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Climate change is a global pressing issue. In this film we are looking into the Psychology behind what people are thinking in relation to Climate change. Caroline Hickman a climate psychology expert and Dr Liz Marks a clinical and research psychologist share their views on how climate change is affecting us psychologically and how we can manage our anxieties in relation to climate change.

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-anxiety

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-multi-faith-views

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-buddhism

Climate Change: Psychology

Caroline: Hi. So my name is Caroline Hickman. I'm a psychotherapist and a lot of the work I do is supporting people with climate change, anxiety and distress. Eco anxiety is the healthy response that we have when we see what's happening to the planet. There's nothing wrong with feeling this. In fact, if you feel eco anxiety, it's because you care. You should be proud that you care.

 

Liz:         Hi, I'm doctor Liz Marks. I'm a clinical and research psychologist. Eco and climate anxiety are the words used to describe the different thoughts and feelings that lots of people have about what's happening with climate change, and the damage that's being done to the natural world. Although the term is eco anxiety, most people feel lots of different feelings. They might feel scared and anxious, but they might also feel quite down or sad. They might feel angry, and they often feel overwhelmed. All of these feelings are very valid and very normal. In response to what's happening to the climate at the moment.

 

Caroline: We're gonna have lots of mixed feelings about this and they all make complete sense. Think of yourself as a bus. So on this bus, you want to have all of your feelings, your anger, your despair, your optimism, your sadness, your anxiety, your rage. But you also need your I want to save the planet person to have a seat on the bus. It just depends who's got hold of the steering wheel on any one particular day. Don't try and get rid of your anxiety. Let it be part of the bus, but don't let it get hold of the steering wheel all day, every day. It can have its turn at the steering wheel and then the personality, the bus conductor, the part of you that is conducting the orchestra with all these emotions says, okay, you, you've had your turn now we're going to have calm and contented driving the bus for a bit. You need all of these different parts of you to take their turn.

 

Liz:         When you're experiencing anxiety. Quite a lot of different things happen in your brain and body, and the main thing is that chemicals and hormones are released. These chemicals and hormones travel through the body and make changes that prepares the body for the fight or flight response. And what that means is, when we're facing a threat, the body needs to get ready to respond to the threat by fighting it, by pushing it away or by running away the flight. And that's why things happen in the body. Like your muscles tense, you breathe more quickly. Your blood is being pumped around the body by the heart more quickly, so the body's basically ready for action. Anxiety is a completely natural, healthy, and useful human response. Without anxiety, we wouldn't be able to respond to threats in our environment, and we wouldn't be able to keep ourselves safe from those threats.

 

Caroline: We need our anxiety because it helps us. It tells us when we should be scared of something. We need our anger because it's good to get angry when things are threatening you, or you need to say no to someone who's trying to push you around. If something's hurt us, we need to feel upset. But you don't want to stay upset for a week. You want to be upset, say you're upset, deal with those feelings and let the upset and just move on. And that gives us the emotional intelligence and the emotional resilience that we need. How do we get resilience? Not by everything going perfectly or smoothly. We develop emotional resilience by struggling with things, by getting things wrong, by sometimes failing. And then you get back up and then you try again, and then you get back up, and then you try again. Each time you get back up and try again, your resilience grows and you get stronger and you get more able to deal with the ups and downs and the ins and outs of life. And then you start to get to the point where you think, I can, I can find a way through this, I can deal with this.

 

Liz:         So if you are feeling anxious or sad or angry or any other feelings, that's completely natural and healthy. However, it can also be very painful and distressing and overwhelming, and it can sometimes feel like you maybe can't stop it from happening. So it's also really important to look for support or help and people you can talk to about it to help you through.

 

Caroline: One way to think about this is think about yourself sitting on a rock surrounded by water, and just imagine your emotions and your thoughts flowing in the water around you so you're not disconnected from them. You can see them. You can stick your toes in the water. You can see your feelings, think your thoughts, but don't throw yourself off your rock. Don't go and immerse yourself too much in them. And if you do, fall off the rock, get back on the rock and observe and think about your feelings and your thoughts. You can say to yourself, I have a body, but I am not my body. I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. I have feelings, but I am not my feelings. You can both connect with them and identify with them, and then decide by so that you're not completely overwhelmed. If you feel anxiety, it is. Remember it is you who is feeling the anxiety. Don't become anxiety.

 

Liz:         Nature or being in nature can be a really positive thing for your mental health and well-being. There's loads and loads of evidence to show this, but don't take my word for it. Think about it yourself. Or go out into nature and see what happens to how you feel. Spending time with people who feel the same way can also be a really nice way of getting engaged with doing things that might give you a sense of being able to make a difference. People find that getting engaged in action, particularly in action with other people, is really, really good for helping them feel less overwhelmed by their eco anxiety. One of the things that's really helpful about it is it helps us to align what's important to us with what we're doing, and that's really good for our mental health and wellbeing. There are different types of action. There's the action that we can take as an individual. So for example, recycling more, cycling more and driving less and not flying so much. And perhaps we can convince people around us to do similar things. And then there's collective action or group action. And that's where we maybe join a group of people where sometimes we can make slightly bigger changes happen because there's more of us. But it's really important to to recognise that as an individual or even as somebody, as part of a collective or a group, there is only so much impact that we're going to have on climate change. So it's balancing that recognition that you can act on climate change and do what you want to do and do what you can do, but that ultimately it's not your responsibility or the responsibility of your group to solve climate change or to make the really big changes that the world needs to see. That responsibility lies with state authorities, with governments, with big business and powerful people. And sometimes the action that we need to take is getting them to see that it's their responsibility, not ours, as the individual.

 

Caroline: Any form of action, any form of activism is valuable. But remember, you want to balance up that external activism with internal activism. You also need to deal with how you feel as well as take action out there in the world. One of the difficulties is if you just focus on external action out there in the world and you feel that it's not enough and that other people are not doing enough, and yet you do more and more and more and it's still not enough is you can then just get overwhelmed or exhausted or what people call burnt out. So balance that up with having downtime. Take a night off, sit on the sofa, eat pizza, chill out with your friends, have time out and time off. As well as taking action. You are a person. You do not have to save the planet on your own. Working together, we can do something collectively and be more powerful. Your individual action is important, but you're also not personally responsible for all the problems on the planet. The thing about eco anxiety is it's not necessarily the same as other forms of mental health distress we wouldn't want to cure or fix or get rid of eco anxiety because it's an emotionally mentally healthy response. What we do need to do is understand it and make friends with it. We need to learn to work with it so that we're understanding that it's here for a reason. To motivate us to take action, to teach us to care, to help us build a better world for ourselves and our children and children all over the world. So the last thing I want to do is get rid of it. We really do need to understand that it's more of a moral upset and a moral injury than a mental illness. So the thing to do is acknowledge. Just recognize. Just tell yourself it's okay to feel a bit overwhelmed by this sometimes and take a step back. Take time out, take a break and just breathe and just relax and just know you're not the only one worrying about this. There's wonderful people all over the world lawyers, psychologists, teachers, educators, community activists, some politicians taking action on this. So you're part of that collective. You're not on your own.

 

Climate Change: Psychology

Video length - 09.52
Published date - May 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Climate change is a global pressing issue. It affects everyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs. But in this film we are focusing on the viewpoints on the climate crisis from the Buddhist community. How does Buddhism tackle climate change and what are some of the steps they are taking help alleviate the problems we are facing.

