditation
for 20 years, and has been teaching for over ten years. In 1993
he was ordained into the Western Buddhist Order, when he was
given his Buddhist name, which means "Wings of Enlightenment."
He has a degree in veterinary medicine, and has worked as a
printer, an adult education worker, a youth worker, a retreat
center director, and a meditation teacher. For two years he
taught in the Religious Studies department of the University
of Montana. Bodhipaksa currently conducts distance learning
courses in meditation through his website.
Reviewer: daffydu from Del Mar, CA United States
This is hands-down the best meditation CD I've come across.
I'd give it 6 stars if I could. It's not tarted up with hokey
sound effects and New Age music but is simply the teacher's
(very pleasant) voice, guiding you to calm and relaxation. His
approach is highly accessible for Westerners and really taught
me how to meditate. I'm such a big fan of this CD, in fact,
that I've bought at least four to give as gifts to stressed-out
friends and family members. (One of the recipients was a voice
teacher who said she could listen to him all night.) If you
like what you hear, you should also check out the outstanding
online meditation courses he offers on www.wildmind.org. I can't
recommend the CD or the courses highly enough.
Reviewer: A reader from Kanata, Ontario Canada If
you would like an introduction to Buddhist Meditation, this
is the cd for you! The cd contains three lead meditations, 1)
The Mindfulness of breathing practice. 2) The Metta Bhavana
Practice (Loving Kindness) 3) Walking Mediation.
found Bodhipaksa's cd to be a breath of fresh air. His soft
clear voice is perfect to lead meditations. He carefully sets
up each meditation in easy to follow steps. This kind of clarity
is only found with someone who has been doing something for
a long time. It is easy to tell that Bodhipaksa is passionate
about what he does. (Bodhipaksa is a member of the Western Buddhist
Order, and has been a practicing Buddhist for eighteen years,
and teaching meditation for more than a decade)
to today's society, where the pace of life is way too fast,
and stress is at an all time high. Relax and Rejuvenate with
Bodhipaksa and this is guided meditation CD, it is like having
your own private meditation teacher. I can't wait for the book!!!
The Earth Charter
Earth Charter is an authoritative synthesis of values, principles,
and aspirations that are widely shared by growing numbers of
men and women in all regions of the world. The principles of
the Earth Charter reflect extensive international consultations
conducted over a period of many years. These principles are
also based upon contemporary science, international law, and
the insights of philosophy and religion. Successive drafts of
the Earth Charter were circulated around the world for comment
and debate by nongovernmental organizations, community groups,
professional societies, and international experts in many fields.
and history of the Earth Charter
1987 the United Nations World Commission on Environment and
Development issued a call for creation of a new charter that
would set forth fundamental principles for sustainable development.
The drafting of an Earth Charter was part of the unfinished
business of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. In 1994 Maurice Strong,
the Secretary General of the Earth Summit and Chairman of the
Earth Council, and Mikhail Gorbachev, President of Green Cross
International, launched a new Earth Charter initiative with
support from the Dutch government. An Earth Charter Commission
was formed in 1997 to oversee the project and an Earth Charter
Secretariat was established at the Earth Council in Costa Rica.
of the Earth Charter Initiative
new phase in the Initiative began with the official launching
of the Earth Charter at the Peace Palace in The Hague on June
29, 2000. The mission of the Initiative going forward is to
establish a sound ethical foundation for the emerging global
society and to help build a sustainable world based on respect
for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a
culture of peace.
goals of the Earth Charter Initiative are:
promote the dissemination and implementation of the Earth Charter
by civil society, business, and government.
encourage and support the educational use of the Earth Charter
in formal as well as informal settings.
seek endorsement of the Earth Charter by the UN.
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