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Brahma Kumaris Inspire Students to Have a Healthy Mind

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  Asia International News Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: The Brahma Kumaris of Sri Lanka organized an event on Mental Health for students of the Ragalla Geetha School. The BK team visited the school and gave a talk to the students and school staff in which about 150 students participated. The relationship of various psychological dilemmas with the power of the soul was discussed and explained. The students and school staff received the discussions very well.

Brahma Kumaris Press Conference at UN Climate Change Conference

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  Europe

Katowice, Poland: UN Climate Change Conference COP24

Brahma Kumaris (BK) Press Conference: Visionary Leadership to change hearts and minds for immediate action

The COP Press conferences are precisely 30 minutes and are webcast live.  Golo gave a general introduction of the Brahma Kumaris, BK renewable energy projects and BK work in promoting values and ethics.  Sister Jayanti emphasized the importance of our thoughts and how to create the required change of mindset.  One participant, a former minister from India, said how much the activities of the Brahma Kumaris are appreciated.

Brahma Kumaris Side Event: Building a Spirit of Solidarity to overcome the climate crisis

This official side event was co-organised with the Quakers and the Franciscans. The panelists were invited to share ideas on how to build solidarity, overcome fears and take responsible decisions to protect humans from increasing temperatures.

Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of the IPCCC Working Group II and co-author of the IPCCC report on 1.5˚, said the report is a powerful tool to serve humanity and it brought light onto areas we need to know more about.  It is powerful because it addresses how we can change our daily lives and consumption of food and energy.  Even though our leadership and policies are not yet fully in place, for each of us, our daily choices count.

Moderator Lindsey Cook, Hindou Ibrahim, Archbishop Auza, Debra Roberts, Isabelle Adarve, Martin Frick, Sister Jayanti

Isabel Cavelier Adarve, Principal Advisor Mission 2020, added that our responsibility is not only for service, but compassion towards everyone.  She informed the audience that the negotiation process can become extremely difficult as each comma and phrase can create a different meaning and has to be approved.  She said that she sometimes suffers from the climate syndrome, where there is nothing else and this is the most urgent thing.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Nuncio of the Holy See to the UN, emphasized that we have to resist temptations to be selfish and use dialogue to build solidarity.  Do we only interact with people who agree with us? We can also foster intergenerational solidarity by our care and compassion for future generations.  The principle of interconnectedness will also build solidarity.

Martin Frick, Director, Policy & Programs UNFCCC, focused on the principle of trust.  If we step up as humanity to a higher level of co-operation, the outcome will be better than a compromise.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator AFPAT, said that we need to be aware who we are and to whom we belong.  How can we change the minds of the decision makers? We can do it only by solidarity in transforming our consciousness and lifestyle.

Sister Jayanti explained that our consciousness, both individually and collectively, is the basis for everything that happens.  In the awareness of one family, we develop compassion and co-operation.  In solidarity, our actions become powerful and positive.  Once we feel love for our human family, we want to do the best for them.  With this attitude of love, we simplify our lives and change for the sake of the world.  Solidarity means to trust each other.  Trust starts from the inside.  I can have trust in myself when my inner core values are aligned with my conscience and my actions.  These principles of trust work in the same way between countries.

Side event at ENERGIES 2050 Pavilion:
Raise Awareness for the Transition to Clean Technology

Guillaume de Laboulaye from ENERGIES 2050 gave a short introduction of his organisation as a platform for new ideas and change.  This is the 3rd year that the Brahma Kumaris have co-operated with this group.

Paul Allen from the Centre for Alternative Technology participated via a video message and he advised on the importance of sharing information and transformation models with each other.

Golo introduced the Brahma Kumaris and BK success stories in renewable energies.  He emphasized the importance of wise leadership and meditation in developing large-scale renewable energy systems.

