Religion & ConservationBy: Brittnee BeltSarah OettleArianna JezariSteven BieberlySavannah Loftus
“Buddhism is a dharmic, non-theistic religion and a philosophy. Buddhism is also known as Buddha Dharma or Dhamma, which means the "teachings of the Awakened One" in Sanskrit and Pali, the languages of ancient Buddhist texts. Buddhism was founded around the fifth century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama, hereafter referred to as "the Buddha". • “Prince Siddhartha is believed by Buddhists to have been born in Lumbini and raised in Kapilavastu near the present day Indian-Nepalese border. After his attainment of enlightenment at the age of 35, he was known as the Buddha and spent some 45 years teaching his insights (the Buddha Dharma). Buddhism spread throughout the Indian subcontinent in the five centuries following the Buddha's passing, and into Asia and elsewhere over the next two millennia.” – (Wikipedia.com)
Buddhism emphasizes liberation from worldly desires which are the cause of all suffering and pain. This suffering ceases only when the desire ceases and the subject or follower has achieved an enlightened state known as “nirvana” – a state achieved through meditation, right conduct and wisdom which releases one from all worldly desire and suffering. According to Buddhist practitioners, the way to the cessation of suffering is “the Noble Eightfold Path.” • Part of this doctrine emphasizes a teaching of morality called “Sila” which includes a ‘Right to Livelihood,’ the obtainment of which may not harm in any way, oneself or others; neither directly nor indirectly. • This belief translates to a much less destructive anthropocentric view of nature than that of many developing and or developed nations given that the Buddhists instrumental use of nature cannot be harmful or detrimental to the individual or society according to the principle of “Sila” laid out in Buddhists doctrine. Therefore, any environmental impact which may be perceived as dangerous to human-beings must be avoided. • In addition to respect and observance for human creatures, Buddhists also assert value and sanctity of other species based on a mutual dependence upon the environment as the ultimate source of life and wellbeing. • These values are mandated in “The Buddhist Declaration on Nature” as stated by Lungrig Namgyal Rinpoche, Abbot – a prominent expert of Buddhist philosophy and doctrine.
The Buddhist Declaration on Nature • Presented by: Venerable Lungrig Namgyal Rinpoche, Abbot, Gyuto Tantric University • According to Rinpoche, when it comes to nature, other beings aside from humans need to be taken into account – mainly because they too are sensitive to happiness and suffering. • Many humans judge both nature and living creatures based on their instrumental value to the human race. That is to say, that an animal is only useful so long as it can benefit a human being. Such views of nature are largely responsible for human indifference of nature as well as cruelty to animals. • Buddhists regard their survival as an inalienable right. As co-inhabitants of the universe, other species must also have this right. Therefore, because human-beings as well as non-human “sentient” beings depend upon the environment as the ultimate source of life and wellbeing, Buddhist must share in the conviction that the conservation of the environment along with the restoration of the imbalance caused by human negligence in the past, must be implemented with courage and determination.
This principle of conservation was also juxtaposed by another prominent Buddhist philosopher by the name of Daisaku Ikeda, who is also an author, and president of Soka Gakkai International, a nongovernmental organization and lay Buddhist association with more than 12 million members around the world. • “Ikeda's approach provides a bridge between Eastern and Western thought that is a valuable contribution to environmental philosophy” (Paterson p. 9). • “Ikeda's philosophy is based on Buddhist thought, central to which is the concept of dependent origination (also called dependent co-arising). The doctrine of dependent origination expresses the interdependence of all things, meaning that beings or phenomena cannot exist on their own, but exist or occur because of their relationship with other beings and phenomena. In this view, everything in the world comes into existence in response to internal causes and external conditions; in other words, nothing can exist independent of other things or arise in isolation. As Ikeda explains in "Dialogues on Eastern Religion" (Xianlin et al. 2001),"According to this view, when one particular cause or set of causes exists then a certain result comes about; when one entity comes into being, so does another entity" (Paterson p. 9). • “This concept of dependent origination is compatible with the biological concept of symbiosis. Each human being exists within the context of interrelationships that include not only other human beings but all living beings and the natural world. Interestingly, Ikeda does not consider this relationship as one-sided (i.e., human beings depend on the natural environment in order to flourish), but as a mutual relationship of interdependence.” (Paterson p.9)
Therefore, according to Ikeda humans depend on other members of the natural world in order to survive. This concept is a simple matter of biological cause and effect. This concept can be seen in terms of trophic levels within the environment. That is to say, if man eliminates one species at any level of the food chain particularly that of a keystone species (species that have especially great impact on other community members and on the community’s identity) such as a wolf, the resulting ecosystem can be overrun by dear which can cause overgrazing and ultimately lead to the destruction of not only every trophic level in existence within any given community but it can also devastate human populations who rely on those species for sustenance.
