Global Buddhist Congregation endorses global declaration on environment preservation
Buddhist scholars and environment conservationists today endorsed a global declaration to apply Buddhist principles in societal, consumer and political decision-making frameworks to address the current environmental crisis.
In recent years, there is a growing tendency for humans to influence environmental and conservation decisions for short-term gains. Indiscriminate developmental activities have drastically modified the environment, causing negative implications to life on earth.
Exploring for solutions to this crisis in Buddhism, the Asoka Mission in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and its partner the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW- www.ifaw.org ), organised a day-long session on ‘Environment & the Natural World: A Buddhist Response’ today in New Delhi.
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who chaired the sessions today, said, “The impact of human activity on the environment has accelerated since 1950. So that now the world is confronted by increasing levels of pollution of air, land and water, the destruction of great forests and of no more the natural habitats for wildlife, extinction of species and unprecedented crisis of environmental degradation.”
“Our very sustenance and existence depends on other beings,” he added speaking about interdependence of living beings, adding that each of us can and must change for the better of the earth. “We have a unique ability to mould our environment for the better.”
The sessions were a part of the larger ‘Global Buddhist Congregation’ event, envisioned to engage Buddhism in addressing various pressing concerns of the modern world, including environment degradation, violence, social and economic disparity.
“Buddhism teaches us to learn from nature, accept it as a way of life, and to change ourselves to live in harmony with our surrounding. If we incorporate these principles in our actions, we will be able to save the earth,” said Vivek Menon, Executive Director, WTI and moderator of the session on environment.
Eminent speakers including biologist Dr George Schaller, stressed on Buddhist principles in compassion, ethics and wisdom as the panacea to the crisis.
“It is the good science upon which we base conservation to protect and manage the glorious variety of plants and animals, the millions of species in a natural community to which we belong and on which we depend for survival,” said Dr Schaller.
“However, conservation is a moral issue of beauty, ethics and spiritual value. Without moral values, conservation cannot sustain itself. His holiness, the Dalai Lama said, ‘Ultimately the decision to save the environment must come from the human heart’ and he is right. Moral values can be transmitted through religion.”
At the end of the sessions, the speakers endorsed the global declaration. It will be a chapter in the overall GBC declaration which will also cover respective Buddhist responses to other issues being discussed at the Congregation. This will form a base document to establish an international Buddhist forum that will define collective action to address these concerns.
The declaration incorporates the commitment of the Congregation and subsequently, the forum, to advocate and apply compassion, ethics and wisdom in activities that affect the Earth’s environment and ecosystems.
“We need to acknowledge Buddha’s 2600 year old teachings including interdependence of life forms, Karma, and sentience of all living beings, for which modern science is constantly providing evidence,” said Cindy Milburn, Senior Advisor, IFAW who was one of the speakers at the session on environment. “The collapse of compassion in people is the Earth’s biggest threat. If we begin to care for more than just ourselves, we will reverse the damage.”
The session also marked a pre-conference event of the Minding Animals International (MAI) Conference to be held in Utrecht in the Netherlands, next year.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Photos and video are available at www.ifawimages.com