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-anxiety

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-multi-faith-views

Climate Change: Buddhism

Sean:       A Zen Buddhist is a tradition of Buddhism where there's a focus predominantly on meditation. The word Zen actually comes from a Sanskrit word, dhyana, and a Chinese word, chan, and it means meditation. So it's practicing Buddhism through meditation. Zen Buddhism Buddhism in general is not particularly a belief system. So Buddhism itself is kind of some guiding principles that are about people discovering their true nature. And the end result of that is to try and end suffering. So Buddha taught that life. Life is suffering. It contains suffering, old age, illness and death, and that there is a path through practice, through meditation, through how we live, whereby we can bring an end to the suffering we might experience. That doesn't mean that we won't die, but it means that we don't need to actually suffer. There is no distinction between it being the suffering of humans, or the suffering of plants, or the suffering of animals. As a practitioner of Zen Buddhism, my aim, as grand as it might seem, is to end the suffering of all beings. So you can't practice that without being concerned about nature.

 

David:     Basically, from a Buddhist point of view. Humans and nature are completely interdependent, but isn't very much about that. All things are interdependent with each other. So if we if we harm the natural world, we are harming ourselves. If we take care of the natural world, then we're taking care of ourselves. It's very simple. Of course, the Buddha, when he became enlightened, he was meditating underneath a tree. So he had great respect for trees. And actually, in a lot of Buddhist countries, there are Buddhist movements protecting trees and protecting rivers and things. It's always been very important in Buddhism. We follow Tibetan Buddhist traditions, Himalayan Buddhist tradition. It's a very, very fragile ecosystem there. So the people that are extremely environmentally conscious, and that's all part of, you know, the Buddhist practice.

 

Bell:        What I was saying earlier in my meditation to myself is nothing is anyone's and everyone is each other's. And I think that's a pretty spiritual way of looking at nature, I guess the oneness of it. That's what I'm trying to say. That there's no distinction between nature and you and you and nature and me and you and. Yeah, we've made distinctions and it's not very helpful.

 

Sean:       Buddhism and activism. There's been a lot written about it, so a term that resonates with me is Engaged Buddhism. So what can be a Buddhist and sit on a cushion and meditate and kind of hope that being a good person influences other people, and that will happen and it will ripple out. But then there is also a practice of saying, is that enough? Do you also need to get off the cushion and be visible and be a voice that stands up? So not taking life is one of the Buddhist precepts, but standing by while other life is taken isn't something that aligns with that either. So many Buddhists. Might struggle a bit. Finding the balance. There's a balance between doing something that is ultimately spiritual and something that's just very practical and worldly. But the two of them can't really be separated. My teacher's teacher describes Zen as a sword that cuts two into one. So this is about bringing the ordinary everyday world and the spiritual together and not seeing them as two separate things. So to be a good Zen Buddhist and a good Zen Buddhist teacher, which is what I try to be. You can't do that on your cushion alone. Do it on the cushion, and you do it out in the street and in the real world where people aren't, and certainly Extinction Rebellion Buddhists. It's a great family of people from all different Buddhist traditions who are aligned in that thinking that we must do more than just meditate at home.

 

Bell:        The overlap between climate activists and Buddhists. Big Venn diagram, big overlap there. I actually didn't know about the Extinction Rebellion Buddhist group until yesterday, and I have morphed over to it. And I've really enjoyed it. I found it really powerful because I automatically feel a connection to other bidders, even if I don't know them. There's a mutual understanding I feel at home. And to add on top of that, that everyone's here because they care about the climate. A lot of Buddhist ethics are about not doing harm, acting with deeds of loving kindness, being generous, being kind, being acting with integrity and authenticity. All of these things are the kind of things that everyone here is displaying, not just the Buddhists. I think Buddhists can bring something to climate activism that is needed. And I think that's this really beautiful way that we can display how we're channeling rage and anger into a peaceful and calm way of doing it.

 

David:     I think it's everybody's responsibility to look after the planet. We can't leave it to the government because the government is just a really projection of the mind of all the people. So if people are not being environmentally conscious, we're not going to get an environmentally conscious government. Um, we all depend on each other. We depend on the animals, we depend on the plants, we depend on the whole ecosystem. Um, and we can't there's nobody up there who's going to do it for us. So unless everybody takes responsibility, it's not going to happen.

 

Climate Change: Buddhism

Video length - 06.08
Published date - Apr 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to Istanbul.

Edwina, Amar, and Pauline embark on a solemn visit to the remains of the Crveni Krst concentration camp in Serbia – a memorial to humankind’s continued inhumanity. This site bears witness to the unfathomable cruelty endured by 30,000 individuals of Jewish, Serbian, and Romani descent at the hands of German forces during World War II. They see the bullet holes still in the walls where people were executed, and discover chilling facts about the camp’s history,

Edwina – who is Jewish – reflects on her upbringing in a post-war world marred by profound trauma. Pauline talks about the importance of acknowledging what happened at the concentration camp instead of just moving on.

Edwina concludes with the thought that places like the Crveni Krst camp are a challenge to faith. How could God let it happen?

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: The Bullet Holes

Narrator: Across the city, Edwina has brought Ahmer and Pauline to a monument to more modern conflict, a site that stands as a memorial to man's continued inhumanity. The Seveni Krust concentration camp.

 

Edwina:  Oh, I can see the swastika. Jesus. Excuse me. We are standing in front of one of the smaller barracks. And over the door there is a swastika and Wache. And then. And ss. SS, isn't it? It is. So that's probably been the SS office.

 

Edwina:  Mhm.

 

Edwina:  But it looks like they got us a little gift shop.

 

Narrator: During the Second World War, a total of 30,000 people of Jewish, Romani and Serbian origin were held within this camp by German forces.

 

Amar:     So is this where people were executed? Yes.

 

Pauline:  It's incredibly humbling and devastating. It's extraordinary to see the marks where the bullets hit there that had gone through a person and executed it.

 

Amar:     So you can see bullet marks.

 

Pauline:  Do you want to come down and touch it?

 

Edwina:  Yeah. You go down.

 

Pauline:  Yeah. You you you you stay here. Yeah. I know it's upsetting you. So that's bullet. Bullet holes.

 

Amar:     Oh, wow. In there.

 

Pauline:  Yeah.

 

Amar:     If they can make a hole in the wall.

 

Pauline:  You know.

 

Amar:     Like how big they are.

 

Pauline:  Could you have you.

 

Edwina:  The world in which I grew up was one that was badly traumatized by the Second World War. Wherever you looked, there were bomb sites and three legged dogs. But also the Jewish community, of course, had lost so many people. Lots of things people didn't talk about. Lots of pain. It wasn't until much later that we realized what they had all been through.

 

Narrator: In 1942. 105 prisoners escaped from this camp. The first time an escape had been successful in mainland Europe. The response from the German army was brutal.

 

Pauline:  The Nazis implemented a policy of killing 100 Serbian hostages for every German soldier killed, and killing 50 for every soldier wounded in Serbia. They executed over 10,000 people on nearby Banja hill.

 

Amar:     Can you see people's pictures here?

 

Pauline:  Oh, yes.

 

Edwina:  Yes. Let me describe. There's an old man in a fez with a bristling moustache. Maybe he's an old soldier. There's a handsome man in a smart suit and a moustache. What's striking is the different ages of people. And young.

 

Pauline:  Old people.

 

Amar:     Wow.

 

Edwina:  When the 10,000 were shot, they were shot very publicly because that was a warning. You try this again. This is what will happen. Not just that you'll die, but you will cause the death of others. What was it? A hundred times as many.

