Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Buddhism and the Environment

Nick Wallis, FWBO

To live in harmony with nature is a crucial Buddhist practice. When we look at the traditional Buddhist texts, there seems to be very little direct reference to what would these days be called environmental or ecological ideas. As we enter the world in which the Buddha lived and taught, the reason becomes clear: a culture that lived in far greater harmony with its environment, if sometimes at its mercy, simply didn't need an "Environmental Movement."

The strong connection people felt with nature is illustrated in the story of the Buddha's life. Most of the significant events occur in the countryside and are associated with trees. At his birth in the garden of Lumbini, his mother grasped the branch of a Sal tree. He experienced his first meditative absorption (jhana) beneath a Rose Apple tree. His great enlightenment took place beneath a Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa). His passing into final nirvana was between twin Sal trees.

So in seeking to apply the Dharma to the arena of the environment, we must look for underlying principles appropriate to the very different world we inhabit. We don't have to look very far. In the vision of universal interdependence, one of the flowers of the Buddha's Teaching of Conditioned Co-production, we have a basic insight into our relationship with nature. More>>