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Buddhism and Global Warming

So, I'm new to Buddhism and I was attracted to the faith after I got fed up with all the callousness I saw in Christianity. I felt that people were finding convenient excuses to behave however they liked and were using bad theological arguments to excuse their actions. For instance, often times when I would talk to church members about global warming, they would say that it didn't matter since the world would be burned anyways according to the book of Revelation. This seemed like a very callous and dismissive answer to me. Even if we assume the Bible to be true, and even if the world was going to face some sort of biblical destruction, shouldn't Christians still try to protect the planet since it's a gift to them from God, "The Father". I doubt any of us would actively lay waste to a house that our parents built for us, so why would Christians (who overwhelmingly see God as a Father who built Earth for them), ignore the threat of climate change?

As an individual, this was the final inconsistency I could bare. I was left with little in terms of spiritual faith but through my collegiate studies, I found Buddhism. As we discussed the principles of Buddhism in my philosophy class, I couldn't help but to smile. There was an embarrassingly large grin on my face throughout the entire lecture; I fell in love with the messages of Buddhism (particularly Sunyata) and I've been trying to learn more ever since.

Now, as a Sociology student, I'm left with the question, "Do our spiritual views affect the way we view global warming?" This is a very concerning idea to me because if it bares true, then it might not matter what amount of scientific evidence exists, some people might never believe that the globe is facing an ecological crisis.

In my effort to find an answer to this question, I've created a questionnaire to compare both how an individual places one's self in relation to the Earth and how one feels about climate change. I'm particularly interested to see if people view themselves as dominators of the Earth or if they see themselves as dependent on the planet and it's ecosystem.

I'd be extremely grateful to anyone who is willing to complete this questionnaire as they would be helping me tremendously. It requires no personal information and all responses are anonymous.

Also, I'd love to hear your guys' opinions about what Buddhist teachings would have to say about climate change. I talked to a Zen master in my local area and she said that while it's important to seek harmony with the planet, it is more important for us to be ready to embrace and adapt to any change that may happen as a result of climate change.

Please let me know what you think by commenting and completing the questionnaire :)



  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Since climate change is so new, there isn't anything in historical teachings specifically. Modern teachers have touched on it, most of them are of the opinion we should the utmost care in caring for our planet and its inhabitants. We do need to be prepared to adapt to potentially sudden changes, especially if a person lives on the coast or in an area already prone to weather related disasters such as floods, wildfires, dust storms, hurricanes and tornadoes. Which seems to cover most people, not really where I am though. We're kind of in an odd area where none of those things are risks and we're as far from the ocean as you can get, lol. But places where I live is where people will head because we have ample water and other natural resources. In any case, it affects us all in some way and thinking it doesn't is no good.

    I did meet a teacher once who said it didn't matter much because we will be reborn elsewhere if we kill the planet therefore the student who asked the question didn't need to worry about feeling guilty for driving to the retreat in a non-electric car.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    (Check it out, guys, it's totes legit.... ;) )

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    Personally, I felt more of the questions could have done with 'extra clarification' boxes.... but all in all, ok. I'm done.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I did it as well, I found a couple questions hard to answer because I felt they could have been a bit more clear.

  • WonderingWandererWonderingWanderer California New

    I greatly appreciate your participation! If you have any time throughout your day, would you mind sharing with me which parts need clarification?

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Note that I tend to read too much into simple questions, so it might just be me, LOL. I don't want to influence anyone else's perception so I'll shoot you a private message.

  • DhammikaDhammika Veteran

    Buddhist scholar and socially engaged monk Bhikkhi Bodhi has an organization that is doing work on global warming and lots more: https://buddhistglobalrelief.me/tag/global-warming/

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    Survey done

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator
    edited April 25

    @WonderingWanderer said:
    I greatly appreciate your participation! If you have any time throughout your day, would you mind sharing with me which parts need clarification?

    @karasti said:
    Note that I tend to read too much into simple questions, so it might just be me, LOL. I don't want to influence anyone else's perception so I'll shoot you a private message.

    Yeah, me too....

    ETA: Can't review survey, as it tells me I've already taken it and can't go over it again....

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I got the same note, I sent a message to see if he has a screen shot or template or something. Haven't heard back just yet.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    OP, Buddhist teachings say to not kill sentient beings. I know some Mongol tribes take that as an environmental mandate. The Buryats who live around Lake Baikal have been hosting environmental conferences for decades, and have worked to spearhead efforts to save their sacred sea, Baikal, from pollution.

    You'd think that Tibetans, who still perform Earth Goddess worship pilgrimages around sacred lakes and mountains, would be the same, but I don't have any news in that regard from inside Tibet. I imagine they don't have much say on what happens in their region. The Dalai Lama occasionally speaks in favor of environmentalism, but there's no concerted effort among Tibetans in exile in that direction, that I'm aware of.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Interesting point @Dakini. I wonder if in Tibet (even those in exile) they are so focused on survival that it is not a priority at this point. Or, if they even get information that extra care is needed at this point. I do not know what their general philosophy is on the environment but I doubt they get much news about the rest of the world (or have much ability to care). I have a friend in my Sangha who has been to Tibet many times in the past 10 years, I will see if she has any insight.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    This is what my friend had to say, she also recommended a book that sounds interesting:

    Hi Kim, interesting topic. From what I have seen -- You are right about the harsh conditions in Tibet and for the Tibetan people now. The current Chinese governor of the TAR, Tibetan Autonomous Region is particularly harsh. I am sure you've read about the many self immolations. So, all their traditional beliefs including that all life is sacred, including mother earth, and must be respected and preserved - is not recognized or heard by the Chinese government which took over in 1959. Logging, clear cut, of Tibet's vast pristine virgin forests, mining of heavy metals, (Tibet has some of the largest heavy metal deposits in the world). And more has taken a heavy toll on the people and the land.

    There is a lovely book "Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet", it was published in 1989. The title has sort of a double meaning - the land itself - the ground is considered sacred a very real and feminine being.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    The Karmapa has said a few things about environmentalism, and has made an effort to make his monasteries run on environmentally sound ways. Thich Nhat Hanh too has spoken about being mindful in the usage of the planet, in his five mindfulness trainings, although not so much on retreats.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    TNH has written quite a bit about the environment and how to treat it. he wrote an entire long essay about it for Earth Day a while back. Love Letter to Mother Earth or something along those lines. He also talks in at least a coupe of his books about not harming animals or even plants and minerals. Not very many Buddhist teachers go to the extent he does with the interconnectedness of all and connection to nature.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @karasti I just checked out that book on Amazon. There's only one essay there that discusses Tibet's pre-Buddhist earth goddess culture, and it's available online for free, via various academic websites that offer access to academic publications. The article is
    "Down With The Demoness", by Janice Gyatso. The other essays in the book are about tantric female figures of various sorts, not relating to earth worship per se.

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