 

Pauline:  Yeah, yeah. We're going to visit lots of places of worship on this pilgrimage, but it seems to me that places like this concentration camp should also be mandatory for anyone who is is making that kind of journey. Because this too is testament to what we must also acknowledge. It's not always just let's say hallelujah and move on. You got to mark it.

 

Edwina:  A place like this is a challenge to faith because if God exists and God is good, how could God let something like this happen? That's not the way I see it. So the way I see it is that we all have to take responsibility for our actions. There was a lot of bravery here, a lot of courage here. But in the end, it's a place of brutality and destruction. It's very, very sad. Do you know what? If I'd been in charge, I'd have burned the whole place to the ground. And I would have built a garden.

 

Pilgrimage Moments: The Bullet Holes

Video length - 05.06
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to Rome.

Over an evening meal, Stephen tells his fellow Pilgrims that – as a gay man – he doesn’t feel accepted by any religion. Dana talks about the problems that many Roman Catholics have, being caught between compassion for their gay friends, and the Church’s definition of marriage which is only between a man and woman. Mehreen talks about her belief that it is wrong to judge others, and Brendan stresses the importance of respect and discussion, and his belief that it isn’t the religions that cause problems, it’s the people within them!

 Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: Discussing Homosexuality and Acceptance

Narrator: At the end of a long day, and in keeping with good pilgrim tradition, it's time to break bread together.

 

Les:         Should do the Italian way where we just chuck all the sauce into the pasta.

 

Lesley:    Yes.

 

Stephen:  Can I just ask a question, guys? Oh, guys, I thought this was a great opportunity tonight with such a diverse group to have a talk about religion. Great idea and I want to see if I can be enlightened.

 

Lesley:    Wowser.

 

Lesley:    Friends. My family.

 

Stephen:  One of my main problems seems to be this word intolerance. I don't think for me there is any organized religion or faith that embraces me.

 

Katy:       Do you mean as a gay man?

 

Stephen:  Absolutely.

 

Brendan: If I'm gay in the churches sense Catholic church, that is fundamentally wrong. Now, I know so many gay people. My brother is gay. If that is the case, if that is the Catholic Church belief, then surely my brother is screwed. Stephen is screwed because of one belief of of of the faith. How do you feel about that?

 

Dana:      I, I also have many friends who are gay that I love very much. Compassionate because I think the gay community suffered greatly. Even among the gay community, there are different ideas, there are different thoughts. I have friends who are gay, who are married because they want to be married. I have friends who are gay who feel that the term marriage or the sacrament of marriage shouldn't be shifted from where it has been between a man and a woman. It's also very difficult if, say, a Catholic, if you believe that a gay person should be given every respect and every protection under the law, but that marriage should be as it has always been, between a man and a woman. And yet, if you say that you're suddenly identified as being homophobic, which is not right either, and even within our church, it's a very contentious issue at this time.

 

Stephen:  The way you said that so eloquently, if that was the message given out by the church, then people would understand. But if people's kneejerk responses, a marriage between a man and a woman end of, then you're going to upset a lot of people.

 

Dana:      Yeah. And that's why it's so hard for me to speak on behalf of a church which is already in tumult, you know, trying to sort this question out.

 

Mehreen: You've been talking about homosexuality, and I don't have enough of an in-depth knowledge about it to make any certain statements. I can't say all Muslims are going to say, yeah, it's cool to be gay at all. I know that I've got friends who are Muslim and gay, and I know that they will probably explain a lot better than me of the reasons why they don't think the two are mutually exclusive. What I can say is that for someone to tell you, you're going to hell. That is a bigger sin than homosexuality. That is the biggest sin. Right.

 

Stephen:  And that is why this has been a wonderful experience thus far. Because whatever faith or religion you have or you practice, if you don't allow me to ask questions. Yes. And be inquisitive about it. Yeah. And then you reasonably respond to me with something as opposed to rejecting me. We ain't going to get on. Yeah.

 

Brendan: Uh, I hate to get all lovey dovey and everything, but we're a group of really different faiths and backgrounds. Yet we've all been able to to spend a week in each other's company and have incredible conversations, complete respect for the most part of our different faiths and things. And if you said to me at the start of this week, uh, there's going to be I feel like there's a joke, a muslim, a Jew and a and I've actually learned a lot. And what I've recognized is that it's not the religion that's that's the problem. It's the people within it that create the problems. Because actually the whole party, how can we all get on so, so well with our different backgrounds? Because we're hopefully, for the most part, really genuinely decent people. It's not the religions that define us, it's the people within the religions that create the problems.

 

Pilgrimage Moments: Discussing Homosexuality and Acceptance

Video length - 04.47
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

The climate crisis is having a deep impact on the world around us, how we live our lives and how we feel. With a global increase in web searches of the term ‘climate anxiety’ (up by 4,590% from 2018-2023) this film is a timely exploration of the emotional effect of climate change through one individual’s remarkable true story. 

Joycelyn Longdon (Climate in Colour) takes us on her journey across the intersection between social action and climate activism, shedding light on the urgent need for change and deepening our understanding of the intricate relationship between the environment and our well-being. She answers the question, ‘what is ‘climate anxiety?’ And can we cure it?”

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-buddhism

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-multi-faith-views

Climate Anxiety

Joycelyn: I've always been interested in nature and the environment. Like any Brit, I grew up watching nature programmes on TV. However, I lived in London where I didn't have much access to nature, but there was a local meadowland where I used to go running.

I remember going on a trip when I was younger to Northern Ireland. We visited an ancient wood and it was there that for the first time I felt a deep connection to nature, so when my friend invited me on a march for nature, it seemed like the right thing to do.

At the climate march, maybe I was a little naive, but I didn't realise the extent of climate change.

 

I felt overwhelmed by the information on the signs and banners. The people there were not like me, and it was a shaming experience where a lot was expected of me and I left it feeling isolated and I didn't belong.

I felt lost. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know how I could get involved. How do I break into the space? If this is who climate activists are, if this is what I meant to be like, then I don't fit in.

Often when we are presented with a threat, it triggers one of three responses fight, flight or freeze. Many people feel so overwhelmed by the threat of climate change, they freeze up and become apathetic or immobilised. Many want to run away from the problem. To ignore it. To dismiss it. To tell themselves it's not real or won't be that bad, or that some invention will save us, but I have always been someone who, if they see an injustice or something wrong in the world, I am motivated to fix it.

 

But what am I meant to do as an individual? How do I get involved? I felt like an outsider. Okay, so I'll change what I can. Food. Clothing. Travel. But others were not doing the same, and this felt stressful and frustrating and my climate anxiety was still there.

My thoughts were telling me I could always do more. I always do. Could always do more. I could always do more. The overwhelming feeling, the racing thoughts, the tight chest, the constant questioning and blaming myself and if I was doing enough was making me depressed.

The climate crisis is a huge topic. It is affected by and affects so many different aspects of the world, from environmental to social to economic to political. It's clear that seemingly small changes can have a huge impact on someone somewhere in the world.

For every tree felled, every half a degree of temperature rise, there will be worse hurricanes, wildfires or floods, which may devastate someone's home, because climate change is such a broad issue. I worry I'm not using my skills in the right area.

At its very worst, this causes me to feel overwhelmed and like I want to disappear. I knew from past experience that exercise is a great way to combat these feelings. Exercise releases chemicals and hormones into the brain that affect how you feel, which can help us to feel less stressed and more clear headed.

Another thing I found helpful was the switch off to stop thinking about it, to take a break and to escape either through a good book or film, or by going for a walk, especially in nature.

