Buddhist Textual Sources – Provided by Maria Reis Habito, Ruben Habito, Venerable Bikkhu Sanghasena, Karma Lekshe Tsomo + I don’t know who sent the two meditations!!
- Creation is not our possession. The human person must recognize this and find his/her rightful place in relation to this fundamental fact.
Buddhist rendition: The universe is sacred. The human person recognizes his/her responsibility to love and protect the natural world.
“He is not noble who injures the environment, he is called noble because he is harmless towards the environment.” – Dhammapada, Chapter 29, Verse 15
The Five Buddhist precepts applying to all highlight human responsibility towards the world, all living beings and each other:
- Refrain from taking life. Not killing any living being. …
- Refrain from taking what is not given. Not stealing from anyone.
- Refrain from the misuse of the senses. Not having too much sensual pleasure. …
- Refrain from wrong speech. …
- Refrain from intoxicants that cloud the mind.
- Creation is not simply external to God. It is, in significant ways, permeated by God’s presence and being, manifesting the divine agency and reality.
Buddhist rendition: Nature is permeated by the Spiritual, manifesting ultimate reality/emptiness in every particle.
Source 1a: The Heart Sutra
“Form is Emptiness, and Emptiness is Form. Form is no other than Emptiness, and Emptiness is no other than form.”
Source 1b: The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment
[The realization of the Buddha is] “The universe, including unlimited space is the manifestation of enlightened mind.”
Source 2: Thirteenth century Japanese Zen Master Dōgen (From The Treasury of the Eye of True Dharma, chapter on “This very mind is Buddha” Shōbōgenzō, Sokushin-ZeButsu)
“I came to realize clearly that the mind is no other than mountains, rivers, the great wide earth, the sun, the moon, the stars.”
- Within creation, and between humans and other parts of creation, as well as among religious communities, there is interdependence. All are part of a greater whole wherein each element both receives and gives influence, impact, love, and growth.
Buddhist rendition: Humans and other parts of creation are part of a greater whole wherein impact, influence, love and growth flow continuously with interdependence.
Source 1: Master Tsui Yen Ling T’san (9th-10th century) of the Flower Garland (Hua Yen = Avatamsaka) School on the teachings of the Flower Garland Sutra:
“Dharma Nature is complete and non-dual… One contains everything and everything contains One. One particle of dust contains the entire universe.”
Source 2: Venerable Sanghasena writes:
Planet earth is our source of life so, in a way it is like our mother and father, we cannot live without a mother or a father in a similar way we just cannot survive without them. Moreover, planet earth is even more important than mother and father. We can go on living without them once we’re all grownups but no one can survive without mother earth. It is simply impossible. Therefore, we all must seriously think and contemplate the issues which are threatening the environment which is the source of our life. We must think and collectively work together against all the negative aspects that are harming our environment, and bringing climate change
against all the negative aspects that are harming our environment, and bringing climate change
Humanity and Its Responsibilities
- The distinctive task of humanity is to nurture and serve this interdependent life-giving, and so to resist the temptation to exploitation, waste, and harm. Acting in the interest of human well-being cannot be something pursued in separation from working for the well-being of the whole created order.
Buddhist rendition: Humans are trustees and stewards of creation, committed to serve, advance, and aid in the growth and evolution of all parts of creation, to cease needless waste, abuse and harm.
In the Mettā Sutta:
“May all beings be happy! May they live in safety and joy!”
“All living beings, whether weak or strong, the great or the mighty, medium, short or small, seen or unseen, near or distant, born or to be born, may they all be happy. Let no one deceive another or despise any being in any state, let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another. As a mother watches over her child, willing to risk her own life to protect her only child, so with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings, radiating kindness over the entire world.”
In the “Beginning Anew with the Earth” Meditation:
We know that in the human consciousness are buried countless wholesome seeds of love and understanding, and of peace and joy. But because we have not known how to water them, they have not sprouted fresh and green. We have grown used to chasing a distant happiness, which causes us to exploit your resources. Our mind is constantly occupied by the past or travelling far into the future. We are caught in a cycle of craving. Unable to appreciate the precious things we have, we seek happiness in consumption. This has led to the devastation of the environment, which will last for a very long time, causing suffering for our children and their children. Now in the hall, fragrant with incense, we vow to change and begin anew. [BELL]
- The human person has capacities that are conducive to the realization of this vision, as well as forces that are destructive. Ego, self-centeredness, greed, arrogance, and more are negative traits stemming from a limited sense of the human person. These have the potential to destroy humanity and creation. The soul, or the higher aspects of the human person, have the capacity to realize the fuller vision of humanity’s role in the broader scheme of the meaning of life and creation.
Buddhist rendition: We recognize that we are responsible for the wellbeing of all life today, for others, for future generations and biodiversity.
In the Sutra on the Vows of the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha is called the “Mother of the Earth.” This Bodhisattva vows not to enter Nirvana until all beings are saved from hell.
The Bodhisattva, the enlightened and compassionate being, clearly realizes that all living beings form one body of life. Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Guanyin) vows in chapter 33 of the Lotus Sutra to rescue all suffering beings as soon as the call her/his name. “The Buddha told Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva, “Good man, if any of the limitless hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of living beings who are undergoing all kinds of suffering hear of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and recite his name single-mindedly, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva will immediately hear their voices and rescue them. “
- The human person has the capacity to realize the fuller vision of humanity’s role in the broader scheme of the meaning of life and creation and to diminish his/her destructive forces of ego, self-centeredness, greed, and arrogance.
