When I encountered the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha) in the late 1980s I was already concerned about climate change and consumerism. I was immediately struck by two of the ethical guidelines that all Buddhists undertake to observe as faithfully as possible.
The first: I undertake to abstain from taking the not given. This is so much more than not stealing. I believe it is not given to first world people to take from third world people their resources even their means of livelihood. Nor will our own future generations thank us for our rapacious consumerism and the effects it has on the environment and all species. The second: With stillness, simplicity and contentment I purify my body. For me this means decluttering my life of unnecessary material things and not attaching to social media and internet surfing which consumes time and leaves no time for reflection and contemplation.
Since becoming a Buddhist, I have become vegetarian and am vegan as much as possible. Given certain health considerations, I have some milk products. I recycle more thoroughly; have a very small car which I use very little, and for 20 years I lived in community where so much can be shared. I have also taken a further voluntary ethical precept which intensifies the guideline of stillness, simplicity and contentment. All of these changes have brought me greater contentment and joy. Giving up meat was for a while rather difficult, but I learnt that if I found myself craving meat, a handful of high protein nuts always satisfied that urge.
Persevering with this lifestyle over 30 years has not been difficult. I say the Buddhist ethical guidelines every morning when I meditate, and for me to live simply so others may simply live is an aphorism I wholeheartedly try to live by.
Nagasuri leading meditation at a Vigil outside GHD engineering. We prayed that GHD would walk away from Adani's Coal Project in Queensland.