 

Nature has been proven to have an incredibly calming effect when I go for a walk in nature, whether that's in a park or a local word. I don't listen to music. I try to notice the world around me the birds, the sounds, the plants, the trees, and try to stay present with it and realise I am a part of nature, but my climate anxiety was still there.

Talking about concerns and worries was also very important, but it took me a while to realise the best way to do this. I would talk to my friends about the climate crisis, but we would easily fall into a spiral of oh, isn't this bad? Or did you hear about this negative climate news story? And sometimes talking about it can feel like action, but it isn't.

 

It is important to share those feelings and to get them off your chest. But now what I found is that if we talk about it in terms of ideas or solutions, by sharing groups or campaigns which are tackling these issues, then together we can turn those feelings into action, but my climate anxiety was still there.

This was because I didn't realise that climate anxiety is also a result of a failure of the systems of power, from government to big business that impact us all.

At the same time, I'd become aware of racial justice issues around the world and thought, what can I do? How can I help people of different races being treated unfairly throughout the world? I set up a group of creatives called Black and Black and I wrote articles, I designed leaflets, and I organised events. The more I learnt, the more I realised that racial justice and climate justice are linked.

 

People in other countries who had contributed the least to cause climate change, suffering the worst effects of it. I found this deeply unfair. I found a way in to the climate movement. And my voice and my identity not only belonged, but a useful. The skills I developed through racial justice campaigning are the same ones needed in the campaign for climate justice.

 

We put so much emphasis on looking to one person, one hero to save us, whether that's Greta Thunberg or whoever. But some people believe that if they're not doing as much, they have no right to be involved.

But no one action will change the world, and no one person is so important that without or with them, they would bring an end to climate change. It will take all of us. Each of us doing what we can together.

They say that action is the antidote to anxiety, and it's not just a phrase. So I set up an Instagram account called Climate and Colour. I never expected it to grow in the way it has, which made me realise I was not alone.

 

I used to worry that I didn't have a purpose or have the ability to make a difference. So I did something about it. I decided to do a PhD to become a doctor in Conservation technology, looking at how tech can monitor changes in forests and improve the variety of animals within them, with the hope that if I can work with local communities to help protect wildlife, I'll be making a difference.

I know that my climate anxiety is not cured. It will not go away permanently, but I now know that it's a perfectly normal response to climate change. Not only is it normal, but I'm proud of it because it shows I care.

 

I now use my climate anxiety as a tool. I do not let it depress me or overwhelm me, but to empower me and motivate me. It motivates me on my journey, a journey that has taken me to some amazing places and to meet some inspirational people.

I have been privileged enough to speak on panels, and to decision makers and world leaders about the climate and biodiversity crisis, but I now know that no single individual can do it all, and it's important not to think that as an individual, all of the responsibility lands on my shoulders, because no one can be a perfect activist, and it's important to be tolerant and to recognise and respect others.

Everyone is on their own journey and their own path, and what works for you might not work for others. So I try to live my life and lead by example.

 

When I started my journey on that March all those years ago, I felt like I didn't belong. I felt shamed and made to feel guilty that I wasn't doing enough. But now those marches are much more diverse, and there are so many different groups representing so many different aspects of the climate crisis. But you don't just have to attend climate protest to be actively doing something for the climate.

You can help researchers by surveying the bird or insect species in your garden. You can find out about tree planting organisations and volunteer days near you. Whatever your passions and interests, there will be a space for you in the climate movement.

So just think what you could do. But remember that you're not on your own. We won't solve the climate crisis with individual action alone. You can be part of a wider movement of people pushing for the change we need, and be proud of your climate anxiety and let it lead you to action.

 

Joycelyn: I've always been interested in nature and the environment. Like any Brit, I grew up watching nature programmes on TV. However, I lived in London where I didn't have much access to nature, but there was a local meadowland where I used to go running.

I remember going on a trip when I was younger to Northern Ireland. We visited an ancient wood and it was there that for the first time I felt a deep connection to nature, so when my friend invited me on a march for nature, it seemed like the right thing to do.

At the climate march, maybe I was a little naive, but I didn't realise the extent of climate change.

 

I felt overwhelmed by the information on the signs and banners. The people there were not like me, and it was a shaming experience where a lot was expected of me and I left it feeling isolated and I didn't belong.

I felt lost. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know how I could get involved. How do I break into the space? If this is who climate activists are, if this is what I meant to be like, then I don't fit in.

Often when we are presented with a threat, it triggers one of three responses fight, flight or freeze. Many people feel so overwhelmed by the threat of climate change, they freeze up and become apathetic or immobilised. Many want to run away from the problem. To ignore it. To dismiss it. To tell themselves it's not real or won't be that bad, or that some invention will save us, but I have always been someone who, if they see an injustice or something wrong in the world, I am motivated to fix it.

 

But what am I meant to do as an individual? How do I get involved? I felt like an outsider. Okay, so I'll change what I can. Food. Clothing. Travel. But others were not doing the same, and this felt stressful and frustrating and my climate anxiety was still there.

My thoughts were telling me I could always do more. I always do. Could always do more. I could always do more. The overwhelming feeling, the racing thoughts, the tight chest, the constant questioning and blaming myself and if I was doing enough was making me depressed.

The climate crisis is a huge topic. It is affected by and affects so many different aspects of the world, from environmental to social to economic to political. It's clear that seemingly small changes can have a huge impact on someone somewhere in the world.

For every tree felled, every half a degree of temperature rise, there will be worse hurricanes, wildfires or floods, which may devastate someone's home, because climate change is such a broad issue. I worry I'm not using my skills in the right area.

At its very worst, this causes me to feel overwhelmed and like I want to disappear. I knew from past experience that exercise is a great way to combat these feelings. Exercise releases chemicals and hormones into the brain that affect how you feel, which can help us to feel less stressed and more clear headed.

Another thing I found helpful was the switch off to stop thinking about it, to take a break and to escape either through a good book or film, or by going for a walk, especially in nature.

 

Nature has been proven to have an incredibly calming effect when I go for a walk in nature, whether that's in a park or a local word. I don't listen to music. I try to notice the world around me the birds, the sounds, the plants, the trees, and try to stay present with it and realise I am a part of nature, but my climate anxiety was still there.

Talking about concerns and worries was also very important, but it took me a while to realise the best way to do this. I would talk to my friends about the climate crisis, but we would easily fall into a spiral of oh, isn't this bad? Or did you hear about this negative climate news story? And sometimes talking about it can feel like action, but it isn't.

 

It is important to share those feelings and to get them off your chest. But now what I found is that if we talk about it in terms of ideas or solutions, by sharing groups or campaigns which are tackling these issues, then together we can turn those feelings into action, but my climate anxiety was still there.

This was because I didn't realise that climate anxiety is also a result of a failure of the systems of power, from government to big business that impact us all.

At the same time, I'd become aware of racial justice issues around the world and thought, what can I do? How can I help people of different races being treated unfairly throughout the world? I set up a group of creatives called Black and Black and I wrote articles, I designed leaflets, and I organised events. The more I learnt, the more I realised that racial justice and climate justice are linked.

 

People in other countries who had contributed the least to cause climate change, suffering the worst effects of it. I found this deeply unfair. I found a way in to the climate movement. And my voice and my identity not only belonged, but a useful. The skills I developed through racial justice campaigning are the same ones needed in the campaign for climate justice.

 

We put so much emphasis on looking to one person, one hero to save us, whether that's Greta Thunberg or whoever. But some people believe that if they're not doing as much, they have no right to be involved.

