Thursday, 31 March 2011

Buddhist Attitude towards the Living Environment


The life of the individual is constantly related to the biological physical and social environment. Therefore Buddhist teachings are given taking this environment into consideration. Here our special attention paid to living (biological and botanical) environment. Buddhism is also taken human relationship into consideration. It will be dealt with in detail later.

In modern time due to advancement of scientific knowledge and multi-faceted uses of technologic the living environment is faced with destructive thread. This thread is challenging the healthy existence of earth, ocean, space, etc. Due to industrialization we are having serious environment issue. Such as increasing of heat in the air, damaging ozone layer, malting of snow in the North Pole, arising of the sea water level, decreasing of the land area, deforestation, widening of desert, decreasing pure water, destruction of wild life, disappearing of botanical verity, increasing atomic raise in the environment, emerging of new diseases and disappearing of natural resources that can be produced by men.

In the society where Buddhism emerge the environment was not treated as today. Therefore the Buddha had known necessity to speak about or instruct about the preservation of environment so specially. Therefore in Buddhism, we don’t come across a direct address to each of modern issue mention above. But from the teaching of the Buddha we can understand that, the Buddha maintains a very healthy attitude towards well being and good maintains of the natural environment. To call the order of nature or natural living, Buddhism uses the term Dhamma or Dhammata. According to Buddhism everything in natural world is subjected to change. If the man lives realizing the order of function of the nature and natural environment will be preserve well. As Buddhism understands ethical way of human life and preservation of natural environment has a close relationship. We examine this idea in Buddhism, it is understood that Buddhism is very sensitive on natural environment. Therefore, we can examine the natural environment oriental ethical teachings in Buddhism.

Some among human beings live without virtue and in a way the natural environment is destroyed. The ßAmaJJaphalasutta of DM says that trees are of five kinds in the botanical world as they reproduce their off-shoots. 
1.  µUla bhIjaM –plants reproducing from root
2.  Khandha bIjaM –plants reproducing from stem
3.  Phalu bIjaM – plants reproducing from junctures
4.  ågga bIjaM – plants reproducing from seeds
Even killing of such plants is violating the moral precept of the noble one. 

“… mUlabIjaM, khandhabIjaM, phalubIjaM, aggabIjaM, BijabIjameva paJcamaM itivAti evarUpA bIjagAma bhUtagAma samArambhA pativiratao hoti idampissa hoti sIlasmiM

This teaching of the Buddha highlights two principles.
1.   Buddhism deeply understands the need of environment protection. So human beings are encourages to do it to the best of their ability.
2.   Scientific knowledge nature does not encourage preserving it but moral qualities can better encourage people to protect the environment.

In the Buddha’s time the brahmanic sacrifices were organized I such a way that they do not preserve living things but destroy them. Beings were sloughed in thousand numbers; trees were cut down to arrange the sacrificial ground. According to Buddhism they are unrighteous sacrifices. For the yAga to righteous should be to away from any form of harm to living things. In the KUTadantasuuta of DN the Buddha says that “at that time I the brahmanic sacrifice cattle were not soughed, goats were no sloughed, cocks were no sloughed and picks were not sloughed various beings were not killed, a tree was cut for sacrificial tomb and grass were not cleared for the sacrificial ground”

†asmiM kho brahmaNayaJJe neva gAvo haJJimsu na ajelakA haJJimsu na kukkuTasUkarA haJJimsu na vividhApAGA saGghAtaM Apajjimsu na rukkhaM chijjhimsu yUpatthAya na dabhA luyimsu barihisatthAya

This shows that non-destruction of living things is one characteristic of righteousness. In this world everything has relationship to many other things in living. The good relationship among beings and natural phenomena makes the life both well and good. In the µilindapaJhA the relationship of a tree to human is explained as follows.
2.   Rukkho nāma pupphaphaladharo ­­ - the tree indeed is the bearer of the flower and the fruit.
3.   Rukkho upagatamanupaviţţhānam janānam chāya deti - the tree gives the shade to all people who come near.
4.   Rukkho chāya vemattam nakaroti – The tree does not give shade differently (it gives equally).

These characteristics of the nature show that although the nature is helpful to human being it is not expecting any return. Nature treats beings impartially.

Depending on this philosophy the Petavatthu says the following.
Yassa rukkhassa chāyāya - nisīdeyya sayeyya vā
tassa sākham na chindeyya - mittadubbho hi pāpako.
=If one was to sleep or sit under shade of a tree he may not break the branches that tree. If he does so he is an evil false friend. 

The natural forest has special relationship to the Buddhist path of practice for the Buddha encourages his disciples to go to the forest to practice which is free from people (vijanavātāni), away from general human habitat (manussarāhaseyyekāni). According to the Dhammapada the seeker of sensual pleasure do not delight in beautiful forest, yet the arahats do for they are not sensual pleasure seekers do.
Ramaniyāni araJJāni - yattha na ramati jano
vītaragā ramessanti - na te kāmagavesino.   

Being delighted in the natural beauty is not a form of attachment because the worthy ones see delight (assāda), bad results (adīnava) and renunciation of anything (nissaranam). Ascetic Siddhartha stayed in Gāya before enlightenment (anabhisambuddho) taking its natural beauty and the charming lands-cape into consideration. Even after the Enlightenment the Buddha explained the natural beauty at GAya to the monks.

RamanIya vata bhUmibhAgo pAsAdiko ca vanasaNDo nadi ca sandati. SetakA suppatitthA ramaNIyo, samantA ca gocaragAmo alaM vatidaM kulaputtassa padhAnAyo.

This shows the environment sensitivity in Buddhism.
YA pana ucchAraM vA passAvaM vA saMkhAraM vA vighAsaM vA harite chaDDhayya vA chaDDhApeyya vA pAcittiyaM.
(BhikkhunI vibhanga, PAcittiyapAli.)
=Whoever would throw or would cause to throw urine, excreta, refuse and food remaining on greening grass clean environment is committing forfeiture offence.
“Na udake ucchAraM vA passAvaM vA khelaM vA karissAmIti sikkhA karaNiyA.
=One should train that he will not throw urine, excreta or spite on water”.

Spreading loving kindness and compassion to all the beings is a quality highlighted in Buddhist way of life. These qualities are developed towards all the living things. It develops in the person who establishes in the right view as a path of his morality.

PANAtipAtaM pahAya pANAtipAtA paTivirato nihjitadaNDo nihitasattho lajjI dayApanno sabbApANAbhUatahiAanukumpi viharati idampissa hoti sIlasmiM.
(SAmaJJAphalasutta, DN)
Buddhism considers protecting animals and birds righteous as one of the duties a good king.
∂hammaM eva nissAya dhammaM garukaroto dhammikaM rakkhAvaranahuttiM samvidahassa migakkhIsu
(CakkavattisIhanadasutta, DN)

ümmadanti JAtaka gives the followings advice to the king.
∂hammaM cara maharaja - migapakkhIsu khattiya,
idha dhammaM carutvAna - rAja saggaM gamissasi.

This information shows that Buddhism appreciates and encourages friendly co-existence among human life animal life and plant life. They help each other to live their friendliness towards each other makes life of the all healthy beneficial and long existence. Buddhist teaching therefore encourages its followers to be friendly to every living thing.

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