Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

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tiltbillings
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:28 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I think the bottom line here is that opinions are going to vary. There is clearly a place and a need for focused practice, but there is also clearly a place for engagement with the world. It is not a matter that one trumps the other; rather, I see it, as it has played out in my life, as a balancing act, as each pole informing and strengthening the other.
I agree with all that but would like to change a few words:
after tiltbillings wrote:I think the bottom line here is that opinions are going to vary. There is clearly a place and a need for solitary practice, but there is also clearly a place for practice in the form of engagement with the world. It is not a matter that one trumps the other; rather, I see it, as it has played out in my life, as a balancing act, as each pole informing and strengthening the other.
What do you think?

:namaste:
Kim
Sounds good.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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retrofuturist
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jul 24, 2014 12:18 am

Greetings,
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Ben wrote:As I said earlier, what does your compassion and loving kindness mean if you do not engage with others and do something practical to alleviate their suffering?
Teaching the Dhamma, practising meditation, and encouraging others to study the Dhamma and to practice meditation instead of engaging in politics, is doing something practical to alleviate their suffering.

The causes of suffering are craving and ignorance — not global warming, or any other trendy issue. Buddhists should be concerned about Climate Change, and do their part to reduce it. However, it is not a profound moral concern for Buddhists because it is not within their control. It is not immoral to use electricity from coal-fired power stations, or to use vehicles driven by fossil fuels, or even to fly in jet planes.

Contrary to popular belief, the Sky is not falling, but aging, disease, and death are inevitable for us all. This finger-snap in the eternal cycle of saṃsāra during which the Buddhasāsana is extant is a rare and precious opportunity to develop insight. Buddhists should focus their energies on the root causes of suffering, and do what they can to remove them. The practices of charity (dāna), morality (sīla), and mental development (bhāvanā) are moral imperatives for Buddhists.
Frankly, I think this is incredibly sensible and aligned with the phenomenlogical nature of the Dhamma.

I also think it is quite befitting of a bhikkhu to acknowledge the actual causes of suffering, and to highlight how getting side-tracked by political causes (no matter how noble) can potentially veer people towards suffering, by actually allowing one's good intentions to give rise to craving and aversion.

For example, my girlfriend loves cats and adopted an orphaned cat last year. However, she regularly gets sad and upset about how many homeless pets are put down each year. On one hand she acknowledges she cannot adopt them all, but these good intentions actually become craving and bring a degree of sadness to her life, because she upsets herself by focusing on the plight of a situation that is beyond her individual control. Can those who choose a life of activism honestly say they do not bring about their own dukkha by wishing for things to be otherwise? There is something to be said for "doing one's part" and the satisfaction that such wholesome deeds bring, but that needs to be tempered by constant awareness of the qualitative state of mind, lest compassion and noble intentions give rise to ignorance and aversion. There's a lot of angst-ridden individuals with good intentions out there who inadvertently do more harm than good.

Thank you for sharing, bhante.

:buddha1:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:01 am

retrofuturist wrote:Can those who choose a life of activism honestly say they do not bring about their own dukkha by wishing for things to be otherwise? There is something to be said for "doing one's part" and the satisfaction that such wholesome deeds bring, but that needs to be tempered by constant awareness of the qualitative state of mind, lest compassion and noble intentions give rise to ignorance and aversion.
Obviously, to the last sentence. This is not an either-or proposition. Nor is it, to use Ven Pesala sadly unfortunate, dismissive, and uninformed wording, a "trendy issue." I probably have another 20 years of life left, barring the unforeseen, and in that time, if nothing or too little is done, I will live to see serious consequences in terms of human suffering, and your child will see far, far worse.

As was often said in the 60's: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Ben
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by Ben » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:06 am

Retro I believe you are making the mistakes of asserting that those who engage in activism are doing so from a base of aversion or craving and that walking on the path is mutually exclusive of acts to reduce suffering in others and that concerning oneself with the suffering of others is getting 'side-tracked by political causes'.
Kind regards,
Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:11 am

Greetings Ben,

No, I'm not making that mistake. My comment acknowledges the need for a proper Dhammic balance, as does Bhikkhu Pesala's.

Perhaps my view is not trendy enough, but I can live with that.

