At the time Stephanie Kaza compiled this annotated bibliography, she was teaching environmental ethics at the Starr King School of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and serving as president of the board for the Berkeley Peace Fellowship. The books are listed in three sections, to make the point that Buddhism is not the only source of insight into the environment. The second two groupings are books that seem particularly compatible with a Buddhist perspective.
These provocative essays, introducing the Ten Grave Precepts, shed light on a number of contemporary issues in Buddhist ethics, including the environment.
A collection of essays by primarily Western philosophers, drawing on Asian thought as a source for environmental ethics. Academic overviews of Japanese, Chinese, and Indian environmental philosophy, with a number of articles specifically on Buddhism and nature.
The first collection of articles by the Asian-based Buddhist Perception of Nature Project, exploring pertinent Buddhist scriptures for teachings regarding the environment. Includes a statement from the Dalai Lama on the environment, and Thai and Tibetan language translations.
The social and political dimensions of global problems as addressed by engaged Buddhists, with thought-provoking examples of social action undertaken from a Buddhist perspective and relevant to Buddhist environmentalism.
A Japanese organic farmer’s Taoist philosophy on the foundations of good farming — working with the earth harmoniously and understanding right action for people in the environment.
Joanna Macy, Gary Snyder, Robert Aitken, and others present their views in a provocative and up-to-date collection of articles and poetry addressing the intersection of Buddhist and environmental thinking and perception.
With a view that spiritual and social transformation are not separate, nor is one necessary before the other, this book has much to offer in the way of analysis and insight into Buddhist philosophy as it is relevant to social action and global understanding.
One day in Japan, Kapleau noticed there was something fishy—literally—about his diet. This book is a compelling argument for vegetarianism based on Buddhist thought.
Thich Naht Hanh’s modern version of the primary precepts for Buddhist practice, with emphasis on interrelatedness, especially appropriate for engaged Buddhists. This is an excellent resource for discussion groups and ceremonies of renewal.
Introductory essays, excerpts, and poetry, weaving together deep ecology with Buddhist reverence for life, with guidelines for leading the Council of All Beings workshop/ceremony.
Exquisitely crafted essays from this well-known poet-philosopher revealing great depth of reflection and clarity on the natural world and Zen Buddhist teachings and practice.
A classic work on systems thinking, explaining basic principles of feedback which operate in human and environmental systems and relationships. A Western description of aspects of co-dependent origination.
The evolution story as sacred journey, interpreted as the new cosmology for our times. A new road map through bioregionalism and post-patriarchal values to a future vision of living in spiritual relationship with the earth.
A landmark collection of seminal essays by the man who defined the environmental ethic for this century. The most well-known and often-quoted are “The Land Ethic” and “The Round River”.
A history of environmental ethics with well-referenced chapters on the greening of ecology, philosophy, and religion. An excellent overview of various arguments and thinkers in this field, with many thorough footnotes.
Buddhist philosophy and practice has much to offer in living with the environment, but it is equally important to learn something about the ecology of where you live. Naturalists, birdwatchers, and botanists are good teachers for the patterns of life in your local area. It is essential to ground your practice in the concrete reality of a particular bioregion, watershed or neighborhood by developing relationships with the birds and plants, seasonal weather patterns, and local geographic formations. These are some sample books that may be helpful:
Examples of nature, culture, and community and ways to get there from here. Ideas for restoration, reinhabitation, and growing a “life-place politics”. A new collection representing the bioregionalist voice.
Excellent overview of California’s natural communities, tying together the influences of climate, evolutionary change, and human impact, written in an unusually lucid style, accessible to anyone. Similar books exist on other states and regions.
An example of natural history guides that look at a single place from a variety of perspectives, showing the relationships between soils and plant communities, migratory birds and flowering seasons, marine mammals and oceanic patterns. This genre of books are helpful in developing a whole system view of the environment, drawing on the specifics of one area.
A standard and highly recommended identification guide to birds of the continent, with drawings, range maps and information located side by side for easy reference. Most helpful when used with local lists of most common birds.
A collection of eloquent essays by naturalist writers, offering a way of observing nature directly—with care and detail, making a distinction between projection and reflection, a skill which takes practice and time to develop.