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Posted on November 11th, 2013, by

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HH Karmapa supports Earth Hour

Posted on March 23rd, 2013, by

 “I have been a supporter of Earth Hour for the past three years and am happy to continue the tradition this year as well, by turning off the lights for one hour on March 23rd, from 8.30 to 9.30 pm. It might seem like a small gesture but Earth Hour represents the unified voice of hundreds of millions of people around the world who want to see practical climate change solutions and to see them now. It is an hour when all of us who are concerned about the terrible impacts of climate change are interconnected and determined in our resolve to prevent further climate tragedies. The moment for climate wisdom has arrived. I join Earth Hour in urging the international community to come to a climate agreement that protects the poor, stabilizes climate, prevents further droughts and floods, and develops clean energy.”

– His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

His Holiness prays over flood devastated areas, 2010

New book by HH Karmapa: The Heart is Noble

Posted on February 19th, 2013, by

02/19/2013

Today, His Holiness the Karmapa’s latest book is being officially launched in North America and continental Europe. Titled, The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out, the book constitutes a call to action on the urgent challenges that face the world, in particular the under-30 generation. The book is based on a series of teachings His Holiness gave to a group of 16 American college students over the course of three weeks in 2011. Each chapter in the book explores a topic selected by visiting students, such as food justice, gender identities, conflict resolution, consumerism and greed, and His Holiness’ response and teachings from a Buddhist and a personal perspective.

While discussing his own commitment to environmental issues, His Holiness says “Compassion is central to environmental protection because it moves us to act to cherish and take care of others. Caring for the environment is an important way to care for all the beings that depend on it for their existence.” He quotes a Buddhist aspiration prayer to make his point:

May I be like the earth,
providing the air, the ground, water,
and everything she provides
that is our sacred source of life.

At the same time, he also points out the importance of having compassion as the core motivation in order to keep us going as we work to help protect the earth.”Compassion is a powerful tool in our work to protect the environment. We need compassion because it connects us personally to the issue, and sustains us over the long haul.”

To read excerpts from the book and find out more about how the book evolved, visit the website of the book: www.theheartisnoble.com. The book is being featured at Barnes and Noble bookstore, at the New Arrivals table.

 

 

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Day Five, 4th Khoryug Conference

Posted on June 11th, 2012, by

4th Khoryug Conference

Day Five Report

9th June, 2012

Monks and nuns gathered with great anticipation early in the morning to visit a brand new old people’s home that has been recently completed nearby at Bagli. Designed by Didi Contractor, a well known eco-architect, the adobe building is constructed entirely with eco-friendly materials so as to be in harmony with nature and to have a minimal ecological footprint.

The monks and nuns were shown how the floors are put up with sun-dried bricks and steel reinforcement and how natural lighting is used to bring light into the house. The eco-architects explained that the layers of natural materials provide heat insulation during the winter.

In the afternoon, His Holiness the Karmapa addressed the entire group and gave a moving speech regarding the state of the earth and how it is our collective karma that binds us together.

He said “we should notfeel like we are strangers to each other but rather that we share a collective karma with one another on this earth and it is our responsibility to try to improve it. The basis of Lord Buddha’s teachings is that nothing rises by itself and we are not individual entities living by ourselves. The law of cause and effect and interdependence should encourage us to develop compassion for all living beings on this planet and for the earth itself. One beneficial act can have a multiple number of positive effects. We should feel greatly encouraged and determined to protect nature for this reason.”

Following His Holiness’s speech, the conference facilitator presented a book called A Buddhist Response to Climate Change, produced by Dr. John Stanley, a well known climatologist, which features chapters by eminent Buddhist leaders around the world including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and His Holiness the Karmapa. The book generated a well known petition titled, “The Time to Act is Now: A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change”, which has been signed by Buddhist leaders all around the world. Over 45 monks and nuns rushed to sign the petition following the presentation of the main points. The conference closed with that auspicious activity amidst a great deal of joy and speech of thanks from the organizers.

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Day Four, 4th Khoryug Conference

Posted on June 11th, 2012, by

4th Khoryug Conference

Day Four Report

8th June 2012

On the morning of Day Four, the conference fully transitioned into strategy building. The presentations were focused on kinds of strategies: emergency responses to earthquakes and fires, long term preparedness plans for disasters such as floods and droughts, and basic guidelines to combat the rise of diseases and epidemics during disasters. The conference broke out into groups based on regions (North India, South and Central India, Nepal, etc) so that the monasteries in one area could discuss the disaster risks their region faces and jointly come up with strategies. Conference trainers helped the monastic representatives assess the natural disaster risks in their area and the long term climate change risks they faced to better develop emergency and long term adaptation plans. The groups were encouraged to build on each other’s plans and consider the larger community as their capacity base.

