UNclimatechange CC BY 2.0

UNclimatechange is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Figueres says the teachings of Zen Master helped in Paris Climate Change negotiations

A Buddhist monk and his counsel played an instrumental role in the Paris climate agreement, said Christina Figueres, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary.

The diplomat, who played the leading role during the climate talks, credited 89-year-old Thich Nhat Hanh for providing her with the necessary wisdom, compassion and strength. It is important to note that the unparalleled deal was supported by 196 countries.

Thich Nhat Hanh, more popularly known as Thay to his countless followers across the word, happens to be a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk. Figueres said that Thay’s teachings helped her significantly when she had been suffering from a severe personal crisis about three years back.

The monk, who is recuperating from a severe stroke now, helped her during the hour of crisis through his Buddhist philosophy. She added that she was able to focus on the climate talks only because of his counsel.

While attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss city of Davos, Figueres said that she understood that she needed to have something because otherwise she couldn’t have dealt with the crisis and her job, and that it was impossible for her to even take a single day off.

She added that the climate talk was a six-month marathon with no space for any rest and that she really needed something to support her. She also opined that had she not been escorted by the counsel of Thay, she wouldn’t have had the depth of optimism, the depth of inspiration, the depth of commitment and the depth of stamina.

What is it that the monk taught her?

Figueres exemplified his counsel through a trip that she had made to his monastery in the city of Waldbrol in Germany. The monastery was a mental institution housing 700 patients before the Nazis exterminated all the patients and converted it into a premises meant for the Hitler Youth.

She opined that Thay selected the location to establish that it is feasible to convert pain and suffering into love, to convert being a victim into being the victor and turn hate into forgiveness and love.

Figueres said that the same amount of energy and dedication was needed for the negotiations to the climate change convention as it was about stopping the blame game between countries and start collaborating meaningfully.

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