Metta,
Retro. :)

P.S. And I don't want to clog up the topic with a bunch of "well said"s, but SDC's post immediately below this one is spot on, for me.
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

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

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:40 am

I think it comes down to how much time and energy are going to be devoted to GW (or any other issue). If we’re talking about forgoing or sacrificing progress along the path for these issues then we have chosen NOT to make pursuit of the dhamma the priority. There is no way to justify the efforts to solve worldly issues as anything more than the making of very noble merit, which is NOT the same thing as progress towards nibbana. It is a very good thing, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the same. Can you do both? Yes! Of course you can, but to not acknowledge the difference between ‘making merit through worldly efforts’ and ‘progress to awakening’ is misleading. And either can be done without the other.

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by alan » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:42 am

First off, it's a not a moral concern from the perspective of a monk. The question should be formulated as a social concern, which would put it beyond their realm. That way, we would all not have to grind our teeth while reading posts asking questions such as "Where in the suttas did the Buddha say that?".
At the risk of sounding obvious, Buddha could not have known about issues like this. And yes, before anyone asks, I have read the suttas. The question here seems to be not about strict interpretation of teachings, as great as they are, but about how we as a society will respond to this new challenge. Hard to accept the option of pretending it doesn't exist from that vantage point.

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by Anagarika » Thu Jul 24, 2014 1:59 am

I'll come back to something Bhikkhu Bodhi said, (paraphrase) which is that we apply this Dhamma as our own interests, aptitudes and proclivities guide us. Applied wisely and mindfully, there's no right or wrong approach.

PS...this just popped up on Sutta Central:

The brahmin Saṅgārava said to the Lord: “Good Gotama, we brahmins perform the sacrifice and encourage others to do so. Whoever does this creates much good that benefits many people. But one who goes forth from home into homeless life as a monk only benefits himself, only calms himself, leads only himself to Nirvāṇa. I say that such a person is practicing something that benefits only himself.”

And the Lord said: “Well, brahmin, I will ask you a question, answer as you think fit. Let us say a Tathāgata arises in the world, a Noble One, a fully enlightened Buddha, with perfect knowledge and conduct, happily attained, a knower of the worlds, a guide unsurpassed for people to be tamed, a teacher of gods and humans, a Buddha, the Lord. And then he says: ‘Come! By my own power of realization I have attained great happiness as a result of this practice, this way. You practice it too! By your own powers of realization you too will attain great happiness as a result of this practice, this way.’ Thus this teacher teaches Dhamma to many hundreds, many thousands, many hundreds of thousands of such people. Now brahmin, since this is so, is this going forth into the homeless life as a monk a practice that benefits only one person or many people?”

“Good Gotama, it is a practice that benefits many people.”

Saṅgārava, Aṅguttara Nikāya 3.60
Last edited by Anagarika on Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by Ben » Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:01 am

retrofuturist wrote: Perhaps my view is not trendy enough, but I can live with that.
Trendy??
FFS!
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by DNS » Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:34 am

"Monks, these four kinds of persons are to be found existing in the world. Which four? One who is engaged in promoting neither his own good nor in promoting the good of another; one who is engaged in promoting another's good but not in promoting his own good; one who is engaged in promoting his own good but not in promoting the good of another; and one who is engaged in promoting his own good and also in promoting the good of another.

"Just as, monks, a piece of wood from a pyre, burnt at both ends and in the middle fouled with dung, serves neither for fuel in the village nor for timber in the forest, so in the same way, monks, is such a person, I say, who is engaged in promoting neither his own good nor in promoting the good of another.

"Monks, there is the person who is engaged in promoting the good of another but not in promoting his own good. Of these two individuals the latter is superior. Monks, there is the person who is engaged in promoting his own good but not in promoting the good of another. Of these three individuals he is superior. Monks, there is the person who is engaged in promoting his own good and also in promoting another's good. Of these four individuals he is the foremost, the chief, the principal, the best and the supreme.

"Just as, monks, from a cow comes milk; from milk, curd; from curd, butter; from butter, ghee; from ghee, the skimmings of ghee, and that is reckoned the best; even so, monks, among these four individuals the person who is engaged in promoting his own good and also the good of another is the foremost, the chief, the principal, the best and the supreme. Monks, these are the four individuals who are to be found existing in the world."

