So, what is Eco-Dharma? Or, is it true when they say we're really fucked?

I've always wanted to learn about sustainability, economics, and so forth. But being mortal, I have been busy meditating, building skills, relaxing, and living life to instead of undertaking such an understanding. This thread is a brainstorming informational collecting thread. For me, after lurking Vincent Horn's twitter feed months ago I kept seeing this annoyingly whiny guy named Vinay Gupta retweeted. Out of curiousity I read his stuff and watched some of him on YouTube, and needless to say, he comes off as a totally bad ass mother fucker, and at least, gave me a good in on to reading about this stuff, enough interest to bring up the issue: So sustainability and climate is a serious issue, what can one do, etc? How does this even fit in with my meditation sit anyways? I don't really give a shit that it doesn't, because if an issue is important it gets my attention. So, here is some of Vinay Gupta's stuff just to get the ball rolling:

From his blog post he lists some of the infrastructure that would be key for sustainability, here is a snippet of it

"I think I can draw a line through available data that tells us how to get a future we all can live with, the future we deserve.

I had to tear down most of my mind to get to here, because it requires letting go of our model of how the future is created, and doing something else, and connecting the main evolutionary drives of the human race directly to the machinery which will solve our real problems.

Here’s what we’ve got.

Cheap renewable energy revolution
Ultra-cheap solar power
Konarka and NanoSolar – both offer ultra-cheap solar panel technologies, vastly cheaper than coal. Last time I checked the numbers, NanoSolar had $800m of investment and $4.2 billion dollars of pre-orders. Konarka was talking about a long-term goal of $0.10 per watt production costs (5% of the current silicon cell $2/watt) and NanoSolar was talking about $0.30 a watt somewhat sooner. There’s no clear limit on scaling these technologies once they deliver.

Liquid transportation fuels
Algal Turf Scrubbers – farming the thick slippery green hairy stuff that grows on the bottom of rocks. It grows in sea water. It could be grown on non-crop land, in huge shallow tanks in coastal desert regions. It is a polyculture – grow whatever falls into the tank. It does not require pesticides or genetic engineering to work. The numbers look good enough to provide all the fuel the world needs without breaking anything else. Nothing else is even close.
Processed into biobutanol it will likely run in existing gasoline cars, too.

Water and Sanitation
Biosand filter – saves maybe 5m deaths a year, a plastic bucket filled with algae, sand and gravel to filter water. There are other, similar technologies.
Sulabh toilet – saves about 5m deaths a year. Other toilet designs may suit other regions better, there are many.


I don't comment much on what I know I don't know, so perhaps there are some educated people in this area?
Okay, I was going to post some more snippets of Gupta's blog post, but in it he makes a good case for space exploration. Here is where I'm going to try to relate Eco-dharma to practice. Basically, meditation is a powerful tool. It can be utilized to shape ones mind to amazing degrees. And thus depending on how one meditates it can be done in a way that allows one to live the homeless life or live life actively in complex society. That is, the ultimate end goal of a path can be either directed towards the forest or the stars. To live the homeless life is to live in the forest, to live a (wholesome) complex life, that is to participate in the machine of civilization is to flourish humanity so much so that one day it can expand beyond Earth. We desire to expand our race and so we will, and sufficient technology will make this happen. We can use meditation to live a life in such a way that while we may not actually build the space ships our selves, but our active wholesome participation in civilization is one small brick in the cathedral of world civilization to enable our race to expand to the stars and preserve the species and life on the planet. So it's a fundamental attitude of morality, with the practice.

Gupta talks about space here:

Demilitarize space – we can’t do anything else up there while space is run by black programs.
Declassify the real launch vehicles – the SR-71 did officially Mach 4 and 100,000 feet in the 1960s. We have 45 years of technological development since the SR-71 was designed, and the official story is that the now-grounded 1980s technology Space Shuttle is the best we can do. They’re lying. You know it. I know it. We need the real launch vehicles declassified, or at least the bits we need for civilian access to space. Need, not want.


Push all Genetically Modified Organisms into orbit – biotech companies can still make money up there, it gets the GMOs off the planetary surface, and it provides an economic rationale for investing in cheap launch. And they must go, before there is an awful disaster.

Get the high frontier back – we’re trapped on earth and we’re turning on each other. Blame mammalian or primate psychology, but we don’t like to be in a confined environment with no way to expand to get more resources. It makes our genes restless, then aggressive. It is our will to go, and we are in a secret pitched battle with the secret state for access to space, which is the only place we have to expand into. We need the agencies to declassify a real launch technology, for the benefit of the entire human race. Who’s our Kennedy?
I cannot stress how important this is. People invariably misunderstand this part, but step back, have a think about it. We’ve gone from relatively hard science to speculation about black space programs. Are we still on solid ground? Do they have these things? If so, when will they release them for the benefit of all of humanity?"
I did a quick google of Eco-dharma after I read my post and the 60 second jist was that I should have been more careful with my memetic creation of forest vs stars end game. It really should be stars and forest. Or, the green and space movements are really two prongs of a very large human wide strategy. The jist I got from a purposeful 60 second search of Eco-dharma (because that's how people read, quickly) was that it's all about going back to the forest. It almost has the same memetic connotation but in reverse: technology bad, trees good. 

