9 CONSUMERISM: ITS SIDE EFFECTS ON ENVIRONMENT AND REMEDIES THROUGH BUDDHIST WAY

Thứ năm - 09/05/2019 13:17
by Heero Hito







 
CONSUMERISM: ITS SIDE EFFECTS ON ENVIRONMENT AND REMEDIES THROUGH BUDDHIST WAY

by Heero Hito*







ABSTRACT

The present paper, while discussing consumerism, will try to analyze its basic ideology, its consequences on human life and on insufficient natural resources. Our unquenchable desire to have more and more have accelerated the process of depletion of natural resources. Furthermore, we have tried to understand Buddhist approach more exactly, containment of lust, and wants to a limit.
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The effect of ecological degradation is now well felt worldwide1, one of the factors responsible for it is consumerism. The lifestyle and materialism demonstrated by the west has been well accepted by us. It is based on maximum production and consumption which is the main cause of maximum wastage today. This attitude towards life leads to consumerism giving more importance to materialistic development and utmost consumption of the resources available but disturbing the ecological ambience.
The present paper not only discusses consumerism but also



*. Dr., President, Younker Historical Research Foundation, India. President, M.T.V. Bud- dhist Religious and Charitable Trust (Subharti University), India.
  1. Remoundou, K., & Koundouri, P. (2009). Environmental effects on public health: an economic perspective. International journal of environmental research and public health, 6 (8), 2160-78.
 


analyses the basic ideology and its consequences on human life leading to the depletion of natural resources. The depletion of resources is also the result of the desire to accumulate more. The Buddhist approach suggests Limit of the Wants and Containment of the Lust2, which has disturbed the biodiversity and ecosystem. The demand of the modern age to shift from Consumer Society to Conserver Society is the need.

Attitude of consumerism has led to using heavy machinery, most modern technology, and production in large quantity, excessive use of resources, mass production, heavy transportation, and large storage houses which are leading to the degradation of environment.

The main reasons of consumerism are, a. Multiplication of needs b. Cravings and lust that leave human soul tormented c. Accumulation of material and commodities cramping the soul, degenerating and causing morbidity to soul d. Human desire to overpower the nature. This will surely alienate the man from nature.

Buddhist doctrine proclaims that the ego-self is nonexistent (anatta).3 It is a fabrication of the human mind, an illusion sustained by language and by abstraction from reality. A major consequence of such abstraction is the failure to perceive the essential impermanence of all compounded things (Anicca).

It is ended with the conclusion of Buddhas thought for curbing multiple wants.4 This is possible only when individual completely changes from inside out and takes non -violent path for which human beings have to be spiritual.5

There are two well-known approaches to life. One is personified in the well-known saying of the William Roscher, a German Professor, “Every advance in culture made by man finds expression


 
  1. Ville, H. (2016). On the Buddhist roots of contemporary non-religious mindfulness practice: Moving beyond sectarian and essentialist approaches, Temenos, Vol. 52 No. 1 (2016), 87–126.
  2. Stout, J. (2006). A Comprehensive Study of Anatta and its Relative Truth within Buddhism, Thesis in Philosophy, Texas Tech University.
  3. Fleischman, P. (2002). The Buddha Taught Nonviolence, Not Pacifism, The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, https://www.buddhistinquiry.org/about-us/#Mission.
  4. Nauriyal, D. K., Michael, S., Drummond and Lal, Y. B. (2006). Buddhist Thought and Applied Psychological Research. pp.150, Taylor & Francis e-Library, ISBN 0–415–37431–6.
 


in an increase in the number and in the keenness of his rational wants. The other is summed up in the Indian spiritual ideal of a watchful restraint. The nature sets limits. It requires a person to contain himself within its capacity. Thus, the emphasis is on self- control and limitation of wants. Merchanised Industry knows no such limitation. Its law is one of progressive increase. Those who laid down the pattern of eastern ancient culture could not accept the notion that culture increases with the increase in the number of mans wants and their satisfaction. Before explaining, it is necessary to explain the western modern lifestyle, more exactly in regards to the consumerism.6

Thus, consumerism aims at having more and more of everything. This is the stage where distinction between real and unreal need is blurred, more correctly, it gets diminished. It is here, we find the validity of Buddhas divine, ethical and moral teachings which get the greatest significance. The reckless exploitation of natural resources will endanger the coming generation on this earth.

