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Today is / a No Car day / enjoy your Pure Land: Plum Village and all of its monasteries have established weekly no car days

I was despairing, then during morning practice I remembered Deer Park Monastery. When I looked them up, I found this.

Added by colin #442 on 2007-03-05. Last modified 2007-06-25 16:58. Originally created 2007-03-05. F0 License: Attribution
Location: World, United States, California, Escondido, Deer Park Monastery
xregion: Carlsbad Watershed

Topics: buddhism, carfree days, monasticism, Our Culture, spirit, the car cannot be fixed, Vision

I've been low recently. This has to do with traveling around San Diego. Which is depressing. It has to do with not following a careful mood management routine (Which for me seems to be going to bed very early most every night, meaning 7 or 8, and getting up very early). I've been challenged by helping with the Food Not Lawns conference. I am not sure why that throws me off (later nights? computer time? dealing with calling people? distracted from absolute focus on self well-being? having to get myself around, to bicycle in hell?). My fragileness at times is what drives me to change, so it is not all bad.

So, I've been unhappy, which is due to lack of a vision of a future I will enjoy. I was happy to have found and been able to participate in a San Diego activist community. But even there I feel the odd fish. It might be different if there were more carfree activists in this group, but who knows. In any event, there are not.[1] An organizer of a Reclaim The Streets meeting, for example, assumed I'd be arriving by car. (I think I have decided I don't want to reclaim the streets but flee them).

Whatever my issues are, I know doing the kata helps me. This morning during that I was questioning my plan of the moment: to walk south, partly inspired by Graham Mackintosh (see earlier post).

It occurred to me I needed to be with people who have the same sensitivities I do. And I remembered Deer Park Monastery and Nhat Hanh. There I could live, perhaps, without using a car. I could garden there. I might live without a computer or a phone (communicating by phone and by email seems, more often that not, to lead to unhappiness). A word I've been using, referring to this sensitivity, is "consciousnesscare." See "protect the serenity of the monastery grounds," below.

On my walk, I'd imagined discarding all forms of identification. Crossing at the ocean, at low tide, into Mexico. My name is Jonas. My nation is the one whose members care for the earth (earthcare nation). I do not communicate with people who are not present (and then I began to question that).

After kata, I swam. There was a woman there about my speed.

Then I looked up Deer Park Monastery, Green Gulch Farm, and emailed Ryan who may still be living at the Chula Vista Zen Center. In communities magazine I had read about a guy who had visited Green Gulch Farm. Next year I could apply for the garden internship, perhaps.

At the bottom of the main page of the Deer Park Monastery site is an image like this:

Today is / a No Car day / enjoy your Pure Land

Pure Land has multiple meanings.

Looking around more, you can find the page on A greener Deer Park.

Now I also notice that Green Gulch Farm is already celebrating watershed awareness, while Deer Park may not be. But Deer Park is in Southern California, and possibly even in San Diego County--if I could work with them, I'd be more consistent with a vow of stability, staying in the Socal weather, staying true to the idea of a Peace Corps for the US (as Socal is in many ways the most devastated place and home to the most devastating people on earth).

Here's what they say:

Dear friends and Sangha members,

We all can help make Deer Park Monastery and the planet greener and cleaner with our support and practice of the following:

