Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Post Reply
SarathW
Posts: 13315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:09 am

I am a climate change sceptic. However I agree with the climate pollution which can be achieved by lower consumption.
However we should consume low not to protect the climate but to escape from Samsara.
I think monks who involve with climate change are influenced by Mara.
Monks should guide their followers according to Buddha’s teaching not according to the teaching of the scientists.
:shrug:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 22093
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Dec 18, 2019 3:07 am

Greetings,

This matter was discussed here in great detail over four years ago when Bhikkhu Bodhi issued his "Four Noble Truths of Climate Change"

Bhikkhu Bodhi and Buddhist leaders convene at White House

... which isn't to say it can't be discussed anew, but I doubt there'll be many new and original points raised, for or against, that weren't picked up in that discussion.

Since, that topic was created, we've also created Dharma Wheel Engaged which is a better place to discuss "the teaching of the scientists".

:geek:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 22093
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:35 am

Greetings,

Please note, off-topic posts proselytizing climate change have been removed.

This topic is about exploring what and how monks should teach.

As such, Sarath's topic isn't an invitation to proselytize. Climate change enthusiasts (or skeptics for that matter) are instead invited to discuss the climate itself at Dharma Wheel Engaged.

:thanks:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

sentinel
Posts: 2586
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:26 pm

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by sentinel » Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:10 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:09 am
I am a climate change sceptic. However I agree with the climate pollution which can be achieved by lower consumption.
However we should consume low not to protect the climate but to escape from Samsara.
I think monks who involve with climate change are influenced by Mara.
Monks should guide their followers according to Buddha’s teaching not according to the teaching of the scientists.
:shrug:
Which Mara are you referring to ?
It seems monks are easily influence by Mara according to you ?
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” -Buddha

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 17219
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:19 am

Hi SarathW,
SarathW wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:09 am
Monks should guide their followers according to Buddha’s teaching not according to the teaching of the scientists.
I'm not clear what your exact concern is. Do you think that that monastics should not give any advice about worldly affairs, and should just concentrate on liberation? Or is there some particular statements by some monastic that you disagree with?

What do you mean by "teach according to the Buddha, not according to scientists"? As far as I can tell, the Buddha didn't generally give opinions on technical issues, and if he did mention technical issues it was in the context of favourably comparing his teaching with someone skilled (such as a skilled craftsman).

:heart:
Mike

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 2614
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by Bundokji » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:13 am

I think it would depend on how to view sila in Buddhism. In my view, the Buddha taught morality, but did not teach a moral system. To answer questions about modern social, political and moral issues, sila has to be presented as a moral system in which inferences can be made. In order to present sila as a moral system, it has to be isolated from the rest of the teachings (its relation to the first and second noble truths and training in wisdom and concentration)

Some would argue: why did the Buddha teach morality to lay people in the first place if his teachings cannot be divided. I would day that this question is irrelevant because the Buddha did not teach Buddhism to lay people. The lord Buddha was a living embodiment of the Dhamma, while Buddhism is the human effort of collecting and honestly presenting what the Buddha said on different occasions. Equating the two can be misleading.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

SarathW
Posts: 13315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:19 am

why did the Buddha teach morality to lay people in the first place if his teachings cannot be divided
Sila is the foundation for Samadhi and Panna.
Buddha did not teach Sila to save the world from climate change.
However, if every person observes Sila as taught by Buddha the climate will improve, hopefully, even if Buddha did not intend it.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

SarathW
Posts: 13315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:23 am

sentinel wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:10 am
SarathW wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:09 am
I am a climate change sceptic. However I agree with the climate pollution which can be achieved by lower consumption.
However we should consume low not to protect the climate but to escape from Samsara.
I think monks who involve with climate change are influenced by Mara.
Monks should guide their followers according to Buddha’s teaching not according to the teaching of the scientists.
:shrug:
Which Mara are you referring to ?
It seems monks are easily influence by Mara according to you ?
My point in the OP may relevant to the second Mara, "Arathi"
In other words, instead of developing your practice, you backpedal or sidetrack your goal.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=35806&hilit=Ten+Mara
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 2614
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by Bundokji » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:35 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:19 am
Sila is the foundation for Samadhi and Panna.
Buddha did not teach Sila to save the world from climate change.
However, if every person observes Sila as taught by Buddha the climate will improve, hopefully, even if Buddha did not intend it.
Personally i give monks the benefit of the doubt. And yet, I have always wondered why would not they answer such questions as: irrelevant? Would that be treading on the spiritual autonomy of those who ask (who find such questions relevant)?

But again, if those individuals who go and ask monks for answers, do they value their own intellectual and spiritual autonomy? or they simply ask to avoid taking moral decisions in the midst of uncertainty?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

SarathW
Posts: 13315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:35 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:19 am
Hi SarathW,
SarathW wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:09 am
Monks should guide their followers according to Buddha’s teaching not according to the teaching of the scientists.
I'm not clear what your exact concern is. Do you think that that monastics should not give any advice about worldly affairs, and should just concentrate on liberation? Or is there some particular statements by some monastic that you disagree with?

What do you mean by "teach according to the Buddha, not according to scientists"? As far as I can tell, the Buddha didn't generally give opinions on technical issues, and if he did mention technical issues it was in the context of favourably comparing his teaching with someone skilled (such as a skilled craftsman).

:heart:
Mike
Hi Mike
I understand your concerns.
Aren't their enough climate advocates?
Even the kids talk about this nowadays. I hope they know what they talk about.
There is no reason for Buddhist monks to jump into the bandwagon!
Buddhist monks have a greater responsibility towards the laypeople.
In my opinion, this is the same as monks get into politics.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 17219
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:09 am

SarathW wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:35 am
Aren't their enough climate advocates?
Unless you give specific examples, it is hard to know what exactly you are objecting to. As pointed out above, the Buddha taught sila, and how to approach various problems in lay life. Political action is part of lay life, so some advice on how to approach that in a way consistent with the Dhamma is surely useful.

Here is a link to an analysis by Thanissaro Bhikkhu: viewtopic.php?p=511879#p511891


:heart:
Mike

SarathW
Posts: 13315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:13 am

Political action is part of lay life
Agree.
But not part of a monk's life.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 1015
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:59 pm
Location: Somerville, MA, USA

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by Nicolas » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:33 am

In case this refers (in part) to the recent topic about Bhikkhu Analayo and his book & lecture series, my understanding is that they don’t necessarily refer to actions taken to combat climate change (especially not for monastics) but instead are about how to deal with it on a personal and internal level with mindfulness and compassion, just like how monastics might teach laypeople how to deal with worldly dukkha with mindfulness and compassion (for example, how to deal with the loss of a loved one, or how to act in the world, i.e. sila).
I only skimmed the book so please correct me if I’m wrong.

SteRo
Posts: 964
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:27 am

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by SteRo » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:42 am

If not compatible with vinaya they shouldn't. If compatible with vinaya why not?

SarathW
Posts: 13315
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Should Buddhist monks involve with the climate change debate?

Post by SarathW » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:43 am

I just briefly listen to the video and just stop after a few minutes.
According to him the greatest humanitarian crisis we currently face is climate change!
In my opinion, this is not the Buddha's teaching.
I respect Ven. Analyo for his other publications such as in relation to Satipathana, by the way.

If Joseph Goldstine spoke about climate change and Buddhism, I have no problem with it.
That is exactly the job of a lay Buddhist.

But I can't understand why a prominent Buddhist monk wastes his time and the time of lay people in such a way.
Last edited by SarathW on Wed Dec 18, 2019 12:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 169 guests