May I be as the Earth
That gives us air, soil and water
Everything that it bestows upon us
Is a sacred source of life.
The relevance HH Karmapa pays to the safe-keeping of the environment is a well-known fact. He teaches us to take care of the environment, because we depend on it for our survival and for the health and wellbeing of all sentient beings. He wrote 108 instructions on protecting the environment for this purpose, and therefore, KTD works at making the most of its resources so as not to harm the natural world.
During this retreat we have had the chance to live closer to nature. Often times in big cities made of concrete, we forget we are a part of nature. Upon arrival at KTD one is struck by its harmonious integration with its natural surroundings. The road from Woodstock to the monastery is clean and green, as is the entryway and are the parking lot and corridors in the buildings. Everything is a reflection of the aspects that transmit a sense of equanimity in the space. The monastery is surrounded by trees, and there is a small lake close by; and we find bears, squirrels and other animals living here as well.
When we walk on the paths close to the monastery, we reflect upon our relationship to nature. Many times we refer to this planet as if it were an object, when it clearly is not. HH Karmapa invites us to think about the planet as a living creature. When we lay upon the grass, we are laying on our mother’s lap. Because of nature, everything exists. The Earth is like a goddess that lives, breathes and remains in a constant state of giving.
To counter greed and lack of consciousness towards the environment, compassion is fundamental because it moves us to assist and take care of others. We have enough information on how we are driving the planet towards devastation. So at KTD, for starters, every meal is vegetarian. Vegetarianism underscores many ethical issues and is a conscious practice to protect the environment. Some studies indicate that the resources used to produce nourishment for one carnivorous person could easily sustain 20 vegetarians. The gas emission and greenhouse effect is an added consequence of a carnivorous diet.
Other measures taken at KTD to protect the environment appear seamless. For example there are photovoltaic solar panels on one of the building’s roofs, and there is a designated place for compost on the monastery’s property. Throughout the buildings we see signs reminding us to save water and to recycle. There are containers to recycle organic matter in the kitchen and containers to recycle light bulbs, batteries, glass, cardboard, foil and metal too. Every measure invites us to reflect upon these practices and how easy they are to follow. For example, separating organic from inorganic matter is not costly and doesn’t require an infrastructure or a specific investment to be able to do it. This is true too if we decide to create a compost system for our homes and our neighborhoods. The important thing is to give ourselves the opportunity not to harm, nor to pollute the environment.
These measures are intrinsically connected to one of the fundamental values of Buddhism which is interdependence. Interdependence signifies the interrelationship we have with each and every sentient being. This includes Mother Earth who sustains us every day in generous and noble ways. This retreat offers us an opportunity to put into practice and become conscious of our interdependence while developing compassion. It also underscores the importance of taking care of our environment which enables us to survive. And as a result, we are moved to enrich our practices, as we prepare to go home. With a renewed sense of awareness, we can plan to apply these measures back home. We have been inspired to re-think our relationship to the environment, not only with wisdom, but with compassion as well, putting our heads and our hearts to the task.
RETIRO DE TARA VERDE, KTD 2014
Writers / Escritores
Translator / Traductora
Editors / Editores
Photographs / Fotografías
Coordinators / Coordinadores
Ven. Tenzin Dapel