But no one action will change the world, and no one person is so important that without or with them, they would bring an end to climate change. It will take all of us. Each of us doing what we can together.

They say that action is the antidote to anxiety, and it's not just a phrase. So I set up an Instagram account called Climate and Colour. I never expected it to grow in the way it has, which made me realise I was not alone.

 

I used to worry that I didn't have a purpose or have the ability to make a difference. So I did something about it. I decided to do a PhD to become a doctor in Conservation technology, looking at how tech can monitor changes in forests and improve the variety of animals within them, with the hope that if I can work with local communities to help protect wildlife, I'll be making a difference.

I know that my climate anxiety is not cured. It will not go away permanently, but I now know that it's a perfectly normal response to climate change. Not only is it normal, but I'm proud of it because it shows I care.

 

I now use my climate anxiety as a tool. I do not let it depress me or overwhelm me, but to empower me and motivate me. It motivates me on my journey, a journey that has taken me to some amazing places and to meet some inspirational people.

I have been privileged enough to speak on panels, and to decision makers and world leaders about the climate and biodiversity crisis, but I now know that no single individual can do it all, and it's important not to think that as an individual, all of the responsibility lands on my shoulders, because no one can be a perfect activist, and it's important to be tolerant and to recognise and respect others.

Everyone is on their own journey and their own path, and what works for you might not work for others. So I try to live my life and lead by example.

 

When I started my journey on that March all those years ago, I felt like I didn't belong. I felt shamed and made to feel guilty that I wasn't doing enough. But now those marches are much more diverse, and there are so many different groups representing so many different aspects of the climate crisis. But you don't just have to attend climate protest to be actively doing something for the climate.

You can help researchers by surveying the bird or insect species in your garden. You can find out about tree planting organisations and volunteer days near you. Whatever your passions and interests, there will be a space for you in the climate movement.

So just think what you could do. But remember that you're not on your own. We won't solve the climate crisis with individual action alone. You can be part of a wider movement of people pushing for the change we need, and be proud of your climate anxiety and let it lead you to action.

 

Climate Anxiety

Video length - 09.15
Published date - Nov 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Climate change is a global pressing issue. It affects everyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs. In this film, viewpoints on the climate crisis are explored and we hear about how different faith communities are coming together and focusing on what binds them together to help combat some of the problems the world is facing. The film features representatives from Faith for the Climate, Islamic Relief and Christian Aid.

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-anxiety

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-buddhism

Climate Change: Multi-Faith Views

 

Shanon:  Today we have set up an interfaith stall in lower marsh in London in front of the offices of Islamic Relief UK and Christian Aid, who are both members of Faith for the Climate. They are part of the network with the support of our other members as well, from Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh and other Christian backgrounds and Muslim backgrounds. And we're trying to get people to understand that rich governments and big polluters in the world need to do more to support the communities in the worlds that are suffering from the worst impacts of climate change, especially since they've done the least to cause it. So this campaign is called Make Polluters Pay, and it's about paying up for the loss and damage that's suffered in these other communities in the world. And so often in the news headlines, we see how faith can become a divisive force in the world. But what we know is a network that's doing work on the climate emergency is that there are people of every single faith who want to come together for purposes like this to save the planet for environmental justice. And they come based on different teachings in their faith traditions. So the Buddhists in our network talk about their belief in the interconnectedness of all life. The Hindu based traditions talk about non-violence. The Muslims will talk about the need to respect balance or misran in creation or the trusteeship of God's creation. The Christians will talk about good stewardship. The Jews will talk about tikkun olam or the need to repair the world. And lots of pagans in our network will basically worship nature. When everyone comes together and shares these different teachings, they realize that even though we come from quite different backgrounds, we do have a common purpose. I actually used to work with an oil and gas company in Malaysia, and this is how I saw firsthand how the fossil fuel industry causes environmental damage and then tries to wash its hands off it. There is a concept in Islam that's really important for me personally, which is torba repentance, and there's always hope if you repent. So actually doing climate justice and human rights work, for me, it's now a kind of repentance from having been part of the fossil fuel industry. There is a tradition about the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him in Islam, and it's when a companion of his comes to him a little bit distress and asks him, Please help me to think about sin and righteousness. I want to know the difference. And the prophet jabs him in the heart three times and says, Ask yourself, ask your heart three times. The prophet says that he explains, Sin is that which disturbs your heart. Even though other people say something might be lawful and righteousness is you acting on that, even though other people tell you you don't need to act on it. And this is known as the fatwa or the ruling of the heart. And that is something I hold very close to me. If my heart tells me something is wrong, I know that the prophet says I should listen to it. How could you possibly love God if you don't love your fellow human beings? It's as simple as that. And what does love mean? Love means helping people when they need your help. In the Abrahamic faiths, it's about caring for the stranger, the visitor, the poor person, the orphan, the person in need. That's love. How can you love God if you don't do that? And if we think about what the climate crisis does, it actually makes people lose their homes, lose their jobs, lose their families, lose their health. If you think about how they have to deal with extreme heat and drought and floods and the illness that comes with that, if they're facing that, how could we possibly love God if we don't love them and help them? So one quote that I've come across in my line of work really inspires me. It's from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who was an American rabbi who actually supported the civil rights movement there. He marched alongside Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. So this was in itself is a beautiful example of interfaith friendship. But what Rabbi Heschel said and he was talking in the context of racism and the Holocaust was few are guilty, but all are responsible. And I think that is the way we need to think of what we can do in the climate crisis as well. We all have a role to play. If you know that you are in a position where you have more power and privilege, how can you use more of that power and more of that privilege for climate justice, especially to help people who have less power and less privilege and are suffering more from the climate crisis than you are? So this is why whatever we do, whatever choices we make, won't just affect people on the other side of the world. In the global South, we will be affected to all of us together. If not today, then at some point in the very near future. And this is why it's important for all of us to take action together.

 

Alaa:       As a muslim or those who follow the Muslim faith. We strongly believe in environmentalism. We believe that it's rooted in our tradition. It's rooted in scripture. We looked at the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him as a guiding source for for us in terms of emulating his characters and his attitude to things. And he really valued the environment. And so it's very important for us as Muslims to act on that. We believe that God places on his earth as stewards to look after his green planet. And so that is what inspires me in this role. As I work for Islamic Relief, it inspires me as a muslim and as a worker to do more in this space, because I believe that is something that it serves my religion but also the greater good for the planet.

 

Lydia:     So I think it's important as a Christian to look after the planet because God gave it to us as part of a creation and gave us a role to be a steward over this. It's part about also about showing love to each other and to all elements of nature. And that's part of our faith. We are called Jesus showed us that example to show love to everyone, every neighbor, every individual, everything in the world, every living creature. I think it's everyone's responsibility to look after the planet. And we each can do it in our own individual lives and our own actions. But also it's really important to recognize that governments and companies which have larger power have a larger responsibility. They're global and international. They're big organizations with lots of power, and they can change the structures of our whole world.

 

Alaa:       I think working with other faiths is a fantastic way of bringing people together in a neutral space. For many people, we come from all walks of life. We may believe different things. We might we may feel, you know, follow different deities. But actually, at the heart of it, we believe in some very fundamental principles. It's wonderful to be here today on the sunny, really bright day, working with colleagues across faiths to come together around a combined message. It's great to feel that we're doing something to combat the climate crisis in our own way, as well as just come together around positive action.

