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Culture
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Culture and Ecology / Presentation

Buddhist

Photo by Shabin Paul

Buddhist

Buddha Purnima celebration

This is a celebration of Buddha Purnima, the birthday of the Buddha, at Fireflies Ashram in Bangalore. The Buddha sculpture, made of brick, is clothed with roots and leaves. The statue itself is known as The Earth Buddha.

The temple bell stops, but the sound keeps coming- out of the flowers.

Basho, 17th century Buddhist poet

The ecological perspective in Buddhism

by Nalin Swaris

Buddhism believes in the impermanence of everything. If nothing is permanent we must learn to let go and not cling to material and non-material things. The need to possess, accumulate and control is the cause of much human anxiety and suffering. Our consumer society is based on the notion that having more, and not being more, will bring happiness. This is at the root of the ecological crisis. (Editor's note)

In the Satipatthana Sutta, establishing right mindfulness leads to the experience of anukampa – ‘pulsating along with’ – and this produces the emotion of compassion – karuna – with everything that lives. In the Maitriya Sutra the Buddha provides a method of training in which the heart is directly activated and feelings of universal friendliness and non-injuriousness are evoked. Once a person is suffused with feelings of universal friendliness – maitriya – the Buddha exhorts “Maintain this mindfulness – sati – of friendliness, kindness”. Abiding in Right Mindfulness (sati) and in Universal Friendliness (maitriya) is one and the same.

Lest a disciple wrongly surmise that by cultivating right mindfulness one could realize tranquility purely for oneself, the Buddha clarified its purpose:

I shall protect myself “with that the Foundations of Mindfulness should be cultivated. I shall protect others” with that the Foundations of Mindfulness should be cultivated. By protecting oneself one protects others and by protecting others one protects oneself (Samyukta Nikaya 47.19).

The term Ecology is derived from the Greek word Oikos which means house or home. The first home where all of us began life was our mother's womb. It sheltered and nourished us. In the womb, the life of the mother and the life of the child is an undifferentiated process. We grew up in the womb listening to the reassuring sound of our mothers pulsating heart. The Earth is the womb, which sustains us. We must learn to cultivate right mindfulness of the great pulsating heart of our Mother the Earth and feel the anukampa, which sustains us. Protecting ourselves we will protect the earth. Protecting, the earth we will protect ourselves.

May all beings be happy and secure.

The temple bell stops, but the sound keeps coming- out of the flowers.

Basho, 17th century Buddhist poet