Mahatma Gandhi explained the phenomena of exploitation of natural resources through alienation also. He was of the opinion that more the nature was over-powered, more alienated man will become from nature. He simultaneously wanted to focus on the relationship between man and his natural environment which would end exploitation. But this alienation of man from nature has also paved the way of alienation from himself also. His true self is what man can discover through the search of truth following the path of non-violence. Gandhi had real view of man, his spiritual, cultural and social aspects as much as his economic needs. This led him to advocate that man must adjust himself to nature and not the other way round. He would not permit imbalance to be created between man and his environment. Moreover, according to Mahatma Gandhi, to accumulate more than required is sort of a theft.7

 
  1. Shah, A. (2001). Stress on the environment, society and resources? Global Issues Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All http://www.globalissues.org/ article/214/stress-on-the-environment-society-and-resources
  2. Bhise, A. (2002). The effect of Mass Production and Consumerism - A Gandhian Approach, https://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/massproduction.htm
 
 
  1. THEORY   OF   CONSUMERISM:   MEANING,   NATURE   AND PRINCIPLE

The theory of consumerism is an ismbased on maximum utilization and utmost consumption of available resources” — material, physical, geo-biological, etc. It is a state of temperament and mental inclination. It gives maximum emphasis on optimum utilization of available resources both natural and man-made. It is a craze against preservation or gradual use of available resources. We know that natural resources such as—air, water, soil, minerals are scarce. They are not to last for all the times to come. But in consumerism, this hard reality is not kept into account. This is due to insatiable desire to have more and more, hard realities of the prevailing environment are ignored. This negligence, in a long- run, proves to be hazardous for the human beings residing on this planet. Scientists, economists, and other specialists have warned us against the rapidly diminishing reserves of minerals, decreasing areas of forests, flora and fauna and many endangered species, global warming, depletion of ozone layer, increasing temperature of the earth and other alarming dangers. But despite their warnings, there is going to be alarming hap hazardous exploitation of nature and natural resources. It is a great predicament for humanity.8
  1. IMPACT OF CONSUMERISM
The consumerism leads to:
    • Mass production
    • Use of heavy machinery and modern technology
    • Procurement of raw material in large quantity
    • Use of excessive energy and
    • Bulk finish production
    • Transportation
- Storage involves large warehouses and creation of huge wastage.
  1. Nayak, R.K. (1999). International environmental law: consumer environmentalism versus environmental consumerism, Edith Cowan University Research Online,https://ro.ecu.edu.au/ cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https: //www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=8075&con- text=ecuworks
 
 
  • Leads to environmental degradation
 

The main Causes of consumerism

 
  • The basic problem is the multiplicity of needs and wants. The human needs are proliferated. One cannot distinguish between real needs and created needs. Needs are ever increasing.
 
  • Second one is cravings and lust which are tormenting elements of the human soul.
 
  • Third problem is the propensity to accumulate commodities cramp the soul and degenerate into the morbid desire to make a fetish of external goods of life.9
 

The Solution for the problem


Mind is like the restless bird; more it gets more it wants and still, it will remain unsatisfied. The more we indulge our passions, more unbridled they become. Wants can be killed only by wants. The stronger wants to be employed to kill ill the weaker wants. This process goes on till human mind is left with the most superior or genuine wants only remained to be satisfied. Buddha taught that we should set the limit to our indulgence. If we set our hearts after such things we would be slaves and loose our moral fibre. Our real happiness and health consist in proper use of hand and feet for fulfillment.

If we follow the teachings of Buddha, it can conserve a lot of natural resources for us which will be sufficient for generations to come.
  • Cravings and lust are tormenting elements of the human soul. One has to renounce his cravings and desires his contentment from within himself. We call such person unruffled in adversity and unaffected by worldly desire. Thus, according to Buddhist philosophy One who abandons all desires is free from the pride and selfishness and behaves as one finds peace.
  • The propensity to accumulate commodities cramp the soul

 
  1. Kumar, H. (2012). Mahatma Gandhi: A non violent fighter of Indian Freedom. YSSRFJ, 2: 112-118.
 


and degenerate into the morbid desire to make a fetish of external goods of life. It gives rise to monopolies. The accumulation is condemnable because it is not possible to be practiced by all. Nature produces enough for our wants for day to day needs and if only everybody took enough for himself and nothing more, there would be no pauperism in this world.

