第五章將分析個人的精神能量如何互相結合，匯成一股重要的社會力量，藉此研究個人意識轉變在社會層面的影響力。透過分析烏爾里希．貝克（Ulrich Beck）的風險社會理論，以及莫瑞．布克欽（Murray Bookchin）的辯證自然主義，社會意識轉變的機制可得闡明。之後筆者將討論當代入世佛教在生態上的貢獻。入世佛教對傳統佛學思想做出現代解釋，已成功將個人的精神成長變成社會的意識轉變及生態救贖之道。
This study is fundamentally a philosophical endeavor which seeds to explore the relationship between human mind and ecological problems from the perspectives of Mahayana Buddhism and ecocriticism. Generally speaking, ecocriticism is a literary discipline which analyzes human culture from an ecological standpoint. Buddhist texts, when seen as literary works, have the potential to provide meaningful and profound ideas about human culture. As a religion focusing on spiritual cultivation, Buddhism seems to accurately point out the real issue behind our environmental problems, that is, the spiritual crisis. This spiritual orientation is well expressed in The Awakening of Faith, a central text of Mahayana Buddhism. In this dissertation, The Awakening of Faith is treated as a practical guidebook that teaches individuals the right way to reach (ecological) Nirvana, which is the prerequisite for collective salvation. To explore these points, my dissertation will be organized into five chapters.
In the first chapter I will discuss the relationship between mind, ecology, and religion. To show this connection, I will analyze the religious roots of the Western mindset, its relationship with scientific-technological emphasis, and the dilemma regarding the idea of “self” in modern times. Then I will go on to give a preliminary analysis of the modern quest for spiritual peace and its connection with Buddhism as a religion. In terms of this connection, the mind is treated as a kind of “inner nature” which needs to be deeply explored.
The second chapter focuses on the ontology of mind and its relationship with consciousness transformation. For the purpose of my argument here, I will discuss the observations of ecocriticism concerning the human mind, especially in ecopsychology and deep ecology. Then I will analyze the philosophy of mind in The Awakening of Faith with a concept called the Mind of the sentient beings (zhong sheng hsin) with its aspect of the Absolute and that of phenomena. In the phenomenal order, this Mind exists as Tathagata-garbha, which acts as potentiality towards enlightenment. Therefore, the consciousness transformation here is ontological rather than epistemological.
The following chapter is basically an investigation of how the defiled mind returns to its pure state (yu ran fan jing) through the act of permeation (xun). Cultivating faith and practicing the five Paramitas are the main cornerstones in this process of ontological transformation. This experiential aspect of self transformation offers rich implications for raising ecological awareness because it encourages a transformation through deeds, not only through contemplation.
The main task of the fourth chapter is an exploration of the worldview in eco-environmentalist discourses, i.e., our perception of nature as space, and the contribution Buddhism can make to this worldview. This issue will be explicated by means of a comparison and dialogue between “sense of place” philosophy in American nature writing and “sense of placelessness” in Buddhism as presented in the idea of “Four Dharmadhatus” in the Avatamsaka Sutra.
The last chapter attempts to solve the issue of how individual spiritual energies connect to each other and shape into a meaningful social force through reading the social dimension of consciousness transformation in both ecology and modern Buddhism. Ulrich Beck’s theory of risk society and Murray Bookchin’s dialectical naturalism are useful in explicating this social transformation. Then I will investigate the contribution of engaged Buddhism. Through embodying the modern interpretation of traditional Buddhist doctrines, engaged Buddhism has successfully incorporated personal spiritual cultivation into social transformation and ecological salvation.