Strategies for Buddhist Environmentalism

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 18, 2011

The Lorax Wears Saffron: Toward a Buddhist Environmentalism

Seth Devere Clippard
Arizona State University

This article argues for the reorientation of eco-Buddhist discourse from a focus on establishing textual justifications of what Buddhist environmental ethics says towards a discourse in which Buddhist rhetoric and environmental practice are intimately linked through specific communal encounters. The article first identifies and assesses two different strategies used by advocates of Buddhist environmentalism in Thailand, one being textual and the other practical. Then, after laying out the deficiencies of the textual strategy, the article argues that the practical strategy offers a more meaningful basis for a discourse of Buddhist environmental concern—one that accounts for the differences in Buddhist communities but does not discount the importance of key Buddhist concepts. This article will suggest that a rhetorical interpretation of environmental practices offers the most effective means of articulating the ethical foundations of religious environmentalism.

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