  1. Adopt one NO CAR DAY in our family - From now on Deer Park Monastery will have a no car day on Tuesday. No cars will be driven inside and outside the monastery by any community member or visitor.
  2. Protect the serenity of the monastery grounds by walking and reducing driving on the premises. There is a No Driving Zone to be put into practice by all members and visitors. All visitor cars will park in the main dirt parking lot. Electric shuttles (to be purchased) will drive those with need to upper parts of the monastery.
  3. Reduce driving and consumption - The community shopping will be done only once a week. Practice simple living and be mindful of our needs, whether they are truly necessary. Carpool special trips such as visiting doctor, personal errands, etc. Rely on the help and resource of our lay Sangha.
  4. Recycle our old cars that might pollute. Invest in alternative fuel vehicles- hybrid, bio-diesel, electric, etc.
I've been wanting to write on banning diesel--which after noise, kills me the most, and it is insane that people can drive these trucks, unfathomable that it is legal to do so (the rattling noise they make, and how long they make the air unbreatheable after they pass by, and how many people in San Diego seem to think it is cool to drive them). And that their tailpipes (and those of many other vehicles) point toward the cyclist and pedestrians they pass.
  1. Invest and convert to solar voltaics as energy source for monastery use.
  2. Find alternative source of water. Dig a well and collect rain water to use for irrigation.
  3. Recycle and compost.
They have also had a petition for others to sign to commit to participating in no car days. I couldn't find the text of the petition, but here is some relevant text from that page about an address that was made to UNESCO by Thay (Nhat Hanh; “thay” ≅ master, teacher) on October 7, 2006:
My third proposal was that UNESCO should sponsor global "no car days" every month. We should also support the annual global no car day, held every September 22nd. I suggested that "no car days" can be a skillful means to accelerate awareness of global warming. I told them that Plum Village and all of its monasteries have established weekly no car days, and that we are in the process of shifting to greener cars, as well as working to reduce our carbon emissions by fifty percent. And I asked all UNESCO delegates to do the same, to drive less, to drive more fuel-efficient cars, to reduce their overall carbon emissions.

Each of us should be an arm of the Buddha to renew the practice, so that living with hope, joy, and compassion becomes possible in our life. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are a kind of global ethic. Each spiritual tradition has them in their own way. Although 75 million people signed the Manifesto 2000, which is based on this global ethic, if we don't do it, our signatures will not help. So Sangha-building is very important. We already have the path. Don't wait until tomorrow. Whatever you can do, do it today, and then old age will be a delicious fruit. The Buddha is always there to support and guide us.


Dear friends, an organizing committee has formed, hosted at Deer Park, (which is open to anyone, and will include those outside of the Southern California area through email) that will continue to explore how to promote worldwide and individual Car Free Days as well as reducing our carbon emissions in general. In the coming weeks we intend to strategize a public awareness campaign to spread the word and encourage people to organize individual, as well as larger community actions like weekly and monthly no car days, carpooling, biking, etc.

Once we have decided on appropriate slogans, we will need you and your Sangha's help in designing, producing and distributing banners, posters, post cards, bumper stickers, t-shirts, buttons, Public Service Announcements, billboards, etc. We would like to link with other organizations and groups engaged in similar efforts. We also hope to set up a website where we can stay in touch with each other on how each of us is contributing in our own small ways to a collective awakening and reducing our ecological impact on our planet. We will send you updates on how you can join in and continue to help, or visit the Deer Park website to link to the upcoming Car Free Day Sangha website.

Please email us at deerparkmonastery at gmail.com if you have ideas or would like to get more involved. Thank you!



Our goal is to joyfully promote mindful and positive options for carbon neutral living among our worldwide sangha, the 4,000 plus friends who signed the UNESCO petition, and other spiritual communities through:

  • Promotion of and participation in the Worldwide Car Free Day on September 22, 2007.
  • Cultivation of weekly personal and family Car Free Days.
  • Development of a website to educate people on how to evaluate their current impact to climate change, how to reduce their own emissions, and go in the direction of a carbon-neutral lifestyle.
  • Expansion of our mindfulness practice to learn more about how our lifestyles cause greenhouse emissions.
  • Bringing information on carbon-neutral living into our retreats and sangha practices.
  • Tracking the number of pounds of greenhouse gases that we, as a global Sangha, have collectively reduced throughout the next year and showing it graphically on the upcoming website so we can monitor our progress as a worldwide community.
  • Promoting awareness of actions that the international Plum Village monastic communities are making and their success in reducing greenhouse gases.
I'll be contacting them.

Here are The Five Mindfulness Trainings :

The First Mindfulness Training

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life.

