Esteemed Colleagues and Honored
Thank you so very much for inviting me here today.
To me, this gathering may be compared with a bouquet
of variegated flowers.
A gathering to be supported and encouraged just
as flowers need water to grow.
A gathering where we, as brothers and sisters,
can share a stream of spiritual knowledge and
an ocean of acquired wisdom to bring positive
messages and inspiration to our society.
Now, if someone would ask me to point out a Buddhist
person who sincerely cared for our natural environment,
I would not hesitate to name Buddha Shakyamuni,
the Buddha of our time.
Throughout His life, the Buddha lived very close
to nature. He was born in a royal park situated
in Lumbini. Upon leaving His home to seek enlightenment,
He meditated under the sacred Bodhi tree near
the banks of the Niranjana River. After attaining
enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree, Buddha gave
His first teaching in Deer Park, a forest where
deer could graze peacefully. The Buddha was always
travelling on foot and frequently gave teachings
in natural settings. Retreats often took place
in peaceful and supportive environments, such
as in forests or near pristine lakes and rivers.
Buddha passed away beneath a canopy of pipal trees
The Buddha not only lived very close to nature,
He experienced it, depended on it, but also observed
and analyzed it. He understood that all life depends
on the presence of five key elements: space, earth,
fire, air, and water. Buddha’s teachings
were frequently illustrated with examples drawn
from nature. For instance, to explain the notion
of Interdependence, He used the example of a seed
which, in order to sprout, needs space, earth,
air, sunlight, and water. The clarity and purity
of mind was often compared with crystal clear
We all know that water has a spiritual significance
as well. The water that is offered by Buddhists
at shrines symbolizes purification of body, speech,
and mind, so as to free ourselves of attachment,
aversion, and ignorance.
There is no doubt that we all are interconnected
with the elements. Therefore, the Buddha taught
us to respect, preserve, and protect our natural
environment in all its forms not just for ourselves,
but for our children and our future generations
Indeed, now that we adults are getting older,
we must think for the generations to come. We
must leave them a cleaner planet! H.H. the Dalai
Lama who is a great advocate for Environmental
Ethics, advises us to foster a rational and ethical
approach to environmental protection. We should
treat our planet kindly with love, compassion,
and responsibility for all who depend on our environment,
that is to say, all living beings.
Finally, allow me to end by paraphrasing
a verse from Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara:
Just like space
And the great elements: earth, fire, air, and
May I always support the life
Of all countless beings.
Presentation addressed to the Belgian Council
of Religious Leaders
Date: September 20, 2012Subject: Significance
of Water in Buddhism-
Speaker/Author: the Venerable Lama Karta, Yeunten
Ling Institute, Huy, Belgium - Notes: http://:www.BCRL.be/water
Current sources date the birth of the Buddha at
around 485 BCE or, about 2500 years ago. For more
detailed information on the Buddha’s life,
Lumbini – along with Bodh Gaya, Sarnath,
and Kushinagar (see endnotes below) – is
one of the four major pilgrimage sites for Buddhists.
While the other three sites are situated in India,
Lumbini is located in southern Nepal. It is said
that Buddha’s mother, Queen Maya, gave birth
to the Buddha under a sal tree there.
The bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) is a large pipal
tree not far from the banks of the Niranjana river.
The bodhi tree is located in Bodh Gaya, India.
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilajan_River
; See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodh_Gaya.
Buddha’s first teaching is called The Four
Noble Truths. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Noble_Truths.
Deer Park is located in Sarnath, India. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarnath.
Kushinagar is another major Buddhist pilgrimage
site in India. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kushinagar.
Most Buddhist texts refer to four basic elements,
i.e., earth, fire, air, and water. However, some
classical texts (see endnote 9 below) mention
the fifth element, i.e., space, which is to be
understood as containing the other four basic
elements. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_element#B.C3.B6n_elements.
See also: http://www.dalailama.com/messages/environment/buddhist-concept-of-nature.
For an example of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s
approach to Environmental Ethics, see: http://www.dalailama.com/messages/environment/an-ethical-approach.
For further reading, see also H.H. the Dalai Lama’s
Speeches and Messages on the Environment: http://www.dalailama.com/messages/environment.
See Chapter III, Verse 21 In: http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/A%20-%20Tibetan%20Buddhism/Authors/Shantideva/A%20Guide%20to%20the%20Bodhisattva's%20Way%20of%20Life%20-%20%20Stephen%20Bachelor%20tra/A%20Guide%20to%20the%20Bodhisattva's%20Way%20of%20Life.pdf.
See also: http://www.samadhicushions.com/Guide_to_Bodhisattva_Way_of_Life_by_Shantideva_p/s-279.htm.