Environment and Meditation

Environment and Meditation

Date Posted:
October 2009

Rinpoche made the following comments on the environment and meditation.

Regarding global warming, usually the real cause, karma, isn’t talked about. The reality is: nothing happens without relating to the mind. People think, “This is a natural disaster,” but it doesn’t happen without a cause, and the main cause is karma.

Generally, it comes from everyone’s karma and, of course, there are conditions, such as pollution from cars, etc., that we commonly understand. But we have to understand there is a reason, and that is our past negative thoughts and actions. There is so much negative karma created in the world—so many animals are killed, for example. When a new disease is identified and it comes from a chicken, bird, or cow, then automatically millions of them are killed. If it were humans, we would never think of killing them. Even if one human has a virus, we would never kill him or her.

Of course, we don’t normally talk of karma in a general situation regarding the environment, but it is important to educate people. For example, fifty years ago, almost nobody in this world knew the word karma, but now many people know what karma means. So, it is important to educate people. Another example is a very tragic situation, such as many children being killed in a shooting incident with another child, and everyone is horrified and shocked and can’t understand why. But this is due to karma. There is a reason why this happened, and it’s due to past negative thoughts and actions.

What I think is most important is to have qualified meditation masters taking care of the meditators in our retreat places, and taking care of the students who are sincerely trying to do retreat to actualize the lam-rim. Just doing three years’ retreat doesn’t mean much, but meditating on the lam-rim is very, very important. What we need to do is to learn all the meanings etc. from the geshes, then we need to apply ourselves to the actual practice.

In order to realize these things, in particular within the Gelug tradition now, there are a lot of teachings, and then more teachings, and then more teachings again. Then the students think, “I know these subjects,” but they never meditate on them. So, your mind and the Dharma has a big gap. Then, one doesn’t get anything done; one doesn’t develop compassion. Even if one has done all the intellectual studies, when problems arise, nothing is done, so there is danger. One spends one’s whole life studying, but nothing is experienced in the heart. There is a risk of being like this. Even if one has devotion, it can be like a cloud in the sky, easy to disappear. So, again, this is another danger.

In the Gelugpa monasteries or centers there is so much learning, but not meditation. Meditation on the basis of learning is extremely important. I think if a Westerner can have realizations, then that person would be a great inspiration to others.

Again, regarding the environment, anything well proven scientifically is worth following through. The main thing is to understand how things come to the mind, how things are dependent arisings, how things are the consequence of past actions. So, the conclusion is that those people undertaking retreat, serious meditation, etc. can help the environment, can bless the earth.

To prevent global warming the most important thing is to read the Sutra of Golden Light. This becomes a blessing for the earth and gives nourishment to the earth, like protein in food. Reading the Sutra of Golden Light not only blesses the earth, but also the whole country, city, house, and also you. It also helps to reduce and stop violence.

Other things you can do to prevent global warming are to organize teachings on emptiness, reciting the Vajra Cutter Sutra, and reciting the Prajnaparamita in 8,000 and 12,000 stanzas. There could be a group of people reading it; this would be very powerful for the earth. Also, one could read the whole Kangyur, this also contains the Prajnaparamita. Reciting the Prajnaparamita is the main practice for purification and in order to have all the realizations. It cuts the root of all the sufferings, ignorance. This may be the reason why it comes out as very beneficial for preventing and helping stop global warming, because this is the result of non-virtue, which comes from the root: ignorance. All the unpleasant things, such as earthquakes, global warming, tsunamis etc., all come from this.