The conservation attitude

Circular 414-C




Forsaking his inheritance and its assurance of a comfortable existence, Guatama Buddha adopted the life of a pauper to seek the intellectual joys of pure contemplation. Under a mulberry tree, it is said, he propounded a 12-point program of ethical conduct stressing the development of a disinterested outlook in each individual. Temples, ritual, and idols he considered distractions from the basic need. He felt that there was a basic need for the development of an attitude.

The Brahmins as well as the lower castes recognized the merits of the system suggested by Buddha, but they molded his teachings into an accessory to existing rituals and dogma. They soon forgot that Guatama wanted no idols and no temples. They forgot his admonition that an attitude was the thing that really counted. Despite his expressed wish, today Buddha in stone, in bronze, and in gold ponders these things in thousands of temples and hears the prayers of millions who still seek the truths of an ethical life.

Today, conservation has its temples. The temples of conservation include hundreds of irrigation reservoirs; it has prayer-sticks in miles of contour plow furrows, and the Buddha of a drop-inlet structure looks down on a conservation pool in myriad detention dams.

Conservation is well established today in the minds of the American public. It seems appropriate to analyze at this time just what it is that is established in the public mind. In what ways have we, too, substituted the temples, the ritual, and the idols for an attitude?

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
The conservation attitude
Series title:
Series number:
Year Published:
U.s. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
5 p.
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Public Comments:
Presented before the annual meeting of the Milwaukee County Conservation Alliance, Milwaukee, Wis., December 5, 1958
Conference Title:
Annual meeting of the Milwaukee County Conservation Alliance
Conference Location:
Milwaukee, WI
Conference Date:
December 5, 1958