limate Change is a Moral Issue 
A Buddhist Reflection on the Pope's Climate Encyclical, Laudato si'

By Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi

Pope Francis

On June 18, Pope Francis issued an encyclical letter, Laudato si’ (Praised Be), “On Care for our Common Home,” pointing to climate change as the overriding moral issue of our time. The encyclical boldly proclaims that humanity’s capacity to alter the climate charges us with the gravest moral responsibility we have ever had to bear. Climate change affects everyone. The disruptions to the biosphere occurring today bind all peoples everywhere into a single human family, our fates inseparably intertwined. No one can escape the impact, no matter how remotely they may live from the bustling centers of industry and commerce. The responsibility for preserving the planet falls on everyone.

The future of human life on earth hangs in a delicate balance, and the window for effective action is rapidly closing. Tipping points and feedback loops threaten us as ominously as nuclear warheads. What heightens the danger is our proclivity to apathy and denial. For this reason, we must begin tackling the crisis with an act of truth, by acknowledging that climate change is real and stems from human activity. On this, the science is clear, the consensus among climate scientists almost universal. The time for denial, skepticism, and delay is over.  READ MORE ON OUR BLOG>>

Love and Compassion in Meditation and in Action

By Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi

Love and compassion are qualities essential to our stature as true human beings, and jointly might be considered the capacities that most distinguish us from the animals, except that animals sometimes display more kindness towards one another — and towards people — than we do. In the teachings of the Buddha, love and compassion are regarded as the foundation of ethics and important criteria of right speech and right action. They are also qualities to be developed by meditation. The Buddhist texts call love and compassion brahmavihara, divine abodes, for they manifest our inherent divinity even while we dwell in a human body. For Buddhism love and compassion should be balanced by wisdom, insight into the real nature of things, which alone can permanently eradicate the mental defilements that bind us to samsara, the round of bith and death. MORE – in both English and Chinese >

Like Moths Circling a Flame

Climate Change and the danger to the World's Food Supply

By Venerabe Bhikkhu Bodhi

The threat of climate chaos is the overarching issue of our time. To avoid a disruption to the world’s food supply, we must make far-reaching changes in agriculture and energy production. But we must also make changes in consciousness. The question we face is whether we’ll make the necessary changes in time.

Industrial Agriculture

A short sutta in the Udāna (§59) opens when the Buddha is sitting outdoors on a dark night while oil lamps are burning in front of him. Many moths are circling around the lamps and some fly straight into the flames, where their bodies are burnt to a crisp. The Buddha then utters an “inspired exclamation,” declaring that like the moths, people who are “attached to forms and sounds” head straight for their own destruction.

This short sutta can be read as a parable for our global climate crisis, with the image of people heading for destruction expanded to planetary proportions. Seeking continuous economic growth, we pump ever more carbon emissions into the atmosphere, putting our common future at risk. The danger to the moths circling the Buddha’s lamp was not external but came from their instinctual attraction to the flames. The big question each moth must have faced was whether it would turn back before it was scorched by the flames. The big question we must face is whether we will change direction before we fly into our own flames.

Read more: Like Moths Circling a Flame

The Great Turning

A Conversation between Joanna Macy and John Robbins

John Robbins and Joanna Macy, who have been friends for thirty years, are both crusaders for a life-sustaining world. In this conversation, both intimate and visionary, they explore ways they have continued over the years to move and inspire each other. John Robbins is a leader in the movement to reclaim healthy and abundant food for all. He is the author of the international bestseller Diet for a New America, and with his son, Ocean Robbins, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World.  Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy is an author and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. Her most recent title, with Molly Brown, is Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects. In June 2014, Inquiring Mind editors Barbara Gates and Wes Nisker joined Joanna Macy in her home in Berkeley, California, for this uplifting exchange with John Robbins, who participated by phone. These excerpts, from Inquiring Mind, Fall 2014, are used with permission of the publisher and of John Robbins and Joanna Macy.

Joanna Macy

Joanna Macy: Your own book [Diet for a New America] suddenly catapulted you into a position where millions of people all over the world were listening to what you had to say. What do you think it was that touched so many minds and hearts?

John Robbinsy

John Robbins: The main message was that by eating lower on the food chain and eating less industrial meat, factory-farmed meat, we could do a lot of good things at once. Our bodies would be healthier. Our cardiovascular systems would be healthier. Our immune systems would be healthier. Really we would be more vibrant and resilient people. We would also be making a statement of significant compassion for animals, because animals are primarily raised today in confinement and in misery. If we take seriously that we are here to alleviate suffering or prevent suffering, and if we include in our circle of compassion the animals of this world who draw breath from the same source as we do, then by eating less meat or no meat or pulling away from factory-farmed meat, we have the opportunity to spare animals tremendous suffering while making ourselves healthier. We will also be lowering our ecological footprint, causing less air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion and deforestation—a tremendous benefit to the planet. So it is a win-win-win.

Read more: The Great Turning

Address at the United Nations
at the International Celebration of Vesak

by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

May 7, 2012

Venerable Members of the Sangha, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,

We have gathered here today in the Hall of the General Assembly at the United Nations to celebrate Vesak, the day that commemorates the birth, the enlightenment, and the parinirvana of Lord Buddha. Throughout its long history of 2600 years, Buddhism has contributed in incalculable ways to the ennobling of humanity. It has offered moral guidance, a refined system of values, profound philosophies, methods of personal cultivation, and inspiring ideals that express the highest visions of the human potential. From its origins in northern India it spread throughout Asia and became the spiritual heart of the greatest Asian cultures. Over the past two centuries, its universal message has spoken to people in all continents, and it now has won an increasing number of adherents in the West.

Read more: Address at the United Nations
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Our Projects

BGR projects are designed to provide direct food aid to people afflicted by hunger and malnutrition, to promote ecologically sustainable agriculture, to support the education of girls and women, and to give women an opportunity to start right livelihood projects to support their families. This is a selection of nine of our current 29 projects. Please select "Current Projects" from the menu on the left to see them all.


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