Causes and Effects of Global Warming

Causes and Effects of Global Warming

Date Posted:
October 2006

A student wrote to Rinpoche saying she found his teachings on mind training very helpful. However, she said she felt depressed due to the state of the environment, global warming, etc., and was very worried about her children growing up on this planet.

My very dear Sharon,
Thank you for your kind letter. I am very happy that my thought transformation book helped when your mind and spirits were down and low. My job is fulfilled, thank you very much.

You expressed your concerns on global warming and for your children. Here is my answer: Yes, I and other monks and nuns at the house and other students that I invited watched the Al Gore movie (An Inconvenient Truth).

One of the causes of global warming seems to be bombing and testing bombs in the water and on the earth. This is dangerous not only for the future but also it causes unbelievable harm to living beings now. I think this should be stopped.

Also, substances that have a negative effect, that are used in wars, causing great danger to the whole world now and in the future, should not be used. This includes bad substances that have a negative effect on one’s life, such as smoke from cigarettes. This is very bad pollution for the environment, making places dirty, also for people who don’t smoke. For example, I don’t smoke, and when somebody is smoking near me, I feel unhealthy because the smoke goes inside my body, and I feel polluted.

Global warming has also affected Lhasa. In the past, the weather was colder, now it has become warmer. I am sure there are a number of causes for this, but I do think one small cause could be cigarette smoke. After mainland China took over Tibet, so many people smoked cigarettes, not only Chinese, but Tibetans, who were influenced, so I think this added to the pollution of the environment.

Global warming must also be related to there being a lot of factories. I think smoke from certain materials, certain bad and impure substances, affect global warming. I guess we must try and abandon the ones that are proved to affect global warming. From one’s own side, we should try to do this and make less pollution, then that’s our contribution to peace, without adding to the destruction of the world. Then, we need to tell others, suggest to them in a respectful way to engage in the same activities, to abandon those things which are proved to cause global warming and do things that bring great peace to the world.

Basically, global warming and whatever great danger is going to happen in this world, including the great tsunami that happened, all come from the negative impure mind. The very root is ignorance, not knowing what the self is and the “I” is, what the ultimate nature of the “I” and aggregates are, and so forth. While they are empty of existing from their own side, they exist in mere name, merely imputed by the mind, but we think of them as totally opposite to this, thinking they exist completely from their own side. This ignorance is such an unbelievably fixed concept, harder than a rocky mountain. First, there is the self-cherishing thought, that I am the most important one, my happiness is more important then anyone else’s. These negative thoughts are totally wrong concepts, which are not valid at all. One can only prove that they are wrong through logic and reason. There is no single reason to prove they are right and valid.

The other ignorance is not knowing karma (cause and effect) and not knowing Dharma. Then, attachment and anger arise and so many negative emotional thoughts and wrong concepts, which project wrong views, and then one performs actions motivated by these. So, this is the main cause, which is not outside, but is in the mind of us deluded sentient beings.

What Al Gore is talking about is only the external conditions. If you didn’t have this inner cause, you wouldn’t experience tsunamis, global warming, and all the dangers. Therefore, we very badly need Dharma practice and meditation practice, to protect the mind from all the inner, harmful thoughts. Dharma practice and meditation are the inner methods to heal the inner sicknesses of the mind. Practicing Dharma forms the attitude of one’s life: non-ignorance, non-attachment, non-anger, and, especially, having a good heart and cherishing others, which is unstained by the self-cherishing thought.

Without this Dharma there is no protection for sentient beings’ minds and lives from the inner tsunami of ignorance, desire, anger, jealousy, pride, and so forth. The many wrong concepts that take over one’s mind and life are like the tsunami, which covered whole cities with water and destroyed so much. Also, with such meditation and Dharma practice one creates a positive mind, renunciation, bodhicitta, and right view.

In regards to right view, it is the direct perception of emptiness, which directly eliminates the inner enemies and delusion. It is this delusion that harms you, destroys you and the world, and attacks and harms all living beings, from life to life.