Following the presentations made by group leaders, some of the problems experienced by Khoryug coordinators were discussed in the larger group so that everyone could participate in brainstorming solutions. These problems ranged from rise of forest fires, to the difficulty of convincing community members of long term hazards of climate change, or lack of hygienic conditions. Several group members raised the need to reach outside to the larger community and include school teachers and NGOs as partners in their planning process.

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Day Three, 4th Khoryug Conference

Posted on June 10th, 2012, by

4th Khoryug Conference

Day Three Report

June 7th, 2012

In the morning of Day Three, the trainers brought the issues of biodiversity, climate change, and natural disasters to the local level so that the monastic representatives could see how these issues affect them directly and how they could prepare in advance to minimize the negative impacts. The conference participants asked questions and a lively discussion ensued around the role of monasteries and nunneries in solving environmental problems which are created by much larger and powerful entities such as corporations or governments. Similarly, a serious discussion took place regarding what it takes to balance the footprint of humanity and what role monasteries can take to do so.

In the afternoon, His Holiness gave an impassioned talk on why we should preserve biodiversity and ecosystems from a Buddhist perspective. Using slides to illustrate his points, he explored the different forms of biodiversity in this world and the importance of trees, plants and insects for human survival.

He went on to list several arguments people use for the conservation of different life forms, such as their aesthetic value,  cultural or religious importance,  or safeguarding the future.  However, he stressed that the most important reason is the same from both the scientific viewpoint and the Buddhist perspective; that all life forms are part of an interdependent web, and to remove one part, however small, could have unforeseen consequences and lead to great suffering.

Following the teaching, the monks and nuns participated in two different games, that emphasized the need for verification and carefulness during a disaster and the other that demonstrated how much increased knowledge and capacity could lessen the impact of a disaster.

Day Two, 4th Khoryug Conference

Posted on June 9th, 2012, by

4th Khoryug Conference

June 6th, 2012

Day Two Report

Day Two began with a science tutorial for the gathered monks and nuns on different biological cycles such as the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and the water cycle. Dekila Chungyalpa, the conference facilitator, explained that in such a complex system, the depletion or over-production of one element could lead to imbalances which compromised the survival of other parts of the system.  When whole earth systems such as the water cycle or the nitrogen cycle are disrupted, the consequences for ecosystems and biodiversity were immense, she said. This underscored the importance for seeing the world as one system and recognizing our own ability to affect each other at different ends of the planet. 

Bringing the environmental concern to a local level, the second presentation was delivered by Jigme Norbu from the Environment and Development Desk of DIIR, and covered the environmental threats currently facing the Tibetan Plateau, driven by both climate change and man-made environmental degradation. These included glacial meltdown, contraction of wetlands and lakes, degradation of Permafrost layers and release of greenhouse gases, droughts, changes in the flow of the major rivers which supply water to Asia, degradation of grasslands and  destruction of traditional nomadic  lifestyle, and extraction of resources by mining and  deforestation.

In order to engage the audience, the third presenter, Abdesh Gangwar from the Center for Environmental Education, an Indian NGO, used a game to enliven the energy of the room and organized the participants into a standing circle. He skilfully demonstrated the web of life and gave a practical demonstration of how all parts of an ecosystem are interconnected by identifying each participant as a component and asking them to thread their connection to each other.

The basic message of the game was to demonstrate that we depend on many unnoticed and unvalued elements, processes, and species for our survival.  By protecting biodiversity we protect our own futures.

The final presentation of the day was by Tenzing Norsang from the Wildlife Trust of India, who gave an impassioned talk about the importance of endangered species such as the tigers, snow leopards, Tibetan antelope and other important species in the region. He entreated monks and nuns to be aware of illegal wildlife trade and poaching in their areas and to immediately put a stop to it if they heard of such activity. He pointed out the unique role they have in their communities as moral authorities and how much their help was needed by organizations like WTI, WWF and others to combat illegal poaching and trade of such precious animals. The audience visibly blanched and gasped and many murmured mantras of compassion while seeing the photos of animals in traps or of their carcasses.

