Vishvapani's Thought for the Day, Weekend Word and other writingsOn Tue, 25 January, 2022 - 15:35
Vishvapani regularly comments on the news from a Buddhist perspective in the Thought for the Day slot on BBC Radio 4, and in the Weekend Word slot on Radio Wales.
Here are some of his recent broadcasts:
May 19, 2021: Animal Sentience and Compassion: A law recognising that animals are sentient will help protect them. But engaging compassionately with other beings is central to our true humanity
May 26, 2021 Bob Dylan and the Buddha: As Dylan turns 80, his an icon of honesty in a world hungry for success rather than truth resonates with the Buddha’s rejection of worldly values
Jul 14, 2021: Buddhism and ‘Freedom Day’: Boris Johnson declared that July 19 2021 would be Freedom Day, but dropped the term as the virus started to spread again. So what is true freedom from a Buddhist perspective?
Jul 23, 2021: Buddhist Wisdom in a World Where the News Never Stops: As the pandemic drags on, and the news never seems to stop, Buddhists are celebrating Dharma Day and reflecting on the Buddha’s teaching of the Four Noble Truths
Oct 31, 202: Buddhism & Vaccine Equity: the Wise Way is Generosity: The case for a fair and equitable roll out of Covid vaccines is clear, but the developed world is failing to heed it. Buddhism teaches that a generous response is also a wise one
3 December 2021: Contentment is a Key to Tackling Climate Change: Climate change means we must change our lifestyles. How can we enhance the quality of our lives without increasing the quantity of our stuff
Vishvapani has also written a couple of pieces for The Guardian recently: an op ed and an editorial.
06 January 2022: Why new year resolutions can just cause you more stress: Focusing on a more mindful life instead of chasing targets creates space to reflect and be curious, even while jogging
23 January 2022: Thich Nhat Hanh obituary: Zen Buddhist monk and peace campaigner who brought mindfulness to the west
A bonus talk …
On 15 October Vishvapani wrote a script that wasn’t broadcast because the MP David Amess was murdered and a fresh script was commissioned. Here it is:
Tomorrow, Sunday, in a rare joint action, members of faith communities around the world will mark Faiths 4 Climate Justice day. Churches, mosques and temples will hear calls for action on climate change and climate justice.
With so much talk about the climate crisis what can faith add? On an interfaith panel at Church House a little while ago, it struck me that the earth isn’t Christian, or Moslem or Buddhist. The planet has no religion. It’s bigger than all of us, religious or secular, and our understanding of life need to expand to encompass its needs.
At the same time, the practice of looking past personal concerns and opening to a greater perspective is the stuff of faith, at least as I understand it. Faith asks us to consider why we should care about the planet and other people; and I think that comes down to something very simple. It’s love.
The wisdom and compassion that Buddhism prizes are bound up with our place in the world. In Buddhist symbolism the Awakened Buddha sits beneath the spreading Bodhi tree or on an unfurled lotus flower. He reaches down and touches the ground to summon the earth goddess who attests to his compassionate actions.
Spiritual life, or what Buddhists call Dharma practice, means both discipline and a natural opening to life. The more attuned I am to myself, my body and my true values, the more connected I feel to the world around me. And that feeling of love for all sentient beings, as Buddhists say, spurs me to act.
Other beings include other people – and that’s where justice comes in. Faiths 4 Climate Justice is calling on the rich countries who’ve produced the greatest emissions to help poorer countries manage the loss and damage that climate change is already bringing. They’ll need at least $75 billion a year to manage fires, floods, extreme weather and so on.
That will only happen if we care. That goes beyond religion, as our own secular prophet of nature, William Wordsworth, says:
Love, now a universal birth,
From heart to heart is stealing,
From earth to man, from man to earth:
—It is the hour of feeling.
Compassion and love are often absent from the policymaking lexicon; but they are the language of faith, and approaching the matter in this way helps us really feel why change climate and climate justice are so important.