 

 

Shanon:  And I wake up in the morning and I come across news about some climate disaster in the world or another, you know, the damage that private jets are causing or the Arctic sea ice melting or wildfires somewhere and people dying. I get really hopeless and terrified and helpless. But when I come out and do things like this and I realize that there are people around me, even people of different faith traditions, but we connect so well because we are so passionate about this issue. I feel inspired and I feel energized. I feel like it's going to be a challenge, but we can do this if we do this together. If you are anxious about climate change, talk about it. There is actually value in making your feelings known and talking to people who feel the same way that you do and finding support with them. And then you realize that it doesn't stop there. You can do things together. You can talk about this with more people and then you can start talking to anyone your local MP, local councillors, local faith leaders, schools, businesses. There are so many charities like Friends of the Earth or Christian Aid or Cafod that have local chapters as well that you could get involved in. And then we realise that when we get together we can do things from very small local actions to the really big stuff that's about changing the system at large and we can do it together.

 

Climate Change: Multi-Faith Views

Video length - 08.13
Published date - Sep 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

The arti ceremony is a form of worship that happens in Hindu temples every day – also known as “an offering of light”. A young Hindu called Pranathi explains it all.

Component 1: The study of religions: beliefs, teaching and practices: Hinduism - Different forms of worship: puja and arati - The rituals of puja and arati and their significance for Hindus.

Area of Study 2 – Hinduism - Section 3: Living the Hindu Life - The nature and purpose of prayer in the temple and the home: the nature, features of use and purpose of the different forms of worship, including meditation, puja, havan, darshan, arti, bhajan, kirtan and japa, with reference to interpretations of Bhagavad Gita 6.44–47; divergent understandings of the benefits for Hindus of having different forms of worship.

Component Group 1 - Beliefs and teachings & Practices - Hinduism - Approaching deity •Different Hindu understandings of the role,forms and importance of the following types of worship: •• Havan or homa •• Puja •• Meditation •• Japa •• Bhajan or kirtan •• Darshan • The nature and importance of sacred places and spaces for Hindu worship: •• Temples •• Shrines •• Sites of pilgrimage •• Outdoors •• Hills and rivers

2.1 Unit 1 PART A - Hinduism - Core beliefs, teachings and practices - Practices Worship  Features and importance of daily puja in the home: (Bhagavad Gita 3:19, 4:38)  Features and importance of congregational puja in the mandir (including devotions to the murti, arti and havan)  Diversity in Vaishnavite and Shaivite worship  Significance of bhakti  Role, importance and features of pilgrimage to Varanasi

2.3 Component 3 (Route A) - Option 2: Hinduism - Places of worship in Britain and elsewhere ➢ Features and importance of daily puja in the home ➢ Features and importance of congregational puja in the mandir ➢ Diversity of views and practices: Vaishnava and Shaiva bhakti ➢ Hindu mandirs in Britain compared to those in India ➢ Features and importance of worship at outdoor shrines Worship/meditation ➢ The significance of different forms of worship/meditation; havan, puja, arati, darshan Bhagavad Gita 9.26, bhajan/kirtan, japa: Bhagavad Gita 3.19, 4.38, 6.11–12 ➢ The importance of focuses of worship and representations of the divine; one god, other deities, holy land, plants and animals: Bhagavad Gita 16.24 ➢ Honouring Gurus and elders

Holy Cribs - Hinduism - The Arti Ceremony

Pranathi: Welcome to the Shree Ganapati Temple for the Aarti ceremony. This is a form of puja or worship that happens every day. It's sometimes called an offering of light because the pujari or priest uses a special lamp with five wicks to perform the ceremony. He lights the five flames, which symbolize the five traditional elements of Earth, air, fire, water and space. The Pujari waves the lamp in front of the deities while singing the Aarti prayer, and everyone joins in with the singing. And by ringing bells and blowing on a Shankar. A Shankar is a conch, a huge seashell. And if you blow into it the right way, it makes a sound like a trumpet. Mortis of the God Vishnu are often holding a conch shell, which symbolizes that God brings life out of the water. The lamb is taken to the main vimana or shrine first and waved in front of the deity. And in our mother, that is Ganesha, the God of wisdom. Then the lamp is taken around all the other deities too. We are showing our love for the deities. And in return we believe that their energy and love for us passes into the flames of the lamp. At the end of the ceremony, the Pujari takes the lamp around the people here so we can pass our hands over the flames to receive the blessing. .

 

Hinduism: The Arti Ceremony

Video length - 02.05
Published date - May 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

A young Hindu called Pranathi explains how all the items on a puja tray are used during worship.

Component 1: The study of religions: beliefs, teaching and practices: Hinduism - Different forms of worship: puja and arati - The rituals of puja and arati and their significance for Hindus.

Area of Study 2 – Hinduism - Section 3: Living the Hindu Life - The nature and purpose of prayer in the temple and the home: the nature, features of use and purpose of the different forms of worship, including meditation, puja, havan, darshan, arti, bhajan, kirtan and japa, with reference to interpretations of Bhagavad Gita 6.44–47; divergent understandings of the benefits for Hindus of having different forms of worship.

Component Group 1 - Beliefs and teachings & Practices - Hinduism - Approaching deity •Different Hindu understandings of the role,forms and importance of the following types of worship: •• Havan or homa •• Puja •• Meditation •• Japa •• Bhajan or kirtan •• Darshan • The nature and importance of sacred places and spaces for Hindu worship: •• Temples •• Shrines •• Sites of pilgrimage •• Outdoors •• Hills and rivers

2.1 Unit 1 PART A - Hinduism - Core beliefs, teachings and practices - Practices Worship  Features and importance of daily puja in the home: (Bhagavad Gita 3:19, 4:38)  Features and importance of congregational puja in the mandir (including devotions to the murti, arti and havan)  Diversity in Vaishnavite and Shaivite worship  Significance of bhakti  Role, importance and features of pilgrimage to Varanasi

2.3 Component 3 (Route A) - Option 2: Hinduism - Places of worship in Britain and elsewhere ➢ Features and importance of daily puja in the home ➢ Features and importance of congregational puja in the mandir ➢ Diversity of views and practices: Vaishnava and Shaiva bhakti ➢ Hindu mandirs in Britain compared to those in India ➢ Features and importance of worship at outdoor shrines Worship/meditation ➢ The significance of different forms of worship/meditation; havan, puja, arati, darshan Bhagavad Gita 9.26, bhajan/kirtan, japa: Bhagavad Gita 3.19, 4.38, 6.11–12 ➢ The importance of focuses of worship and representations of the divine; one god, other deities, holy land, plants and animals: Bhagavad Gita 16.24 ➢ Honouring Gurus and elders

Holy Cribs – The Vimana and Puja Tray

Pranathi: A murti is a statue of a deity, a god or goddess. And Hindus like me use these to help us worship. This is Ganesha, the elephant headed God of wisdom, and he has his own vimana or shrine, which is a small space dedicated to him containing all the things we use to worship him. The murti's are treated as honoured guests and they'll be washed, decorated and given offerings of food every day as signs of respect to the deities they symbolise. Each one of the deities represents one aspect of the personality of the one unseen spirit. Brahman Puja is the name we use for worship or prayer. We often use a tray to hold all things we use in puja. There might be fruit, rice, flowers. Water, a lamp, ash, Kumkum, powder, incense, a bell, all kinds of things to touch, taste, smell here and look at. All five senses are involved as a symbol that the whole person is devoted to the deity. We ring a bell to wake up the murti and to bring people to join in the puja. We have a lamp because light symbolizes enlightenment or understanding. We often use a lamp that burns ghee, which is clarified butter and it smells great. Incense smells great, too. And we burn it in the Mandir and in our homes to purify the air, hiding any nasty smells. It also creates the sort of atmosphere that I've grown up associating with worship. So it helps me get in the right frame of mind. The flowers also smell nice and bring color to the Vimana. A water pot called a kamandalu, and the spoon are used to wash the muthi. And a red powder called kumkum and sandalwood paste are used to anoint the muthi and to make the tilaka marks on our foreheads to show we have been blessed. Prasad is food like fruit nuts or sweets that are offered to the murthis and then shared out to the worshippers after puja. We believe that the deity blesses the food during the puja, so when we eat the Prasad, we receive the blessing.

