Date of Award

12-1-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Alexander, Thomas

Abstract

My thesis is that within Buddhist philosophy the concept of mindfulness is a valuable contribution to environmentalism that similarly extols the virtue of generating a kind of environmental mindfulness. Buddhist traditions have long developed the concept of mindfulness as well as compassion, the transformation of suffering, and the notion of interconnectedness. There is a confluence of ideas between Buddhist philosophy and environmental philosophy and this project explores the mindfulness mechanism that leads to real, meaningful action. In focusing on Japanese Buddhism and Hakuin Ekaku, I demonstrate the skillful means employed by Hakuin in teaching people from all parts of society during the early modern era which was a time of rapid modernization and natural disasters. Focusing on Japanese Buddhism, this project draws parallels between Hakuin’s monastic endeavors and the attempts of contemporary Buddhist monks to help in combating climate change, pollution, and disaster relief in our own times. Hakuin’s writings and artwork reveal a figure able to navigate social, political, religious, and everyday members of society while teaching selfless interconnectedness brought about by mindfulness training intent on being brought into one’s everyday activity.

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