Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:14 am

Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Climate change continues to be too abstract a concept for most (even Buddhists) in developed countries to empathize with. But now we know that, left unconstrained, its effects will ravage significant, irreplaceable parts of the Buddhist world. When framed this way, climate change becomes a much more visceral threat to our global Buddhist community. The devastation awaiting (and already occurring in) countries as diverse as Bangladesh and Afghanistan should be a moral and spiritual spur for Buddhists to take action. United action begins with a renewed exploration of what it means to commit to Right Action and Right Livelihood, the critical dimensions that will either contribute to or alleviate climate change.

http://newlotus.buddhistdoor.com/en/news/d/40847


Do you agree that climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists?
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:40 am

Of course. It's why I spend so much time on climate change threads here and on the other DW, and why I volunteer for greenie groups in my community.
I'm by no means the only one or the first: http://www.ecobuddhism.org
And apart from the issues mentioned in the OP, there is inter-generational equity to consider.

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Anagarika » Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:46 am

I agree, and agree that the Eightfold Path contemplates this engaged Buddhist practice. Mindless misuse and abuse of our planet leads not just to climate change, but to drought, disease and starvation patterns around the globe, resulting in the avoidable deaths of many. The First Precept frames the issue this way: "In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression. This is the first gift, the first great gift — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — that is not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and is unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives & brahmans..."
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby cooran » Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:49 am

Yes. And if it isn't, it should be. Particularly for Aussie Buddhists with the "what climate change? - I see no evidence of such a thing" government we have here. Scary.

With metta,
Chris
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Mkoll » Sat Jul 19, 2014 4:53 am

Ben wrote:
Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Climate change continues to be too abstract a concept for most (even Buddhists) in developed countries to empathize with. But now we know that, left unconstrained, its effects will ravage significant, irreplaceable parts of the Buddhist world. When framed this way, climate change becomes a much more visceral threat to our global Buddhist community. The devastation awaiting (and already occurring in) countries as diverse as Bangladesh and Afghanistan should be a moral and spiritual spur for Buddhists to take action. United action begins with a renewed exploration of what it means to commit to Right Action and Right Livelihood, the critical dimensions that will either contribute to or alleviate climate change.

http://newlotus.buddhistdoor.com/en/news/d/40847


Do you agree that climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists?

Climate change is a very important moral concern for society and its members, including Buddhists. No question. But I think there are more important moral concerns that are, and have been for a long time, in need of immediate attention. Such as feeding the hungry of the world and providing clean water for those without it.

I just don't see how society can effectively act compassionately for the yet-to-be suffering of unborn human beings if we can't even relieve the current suffering of those alive now.

Hunger and Poverty

Worldwide, 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty — on less than $1.25 per day.1
There has been a reduction of more than 34 percent in global hunger since 1990.2
Roughly 1 billion men, women, and children are food-insecure.3
Analysts forecast a period of volatile food prices over the next decade, which could lead to instability in poor countries.
An increase in the global population to 9 billion people by 2050 will require a 70 percent increase in agricultural production.4
About 75% of the world’s poor people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood.


Malnutrition

Between 2010 and 2012 an estimated 868 million people were undernourished and more than 100 million children under age five were undernourished and underweight.5
Around the world, 178 million children under 5 are stunted, low height for age. Of all stunted children, 90 percent live in just 36 countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Central Asia.
In countries with high levels of childhood malnutrition, the economic loss can be as high as 2-3 percent of GDP.
A population too malnourished to work suffers long-term economic consequences. A malnourished person can suffer a 10 percent reduction in his/her lifetime earnings, while countries can see 2 to 3 percent annual reductions.6

http://www.bread.org/hunger/global/facts.html


About 2.6 billion people – half the developing world – lack even a simple ‘improved’ latrine and 1.1 billion people has no access to any type of improved drinking source of water. As a direct consequence:

1.6 million people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases (including cholera) attributable to lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation and 90% of these are children under 5, mostly in developing countries;
160 million people are infected with schistosomiasis causing tens of thousands of deaths yearly; 500 million people are at risk of trachoma from which 146 million are threatened by blindness and 6 million are visually impaired;
intestinal helminths (ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm infection) are plaguing the developing world due to inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene with 133 million suffering from high intensity intestinal helminths infections; there are around 1.5 million cases of clinical hepatitis A every year.

http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/mdg1/en/
Peace,
James
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:26 am

Hi James,
The consensus view of most climate scientists indicate that the problems you mentioned would worsen by orders of magnitude if action was not taken.

