A Buddhist Understanding of Nature

A Buddhist Understanding of Nature

“As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is, therefore, part of our responsibility toward others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier than we found it.”

-Dalai Lama

Buddhists believe that all life is interrelated and interdependent. Nature, or our natural environment, is alive and at least partly conscious. It is neither sacred and perfect, or evil. Nature’s deep reality is part of Buddha-nature—our nature when we reach full enlightenment.

From the Buddhist viewpoint, humans are not distinct from or superior to other sentient beings. All sentient beings have the potential to become fully enlightened. Buddhists do not see non-human sentient beings as objects for consumption.

Enlightened beings do not harm sentient life. They have compassion for unenlightened beings, who are attached to our polluted world, filled with suffering, and do not experience peace.

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This post is part of a series on Faith and the Environment

Nature and the Buddhist Path to Enlightenment

Nature and the Buddhist Path to Enlightenment

buddhism and nature

Nature as wilderness is important to Buddhists because it provides a place where rapid progress in Buddhist practice, or self-cultivation, can be made. Nature grounds us and can soothe us. Unspoiled natural locations, usually places in the wilderness where the natural energies are peaceful, are the ideal places for Buddhist practice.

“…The more desolate and distant the place is from human habitation, with wild beasts roaming freely about, the more prepared is the mind to soar up from the abyss of defilements, being at all times like a bird about to fly. The defilements are still there in the depths of the mind, but in such an environment the power of the mind is greatly developed and appears to have gotten rid of hundreds of defilements, with only few remaining. This is the influence of environment which gives encouragement to an aspirant at all times.” ~ Ajahn Mun (1870-1949), a great modern Thai Buddhist master from the forest meditation tradition