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Buddhism and the Environment

BrownbuddhaBrownbuddha Osaka, Japan Explorer

Greetings,
I am wondering who practices Buddhist environmentalism, as in doing something to ease the suffering of the planet and other life forms as part of their Buddhist practice? In other words, who sees the world as a living being, who has concerns for other life forms who live on her/it, beside humans and does something to ease the suffering as part of their Buddhist practice. Or is your practice mostly about enlightenment, or easing other Peoples suffering?

Recycling, careful with plastics use and trash, etc, to me is as much as part of the precepts as the plain statement do not kill. Or is the environment a separate issue for many ? I see many threads about meditation, music, breathing, styles of Zen, but none, that have to do with our oneness with all things. Just asking, because I have an inquiring mind.

Thanks _/|_

Comments

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I recycle any and all (mostly plastic bottles) and the usual glass bottles and aluminum although I rarely buy anything in aluminum. This is nothing new for me - I've been doing it all my life. But I'm a tree hugger, nature lover, etc. I grew up with folks who were very conscientious about that kind of thing.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited August 2016

    Hello.
    I practice environmental Buddhism. In other words the location dictates the nature of the dharma. I like to recycle sentient fish by eating them. Also I feel people need extra suffering to experience the First Noble Truth.
    I also recycle ideas into plastic bins for any enquiring minds to empty their rubbish. Usually getting in to the recycling bin myself first ...

    However in the sense you mean, the answer is 'I am Green'. B)

    BhikkhuJayasaraSteve_Brohit
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    I definitely practice environmentalism. I went into energy management decades ago because of the impact of energy use on carbon emissions, after reading a few Amory Lovins books.

    Like many other left wing psycho ecofreaks, I see connections between environmentalism and pretty much everything. All the world's a nail. That doesn't mean the connections are necessarily really there, it just means that I see them.

    So, Buddhism and environmentalism? Absolutely.

    Brownbuddha
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited August 2016

    I think many people in the West, and certainly in the UK, are very keen to recycle. Local Councils and environmental authorities strongly encourage it. There re even heavy fines and penalties imposed on both individuals, AND organisations or companies, who do not follow local authroty regulations or bye-laws.
    Households are issued, as a matter of course, with special bins into which only recyclable materials must be put, and these are collected on a regular basis, along with compostable materials (again, a different bin) and rubbish for which recycling is either impossible or unavailable.

    here is a letter sent to me recently, by a representative of our Local Council Environmental Department, because I complained that it seemed my local authority does not seem to have the correct facility or equipment to recycle or suitably dispose of take-away plastic containers:

    Take a way containers are not a massive problem for us. Most of the people I know, my-self included, wash and re-use the plastic containers which is an excellent method of recycling.
    It would not be practical to try and legislate locally regarding the use of recyclable containers as they are produced by national companies, it is those you would have to change. Even the cartons used in the United States are either waxed or have a plastic film in the lining to prevent leakage and so, again, not the type Veolia [our local refuse-collection agency] can recycle.

    The fact is, all our waste is recycled one way or another, either through the recycling bins or the household waste that we no longer send to waste to landfill, this now goes to an energy recovery facility that produces energy for National Grid, enough to power 189,000 homes. So, I believe, we are doing our bit for the environment.

    I think that's a good indication of a conscientious society!
    While I recognise the value of the question, and the frame with regard to its importance in Buddhism, I would say that environmental responsibility transcends religion or politics. it's much bigger than that.

    Bunksperson
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Hello.
    I practice environmental Buddhism. In other words the location dictates the nature of the dharma. I like to recycle sentient fish by eating them. Also I feel people need extra suffering to experience the First Noble Truth.
    I also recycle ideas into plastic bins for any enquiring minds to empty their rubbish. Usually getting in to the recycling bin myself first ...

    if only I could select lol AND awesome to this.

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    Yes!
    I see you gave it an LOL, so I gave it an Awesome.

    BhikkhuJayasara
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @lobster said:
    Hello.
    I practice environmental Buddhism. In other words the location dictates the nature of the dharma. I like to recycle sentient fish by eating them. Also I feel people need extra suffering to experience the First Noble Truth.
    I also recycle ideas into plastic bins for any enquiring minds to empty their rubbish. Usually getting in to the recycling bin myself first ...

