It can be very helpful to have a specific set of guidelines when undertaking a practice such as Environmental Dharma. The Buddhist Environmental Initiative was created by a group of Insight teachers from Spirit Rock and Gaia House. It is offered as a commitment to wise action that can be undertaken by those who are interested. You might consider taking these on formally as part of your practice.
The Buddhist Environmental Initiative:
As Buddhist teachers, leaders, and practitioners signing on to this Buddhist Environmental Initiative we dedicate ourselves to becoming stewards for the well-being of the environment. Our own practice of spiritual awakening and universal compassion includes caring for the world, including our incredibly diverse humanity, our fellow species and the earth’s climate and ecological systems. Aware of the interconnectedness of all life, we are dedicated to working toward reducing and preventing further human-caused damage to our natural world.
1. Cultivating Wisdom:
We will study and develop Buddhist teachings and understandings that support us in our efforts to care for the totality of the life of the biosphere. We will bear witness and not shy away from the truth of the global predicament we face including the reality that those least responsible for the causes of climate change often bear an undue share of its burdens. We will rely on our Dharma practice when difficult feelings arise in learning about the environmental challenges of our times.
2. Living Green:
We will endeavor to live in a way that supports an ecological sustainable future with environmental justice across diverse communities. Endeavoring to tread lightly on the earth, we will work to reduce our levels of unnecessary consumption. We will consider the welfare of our environment and fellow humans when choosing what to buy, eat, and build, and how we invest our money, travel, and dispose of things.
3. Using Energy Responsibly:
We will use comprehensive energy and carbon emission audits to understand our personal contribution to climate change, and make changes and reductions where necessary both personally and in the organizations in which we participate.
4. Educating, Listening, and Speaking for Environmental Responsibility:
We will encourage greater environmental education, appreciation, understanding and awareness. This will include listening to the environmental concerns and perspectives of people of diverse nationalities, cultures, and economic circumstances. We endeavor to use our speech wisely when discussing, teaching, and advocating climate change initiatives. We will speak up for those who have no voice or who are yet to be born
From inside and outside our Buddhist communities we will work together with other people and organizations to reduce climate change and the destruction of the environment. We see ourselves as part of globally diverse communities sharing in the care of our world . We will work to take care of our relationships and maintain the highest ethical standards in all our interactions.
We will actively and publicly appreciate the natural world and efforts to care for it. We are committed to finding joyful ways of connecting our Buddhist spirituality to good environmental stewardship. This can include participating in the annual Earth-Care Week the first week of October.
The current state of our global environment requires connecting collective good intentions with collective wise actions. Through this Buddhist Environmental Initiative, we, as Buddhists, here join together as a global community caring for the Earth. We happily share in this responsibility with all individuals and institutions working to create a natural world that nourishes all beings far, far into the future.
Gil Fronsdal, Catherine McGee, and Mary Grace Orr