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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Buddhism and Ecology

September 19, 2010

Martine Batchelor and Kerry Brown,
Times of India
September 18, 2010

Dharma, for Buddhists, is the sacred law,
morality and the teachings of the Buddha. It is
also all things in nature. Cats, dogs, penguins,
trees, humans, mosquitoes, sunlight, leaf dew are
all dharmas. So at its very essence, Buddhism can
be described as an ecological religion or a religious ecology.

The principles of love, compassion and respect
for all life, are familiar to the Western mind
but in recent centuries, we have restricted them
to humans only. Even the law of karma (cause and
effect) has some place in our thinking although
without the universal and inescapable power it is
given in Buddhist thought. The law of karma
ultimately places mind as the first cause. It is
the maker and the shaper of our personal and global destiny.

Our birth and existence is dependent on causes
outside ourselves, inextricably linking us with
the world and denying us any autonomous
existence. Indeed when we think deeply enough,
the borders between our self and the world wash
away like water in water. We and all of nature
are inseparable, entwined, one. Compassion for
others should be as natural and instinctive as
compassion for us and our own bodies.

This is perhaps the most striking and difficult
idea of Buddhism and the one most misunderstood
-- that there is no independent individual self.
Yet the individual self is one of the western
world's most cherished beliefs and greatest
source of suffering. It is what separates us from
the world and causes us to cling to it with the
stranglehold of the drowning. To be enlightened
is to awaken from this delusion.

To transform the world, we must begin by
transforming ourselves ... by discovering our true Buddha (enlightened) nature.

As the primacy of the individual and individual
desire has continued to grow exponentially in the
shadow of the industrialising world, two
questions have arisen, says Timmerman: 'How can
we deny people their right to self-fulfillment?
Yet how can we survive on a planet of ten billion
points of infinite greed? This is the point at
which the more challenging aspects of Buddhism
present 'a serious alternative basis for
environmental thought and action'. Timmerman
argues that to be a Buddhist today is a
geopolitical act, taking us away from the ethos
of the individual and its bondage to the consumer
ethic and providing us 'with a working space
within which to stand back from our aggressive
culture and consider the alternative. This
working space, with its ways of carefully
considering and meditating on what we do, is part
of what can be called 'non-violent thinking.'

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in his Nobel Peace
Prize acceptance speech said: "We must develop a
sense of universal responsibility not only in the
geographic sense, but also in respect to the
different issues that confront our planet.
Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders
of our countries or with those who have been
appointed or elected to do a particular job. It
lies with each of us individually. Peace, for
example, starts within each one of us. When we
have inner peace, we can be at peace with those
around us. When our community is in a state of
peace, it can share that peace with neighbouring communities, and so on.

It is my dream that the entire Tibetan plateau
should become a free refuge where humanity and
nature can live in peace and in harmonious
balance ... Tibet could become a creative centre
for the promotion and development of peace."

(Excerpt from Buddhism And Ecology, MLBD)

Read more: Buddhism and ecology - The Times of
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