About Buddhism

Buddhism in Australia involves many traditions: Theravadan, or Southern Buddhism, from S-E Asia, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and India; and Mahayana Buddhism which includes traditions developed in Tibet, China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan.

Religious practices vary amongst the traditions, however, regardless of which tradition they follow, Buddhists aim to embody the Buddha’s realisation that we are without a solid, separate self, that our existence is a constant process of change, and that each seemingly independent creature and its environment are interconnected and interdependent. The Buddhist Council of New South Wales is a charitable, not- for-profit organisation set up to help Buddhist temples and Buddhist societies in New South Wales, and the ACT, and to represent the Buddhist community to media, Government, and the general public. The Buddhist Council represents more than 120 Buddhist organisations across the state. It is a member of the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC), which represents Buddhist organisations throughout Australia. Buddhists currently represent 2.4% of the Australian population.

What Buddhism says about Ecology.

It can be said that Buddhism provides a basis for deep ecological thinking. The Buddha taught of interdependence – existence is a constant process whereby all manifestations condition, or affect, one another. Ultimately every seemingly independent creature and its environment are interconnected.

Harming the environment can therefore be said to be harming oneself.

The basic concern shared by all beings – humans, animals, and insects alike – is a desire to be happy and to avoid suffering. Essentially the Buddha recognised this and taught a more skilful approach to life, which leads to more lasting happiness. Buddhism points to the underlying causes of our day-to-day problems and teaches a graduated path to liberate us from suffering. This is known as the Noble Eight-Fold Path. Buddhist teachings are therefore about reducing the causes of suffering and increasing the causes of happiness.

Practices vary among Buddhists but one daily practice common among Buddhists is renewing the five precepts, which are moral undertakings to refrain from harmful or unskilful acts (which are killing, taking what is not given, sexual misconduct, harmful speech, and taking intoxicants). On the positive side, Buddhists try to foster generosity, compassion and loving kindness (a wish for all beings to be well and happy).

There are countless examples in Buddhist teachings encouraging us to care for all sentient beings, and our environment. As the Thai monk, Buddhadasa, said, “The entire cosmos is a co-operative. The sun, the moon, and the stars live together as a co-operative. The same is true for humans and animals, trees, and the earth. When we realize that the world is a mutual, interdependent, co-operative enterprise ….then we can build a noble environment. If our lives are not based on this truth, then we shall perish.”

Such an ethic highlights the virtues of restraint, simplicity, loving-kindness, compassion, equanimity, patience, wisdom, nonviolence, and generosity, virtues which represent the ethical base for all members of the Buddhist community, whether they be an ordained practioner, lay person, ordinary citizen, male or female.

Where Buddhism stands on interfaith relations.

The Buddhist Council of New South Wales, through its members, connects with other faiths in various ways.

More information Website links/media

Many of its member groups have environmental / ecological programs and initiatives. The member listing on Buddhist Council of New South Wales http://www.buddhistcouncil.org/ may connect you with one; or for any enquiries please contact that office.