Thursday, June 29, 2017

Buddhist Environmentalism in the Digital Age

Vol. 14 No. 2, 2016


The environmental crisis is an ongoing problem facing humanity, and may be exacerbated in the digital age in which human preoccupation with the digital environment and cyberspace might trump care and concern for the natural environment. The environmental crisis is a complex issue that requires interdisciplinary approaches to address all of its dimensions—social, economic, political, and spiritual, etc. Religions have been enlisted in this e ort because they are seen as an e ective force in motivating people to change attitudes and behaviors that are environmentally destructive to those that are more benign towards ecosystems. Buddhism is among the world religions whose teachings have been perceived to be environmentally friendly. This paper sets out to consider the role of Buddhism in the e ort to address the environmental crisis in the digital age. It does so by: (1) describing the danger of human and nature alienation in the Asian social-cultural context, where Buddhism is most practiced and has the greatest direct and indirect in uence on the life of the people; (2) outlining basic Buddhist teachings that apply to nature; and (3) proposing that Buddhism can assert itself in the digital age in order to promote greater environmental well-being.

Keywords: Buddhism, environmental crisis, digital age, digital era, technological nature 

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Religious Environmentalism and Environmental Sustainability in Asia

Anthony Le Duc



The phase of the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) adopted by the United Nations at the beginning of 2000 has given way to the program of seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) ratified in 2015, to be implemented until 2030. While the number of SDGs is more than twice that of MDGs and more comprehensive in outlook, examination of the individual goals indicates that most if not all of the SDGs are either directly related to environmental sustainability or indirectly concerned with the quality of the environment. This is not surprising because nations have realized, if somewhat late, that human well-being cannot be dissociated from the quality of ecosystems. The escalating global environmental crisis threatens economic and social stability and makes the innate human desire for happiness even more difficult to attain. The issue, moreover, has grown into something that cannot be confined to a single or even a few sectors of society, or that can be adequately addressed by politicians or scientists alone. Rather, achieving environmental sustainability, which is an essential component of the SDGs program, requires an interdisciplinary, dialectical, and dialogical approach involving a diverse collection of individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions. Political will, social and economic reforms, scientific and technological know-how, and religious and personal commitment are all part of the effort to address the environmental woes of the modern era. The role and contribution of religious systems and traditions for the achievement of SDGs , particularly in Asia, is the focus of this chapter. This chapter aims to present the following: (1) stating the reasons why religion is essential to the aspirations of the SDGs in Asia and (2) exploring how the major religions in Asia can contribute to promoting environmental sustainability by providing a framework for (a) assessing the root cause of environmental destruction; (b) envisioning a religious-based approach to how human beings could relate to the natural environment; and (c) presenting how religion promotes harmonious human-nature relationship through a program of self-cultivation and self-transformation . This chapter hopes to demonstrate that the task of achieving the SDGs in Asia is tied with the concern of religion and progress depends greatly on the improved state of human moral and spiritual well-being that religion aims to promote.


Anthony Le Duc 

Verbum SVD 57:3-4 (2016)


Buddhism is often seen as a religion or worldview offering an important ethical grounding for a positive approach to ecology. The author explains some fundamental convictions in Theravada Bud- dhism with regard to the self-understanding of the human person and its relationships to other levels of being and to nature. He pre- sents the Buddhist analysis of the present-day environmental crisis in our world as well as the motivation for action and the tools to bring about a different attitude. There, he shows that the horizontal dimension of relations to other humans, animals and nature in general cannot be separated from a vertical dimension. Thus, he treats Theravada Buddhism in a spiritual perspective, beyond the ethical one. That shows Buddhism with its option for human action here and now, even if the permanent happiness of nibbāna remains an ultimate vision which nevertheless takes shape in today’s de- mands for personal and social change and caring relationships.