Religions of the World and Ecology home

Joan Halifax and Marty Peale 

Abstract of paper given at Buddhism and Ecology conference:
Interbeing: Precepts and Practices of an Applied Ecology

The Tiep Hien Order, also known as the Order of Interbeing, in the past three decades has emphasized a lay practice of engaged Buddhism. In addition to the practice of sitting meditation and the study of the sutras, there has been an emphasis on the practice of the precepts.In establishing the Tiep Hien Order in Vietnam in 1964, the Fourteen Precepts were created as a unique set of guidelines that Order members vow to be guided by. More recently, the classical five precepts have been interpreted by the Order's founder, Thich Nhat Hanh, to reflect an engaged Buddhism that takes into account human and environmental rights. Both of these sets of vows reflect not only a position of compassion, but are also a means for a practitioner to stabilize his or her mind. They are a moral and ethical baseline that can be conducive to awakening. The Five Wonderful Precepts particularly reflect our environmental imperative. This presentation is being made by a teacher in the Tiep Hien Order of Thich Nhat Hanh and a natural scientist specializing in temperate and boreal forests. They are two colleagues who work together in the area of contemplative environmental education. The Buddhist teacher has a background in anthropology and the natural scientist in environmental activism. Their talk will explore the precepts in relation to contemplative environmental education.