Tarka #03: On Ecology

In this issue of Tarka, On Ecology, we look at the intersection of ecology and contemplative practice – including various ways of understanding and relating to nature, environmental degradation, and modes for healing. The result is an interdisciplinary, multifaceted study of ecology.

Tarka Issue #3

On Ecology

  • Historical, Polemical, and Experimental Essays
  • Introductory Articles on Key Topics
  • Interviews with Rita D. Sherma, Stephanie Kaza, Pankaj Jain and Christopher Key Chapple
  • Three Book Reviews
  • Articles on Practice and Translation

Articles from this Issue

The Ecology of Tantra: Why Yogis Eat Carrots Rather Than Cows

To live a life according to the wisdom of ecology is the most urgent task for humanity today. What can the philosophy of yoga contribute to this critical challenge? How can we develop an environmental ethics according to yogic principles? What would a sustainable ethics based on yoga look like?

Mind in Nature

For science, viruses represent the smallest accumulation and diversity of molecules which is recognized as “life.” Maybe in the near future, when more advanced techniques are employed, we will recognize the sentience of smaller aggregations of molecules. For now, viruses personify the boundary between life and non-life according to science.

According to the so-called Santiago theory, developed by Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana, the process of cognition is intimately linked to the process of life. Hence, the brain is not necessary for the mind to exist. A worm, or a tree, has no brain but has a mind. The simplest forms

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Mindful Ecofeminism and the Multispecies Sangha

When practitioners set foot on a spiritual path, we want to bring our whole selves—our ethics and values, our commitments to social and environmental justice, and our embodied interbeing with all animal and plant species, water-bodies and air-bodies, soil and rock. Yet when it comes to multispecies relations, a diversity of practices appear: some Buddhist communities and cultures follow a vegan or vegetarian practice, while others do not. Like every part of the dharma, exploring the multispecies sangha provides practice in releasing attachment to view (and its co-arising righteous self-identity) and committing to the precepts.

Dharma Diversity

Since its founding in 1978, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF) has offered a channel f

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Forging the Spirit through Climate Change Practice

From Green Buddhism: Practice and Compassionate Action in Uncertain Times by Stephanie Kaza © 2019 by Stephanie Kaza. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO. www.shambhala.com 

Master Fa Tsang had been summoned by the empress of China to explain the nature of reality. Though the empress had heard a number of lectures on Buddhist philosophy from the esteemed teacher, she had not yet reached true understanding. Sensing the need to point beyond the limiting nature of words, the master set up a display in one of the royal halls, placing mirrors on the ceiling, floor, and all four walls. In the center he arranged a small Buddha with a candle. When he brought the

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What is Līlā?

Līlā means, among other things, “sport,” “play” and “pastime.” Often translated as “divine play,” līlā signifies a number of theological and metaphysical ideas that pertain to the spontaneous playfulness of the absolute or supreme being. 

There are at least two meanings of līlā relevant to the student of Indian traditions and śāstras. These meanings might be described as “dualistic” and “non-dualistic,” indicating how the supreme playfulness that is līlā is to be perceived and understood. In the dualistic schools of Hinduism, līlā denotes those activities that god participates in with his devotees. In the non-dualistic schools, līlā refers to the great dance of life, the exquisite sport of existence. Explo

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Sacred Rivers as Divine Ecology

I. Why Rivers Are Sacred

“When Indra slew the demon He removed the cloud covering the sun—the source of water. The liberated rivers ran upon the earth like mother cows, eager to suckle their young.” Ṛg Veda 1.61.10 

I’d left Jabalpur on a public bus at dawn, heading toward the source of the Narmada River at Amarkanthak. Squished against the metal side of the crowded vehicle, I watched the beauty of Madhya Pradesh’s central hinterland go by in the morning light. 

We crossed many valleys and rivers before arriving at a bridge crossing the Narmada River for the first time. The bus stopped. People started to pray loudly. One lady leaned over me, whispered some grievances over a coconut and tossed it into the swirling waters below. Another gentleman wit

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From the Introduction

We can glimpse the infinite on a clear, starry night, from an expansive viewpoint, or even nestled in the underbrush of a dense forest.  When we slow down to examine the toil of an earthworm or snail, as they move through a common grassy patch, or even within a potted plant, we see the enormity and importance of a world that is easy to overlook. This opening up and experiencing of the world beyond us, or the slowing down and witnessing of the myriad worlds around us, can fundamentally reshape our consciousness.  We “fit” differently into the world around us when we absorb and experience nature…

Stephanie Corigliano, TARKA Journal Managing Editor

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What’s in this Issue?

Interviews with Faculty & Friends:
Rita D. Sherma | Stephanie Kaza | Pankaj Jain | Christopher Key Chapple

Understanding Ecology:
What is Ecology? by Jessica Jagtiani | What is Ecofeminism? by Rebekah Nagy | Sacred Cow by Katy Jane | What is Śākta? by Laura K. Amazzone | What is līlā? by Jacob Kyle | The Ecology of Tantra by Ramesh Bjonnes

Essays:
Born with Divine Ecology by Martha Eddy | Ecology in a Time of Covid by Christopher Key Chapple | Sacred Rivers as Divine Ecology by Katy Jane | Uncovering Nature Within by Carryn Mills | Visual Essay: Morning Altars by Day Schildkret | Annapūrnā: A Return to Wholeness, Balance, and Earth Mother Wisdom by Laura K. Amazzone | Marx: Dialectical Materialist, or Nondual Materialist? by Rebekah Nagy | Mindful Ecofeminism and the Multispecies Sangha by Greta Gaard | Forging the Spirit through Climate Change Practice by Stephanie Kaza | The Spiritual Biology of Creation & Creativity by Isa Gucciardi | Re-Membering our Relation to the Earth Soil for Ecologically Sound Cities by Jean Gardner

Book Reviews:
Living Landscapes: Meditations of the Five Elements in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain Yogas, Author: Christopher Key Chapple | Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis, Author: David R. Loy | Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, Editor: Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

On Practice:
Possessed by the Plague by Marcy Braverman Goldstein | 12 Brief Notes on Spiritual Ecology by Mary Reilly Nichols

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In this issue of Tarka, On Death, we explore the topic of death from the perspective of contemplative traditions – including various ways of understanding and relating to the dying process, consecrating grief and loss, and practices designed to alleviate the suffering generally associated with death.
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