Thank you everyone for responding. What I would like to understand is how your Buddhist ethics and practice informs your view that climate change is a profound moral concern.
Thanks,
Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:59 am

What a perverse way of thinking! Climate change is not what Buddhists need to concern themselves with. They need to take care to change their mental, verbal, and physical behaviour. That alone can bring happiness to themselves, to their families, and to their broader social contacts. Buddhists should practice well, without concerning themselves with what others do or do not do.
“Disregard the faults of others, things done and left undone by others,
but examine the deeds done and not done by oneself.” (Dhp v 50)


The Exposition of Effacement
“Other people may harm living beings. However, we will not harm any living thing. Thus, you should practise effacement that will lessen the defilements.”
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:44 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:What a perverse way of thinking! Climate change is not what Buddhists need to concern themselves with. They need to take care to change their mental, verbal, and physical behaviour. That alone can bring happiness to themselves, to their families, and to their broader social contacts. Buddhists should practice well, without concerning themselves with what others do or do not do.
Where is Thich Nhat Hanh when you need him?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:46 am

tiltbillings wrote:Where is Thich Nhat Hanh when you need him?

Too busily engaged in practising the Dhamma to visit Internet forums?
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:49 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Where is Thich Nhat Hanh when you need him?

Too busily engaged in practising the Dhamma to visit Internet forums?
That says something to his credit, it would seem.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby LXNDR » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:06 am

i don't see how such concern could map into the precepts for example

saving the world doesn't seem a Dhammic goal

there's no reason why activism on the environmental front has to bear marks of any religious affiliation whatsoever or why these marks should be emphasized
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:09 am

LXNDR wrote:i don't see how such concern could map into the precepts for example

saving the world doesn't seem a Dhammic goal

there's no reason why activism on the environmental front has to bear marks of any religious affiliation whatsoever
It does not have to, but it can.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:25 am

"Bhikkhus, all is burning. And what is the all that is burning?

"The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs.


If Buddhists would just try to extinguish this fire, that is all that they need to do.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Ben » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:32 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
"Bhikkhus, all is burning. And what is the all that is burning?

"The eye is burning, forms are burning, eye-consciousness is burning, eye-contact is burning, also whatever is felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant that arises with eye-contact for its indispensable condition, that too is burning. Burning with what? Burning with the fire of lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion. I say it is burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs.


If Buddhists would just try to extinguish this fire, that is all that they need to do.


Thank you Bhante.
Should we not do anything for the physical benefit and welfare of others?
Kind regards,
Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:45 am

LXNDR wrote:i don't see how such concern could map into the precepts for example

saving the world doesn't seem a Dhammic goal

No, the precepts are not about this sort of thing, and "saving the world", whatever that means, is not on the Noble Eightfold Path. However, I do recall some teachings here and there on compassion, on not harming any sentient being ... that sort of thing. And there are the Brahmaviharas ... quite a lot, really, although the Mahayanists do do this sort of thing better.

Climate change looks likely to bring enormous suffering to tens of millions of people. To choose to ignore it, or (worse) increase it, is to ignore or inflict suffering.

:meditate:
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Jul 19, 2014 10:55 am

Kim OHara wrote:
LXNDR wrote:i don't see how such concern could map into the precepts for example

saving the world doesn't seem a Dhammic goal

No, the precepts are not about this sort of thing, and "saving the world", whatever that means, is not on the Noble Eightfold Path. However, I do recall some teachings here and there on compassion, on not harming any sentient being ... that sort of thing. And there are the Brahmaviharas ... quite a lot, really, although the Mahayanists do do this sort of thing better.

