Quotes from Sangharakshita

An Apology

We live in the Age of Apologies. Here is an apology that is much more meaningful than many being made today.

Mankind owes a profound apology:

To the Birds, for having polluted the air through which they fly,

To the Ape and the Tiger, for having destroyed the forests in which they live,

To the Deer and the Bison, for ruthlessly hunting them almost to extinction,

To the Rivers and Streams, for poisoning them with chemicals,

To the Earth itself, for greedily pillaging its riches of silver and gold,

To the Ocean, for slaughtering the greatest of her children, the Whale, ‘for scientific purposes’,

To the Mountain Peaks, for defiling their virgin snows with our trash,

To the Moon, for rudely invading her sacred space,

To the Stars, for obscuring their brightness with the smoke of our cities,

To the Sun, for not gratefully acknowledging our dependence on his bounty,

To the truly great Men and Women of the past, for not honouring their memory as we should and for not walking in their footsteps.

– Sangharakshita, July 2009

Sangharakshita, A Moseley Miscellany: Prose and Verse, 1997–2012, Ibis Publications, Coddington 2015, p.287. This poem will also be appearing in volume 25 of Sangharakshita's Complete Works, together with his conversation with Saddhanandi about it.

“It is not that you just sit on your meditation mat radiating metta towards the world but keeping well out of the way of the world. It is that metta enters into your action and expresses itself in terms of non-violent action for the benefit of others.” (Sangharakshita Questions and Answers, Guhyaloka, 1988)

Another matter that I’ve felt quite concerned about recently is the environment. It does seem that human beings are destroying our own environment, and it may be that in the next twenty years very serious damage will be done to the total environment of life on earth. One reads dreadful things about the destruction of rainforests, and of all sorts of species of living things. To me it seems dreadful that thousands of beautiful species of animals, fish, birds, and butterflies are just being wiped out each year. We need to take a much stronger stand on such issues, and perhaps play a more active part, at least in our individual capacities, in the environmental movement. This is completely in accordance with the principles of Buddhism. As Buddhists we are urged to direct mettā towards all living beings, and that doesn’t just mean all human beings, but all animals, insects, plants, birds, and life of every kind, so this is the basis of our ecological concern. We wish all living beings well. It’s in our own interests to do so because we can’t live on a naked planet. We can’t live on rock and sand; we depend upon vegetation and animal life. We’re all interconnected, another great lesson from Buddhism. In the next twenty years I would like to see the Order developing an ecological dimension, and I would like to see some Order members working in this field on the basis of their Buddhist commitment, perhaps in some cases working alongside non-Buddhists who share this concern, this sort of commitment, because it is something of very, very basic importance.” (Sangharakshita, The Next Twenty Years, WBO Day, 1988.)

“I feel quite strongly that this is something that the FWBO needs to look into and to take even an active part in. I think this is one of the clearest issues in which we can involve ourselves… the general ecological issue.” (Seminar on The Precepts of the Gurus, 1979)

“I think there is certainly an objective danger of humanity exhausting certain natural resources or bringing about certain irreversible changes in the natural environment, and I think ecologists are perfectly right to warn people about this and try to do something about it, but you feel that very often their warnings take on sort of apocalyptic overtones which have got nothing to do with the scientific facts of the case, and the objective rational need to think about these matters. ...You can still put a case very strongly and be completely rational.” (Sangharakshita seminar on Trevor Ling’s The Buddha, Aryatara, September 1976)

(Sangharakshita speaking at the EBU Convention in 1992 in a symposium on Emptiness and Compassion responding to a question on the social dimension)