Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Khadro-la (Rangjung Neljorma Khadro Namsel Drönme) in the woods at the base of the trail to Taktsang Monastery, Bhutan, May 2016. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche has commented several times on environmental issues, including climate change. What has he said?

In 2006, Rinpoche, concerned about climate change, saw the film An Inconvenient Truth, and made the following comments:

“Every sentient being, regardless of religion or nationality, including creatures of the land and sea, all [want] to be free of the impure substances, pollution, and the atomic bomb that are harmful to all of us and the environment. … This includes beings such as nagas and worldly gods who are also involved in the elements, and who are harmed and even destroyed due to these man-made pollutions, harmful chemicals, and other things that are damaging the earth and air. [Those] who think only of personal profit without consideration for others and the environment are causing great danger to all of us—the country we live in and this whole world …

“Your happiness depends on others, and others’ happiness depends on you. We all have to live in this world, so we need to be harmonious and happy in a healthy way. No matter who you are or where you are, we all have a responsibility to protect this world.”

The view towards Taktsang Monastery in the mountains of Bhutan, June 2016. Photo by Ven. Roger Kunsang.

Rinpoche added in a letter to a student in 2006 that “global warming must also be related to there being a lot of factories. I think smoke from certain materials, certain bad and impure substances, affect global warming. … We must try and abandon the ones that are proved to affect global warming. From one’s own side, we should try to do this and make less pollution, then that’s our contribution to peace, without adding to the destruction of the world …”

Chipmunk at Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, Washington State, US, June 2015. Photo by Chris Majors.

In 2009, Rinpoche shared some additional thoughts on climate change. He said, “Regarding global warming, usually the real cause, karma, isn’t talked about. The reality is: nothing happens without relating to the mind. People think, ‘This is a natural disaster,’ but it doesn’t happen without a cause, and the main cause is karma … of course, there are conditions, such as pollution from cars, etc., that we commonly understand. But we have to understand there IS a reason, and that is our past negative thoughts and actions. … We don’t normally talk of karma in a general situation regarding the environment, but it is important to educate people.”

In conclusion, Rinpoche noted, “Regarding the environment, anything well proven scientifically is worth following through. [Nevertheless], the main thing is to understand how things come from the mind, how things are dependent arisings, how things are the consequence of past actions. So, the conclusion is that those people undertaking retreat, serious meditation, etc. can help the environment, can bless the earth.”

Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, where Lama Zopa Rinpoche often stays, Washington State, US, 2015. Photo by Chris Majors.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation and community service.