“Reconnecting to Sacred Earth”, in honor of the United Nations International Day of Peace

September 23, 2019
New York, NY

On September 19th, The Shinnyo Center for Meditation and Well-being in New York City, in partnership with the Global Peace Initiative of Women, hosted a dialogue entitled, “Reconnecting to Sacred Earth”, in honor of the United Nations International Day of Peace. The event drew upon the large number of people who were participating in the various climate change related events preceding and during Climate Week, the week of September 23rd.  The United Nations had organized a separate youth climate conference on September 21-23, and a number of those young ecologists from around the world joined the Shinnyo Center event.  

Chiaki Yasue, Director of the Shinnyo Center in Manhattan, welcomed everyone to the event with an inspiring quote from HH Shinso Ito.  The evening was moderated by Rev. Diane Berke of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, who commenced the program by leading the participants in a traditional Hawaiian prayer, the H’o oponopono, that asks forgiveness of the Earth for our neglect and the harm we have caused her.

Tiokasin Ghosthorse, a Cheyenne River Lakota leader and international speaker, gave the keynote address. He spoke of the indigenous wisdom and language, and how it is not something that can be understood through Western intellectual thought or language. Tiokasin described how in order to share the wisdom from the Earth you have to be in relationship to her and this means showing respect and having a quality of humility. If we have humility, then everything is open to us and we are able to imbibe her wisdom.

Ghosthorse also referred to the climate march that was to take place the following day and said that while he was happy to see so many committed young people taking action, in his community the youth are not challenging the elders but sitting at their feet, learning from them. He called for a balancing of the scientific knowledge with the knowledge of the spirit.  “As soon as you bring science into it, the spirit is lost,” he said. To address the challenge ahead, the damage we have incurred, we will have to adopt a different paradigm of being and thinking, one that brings us into a deeper relationship to life, to the earth.

Joshua Amponsem, Co-Founder of the Green Africa Youth Network and Shephali Patel, a local urban gardener and writer from Manhattan, offered responses to Ghosthorse.  They spoke about how so often young people who are working to mitigate ecological destruction experience undue burnout.

“We often forget the reason why we do the work in the first place; we go through the motions and get caught up in externalities but lose the core essence of the restorative work we are trying to do,” said Amponsem.  

For this reason, they indicated the importance of holding such dialogues, listening to wise voices, voices that reconnect us to the essence of why we do the ecological work. It is because of our love for the Earth and for one another.

“It is so important that young people are coming forward and assuming leadership on the climate and ecological issues,” said Dena Merriam, founder of the Global Peace Initiative of Women.  “Our work now is to support these young leaders by providing access to the deeper spiritual wisdom and by inspiring them to care for the earth as they would care for their mother.”