We do not have any right to anything until millions of the needy people are clothed and fed better. So, we have to adjust our wants and even undergo voluntary starvation to feed underfed millions. Man, due to his thirst for accumulation, made the hell of this beautiful planet. This has the effect on increasing ecological imbalance, environmental degradation, vanishing flora and fauna, unhampered population explosion and deteriorating human values, all are the outcome of the greed of modern homo-sapiens.

- The teachings of Buddha specifically Four Noble Truths and eight fold paths are very significant to overcome the side effects of consumerism. The Buddha said that mindfulness is the one way to achieve the end of suffering. Mindfulness is essential even in our daily life in which we act in full awareness of our actions, feelings, and thoughts as well as that of our environment. The mind should always be clear and free from desires, leading to satisfaction.

3. CONCLUSION

The problem of Consumerism is now well felt globally. It may invade future generation. The man should change from inside out to solve the problem of environmental degradation. Such type of change is possible only when the individual becomes non -greedy and follow the path shown by Buddha.

A way of life that depletes available resources will generate problems for coming generations. It is necessary to get secured future and maximum welfare of maximum people and need of the hour is to check the lust and cravings. For this purpose, we shall have to follow a non-violent way of life to economic activities.10 This concept is to be widened while dealing with living beings, nature and limited and finite sources of the earth. There is a need


10. Singh, P.S. (2012). Consumerism: Problems and Solution. YSSRFJ, 2: 119-126.
 


for unending commitment to ensure that man will survive without falling to a state of worthless existence. Today we are facing problems of survival. Buddhas path and philosophy have answers to all the worries and anxieties of the modern world.

The continuing multiplicity of want associated with the spread of materialistic philosophy of life has brought the world to the brink of a materialistic disaster. This is reflected in the ecological crisis, the ramification of which is becoming clearer. Natural resources are being depleted at the faster rate. An economy based on the foundation of endless wants would therefore not last long.

The main question raised by the observations is how can the transition from a consumer society to conserve society be affected?

The answer is Through ones own efforts facilitated by following the teachings (dhamma) embodied in and enunciated by Buddha and Boddhisattvas.

It is in this context that Buddhas doctrine of want limitation, that becomes extremely significant for the survival of mankind.









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References


Remoundou, K., & Koundouri, P. (2009). Environmental effects on public health: an economic perspective. International journal of environmental research and public health, 6 (8), 2160-78.

Ville, H. (2016). On the Buddhist roots of contemporary non-religious mindfulness practice: Moving beyond sectarian and essentialist approaches, Temenos, Vol. 52 No. 1 (2016), 87–126.

Stout, J. (2006). A Comprehensive Study of Anatta and its Relative Truth within Buddhism , Thesis in Philosophy, Texas Tech University.

Fleischman, P. (2002).The Buddha Taught Nonviolence, Not Pacifism, The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, https://www. buddhistinquiry.org/about-us/#Mission.
Nauriyal, D. K.,   Michael, S., Drummond and Lal, Y. B.   (2006).
Buddhist  Thought  and  Applied  Psychological  Research.  pp.150,
Taylor & Francis e-Library, ISBN 0–415–37431–6.
Shah, A. (2001). Stress on the environment, society and resources?
Global Issues Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues
That  Affect  Us  All  http://www.globalissues.org/article/214/
stress-on-the-environment-society-and-resources

Bhise, A. (2002). The effect of Mass Production and Consumerism - A Gandhian Approach, https://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/ massproduction.htm

Nayak, R.K. (1999). International environmental law : consumer environmentalism versus environmental consumerism, Edith Cowan University Research Online,https://ro.ecu.edu. au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https: //www.google. com/&httpsredir=1&article=8075&context=ecuworks

Kumar, H. (2012). Mahatma Gandhi: A non violent fighter of Indian Freedom. YSSRFJ, 2: 112-118.
Singh, P.S. (2012). Consumerism: Problems and Solution. YSSRFJ,
2: 119-126.

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