Dwells without Thought-Coverings

Title: Dwells without Thought-Coverings
Artist: 17th Gyalwang Karmapa
Language: Chinese 



5th - 9th June -Norbulingka Institute, Dharamsala

day two

Day Two began with a science tutorial by Dekila Chungyalpa, the conference facilitator, for the gathered monks and nuns on different biological cycles such as the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, and the water cycle. 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.


5th - 9th June -Norbulingka Institute, Dharamsala


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.


5th June - Dharamsala, Norbulingkha

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.
His Holiness the Karmapa established Rangjung Khoryug Sungkyop Tsokpa after the 1st Conference on Environmental Protection of the Himalayas for Karma Kagyu monasteries in 2009, when the gathered monasteries requested concerted training and organization for their activities. His Holiness also directed the production of the Environmental Guidelines for Karma Kagyu Monasteries and Centers, which has been translated into more than ten languages and the 108 Things You Can Do, which are simple instructions for individuals and monastic centers to benefit 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.

May You Embrace the Globe

Just as trees grow and reach high,
Lifting their young branches up,
Thus may you embrace the globe,
This turquoise-colored world.


Early Karmapa with Footprints

Early Karmapa with Footprints

Central Tibet; late 12th century; Dyes or thin washes of pigments on silk;
Rubin Museum of Art; F1997.32.2 (HAR 508)

This votive painting belongs to the Karma Kagyu School, judging by the special black hat that its main figure wears. It exemplifies the simplest and probably earliest-known painting of a founding master of that school, or Karmapa. It pays homage to the black-hatted master shown above the footprints, who is presumably the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110–1193).

The painting was simply executed with thin washes of color on silk, so it lacks most of the expected features of a fully colored painting. Still it exemplifies devotional paintings of the late twelfth century, based again on worship of the lama’s footprints.

The painting also pays respect to the master by depicting him under a broad parasol and surrounded by auspicious objects placed within the undulating vine that grows from below. The parasol is an ancient Indian Buddhist iconographic element of depictions of the Buddha and a way of auspiciously paying homage.