“In the tradition of Buddhist thought, Ikeda s exposition of the theories of dependent origination and the oneness of life and its environment transcends the man-nature dualism. This approach provides a bridge between environmental ethics and the resolution of practical environmental problems. Ikeda's work does not in itself constitute an environmental ethic. However, the concepts of dependent origination and the oneness of life and environment provide an ample platform for developing such an ethic. To Ikeda, ethics are not a matter of timeless rules that can be applied to particular situations. Rather, ethics depend on a sensitivity toward the principle of dependent origination. Consequently, Ikeda's aim is not the development of an abstract theory but rather the empowerment of the individual to lead "a contributive way of life… based on an awareness of the interdependent nature of our lives--of the relationships that link us to others and our environment" (Ikeda 2002). • “The modern conservation paradigm, conservation for and with people, requires that we overcome the dualism of human versus nature, which creates antagonism between conservationists and other people. Ikeda's philosophy provides a basis for a conservation philosophy that sees the conservationist not as a defender of the natural world against the harmful impact of human actions but as one who realizes the interdependences both between people and between people and nature, and who strives to awaken such awareness in others in order to achieve a better future for all.” (Paterson p.9).
founded in the early 1st century AD, with the teaching, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. • Today it is the largest religion in the world, with around 2 billion followers. Especially dominant in the western world, • A Christian is one who believes in one God who has no equal in glory or in authority. • Teachings: Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit • his life on earth, his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven are proof of God's love for humanity and God's forgiveness of human sins; and that by faith in Jesus one may attain salvation and eternal life. • Holy Book: the Bible
The obligation of humans to respect and protect the natural environment is a theme that appears throughout the Bible • nature-protection regulations for trees: Deuteronomy 20:19- “When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them?” … Genesis 19:23-25, Leviticus 19:23 • Stressing the reverence humans should have toward the land, the Scriptures impart a strong conservation message, warning against over-utilizing and wearing out natural resources- Leviticus (25:3-5) “For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. • kind treatment of animals may ensure oneself of a long life- Deuteronomy 22:6-7- If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.
Facts about the religion: • World’s 3rd largest religion • No specific founder • Worlds oldest religion • 13% of world’s population claims Hinduism as their religion • Dominant religion in India, Nepal, and among the Tamils in Sri Lanka • Polytheistic- believes in many gods • Believe in reincarnation and karma
Role in conservation: • Believes the great forces of nature and various orders of life are bound to each other within the great rhythms of nature • In order to live a simple life like the Hindu religion asks for, followers to not run after materialistic objects or disturb nature's checks and balances • Followers are told not to use items such as oil, coal, or forest at a greater rate than it can be replenished • The Bhagavad-Gita claims that a life without contribution towards the preservation of ecology is a purposeless life of sin • A follower that does not contribute to the conservation of nature is views as a destroyer of all life • Earth is considered our mother. It is our job that her children preserve her. • Many Hindus are vegetarians. This is because they feel that they should protect animals, especially cows because it is believed that we evolved from them and these animals vegetate our land and give us food without us asking it.
Facts about Islam • Prophet founder: Mohammad • It is the second biggest religion in the world today • Muslims worship their God which they refer to as Allah • The Muslim holy book is the Qur’an • The word Muslim, in Arabic, means “one who submits to God” • The essence of Islamic teaching is that the entire universe is Allah’s creation
Islamic Role in Conservation • Muslim’s believe that our role on this earth is that of a khalifa, a deputy or trustee of God. We were placed on this earth as stewards and agents, not masters. • They believe that this Earth does not belong to us to do what we wish to it. • They believe that the Earth belongs to God and He has entrusted us to care for it. • The khalifa is answerable for his or her actions, for the way in which he/she uses or abuses God’s trust. • Conservation of plants, animals and the world around us are vital elements that are fundamental to the preservation and continuation of life. • God has created everything we see around us and nothing He has created in this universe has been in vain, without wisdom, value and purpose, thus we must care for all things that surround us. • Plants, animals, and man all depend on water for their existence and for the continuation of their lives. The conservation of water is crucial; in the holy book it states: “We made from water every living thing.” (Quran 21:30) • Any activity which pollutes/ruins the air, water, or land we live on; its function is an attempt to obstruct God’s wisdom toward His creation and is against Islamic principal.
Judaism is one of the oldest religions on Earth. It believes there is only one God. There are about 13 million followers of Judaism, called Jews. There are Jewish laws, statutes, and guidelines for most parts of life. These are taught in both written and oral traditions. • It is important to know that Judaism is a religion, but the words Jewish and Jew mean not only believers of this religion, but also other members of the national group of the Jewish people. Some Jews are religious, and believe in God, and follow the Jewish religious rules. Other Jews do not have religious beliefs, but consider themselves ethnically or culturally Jewish. There are also Jews who follow other religions besides Judaism. • Today there are three main kinds of Judaism: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism.
Judaism focuses on relationships: the relationship between G-d and mankind, between G-d and the Jewish people, between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and between human beings. Our scriptures tell the story of the development of these relationships, from the time of creation, through the creation of the relationship between G-d and Abraham, to the creation of the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people, and forward. The scriptures also specify the mutual obligations created by these relationships, although various movements of Judaism disagree about the nature of these obligations. Some say they are absolute, unchanging laws from G-d (Orthodox); some say they are laws from G-d that change and evolve over time (Conservative); some say that they are guidelines that you can choose whether or not to follow (Reform, Reconstructionist).