Tashi delek. Today is the sixth day of our prayers for the pandemic to subside. Today we will recite Karma Chakme’s Aspiration for Birth in Sukhavati.
In Tibet, there are many different prayers for rebirth in Sukhavati. Some long and some short, but the one that people know best is this one by Karma Chakme.
The Mahayana tradition teaches that there are pure and impure world realms. But we shouldn’t understand pure and impure as referring to the outer form. Instead, we should think that they refer to the subtle causes and conditions that create that world. It is said that an impure realm, such as this earth, is created by the shared karma and afflictions of the sentient beings in it, and a pure realm is created by the aspirations of a buddha. Among all the many pure realms, Sukhavati is the easiest to take birth in, and has the greatest benefits, so it is the most well-known.
Modern scientists have done a lot of research into our solar system, our galaxy, and the rest of this infinite universe. They are searching for other planets that might be habitable, just as the earth is. But we are neglecting our own precious planet, this beautiful earth that sustains us and is bursting with the energy of life.
Although since the industrial revolution, our lives have become easier and facilities more developed, we have achieved this by plundering the earth for resources, and we have covered more of it with buildings and roads, causing great destruction in the process. We have triggered global warming, and caused deforestation, the melting of glaciers, and the pollution of rivers and oceans.
Every day hundreds of species go extinct because of human actions.
Our greed knows no limits. It is so strong that even swallowing the entire earth could not satisfy it. We hear about all of this on the news. We hear about the research, but we have no actual experience, especially those of us who live in cities. When it gets hot, we turn up the AC, and when it gets cold, we turn on the heating. We always try to make ourselves more comfortable, and life more enjoyable. For the individual, it seems such a small thing, but we never consider how great a burden we are placing on the earth or the cost to the environment. If we feel slightly uncomfortable, we get upset and want to change things. But all the other beings are enduring a thousand times more suffering and pain due to the environmental destruction that we have wrought. And they can do nothing but suffer and die. Therefore, we need to see things from their perspective and think hard. Then we can finally become more motivated and more sincere in taking care of the home we share together.
We must recognize how dense our ignorance is. We must cherish this planet that provides the foundation for us to live, and treasure the natural environment. The survival of our own and future generations depends on this.
Yesterday was Earth Day. Actually, every minute that we are alive, every breath we take is intimately connected with our planet, so every day should be Earth Day for us. Perhaps it’s even a little sad that we need to have an Earth Day to remind us to celebrate it. It’s a sign that we human beings are forgetting who we are.
Now we will recite Karma Chakme’s Aspiration for Birth in Sukhavati together. Thank you.