Permaculture and Buddhism

I was doing some research today on permaculture, and was amazed to see the similarity in the beliefs and ideals behind permaculture and Buddhism.

They are such a natural fit.

Permaculture is largely based on systems thinking – systems thinking being the process of understanding how things influence one another within a whole.

In permaculture, systems thinking examples include ecosystems in which various elements such as air, water, movement, plants, and animals work together to survive.

The focus of permaculture is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s very much in line with the Buddhist belief in interconnectedness.

Buddhism teaches that all life is interrelated. All beings and phenomena exist or occur only because of their relationship with other beings or phenomena.

Buddhism holds that nothing exists in isolation, independent of other life.

Or more specifically, our lives are constantly developing in a dynamic way, in a synergy of the internal causes within our own life (our personality, experiences, outlook on life etc) and the external conditions around us.

Each individual existence contributes to creating the environment which sustains all other existences.  All things, mutually supportive and related, form a living cosmos, a single living whole.

There is an intimate mutual interconnection in the web of nature, in the relationship between mankind and its environment.

In permaculture, the three interwoven principles are: Care for the earth, care for the people, and fair Share.   In linking back to Buddhism, the Buddhist concept of “right action” is achieved when all three ethics are realised by an action or design system.

Ultimately – and perhaps most importantly – permaculture systems lead to an ability to live without harming ourselves or others. 

Which of course is a key Buddhist belief, and a crucial part of the eightfold path.


“ We’re all human beings who, through some mystic bond, were born to share the same limited life span on this planet, a small green oasis in the vast universe.” 

~ Daisaku Ikeda