The Dharma-Ending Age: The Climate Crisis through the Lens of Buddhist Eschatology, Past and Present
October 7–9, 2022
University of British Columbia
Hosted by the Yin-Cheng Buddhist Studies Network and the From the Ground Up Project (www.frogbear.org) at the University of British Columbia, this conference will take place on October 7–9, 2022 in hybrid format.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the world economy has seen unprecedented growth, while living standards have also improved drastically, driving the human population to increase at an exponential rate that is ultimately unsustainable. In the meantime, consumerism runs rampant, urban areas expand unchecked, while the predatory exploitation of forests, rivers, oceans, and mineral resources, as well as excessive pollution and unrestrained emission of greenhouse gas have led to worldwide pollution, land subsidence, global warming, sea level rise, and extreme weather. In addition, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear, biological, chemical weapons, and the blistering evolution of Artificial Intelligence have all cast a shadow on the future of humanity, all of which seem to augur that the dharma-ending age (mofa 末法) described in Buddhist classics that is now silently approaching us.
Among the stated challenges, the climate crisis may wield the most immediate impacts for the world’s people. Buddhism may prove to possess unique insights to address this urgent global challenge. At its core, Buddhism seeks to elucidate cause-and-effect relationships and to show how all things, like Indra’s Net, are interconnected. Buddhist teaching thus has the potential to render us acutely aware that we, as interconnected beings, can and should contribute to global welfare, such as by practicing prudent consumption and by cherishing all sentient lives and our present fortune, guided by a correct perception of the causes and effects of things. After all, a clear perception of one’s causal relationship in relation to a global threat constitutes the first step for humanity as a whole to address the climate crisis.
It has been Buddhism’s perennial concern to seek harmonious co-existence between human beings and nature. Since antiquity, Buddhists have sought to curb their desires in pursuit of a simplicity of life, and a beneficial reciprocity with nature. In order for humanity to awaken to the current environmental crisis and to jointly face this unprecedented challenge, we propose the following (non-exhaustive) list of topics:
- Buddhist millenarianism and social changes;
- A new look at Buddhist eschatology (moshi 末世論);
- Buddhist eschatology and extreme weather and disaster;
- Impacts of climate change on Buddhist thoughts and practices;
- Buddhism and the natural environment;
- Buddhism, climate change and natural disasters;
- Buddhism and animals in a changing climate
- Buddhism and nature: a philosophical perspective;
- Buddhism and the anthropocene;
- Buddhism and the strategies for climate change: a historical perspective;
- Buddhist traditions and their views on climate: a comparative perspective;
- Buddhism, climate and the evolution of East Asian societies;
- Buddhist perspectives on strategies for countering climate change;
The conference organizers welcome any papers discussing nature and natural disaster from the perspective of any Buddhist tradition or a global Buddhism. The conference will take place semi-online. All associated costs, including accommodation and meals during the conference, will be covered by the conference organizers. Depending on the funds available, travel expenses may also be partially or fully covered. Please email proposals and CVs to email@example.com by May 15, 2022.
Selected conference papers will be published as one or two journal special issues. Those confident of completing their draft by September 9, 2022 and finalizing their papers by December 31, 2022 are welcome to apply.