Updated date:

Buddhist Tenets to Combat Environmental Problems

I am a teacher by profession. Have done Master Degree in English Literature and MBA in HRM. Also completed online degree in Environment.


Buddhist outlooks towards managing Environmental problems and concern


Objective of the Article is to expound that the Buddhism can be projected from the Management perspective as a strong propagator of Environmental Protection and Bio-diversity in the current century; rather taking Buddhism as religious rituals and metaphysical philosophy.


“The forest is a peculiar organism of unlimited kindness and benevolence that makes no demands for its sustenance and extends generously the products of its life activity; it affords protection to all beings, offering shade even to the axe-man who destroys it.” Gautama Buddha

Since the first precept of Buddhism is abstaining from harming living beings, it projects distinctly as the protector of different species in the ocean of bio-diversity. Healthy Ecosystem produces abundance wealth of resources for the existence of mankind. However events and growth are heading towards the destruction of environment.

Twenty First century is reeling under the severe impact of Global warming and Climate Change. Severe natural disasters and human woes are getting multiplied day by day. Records of extreme heat and cold are taking new records imperiously beckoning gloom and destructions in the coming time. The recent Australian bushfire leading to extinction of millions of species and the tsunamis of Japan with million deaths and destruction are some of the disastrous problems in the contemporary period. The loss of species is taking place at an unprecedented rate, which is highly alarming inviting mass extinction like the dinosaur’s age.

Almost all countries of this world are united to combat this global warming and climate change, but the synergy of effort is getting mitigated by the overpowering and lusty anthropogenic activities of mankind.

Greta Thundberg thunders at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York; "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

"You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!.......”

The world is witnessing and experiencing disrupting events of natural catastrophes day by day. Had we had taken the preaching of lord Buddha seriously, we would not have come to the point of collapsing state leading to the beginning of mass extinction as voiced by Greta Thundberg.

Buddhism: projected as a strong propagator of Environmental Protection and Bio-diversity in the current century.

Buddha’s noble preaching talks about; “Be kind to all creatures; this is the true religion.” Indeed in the modern outlook of text, these all creatures are bio-diversity, encompassing the entire ecosystem. The powerful North Block is aggressively consuming substantial amount of resources leaving the South Block feeling deprived and miffed. The question of fair distribution of resources amongst the all nations is an idealized philosophy of the leaders. “Right Livelihood” is one on the tenets of Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. It emphasizes the use of resources according to ones minimal needs, not to the maximum needs. The world will be environmentally more stable and emotionally balanced by following the simple belief of Buddha. To assert this further let us ponder what Mahatma Gandhi had said; "The world has enough for everyone's needs, but not everyone's greed," In contrast the world is heading into consumerism and reckless use of resources.

Right Livelihood signifies all dimensions of human progress and development, be it family formation, belief system, human activities, economic development, scientific development, technology with the right pace and progress. Today’s world is getting progressive in nonlinear matrix, few aspects of development overshadowing the other areas of progress. This is not Right Livelihood in fact this will create black hole in the human existence and leading to mass extinction.

Buddha taught people to live simply and appreciate the natural cycle of life. Craving and greed only bring unhappiness, since demands for material possessions can never be satisfied and people will always demand more, so threatening the environment. This is why the real solution to the environmental crisis begins with the individual, when the tenet of Right livelihood is not practiced.

Views highlighted by the popular writer Dr. E.F. Schumacher in his book titled “Small Is Beautiful”

In Buddhist economics by Dr. E.F. Schumacher strongly asserts that ” As physical resources are everywhere limited, people satisfying their needs by means of a modest use of resources are obviously less likely to be at each other’s throats than people depending upon a high rate of use. Equally, people who live in highly self-sufficient local communities are less likely to get involved in large-scale violence than people whose existence depends on world-wide systems of trade.” This can be rightly taken as Sustainable Development among different nations in terms of sharing, using and preserving natural resources for future generation.

Lord Buddha’s teaching strongly imbibes a reverent and non-violent attitude not only to all sentient beings but also, with great emphasis, to trees. Every follower of Buddha ought to plant a tree every year and look after it until it is safely established….. This again exemplify that Buddha was championing the cause of Environmental protection and ultimately maintaining peace and happiness to the mankind.

Views highlighted by the popular writer Ashwin Sanghi in his book titled “Keepers of the Kalachakra”

Ashwin Sanghi one of the popular writers of the century in his book “Keepers of the Kalachakra” signals impending doom of mankind through the character called Professor Vignesh Thakur; who says; “We should all be worried. NIDHANE.” It simply means destruction. The destruction of our existence as voiced by numerous research findings including Greta Thundberg. To mitigate and avert such destruction, if the Buddhist dictum Middle Way is practiced earnestly by mankind while balancing Economic development and non-economic development, Right Livelihood will take precedence, which may slow down the wheel of time, prolonging the existence of mankind.


The current age seems to be slowly sinking into the black hole of environmental disasters and catastrophe, which will entirely wipe off the existence of bio-diversity of our planet, within the Kalachakra or wheel of time. Be it Sundarshan Wheel or Buddhist kalachakra, the motion of wheel (in the destructive mode) is gaining momentum. The choice lies in our intellectual and spiritual introspection, to make the wheel go revolving slower and establishing more care and concern to the environment and the bio-diversity.

The major Buddhist traditions state that: Buddhism is for masses not only for monks. The role of the Bodhisattva is to become an altruistic beings working for the improvement of the world. At the moment the world needs Bodhisattva. And everyone has the capacity to be a Bodhisattva. The world can be changed into a more healthy state of living and peaceful co-existence within our bio-diversity. Thus Buddhist tenets clearly assert that the present global warming and other environmental problems can be sorted out more peacefully with holistic approach.

To conclude from the Buddhist perception; His Holiness the Dalai Lama has beautifully stated; “Natural environment sustains the life of all beings universally. Trees are referred to in accounts of the principal events of Buddha's life. His mother leaned against a tree for support as she gave birth to him. He attained enlightenment seated beneath a tree, and finally passed away as trees stood witness overhead.” The choice lies within us to progress our civilization by applying the tenets of Buddhism.


Pushpa Kumar Rai (author) from Sikkim on January 09, 2021:

I graciously welcome comments from the readers.