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Message on protection of the environment
By His Holiness the Dalai Lama
These days the environment — the source of life for all beings
in the world including Tibet, the land of snows —
is undergoing extensive degeneration. At this time it is extremely
important that every human being, according to his or her ability, consistently
puts efforts into ensuring the conservation and protection of this planets
environment and its inhabitants.
The benefits of an undefiled environment are many; for instance, a healthy tree purifies
the air and supplies oxygen for living beings to breathe. It harmonizes
the elements and increases life expectancy. Its shade provides a refreshing
place to rest. It brings rain at the right time. It nourishes crops and
livestock, and balances the temperature. It contributes to an attractive
landscape and continually replenishes its surroundings. It brings about
natural development in the spheres of education, economics, and so forth.
The drawbacks of a
polluted environment include a decline in the pure, cool qualities of
the oceans and lakes, so that the creatures dwelling in those places are
disturbed. The loss of vegetation and forests causes degeneration in the
earths nourishment. Rain does not fall when it is needed. Unprecedented
fierce storms rage, and so on. So there are many disadvantages.
From the dharma point
of view, our teacher, the king of Shakaya, was also born at the foot of
a tree. He attained enlightenment under a tree, and finally passed away
under a tree. Particularly in the Vinaya of the holy dharma, fully ordained
monks are taught how to nurture trees and so on. From that we can understand
that planting and nurturing trees are virtuous acts. Moreover, the wisdom
deities of the non-mundane worlds as well as various local devas, nagas
and spirits inhabit trees. That also leads us to understand that trees
are by nature extremely important.
It is generally beneficial
to plant various types of trees, as mentioned above. In particular, fruit
trees provide a living and nourishment predominantly for humans, as well
as being of benefit to many other sentient creatures. They help to improve
health and increase appetite, and so forth. So it certainly is important
to plant trees.
flowers also is a pure virtuous act. For example, when making a mandala
offering we pray that the ground may be covered with incense and strewn
with flowers. Flowers assists us in accumulating merit and purifying obscurations,
and also are an indispensable offering item everywhere in performing religious
activities, such as the visualization of meditational deities. Moreover,
if there are colourful flowers and then offer them through visualization
to the triple Gem, the benefit of a swift accumulaton of merit occurs.
What is more, when people who are experiencing stress and an imbalanced
mind stroll for while in a garden, their minds are benefited by becoming
refreshed and filled with pleasure.
Therefore, the whole
of society needs to take an interest in planting various kinds of trees
and flowers around monasteries, schools, offices, hospitals, factories,
restaurants, hotels and residences, and on both sides of thoroughfares.
In order to protect the growth of whatever has been planted in the best
way, people should advise their children not to harm them. This definitely
is a beneficial service to oneself and others and, in fact, to all living
In Tibet previously
there was a good tradition of instituting laws to safeguard hills and
valleys for unprotected and unsupported wild animals and birds and for
the protection of various defenceless creatures. We should maintain the
continuity of this tradition. At the present time a few thoughtless people
hunt wild animals and catch fish and seals, through their craving for
money and material goods. It is noble work for self and others, and for
present and future lives, to stop all of this from happening.
Similarly, it is inappropriate
and randomly to discard fruit-peel, paper, plastic, bottles, old clothes,
food leftovers and other kinds of garbage. Nor should people urinate and
defecate everywhere. Such things spoil the beauty of the landscape and
are a hazard to health and hygiene. There are some people especially who
lie their worn clothes and fallen hair to the branches of trees. This
looks extremely unattractive, so from now on this habit should be abandoned.
In short, this is
a request that, through understanding the interdependent nature of the
world and its inhabitants, people will implement practices based upon
unmistakenly accepting the correct means to cherish the potential of the
vast natural realm.
May the attractive
and healthy forests be increased in all the one hundred directions! May
sentient creatures be freed from untimely death and live happy lives!
The Dalai Lama
September 2, 1994