Religion and the Environmental Crisis Introduction Scholar of religion Mary Evelyn Tucker, an important voice in the academic field of religion and ecology, declared in 2003 “the environmental crisis calls the religions of the world to respond by finding their voice in the larger Earth community. In so doing, the religions are now entering their ecological phase. ” Religion gives the environment a divine nature a factor that enriches environmental activism. Since religion is the most binding authority over all humans, it is the best yardstick for addressing environmental concern.
A careful examination of Jewish and Buddhist environmental sources and activism suggest that from the beginning, religion has been linked to environmental protection. Textual, ethical, legal, and philosophical sources Buddha’s life illustrates how much Buddha loved nature. To begin with, Buddha was born in Nepal a place of natural beauty. He was born in a forest further emphasizing the Buddhist appreciation of nature. Buddha preached his first Dhammacakkapabattansutta in the Deer park and passed away at Sala forest of Malla at Kushinara. This shows the initial attachments of Buddhists to nature. According to Donald K.
Swearer, in Buddhism, "not unlike the biological sciences, rebirth links human and animal species, ” meaning there is a link between humans and animals. The Buddhists believe in a certain interconnectedness in nature that, "The health of the whole is inseparably linked to the health of the parts, and the health of the parts is inseparably linked to the health of the whole” (Gottlieb 102). Similarly, some of the Buddha-nature found in china including trees, streams, rocks and lotuses are part of a continuous ecosystem. The power of nature in the Buddha religion forms the real basis of the religion.
First, because the Buddha spent six years in the forest meditating and Buddhist followers often retreat to nature hence they have a powerful ethical foundation to support a healthy eco system and “green” lifestyle. In one of the Buddhist sources, the relationship between a tree and a human being is described as follows, “the tree indeed is the bearer of the flower and the fruit… the tree gives the shade to all people who come near… the tree does not give shade differently.
(Milindapañhā, VI, 409 – “rukkho nāma pupphaphaladharo…rukkho upagatānamanuppaviţţhānam janānam chāyam deti…, rukkho chāyāvemattam na karoti”). These characteristics show that the relationship between human beings and nature should be mutual.
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