Buddhists are taught to understand that everything in life happens for a purpose and all actions have consequences. This can also be in relation to the environment and animals. Karmic consequences result in karma being collected through all actions in a Buddhists life, good or bad.
Buddhists believe in reincarnation and that the karma you collect in this life will play a major role in the outcome of your next. If a Buddhist harmed the environment or animals they would collect bad karma resulting in a life of ignorance, suffering and possibly a lower rebirth. Reincarnation demonstrates we have all been animals in our past lives from being reborn time and time again. Potentially we could have been related to all beings, animal or human. These beliefs would have a definite influence on how Buddhists treat animals. Animals around them could be creatures they have loved and cared for and by harming them or treating them unjustly, Buddhists may be being disrespectful to beings they once cherished.
Reincarnation also alters Buddhist views on the environment. They believe we depend on the world for survival, not and in the future. If they destroy, damage and harm the environment now they will only have to suffer a bad life next time round as consequence of their own actions.
Engaged Buddhism is when the teachings of Buddhism are applied to the lives of Buddhists. This relates to animals and the environment as they would recycle, not cut down trees, walk, protest etc.
Ahimsa is a Buddhist teaching that when translated means respect for life. This teaching may affect their attitude towards animals. All animals are living things and so they deserve respect. If a Buddhist treated them cruelly or wrongfully they would not be entitling them to a proper standard of living and therefore not respecting the life of living creatures. Ahimsa also relates to Buddhist outlooks on environmental issues. To respect the life of living creatures they should not take their habitat, pollute the environment etc.
Violence is excepted in Buddhism and followers are strong believers against it. Violent rituals and sports that harm animals e.g.: fox hunting, bear baiting and so on would not be supported by Buddhists. Also sports where animals fight against each other, as this too is a form of violence. The belief of non-violence means they should act in a loving and compassionate manner. They are expected to use this manner on animals only caring for them to the best of their ability. Buddhists would adapt a compassionate mannerism towards the environment and their surroundings. They depend on the world for their survival and without it wouldn’t exist.
The five moral precepts are also Buddhist teachings and one of these applies to animal rights, the teaching:
Refrain from taking life: By taking the lives of animals a Buddhist would not be being truthful to their faith and would not be appreciating the animals right to a respected living.
One also applies to the environment, the teaching:
Refrain from taking what is not yours (stealing): A Buddhist should realise the environment is not for their taking, they can enjoy its beauty freely but not take it away by cutting down trees and destroying woodland areas etc.
The Eightfold Path has teachings that concern how a Buddhist is imagined to feel and act towards animals and the environment. These are:
Right Action: Buddhists are supposed to treat animals in the correct way, therefore not hurting, injuring or killing them. They need to act in the acceptable way towards the environment also by not littering and destroying it by dumping rubbish etc.
Right Living: A Buddhist who intends to live in the proper way will not carry out jobs or rituals that abuse animals like animal testers or butchers. They will not partake in jobs involved in the destruction of the environment either, such as tree surgeons and farmers (if using pesticides.)
Right Effort: A substantial amount of effort is to be displayed in the life of a Buddhist. Concerning animals they could do such things as donate to charities which and are formed to bring an end to cruelty to animals and stop misuse of the environment. Also they could make an effort to recycle and so forth to in turn help themselves collect good karma.
Right Understanding: A Buddhists requires the right understanding and so necessitates the knowledge upon the way the world works and to understand the consequences of wrong action.
” As the bee takes the essence of the flower and flies away without destroying its beauty or perfume, so let the sage wander in his life.”
This is a Buddhist quote, which informs them of the way they should use or protect the environment. It demonstrates that the environment can be used in the correct manner but we shouldn’t demolish and destroy its qualities. Like the bee, Buddhists can take the essence of the flower but they do not need to damage what is before them. Therefore they can let the environment be a wonder of nature for generations to follow.
The religion and teachings of Buddhism are guidelines to how a Buddhist follower should act and carry out duties in their daily lives. These teachings relate to the issues of animal rights and the environment and clearly state that by hurting, killing and damaging the environment or animals Buddhist are not obeying the expectations of their faith and are going against Buddhist belief.