Matt

Mindful money

Where you bank Matters! 

As Buddhists we are encouraged to cultivate and practice compassion, both for ourselves and our world. Some of the ways we do this are well known to us, such as in our relationship with others, ourselves and the world.

But how are our financial choices harming or benefiting the world? Are they also an expression of compassion?

With no consultation with us our bank may be using our money in a manner directly contrary to our Buddhist values; in ways that cause serious harm to the planet, people and other living beings. 

Many high street banks are major financiers of the coal, oil and gas projects which are directly responsible for the climate crisis. In 2022 the five big UK high street banks (Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Lloyds, and NatWest) provided £37 billion of financial support to fossil fuel companies [1]. 

These banks are also financing industries like nuclear weapons, arms manufacture, single-use plastics and old-growth forest clearance; furthermore these projects are frequently associated with human rights abuses, and poor workers’ rights.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

The Mindful Money Campaign

The Mindful Money campaign is inviting individual Buddhist practitioners and their Dharma centres to become more aware of the impact of their banking choices, and to change their banking practices where necessary. . 

Some banks actively create benefit and avoid harm, investing their money in areas such as community housing, renewable energy projects, rewilding, and sustainable farming.

For example, Triodos Bank, The Co-operative Bank, Charity Bank and Nationwide all have strong ethical policies. (See below under Get Informed for more detail.)

Switching banks to an ethical one is an important form of compassionate action. It ensures our money is not being used to do harm in the world. It also sends a powerful chorus of disapproval to banks who invest simply for profit, without regard for the consequences for our suffering world. 

Here are some important actions you can take:

1. Get informed

There are many sites online which will help you assess your bank’s ethics. For example:

See how ethical your bank is with this simple tool:  bank.green 

Find more information and information on individual banks at Good with Money

Find detailed information here: Banking on Climate Chaos

2. SIgn the open letter to Dharma centres here  

3. Switch Bank 

Use this current account switch service to change your current account simply and easily. 

4. Tell the bank why you have left 

Here are letter templates for the big five UK high street banks: Barclays Template Letter, HSBC Template Letter, Santander Template Letter, Lloyds Template Letter, NatWest Template Letter.

5. Spread the word! 

Many people are understandably unaware of the harm their bank is causing with their money – and without their consent. They may also be unaware of the enormous good their money could do in the hands of an ethical bank. Tell your friends and share this page!

Thank you for your compassionate concern and your action on this issue.

[1] see Make My Money Matter 

This campaign is organised by XR Buddhists and TIpping Point’s ‘Bank Better’ 

Contact:  joseph.mishan@phonecoop.coop

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Exploring the Intersection of Greenwashing and Buddhism: Beyond Surface Appearances

In the age of environmental consciousness, the term “greenwashing” has become increasingly prevalent. It refers to the deceptive practice of presenting a false image of environmental responsibility to conceal less eco-friendly activities. While the concept of greenwashing primarily pertains to business and marketing strategies, its implications extend to broader ethical and philosophical considerations, including those within Buddhist principles.

Buddhism, with its emphasis on interconnectedness, compassion, and mindful awareness, offers valuable insights into addressing the root causes of greenwashing and fostering genuine environmental stewardship. At its core, Buddhism teaches us to look beyond surface appearances and cultivate a deep understanding of the interconnected web of existence.

One of the fundamental teachings of Buddhism is the concept of impermanence (anicca) and interdependence (paticca-samuppada). This worldview underscores the transient and interconnected nature of all phenomena, emphasizing the inherent interdependence between humans, nature, and the environment. In this light, greenwashing can be seen as a manifestation of ignorance (avijja), where the true consequences of our actions are obscured by superficial appearances.

Furthermore, Buddhism encourages ethical conduct (sila) as a means to minimize harm and promote well-being. The practice of right livelihood (samma ajiva) emphasizes the importance of earning a living in a way that is aligned with ethical principles and contributes positively to society and the environment. Thus, greenwashing contradicts the ethical foundation of Buddhism by perpetuating deception and exploitation for short-term gains.

