Chopping down trees and Buddhism

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Nosta
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Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Nosta »

If I understood well, Tibetan Buddhism and Bom believe in the existence of spirits on things like plants, rocks, etc.
Shouldnt buddhists respect trees and plants, not chopping them down?

Even if you dont believe in the existence of spirits inside trees, since a tree is a living (but not sentient) being, shouldnt be respected?

I am asking this question, similar to others here, because I saw an Indian religion (from a specific place, cant remember the name) where they all live peacefully with animals and plants, and they gave much respect to them, not killing them. And I tought how beautiful it was and that Buddhism should give that attention too, to plants.

Nevertheless, I know that monks should obbey to some rules (from Patimokkha) and are not allowed to chop down trees, etc.

Whats your opinion about this?
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Kim O'Hara »

I won't and don't deliberately harm any living thing unless I see a need to do so.
The 'need', of course, is the tricky thing - always a matter of competing interests and values. It is impossible for us to live without harming other living things, even if only by consuming resources which would otherwise benefit them.

:juggling:

:meditate:

Kim
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Nosta
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Nosta »

Well, thats very true indeed!
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石正 Marcus
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by 石正 Marcus »

Nosta wrote: since a tree is a living (but not sentient) being, shouldnt be respected?
Yes!

"There is Buddha-nature in every life, and every life is inherently Buddha" - Seon Master Daehaeng Sunim

I am certain that includes plants and trees as much as it includes animals and people.
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Vasana
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Vasana »

It's true that there are countless other kinds of beings co-inhabiting our world with us, and sometimes human action interferes with them but i think it needs to be looked at from multiple angles.

Sometimes felling branches and cutting down a tree can provide more life than it takes as it it can enable more biodiversity, which enhances life rather than detracting from it. I doubt sustainable forestry is a completely foreign concept in places even where that term isn't used.
Sometimes cutting down a tree can provide the infrastructure of a house, retreat huts, monastery,place of healing (aswell as every other possible kind of building etc) Firewood too. Not everywhere has the luxury of electricity and gas.

Sometimes foraging a medicinal plant can save more life than it it destroys etc.
As with most cultures and worldviews that recognize that humans aren't the center of the world, it's just about balance and respect. Not taking more than you need, and replacing and sustaining whatever you do.

Pujas, offerings and gifts when necessary to maintain harmony among the various kinds of beings and environments.
ཨོཾ ་ མ ་ ཎི ་ པ ་ དྨེ ་ ཧཱུྃ ། འ ་ ཨ ་ ཧ ་ ཤ ་ ས ་ མ །
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Malcolm
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Malcolm »

Nosta wrote: Even if you dont believe in the existence of spirits inside trees, since a tree is a living (but not sentient) being, shouldnt be respected?
Who says trees are not sentient?
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
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dzogchungpa
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by dzogchungpa »

Malcolm wrote:
Nosta wrote: Even if you dont believe in the existence of spirits inside trees, since a tree is a living (but not sentient) being, shouldnt be respected?
Who says trees are not sentient?
:popcorn:
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Taco_Rice
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Taco_Rice »

Malcolm wrote:Who says trees are not sentient?
Heartless vegans, probably.

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When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on any one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there. One who has understood this is no different from Kannon with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
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Kilaya.
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Kilaya. »

There is growing recognition that digital media technology uses significant amounts of energy from coal fired power plants which are making a significant contribution to global warming. Greenpeace estimates that by 2020 data centers will demand more electricity than is currently demanded by France, Brazil, Canada, and Germany combined. What is less widely known is that mountaintop-removal coal mining is also a major cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and the pollution of over 1,200 miles of headwater streams in the United States.

Digital media doesn’t grow on trees, but increased use of digital media is having a profoundly negative impact on our forests and the health of our rivers. Computers, cellular networks and data centers are connected to the destruction of over 600 square miles of forest in the U.S.
http://mediashift.org/2010/03/is-digita ... -print090/

Sometimes I wonder if any of the persons worrying about the environment on the internet had ever considered giving up their computers.
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Nosta
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Nosta »

Malcolm wrote:
Nosta wrote: Even if you dont believe in the existence of spirits inside trees, since a tree is a living (but not sentient) being, shouldnt be respected?
Who says trees are not sentient?
Scientists and westerners probably.
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by MalaBeads »

Im kind of sorry to say this so plainly but everything is connected in some way which means that very single being alive today is complicit in how the world is.

We all have the world that we created.
I am well aware of my idiocy. I am also very aware that you too are an idiot. Therein lies our mutuality.
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Malcolm »

Taco_Rice wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Who says trees are not sentient?
Heartless vegans, probably.
:cheers:
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
—Kotalipa
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dzogchungpa
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by dzogchungpa »

Malcolm wrote:
Taco_Rice wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Who says trees are not sentient?
Heartless vegans, probably.
:cheers:
:group:
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
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Kaji
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Kaji »

Nosta wrote:If I understood well, Tibetan Buddhism and Bom believe in the existence of spirits on things like plants, rocks, etc.
Shouldnt buddhists respect trees and plants, not chopping them down?
In the Vinaya the fully ordained monks and nuns have a precept to not deliberately kill plant life.

