pp 1–10 | Cite as

A Task for Mindfulness: Facing Climate Change

  • Bhikkhu Anālayo


This article presents a Buddhist perspective on the challenge posed by climate change, with particular emphasis on the role of mindfulness. Based on translated excerpts from parallel versions of early Buddhist texts extant in Pāli, Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan, three possible reactions to climate change are correlated to three root defilements recognized in early Buddhist psychology: greed, anger, and delusion. Their recognition requires mindful monitoring, which is in turn based on the compassionate intention for the absence of any harm. The noble eightfold path sets the context for the collaboration of such compassionate intention with the cultivation of mindfulness. According to a simile of two acrobats, such cultivation of mindfulness provides the foundation by establishing the balance within oneself that then enables helping others.


Acrobat simile Climate change Compassion Contemplation of the mind Ecological destruction Eightfold path Empathy Mindfulness Right intention Root defilements Satipaṭṭhāna 





Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association




Ekottarika-āgama (T 125)

Madhyama-āgama (T 26)



Saṃyukta-āgama (T 99)




Taishō edition




Visuddhimagga; 〈 〉, emendation


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies performed by the author with human participants or animals.


  1. Anālayo, Bh. (2012). The historical value of the Pāli discourses. Indo-Iranian Journal, 55, 223–253. Scholar
  2. Anālayo, Bh. (2013). Perspectives on satipaṭṭhāna. Cambridge: Windhorse Publications Scholar
  3. Anālayo, B. (2015). Compassion and emptiness in early Buddhist meditation. Cambridge: Windhorse Publications Scholar
  4. Anālayo, Bh. (2016). Mindfully facing disease and death, compassionate advice from early Buddhist texts. Cambridge: Windhorse Publications.Google Scholar
  5. Anālayo, Bh. (2017). How compassion became painful. Journal of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, Sri Lanka, 14, 85–113 Scholar
  6. Anālayo, Bh. (2019). In the seen just the seen: mindfulness and the construction of experience. Mindfulness, 10, 179–184. Scholar
  7. Cassegård, C., Soneryd, L., Thörn, H., & Wettergren, A. (2017). Climate action in a globalizing world, comparative perspectives on environmental movements in the global north. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Gnoli, R. (1978). The Gilgit manuscript of the Saṅghabhedavastu, being the 17th and last section of the Vinaya of the Mūlasarvāstivādin. Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente.Google Scholar
  9. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2019). Mindfulness for all, the wisdom to transform the world. New York: Hachette.Google Scholar
  10. Karmapa, H. H. (2013). The heart is noble, changing the world from the inside out. Boston: Shambala Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Ñāṇaponika, Th. (1990). Protection through satipaṭṭhāna. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society.Google Scholar
  12. Tokar, B. (2018). On social ecology and the movement for climate justice. In S. G. Jacobson (Ed.), Climate justice and the economy, social mobilization, knowledge and the political (pp. 168–187). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Tripāṭhī, C. (1995). Ekottarāgama-Fragmente der Gilgit-Handschrift. Reinbek: Verlag für Orientalistische Fachpublikationen.Google Scholar
  14. Wilson, J. (2014). Mindful America, the mutual transformation of Buddhist meditation and American culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Barre Center for Buddhist StudiesBarreUSA

Personalised recommendations