In the afternoon, audience members were asked to identify natural disaster risks in their own monastic location and then to form groups based on these risks. The three groups that formed were

  • Earthquakes and Landslides,
  • Droughts, Floods, Fires
  • Illnesses, Diseases, Epidemics

They devoted the rest of the afternoon to discuss their individual experiences during such occurrences, what kind of survival methods were successful or not, and how they thought the environment and ecosystem services around them could have played a beneficial or non-beneficial role in that risk. The discussion ranged from energetic to emotional, as some monks and nuns described the chaos from the 2011 earthquake in northeast India and Nepal as buildings buckled and collapsed around them. One monk said that providing practical training of what to do during a natural disaster and how to be prepared in the future would be of great benefit to him and his monastery and would help ease many of their fears.

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Day One, 4th Khoryug Conference

Posted on June 8th, 2012, by

4th Khoryug Conference on Environmental Protection for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries, Nunneries and Dharma Centres

Day One Report

5th June, 2012

Given the focus of this year’s conference, it seemed appropriate that, as the delegates gathered in the grounds of the Norbulingka Institute to await the arrival of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, the temperature was climbing steadily to 42 degrees.  This year, Dharamsala has experienced both unusually severe winter conditions, with snow filling the Kangra Valley for the first time in fifty years, and unusually high summer temperatures. It is a reminder to everyone present that we are now living with climate change impacts. 

Celebrating World Environment Day, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa and the Honorable Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament launched the 4th Khoryug Conference on Environmental Protection for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries, which will focus on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Natural Disaster Preparedness.

The aims of the conference are to both educate monks and nuns in environmental science, and to develop self-reliance within Buddhist institutions, so that in the face of climate change and natural disasters they have a pre-prepared plan and are able to function as leaders within the community.

After prayers for the auspiciousness of the gathering, the Gyalwang Karmapa opened the conference by saying “Preserving the biodiversity and the ecosystems of our region should be like the effortless practice of dharma for us. Our basic motivation to protect the environment should come from the pure desire to benefit all sentient beings on earth since without the environment, there can be no life.” The delegates from over 45 different monastic institutions listened intently to His Holiness’ speech and to the guest of honor, Mr Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Assembly.

The conference facilitator, Dekila Chungyalpa, director of the WWF Sacred Earth Program, based in Washington DC, gave the first presentation, illustrated by slides, on the concepts of biodiversity, ecosystem, ecosystem services and tipping point. Taking them one by one, she explained what they were, their importance, and how they are inter-related and how we are affected. One of the workshop goals is to demonstrate how to see nature as whole systems, she said, paralleling the holistic approach which is fundamental to Buddhist philosophy. Finally, she presented an overview and update of threats to biodiversity and the impact of climate change, two topics which will be dealt with in greater detail over the coming days.

The afternoon session was devoted to feedback from the various monastic institutions present, detailing what they had been doing in the past year to further environmental protection. This is an important function of Khoryug conferences since it provides a monitoring and evaluation framework for the projects that the monasteries undertake. Projects range from the truly impressive including thousands native trees planted in degraded watersheds to the humble where many monasteries put aside a day in the month to clean their community and town areas. Some representatives share the difficulties that they face including the disinterest among their community members in keeping their environment clean and hygienic, and or mixed reforestation results. Others share their unique experiences in achieving success and finding out that their organic farms have made them close to completely self-sufficient for fresh produce.

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4th Khoryug Conference – Press Statement

Posted on June 7th, 2012, by

World Environment Day, June 5th 2012

4th Conference on Environmental Protection for Khoryug Monasteries

PRESS STATEMENT

Celebrating World Environment Day, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa and the Honorable Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament launched the 4th Khoryug Conference on Environmental Protection for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries. The five-day conference will focus on biodiversity, climate change, and natural disaster preparedness, and is attended by over sixty representatives from forty-five monasteries from across the Himalayas and South Asia. The goals of the conference are to provide environmental education on biodiversity and climate change, and to train the monastic representatives to learn climate adaptation strategies and to develop disaster preparedness plans for their monasteries.

The conference is organized by Rangjung Khoryug Sungkyob Tsokpa, an association of Buddhist monasteries working to protect the environment of the Himalayas and South Asia, which is chaired by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Parnter NGOs such as the Centre of Environmental Education, the Wildlife Trust of India, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Environment and Development Desk from the Central Tibetan Administration, are also present to train the monastic environmental representatives.

