BUDDHIST SOLUTION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ?· BUDDHIST SOLUTION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ... Buddhism teaches…
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BUDDHIST SOLUTION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL
Dr.Ch Venkata Siva Sai
Assistant Professor, School of Buddhist Studies and Civilization,
Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida (India)
The term environment, which means surroundings, is considered as a composite terms for the conditions in which
organism live. Every living species of the plants or animals influences its environment and in turn gets influenced by
it. So, that all life is precious, not only human life, but also animal and plant life. But the economic man wants too
much and he forgets to listen to the voice of nature. He is not trying to understand the harmony within himself and
with environment. He accumulates more and more materials, which destroyed the environment and generate
numbers of problem, like deforestation, loss of biodiversity, global warming, ozone depletion, pollution etc. The
root cause of these problems has been mans misbehavior and unlimited desire with the nature under the false ego
that he is the master of nature. It is the man who destroyed the environment for his personal gain. In the modern
world, everybody known that we should protect our living environment, reduce the amount of garbage we produce,
classify our waste and recycle as much as possible. Nevertheless, we are still consuming substantial amounts of
energy resources every day, irrational use of natural and human resources, and producing tremendous amount of
waste and pollution. These consequences act is as horrible as generating a tremendous quantity of cancer cells in the
body of nature.
II OVER EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES
The modern economy is a resource based economy and all the development of a country or a region is based on
resources, especially on natural resources. Nature has given us abundant resources in the form of water, air, heat,
natural vegetation, soil, wild animals, metals, fossils fuels, etc., and man by his technical skill and knowledge is
using all these resources in some way or the other right from the dawn of civilization. In other words, we can say
that all nations of the world aspire for high growth rates to ensure better standards of living for citizens. But actually,
in the long run, these growth rates based on over-exploitation of resources like, water, land, forest, wild life,
minerals and fossil fuels are not sustainable and have adverse consequences. These harmful consequences include
depletion of natural resources to unrecoverable levels, air and water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation and
adverse climatic changes like global warming.
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III ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
Environmental concern is comparatively a recent phenomenon, which has regained momentum throughout the
globe. Today the modern technologies, their exceedingly high rate of rapacious exploitation of natural resources, are
responsible for alarming situation of grave environmental crisis and ecological disturbance all above the globe.
Like all other living beings, humans have clearly changed their environment, but they have done so generally on a
grander scale than have other species. Some of these changes, such as the destruction of the world's tropical rain
forest to create grazing land for cattle or the drying up of almost three-quarters of area sea, once the world's fourth-
largest freshwater lake, for irrigation purposes, have led to altered climate patterns. This in turn has changed the
distribution of species of animals and plants.
The problems facing the environment are vast and diverse. Destruction of the world's rain forest, global warming,
the depletion of the ozone layer, sea level rise, climatic change and ecological imbalance are just some of the
problems that will reach critical proportion in the coming decades. Their rates will be directly affected by the size of
the human population.
IV MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS
A problem is a problem and there is only one thing to do with problems of every level, personal or social, and that is
to solve them. Buddhism teaches us to solve all problems at their cause. If we cannot yet solve the cause, then we
must contain the problem, while we search for a cure.9 The major environmental problems are deforestation global
warming, ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity, pollutions etc. and the main causes of these problems are population
explosion, deforestation, rapid industrialization, hyper urbanization and haphazard disposal of wastes. When we
evaluated these problems with the current statistical figures, then we found that the situation become very critical.
This is due to our ignorance and irrespective behavior to environment and craving. These environmental problems
are vast and diverse. Followings are parameter, which need to study to understand environmental problems.
The Buddhist response to deforestation is a clear example of the tension between anthropocentrism and a holistic
understanding of the web of life and the importance of the forest. Traditional Buddhist Communities revolved
around the forest. But, once the process of industrialization began, forests became fuel-giving sources rather than
life-giving sources. The tropical rain forests Lungs of the World a very important global ecosystem is being burnt
and cut down, to create land for pasture and cultivation
4.2 Depletion of Water Resources
Water is an integral part of environment and it is the most valuable element among of the five elements, which are
generally recognized as being present in all phenomena. In human body it consists of roughly 70 percent water and
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our planet is also approximately 70 percent water. And this amount of water never increases or decreases, but the
nature and purity of the water changes. The more we pollute it or allow it to become polluted, the less potable or
usable it becomes. The development of water resources has increased rapidly in order to meet the demand for
diverse uses. But due to uncontrolled development of the water resources has resulted in depletion of surface water
and declining groundwater levels.
Global consumption of groundwater is doubling every 20 years. One billion of people already suffer from a shortage
of ground water. It is estimated that two-thirds of the world population especially in developing country will suffer
severe water shortages in 25 years.This shortage of groundwater is entirely man-made In India, overdraft and
associated quality problems are increasingly emerging.
4.3 Global Warming
The whole of globe is increasing its temperature at an alarming rate. Like the glass panes in a greenhouse, certain
gases in the earths atmosphere permit the suns radiation to heat the earth but retard the escape back out by the
earth. This process referred to as the greenhouse effect. These gases, primarily carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous
oxide and water vapour, insulate the earths surface, helping to maintain warm temperature. If the concentration of
these gases were higher, more heat would be trapped within the atmosphere and worldwide temperatures would rise.
Global temperature increased 10C within the past century and temperature will continue to rise by between 1
3.00C over the next century. Due to global warming we can observe there are tremendous effects around the world.