Guillaume de Laboulaye, Caitlyn Hughes, Golo, Sonja

Caitlyn Hughes, Director of Solar Cookers International, presented their global activities promoting solar cookers in local communities.  Sonja moderated the session and summarized that personal integrity, love, family values, higher consciousness and solidarity are required to start using renewable energies effectively and to move in the right direction.

RINGO Meetings

The Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (RINGO) constituency meets each day from 9 to 10 am.  RINGO is one of nine NGO constituencies recognized by the UNFCCC.

Often more than 100 people participate at these meetings, representing many universities and independent organisations such as BK.  This platform gives the opportunity for them to share the latest developments and to discuss further strategies.

“Finding Hope In a Time of Transition” organized by The Global Peace Initiative of Women in Krakow

Aneta was invited to participate in this program.  Other panelists were:

  • Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister,
  • Sraddhalu Ranade,
  • Acarya Judy Lief,
  • Richard Cizik,
  • Swami Atmarupananda and
  • Dena Merriam.

They discussed how the power of goodness, love and truth is necessary for maintaining hope.  It is important to develop the personal commitment to do the right thing, no matter what others are doing.  Then divine help comes in.

As people struggle to meet the challenges of climate change in an increasingly polarized world, there are pockets of hope and a vision as to how we can achieve a more peaceful and sustainable world community.  Participants spoke of their faith in the self and God, being the foundation of hope, about the principle of inside-out transformation and the eternity of time and spirit.

Jatsek, Dorotka and Aneta together with the Global Peace Initiative of Women in Krakow

Indian Pavilion at COP24

Sister Jayanti visiting the Indian Pavilion

 

 

“Lifestyle Changes that Last – for the Future of the Planet” BK Event at EU Pavilion (COP24)

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  Europe

Katowice, Poland:  UN Climate Change Conference COP24

EU Pavilion Side Event

At the UN Climate Change Conference, the Brahma Kumaris organized an evening program in the EU Pavilion: Lifestyle Changes that Last – for the Future of the Planet.  BK Sonja moderated the panel discussion with experienced “spiritual practitioners” who went into depth on how to initiate behavioral changes and to overcome inner and outer barriers for effective climate action.  Around 20 people participated in the program.

Fletcher Harper admitted that changing behavior is often hard.  Information is not enough to create a real change.  He emphasized six key points to support lasting lifestyle changes:

  1. A respected leader within the community becomes a role model
  2. Experience the benefit of changing
  3. Avoid moralistic talk, but share good stories; be positive
  4. Clarify the reason and motive
  5. Take support from friends
  6. Celebration helps to reinforce new behavior

Kosha Anja Joubert (Executive Director of Global Ecovillage Network, GEN) presented the work they have been doing.  The communities develop their own guiding principles for lifestyle change and collective wisdom.  She emphasized that each individual has their own entry point into personal change.  It could be nature, books, dialogue or meditation.

BK Sister Jayanti shared that when individuals align their personal change into a collective effort a global scale transformation can happen.  A lasting change has to come from the heart.

Dr. Dorota Stasiak, from the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies, said that new policies will be successful when people have been included in the process through co-creative approaches.

BK Golo, the final speaker, called for a paradigm shift.  We have to overcome the separation of our inner and outer world.  What you think and feel matters!  If we want to inspire change in others, we need to walk the talk and be role models of change.

BK Sonja Ohlsson asked the panelists to share their most treasured personal change.  Fletcher and BK Sister Jayanti mentioned their decision to become vegan.

A question was raised from the audience about the increase in air travel and the enormous CO2 emissions.  Golo shared that Brahma Kumaris is soon launching an in-house travel compensation program for the benefit of renewable energy projects.  Kosha emphasized that we have to connect more with our hearts and minds.  We can use more video conferencing and digital tools.

Exhibition

BK Sister Jayanti visited the Conference and held a minute of silence in the main negotiation hall.  She then came to the Brahma Kumaris exhibition stand which is very busy.  People are really attracted by the blessing cards and wristbands.