His Holiness the Karmapa opened the 4th Khoryug conference by stating that the Tibetan Plateau is not only of great importance to the people of Tibet and the Himalayas but to the entire world since it is the main source of water for many Asian countries. He said, “We should all try our hardest to protect the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas and preserve these ecosystems. Preserving the biodiversity and the ecosystems of our region should be like the effortless practice of dharma for us. Our basic motivation to protect the environment should come from the pure desire to benefit all sentient beings on earth.”

He was followed by the Honorable Pempa Tsering, the Tibetan Speaker of Parliament, who commended His Holiness the Karmapa’s vision in providing this kind of training for Buddhist monks and nuns. He said, “We are at a dangerous point where environmental problems can really harm life on earth. Everybody recognizes the importance of environmental issues and the need for cooperation.” He went on to discuss the great benefit Tibet’s ecology provides for all the countries adjoining it, including India, Bangladesh, Burma, and Laos. If the ecology was to break down, he said, we would see a wave of environmental refugees that would eclipse all the refugees we have today. Therefore, he urged that the gathered Khoryug monasteries to build bridges with everyone in and outside their societies to protect the environment.

Many of the monks and nuns expressed their experiences with drought, flash floods, and earthquakes which have recently occurred in their location. Providing practical training of what to do during a natural disaster and how to be resilient afterwards is of great benefit, they said.

4th Khoryug Conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Disaster Preparedness

Posted on June 3rd, 2012, by

རང་བྱུང་ཁོར་ཡུག་སྲུང་སྐྱོབ་ཚོགས་ཐེངས་བཞི་པ།

ས་གནས། རྡ་ས་། དུས་ཚོད། སྤྱི་ལོ་ ༢༠༡༢ ཟླ་ ༠༦ ཚེས་ ༥ ནས་ ༩

བརྗོད་གཞི། རྣམ་མང་སྐྱེ་དངོས་ཚན་རིག །གནམ་གཤིས་འགྱུར་ལྡོག །རང་བྱུང་རྐྱེན་ངན་ལ་གདོང་ལེན་བྱ་ཚུལ།

གཙོ་སྐྱོང་བ། སྒྲུབ་བརྒྱུད་བསྟན་པའི་གཙུག་རྒྱན་དཔལ་རྒྱལ་དབང་ཀརྨ་པ་མཆོག

མཐུན་སྦྱོར་བ། རྒྱལ་སྤྱིའི་རི་སྐྱེས་སྲོག་ཆགས་ཐེབས་རྩའི་འགན་འཛིན་བདེ་སྐྱིད་ཅུང་རྒྱལ་པ།

གྲ་སྒྲིག་པ། རང་བྱུང་ཁོར་ཡུག་སྲུང་སྐྱོབ་ཚོགས་པ།

མཉམ་ལས། ལྡི་ལི་ཁོར་ཡུག་ཤེས་རིག་བསྟི་གནས་ཁང་། རྒྱལ་སྤྱིའི་རི་སྐྱེས་སྲོག་ཆགས་ཐེབ་རྩ་ཚོགས་པ།

4th Khoryug Conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Disaster Preparedness

Biological diversity refers to the variety of life on Earth, ranging from humans, and large animals to the most humble insects. It forms the web of life as we know it and includes every type of ecosystem including mountains, rivers, oceans, deserts, and forests.  Biodiversity provides us the foundation of what we need to survive, whether it is different kinds of grain, clothing, housing materials or medicines. Due to our dependence on biodiversity, destruction of nature often leads to natural disasters. At the same time, protecting biodiversity and ecosystems can often minimize the impact of natural disasters such as landslides, typhoons, and floods. Given that natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and droughts, are common in  Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas, and climate change will greatly impact our region, we will provide training for Khoryug monasteries and nunneries over the five day workshop to achieve the following goals:

– Khoryug coordinators understand biodiversity science and how biodiversity protection can benefit us

– Khoryug coordinators learn how best to prepare for climate change impacts and natural disasters

– Khoryug coordinators establish a monastic level emergency plan in case of natural disasters

The 4th Khoryug Conference will be held in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh from the 5th of June to the 9th of June, 2012. The conference will be chaired by His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, and will be facilitated by Dekila Chungyalpa, WWF Sacred Earth. Distinguished trainers include Dipankar Ghose, Director – WWF India, Abdhesh Gangwar, Director – Centre for Environmental Education, and Tenzing Norsang, Wildlife Trust of India.

Monasteries interested in sending a representative should contact Gyaltsen Sonam – 09882287123.


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