    However in the sense you mean, the answer is 'I am Green'. B)

    @Brownbuddha , some members may take a little more "getting used to" than others...

    @lobster is..... 'special'..... for all his/her odd ramblings, there are definitely many noteworthy gems there.... rather like the pearl in an oyster, you gotta go through a tough exterior, a lot of gunk and maybe some discomfort, to get to the 'precious' bit....

    BhikkhuJayasaraWalker
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited August 2016

    @federica said:

    @lobster said:
    Hello.
    I practice environmental Buddhism. In other words the location dictates the nature of the dharma. I like to recycle sentient fish by eating them. Also I feel people need extra suffering to experience the First Noble Truth.
    I also recycle ideas into plastic bins for any enquiring minds to empty their rubbish. Usually getting in to the recycling bin myself first ...

    However in the sense you mean, the answer is 'I am Green'. B)

    @Brownbuddha , some members may take a little more "getting used to" than others...

    @lobster is..... 'special'..... for all his/her odd ramblings, there are definitely many noteworthy gems there.... rather like the pearl in an oyster, you gotta go through a tough exterior, a lot of gunk and maybe some discomfort, to get to the 'precious' bit....

    Lobster is a cross between the "fool" of antiquity( there is always a person in most cultures who is allowed to say and do things no one else in the culture would do, one example is the jester/fool) and a zen master.

    In my opinion EVERY forum needs a Lobster.. but I don't know of any other then this that is laid back and tolerant enough to accept one.

    Brownbuddha
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I know the topic has come up here before, it often shows up in existing threads as things tend to wander :)
    I try, I do what I can at any given point and try to improve on it. We do recycle and all that stuff, but my focus right now is in being more cautious what we purchase as far as what packaging. Seeing all the plastic collecting on the shores of our oceans is very sad, I try to reduce what I can of it. We clean up trash on the roads, and try to be overall more conscious of our impact. But it seems too little too late, on a global scale.

    Brownbuddha
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited August 2016

    I have a friend who is running a one-person campaign against excess packaging. She remove all her products from boxes in the supermarket and lets them deal with it all. Toothpaste tubes, dishcloths (some places just sell them rolled up and bound with a paper strap) and other items she deems unnecessarily over-packaged, she will pay, then open them at the check-out, (in front of the cashier) puts them in her own bags and leave the wrappings there. She also lobbies store websites to get the message across....

    I'm not sure I'd have the balls to do that, myself, but I take her point.

    We make a charge for plastic bags and fortunately, we're selling fewer and fewer as we progress.
    The sale profits go to Charity (with the additional ever-present tax levied by the Government) we make nothing on them.... I point out to clients that we charge as a deterrent, not as a money-making venture.

    KeromekarastiBrownbuddha
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Every store here offers 99-cents and up for a reusable tote and I have many that I use for other things, but I think if more people used the reusables when they shopped, it sure would be helpful to the environment. Only on occasion do I even remember to take one or two along, but since this reminder, I plan on making a more concerted effort to bring them along on my shopping trips. I'm really surprised that I don't see more people doing this.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    My mother hangs a couple on her front door handle. She can't miss them as she leaves. She retains some for clothes, some for food. (it's not nice to put a pretty blouse in with 2kg of potatoes and a pound of onions).

    silver
  • I pick up any trash I see when I am out for walks or hiking. I even have my girls pick up trash that "isn't ours" as they like to say. They used to ask me why we were picking up stuff or messes that we didn't make but I would answer them "Do you live on this planet? Then it is ours.."

    Now they like to point out people they see throwing stuff on the ground, and say "Look daddy, they are littering. Why would they do that?!" This makes me happy, because I feel that I have raised their awareness and brought a bigger picture into focus.

    I have always viewed nature around me as living and breathing with a voice of its own. Trees in particular. I find myself saying hi to trees as I pass by them. My youngest daughter used to hug every tree she came close to when she was little, which really slowed down our walks!

    Steve_Blobstersilver
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    I don't buy much, rarely throw things away and have a very low carbon footprint, though that is more to do with being a skinflint than being Green. :p

    silverfedericarohit
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I try and recycle where I can.

