Could a Virtual Buddhist Temple Help Save the Environment?

A bunch of young Japanese monks have created a virtual temple online to talk about issues close to their hearts. They are based in Tokyo, where there are surprisingly many Buddhist temples, many as old as the city itself, dating back to the Edo Period (1603-1868) before the city started to modernize. They note that no matter how artificial our environment becomes, monks continue to pass on age-old wisdom from master to disciple, inheriting the modes of living, using the temple as its vehicle:

The continuity of such lifestyle will become an aid for those who hope, with all of their heart, for a life full of love and appreciation. The Japanese lifestyle made of culture and traits influenced from Buddhist beliefs is the heritage for Japanese people and could be shared amongst people all over the world. We hope to transform these Buddhist thoughts into a lamplight and deliver this message to the world. Hope to fill the world with smiles of joy.

Check out the Features section, with ideas about wrapping in cloth (instead of using plastic bags) and Seigaku's column with private notes about his life and practice.

One thought, shared with Buddhist monks everywhere from Tibet to China or Korea and Western countries too of course, marked the beginning of their website: "What does it mean to live?"

Living in harmony with nature is a crucial Buddhist practice. Of course we can say there are many similarities between early religious thoughts anywhere in the world - but one case in point is how Buddhism has inspired people to be vegetarians. In 1993 the Japanese Vegetarian Society (NPO) was formed as a result of concern about animal rights, global environmental issues, third world hunger and human health. They are eager to face these issues and are working hard both in Japan and globally.

Eisuke Ishikawa at Musashino Art University has written the book Japan In The Edo Period - An Ecologically-Conscious Society, outlining how people can manage to live in tune with nature - and have a good time too!

Some Western universities, like Antioch are now giving credits to student who want to go to Japan and study "themes and issues in contemporary Japanese Buddhism such as Buddhism and the environment, women in Buddhism, and Buddhism as a force for social change."

Kenneth Kraft at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. has written a wonderful essay called The Greening Of Buddhist Practice about "ecobuddhism" and Buddhist environmentalists:

Perennial assumptions about nature's power to harm human beings have been augmented by a fresh appreciation of humans' power to harm nature. In an early text the Buddha gives his monks a prayer which reads in part:

My love to the footless, my love to the twofooted, my love to the fourfooted, my love to the manyfooted. Let not the footless harm me, let not the twofooted harm me, let not the fourfooted harm me, let not the manyfooted harm me. All sentient beings, all breathing things, creatures without exception, let them all see good things, may no evil befall them.

Brought to you by Martin Frid at greenz.jp

Tags: Asia | Ethical | Japan

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