Sunday, March 13, 2016

Not for us

Metaphysical similarities and differences aside, I think that what distinguishes Buddhism from Abrahamic religions is the tacit assumption that the world was created for humans. Many people genuinely believe that God created the earth and all of it wonders--trees, animals, and natural resources--for their pleasure.

God made animals for us to eat, trees to chop down, and forests for us to conquer. I cannot think of a more destructive idea. In addition to plain old greed and shortsightedness, this anthropomorphic arrogance lies at the heart of our current environmental. And it's not just a metaphysical dilemma, but an ethical one as well.

How we treat our environment and other beings is central to all branches of ethics, and if it isn't, it should be. What we eat is an ethical decision. The clothes that we decide to buy and the organizations/corporations that we support are all ethical commitments. Just because we don't immediately see the destruction and suffering that our choices cause, doesn't mean that we are free from their consequences.

Reduce suffering and live as harmlessly as possible, that's the ethical instructions the Buddha left us. When we're done meditating, we clean our mats and cushions so that we don't leave a mess. Leave no trace.

If only we could do the same in the world at large.

Earth wasn't created for us, or for anyone for that matter. Respect all life and honor each stone. Let us leave this world in better shape than it was before we got here.

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