I would like to offer greetings and respect to the distinguished
members of, both the panel and the audience, and other eminent members
of the honorary and organizing committees. I like to thank the
organizers for inviting me to participate in this conference, at such a
significant moment, when China’s development and importance is once
again renewed and gains much international attention. In particular, I
would like to congratulate this great country for having very
successfully hosted the 2008 Olympic Games.
this forum strengthen international exchange and dialogue for the
benefit of development and better understanding, as for example on the
issue of environmental pollution, which is not confined to national
borders, but affects the whole world. In particular, this Forum - A
harmonious World Begins in the Mind, a Synergy of Conditions - focuses
on great values such as harmony, respect, cooperation and gratitude and
uses the profound Buddhist wisdom of karma and interdependence as basic
guidelines to foster insight into the laws of existence that will bring
about a spirit of harmony with oneself, one’s surroundings, family,
environment and society.
In the history of Buddhism in China, it is worthwhile
recalling that the oldest wood block printed book was discovered in
Dunhuang and dates back to 868 AD. This text happens to be a Chinese
translation of the Diamond Sutra and hence is not only a testimony of
the great technological advancement of China at the time but also of the
profound interest in Buddhism.
In the 13th century, when
Marco Polo visited Asia, he initiated a significant exchange not only of
trade but also of cultures, traditions, customs, and thought; and
Chinese culture already at that time reached far into the world. Even
though then China had fallen under foreign invasion, Marco Polo in his
writings expresses his great appreciation for the high level of Chinese
civilization and special sense of social harmony and unity that
distinguished the nation from most other countries he had visited.
Maybe also today China could take a leading and exemplary role in
finding and implementing solutions for dealing with the global
I am the Founder of the Lama
Gangchen World Peace Foundation, a United Nations affiliated NGO
(ECOSOC), and my work as a peace messenger involves traveling thousands
of miles a year. Please allow me to share with you a few observations I
have made during my travels around the world in the last 20 years.
I have been teaching a practice through a book entitled "Making Peace
with the Environment", which won the Healer of the Environment Award by
the city of Aqui Terme in 1997 and for which the famous Italian showman,
Marco Columbro, realized a video. In 1996, I have created the Himalaya
Andes Amazon Healing Arts Association in Brazil to further environmental
education and awareness. I have visited the Amazon three times and in a
meeting with the Minister for the Environment in Brasilia, I proposed
to preserve the Amazon forest not only for the large sweet water
resources and the indispensable source of oxygen for this planet, but
also to take advantage of the numerous rare medicinal plants in the
Amazon. This could provide jobs for the local communities and valuable
remedies for the sick in Brazil and world-wide.
Environment: Microcosom and Microcosm
Today, out of
necessity most people live and work in large polluted cities deprived of
the natural elements and energies of the environment. Electricity,
central heating, air conditioning and such things as mobile phones upset
our natural equilibrium. We call our cities 'urban jungles', but really
they are urban deserts, as almost nothing grows there. I am not
suggesting that we need to return to the countryside, but we need to
acknowledge the need for a natural environment for our own well-being
and mental and physical health.
Along with the industrial
and technological revolutions have come destructively high levels of
pollution. There are now 500,000 man-made pollutants in our environment.
As a result city life makes us very tired and weak. We suffer from
allergies, headaches, colds, coughs, memory loss, and also more serious
Worldwide in the 19th and 20th centuries there
has been the development of science and high technology, which has
brought many wonderful benefits to modern society and which is now
enabling so many human beings to survive on our planet. At the same time
we need to distinguish between technologies that are good for us and
those, which harm us. We can choose green technologies and leave a
positive legacy to the future generations.
example, lead pollution is a neural toxin, which lowers children’s
intelligence; chemical food additives cause hyperactivity and so on. In
many ways we are creating the conditions for poisoning and killing our
body, mind and our environment. To improve our physical and mental
health we need to make peace with the environment. We need to increase
our awareness for nature and for saving our environment and it's
inhabitants. We have already unleashed the greatest wave of extinctions
in seventy-five million years. We need to re-evaluate our dependence on
this planet and develop a non-violent attitude towards it, if we want to
create a sustainable society. We have a huge global responsibility and
technological progress and business must go hand in hand with healing
the planet. Whatever we want from life, be it physical health, material
success, a beautiful healthy place to live in, or we wish for spiritual
liberation and Enlightenment, we need to take care of the five elements
and purify and re-energize them so that they become strong and clean
We need to respect and heal both our natural and
urban environments. Our ancestors created balance and harmony through
good city planning and architecture. Of course we need to take into
account the complexity of modern city life, but the great city-states of
ancient times still have many wonderful ideas to offer us. Our
ancestors understood how to balance the urban and natural environments.
