Posted on December 5th, 2011, by

His Holiness the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje,delivered the inaugural address at the Global Buddhist Congregation’s section on “Environment and the Natural World.” Opening the daylong session, the Gyalwang Karmapa addressed a packed hall of hundreds of delegates gathered from 32 countries around the world. He spoke on the underlying causes that have brought us to what he describes as a ‘critical juncture’ in the degradation of our natural environment. Among those causes, His Holiness focused on a virtual “religion of consumerism” and a persistent egocentrism that has led to an unhealthy relationship between human beings and their environment. Applying Buddhist principles of interdependence, compassion, and no-self, the Gyalwang Karmapa outlined a Buddhist response to the environmental challenge facing the world today.

His Holiness spoke strongly against the consumer culture that has overtaken our global society. He acknowledged that world religions are in agreement that material prosperity does not translate into real happiness and wellbeing. Yet he went on to say that religious leaders have a responsibility to do more to open their followers’ eyes to the failure of consumerism to bring lasting happiness.

We appear to be in a dangerous state of denial about the consequences of our actions on the environment, the Gyalwang Karmapa stated. “The essential problem,” he said, “lies in the way we conceive of ourselves in relation to others, including the environment. We feel we are separate individuals, but in fact nothing exists independently.”

“Former generations may conceivably be excused for the harmful consequences of their actions,” His Holiness the Karmapa said. “But our generation cannot, as we have access to an abundance of information on the environmental impact of our current lifestyle.” He continued, “Our task now is to turn information into an awareness that we feel in our hearts, and that can inspire us to live according to environmentally wise and compassionate principles.”

His Holiness called on the audience to interact with the natural world in such a way that they cultivate and extend a mandala of love and compassion, based on the model of the relationship between mother and child.

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