Climate change looks likely to bring enormous suffering to tens of millions of people. To choose to ignore it, or (worse) increase it, is to ignore or inflict suffering.

:meditate:
Kim


A couplle of texts:

All tremble at punishment.
Life is dear to all.
Put yourself in the place of others;
kill none nor have another killed.
-- Dhp 130

"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.
Sn 705

I am a friend and helper to all,
I am sympathetic to all living beings.
I develop a mind full of love
and always delight in harmlessness.

I gladden my mind, fill it with joy,
make it immovable and unshakable.
I develop the divine states of mind
not cultivated by evil men.
Thag 648-9
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby LXNDR » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:19 am

Kim OHara wrote:
LXNDR wrote:i don't see how such concern could map into the precepts for example

saving the world doesn't seem a Dhammic goal

No, the precepts are not about this sort of thing, and "saving the world", whatever that means, is not on the Noble Eightfold Path. However, I do recall some teachings here and there on compassion, on not harming any sentient being ... that sort of thing. And there are the Brahmaviharas ... quite a lot, really, although the Mahayanists do do this sort of thing better.

Climate change looks likely to bring enormous suffering to tens of millions of people. To choose to ignore it, or (worse) increase it, is to ignore or inflict suffering.

:meditate:
Kim



then the Buddhists need to fly instead of walking, because when walking they're killing thousands of insects, and this is real tangible harm, unlike hypothetical indirect harm through climate change, which a person may even not be a contributor to

and there're children dying in Africa

if a buddhist goes on a 'save the world' campaign s/he might be left with little time for saving his/herself

regardless of how climate processes unfold samsara continues

yet if s/he engages in such campaigns, his/her buddhist affiliation should not be stressed, because the motives for engagement in them are not representative of the buddhist teaching, for being socially active making one's creed known isn't necessary, because aims of spiritual disciplines usually diverge with mundane concerns

it's the same as with vegetarianism or veganism, the Buddha didn't encourage it, so anyone going vegetarian or vegan does it at one's own discretion and out of one's own perception of what's right, not as an act of following the Dhamma
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:29 am

Ben wrote:Should we not do anything for the physical benefit and welfare of others?

The removal of greed, hatred, and delusion is for the benefit and welfare of others. How could you help others without doing that?

Khadiravaniya Revata Thera, whose verses from Thag 648-9 are quoted above, delighted in Solitude. While another monk was busy ‘helping others’ by sweeping the compound, he was ‘busy’ meditating.

Revata loved solitude, and, on one occasion (DhA.iii.325f), a lay disciple named Atula, hearing that he was in Sāvatthi, went with five hundred others to hear him teach. However, Revata said that he delighted in solitude and refused to address them, and Atula went away complaining.

Revata’s delight in solitude was sometimes misunderstood. For instance, Sammuñjanī Thera went about continually sweeping, and, seeing Revata sitting cross-legged, thought him an idler. Revata read his thoughts and admonished him.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby thepea » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:39 am

No, I do not believe it is.

We are simply to see things as they are, from moment to moment, and not how we would like them to be. Climate issues are divisive by nature and lead further from the goal.
I believe however that as one progresses on the path a simplicity in the way one goes about their days becomes apparent, this simplicity is naturally less impactful on ones environment.
One comes out of destructive behaviours.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jul 19, 2014 11:48 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Ben wrote:Should we not do anything for the physical benefit and welfare of others?

The removal of greed, hatred, and delusion is for the benefit and welfare of others. How could you help others without doing that?

Well, you could feed them when they are hungry. You could splint a broken leg for them if you had the skills. You could suggest they move off the railway line before a train hit them. You could give them an umbrella to keep the rain off them.
Lots of ways, really. And most of your acts, while helping them, lessen your own greed, hatred and/or delusion.

:meditate:
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