Ultimately, my point is that if you care about life in general, the expansion of humanity into space is the only very robust safeguard against complete extinction with respect to ultra high technology like nanotechnology. We do not currently possess the technological infrastructure to pull this off, but could. A treegood, technology bad narrative doesn't help this. The sources I read didn't explicitly say this, but with the excessive emphasis on forest, forest, forest it effectively did. What types of narratives are conducive to space exploration AND ecological sustainability. That's where I think you'll get the types of narratives enough of society could get behind. Interstellar does AN AMAZING job at this. That's the type of narrative we need x1000
Hey Ryan,

Go to and check out the newest articles on Tesla, SpaceX and Elon Musk.  It's fun timing but that's been big on the blog there for the last few weeks and I think it's exactly what you're looking for.
Thanks! That is what I had in mind! Skimming the newest Tesla post I couldn't get far without stopping to read the greatest tldr of life on Earth:

"That’s how food is invented—plants know how to take the sun’s joules and turn them into food.

At that point, all hell breaks loose as everyone starts murdering everyone else so they can steal their joules."
Ryan J:
What types of narratives are conducive to space exploration AND ecological sustainability. That's where I think you'll get the types of narratives enough of society could get behind. Interstellar does AN AMAZING job at this. That's the type of narrative we need x1000
One narrative coming right up
I like Gupta's bluntness about electronics manufacturing. Meaning people can blab on about freedom through hacking all they want, it's all predicated on slaves in Foxconn factories working 14 hour days in a country where nobody gets a vote. But buddhism wasn't developed in a democracy anyway, and did prince Gotama ever care about the alienation of labour or who made his clothes ? So I don't see how it matters from a buddhist perspective.
Looking through the Oxford Buddhist Stides page

"I hope to shed light on a serious metaphysical issue raised by critics of 'holistic ecoBuddhism', namely, the apparent impossibility of being 'at one with nature' while maintaining important distinctions between polluting and non-polluting things."

- One with nature
- One with inanimate and animate things
- One with technology
- One with pollution
- Nature and civilisation are One

This is quite different from usual enironmentalist outlook which largely maintains a distinction between nature and human made.
I've been running this past people to see how they react and often there's a lot of antipathy to the idea that there is no real nature/civilisation division.

What if Kevin Kelly is right, and technology is alive, just another part of the greater Earth life ?

Googling "ecobuddhism"
As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” We need to wake up and realize that the Earth is our mother as well as our home—and in this case the umbilical cord binding us to her cannot be severed. When the Earth becomes sick, we become sick, because we are part of her.
This sounds more like pagan revivalism than buddhism.
Has buddhism really got anything to do with environmentalism ?
Does buddhism envisage humanity to have an indefinite time on Earth ?
What about the possibility that humans like all other species are destined for extinction ?
What happens to buddhism if there are no more humans ?
What happens if humans turn into transhumans ?
How does the buddhist view that material existence is suffering gel with trying to preserve the Earthly realm of suffering forever ?
What happens to the people who may be living across the solar system in years to come - will they still maintain that Earth mother umbilical cord or will it get snipped ?
Daniel M. Ingram, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: So, what is Eco-Dharma? Or, is it true when they say we're really fucke

Posts: 3184 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Might check out David Loy
Liquid transportation fuels
How about not driving four empty seats around everywhere ? Cars are so bad.
Water and sanitation
Poo on sawdust and chuck it on the fields. Squat to drop and save your haemarrhoids. WCs are such a bad idea.
Blame mammalian or primate psychology, but we don’t like to be in a confined environment with no way to expand to get more resources.
Buddhists do, they like to live in caves. Not only that but time spent in a cave seems to be conducive to happiness that goes beyond buying the latest Nikes. Hence Gotama leaves his princely abode. You're going to have to clarify the "we" bit, because some people are OK with modest lifestyles. Not only that but if you check anthropology you will find evidence of apes killing each other for surplus food, not when it's scarce. Riches make people crazy as much as hunger.

In the UK about 1/3 of food gets thrown away. The food system is incredibly stupid.

What types of narratives are conducive to space exploration AND ecological sustainability. That's where I think you'll get the types of narratives enough of society could get behind.
I agree, well said, been wondering about this. People are very attached to the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth and the foolishness of infinite growth on a finite planet. I agree with the infinite growth bit, it is foolish, it's just that the finite planet bit looks less tenuous with every probe that gets launched. Plus, unless we engineer the sun we are doomed to be fried, long term.

Everyone knows that there is really enough food and resources to go round for the basics of life, just that we don't share it. Frankly when I read the news I'm not too fond of the notion of indiscriminately feeding everyone, but I guess they wouldn't want to feed me either. However there has been a lot of progress on how to raise people to be less violent, it's slow but it's there.
Did you read this one ?