AN 4.95 Chavalata Sutta
http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... lata_Sutta

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:50 am

SDC wrote:I think it comes down to how much time and energy are going to be devoted to GW (or any other issue). If we’re talking about forgoing or sacrificing progress along the path for these issues then we have chosen NOT to make pursuit of the dhamma the priority. There is no way to justify the efforts to solve worldly issues as anything more than the making of very noble merit, which is NOT the same thing as progress towards nibbana. It is a very good thing, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the same. Can you do both? Yes! Of course you can, but to not acknowledge the difference between ‘making merit through worldly efforts’ and ‘progress to awakening’ is misleading. And either can be done without the other.
It sounds as if "progress to awakening" has nothing to do with interactions in daily life, that it has nothing to do with the kitchen sink, changing a diaper (nappie), talking to your neighbor, doing your job to earn your money to buy your bread, voting in a election, volunteering at an animal shelter, being active in a "trendy issue" that seriously concerns the welfare of the whole world, both in the short term and long term.

While "making merit" is important, I am not talking about just that. Progress to awakening is not limited to just the time sitting on one's butt waiting for the timer to go off. Progress to awakening is an ongoing, never turned off, process. Learning that takes time and insight. There are times in one's life where there needs periods of withdrawal to focus on the practice, and how individuals do that is going to vary greatly. Progress to awakening can also find a place in involvement in "worldly trendy efforts" as it can with caring for one's kids. And this is going to play out differently for each individual.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by SarathW » Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:54 am

There are many worldly problems in addition to climate change.
Poverty, wars, discrimination , sickness, disasters name a few (all Dukkhas).
An individual can't solve all these problems.
But individual can refrain from contribution to it.
Most of the time we criticise others without seen that we are also contributing to the problem.
So best course of action is to you look after yourself and teach others if possible.
Worldings has the responsibility to involve with above issues. (They have worldly objectives and they are contributing to it)
Monks should not involve with those worldly issues. (They have supermundane objectives and they are not contributers)
:shrug:
Last edited by SarathW on Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:It sounds as if "progress to awakening" has nothing to do with interactions in daily life, that it has nothing to do with the kitchen sink, changing a diaper (nappie), talking to your neighbor, doing your job to earn your money to buy your bread, voting in a election, volunteering at an animal shelter, being active in a "trendy issue" that seriously concerns the welfare of the whole world, both in the short term and long term.

While "making merit" is important, I am not talking about just that. Progress to awakening is not limited to just the time sitting on one's butt waiting for the timer to go off. Progress to awakening is an ongoing, never turned off, process. Learning that takes time and insight. There are times in one's life where there needs periods of withdrawal to focus on the practice, and how individuals do that is going to vary greatly. Progress to awakening can also find a place in involvement in "worldly trendy efforts" as it can with caring for one's kids. And this is going to play out differently for each individual.
tilt, if you were curious about what I meant about "progress towards awakening" then you could have asked me to unpack it for clarification. Filling in the blanks with these assumptions misrepresents my position. I know you mean nothing by it, but at least give me that chance next time.

All I do is interact socially, all day, with my wife, my daughter, her diapers, other drivers on my commute to the city, all my coworkers, random strangers, and whatever else may come along. So I have a wonderful opportunity to develop and perfect sila which is a MAJOR step towards awakening. My daily life and my immediate experience is where it is at for me. Everything is my practice. All I do all day 24/7 is analyze my experience and for the record I barely sit, and that is by choice. So I am very very very well aware of the point you are making and it is a good point.

Like I said can you do both? Yes, you can be involved in these issues and make progress. I clearly stated that. However you best have a strong foothold in dhamma before you get involved TO THE POINT WHERE YOU ARE DEDICATING YOUR LIFE TO A CAUSE, i.e. not normal everyday life, because if you don't that may ship will set sail without you and you'll be left with nothing but merit in the end. If you forgo or sacrifice that chance to get that foothold then you have gone away from the dhamma. If you find a balance which allows your practice flourish while aiding these causes then you're alright.

Please, if you need clarification just ask.

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:01 am

SDC wrote:
Please, if you need clarification just ask.
Thank you for your response. It probably would have helped had you not drawn the distinction between "progress to awakening" and "making merit," instead simply stated what you stated in the immediate msg above.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Climate change is a profound moral concern for Buddhists

Post by SDC » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:06 am

But they are distinct and making merit is not a requirement for progress. Yes it is possible to do it while making progress but it is not a necessity.

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