Q: I would like to hear your work in environment and how do you think that Buddhist teaching is really valuable for the issues of environment and global warming?
P: There are two different views on how we see the existence of this world. On the one hand, there’s a world view that sees different existence as separate existence. In that world view, death of one existence has nothing to do with death or the life of another.
On the other hand, there is a perspective that sees all existence in the world as a kind of continuous organism in which everything is connected. For example, there are five fingers here. If we see the fingers with a narrow scope, all five fingers are separate existence. However, if you open your eyes wider, they are different yet connected to the same hand. So the Buddhist world view that everything is connected and related to each other in such way.
When Buddha attained enlightenment, he recognized the true nature of existence as being continuous and interconnected. Not only was I connected with you, I am also connected with other life forms.
When I breathe in, I am connected with air. Through lights I am connected with the cosmos itself. So if you cut off that relationship it means death. So those relationships have to be in balance with each other.
So in that sense when men develop nature to your advantage, it has to be within, what can be sustained by nature, otherwise you destroy nature and ultimately yourself.
So from a very short term perspective, you may gain advantage by taking advantage of the nature, but in the long term, the damage you have done will come back to you and cause damage to you in return.
So that’s why the first rule of the Buddhist is to respect living beings. Do not destroy or hurt living things. So our environmental issues can only be resolved once we get into the mind frame that everything is interconnected.
There is a famous saying by the Buddha. This exists because that exists. If this doesn’t exist, that doesn’t exist. This is formed because that is formed. If this disappears, that disappears.
That is dependant origination of our life. There is no one singular self.
If you manage to focus then your breathe becomes really smooth, you can even feel the difference of the temperature of the air. Then you attain a state of really clear awareness of everything that goes around you. From this state or self-peace, can your engagement with peace activism be constructive? But if you are angry and engage in peace activism, you tend to fight in the name of peace.