Protecting the Environment and Living Beings Project


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About the Project

The Protecting the Environment and Living Beings Project sponsors pujas, practices, and prayers to pacify the elements and protect those harmed by disasters of earth, wind, fire, and water.

If the inner enemy, delusion, is subdued
It is like having destroyed all the external enemies.
– Shantideva

One can feel powerless in the face of disasters of the elements such as earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons, etc. Lama Zopa Rinpoche discussed this in a letter to a student who lived in an area prone to hurricanes:

“Whatever problems there are can be made less, and even completely stopped, if someone takes strong refuge and prays to even just one buddha. The weather can change in that very hour by the power of one person making prayers. There is no question that if the person who makes the prayers has realizations, such as the realization of bodhicitta, which is actually the best realization, then every single prayer has incredible power. There are stories of many bodhisattvas and great saints in the past who were able to prevent floods, change the direction of rivers, stop them altogether, and walk across them to the other side.”

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has recently advised specific practices and pujas to be offered monthly in order to benefit any being that is harmed from potential disasters and also to purify the karma that creates these dangers in USA and throughout the world.

Arranging and sponsoring these pujas is one of the unique ways that FPMT can benefit sentient beings. This is also an aspect of social service to others that helps address the karmic conditions contributing to seemingly “natural” occurring disasters, and those harmed by them.


What are Natural Disasters?

Natural disasters are one way that living beings can experience dangerous external conditions. One could mistakenly understand the term “natural” to mean disasters that exist in nature without a karmic cause. From the Buddhist point of view, disasters do not occur from their own side without a cause and while they manifest as forces in nature they are the result of the actions of body, speech, and mind of sentient beings.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has explained:

“As far as what the scientists say about the disasters of the elements they never mention the mind, the creator who experiences the disaster. They explain purely the external evolution of how it happens. Even if this is correct, it is only the short-term explanation. It doesn’t really explain why the whole evolution happened in the first place. In the simplest teachings of Buddhism, you can understand where [disasters of the elements such as] hurricanes and earthquakes come from. They arise as a result of the ten non-virtuous actions.

“These karmas come from actions such as committing the ten non-virtues or the result of committing one or several of the ten non-virtues. The mind which experiences the earthquake or hurricane comes from the result of the self-cherishing thought, from either attachment or anger. But the real root is ignorance, the unknowing mind, that does not know the ultimate nature of mind, I, or the aggregates.”

Lama Zopa Rinpoche led prayers and gave oral transmissions to young monks and Western visitors after the earthquake, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, April 2015. Photo by Ven. Sarah Thresher.


Latest Advice from Lama Zopa Rinpoche

“If you wonder what to do, what prayers to make when there are disasters caused by the elements (fire, water, wind, and earth) such as tornados, hurricanes, heavy rain, storms, floods, earthquakes, fires; as well as disasters that destroy crops; disasters that destroy entire towns and cities within one hour; disasters that cause so many billions of dollars of damage and so much money has to be spent to rebuild the towns; disasters where so many hundreds and thousands of people die or lose their homes, have no food or clean water; disasters where so many animals and insects are killed and harmed – Here I am offering some suggestions on what to do so that you can help a country at risk, save so many lives, and prevent the destruction of houses, villages, and cities.” – July 2018

Rinpoche has advised which pujas and practices are needed to minimize harm from the elements and to benefit those who have died or been affected in any way by the elements (humans, animals and insects).

According to Rinpoche, every month the following practices will be sponsored and completed every month. Rinpoche checked extensively on the exact practices to be done, how many times they should be completed, and by whom:

  • Extensive Medicine Buddha Puja offered five times by Shu Cho Khangtsen of Drepung Gomang Monastery, Kopan Monastery, and Gyuto Tantric College
  • Guhyasamaja root text recited four times by Kopan Lama Gyupas
  • Kshitigarbha Sutra recited one time by Kopan nuns
  • Sutra of Golden Light recited four times by Sangha in the USA
  • Arya Sanghata Sutra recited twice by Sangha in the USA
  • Vajra Cutter Sutra recited four times by Yangsi Rinpoche

Nuns gathered in the Kopan Nunnery gompa

Dedication

The general dedication for all these monthly pujas and practices is for whole world, and in particular for United States of America (at this time): To not have disasters of fire, water, air, and earth including great dangers such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, fires, and also global problems; to prevent any great danger for the people and animals of the area, and if it does for those who die to not be reborn in the lower realms and to actualize bodhichitta and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.