BK Sister Jayanti met a number of old friends from previous conferences and heard the latest update from the negotiations.

Interfaith Press Conference

The Faith-Based Organisations (FBO) held a press conference to present their contribution to the Talanoa process.  Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji, and across the Pacific, to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue.  The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good.  The process involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.  BK Valériane from the Brahma Kumaris moderated the session with representatives from four different religions.

Henrik Grape, from the World Council of Churches, presented the document “Faith communities envisage a more just and equitable world”.  He talked about respecting the boundaries of Mother Earth, about caring for ecological systems, the most vulnerable communities and all future generations.  Lindsey Cook from the Quakers stated that the faith-based organizations’ input is important because they are not political and use a soft language that can touch people.

BK Valériane then asked the Reverend Fletcher Harper from GreenFaith what actions the FBOs can take to help solve this climate crisis.  He emphasized that they can take a leading role in divestment from fossil fuel as well as promoting lifestyle changes.

Jamie Williams from Islamic Relief talked about the needs of the most vulnerable people.  Caring for people in need is one of the main principles in all religions.

The audience asked the panelists many questions and there was a lively discussion.

General Update

This year’s Climate conference is about finalizing the so-called “rule book” to actually implement the Paris agreement to stay below 1.5˚C (max. 2˚C).  The countries will finalize how to measure and monitor the promised reduction of carbon emission (Nationally Determined Contributions, NDCs) and what to do if a state fails to fulfil its promises.  However, this is complicated as many details have to be worked out and agreed among all the 200 member states.  This has been further complicated by the USA government planning to pull out of the Paris agreement and Brazil’s new government withdrawing its offer to host the next climate conference.

At the opening of the conference, Poland’s President made a blunt statement:  “Don’t worry.  As long as I am the president of Poland, I won’t allow anyone to murder Polish mining.”  This was not surprising since Poland is one of many nations heavily reliant on coal.  Along with other fossil fuels, coal has been identified as a leading climate enemy at the COP24 summit.  It seems not all the parties understand and want to follow the recently published Climate report by the Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC).  This indicated that climate change is accelerating and the window of opportunities to deal with the problem is rapidly closing.

Famous actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, also attending the meeting, said, “We have a meshuggenah [lacking good judgement] leader in Washington, but the U.S. is still in.”  He wished he could travel back in time to stop us from digging up and using fossil fuels, as he did in his famous film “The Terminator”.

Meanwhile, climate change can be felt all over the world, the 15-year-old Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg said today.  The world’s youth must lead in pushing for climate action as our politicians are “behaving like children”.  In August 2018 Greta began a solo climate protest by striking from school in Sweden.  These school strikes have now spread to at least 270 towns and cities in countries across the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the USA and Japan. It is quite interesting that one little girl from Sweden can have such global impact; it seems courageous leadership can be quite inspirational.

“Sustaining Wellness in the Workplace” Workshop by the Brahma Kumaris

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  Phillipines

Bataan, Phillipines: The Brahma Kumaris of Makati, in the Phillipines, were invited to present a one-and-a-half-day Stress Management workshop for the Legal and Legislative Liaison Service team of the Department of the Interior and Local Government at Oriental Hotel, in Bataan City. The session aimed to promote work balance and wellness. The session started on a positive note when the participants reflected on their stress-free image and the quality that goes with it. Moreover, the session focused on understanding stress as a learning venue for applying one’s qualities and virtues. The main tools to manage stress are positive thinking and meditation. Attorney Gina Wenceslao invited the Brahma Kumaris for this event.

“The Power of People” – Brahma Kumaris at COP24

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  Europe International News

Poland (Europe): From December 1-14, Green Peace is managing the Climate Hub in Katowice, very near the site of COP (24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change).  It has become a popular meeting space for the youth and the Polish civil society.  Carolin, representing the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, moderated the session “The Power of People” organized by the Brahma Kumaris.  She welcomed Sister Jayanti, Valériane, Kuba Gogolewski (Development YES – Pit Mines NO) and Swami Atmarupananda (Global Peace Initiative of Women).

