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BUDDHISM and our attitude towards NATURE?
October 24th, 2012

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

BUDDHISM and our attitude towards NATURE?

Nature is not necessarily an obvious concern of Buddhism, but it re-appears on the map pretty early when practising.

The first precept —refrain from killing— applies to all beings. Although it may be possible to rank beings (human first as the one benefitting from the best circumstances right now to achieve liberation, then animals having the same six sense faculties, then vegetables having only one sense faculty… with other beings ranked as per their circumstances), at the end of the day, "refrain from killing" applies to all and hence notably covers all living forms in nature.

The cynics might consider that some Vinaya rules have been laid purely to avoid shocking the lay population (whose satisfaction was crucial to support the monastic community with alms). For example, rules against cutting trees might relate to beliefs in the population that a God might reside in the tree. Or rules about rainy seasons seem almost 'forced' as an expectation the population developed in contact to the Jain renunciates. And while there is some undebatable point in these, it would also miss several dimensions of the Buddhist teachings (rather than simply ensuring lay support and alms).
Buddhism explicitly calls for moderation, and as such calls for the avoidance of unnecessary food and drinks. In itself, this contributes to an idea that harm to nature should never be for an extra, for seeking pleasure out of more than one needs. The pleasure will be short-lived, stomach pain and indigestion and intestinal problems easily come to who eats too much… Buddhism —with proper wisdom— could be a good cure against obesity in the world.

Avoiding un-necessary consumption protects the planet not only by not killing and cutting, but also by reducing waste and pollution.

Moreover, while Buddhists might interpret some lives in relation to karma, inflicting pain to 'lower' beings (e.g. being cruel to animals simply because they are animals hence probably did not have as good a karma as humans at the time of their previous death) would be totally wrong: violence would hurt our karma, create a habit of violence, create the delusion that it is okay and justificable and acceptable… violence would thus bring extremely bad karma for us, on top of endangering the life of another being thus making it less likely for them to earn merits thus hurting our karma even more!
The delusion of separation and the arrogance of being human are among the bigger risk faced by people who considers nature can be ignored or worse (exploited, destroyed). A basic teaching of Buddhism is karma, and while interpretations from the second and third Turning of the Wheel of Dharma may be more tenuous than the initial Pāḷi Canon, it remains clear in all cases that Buddhism calls for a virtuous life. And Virtue grows hand in hand with wisdom, and wisdom clearly attacks the sense of separation as a delusion, maybe the biggest delusion of all: a sense of separate self!
As such, nature is little mentioned in the sūtras, a lot more in the vinaya, but in all cases nature should not be seen as separate. Without nature providing food, we die. Conditioned phenomena should make us appreciate and show gratitude to what nature provides, and the most primordial form of appreciation is in not wasting and not impeding growth.

Not wasting natural resources and not destroying/polluting are obvious consequences of the holy life, as a monastic and as a layperson. Even destroying minerals (not alive) should be considered wisely, because ecological systems are fragile, and destroying minerals may impact vegetable life, which in turn may impact animal life, which may in turn impact us and make it harder for all beings to reach nirvāṇa by threatening the security of all.

The risk of extremes applies though: we are part of nature. Asceticism (possibly justified to protect nature and all life) may lead to the highest abode but it does not lead to nirvāṇa. Maintaining human life —in particular when the Dharma is known— is maintaining the form of life most likely to enter nirvāṇa, so it is important to maintain human life, and this requires some minimal consumption. Buddhism does not support asceticism, but it does support moderation. It supports via the teachings on karma to consider the consequences of our acts (including in threatening the chance of liberation of future beings). Many forms of Buddhism support vegetarianism, but even this is not a licence to waste vegetables!

Buddhism pushes us to see ourselves as part of the whole, individualised enough to pay attention to our own acts, not separate enough to exist without paying attention!

#buddhistcircle   #Buddhism  
by John Hardy Turnbull delenda est:
 “There has been no statistically significant warming since X″ 

Where X is chosen to be less than the number of years required to produce statistical significance*. Carefully choosing this date range you may even succeed in showing a temperature decline.

This is the kind of shenanigans Global Warming "Skeptics" get up to all the time. These people are professional liars.

* "Roughly speaking, to see a significant upward trend in a noisy time series, the trend, multiplied by the number of years of data, needs to be about twice the standard deviation of the random variation about trend. So, if you have an upward trend of 0.015 degrees per year, and a standard deviation of 0.1 (these are estimates, but feel free to check) you typically need 14 or 15 years of data to see a statistically significant trend."