Transformation on recognition of nature in Buddhism : Focusing on the meaning of Buddhist ecological education

Eunyoung Kim1,*   Cheolhae Ye2,*   

1Dongguk University
2Kyung Hee University


Modern ecologists argue that human recognition and philosophy of nature must be fundamentally changed to overcome a crisis such as the ongoing pandemic. Among the many alternatives, the Buddhist view about nature based on the Buddha’s Dhamma of paṭicca-samuppāda(緣起法) has received attention in overcoming human-centered thinking. This research attempted to derive its educational role and meaning by looking at the universality and specificity of nature recognition revealed in the history of the transmission of Buddhism. The perception of nature that appeared in the process of the emergence and spread of Buddhism was different from ancient Indian religions and East Asian Confucianism and Taoism. The ancient Indian view of nature was the brahma-ātma-ekatva. Confucianism and Taoism looked at nature and human beings around the sky. In comparison, Buddhism presented the practice of the Four Noble Truths based on the paṭicca-samuppāda, and included natural objects in the subject of enlightenment through the development of the doctrine of Buddha-nature. It showed an advanced view of ecology, in which neither humans nor nature were considered equal beings without fixed entities. The educational meaning of Buddhist recognition of nature, which changed the natural view of existing society and expanded the meaning of life, can be derived as follows. First, Buddhist ecology education aims to help people realize that nature is not an object to be conquered, but a subject of mutual coexistence. Second, the educational content to achieve the aim should be selected and organized around paṭicca-samuppāda and the four noble truths. Third, the methods of Buddhist ecological education should be developed and implemented by the principles of the temperamental discourse, suitable for the learner's educational level. Last, it should be accompanied by an evaluation to ensure that the previous educational objectives, content, and methods were appropriate.

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