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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
winter 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 69 Just days after the encyclical’s publication, twenty-five Buddhists and twenty-five Roman Catholics flew from the U.S. to Rome for a dialogue focusing on “Suffering, Liberation, and Fraternity.” The Buddhists were invited from New York, Chi- cago, Washington, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, representing Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana, and hybrid traditions with diverse cultural roots in Asia and the West. The timing of our dialogue was no accident. The invitation expressed the Pope’s engaged understanding “that the root of all evil is the ignorance and delusion born of greed and hatred, which in turn destroy the bonds of frater- nity.” The invitation further encouraged Buddhists and Catholics “to work together to heal and rec- oncile our broken world as brothers and sisters” to clarify and coordinate our faith communities’ response to the global climate crisis and other social concerns. In the very first paragraph of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis references Saint Francis of Assisi’s lyrical “Canticle of the Sun”: [O]ur common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.” For many of all faiths, Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air: a world religious figure who is not afraid to speak of the plight of the poor and the hazards of a “throwaway culture.” He can speak the truth bluntly—“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”—and argue wholeheartedly for an “inte- gral ecology” that acknowledges that “nature can- not be regarded as something separate from our- selves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it, and thus in constant interaction with it.” Such concerns are certainly present within Bud- dhist traditions, going back to when the Buddha called upon earth to bear witness to his awaken- ing. Between Buddhists, Catholics, and people of so many religious traditions, we have a shared understanding about the preciousness of life and N JUNe, POPe FRANCIS released his encycli- cal Laudato Si’/Praised Be, a passionate plea for environmental sanity as well as social and spiritual transformation. In this eloquent document—sub- titled on Care for our Common Home—Pope Francis writes: I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergo- ing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. ©l’osservatoreromano