    Can I offer a suggestion to my fellow NB'ers? Not trying to preach but if you use one of those coffee pod machines could you please rethink this practice?

    In my unenlightened days I did. I can remember buying some where each individual pod was wrapped in plastic!

    Here is an article about the guy who invented them:

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/04/why-the-man-behind-keurigs-coffee-pods-wishes-hed-never-invented-them

    Brownbuddhaperson
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    And that when used coffee grounds are great composting material (or so I read somewhere).

    Bunks
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Being a hardened traditionalist Italian, I wouldn't dream of using them. But thank you for posting that. Interesting.

    Bunks
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I still use a french press to make my coffee. My son has a keurig for his dorm room but he uses the refillable mesh pod and not the plastic disposable ones.

    We haul our own trash, and being at the landfill is always eye opening. We live in a pretty rural area, and the amount of trash even an area our size can produce is astonishing. I cannot even fathom how much we produce as a species on a daily basis. It's horrifying.

    BunksBrownbuddhaSteve_B
  • We have a Keurig and use one of the refillable pods for making carafes. The plastic cups on some of the new k-cups can be pulled away from the coffee grind pouch, and put in recycling with the rest of our plastic.

    Bunks
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran
    edited August 2016

    I am wondering who practices Buddhist environmentalism, as in doing something to ease the suffering of the planet and other life forms as part of their Buddhist practice?

    On the island where I live there's a strong environmental and social consciousness, recycling is a big thing....The new supermarket no longer issues plastic shopping bag, all are biodegradable (and of course this comes with a cost) ...
    Households recycle glass. paper, plastic....And at the local refuge centre (where locals can drop of items they no longer need/use-(again at a cost to the locals)...Plus there's a Op shop there, which will recycle the 'good stuff' and most of the money goes back into the community, in the form of grants, plus they provide funding for some community service groups...(I should add so do the other op shops)
    So much of what these shops take, (money plus items) is recycled back into the community.

    BunkskarastiBrownbuddha
  • Our city has a very comprehensive recycling program. Paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and tin cans are picked up, or can be taken to recycling stations. We also have eco-stations for things like electronics, batteries and appliances. You can even walk into stores like Best Buy or IKEA and drop off old light bulbs, batteries, and toner cartridges.

    Brownbuddha
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited August 2016

    Thanks to everyone who recycled me. I like to sit quietly whilst I slowly rot away ... o:)

    Again our idealised uniformed branch (Sangha) have been practicing minimal impact and promoting recycling. I would draw attention to the traditional robes as taken from discarded death shrouds of those being barbecued before their alleged next recycle ...
    http://opcoa.st/0Rr70

    silverrohit
  • We wer-lobsters have a saying, 'better green than red'.
    Particularly impressed with @Richdawson efforts to create new tree huggers.

    @Richdawson said:
    I pick up any trash I see when I am out for walks or hiking. I even have my girls pick up trash that "isn't ours" as they like to say. They used to ask me why we were picking up stuff or messes that we didn't make but I would answer them "Do you live on this planet? Then it is ours.."

    Bravo. Set an example!

    Our planet, our minds, our children, our fish ... well fish seem to have a mind of their own but that is another story ...

    Brownbuddhasilver
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    @federica said:
    I have a friend who is running a one-person campaign against excess packaging. She remove all her products from boxes in the supermarket and lets them deal with it all. Toothpaste tubes, dishcloths (some places just sell them rolled up and bound with a paper strap) and other items she deems unnecessarily over-packaged, she will pay, then open them at the check-out, (in front of the cashier) puts them in her own bags and leave the wrappings there. She also lobbies store websites to get the message across....

    We need more charmingly psychotic people like this. A lot more. When the number gets to critical mass, then there will be results.

    Kerome
  • possibilitiespossibilities PNW, WA State Veteran

    Recycle of course; buy most household items at thrift shops; don't buy into consumerism of any kind; don't use pesticides in my garden; am Vegan; adopt shelter pets or otherwise unwanted dogs/cats.
    Can't claim this to be a specifically Buddhist practice but it fits the bill. In reality, it's common sense and simply how I roll, Buddhist or not.

    lobsterseeker242ShoshinBrownbuddha
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited September 2016

    Outstanding @possibilities.

