Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Being and Becoming - Two Completely Different Things

Buddhism is about interconnectedness and spiritual struggle. According its teachings, the natural environment and sentient beings are inter-depended. Nature provides all living things with the means and methods to survive, whether it be killing another or grazing the lands. The Buddha teaches that human beings ought to fall into the latter category, that we do not have claws nor fangs and therefore ought to employ our talent of intelligence and sociability to survive.

Being human is thus being gentle in nature; but since we are sentient beings, we have a higher plane of existence from that of an ameba or lion. We therefore have a higher plane of responsibility to nature and the interdependence of nature. Our attitude towards our environment, our surroundings, thus invariably defines who we are as beings—either as that which is sentient or as that which is not. Therefore, our intelligence allows us the choice to be Intelligent, in a moral sense, in the totality of the planet’s circumstances.

That’s a paradox isn’t it? We essentially have to choose to be sentient and be responsible for our actions; or else we become mere animals surviving for the sake of survival. What then is the meaning of our mundane existence?

But the question is more than a question of ethics; it is a question of our survival. Hence the paradox is turned on its head, isn’t it? Whereby we choose to be sentient and survive with meaning, the impact of that choice then reinforces our desire to survive. Then, our existential question is answered by not just the mere afterthought of being hungry—thus we must eat—but that our very being is depended on our desire to be and to survive, in a moral sense, for its necessity.

Therefore, in order to succeed in the protection and conservation of the natural environment, I think it is important first of all to bring about an internal balance within human beings themselves. The abuse of the environment, which has resulted in such harm to the human community, arose out of ignorance of the importance of the environment. I think it is essential to help people to understand this. We need to teach people that the environment has a direct bearing on our own benefit.

Excerpt from My Tibet (Text by H.H.the Fourteenth Dalai Lama: Photographs and Introduction by Galen Rowell) Thames and Hudson Ltd., London, 1990 (p 53-54). 

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.

It [being a protector] means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world… It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.
Pope Francis–Conservative Quote of the Week

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