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The environmental crisis - Essay Example

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Name Institution Instructor Date Religion and the Environmental Crisis Introduction Scholar of religion Mary Evelyn Tucker, an important voice in the academic field of religion and ecology, declared in 2003 “the environmental crisis calls the religions of the world to respond by finding their voice in the larger Earth community…
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The environmental crisis
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The environmental crisis

A careful examination of Jewish and Buddhist environmental sources and activism suggest that from the beginning, religion has been linked to environmental protection. Textual, ethical, legal, and philosophical sources Buddha’s life illustrates how much Buddha loved nature. To begin with, Buddha was born in Nepal a place of natural beauty. He was born in a forest further emphasizing the Buddhist appreciation of nature. Buddha preached his first Dhammacakkapabattansutta in the Deer park and passed away at Sala forest of Malla at Kushinara. This shows the initial attachments of Buddhists to nature. According to Donald K. Swearer, in Buddhism, "not unlike the biological sciences, rebirth links human and animal species,” meaning there is a link between humans and animals. The Buddhists believe in a certain interconnectedness in nature that, "The health of the whole is inseparably linked to the health of the parts, and the health of the parts is inseparably linked to the health of the whole” (Gottlieb 102). Similarly, some of the Buddha-nature found in china including trees, streams, rocks and lotuses are part of a continuous ecosystem. The power of nature in the Buddha religion forms the real basis of the religion. First, because the Buddha spent six years in the forest meditating and Buddhist followers often retreat to nature hence they have a powerful ethical foundation to support a healthy eco system and “green” lifestyle. In one of the Buddhist sources, the relationship between a tree and a human being is described as follows, “the tree indeed is the bearer of the flower and the fruit… the tree gives the shade to all people who come near… the tree does not give shade differently. (Milindapanha, VI, 409 – “rukkho nama pupphaphaladharo…rukkho upagatanamanuppavitthanam jananam chayam deti…, rukkho chayavemattam na karoti”). These characteristics show that the relationship between human beings and nature should be mutual. These Buddhist sources reinforce tucker’s claim of religion entering an ecological phase because aspects of environmental protection are well- grounded into the religious beliefs and practices of the Buddhists (Tucker 93). Various Jewish sources also front religion and its impact on environment. According to defenders of Jewish environmental ethics, there are three main areas of environmental usefulness in the bible and other rabbinic literature. These include the protection of vegetation, the aspect of predicting the well-being of the earth and awareness of the distress of animals. Jewish tradition forbids inflicting unnecessary pain to animals and the Torah includes a vegetarian diet for Adam and Eve. Respecting the environment is part of the Jewish religion. Jewish commentator, Jonathan Helfand writes that God told man to subdue the earth but the spirit of Judaism negates the notion that the earth is entirely man’s dominion. He continues that as part of the divine plan man is obligated to respect both the animate and inanimate occupants of the world (Benstein 46). The Jewish hold that the environment has certain inalienable rights endowed to it by the creator that can be dismissed or violated. Jewish writer Jeremy Cohen states that a responsible interaction with the environment is the deepest personal and spiritual fulfillment. He adds that environmental irresponsibility results in spiritual demise. Rabbinic ethos encourages human beings to be ... Read More
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