Thursday, 31 March 2011

Buddhist Attitude towards Material (Physical) Environment


If any damage is done to natural environment it is due to the way of human being consume the environment. Therefore, Buddhism recommends some principles of ethics related to the environment. Here our attention is paid to the Buddha attitude on material environment. It includes earth, air, water etc. Food clothing and lodging are basic need of human beings. In preparing them for used and in consuming natural resources for that this needs it is necessary that the human being should used them in such a way that those resources are not eradicated from earth. It is undoubtedly a part of sammA ĀjIva (right livelihood).   
It is necessary that the human being learns to be contented but not to be greedy. The resources are not unlimited. But his greed of human being either does not know or care these limitations. Due the consumeristic life style and greedy consumption of the natural resources, the world is becoming poor. E.F. Schumacher in his work “Small is Beauty” quoted the following words of Mahatma Gandhi “Earth provides enough to satisfy everyman needs, but not for everyman’s greed”
      In Buddhist way of life there is concept called santuTThi which means contentedness. The ∂hammapada says that the contentedness is the best wealth. It means being contented with basic needs or not to destroy the resources for satisfying the mean. 
The use of resources with care and contentedness is emphasizing in Buddhism very often. In the Vyaggapajjasutta of AN says four Buddhist principles of life. 
1.   üTThAnasampadA heedfulness
2.   ĀrakkhasampadA – preservation
3.   KalyanamittAtA – good association
4.   ßamajIvikatA – balance life

The four principles in Buddhism teach the principle of contentedness. The wastages of resources are explained in Buddhism with simile of careless eating of fruit. A person goes to a fruit tree and shade the tree and all the ripe and young fruit fall down. “He eats a couple of ripe fruits then he leave other such there.” His carelessness destroys many fruits to be consumed by others. This is one extreme of the use of resources, it is the wastages. The extreme is practice is not consuming the things at all. The simile given to clarify this is that such a wealth of a rich man which is never consumed is like a pond in the custody of demon. Buddhism discourages both these extremist practices and teaches to use money in a balance way. It is moderate use of wealth and resources.
      Avoiding the two extremist practices in the consumption of wealth Buddhism encourages the man to use it in a way it develops more.  The Buddha advises the house holder ßigAla as follows.

Ekena bhoge bhuJjeyya dvihi kammaM payojaye
catutthaJca nidhapeyya Apadasu bhavissati
=One portion for consumption, two portion investment (business)
One (of the four) is saving, and another last portion for future used.
      According to the above verse id to be used for three purposes, namely, 25% consumption, 50% investment, and 25% saving. These are three activities to be done with earned wealth. It further says that we should not use all the wealth for consumption it should be small portion, always a bigger portion should be invested to make more or to enrich one’s income and another portion should be saved to use in case of emergency. This is the proper plane for the use of wealth as said by the Buddha to ßigAda.
      The Kulasutta of AN says how to maintain the development of income in a family.

1.   ñaTThaM gavesenti they replace finished or lost wealth
2.   JiNNaM paTisaMkaronti they replace finished or damage
3.   Paramita pAnabhojanA hoti they have limited consumption
4.   ßIlavantaM itthaM vA purisaM vA Adhipacce ThApenti they keep a vitreous person in leadership.

The Kulasutta of AN further says that if these principles are followed that family, institute, organization or society will not decline but progress. 
      The PaJcasatikakakkhadhaka records another incident which highlights the Buddhist attitude in the proper management of resources. Once, king Udena questioned Ven. Ānanda why he has received three hundred robes from the women of his royal resident. Thinking that such large quantity of cloth of cloth will serve no purpose with leads a simple life. In response Ven. Ānanda described how the robes are used in community. Those robes are given to monks who have decayed robes. The decayed robes are used as bed-sits after that they are used for pillow cases, the already pillow cases are used for carpets, then that cloth are use for door-mates. The old door-mates are used for dusters, at last when they are about to be decayed totally they are used to construct well being mixed with mud. The king Udena was very happy with the management of resources in the order of monks, being thus live king offered another five hundred cloths to community. The usage in the order shows that always the resources should be used with proper management.
      Above information shows that Buddhism maintains the idea that resources should be properly used. Man has to be systematic managing and be careful towards used of resources. So that they will be preserved for the used of    future generation who will be born.

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