In the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Buddha says: “Now I see living beings everywhere, and I see that each of them possesses the wisdom and virtue of the Tathagata. It is only because of their delusions and attachments that they do not realize it.”
A Buddhist sutra says: “If the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.”
- Engage in processes fundamental to human existence: growth, transformation, return and repentance, in an ongoing effort to purify and raise ourselves in awareness of a higher vision.
One of the most popular repentance rituals in Mahāyāna countries it the Great Compassion Repentance Ritual. It is based on the Great Compassion Sutra of the thousand Armed Guanyin and enumerates 10 kinds of misconduct, such as Killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, slandering, insulting, greed, hatred and ignorance. Repentance will open up the tenfold mind of boundless compassion and lead to the realization that our nature is pure from the beginning.
A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change:
The four noble truths provide a framework for diagnosing our current situation and formulating appropriate guidelines —because the threats and disasters we face ultimately stem from the human mind, and therefore require profound changes within our minds. If personal suffering stems from craving and ignorance—from the three poisons of greed, ill will, and delusion—the same applies to the suffering that afflicts us on a collective scale… …We need to wake up and realize that the Earth is our mother as well as our home… When the Earth becomes sick, we become sick, because we are part of her. Our present economic and technological relationships with the rest of the biosphere are unsustainable. To survive the rough transitions ahead, our lifestyle and expectations must change. This involves new habits as well as new values. The Buddhist teaching that the overall health of the individual and society depends upon inner well-being, and not merely upon economic indicators, helps us determine the personal and social changes we must make…
Living in Spirituality and Responsibility
- There are reactions when we harm the earth and others. Actions have consequences and no action can be ignored. The weight of our actions and their short and long term consequences lead us to find ways of mitigating harmful actions and to work for the good.
Buddhist rendition: Live in a balanced and harmonious relationship between the human person within and nature and objective reality without; recognizing that transformation for the good occurs from within we are called to limit our capacity to bring violence and harm to others, to all life by our thoughts, speech and action.
Thirteenth Century Japanese Zen Master Dōgen writes:
“To learn the Buddha Way is to learn the Self. To learn the Self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to reflect and illuminate the tens of thousands of myriad beings.” The Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, “The Matter at Hand” (Shōbōgenzō, “Genjō-kōan” ),
Buddhists of different lineages recite what is known as the “Verse of Purification,” or “The Verse of Atonement” as a regular feature of ritual action: “All harmful karma ever committed by me since of old, on account of my beginningless greed, ill-will, and ignorance, borne of my body, speech, and mind, I now atone it all.”
The Great Compassion Repentance ritual. [The practitioners generally gather in the main hall of a temple, where they chant a repentance text such as the following]:
I feel shame, great fear, and remorse. I confess my faults, and I repent and reform. I put an end to my incessant thoughts and resolve upon Awakening. I will no longer do harmful things, and with body, speech, and mind, I will be diligent in doing only good. I will correct my mistakes and will always rejoice in the good works, whether great or small, of sages and ordinary people…Since time without beginning, I have many harmful acts, without realizing that all things are fundamentally empty and still. But now I know that all things are empty and still, and for the sake of awakening and for the sake of living beings, I will no longer do anything harmful. But instead, I will do every possible good deed.
- Empowered by mind, reason and spiritual understanding, we adopt a mindful and attentive view of the natural world and its needs, to take seriously the lessons and conclusions of scientific study and common reason.
Contemporary Buddhist Teacher Robert Thurman writes:
“Buddhism is all about science. If science is the systematic pursuit of the accurate knowledge of reality, then science is Buddhism. Buddhism is science.”
- The life of attentive, intelligent love is embodied in compassion: in openness to the pain and vulnerability of the world. Care for the other is expressed in love and compassion as fundamental spiritual principles. These are to be applied to other humans, human communities, and other parts of creation.
Buddhist rendition: Express love and compassion to other humans, human communities and all aspects of creation. Feel the pain of the earth, of the poor and of those who suffer the consequences of climate change, opening your heart to transformation and change.
Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2022), Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, writes:
“Causing harm to other human beings causes harm to ourselves. Accumulating wealth and owning excessive portions of the world’s natural resources deprives fellow humans of the chance to live. Participating in oppressive and unjust social systems creates and deepens the gap between rich and poor, and aggravates the situation of social injustice. While the rest of the human family suffers and starves, the enjoyment of false security and wealth is a delusion…”
“To bring about peace within the human family, we must work for harmonious co-existence. If we continue to shut ourselves off from the rest of the world, imprisoning ourselves in narrow concerns and immediate problems, we’re not likely to make peace or to survive. The human race is part of Nature. We need to have this insight before we can have harmony between people.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh in “Nature and Nonviolence,” Awakin.org
There is a revolution that needs to happen and it starts from inside each one of us. When we realise that we and the earth are one, our own suffering will start to ease, and we will have the compassion and understanding to treat the earth with love and respect. We vow to look deeply every day to see that we and the earth are one. [BELL]
[Everyone touches the earth]
We and the earth are one
(From the “Touching the Earth” meditation)