This month is Buddhist Action Month (BAM), the month when we ask ourselves the question, ‘How we can act more for the benefit of the environment and the wider society?’ This year, BAM is focusing on actions around climate change. So what more can we do?

Akuppa’s Saving the Earth: A Buddhist View is full of practical tips and useful resources on how to make a difference in protecting the environment whilst following the Buddhist teachings.

In Sailing the Worldly Winds, Vajragupta suggests that a Buddhist response to the challenges of the modern world will be characterised by the following factors:

1. Self-development

“If we want to be a force for good in the world, we have to start by developing ourselves. We need to nurture the qualities, such as awareness, patience, generosity and kindness, which enable us to engage with the world helpfully.” – Vajragupta, Sailing the Worldly Winds

2. Withdrawing support from institutions, groups and forces in society that perpetuate a limited, materialistic vision

“We can’t entirely avoid consuming things, but we can reduce consumption, and we can also try to avoid the values of consumerism as much as possible. One aspect of doing this is to consume as ethically as we can, to buy from companies that are trying to trade fairly, or that put a portion of their profits to socially beneficial use.” – Vajragupta, Sailing the Worldly Winds

It’s easy to buy all of our books from the big international online retailers, but these companies can take as much 60% of the sale price. By buying books directly from independent publishers, you can ensure that more of the money you spend goes to supporting smaller, more ethical businesses. By buying books directly from the Windhorse Publications website, you will be supporting a not-for-profit enterprise which invests its surplus income in new books and improved production methods, all with the aim of better communicating Buddhist teachings in the 21st century. You can further invest in our company by sponsoring a new book, or making a donation to help us continue our work.

Another important way of consuming ethically is to become vegetarian. We eat several times every day, so becoming more aware of what we eat is an important area of ethical practice. If you’d like to find out more about the relationship between Buddhist ethics and vegetarianism, you can read Bodhipaksa’s Vegetarianism: A Buddhist View and find out how what we eat can help change the world.

If you are already vegetarian, then you could consider taking it a stage further and becoming vegan. How about giving it a try for Buddhist Action Month? The first of the Buddhist five precepts is not to kill or harm other life, and the dairy industry, as well as the meat industry, involves violence to animals. Vajragupta goes on to explain: There is also the fact that a vegan diet has a significantly lower carbon footprint than a vegetarian one, which has a significantly lower footprint than a meat diet.” Just this week the Guardian newspaper spoke of a UN report which stated that we need to eat less animal products if we are to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change.

3. Speaking out: critiquing limited ideologies, and communicating real vision and values

“Whenever you get the opportunity, speak out and critique the more limited, partial stories of our culture, and try your best to communicate a better possibility.” – Vajragupta, Sailing the Worldly Winds

Challenging Times: Stories of Buddhist Practice when Things get Tough, edited by Vishvapani, is an inspirational collection of stories about people who remained open, honest and compassionate in the face of intense suffering. Their faith in the teachings of the Buddha and their ability to both embody and communicate them in the toughest of situations is a hugely inspiring account for all of us following the Buddhist path.

4. Joining a spiritual community and helping it to grow

“We can probably do more to influence the world and to speak out by collaborating with others too.” – Vajragupta, Sailing the Worldly Winds

So what is your Buddhist Centre doing for Buddhist Action Month?

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