4.4 Depletion of the Ozone Layer
Ozone considered as a protective shield and earths umbrella because it prevents ultraviolet solar radiation from
reaching the earths surface. Thus the presence of ozone layer in the stratosphere is of vital significance for all biota
including plants, animals and man in the biosphere. The issue of ozone depletion has assumed a global dimension
because the problem of ozone depletion and its adverse consequences have threatened the existence of all form of
life in the biosphere. The depletion of ozone could destroy the growth cycle of plants, change the global energy and
radiation balance, adversely affect hydrological cycle, rises in sea level, melting and retreating of continental
glaciers and ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, decrease immunity to human bodies, causes skin cancer, eye
defects and suppression of mental development of human beings. This will lead our planet to desert.
Pollution from human activities is the major environmental problem across the world. The various types of
pollution, i.e. air pollution, noise pollution, land pollution are increasingly emerging. Among these pollution the air
pollution became a major problem. Because air regulate the precipitation. The main sources of air pollution are
carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulpher dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and deforestation. The main pollutants carbon
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monoxide mainly comes from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, increasing number of motor vehicles, forest
fire etc. One study estimates that the transport sectors emit almost half the carbon monoxide emission produced by
other sources. Power and richness could be shown by having a number of vehicles. Some have more than what they
should have. This is nothing but craving for more goods. Land pollution associated with loss of soil fertility, decline
of productivity, etc. Due to inadequate system of solid waste disposal, lack of open space and over use of chemicals
in farm, land pollution has become another critical environmental problem.
Today, noise is recognized as a serious personal and environmental pollution troubling everyone to some extent. It
causes deafness, stress, irritation and lower efficiency. Silence was an important quality of Buddha and once he
ordered a group of monks to leave monastery for noisy behaviour.18
Pollution to this extent was unheard of during
the time of Buddha. But there is sufficient evidence in the scriptures to provide insight into the Buddhist attitude
towards pollution. Cleanliness, both in the person and in the environment, was highly commanded. Several rules
prohibit monks from polluting green grass and water with saliva, urine and faeces.19
4.6 Loss of Biodiversity
The loss of biological diversity is one of the main environmental problems, because it threatens our food supplies,
species balance and interfaces greenhouse gas absorption. The large numbers of species are being lost every year
and it is difficult to establish current rates of estimation with any certainty. Some scientist believes as many as 25
percent of the worlds total complement of species could be lost over the next few decades. The main causes of loss
of biodiversity are over exploitation of a particular species, commercial use of coral reef, intensification of
agriculture, deforestation and pollution.
V ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT OR REMEDIES
Peace and survival of life on earth as we know it are threatened by human activities which lack a commitment to
humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and depletion of natural resources results from ignorance, greed and lack
of respect for the earths living things. This lack of respect extends even to earths human descendents, the future
generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality, and destruction of
the natural environment continues at the present rate. Many of the earths habitats, plants, insects and even
microorganisms that we know of as rare or endangered, may not be known at all by future generations. We have the
capacity and responsibility. We must act before it is too late. We have numerous Buddhas teachings about the
nature of suffering and the path towards the end of suffering.
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VI BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE ON ENVIRONMENT
6.1 Nature as Teacher
Buddha taught that respect for life and the natural world is essential. By living simply one can be in harmony with
other creatures and learn to appreciate the interconnectedness of all that lives. This simplicity of life involves
developing openness to our environment and relating to the world with awareness and responsive perception. It
enables us to enjoy without manipulation. He said, to live simply, to cherish tranquility, to appreciate the natural
cycle of life. Nature is an ecosystem in which trees affect climate, the soil, the man, and the animals, just as the
climate affects the trees, the soil, the man, the animals, and so on. Nature is not independent and unchanging.
Change is the very essence of nature. Once we treat nature as our friend, to cherish it, then we can see the need to
change from the attitude of dominating nature to an attitude of working with nature. We are an intrinsic part of all
existence rather than seeing ourselves as in control of it.
6.2 Nature as a Spiritual Force
The balance of nature is achieved by the functions of the forest. Survival of the forest is vital to the survival of
natural harmony, balance, morality and environment. Environmentalists have constantly reminded us of the
importance of living in tune with nature to respect all life, to live simply and use nature as a spiritual force. By
being mindful about the daily routine one pays attention to the flow of life to see nature as a positive, joyful,
6.3 Nature as a way of life
The Buddha commanded frugality as a virtue in its own right. Skillful living avoids waste and we should try to
recycle as much as we can. Our demands for material possessions can never be satisfied, we will always need to
acquire more. There is not enough in the universe to truly satisfy us and give us complete satisfaction and
contentment, and no government can fulfill all our desires for security.
We are instructed to be mindful receptive, open, sensitive and not fixed to any one thing, but able to fix on things
according to what is needed in that time and at that place. By developing the right actions of not killing, stealing, or
committing misconduct in sexual desires perhaps we can begin to live with nature, without breaking it or injuring
the rhythm of life. In our livelihoods, by seeking work that does not harm other beings and refraining from trading in
weapons, breathing things, meat, alcohol, and poisons, we can fell more at one with nature. In addition, a few
general measures and actions can also be implemented as part of a plan to maintain and preserve the environment,
VII BUDDHIST SOLUTION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:
1. Environmental problem investigation.
2. Understanding of the cause of the problem and thus the key of the solution.
3. A true understanding of the problem solving path to be developed and followed.
4. Training and development of an environmental ethics/morals.
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5. Accept the realities of nature and implement its rules as basis and goal for environmental management.
6. Try to unite human development and environmental management through a holistic approach by considering all
factors of management as inter-related.
7. Try to fre...