Buddhist Path to the Sustainable Development Goals

Buddhism provides important practical guidance for living in the world. Buddhism, especially as originally taught by the Buddha in his first sermons, is not exclusively for living withdrawn from the world, for monastic renunciation of property and possessions, for seeking a life of pure spirit only while habiting a material form which is created in birth and becomes useless in death.

Buddhism can speak to us of this life, far from Nirvana and not contingent on any future incarnation of being.   Buddhist teachings are, therefore, universal, not reserved exclusively to believers in or practitioners of any particular ritual or liturgical formalisms. Buddhism from this perspective is not about statues and images, or propitiation in return for benefits, or the making of merit through sacrifice of money and goods.

Since they have a worldly quality, these Buddhist insights can be approached and appreciated by anyone, anytime, anywhere.  They can be included in living out other faiths as daily practices using one’s mind and controlling one’s emotions.  They do not conflict with revealed transcendental truths about the highest ends of our lives, about the Divine, or salvation in a world to come.

Buddhism speaks to our moral sense, a capacity of mind and heart provided for each one of us at birth in the pre-frontal cortex of our brains and using neuro-biological motivators like oxytocin.

Since Buddhism is its original expression speaks universally and since in our time the sustainability of our planet with social and economic justice for all peoples is at issue, Buddhism can helpfully prepare us for ethical decision-making promoting sustainable development.  The awareness of who we are provided by such a pragmatic Buddhism is a mindfulness most necessary for constructive living and most discerning of our better choices in life.  Original Buddhism provides us with a road map for attaining sustainability.

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