Political ecology and Buddhism: an ambivalent relationship

By / 09-18-2014 /
International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)
No.1, 2013
Political ecology and Buddhism: an ambivalent relationship
Lionel Obadia
This article attempts to highlight the complex relationships between Buddhism and ecology. Buddhism, which is considered as an “ecofriendly” religion, has indeed only lately been concerned by ecological issues and reinterpreted in ecological terms. Among scholars, the nature of a “green Buddhism” is highly discussed as is the “greening of Buddhism”. “Eco-Buddhism” has in addition emerged in the somewhat dissimilar contexts of Western wealthy countries, and Asian poor regions. Ecological issues assume, under the same lexicon of “environmental engagement”, in these two specific social settings and cultural frameworks, different repertoires of meanings: as a global, yet framed in a Westernstyled glossary, response to the ecological damages of modernisation processes; and as a local reaction, of both lay Buddhists and monks, to actual problems such as deforestation. In both cases, and on both sides of the planet, the engagement of Buddhists in ecological causes is political. Green Buddhism, as a conclusion, partakes on a political ecology of the sacred, and even, considering the variety of contexts, on political ecologies of the sacred.