Conference on Environmental Protection
His Holiness thanked everybody who had been involved in the conference, particularly Dekil Chungyalpa, without whom the conference would not have been possible, and congratulated the monasteries for participating in this second conference.
He said how much he appreciated their efforts but the motivation was important. Working for environmental protection should not be just to please him nor out of competitiveness with other monasteries, but should be done wholeheartedly with the motivation that environmental protection is benefiting all sentient beings. They should hold this aspiration.
His Holiness reminded everybody that religious practice without ethical behaviour was empty.
On this planet, there are millions of insects, animals and plants. In order to survive, human beings need all of them. It is not possible for humans to survive on their own. Because all living things on this planet are interdependent, we all have to take an interest in and act to protect the environment for our own survival and happiness.
Likewise, Buddha’s teachings frequently instruct us to work for the benefit of others and to stop harming them, but often we do not know whether the everyday things we use are harmful to the environment or not; usually, we are focused on our own comfort. However, our lifestyle harm the environment, directly or indirectly, so we can’t be complacent and think, ” I am not harming anybody.” We have to view things from a new perspective.
When His Holiness lived in Tibet, people used to work only a few hours a day, and yet that was sufficient to earn a living, so that the rest of the time could be spent with the family or at leisure. Nowadays, in the city people work for 24 hours, and even that is not enough. At this rate the day may come when they have to work for 48 hours and there won’t be time to sleep any more. “Why is it”, asked the Karmapa, “that people can’t earn enough money to live on even working 24 hours? Because there is no end to human greed, unless we ourselves are able to check it.”
Gyalwang Karmapa pointed out that compared with earlier times, people these days consume so much energy. All the difficulties that they now face are created by themselves. They try to behave like machines, but humans are not machines – machines never get tired. And in the end, all the suffering comes back down to human greed. People think they need things that they actually don’t, and consequently, they cause themselves to suffer. Everyone needed to reflect on this.
It was important for everyone to put environmental protection practice into daily life, and, instead of thinking of their own benefit, to think for the benefit of all sentient beings, which is an essential feature of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition.
Then Gyalwang Karmapa shared his own aspiration ─ that if he had the power he would become the protector of the earth and cover it like a tent.
Aspiration for the World
The final event of the conference was a performance by monks and laypeople from Tsurphu Labrang of Gyalwang Karmapa’s poem Aspiration for the World, first in Tibetan and then in English.
World, we live and die on your lap,
On you we experience all our woes and joys.
You are our ancestral home of old.
Forever we cherish and adore you.
We wish to transform you into the pure realm of our dreams.
We wish to transform you into a land for all creatures,
Equal for all and free of prejudice.
We wish to transform you into a loving, warm and gentle goddess.
Our hope in you is so ever resolute.
So please be the ground on which we all may live
So all these wishes may come true,
So all these wishes may come true.
Do not show us the dark side of your character,
Where nature’s calamities reign.
In every section of our world’s land
May there thrive a fertile field of peace and joy,
Rich with the leaves and fruits of happiness,
Filled with the many sweet scents of freedom.
May we fulfil our countless and boundless wishes.
Composed by the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, and translated into English by Tyler Dewar.