With this wisdom supported by bodhicitta, you cease even the subtle defilements, and then you achieve the fully awakened mind, full enlightenment, and peerless happiness. We need education and to practice this meditation, which is universal, is something everyone needs who is suffering. Without Dharma we are always defeated, destroyed, and harmed by this inner enemy and these delusions. There is war in our mind caused by delusions, and we are defeated by this. However, whenever the mind is in the Dharma, such as with this meditation, then you defeat the inner enemy – delusion.

As the great Indian scholar and saint Shantideva mentioned:

Even if the whole earth is covered by leather, still it is not enough. But if the bottoms of your feet are covered with leather, then it covers all the thorn bushes in this world, and wherever you walk is fine.

It is like that. If you are trying to kill all the external enemies, the inner delusions never end. There is always an enemy because killing sentient beings creates the cause to have an enemy and receive harm from others. So, it never ends, there is no end at all forever. Even you are able to kill all hell beings, hungry ghosts, and animals on this earth all at one time, your consciousness reincarnates in another universe. Whether as a hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human, or in the realm of the gods, you have to suffer the consequences and experience the result of receiving harm from an enemy. Once the inner enemy of anger is destroyed then all the outer enemies are destroyed all at once. You can’t find an enemy at all in the universe. Similarly, without delusion there is no karma, without karma, no suffering, including global warming, tsunamis, famine, disease, and so forth.

Regarding children, it is good you are concerned about the children. My advice, since you have children already, is that you and their father both have a great responsibility for their wellbeing. This doesn’t mean becoming a millionaire, with a rich lifestyle, having a lot of cars, airplanes, swimming pools, all these things, even the kind of education that is taught in schools, colleges, and universities. You have the responsibility especially for their minds. When I say wellbeing, I basically mean their minds.

Besides global warming, there are so many other dangers in life: sicknesses, cancer, and many conditions for death; cancer is very easy to get these days. Their lives are filled with so many thousands of conditions which can cause death. So, one should attempt to have a long life, but even more important than that is when death comes, to die with a happy, positive mind, a joyful mind, a mind of satisfaction and especially fulfillment. The best thing is to make even death beneficial, a cause of happiness for all sentient beings. Use death to achieve a higher happiness – pure happiness. Use death to achieve ultimate happiness – total liberation, which is free forever from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes. Use death to achieve total cessation of samsaric suffering and its causes.

Your first responsibility is to make sure the children don’t become harmful, an enemy to themselves, harming their own lives instead of having more peace and happiness within themselves, making their lives more meaningful, to have more satisfaction and fulfillment. In this world, whatever different things people try, they are all to achieve happiness. Even the ants, flies, and worms are seeking happiness.

Therefore, the main thing, even if you are poor, is if you have happiness, then you have satisfaction, fulfillment, and no regrets. This is the same even if you are rich. The other thing is to make sure that the children’s lives do not become harmful to the world and other living beings. All this depends on how you educate them and practice. The best is if they can grow up and stop giving harm to others, only benefit and cause happiness for others, who are numberless.

This is incredible, unbelievable, and leads to their own success. This life’s happiness will come naturally like rainfall. At least, their lives should not harm them. Of course, if they harm others then there is no way they can achieve happiness for themselves. Therefore, they have to develop compassion and wisdom.

I wanted to inform you we have a project in the FPMT called Universal Compassion and Wisdom Peace (UCWP). You can look at the web page and get a general outline from that. There is a basic practice for the mind to become a good human being called the 16 human dharmas and 10 diverse dharmas. Then, there are four very important things in this life for children to practice so they can enjoy life and bring happiness to the world, like sunshine. In every day life, 1) practice kindness to others, then 2) rejoice – whenever you see good things happening to others, 3) practice patience, and 4) practice forgiveness and apologizing. If you make a mistake and cause harm to others, then apologize immediately and make others happy. When others harm you, then forgive them instead of seeking revenge.

With much love and prayer...