All ancient cultures highly respected nature and sacred spaces as
integral parts of their city planning. Especially in China you have the
great science of Feng Shui and Tao, and a precious heritage of great
masters like Confucious or Lao Tse, who taught about the natural laws of
the five elements and the effects on the environment, our health,
stability, wealth conditions, etc individually and collectively.
I grew up in an ancient society, in Tibet, that was deeply rooted in
spiritual and environment values. In Tibet unless we were rich and had a
horse, we walked everywhere, and we were directly in touch with the
earth every day.
Modern society has lost touch with the
Earth and consequently this is creating many difficulties and dangers.
Not only have we lost touch with the earth, but we have also lost
contact with the space, wind, water and fire elements. These elements
are the very basis of our physical existence, that we have become
disconnected and alienated from and as a result, we have spread
pollution and destruction all over our planet. We do this out of
ignorance, not realizing that we are also destroying our bodies and
minds at the same time. It says in the Kalachakra Tantra, an ancient
Indian environmental and vajrayana work: “Just as it is with the outer
world, so it is with the inner world”. Our body is made up of and
functions due to the same five elements that we find in the outer world.
These five elements are: space, wind, fire, water and earth. We need
to recognize and accept this in order to understand the importance of
taking care of them.
The energy and elements of our body
and mind are a microcosm, that mirror the outer universe, the macrocosm.
This means that harming and polluting the environment causes us mental
and physical problems. This is what is implied by a synergy of
continue in our present self-destructive fashion, and ignore the already
present global environmental emergency, the danger will arise that the
five elements of our planet will disintegrate and die and consequently
the conditions for our live will cease to exist. If we destroy our outer
and inner environment, what kind of legacy do we leave for our children
and the future generations to inherit?
Given the fact that
modern society is faced with far greater dangers of environmental
pollution and destruction then the past, environmental education has
gained tremendous importance in the last few years.
course many of the technological advances of modern society are
wonderful, but, now we are all run and rush every day, just to survive
and we have forgotten our ancient ideas, values and nature. Perhaps we
can once again learn from the ancient traditions and cultures such as
those of China.
Nowadays, in the global village, everyone
is more or less afflicted by the same problems. For example, worldwide
water pollution is damaging both the environment and our health. It
seems as if there are unlimited water resources on this planet, but in
fact the drinking water reserves are only a very small percentage.
According to the statistics of the World Bank and the World Health
Organization, half the world’s population is without clean drinking
water and contaminated water is the source of 80% of all illnesses in
the developing countries. Thus, it is essential that we do something to
avert this devastating situation. Environmental education is
In 1972 the first Conference on the Human
Environment took place in Stockholm, which lead to the establishment of
the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The declaration states
many very significant concerns, such as:
“A point has been
reached in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world
with a more prudent care for their environmental consequences. Through
ignorance or indifference we can do massive and irreversible harm to the
earthly environment on which our life and well being depend.
Conversely, through fuller knowledge and wiser action, we can achieve
for ourselves and our posterity a better life in an environment more in
keeping with human needs and hopes. There are broad vistas for the
enhancement of environmental quality and the creation of a good life.
What is needed is an enthusiastic but calm state of mind and intense but
orderly work. For the purpose of attaining freedom in the world of
nature, man must use knowledge to build, in collaboration with nature, a
better environment. To defend and improve the human environment for
present and future generations has become an imperative goal for
mankind-a goal to be pursued together with, and in harmony with, the
established and fundamental goals of peace and of worldwide economic and
nearly forty years ago the great importance
for environmental care was clearly understood, yet it seems that in
fact today we are even more far from reaching those goals. A renewed
effort was made during the conference in Rio de Janiero in 1992, and
since then of course many other events are being held to bring awareness
to the global environmental emergency, such as for example, the recent
international debates on global warming, the destruction of the ozone
layer, and the loss of our biodiversity during the major conference of
Clima Latino organized by the Andean Parliament in Ecuador in October
From the very beginning, everyone has singled out the
importance of environmental education for both children and adults.
However, while progress has been made, education has not been
instrumental in stopping environmental destruction from taking place.
more then ever, it is essential to promote environmental education.
However, an emphasis on our ‘outer environment’ and the measurements of
its destruction by use of technology and research to address our
environmental problems is not sufficient, as we have the proof in the
increasing numbers of natural calamities all over this planet.
We know that there are environmental biologists, environmental
conservationists, environmental ecologists, environmental economists,
environmental educators, etc. These are important professions. And we
know that traditional environmental economists may be effective in
modifying behavior and, ultimately, change the natural and human
environment, with the use of technologies and the so-called economic
policy incentives (e.g., taxing the polluter).
We must all
individually recognize the fragile situation and the already
irreversible damage of our planet and feel the urgency for protecting
our environment - only then will it be possible for something to change.
It is extremely important that we leave the remaining precious natural
treasures of the environment in an undisturbed and peaceful state. I
believe that every citizen of our planet has a deep responsibility to
stop the environmental destruction and instead, help in its recovery.