If laypeople offer to the monks or nuns to build a temple or monastery by using wood from chopping down trees, I understand that the monks or nuns may allow it but only after a ritual and waiting for a number of days. The ritual and the wait are to 1) inform the spirits living within that the trees will be cut and request them to move elsewhere; 2) dedicate merit to them; and 3) allow them sufficient time to leave.

I've heard stories where the group of monks and laypeople did that ritual and allowed 3 days before starting to cut down the trees, to build a monastery in Australia. That night a spirit went into the dream of one of the laypeople, asking for an extension for a few more days. The monks accepted that and later commented that we Buddhists need to take into consideration the culture, practices and habits of the local people when practising Dharma.
Namas triya-dhvikānāṃ sarva tathāgatānām!
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Nosta
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Nosta »

Kaji wrote:
Nosta wrote:If I understood well, Tibetan Buddhism and Bom believe in the existence of spirits on things like plants, rocks, etc.
Shouldnt buddhists respect trees and plants, not chopping them down?
In the Vinaya the fully ordained monks and nuns have a precept to not deliberately kill plant life.

If laypeople offer to the monks or nuns to build a temple or monastery by using wood from chopping down trees, I understand that the monks or nuns may allow it but only after a ritual and waiting for a number of days. The ritual and the wait are to 1) inform the spirits living within that the trees will be cut and request them to move elsewhere; 2) dedicate merit to them; and 3) allow them sufficient time to leave.

I've heard stories where the group of monks and laypeople did that ritual and allowed 3 days before starting to cut down the trees, to build a monastery in Australia. That night a spirit went into the dream of one of the laypeople, asking for an extension for a few more days. The monks accepted that and later commented that we Buddhists need to take into consideration the culture, practices and habits of the local people when practising Dharma.
Thanks for sharing that.
Is that rule a Mahayana one? I think (and I underline that word) that the Theravadin Vinaya does not speak about spirits on trees, etc. Only speaks about the prohibition for monks not killing trees and plants.
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skittles
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by skittles »

Why don't people plant trees in places that were cleared of forest hundreds of years ago, but now disused?

It's very easy to grow trees from seeds in large quantities once you learn how. It is important to grow them from seeds to have genetic diversity, otherwise they may all be wiped out easily by the next pest or virus.

In some places it's illegal to cut down some native trees. So if you planted those trees on your property, or abandoned/disused property, the land might be reclaimed by the forest instead of developed. Assuming the laws are upheld and don't change.
"My main teacher Serkong Rinpoche, who was one of the teachers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, explained that having a protector is like having a very strong and vicious dog. If you are a strong person, you could go sit and guard your own gate every night to make sure that thieves don’t attack, but usually people wouldn’t do that. It’s not that we don’t have the ability, it’s just: why bother? You could post a dog there instead." - Alex Berzin http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... rs_ab.html
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by kirtu »

Nosta wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Nosta wrote: Even if you dont believe in the existence of spirits inside trees, since a tree is a living (but not sentient) being, shouldnt be respected?
Who says trees are not sentient?
Scientists and westerners probably.
I know a major Tibetan Buddhist lineage head who has said that trees and plants are not sentient beings. However they are also very concerned about the environment. I don't know if they were addressing the question (are plants and trees sentient beings) from the standpoint of the Abhidharma or not. I will refrain from posting their name to avoid their name possibly being sullied in this forum.

However the point is that from at least one traditional Buddhist perspective trees and plants are not sentient.

Kirt
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Malcolm
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Malcolm »

kirtu wrote:
However the point is that from at least one traditional Buddhist perspective trees and plants are not sentient.
Yup, that is a traditional point of view. So is the idea that woman have an inferior birth.
"Nonduality is merely a name;
that name does not exist."
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Kaji
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by Kaji »

Nosta wrote:Thanks for sharing that.
Is that rule a Mahayana one? I think (and I underline that word) that the Theravadin Vinaya does not speak about spirits on trees, etc. Only speaks about the prohibition for monks not killing trees and plants.
I have spoken to a Theravada monk on this issue. He told me that he had learned in Theravada that spirits and even gods often reside in plants taller than a certain heights (not just trees). However, we did not get to discuss whether they have the practice of requesting these sentient beings to leave from trees before letting laypeople cutting them down to clear land and obtain timber to build temple, monasteries, etc.
Namas triya-dhvikānāṃ sarva tathāgatānām!
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dzogchungpa
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Re: Chopping down trees and Buddhism

Post by dzogchungpa »

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
However the point is that from at least one traditional Buddhist perspective trees and plants are not sentient.
Yup, that is a traditional point of view. So is the idea that woman have an inferior birth.
Are you insinuating that some traditional points of view are mistaken?
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
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