Mindfulness (sati) is another key aspect of Buddhist practice that offers a powerful antidote to greenwashing. By cultivating mindful awareness of our thoughts, actions, and their consequences, we can develop the discernment needed to see through deceptive marketing tactics and make choices that align with our values and the well-being of the planet.

Moreover, Buddhism teaches us to cultivate compassion (karuna) for all beings, including future generations who will inherit the environmental legacy we leave behind. This compassionate perspective urges us to transcend self-interest and consider the long-term impact of our actions on the planet and all its inhabitants.

In essence, the teachings of Buddhism provide a profound framework for addressing the underlying causes of greenwashing and promoting genuine environmental sustainability. By embracing mindfulness, compassion, and ethical conduct, we can move beyond surface appearances and cultivate a deeper connection with the natural world, fostering a more authentic and sustainable relationship with the environment.

As practitioners and stewards of the Earth, let us heed the wisdom of Buddhism and strive to live in harmony with nature, transcending the illusion of greenwashing to embody true environmental stewardship for the benefit of all beings.

Matt Bianca

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Buddhism’s Call to Environmental Action: Navigating Climate Change with Compassion

In a world increasingly affected by climate change, the urgency to address environmental issues has never been more pressing. As we grapple with the consequences of our actions on the planet, seeking guidance from various philosophical and spiritual traditions can provide valuable insights and motivation for change. Among these, Buddhism stands out for its profound teachings on interconnectedness, impermanence, and compassion, offering a unique perspective on how to approach the challenges of climate change.

At the heart of Buddhist philosophy lies the concept of interdependence—the understanding that all phenomena are interconnected and mutually dependent. This fundamental principle underscores the inseparable relationship between humanity and the environment. In the face of climate change, which knows no borders and affects all living beings, recognizing our interconnectedness with nature becomes crucial. As Bhikkhu Bodhi, an influential Buddhist monk and environmental activist, aptly puts it, “The world is a single, interconnected organism, and human beings are not separate from it but an integral part of it.”

Central to Buddhist practice is the cultivation of mindfulness—a state of non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness encourages us to observe the world with clarity and compassion, allowing us to recognize the suffering caused by environmental degradation. By being fully present to the reality of climate change, we can acknowledge the pain it inflicts on vulnerable communities, ecosystems, and future generations. This awareness serves as a catalyst for action, motivating us to adopt sustainable lifestyles and advocate for policies that prioritize environmental protection.

The Buddhist concept of impermanence reminds us of the transient nature of existence and the impermanence of all phenomena. This teaching invites us to reflect on the fleeting nature of the natural world and the fragility of life on Earth. In the face of environmental destruction, it urges us to embrace change and adapt to new circumstances with resilience and wisdom. Instead of clinging to unsustainable practices that harm the planet, we are encouraged to cultivate a mindset of flexibility and innovation, seeking solutions that align with the principles of ecological balance and harmony.

Compassion lies at the heart of the Buddhist path—a deep empathy for all sentient beings and a commitment to alleviating their suffering. In the context of climate change, compassion compels us to extend our concern beyond human boundaries and encompass all forms of life impacted by environmental degradation. Buddhist teachings inspire us to act with kindness and empathy towards future generations, recognizing our responsibility to preserve the Earth for their well-being. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, a renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, “We need to wake up to the fact that the earth is our mother as well as our home.”

Buddhism offers not only profound philosophical insights but also practical guidance for addressing the existential threat of climate change. By embracing the principles of interconnectedness, mindfulness, impermanence, and compassion, we can cultivate a deeper understanding of our relationship with the environment and inspire meaningful action to protect it. As stewards of the Earth, let us heed the call of Buddhist wisdom and work tirelessly to create a sustainable and compassionate world for present and future generations.

Matt Bianca

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