We should not give up our collective responsibility for the environment
and expect our Government, or the United Nations to solve the global
environmental problems. Most people do not give much thought to the
state of the environment; we mainly think about our jobs, money and
relationships. Even those who do think about global environmental issues
often feel powerless and frightened and so they quickly switch their
thoughts to other more comfortable subjects. However, our society is
made up of many individuals and hopefully all the governments and the
United Nations will respond positively to a genuine change in public
opinion and environmental consciousness.
At the same time we need to clean and recycle not
only our wastes, but also the inner pollution of our negative emotions
and destructive attitudes, if we are to live happily in our cities.
We can learn from Buddhism how to deal with many of psychological
causes of stress in modern cities; lack of friendships, breakdown of
traditional family structures, loneliness, poverty, competitiveness,
uncertainty about the future and violence. Now both our emotional lives
and our cities are full of violence and lack peace and harmony. We need
to recognize this.
In the next century, in many countries
there will be intense competition for human resources such as work,
money, living space, nutritious food, clean water and air. As
'mega-cities' become more common, non-violent education will become
vital in the prevention of widespread urban crime and civil unrest. We
need education to overcome inner darkness, fear, inner violence and
prejudice, so we do not express our destructive habits against our
fellow citizens and the environment. Inner Peace Education helps us deal
with the stress of modern living and the many different types of outer
and inner violence we now experience. This will be very important for
the next generation, who will face worse difficulties than us. I
believe, Inner Peace is the most solid foundation for World Peace and
As we have more or less lost the
psychological side of our education, we need non-formal education, to
teach us the inter-personal skills that are missing in modern urban
life, such as love, compassion, harmony, inner peace and inner space so
we can learn how to create a harmonious environment around us. These
skills increase our positive emotional states and help us to deal with
the stressful and difficult situations confronting us, such as lack of
traditional social networks, stress, unemployment, uncertainty, ageing,
sickness, bereavement, competitiveness and the alienation of modern city
We need to develop a peace culture within our
institutions and collectively make a big effort to overcome the culture
of violence. Our media could be used to provide more positive and
constructive information that could contribute to a more harmonious
society, especially for entertainment. We also need more empowerment of
women within our societies, both socially, and economically. Non-violent
education is a long term investment for the psychological health of our
Recognizing and Taking Care of the Five
Elements - Ancient Wisdom on Environmental Care
care of the elements, we can have a healthy body, a healthy mind, a
healthy life and a healthy world, both in this and future lives. To come
to this point we have to learn about and understand the interdependence
between our bodies and minds, the five elements and the environment,
which we inhabit. We must re-discover that which is important and
precious in life. We have forgotten our ancient values and ideas on
nature. Consequently the environment, as well as ourselves, is becoming
increasingly sick and tired because of so much suffering. Machines and
development are beneficial, but the environment and natural things are
also true. My opinion is that now we should put more energy into
learning how to live in harmony with the environment.
understand that our Earth is precious and lovely, we will develop a
special feeling towards all the five elements. This is Self-Healing.
Relatively few people in modern society practice Buddhism, but everyone
needs to recognize the preciousness of the five elements.
Siddharta, Gautama Buddha, 2500 years ago deeply researched the nature
of our human existence and discovered many profound truths such as the
interconnectedness as well as the impermanence of all phenomena. He was
an inner scientist and today scientists begin to understand that his
discoveries about reality are very much in tune with those of modern
science. Hence also many modern scientists, doctors, psychologists etc
find that Buddhism is very easy to relate to and that it provides many
very useful insights, methods, and applicable views independently of
being a believer or not.
According to Buddhism everything is
interconnected and hence outer and inner conditions are intimately
related and produce individual and collective results. Everything is
woven into this web of interdependence and we live in circumstances that
are the outcome of individual and collective karma. But we also have
part in creating the world we live in and the future generations will
live in, by generating positive or negative influences that contribute
to the health our environment.
tendrel, or ecological interdependence, we are able to comprehend the
positive and negative results of our actions on the environment. Through
this understanding we gain a lot of feeling and energy to purify the
five elements of our body and of the world. We have collectively
polluted our planet and so, we collectively need to do something to heal
our world and restore its original balance and harmony. In this way our
wish to live in a pure and healthy world will definitely come true.
There already exist many ways of taking care of the environment but
used alone these are not enough. We need new complimentary solutions
that take into account the psychological and emotional reasons of why we
harm our environment. We need to understand interdependence, and
practice non-violence towards the environment and protection of animals,
while living in harmony with nature and the seasons.
many people, it is difficult and uncomfortable to follow ancient
traditions. Modern people like to receive information in different ways;
through study, education and the media. People like to go to
conferences, seminars, watch television, listen to the radio, and use
the internet to look for new ideas. In reality everybody is searching
for solutions to their suffering, and I think we need to combine the
essence of vajrayana tantric and mantric environmental care with modern
environmentalism and is very important and necessary as it fits in with
our modern mentality.
