Earth Initiative

The countenance of the mountains is completely different when we are in the world gazing off at the mountains, and when we are in the mountains meeting the mountains. 

Mountains & Rivers Sutra, Master Dogen


Arising from profound love and deep respect for the earth, the Green Dragon Earth Initiative is an ongoing effort by the sangha of the Mountains and Rivers Order to address the individual, institutional, national and global degradation of our planet. Recognizing that all life springs forth from an intricate, causally-related web of interdependence, every action intended to benefit one part must benefit the whole. This Initiative thus focuses on the whole of the Earth, its creatures, and human society. Issues of social and environmental justice will also be within the scope of this Initiative.

Each month, MRO sangha members are invited to meet at Zen Mountain Monastery and the Zen Center of New York City to gather and share information about, and organize responses to, those issues involving the health of the planet that seem most urgent. The groups will be led by MRO teachers and an appointed steering committee. Each meeting will begin with a short period of zazen and liturgy dedicated to the health of the planet and the sangha’s commitment to responsible stewardship. This will be followed by updates on research and actions since the last meeting, occasional films or speakers, and discussions on new actions.

The initiative will function on multiple levels to address various areas of study and action, through:

  • Clarifying our understanding of the nature of the self and its relationship to the Earth through traditional study of Buddhist teachings, practice and training
  • Reducing the ecological footprints of Zen Mountain Monastery and the Zen Center of New York City
  • Examining and adjusting individual life choices to improve our impact on our planet
  • Community action
  • Policy making (at the local, state, national, and global levels)
  • Identifying global systems and their interdependence
  • Education about relevant issues
  • Challenging cultural assumptions that undermine sustainability