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).

Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:50 am

SDC wrote:I think it comes down to how much time and energy are going to be devoted to GW (or any other issue). If we’re talking about forgoing or sacrificing progress along the path for these issues then we have chosen NOT to make pursuit of the dhamma the priority. There is no way to justify the efforts to solve worldly issues as anything more than the making of very noble merit, which is NOT the same thing as progress towards nibbana. It is a very good thing, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the same. Can you do both? Yes! Of course you can, but to not acknowledge the difference between ‘making merit through worldly efforts’ and ‘progress to awakening’ is misleading. And either can be done without the other.
It sounds as if "progress to awakening" has nothing to do with interactions in daily life, that it has nothing to do with the kitchen sink, changing a diaper (nappie), talking to your neighbor, doing your job to earn your money to buy your bread, voting in a election, volunteering at an animal shelter, being active in a "trendy issue" that seriously concerns the welfare of the whole world, both in the short term and long term.

While "making merit" is important, I am not talking about just that. Progress to awakening is not limited to just the time sitting on one's butt waiting for the timer to go off. Progress to awakening is an ongoing, never turned off, process. Learning that takes time and insight. There are times in one's life where there needs periods of withdrawal to focus on the practice, and how individuals do that is going to vary greatly. Progress to awakening can also find a place in involvement in "worldly trendy efforts" as it can with caring for one's kids. And this is going to play out differently for each individual.
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 SarathW » Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:54 am

There are many worldly problems in addition to climate change.
Poverty, wars, discrimination , sickness, disasters name a few (all Dukkhas).
An individual can't solve all these problems.
But individual can refrain from contribution to it.
Most of the time we criticise others without seen that we are also contributing to the problem.
So best course of action is to you look after yourself and teach others if possible.
Worldings has the responsibility to involve with above issues. (They have worldly objectives and they are contributing to it)
Monks should not involve with those worldly issues. (They have supermundane objectives and they are not contributers)
:shrug:
Last edited by SarathW on Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:It sounds as if "progress to awakening" has nothing to do with interactions in daily life, that it has nothing to do with the kitchen sink, changing a diaper (nappie), talking to your neighbor, doing your job to earn your money to buy your bread, voting in a election, volunteering at an animal shelter, being active in a "trendy issue" that seriously concerns the welfare of the whole world, both in the short term and long term.

While "making merit" is important, I am not talking about just that. Progress to awakening is not limited to just the time sitting on one's butt waiting for the timer to go off. Progress to awakening is an ongoing, never turned off, process. Learning that takes time and insight. There are times in one's life where there needs periods of withdrawal to focus on the practice, and how individuals do that is going to vary greatly. Progress to awakening can also find a place in involvement in "worldly trendy efforts" as it can with caring for one's kids. And this is going to play out differently for each individual.


tilt, if you were curious about what I meant about "progress towards awakening" then you could have asked me to unpack it for clarification. Filling in the blanks with these assumptions misrepresents my position. I know you mean nothing by it, but at least give me that chance next time.

All I do is interact socially, all day, with my wife, my daughter, her diapers, other drivers on my commute to the city, all my coworkers, random strangers, and whatever else may come along. So I have a wonderful opportunity to develop and perfect sila which is a MAJOR step towards awakening. My daily life and my immediate experience is where it is at for me. Everything is my practice. All I do all day 24/7 is analyze my experience and for the record I barely sit, and that is by choice. So I am very very very well aware of the point you are making and it is a good point.

Like I said can you do both? Yes, you can be involved in these issues and make progress. I clearly stated that. However you best have a strong foothold in dhamma before you get involved TO THE POINT WHERE YOU ARE DEDICATING YOUR LIFE TO A CAUSE, i.e. not normal everyday life, because if you don't that may ship will set sail without you and you'll be left with nothing but merit in the end. If you forgo or sacrifice that chance to get that foothold then you have gone away from the dhamma. If you find a balance which allows your practice flourish while aiding these causes then you're alright.

Please, if you need clarification just ask.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:01 am

SDC wrote:
Please, if you need clarification just ask.
Thank you for your response. It probably would have helped had you not drawn the distinction between "progress to awakening" and "making merit," instead simply stated what you stated in the immediate msg above.
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 SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:06 am

But they are distinct and making merit is not a requirement for progress. Yes it is possible to do it while making progress but it is not a necessity.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:26 am

SDC wrote:But they are distinct and making merit is not a requirement for progress. Yes it is possible to do it while making progress but it is not a necessity.
You drew a distinction, seemingly characterizing an involvement with working against climate change as being a merit making activity, and that is what I was responding to.
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 Mkoll » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:49 am

alan wrote:First off, it's a not a moral concern from the perspective of a monk. The question should be formulated as a social concern, which would put it beyond their realm. That way, we would all not have to grind our teeth while reading posts asking questions such as "Where in the suttas did the Buddha say that?"
[emphasis added]

Yes! That's what I've been blubbering about this whole thread. :cry:
Peace,
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:04 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
SDC wrote:But they are distinct and making merit is not a requirement for progress. Yes it is possible to do it while making progress but it is not a necessity.
You drew a distinction, seemingly characterizing an involvement with working against climate change as being a merit making activity, and that is what I was responding to.


I'm going to say this another way, not because I do not think you understand my point - I know you do - but I gave it some thought and there is another way to look at it.

