Theravada Buddhism in the Anthropocene: The Role of the Radical Virtuosi




Theravada Buddhism, Buddhist ethics, Anthropocene, Sri Lanka, forest monks


This autoethnographic study of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka identifies an ecological ethic that can address the challenges posed by the Anthropocene, based on the praxis of a unique community: the radical forest-dwelling (araññavāsī) virtuosi, a distinct group within the Sri Lankan monastic Sangha. It discusses how Buddhist teachings, when put into practice, reveal an effective eco-ethic that might not be immediately apparent when one merely analyses the texts. Such a praxis is marked by an uncompromising love for fellow beings in shared habitats, and is evidently effective enough to trust with the protection of delicate ecosystems in a biodiversity hotspot. Emerging from arguably the most rigorous form of Buddhist monastic practice, this eco-ethic might not be easily attainable or sustainable for lay people. Yet, it reveals a range of possibilities wherein an alternative worldview can be adopted, and in doing so, makes a distinctive contribution to Buddhist environmentalism.




How to Cite

Sirisena, Prabhath. 2024. “Theravada Buddhism in the Anthropocene: The Role of the Radical Virtuosi”. Journal of Global Buddhism 25 (1):10-26.



Special Focus: Buddhism in the Anthropocene