Panelists: Carolin, Kuba Gogolewski, Sister Jayanti, Valeriane, and Swami Atmarupananda

The panelists shared the following main points:

  • Common intention makes it easy to overcome differences of opinion and for people to work together for a common cause. If our intention is free of selfishness and greed, it has the power to bring about transformation.
  • IT Technology is an effective tool to take the voice of the people to their leaders.
  • If I sit in meditation, it brings about change. When we meditate together, the power will reach the whole world.
  • Mother Earth is a living entity and we are part of the whole ecosystem. In meditation, we develop constant positive thoughts and feelings.  We become like Mother Earth, who is always benevolent.
  • For success in your activities it helps to be persistent and patient. The Polish government agreed to phase out using dirty brown coal only after many years of campaigning.
  • The collective efforts of diverse religious and spiritual groups has come together in one powerful interfaith voice and they are now recognized by UNFCCC.

Multifaith responses to the prospect of Climate Engineering. Playing God?

Outside the COP, at the Higher School of Labour Protection Management, Aneta attended a program about faith and geo-engineering.  The panel of:

  • Dr. Forrest Clingerman – Editor of the report’s theological essays,
  • Gopal Patel – The Bhumi Project,
  • Michael Thompson – Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative,
  • Fletcher Harper – Green Faith

shared their views on this interesting topic.  During the program, diverse approaches of geo-engineering were presented.  Most of them are:

  • in the early stages of development,
  • carry significant uncertainty in terms of their effectiveness,
  • are unproven at scale, and
  • hold the potential for large-scale negative consequences.

Each technology in the geo-engineering toolbox also raises ethical questions.  To equip religious groups to understand and advocate on these issues, consistent with their moral values, GreenFaith released a report with various theological essays from many traditions and recommendations for taking action.  The report can be downloaded from: https://greenfaith.org/geoengineering.

Interfaith Coordination Meeting at COP24

Valerian and Henrik Grappe, of the World Council of Churches, warmly welcomed everyone to the first co-ordination meeting of the interfaith community at COP24.  Gratitude was expressed for those who organize and coordinate the various activities between and during COPs.

The interfaith declaration on climate change was discussed, including the topics of:

  • The need to take actions to limit temperature increase to 1.5˚C,
  • The lack of political will
  • The need for all to take responsibility and to be accountable
  • Inter-generational rights
  • Considering the needs and context of the younger generation
  • Racial justice and gender

The meeting ended with a minute of silence to send good wishes and positive thoughts to the COP24 negotiators and the overall process.

Open Dialogue between COP24 Presidency and civil society

At the “Seat of the People” all were welcomed by the COP24 President, Minister Michał Kurtyka.  He informed us that 31,000 people registered for COP24 and encouraged all to follow two hashtags: #takeyourseat and #justtransition.  He emphasized that this is the first truly digital COP thanks to the participation of everyone through the #takeyourseat initiative.

An Inconvenient Truth 2

Sister Jayanti, Aneta, Valeriane, Ewa, Asha and the whole Polish team went to see a screening of Al Gore’s new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power at Klub Myśli Ekologicznej.  In the film, Al Gore argues that fighting climate change is a moral battle, on par with the civil rights movement in the United States.  The lively discussion that followed was full of new information and even got a bit emotional.

Brahma Kumaris 10 Ways to change the world

The current environmental crisis is a clear call to transform our awareness and our lifestyle.  Long-lasting change in any social or environmental pattern starts with a profound shift in the minds and hearts of individuals.  These 10 points form a climate friendly mindset and have become immensely popular.  We are distributing the poster at the stand.

  • Live Simply
  • Be Unlimited
  • Open the Heart
  • Respect Life
  • Be Positive
  • Walk the Talk
  • Empower Yourself
  • Eat Well
  • Follow Your Dream
  • Feel the Soul

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