A byproduct of strong sila in the lay life will be a more peaceful external situation, and of course the extent of that peace beyond the immediate experience will be dependent on your position in society, the amount of people you encounter on a daily basis, and the extent to which you choose (or have the means) to go outside your immediate situation towards something bigger such as world hunger. But, in the very least, strong sila in your immediate situation will bring about peace. So, for the lay person in society, "making merit" is inevitable, however the concern for dhamma practitioner is not this merit, but to lay the groundwork for right samadhi. So it is important to point out that two things are happening here, but only one can stand alone as an element of progress.

Now, it seems there is the assertion that a reversal of this scenario brings about the same result - that if one were to be involved in the bigger issues beyond the immediate experience and it brings about beneficial change that it is going to lead to "progress towards nibbana". Not only that, but that it is a requirement, a responsibility. But, as I said in a past thread about "engagement", if proper sila is not also being developed and perfected in the immediate experience then "progress towards nibbana" is not going to automatically follow. So to say GW (or any other issue out in the world) is a "moral concern" for the lay disciple, a follower of the dhamma, is correct only to the extent that the immediate is being tended to as well. "Worldly engagement", in and of itself, on its own, is not part of the path and will not yield the same results as sila in the immediate. And in the end, both lay and monastics can choose to engage only with the most immediate situation and develop proper sila and progress towards nibbana without DIRECTLY engaging in these broader issues.

Bottom line [of my point in this thread]: "worldly engagement" (issues beyond the immediate) is not a requirement on the path to nibbana, but can be a wonderful and beneficial byproduct of those with strong sila and the means to reach beyond their immediate situation.

EDIT - Clarification - parenthetical is last sentence.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby Mkoll » Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:37 pm

SDC,

:goodpost:
Peace,
James
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:04 pm

SDC wrote: "worldly engagement" is not a requirement on the path to nibbana, but can be a wonderful and beneficial byproduct of those with strong sila and the means to reach beyond their immediate situation.
The problem is that there is always "worldly engagement," whether you want it or not, and it is part of our "immediate situation."
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 SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:07 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
SDC wrote: "worldly engagement" is not a requirement on the path to nibbana, but can be a wonderful and beneficial byproduct of those with strong sila and the means to reach beyond their immediate situation.
The problem is that there is always "worldly engagement," whether you want it or not, and it is part of our "immediate situation."


Indeed. I was referring to the broader issues.

EDIT - The issues that are sought outside of the immediate.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:11 pm

SDC wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
SDC wrote: "worldly engagement" is not a requirement on the path to nibbana, but can be a wonderful and beneficial byproduct of those with strong sila and the means to reach beyond their immediate situation.
The problem is that there is always "worldly engagement," whether you want it or not, and it is part of our "immediate situation."


Indeed. I was referring to the broader issues.

EDIT - The issues that are sought outside of the immediate.
Dealing with "broader issues" is always in "the immediate."
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 SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:13 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Dealing with "broader issues" is always in "the immediate."


It will be if you make that extra effort to seek it out. It is that extra effort that is optional IMO.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:17 pm

SDC wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Dealing with "broader issues" is always in "the immediate."


It will be if you make that extra effort to seek it out. It is that extra effort that is optional IMO.
Whatever that means.
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 Mkoll » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:19 pm

Here's an example to support SDC's point, as I see it.

Take the radical environmentalists who destroy property, e.g. the ELF. Clearly, these people have a much higher devotion to worldly engagement and other broad issues (like climate change) than any of us here. But their personal ethics are lacking because they are willing to destroy the property of others against their will.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:30 pm

Mkoll wrote:Here's an example to support SDC's point, as I see it.

Take the radical environmentalists who destroy property, e.g. the ELF. Clearly, these people have a much higher devotion to worldly engagement and other broad issues (like climate change) than any of us here. But their personal ethics are lacking because they are willing to destroy the property of others against their will.
And no one here, except you, is talking about radical, property destroying environmentalists. I would assume that we are talking about practicing Buddhists, hopefully, with some degree of maturity of practice.
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 SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:43 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Whatever that means.


It means that knowledge of what is going on in the world – beyond what is immediately encountered – first requires the gathering of information. Acquiring that information takes an extra effort; it is not always there in front of you. Of course even if you do not encounter any media outlets throughout the day you will hear rumblings from other people, but in order to get the proper information and then get involved takes an extra effort that one is going to choose or not choose to make. If you do, said issue becomes more immediate than it once was (which is what I thought you were inferring). But making such efforts, however minor they may seem, are not a requirement on the path to nibbana.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:46 pm

SDC wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Whatever that means.


It means that knowledge of what is going on in the world – beyond what is immediately encountered – first requires the gathering of information. Acquiring that information takes an extra effort; it is not always there in front of you. Of course even if you do not encounter any media outlets throughout the day you will hear rumblings from other people, but in order to get the proper information and then get involved takes an extra effort that one is going to choose or not choose to make. If you do, said issue becomes more immediate than it once was (which is what I thought you were inferring). But making such efforts, however minor they may seem, are not a requirement on the path to nibbana.
Everything you are describing is, in fact, immediately experienced.
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 SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:47 pm

Mkoll wrote:Here's an example to support SDC's point, as I see it.

Take the radical environmentalists who destroy property, e.g. the ELF. Clearly, these people have a much higher devotion to worldly engagement and other broad issues (like climate change) than any of us here. But their personal ethics are lacking because they are willing to destroy the property of others against their will.


An extreme example of non-Buddhists, but if you were make it less extreme and apply it to the subject at hand it definitely ties into what I'm saying.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Postby SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:59 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Everything you are describing is, in fact, immediately experienced.


We can speak of this phenomenologically if you prefer, but all I am trying to get across is that direct engagement with an issue beyond your daily life can either be pursued or not pursued with no effect on progress.
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