Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 130

Review

Buddhist way of life and environmental concerns

Ravi Kiran1* and Swaraj Raj2
  1School of Management and Social Sciences, Thapar University, Patiala – 147004, India. 2Government Mohindra College, Patiala, India
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 21 February 2011
  •  Published: 30 May 2011

Abstract

 

Environmental concerns in the 20th century have been thrown into sharp relief because of the growing consciousness about environmental disasters of cataclysmic dimensions staring us in the face. The Green Peace Movement, World Wildlife Fund, the Chipko Movement, the Narmada Bachao Andolan and many more such movements and organizations working for the preservation of Nature have fore grounded environmental issues. These developments, of course, augur well for us as well as for our coming generations. However, for preserving the environment, there is a need to learn to co-exist with Nature in all humility and not look upon Nature as an alien territory to be colonized and to be exploited or as a rival to be defeated in the struggle for existence. For this to happen, there is not a need for piecemeal approaches to preserving environment, but a need to radically shift our thinking, a kind of paradigm shift as it were. For this there is a need to adopt a holistic world view like the Buddhistic Welthanschauung. The mechanistic Cartesian-Newtonian world view that had become all pervasive in about the last three centuries has led to a profound cultural imbalance. Excessive technological growth has created an environment in which life has become unhealthy. Polluted air, traffic congestion, chemical contaminants, and radiation hazards are integral features of economic system obsessed with growth and expansion. Technological intervention is severely disrupting and upsetting the ecological processes that sustain our natural environment and are the very basis of our existence. Man has to transcend mechanistic structures, reach higher and higher levels of consciousness and ultimately realize the totality of his being. This self realization only will move us to higher values of life. Buddhism with its emphasis on the middle way and self control can help us control our greed to acquire and consume more than we need. This check on acquisitiveness will help us conserve our natural resources. Practicing Metta and Vipassna will refrain us from over consumption and will also cleanse us of psychological impurities. Buddhism can help us cultivate a morally wholesome attitude which will in turn correct all those imbalances which have crept into our psychological make up because of atomistic and mechanistic ways of thinking. Once a Gestalt view is inculcated, no longer will man view the universe as a machine made up of multitude of objects but as an indivisible dynamic whole whose parts are inter-related and interdependent. Adoption of such a holistic world view in today’s sensate culture is nothing short of a paradigm shift. This paper endeavours to emphasize the need for such a paradigm shift.

 

Key words: Buddhistic Welthanschauung, Buddhism, psychological impurities, paradigm shift.