    I try to be vegan vegetarian sentient food conscious but fish are so delicious ... Recycling pets I can manage. I have an invisible Egyptian deity cat - Bastet. Apart from my ongoing temptation for computer tech, I manage to not buy the latest designer perfume or must not need fashion item. Grunge is static fashion. I wish I could do dumpster diving but what if I found the mythical out of date chocolate throw away? ... I would be a mess ...

    Thanks for showing the right way <3

    possibilitiesBrownbuddha
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Brownbuddha said:
    Greetings,
    I am wondering who practices Buddhist environmentalism

    Yea and I call it veganism. =)

    Shoshin
  • Good advice on Buddha Nature nurturing for example:

    'You should not see Shakyamuni Buddha in anything other than nature and living things. Mountains, rivers and all other things in nature may take on various forms, but they are all the embodiment of Shakyamuni Buddha.'

    Part of the Buddhist plan is to harmonise with our environment, rather than exploit, bend it to our will etc. This idea of the wisdom body or Dharmakaya of the Buddha body being expressed in our relationship and interaction with our world may sound a little theistic to the Theravadins or escapees from JHVH type religions. So be it. However the difference is subtle and more attuned to respecting our interdependency

    Brownbuddha
  • I like articles like that, but sometimes they make me wonder about things such as.... What if those were domesticated lobster with no skills to survive in the wild and basically they were sent to their doom. OR what if the influx of all those lobsters push out another species which causes a chain reaction in the ecosystem, kill off more or different wild life native to the area etc. etc.

    I know it might seem silly, but there are cases here in the US where non native species wreak havoc on the status quo. Pythons in Florida, Snake Heads in the Water ways etc. Not saying that is the case here.

    I just wanted to mention it because I think sometimes good intentions can have dire results (worst case) if you don't look at bigger pictures.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    I agree. However, if you read the story, they were releasing the lobsters in an environment recommended by the fishermen, (who had caught them in the wild) where they were unlikely to cast pots - but lobsters (and other sea creatures) are highly migratory. If they're being put back in virtually the same environment they came from, it's not going to be detrimental. I would say that over-fishing and depleting stocks is what is detrimental, particularly when you think of how old some of those lobsters could be.
    Fortunately, there are many conscientious fishermen who either use equipment designed to hold only the biggest catches, or who return the 'small fry' to the water, to live to fight another day.
    It's only when an alien species is introduced into an established and balanced environment that the fur begins to fly...

    It would be a very long, labour-intensive and expensive job raising that number of lobsters 'domestically'. They don't grow like fish; they take a good decade to even reach a comestible size.... so for many wannabe lobster-farmers, it's just not an economically-viable approach.

    the initial outlay is a small fortune in itself....

    http://www.wikihow.com/Create-Lobster-Farms
    http://www.bestlobster.com/trivia.html

  • @federica

    I did read it, and liked it. =)

    I also did say that wasn't the case for your story =) <3

    It was just that the story itself made me think of cases where they were not so responsible, and I wanted to point that out since I thought it was worth mentioning.

    federica
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @Richdawson said:

    I like articles like that, but sometimes they make me wonder about things such as.... What if those were domesticated lobster with no skills to survive in the wild and basically they were sent to their doom. OR what if the influx of all those lobsters push out another species which causes a chain reaction in the ecosystem, kill off more or different wild life native to the area etc. etc.

    I know it might seem silly, but there are cases here in the US where non native species wreak havoc on the status quo. Pythons in Florida, Snake Heads in the Water ways etc. Not saying that is the case here.

    Not to mention the humans. Pesky buggers are all over the place.

    lobsterBrownbuddha
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    It seems to me Buddhist's are environmentalists...

    Shoshin
  • Thanks guys for releasing my encrusted relatives <3

    I did hear that the canny lobster fisherman sold the lobsters as a job lot, taking great interest in the location of the release. They then went back, knowing where to place their enticing traps (we lobsters never learn to avoid fish) ... O.o

    There is no escaping karma.
    Into the pot delicious ones ... :3

    Brownbuddha
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