Philosophical Foundation of Ecological Ethics

Philosophical Foundation of Ecological Ethics

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Philosophical Foundation of Ecological Ethics


ABSTRACT: Principles of Buddhist philosophy central to the formation of an ecological paradigm of mentality include a dynamic vision of the world, a system of relative truth apart from dogmas, a moral foundation for scientific knowledge, an emphasis on nonviolence and the absence of repressive scientific methods, and the progressive movement of the intellect to Universal Consciousness which postulates the unity of microcosm and macrocosm. The comparative analysis of laws and principles of modern ecological science and basic Buddhist thought points to their common intentional direction. Buddhist philosophy declares the creative participation of humankind in the united world synergistic process and forms to be the foundation of an altruistically marked ecological ethics.

Entirety and interdependence of onthological reality

Global scales of crisis which destroyed our planet requires the united measures and efforts of East and West in formation of ecological ethics. " East and West — two parts of mankind’s consciousness. If a man realizes it he can become a perfect human being. And only after that he can solve those global problems of surviving, which mankind is facing now. (A. Govinda)

The fundamental idea of all Buddhist philosophy is the inseparable unity of subject and object, man and nature, substance and mind. The Buddhists consider world and man as a dynamic psychophysical entirety. It’s character and direction which is called stream (santana) that makes a principle of absolute change (anytyata).

Anityata is of a deep ecological importance. It raises a problem of uneternity of psychocosm’s spheres and admage of its being destroyed. According to Buddhist religious doctrine the category " anitya " must occupy a certain position in each analysis. Speaking of a statement it is important to take into consideration its change and movable character. Only stable and permanent efforts of all living beings make this world better and without this direction for making kindness our world can become worse and suffering permanent characteristics of sansara can acquire rude and vulgar forms. Besides simple constatation of change anityata says about non-reversibility of former conditions. It’s impossible to reverse one’s life. It’s impossible to return of the history of a country back as well as impossible to make the planet evolution come to beginning.

The principle of emptyness ( shunyata ). Buddhism denyes the inherent existence of things and phenomena. If you take away the reasons and conditions of existense of something then it will disappear itself because it doesn’t have inherent existence.

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A thing exists only through dependence with others. Emptiness of a thing is its interdependence and unsubstantiality, it isn’t unexistence. It exists but not absolutely. Changing the nature man deprives many kinds of living beings their existence conditions, and they die out. It’s absolutely impossible to restore them. In this example we can see that there is no law according to which any kind of living beings can exist eternally.

Principle of interdependence of all entity. Our interrelations with the world are very complicated, and isolated existence is impossible, every phenomenon has as a reason a number of many others, and according to many reason it profonds its existence. We see interdependence of the world even in human curiosity. Why do we turn on the radio and TV in the morning and listen to news from all over the world? It’s, important for us to know how other people live, we feel existential connection with others.

All these three principles lead us to the main principle of Buddhist philosophy. The principle entirety of the Universe is described in one of the most significant texts of Buddhism — Avatamsaka-sutra. Analyzing the ecological laws of nature discovered by modern scientists, we see much in common with ideas of Avatamsaka-sutra. Comparative analysis of Avatamsaka-sutra promises many perspectives in investigation of Buddhists original texts from the point of view of modern science. Modern Buddhist philosophers Tenzin Gyatco Dalai-lama XIY, Chogyam Trungpa, Djampa Tinley suggest the conformity of the Buddhist philosophy in accordance to the modern science. Buddha says in sutra: " Monks and scientists have to consider my words, as gold, that needs to be of checked by means of melting cutting and grinding and only then except them." In this sutra attracts our attention by its inner uncontradiction of its ideas, the absence of irreconcilable oppositions, the harmonic entirety arising world outlook. The basic principle of interrelation of creatures, things, phenomena is cooperation. The absence of inherent existence of phenomena doesn’t mean that we have to us to deny the present world, but connects phenomena with the Universum. Phenomenon is the onthological inclination of the Universum to show itself. Getting rid of the conceptual duality gives realization of inseparable entirety which is unknown to tne usual mind and opens only the level of the universal consciousness.

Universal consciousness brings into beings the feeling of participation with everything that is going on in the Universe. It is they called omniscience, but it doesn’t mean the knowledge of every detail, it means knowing true nature of every phenomenon, being able to see a single unity. To reach this level of consciousness it’s necessary to develop bodhichitta. Geshe Djampa Tinley called it " philosophically damped kindness and compassion." Without bodhichitta any knowlerge is considered to be meaningless and useless. Kindness and compassion should be inducing motives of cognition of the world.

Ecological ethics of Buddhism

An ecological problem is global not only because it contains danger for mankind but also because its solution requires tremendous and general efforts. This problems is a sort of a challenge to the mankind and every single man. Today it is necessary to wake up in people the feeling of unity with nature and other people, the feelings of participation to everything which is going on Earth. Many ecological problems raise not because there are some wicked people who want to ruin the planet but because detachment and division of labour have led to the break of motivational-psychological level.

Karma. Realization of karma’s laws help to overcome the gap between actions and their results. Karma’s laws saw that all our activity, words and ideas form conditions of our existence in future. So karma’s law convince man to accept responsibility for the recent position, and also for all his lives in future. The law of karma accumulation shows how from small trivial, daily routine, man’s life is being built, the history of the country, mankind way of development, global ecological situation. Karma is divided into mental, active and verbal. Actions and words are brought into being first in mind, mind is considered to be the main form-making factor. Thought is a personal destiny creator and a creator of the whole world and that’s why moral degradation of the society is the reason of physical degradation of the world." The world begins in everybody from us." ( Dalai-lama XIY ).

Ahimsa. " The greatest killer on Earth is man " , who kills and takes another’s life in order to keep his own one, said Herder. The principles of ahimsa became quite an expression of this deep metaphysical shame. This principle contains the requirement of non doing harm to other creatures in an allegoric form — prohibition of letting one’s blood on to the ground. Ahimsa was born in the foundation of the Indian culture and belongs to all directions of the Indian Thought. Buddhism adopted this spiritually high note and widely spreaded to other countries and culture. Many buddhists terms have a sign of negation " a ". It speaks that Buddhism doesn’t accept acsiological foundation of morality of the society. In the world of " himsa — violence, it speaks of non-violence. In the world of stability it speaks of change and development. In the world of static essence existing next to each other it speaks of common interdependence. In the world of private interests it speaks of personal responsibility for own destiny and the destiny of the whole world.

What principles of Buddhist philosophy are most the important for formation of ecological paradigm of mentality. First: vision of world in dynamics, development. Second: the system of relative truth, which a the negation of dogms. Third: Moral foundation of scientific knowledge. Fourth: non-violent thinking and the absence of repressive scientific methods. Fifth: progressive movement of intellect to Universal consciousness which postulates the unity of microcosm and macrocosm. The comparative analysis of laws and principles of modern ecological science and basic statements of Buddhist Thought points out to their common intentional direction. The Buddhist philosophy declares creative participation of man in the united world synergetical process and forms the foundation of altruistically marked ecological ethics.
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