October 17, 2010

Book review: How Much Is Enough?: Buddhism, Consumerism, and the Human Environment (Richard K. Payne, ed.)

This collection of essays is derived from a 2003 conference held in California on focusing on Buddhism and the environment during which scholars from both the United States and Japan gathered to examine the connections and disconnections between Buddhist thought and philosophy and the current global consumerist culture.

Each essay urges a reunification rather than a continued separation between Man and the natural environment, which leads to the dualistic thinking opposed in basic Buddhist philosophy. While the book focuses on Japanese Pure Land Buddhism, the principles addressed apply regardless of sect.

The current consumerist way of thinking that ownership of more, new and improved “stuff” equates to happiness is not only highly detrimental to the environment, but also completely contrary to Buddhist thought. This book urges the reader to step away from the drive to own the latest iPhone or other materialistic “new and cool thing” and instead realize that everything is interconnected: that the environment is just as much a part of Indra’s Net as the sentient beings within it; a fact that various corporations would prefer we forget. How Much Is Enough? advocates for more a more mindful approach to everything we buy.

From Wisdom Publications and available from your local, independent bookseller. (Shop local, buy independent, and tell ’em you saw it on Elephant Journal!)

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