A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change

It is with some trepidation that I post on the Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change because it is important not to (even implicitly) sell my views and opinions through the vehicle of Jade. This blog is aimed at a deeper level of our functioning while, at the same time, acknowledging that we live in a complex world which asks much of us; to unconditionally engage with it. To notice, acknowledge and respond to what’s here sensitively, intelligently, and above all from where the Precepts call back to us, is the only way I know. To prescribe action, or inadvertently to do that, may remove one several levels away from the gift of personal responsibility.

Trouble is our culture tends to feel that to be fair both sides of the argument must be presented! Debate is seen as a self evident good. As if (to use that wonderful teeny expression). As if there were just two sides to anything at all. As if debate in itself is good, or the path to wise action. Might be, might not be. Complexity yes. Yet how to respond? Compassion has to come first, doing nothing is not an option, although, sometimes doing nothing is doing a great deal.

Confused? Depressed? Wish the whole matter (in this instance climate change) were a bad dream? Want to bury your head under the duvet ’till morning? Such thoughts are the stuff of Buddhist practice, what ever one is attempting to ignore. Climate Change or the fact you didn’t recycle that tetra pack juice container, when you knew you could have, asks of us to lift ourselves out of our beds and take a look. Honestly.

Having talked my way towards this declaration, here is orientation to the statement:

In the run-up to the crucial U.N. Climate Treaty Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, the Declaration that follows will present to the world’s media a unique spiritual view of climate change and our urgent responsibility to address the solutions. It emerged from the contributions of over 20 Buddhist teachers of all traditions to the book A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency. The Time to Act is Now was composed as a pan-Buddhist statement by Zen teacher Dr David Tetsuun Loy and senior Theravadin teacher Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi with scientific input from Dr John Stanley.

The Dalai Lama was the first to sign this Declaration. We invite all concerned members of the international Buddhist community to study the document and add their voice by co-signing it at the end of this page.

The statement follows…

Have I signed? I’m not saying. Climate change is at once a huge matter of immediate global concern and…how one responds (the details of that response), both inwardly and outwardly, is unique unto each of us.

As in this instance so in every instance of our responding.

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4 thoughts on “A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change”

  1. Arggg… this issue drives me crazy for so many reasons…

    …I’ve just deleted about 2 pages worth of rant LOL!

    Whatever ‘the powers that be’ do or finally decide are the reasons for climate changes (and I include organisations of religions as well as governments) I will plod on trying to reduce, re-use, and recyle, act local, think global and all th rest and try to keep the 3 pure precepts as best I can.

    Will I sign or not, I really don’t know, yet…

    Stirred up the rebelious child in me ;O)

    In gassho, Kevin

  2. I saw a very interesting t Shirt the other day that this reminded me of: “If we keep going the way we are going, we will end up there.” which leads to the saying “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

    I was waiting at the bus stop the other day on my way to work and it just hit me out of the blue like a thunderclap that just about every car (mostly large “SUV” types) only had one person in each vehicle. Amazing. Some one said to me the other day that one cannot complain about Traffic if one is one of the people in it.

    If people would just take a real look at how silly it looks to be driving a 6 passenger vehicle by themselves alongside another one in the same scenario going to and from the same parts of town on the way to work every day all the while wondering where the traffic keeps coming from, it almost seems to be a Caricature of Monty Pythonesque proportions!

    On a lighter note I have a new sign on the bottom of my longboard which says “Oh no, I feel another learning experience coming on!”. Looking to make it through this summer without breaking too many bones.

    In gassho,


  3. Usually, anything supported by the Dalai Lama is OK by me. I guess that’s why he is careful about expressing some of his views, as you are. One of the things I liked very much about Rev Master Jiyu-Kennett was her willingness to speak out on some subjects to do with action.
    I like your comment that there might be more than just two sides to discussions.

  4. Thank you for pointing this up and for your preamble. It is an excellent declaration which has helped me to make a more defined link between my practice, my lifestyle and the world. Compassion is the key. One day I might write a treatise on “Compassion and the tetra pack”. In the mean time I will try to use the duvet to keep warm and the recycling bin for practice.
    Love Nic

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