The Second Mindfulness Training

Aware of suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, I am committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants and minerals. I will practise generosity by sharing my time, energy and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

The Third Mindfulness Training

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticise or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family and my society by practising mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I will ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being and joy in my body, in my consciousness and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programmes, magazines, books, films and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger and confusion in myself and in society by practising a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

Here's wikipedia on the Sangha.

[1] This is not correct. I wrote that two days ago. Now I'm trying to amend this at 5 a.m. Wednesday. What I say there will not help the activists I speak of like me any better either.

I should probably ask "What does carfree activism in San Diego look like?" or "What does transportation justice look like in SD?"

Kate, for one, mostly rides a bike or takes rather long bus rides. Marcia rarely leaves her own neighborhood, walking or getting around by bike. I've heard rumors about a permaculture activist guy who only has a bike. Those are at least two car-lite activistas. There are the guys, lateros, who go around collecting cans to recycle with bikes and trailers or shopping carts.

What I mean in that statement is that there's no one flaming carfree like me that I know of--someone who will wear orange safety vests on which he has sewn "carfree." Someone who turns down rides in cars, and who once said, "It's been since last August since I've ridden in a car" (or any other form of motorized transport).

What I mean is that there aren't any others I know of--except perhaps some of the people I found out about at the bike prom --who believe that car use of almost any kind is a bad thing and that strong statements can be made by not using them.

It is not statement for me. It feels wrong to be in cars. The carfree patches are an attempt to make it clear I do not also have a car nor am I riding just for fun.

The FNL and other activists, some of them participate in critical mass--like Drae. FNL did organize the Edible San Diego Bike Tour--one of the most memorable events in SD for me.

I may wimp out on Reclaim The Streets. The organizer was clear it is not about bashing the cars, but about having the street be for people.

Oh, and Gus Yates, of Carfree City, USA, may still have a car--or at least I think his household did in 2004.

I guess I want to see more people who feel it wrong to use cars and who are as amazed as I am that others seem to accept using them.

I want to see more people who believe there are costs to using cars--even if that is what everyone else is doing.

The people who do the most for carfree people--such as getting the transit stop at SDSU up on campus instead of down by the highway--often are the planners, occasionally are the politicians, who often use cars.

During the time of the auto show here (January), the Union Tribune had a (horrible was my initial reaction) article about what various influential locals drive ("Auto motives: survey of influential locals finds various reasons - some green, some not - for car choices," January 7, 2007). Donna Frye was the only one who "does not drive." Maybe I should ask what that means and why.

At the FNL conference I learned about organizing (there was a workshop on organizing). I learned that I had been organized by Ellee, at least, and probably by Kate, through different techniques (one is: don't let people leave a meeting without a task!).

One reason I'm at FNL is that I find the vision postive and fun--it is great to grow a garden. It is also nice to avoid using cars.

I should quit writing this. . . I know I'm not organizing anything to help address the problem I'm complaining about.

I suppose it might look like a conference on transportation: what would a San Diego look like where fewer people, or no people, used cars? What changes must happen for us to get there?

Because so few (including me) can really entertain that vision, that may be why nothing happens.

Ian Bevin of SDSU EBS was trying to get a flexcar on the SDSU campus. He said he did not get approval because the campus people said they had already lost enough parking revenue due to the opening of the trolley. (Could this be done anyway by getting a parking permit for the flexcar, or by parking it near campus?)

So, all these people who do use cars are doing things that help carfree people.

I am aware that, at least for now, "carfreeness" is part of how I organize my life. It is part of how I know what to do, make choices, part of how I am known, of how I know myself. John Frances eventually decided his decision not to use motorized transport had become a prison. I still see it as opportunity.

Alright. So so far, I'm not organizing anything. I think I'm at least being some sort of example. I don't need to disparage or complain about people who are doing great things and who also occasionally use cars.

I do wish there were more people I knew here who feel as I do: that not using a car is always an opportunity; that choosing to avoid car use guides one's behavior in valuable ways; and that, in the long run, "cars should never be the solution to a transportation desire."

So I spent an hour babbling here! Wondering why I did so, I think I'm still missing something. An affirmation to avoid the Internet? Silence?

Colin Leath <>    

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