Hinduism: The Puja Tray

Video length - 03.00
Published date - May 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Holy Cribs: The Mandir

Pranathi gives TrueTube a tour of The Shree Ghanapathy Mandir in South London, explaining its most important features and her beliefs as a Hindu.

Component 1: The study of religions: beliefs, teaching and practices: Hinduism - Different forms of worship: puja and arati - The rituals of puja and arati and their significance for Hindus.

Area of Study 2 – Hinduism - Section 3: Living the Hindu Life - The nature and purpose of prayer in the temple and the home: the nature, features of use and purpose of the different forms of worship, including meditation, puja, havan, darshan, arti, bhajan, kirtan and japa, with reference to interpretations of Bhagavad Gita 6.44–47; divergent understandings of the benefits for Hindus of having different forms of worship.

Component Group 1 - Beliefs and teachings & Practices - Hinduism - Approaching deity •Different Hindu understandings of the role,forms and importance of the following types of worship: •• Havan or homa •• Puja •• Meditation •• Japa •• Bhajan or kirtan •• Darshan • The nature and importance of sacred places and spaces for Hindu worship: •• Temples •• Shrines •• Sites of pilgrimage •• Outdoors •• Hills and rivers

2.1 Unit 1 PART A - Hinduism - Core beliefs, teachings and practices - Practices Worship  Features and importance of daily puja in the home: (Bhagavad Gita 3:19, 4:38)  Features and importance of congregational puja in the mandir (including devotions to the murti, arti and havan)  Diversity in Vaishnavite and Shaivite worship  Significance of bhakti  Role, importance and features of pilgrimage to Varanasi

2.3 Component 3 (Route A) - Option 2: Hinduism - Places of worship in Britain and elsewhere ➢ Features and importance of daily puja in the home ➢ Features and importance of congregational puja in the mandir ➢ Diversity of views and practices: Vaishnava and Shaiva bhakti ➢ Hindu mandirs in Britain compared to those in India ➢ Features and importance of worship at outdoor shrines Worship/meditation ➢ The significance of different forms of worship/meditation; havan, puja, arati, darshan Bhagavad Gita 9.26, bhajan/kirtan, japa: Bhagavad Gita 3.19, 4.38, 6.11–12 ➢ The importance of focuses of worship and representations of the divine; one god, other deities, holy land, plants and animals: Bhagavad Gita 16.24 ➢ Honouring Gurus and elders

Holy Cribs: The Mandir

Pranathi: Welcome to the Shree Ghanapathy Temple. My name is Pranathi and I'm a Hindu. This is a temple or mandir and my dad is one of the priests here, so it's like a second home to me. We come here to worship Brahman, the one supreme spirit which we believe lives in all things. We worship many forms of Brahman, but this temple is especially dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Traditional mandirs usually have a gateway or a tower called a gopuram, which lets you know you're entering a special place. You may also find a statue of an animal or god outside. This is Ganesha, the elephant headed god of wisdom. This is the normal entrance for the mandir. The word mandir comes from the word 'house' in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. We think of the temple as a home for the deities, what we call the gods and goddesses that are inside. When we come into the temple, we respect it like you would when entering the home of a very important person. The entrance area of the mandir is called an ardhamandapa. It's where we take off our shoes and leave them in these racks. This is so we can keep the inside of the building as clean as possible, as another sign of respect. Also, some girls and women like to cover their heads when they come into the mandir. As people enter, they will often ring a bell to announce their arrival, just like you would ring on someone's doorbell.

On special occasions, we will open the main doors of the temple and you'll often see people bending down to touch the steps before they enter. In India, it's tradition that we touch the feet of those we respect, and the step represents the feet of the deities. By the door, this is Bhairavar. He is the protector or guardian of our temple. This is the mandapa, the main prayer hall of the mandir. All around the mandapa, there are deities. Each one has a shrine or vimana, which is a small area of worship. A statue of a deity is called a murti. We treat them as honoured guests, and so they are washed, decorated and given offerings of food every day, as signs of respect to the gods or goddesses they represent. I said outside that we worship one supreme spirit called Brahman who was a part of all things. So each one of the deities is Brahman in human or animal form. They show us many different ways to understand Brahman.

 

This mandir is dedicated to Ganesha, but most mandirs will have a murti of Ganesha near the door. He is a very popular deity because he removes obstacles or problems in people's lives. This is Shiva with his wife, Parvati. We also have murtis of Vishnu and we believe he has come to Earth in different forms. So here he is, as Krishna with Radha. And as Rama with Sita. Puja is the Hindu name for worship or prayer.

A tray is often laid out with various objects to help Hindus in their worship. Fruit, rice, flowers, water, a lamp, holy ash and kumkum powder, incense, a bell. There will be items to touch, taste, smell, hear and look at. All five senses are involved as a symbol that the whole person is devoted to the deity. Prasad is food like fruit, nuts or sweets that is offered to the murtis and then shared out after the puja. We believe that the deities bless the food during the puja. And so if we eat the prasad we will be blessed too. Take a sniff. Incense is burned in mandirs to purify the air, hiding any nasty smells. It also creates an atmosphere that always makes me think of puja. So it helps me to get in the right frame of mind to pray. The main shrine at the front of the mandapa is called a garbha griha, which means womb house. It symbolises the womb or heart of the body because we believe it gives life to the whole mandir. Inside the garbha griha will be a murti of the main deity that the mandir is dedicated to; the deity that most people come to this mandir to worship, which in our case is Ganesha. There is a space or corridor around the garbha griha called the pradakshina. This is so people can walk clockwise all around it. It shows that just like the shrine is at the centre of the circle I'm making as I walk around it, Ganesha is at the centre of my life. Directly above the garbha griha, some mandirs have a spire on the roof called a shikara, or they might even have several shikaras above all the different shrines. They symbolise the Himalayas, the mountains in India, where the deities were believed to live. In fact, shikara means 'mountain peak'. Some mandirs have flags, and the colour of the flags show which deity the mandir is dedicated to. So orange for Shiva and his family, which includes his son Ganesha; and red and white stripes for Swaminarayan.

 

Our priests traditionally come from the Brahmin varna, the top varna or caste in the Indian class system. He's called a pujari, someone who leads puja. This is the arti ceremony. The pujari uses a lamp with five wicks to symbolise the five traditional elements of earth, air, fire, water and space. He waves it in front of the murtis while chanting a prayer. And people ring bells and blow a shankha. A shankha or conch is a huge seashell. And if you blow into it properly, it makes... That sound. The lamp is blessed by the deities during the arti prayer, and then it's taken round the mandapa for us to pass our hands over the flames and then touch our heads to show that we are accepting the deity's blessing.

