Posted on
09 March 2013
Buddhism has a long tradition of co-existence and respect for nature. All of us know that Lord Buddha was born under a tree, enlightened under a tree, and died under a tree. But, Buddha and his great disciples chose to live in a forest when they could have lived anywhere. There are many stories and lessons that Buddha and his disciples gave about wild animals and lyrical teachings about the beauty of nature. I belong to the forest tradition of monasticism in Thailand and this harmonious connection with nature is essential for our way of life. Buddhism is not a religion in the strictest sense, it is an education system that teaches mindfulness, awareness of our actions and their effects on others, loving kindness, and patience. As we cultivate these positive attributes, we must extend them to all living things, including wildlife.

It is very easy to be fatalistic about the environment. When it comes to the issue of ivory use in Thai culture, I believe people may have the attitude that buying or owning a little ivory doesn’t really make a big difference. No one wants to think that they are immoral or selfish but they might think a little bit of ivory doesn’t matter ultimately. It is our responsibility to shed light on this matter and demonstrate how all the little bits of ivory accumulate to a very large amount of ivory and that is basically a large number of dead elephants. A beautiful ivory bangle actually comes from an act where someone sat on a helicopter and shot down elephants in Africa. We must show this connection so people understand where the ivory comes from and at what price.

As I said earlier, I belong to the forest tradition of monasticism which is very strong in the northeast of Thailand. I feel a great love for nature and will teach and support conservation as much as I can. I will request my followers to do the same.
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