Healing Ecology: A Buddhist Perspective on the Eco-crisis
Does Buddhism offer any special perspective on the ecological crisis? Do its teachings imply a different way of understanding the biosphere, and our relationship to it, which can really help us at this critical time in history when we are doing so much to destroy it?
There are reasons to doubt it: after all, Śākyamuni Buddha lived in a very different time and place, Iron Age India. But the Buddha did know about dukkha, the term usually translated as “suffering” yet to be understood in the broadest sense: dissatisfaction, discontent, anxiety—basically, our manifest inability to be happy, which does not mean that life is always miserable but that even those who are wealthy and healthy experience a disease that keeps gnawing. That we find life frustrating, one damn problem after another, is not accidental, because it is the nature of an unawakened mind to be bothered about something.
What, if anything, does that imply about the ecological crisis? There are precise and profound parallels between our usual individual predicament, according to Buddhism, and the present situation of human civilization. This suggests that the eco-crisis is as much a spiritual challenge as a technological and economic one. Does this mean that there is also a parallel between the two solutions? Does the Buddhist response to our personal predicament also point the way to resolving our collective one? ...