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Imago Dei, Sin, Karma, Interdependence, Global Climate Crisis


The main topic of this essay is how certain attributes and teachings from Christianity and Buddhism can inform us of what path we can take to combat global climate change. Although environmental work is not limited to these traditions, this paper aims to point out the teachings that help understand our role as humans as interconnected within these two traditions. One of the main points that are made for Christianity is a reinterpretation of Imago Dei which is explained in detail in the first section. In short, Imago Dei is the idea that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God which means that we can engage in behavior that is associated with God. The reinterpretation of this term is essential to the global climate change crisis since it explains the role that humans have in relation to the environment and its creatures. It is part of the creation story that many Christians are taught and is a fairly familiar and common notion for those in the Christian faith. Just as Imago Dei is essential to the Christian tradition, Karma is also an essential teaching for Buddhism. Karma is both an internal and external force since our actions affect our own livelihood as well as the world around us. In Buddhist cosmology, it is understood that humans hold a special place in the world in that they are able to both achieve enlightenment and hold the most possibility of using karma to shape the world for the better. Both traditions can learn from each other since they have a fairly similar understanding of our interconnectedness. Interfaith dialogue is crucial to finding what methods work best for each individual, be it a Christian, Buddhist, or other faith traditions or even non-faith persons. Interfaith dialogue between these traditions is possible due to our interconnectedness to each other, through different interpretations such as Imago Dei and interdependence. For Christianity, creation can be seen as a gift from God and this notion can be further expanded by the Buddhist notions of the kinds of gifts there are. Another fruitful teaching that Christianity can learn from Buddhism is the practice of meditation. Christianity can use meditation to focus on their own personal healing. In turn, Buddhists can also acknowledge Jesus Christ as a spiritual teacher and learn from his teachings. The point of this interaction between traditions is about growth rather than conversion, learning from each other is a mutually beneficial exchange and should be encouraged.