Taking care of the environment is an
inseparable part of Buddhist meditation practice. An important
preparatory practice, before beginning any actual meditation, is to
clean, purify and heal the environment through various techniques such
as visualisation, concentration and the chanting of mantras. Once this
is completed we begin the meditation in an environment that is clean and
peaceful. In this way our meditation is more successful. We should try
to see the external pollution around us as a reflection of the pollution
in our body and mind. When we are cleaning the outer environment, we
should try to imagine that we are purifying our body and mind as this
increases our good health and life force. Through cleaning the
environment, our mind becomes clearer enabling us and other beings,
including subtle sensitive beings, to feel happier. It also creates the
cause for us, in the future, to be reborn with a beautiful, clean body
in a pure environment.
In Vajrayana Buddhism the five
Dhyani Buddhas represent the five enlightened wisdom aspects of mind.
They may also be seen as the five Supreme Healers as they manifest the
antidote to help us overcome our five main mental poisons of Ignorance,
unlimited attachment, anger and hatred, miserliness and pride and
jealousy and fear. All our psychological disturbances can be summarized
in these five main afflictions as we learn to deal with them we slowly
discover our crystal clear, pure qualities of wisdom, love, compassion,
generosity and all-accomplishing wisdom, and discover our true Buddha
nature that enables us to live in harmony with ourselves, and our
Furthermore, Vajrayana Buddhism deeply
explains how the nature of our existence is depended on the five
elements. Their harmonious interdependence is constructive, when in
disharmony it becomes destructive and leads to disintegration. This is
how our body grows and also dies, and the same is true for all
phenomena. As without the five elements no existence is possible, they
may also be seen as the five Great Mothers, of earth, water fire, wind
and space the source of all creation.
Thus we need harmony
with the five elements and harmony in our mind. To achieve this we need
the blessings and methods of the holy beings, such as Guru Buddha
Tubwang Tendrelma “The One Fully Able to Heal by the Power of
Interdependence”, who due to the positive interdependent arising of his
special kindness and particular dedication, revealed countless outer,
inner and secret healing methods, as well as the union of method and
wisdom yogas. These methods bring to us solutions in this age of
environmental degeneration and pollution. They awaken the pure crystal
blessing energy, which heals, transforms, purifies and regenerates the
essence of the outer, inner and secret five elements, thus increasing
and stabilizing inner and world peace.
A harmonious world begins
in the mind
A purified mind contributes to a purified world
calm mind contributes to a peaceful world
Nowadays, faced with a complex, existential global environmental and
social crises, we need to rediscover the ancient secret powerful methods
of our religious traditions and reveal them openly to heal our bodies
and minds, the environment of our planet and the countless beings it
supports. All the religious leaders need to show their power, love and
compassion and the new solutions of inner science and technology to
develop peace and harmony for both the global family and the small
family. For this reason I have proposed the creation of a Spiritual
Forum at the United Nations, which, in collaboration with many other
international organizations, we have been promoting worldwide since
We need to unify science and religion into a New Wisdom Vehicle
through which we can create peace in our minds, society and
environment. We need to use alternative technology as well as using
meditation and yogic science to change our minds and heal our emotions.
In this way we can find solutions for every moment of our daily lives
and save our planet.
Great Forums such as The first World
Buddhist Forum which was held two years ago in Hang Zhou and the holy
island of Puto San, and now this second great event here are a brilliant
contributions to unify the different Buddhists traditions and try to
implement the manifold methods in all aspects of our modern society, as
in this Forum we have touched 13 major topics. I hope that China will
help to save the great Buddhist heritage, in particular the precious
treasure of Vajrayana Buddhism still preserved until today in Tibet, and
share this profound wisdom with the future generations of this world.
In conclusion, as the future generations are really depending
on us and on how we create a world that would not foreclose their
options; we need to make a new effort to take care of our planet and
leave a world where they do not have to pay a prohibitive cost to
maintain a minimum level of material welfare; a world where
environmental and spiritual welfare is at least as important as material
welfare is today. So, they may become both materially and spiritually
rich and healthy. This will go a long way to making peace possible in
the twenty-first century, even as the world population grows. We need to
learn to live with an attitude of Non-Violence not only between
nations, races and creeds but also towards the environment. We need to
make peace with the environment!
Making Peace With the Environment
Making Peace with the Five Elements
Making Peace with Mother Earth
Making Peace with Mother Water
Making Peace with Mother Fire
Making Peace with Mother Wind
Making Peace with Mother Space
Peace with every nation
Making Peace with this World
you very much!
T.Y.S. Lama Gangchen
Italy, August 2008