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ARC Home > Faiths and Ecology > Buddhism > Eco-quotations :

Buddhist quotations about the Environment

"Before I became enlightened, I chopped wood and carried water. After I became enlightened, I chopped wood and carried water.

- Zen saying

"The temple bell stops. But the sound keeps coming - out of the flowers"

- Basho, 17th-century Buddhist poet

"However innumerable beings are, I vow to save them."

- One of the Four Vows of the Bodhisattva, taken from Agape Love: A Tradition Found in Eight World Religions by Sir John Templeton, 1999, Templeton Press.

“The world grows smaller and smaller, more and more interdependent…today more than ever before life must be characterised by a sense of Universal Responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.”

- His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama

“Whether they belong to more evolved species like humans or to simpler ones such as animals, all beings primarily seek peace, comfort, and security. Life is as dear to the mute animal as it is to any human being; even the simplest insect strives for protection from dangers that threaten its life. Just as each one of us wants to live and does not wish to die, so it is with all other creatures in the universe, though their power to effect this is a different matter.”

- The Dalai Lama

The Ecobuddhism website includes a short video of Thrangu Rinpoche and his answer to the question of what the Buddhist sangha should do in response to climate change. Acknowledging that Guru Rinpoche's prediction of a time when the "snowy mountains wear black hats" was probably a prediction of a time of climate change, he suggested that Buddhists take two steps. First they inform themselves about how things are, so they can understand what steps to take. And second, and at the same time, they make aspiration prayers to the three precious jewels. "Is that going to directly stop global warming?" he asks, rhetorically. "No. But it will gradually help to transform our minds, and then we will make efforts to help the situation. So it is not by any means a pointless thing to do."

"Suppose a man were wounded by an arrow, and when the surgeon arrived, he said to him, "Don't pull out this arrow until I know who shot it, what tree it comes from, who made it, and what kind of bow was used." Certainly the man would die before he discovered the answers. In the same way, if you say you will not be a monk unless I solve all the questions of the world, you are likely to die unsatisfied". Majjhima Nikaya, from "Buddha Speaks," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000.

"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child--our own two eyes. All is a miracle." Thich Nhat Hanh, "Miracle of Mindfulness"

“We need to live as the Buddha taught us to live, in peace and harmony with nature, but this must start with ourselves. If we are going to save this planet we need to seek a new ecological order, to look at the life we lead and then work together for the benefit of all; unless we work together no solution can be found. By moving away from self-centeredness, sharing wealth more, being more responsible for ourselves, and agreeing to live more simply, we can help decrease much of the suffering in the world,” from the Buddhist Statement on Ecology 1996.

“All men are my children. What I desire for my own children, and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, that I desire for all men. You do not understand to what extent I desire this, and if some of you do understand, you do not understand the full extent of my desire.

You must attend to this matter. While being completely law- abiding, some people are imprisoned, treated harshly and even killed without cause so that many people suffer. Therefore your aim should be to act with impartiality. It is because of these things - envy, anger, cruelty, hate, indifference, laziness or tiredness — that such a thing does not happen. Therefore your aim should be: “May these things not be in me.” And the root of this is non-anger and patience. Those who are bored with the administration of justice will not be promoted; (those who are not) will move upwards and be promoted. Whoever among you understands this should say to his colleagues: “See that you do your duty properly. Such and such are Beloved-of-the-Gods’ instructions.” Great fruit will result from doing your duty, while failing in it will result in gaining neither heaven nor the king’s pleasure.”
King Ashoka, who made Buddhism the state religion of India in 260BC.

“Twenty- six years after my coronation various animals were declared to be protected — parrots, ruddy geese, wild ducks, bats, queen ants, terrapins, boneless fish, fish, tortoises, porcupines, squirrels, deer, bulls, wild asses, wild pigeons, domestic pigeons and all four-footed creatures that are neither useful nor edible. Those nanny goats, ewes and sows which are with young or giving milk to their young are protected, and so are young ones less than six months old. Cocks are not to be caponized, husks hiding living beings are not to be burnt and forests are not to be burnt either without reason or to kill creatures. One animal is not to be fed to another..[at special festivals] …, fish are protected and not to be sold. During these days animals are not to be killed in the elephant reserves or the fish reserves either. ..[on special times of the year]…bulls are not to be castrated, billy goats, rams, boars and other animals that are usually castrated are not to be. horses and bullocks are not be branded. In the twenty-six years since my coronation prisoners have been given amnesty on twenty-five occasions.”
King Ashoka

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