Monastic Response to Climate Change – Sravasti Abbey


Bodhisattva Practice of Environmental Protection

Another way we maintain our commitment to environmental care is by applying the bodhisattva practices within the Mahayana tradition. As Mahayana practitioners, we have taken the bodhisattva vow to not only refrain from harming all living beings, but to be of greatest benefit to them by becoming a fully awakened Buddha.

At the Abbey, we practice the six bodhisattva “perfections” of generosity, ethical conduct, fortitude, joyous effort, concentration, and wisdom through our care of the environment in the following ways:


As part of our practice of generosity – the first perfection – we publicly share our time and knowledge on environmentally conscious practices with our guests and the local community. We also create habitats that provide shelter to native species. Items that are in good condition but no longer needed are donated to local charities instead of going into the garbage.

The talks we give about the importance of combatting climate change that are posted on the Internet and the many petitions we sign concerning environmental protection are also part of our practice of generosity.

Ethical conduct

The second perfection is ethical conduct. We forbid the killing of any living being on our property and use non-lethal methods to deal with infestations. Valuing all life and knowing the horrible pollution that results from raising cattle for food, we have a vegetarian diet. We also perform religious rituals to harmonize our relationship with other beings sharing our land.

We select building materials from no-VOC paints to types of sheathing that lessen off-gassing to protect the health of living creatures. Our proactive maintenance of buildings reflects our concern for the health of people who use them as well as our concern not to waste resources needed to repair or rebuild neglected structures.


The third perfection is fortitude, which we practice when we wash, dry, sort, and package every last bit of recyclable material to either reuse or take to nearby recycling stations. We also apply fortitude when spending many hours planting, watering, and cultivating organic vegetables and fruits to reduce food packaging and waste.

Joyous effort

We practice joyous effort – the fourth perfection – when we harvest, process, and store our fruit and vegetables, and when we work to cut dead branches, remove dead trees, and thin crowded forest areas in our nearly 340 acres of forest to reduce fire danger and promote a healthy forest environment.


The fifth bodhisattva practice is concentration. We develop this faculty by staying in tune with the seasonal demands of caring for our land and maintaining the health of trees and plants on our property.

We need concentration to identify noxious weeds among the tall grasses and other plants in our meadows in order to support native plant growth. While we do some of this by hand, there are some large areas of noxious weeds that we must spray. However, when we do so, we use the least harmful substances possible in as small quantities as possible and take care not to pollute any springs, ponds, or wells.


Lastly, we exercise the perfection of wisdom by forming relationships with local officials and experts in forest and land management and seeking their advice on environmental trends.  We research the many building materials required in construction with an eye towards durability, sustainability, low environmental impact, practicality, and cost.

New buildings are designed to be energy efficient and include solar panels. In building construction we use wall systems with high thermal mass and insulation value.These are organic, non-toxic, energy efficient, insulating wall blocks made from 85% mineralized wood and 15% cement, with a 4-hour fire rating. The composite materials are all natural, and last for centuries. We also use low-flow toilets and energy-efficient LED lighting. Our heating and cooling systems are geothermal.

We also learn about the dangers climate change and how it will affect human migration, the existence of coastal cities, and the ability of human beings to grow enough food to feed the increasing population.


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