"The world itself has a role to play in our awakening. Its very brokenness and need call to us, summoning us to walk out of the prison of self-concern."
-- Joanna Macy
In a new book and recent declaration, Buddhist leaders are urging people to pay attention to and work individually and collectively to end global warming.
Editors John Stanley, David R. Loy, and Gyurme Dorje bring together voices of the world's leading Buddhist teachers in A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency, released by Wisdom Publication in August to precede the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December.
The Dalai Lama, Robert Aitken, Gyalwang Karmapa XVII, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Chatral Rinpoche, Sakya Trizin, Thich Nhat Hanh, Joanna Macy, Joseph Goldstein, Lin Jensen, and others address ending energy waste; deforestation; reforestation; renewable energy; and breaking the addiction to fossil fuels––within a framework of interconnectedness; individual and collective responsibility; and awakening awareness.
An excerpt from Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche's "Minimum Needs and Maximum Contentment:"
All religions are based upon principles that constitute an ethical way of life. Our current lifestyle does not uphold the human spirit and does not support an ethical way of living. In response, religions around the world must advance a strong spiritual approach to climate change based upon common principles of an ethical way of life: we are not against wealth or business in themselves. We simply point out that that it’s good for business to lose a bit of that excess weight. It’s good for business to make a positive contribution to the world. And it’s good for individuals to examine their own consciousness in terms of what sustains them while living on this planet.An excerpt from Ringu Tulku Rinpoche's "The Bodhisattva Path at a Time of Crisis:"
The karma of global warming is not nature turning against us—we have turned against ourselves. We are doing something hostile to nature. It is not that “God has turned against us”— Hurricane Katrina was a manifestation of global warming. If we wish to avoid such disasters, we have to take corrective measures now. Our climate itself is now in our own hands.
When society degenerates, the world becomes worse. Peoples’ negative emotions and actions become raw, aggressive, greedy, and deluded. Environmental damage accumulates, militarism and war come to the fore, disease, famine, and diminishing lifespan begin to increase. Excessive greed causes us to disrespectfully take everything from the earth or sea, while ignoring the pollution we cause. This collective negativity harms ourselves, of course, and in the case of global warming, the damage will extend long into the future of ourselves and others. Consumerism relies upon fundamental confusion, amplified by advertising. The resulting over-consumption sows the seeds of self-destruction, as we can now see in the Arctic. The sea ice has melted so much that there is a waterway all round the top of the world. Instead of taking urgent stock of what this may mean for the survival of the world we know, the neighboring countries have started to fight about who gets any oil reserves beneath the ocean.The Ecological Buddhism: A Buddhist Response to Global Warming website's "Buddhist Climate Project" webpage provides more information and excerpts; and the accompanying "A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change:"
Emptiness, interdependence, impermanence, and the dreamlike nature of things do not prevent us from taking altruistic or positive action. It may be like a dream, but it still affects beings… If there is environmental or climate collapse, everybody will assuredly be affected — some more, some less, but there will be an unprecedented negative impact. Clearly it is a vitally important bodhisattva activity to prevent a universal disaster like the collapse of our living world.
In the run-up to the crucial U.N. Climate Treaty Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, the Declaration that follows will present to the world's media a unique spiritual view of climate change and our urgent responsibility to address the solutions. It emerged from the contributions of over 20 Buddhist teachers of all traditions to the book A Buddhist Respose to the Climate Emergency. "The Time to Act is Now "was composed as a pan-Buddhist statement by Zen teacher Dr David Tetsuun Loy and senior Theravadin teacher Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi with scientific input from Dr John Stanley. The Dalai Lama was the first to sign this Declaration. We invite all concerned members of the international Buddhist community to study the document and add their voice by co-signing it at the end of this page...