Shanghai Buddhists launch their Eight Year Eco-Plan with a celebration and a promise
April 15, 2010:
The ancient and influential Jade Buddha Monastery in Shanghai today launched the Shanghai Buddhist Eight Year Plan to Protect the Living Planet (click here for Chinese) with a meeting of monks and nuns from all the monasteries in this vast city of 24 million people. They discussed and committed to practical and prayerful actions to protect the environment.
The plan, spearheaded by Abbot Jue Xing of Jade Buddha Monastery, is immediately to start spreading the idea to Chinese Buddhists across China. It is one of the programmes that has arisen as a result of the ARC-UNDP Long Term Commitments for a Living Planet programme, which was launched at the Windsor, UK event in November.
“Shanghai has always been at the vanguard of Chinese thinking and development, and today, Shanghai is at the forefront of Buddhist conservation, ecological thinking and action to protect nature.” said ARC’s director Martin Palmer, who attended the launch.
“With 200 million Chinese Buddhists spread out across this great country only an organisation as dynamic as the Shanghai Buddhist Association could even dream of reaching out to every major monastery in China to launch a programme of environmental action.”
He said the delegates from ARC and our partner organisations were “moved, excited and humbled by the energy and enthusiasm that greeted the Eight Year Plan when it was launched today.”
At the launch, Abbot Jue Xing said that for 20 years his temple had been trying to teach people that extravagance was not the way to live a Buddhist life. He spoke movingly and powerfully about the importance of a vegetarian lifestyle, about the importance – and symbolic significance – of simple incense-burning, and about how all Buddhists should seek the release from captivity and cruelty of all living creatures.
He committed his temple and the other temples in Shanghai to greening their monastery buildings and gardens, radically cutting their energy usage and working diligently with the millions of lay people to come to the temples every year. The intention was to educate people in how Buddhist compassion is not just for them, but for all life.
The event was covered by a great deal of media including nearly 20 film crews.
What is the Shanghai Buddhist Eight Year Plan?
We are living on a planet where the environment is deteriorating, and where many of the natural resources are increasingly being stretched. This is often seen as an external issue, but in the Buddhist teaching “our habitat is
created by our hearts” it is taught that our environment is caused by the “shared action” or “karma” of humankind. Following from this teaching, Buddhism believes that the only way to begin changing
our existing environment, is to change our inner mind. But how can people’s minds be open to change when they are already lost in the pursuit of high-consumption. The Shanghai Buddhist Eight Year Plan is an attempt to address this. Link here for the full plan in English and in Chinese.
Link here for the Phoenix TV, Hong Kong, coverage, including photos of the event.