Mandirs are usually full of decorations and symbols. This one is called the Om, which represents Brahman, the one unseen spirit. The lotus flower grows out of a muddy riverbed to float on the surface, looking all beautiful. So it symbolises that we should try to be pure, even when the world around us is often polluted. And the swastika which represents the sun and God's blessings. Although this one is often misunderstood because it was used by the Nazis in the Second World War, it's a shame because the symbol of blessing was turned into a symbol of hate. But that's not what it means to me. Many mandirs have a hall or other rooms attached that can be used for meetings, education, festivals and lots of other events. And that's it. Thanks for coming to the Shree Ghanapathy Temple. Don't forget your shoes. Thanks for coming, guys. Bye.

 

Holy Cribs: The Mandir

Video length - 08.24
Published date - May 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources
Holy Cribs: The Vihara
A young Buddhist called Hivin welcomes TrueTube to his Vihara in West London. We’re given the full tour while learning about Buddhist beliefs and worship, and even get to see the monks who live there.

Component 1: The study of religions - beliefs, teaching and practices: Buddhism - The nature, use and importance of Buddhist places of worship - Temples, shrines, monasteries (viharas), halls for meditation or learning (gompas) and their key features including Buddha rupa, artefacts and offerings.

Area of Study 3 – Buddhism - Section 3: Living the Buddhist Life - Features of Buddhist places of worship: the divergent nature, history and design of Buddhist places of worship, including temples, gompas, viharas, shrines in Theravada, Mahayana and Triratna Buddhism; how and why the places of worship are used, including reference to the shrine room, shrine facing east, and the library, showing the importance learning, including reference to the Kimsila Sutta. Puja: The nature and purpose of puja in the vihara and the home, including reference to Mangala Sutta; examples of the different types; when each type might be used and why; the importance of having different types of worship and their use in different Buddhist contexts.

Component Group 1–Beliefs and teachings & Practices - Buddhism-Practices - Sacred and significant places and spaces for Buddhists •The importance ,features and functions of: •• Temples •• Gompas and viharas •• Shrines •• Sites of pilgrimage •• Artefacts and offerings •• Retreats •The events that take place in different significant places, including Bodh Gayaand the Deer Park at Sarnath •The meaning and significance of key artefacts and offerings made at different significant places,includingthedifferentimages of the Buddha and his hand positions( mudras) • The purpose and form of retreats • The importance of undertaking pilgrimages • Common and divergent emphases placed on significant places and spaces by different Buddhist groups, including the role and importance of retreats •Different interpretations and emphases given to sources of wisdom and authority by different Buddhist groups

2.1 Unit 1 PART A - Part A - Buddhism - Core beliefs, teachings and practices - Practices Places of 'Worship' and Puja  The importance of features and functions of a vihara/home shrine  Diversity of practices in Theravada and Mahayana puja (Buddha, buddhas, bodhisattvas, mudras, mantras, mandalas)  Dana (giving) – opportunity to make offerings of food to monks.  Examples of the work of sanghas in Wales (Swansea, Cardiff, Raglan)

2.3 Component 3 (Route A) - Option 1: Buddhism - Practices - Buddhist places of worship in Britain and elsewhere ➢ The importance of features and functions of temples and viharas; statues, shrines, stupa and meditation area. Mahayana and Theravada Buddhist temples in Britain compared to those in countries where Buddhism is widely practised. ➢ Offerings: food, light, flowers, incense, offerings of food to monks (dana)

Holy Cribs: The Vihara

 

Hivin:     Hello and welcome to the London Buddhist Vihara. My name is Hivin and I'm a Buddhist. My religion is called Buddhism and our holy building is often called a temple, but the proper name for it is a vihara. And I'm going to show you around. Come on in. The first thing we do is take off our shoes and leave them on this rack. We do this to keep the inside of the building as clean as possible, as a symbol of purity. A vihara is a Buddhist monastery, a place where Buddhist monks live and we do have monks living here. The proper name for a monk is a bhikkhu. Bhikkhus are people who have decided to devote themselves into a spiritual life of simplicity and meditation. Come with me. This is a shrine room. It's the most important part of a vihara or any Buddhist temple. We come here to do puja, which means worship, and to meditate in front of a shrine which contains a statue of the Buddha. The Buddha is not a god. He was a man named Siddhartha Gautama, a royal prince who lived in Nepal about 2500 years ago. The title Buddha means enlightened one or awakened one because we believe that he discovered the truth about the world, how to live a happier and better life. We follow the Buddhist teachings, what we call the dhamma, and we give offerings of flowers, candles, incense, fruit and rice to a statue to show our respect for him. During puja, everyone sits on the floor as a sign of humility and equality. There might be clean sheets spread out on the floor or mats or cushions for people to sit on, so we are comfortable and ready to begin. We often chant words or phrases called sutras, which come from our holy books. This helps us to get into the right frame of mind for meditation, which is a very important part of Buddhism.

 

Meditation is concentrating or thinking deeply, and there are lots of different ways to do it. Meditation helps us to learn how our minds work so we can be like the Buddha and see the world for what it is and how to be happier. I can't control what goes on out there, but I can learn to control what goes on in here. We use bells to start or end a meditation and they can come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Like this bowl shaped one here. These are used because if I hit it. The sound goes on for ages, getting quieter and quieter, and I love it. It really helps me calm down and concentrate on my meditation. Buddhism has a lot of symbols to help us remember the dhamma, the Buddhist teachings, and to help us meditate. The eight spoked wheel is probably the most important and the best known. It's called the Dhamma Wheel, and it represents the noble Eightfold Path; eight principles that the Buddha taught us to live by: Right Understanding; Right Thought; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Livelihood; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; and Right Concentration. This is a stupa. Really big ones are put up in places that are special to Buddhists, like where the Buddha was born or died or visited. Sometimes there are holy books or holy objects inside. For instance, things that used to belong to the Buddha, like clippings of his hair. Little stupas like this may also have something inside, but the shape itself has lots of different meanings. The eight rings around the top are another reminder of the Eightfold Path, which points towards the sky to symbolise the journey towards enlightenment. Which is when you know the truth about the world like the Buddha did. Some

 

Buddhists use a prayer wheel. It has sutras, words from a holy books, written around the outside and you hold the handle and spin it around. As it turns, the words are spread out into the air to bless everyone around. You sometimes get big ones to touch the walls or even turned by windmills or water wheels. Sutras are also written or printed onto flags which are hung up outside so that the wind can carry the blessings away to everyone. And we also have the stripey flag. The colours all have a meaning. Blue stands for peace and compassion. Yellow for the dhamma. Red for blessing. White for purity. Orange for wisdom. And all five together stand for unity. Mandala means circle or centre. Some Buddhists use these patterns to help them meditate. They are full of symbols with lots of different meanings. You see lotus flowers a lot in Buddhist art. Lotus flowers symbolise purity because they grow out of the mud at the bottom of lakes and rivers and float above it all, looking beautiful. It reminds us to be pure in an impure world. Welcome to our library. We have lots of holy books and books about the holy books. The most important are called the Tripitaka because that's where we find the teachings of the Buddha. My favourite is called the Dhammapada. These books were originally written in Pali, which was a language that used to be spoken during Buddha's time. And traditionally they were written on palm leaves. So we get these old odd shaped books with long, thin pages. And this is our meeting hall. We have lots of events here, like festivals and fundraisers for charity. Everything we do in the vihara is to help the Sangha, the community, and to support the bhikkhus who teach us and help us to become better Buddhists. Thanks for coming. You're welcome anytime. Bye.

 

Holy Cribs: The Vihara

Video length - 06.38
Published date - May 2023
Keystage(s) - 2, 3 and 4
Downloadable resources