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Buddhism and the Natural World
Towards a Meaningful Myth
Windhorse Publications, 1998

by P. D. Ryan

From the Introduction:

'These pages are the record of a quest in Buddhist literature. The quest has a twofold purpose: to find out what the early Buddhists thought and felt about the natural world, and to see if that might have a meaning for our troubled time.'

'Not the least interesting feature of the Buddhist creation story is that it is given as a perfectly conscious myth, attributed to the Buddha on a specific occasion in answer to a specific problem.'

'My reading of the Aggañña Sutta has led me to the belief that it comprehends the meaning of Buddhism in a more potent form than much ordinary doctrinal exposition; and that anyone who has accepted Buddhism will get a stronger sense of what our relations with nature ought to be if he penetrates to the message of its myth.'

From the Conclusion:

'The world exists in its own right and is to be accepted for its own sake. Its destiny is tragically involved with that of man as being not only the setting but even more the victim of his activities. It can do nothing of itself to change this relationship. That lies entirely with mankind. A fateful responsibility is thereby placed upon us, one whose demands we shall always find hard to meet given the roots of greed, hatred and delusion in our hearts. But the message of the Dhamma is that these roots can be removed, that the ground of our nature is good and rich in gold. The qualities needed to meet the responsibility can be developed; the material is there. And the most important time is not in the past or future but in the present, every moment containing the beginning and end of things.'


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