How You Can Help

Rinpoche has initiated this fund with an offering of US$24,000 to help sponsor the current recommended pujas, prayers, and practices and all are welcome to participate in these monthly practices by offering any amount you are able.

The annual budget is US$14,000.

As Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains, “There is cause, karma – and then there are conditions. The earthquake and so forth is not coming from outside, it is coming from the mind. This is according to the view of all four schools of Buddhism. What Shakyamuni Buddha said, ‘You are the guide to yourself, also the enemy of yourself.’ That is reality, because every day whether you have problems or happiness it is because of what you do with your mind. Which way you make your mind think. If you make your mind to think positively, you have peace. If you make your mind to think negatively you have problems.

“In our everyday life if we purify the cause of these problems, which is within us, not outside, and is our negative disturbing, emotional thoughts (the self-centered mind). In relation to this arises ignorance, anger, attachment. Then with these negative attitudes engaging in the action which becomes negative and then creating the negative karma that harms others and harms oneself. Without the inner cause– the negative karma, the outer condition for this problem wouldn’t happen.

“Every day, pray to purify your past negative karma and every day try to abstain from creating negative karma.

“The best and ultimate solution for problems is Dharma practice and especially to actualize the path within one’s own mind and to purify the causes of all the suffering (rebirth, old age, sickness and death) and the causes of suffering which is karma and delusion.”

Photo by Chris Majors.

Practices that Can Be Done By Anyone

There are many practices that can be done by anyone wishing to help mitigate the effects of natural disasters:

  1. Extensive Medicine Buddha Puja
  2. Sanghata Sutra recitation
  3. Vajra Cutter Sutra recitation
  4. Guhyasamaja root text recitation (currently in the process of being translated into English)
  5. Sutra of Golden Light recitation


The dedication to offer following these practices is for whole world, and in particular for United States of America (at this time): To not have disasters of fire, water, air, and earth including great dangers such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landsides, fires, and also global problems; to prevent any great danger for the people and animals of the area, and if disaster does manifest, for those who die to not be reborn in the lower realms and to actualize bodhichitta and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

We also need your support to be able to continually sponsor and offer these practices.

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What to Think When Offering or Sponsoring Pujas

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has advised:

“When offering any puja, think: I am doing this for any sentient being who needs it. Motivate for everyone, not working for yourself, not for money, offering puja becomes pure Dharma motivation because of the thought to benefit others. Then, when people are dying and sick and in need, if you think of those people, so many need helpful prayers.

“Whatever you do, try to benefit sentient beings, not just recite prayer.

“While making offerings Rinpoche has taught how to think: “After generating a motivation of bodhichitta, remember, all these people doing the practices are disciples of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. If you have received teachings from His Holiness, you are disciples of the same guru as they are, they are the pores of the guru.

So think: ‘I am making offerings to the same guru’s pores.’ Then, no matter how many monks there are, no matter how much money, tea, bread, or lunch you offer, you will receive the same merit as actually having offered to numberless Buddhas, Dharma, and Sangha.

“[This is the greatest way to purify [negative karma] and the quickest way to achieve enlightenment. Thinking like this helps sometimes when we hear how much a puja costs.”


Previous Efforts to Protect the Environment and Living Beings

In 2012 Lama Zopa Rinpoche observed that the West Coast of the United States was in danger of suffering earthquakes and tsunamis. Rinpoche consulted with Khadro-la and a Stupa to Minimize Harm was recommended to be built as soon as possible. Khadro-la identified the exact place the stupa needed to be built to have the most effect.

There were insurmountable obstacles to securing the exact land and in 2015 Rinpoche offered advice on practices that needed to be completed to mitigate dangers from the elements on the West Coast. Incredibly, Rinpoche’s entire request was completed: 1,840,962 recitations of the Kshitigarbha long mantra were accumulated from 912 groups and individuals, four recitations of the Tengyur were sponsored; the Eight Mahayana Precepts were observed 2,591 times; and six extensive Medicine Buddha Pujas were completed.

Due to the completion of these practices and mantra recitations Rinpoche has advised that the Stupa to Minimize Harm is no longer needed. Instead, Rinpoche is now requesting these pujas and practices be done as continual protection for the environment and living beings.

Photo by Chris Majors.

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