His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Dharma Master Hsin Tao - Loving the Earth the Ecology Way


For many, religion has become part of our daily life with its increasing emphasis on ecology. His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa of the Tibetan Buddhism initiated the 'Pilgrimage on Foot' more than a decade ago, and a like-minded campaign for environmental care has been initiated by the Dharma Master's beach-cleaning movement that invites volunteers to dedicate 'an hour a month to love the Earth by cleaning up Fulong beach' in northeastern Taiwan. Both are Venerable Masters of Buddhism, both equally dedicated to ecology, and are good friends with each other, closer than brothers, while dedicating themselves to the environment in Taiwan and Nepal, respectively.

The father of His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, His Eminence Zhichen Bairo Rinpoche, was the root guru who passed the inheritance of the Nyingma Kathok lineage onto Dharma Master Hsin Tao. His Holiness openly stated in a media interview that he and Master Hsin Tao have been kinsfolk across numerous previous life cycles. Hence, the closeness remains even though they are not related by blood in the present life. Both have been doing what they were born to do - not of their own choice but predestined -and their mutual esteem is a thing of beauty.

The 4th assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) formally stated that 'our planet has been warming up by 0.74 degrees Celsius per century' and the increase is especially apparent for areas in the mid- to high latitudes. The report indicates that the average increase in temperature can reach 3-5 degrees Celsius in these regions by 2100, with the sea level rising by 18-59 centimeters. An increasing amount of evidence shows that global warming has already given rise to a confusion of climate systems in many parts of the world, mpacting local ecologies and endangering the very existence of the Earth.

His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa led a troop of 700 environmental volunteers to 5 of the most popular peaks of the Himalayas to clean up debris and litter left by mountain climbing tourists. Villagers along the way were also taught about the importance of afforestation and environmental protection. International film star Michelle Yeoh produced a full documentary on that spectacular event in 'Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey'. Cleaning up mountain paths, planting trees, promoting environmental protection by peddling bicycles around the region… all have been part of His Holiness's dedication and enthusiasm, born out of his genuine care for the Earth and deep affection for the spirituality.

“I have a profound affection for spirituality and I cannot part from it. To me, it is the way to comprehend the world around us, Nature, and everything in it. Even in situations when true understanding eludes us, we can still try to approach an understanding by retaining humility in our hearts and mind.” His Holiness cites a table in front for example - in that a table is a table in essence, but that is not all it is. Before it turned into a table, it was wood, that came from a tree, which was part of the natural world, and so on, an endless cycle. When we review any matter in that fashion by exhausting the levels and layers beneath the surface, we gain experiences that lead to an understanding that life is bitterness and that impermanence is a constant.

His Holiness further said that even painful encounters are, as the process of any and all happenings, a blessing in disguise. Spirituality is, therefore, all positive and our thinking ought not to be limited to what is on the surface, like a table, a flower, a lamp. Instead, whether friends or foes, or leaving behind altogether such dichotomies, any and all things of Nature are beautiful. Even when they present themselves and appear before our naked eye in negative ways, they are still positive Dharma in essence, deep down and within. Such is the beauty of spirituality.

The saying that 'great minds think alike' finds in our present juxtaposition its manifestation in the concrete deeds by Dharma Master Hsin Tao in the beach-cleaning campaign, among others. In 2019 alone, there were 9 sizeable actions with thousands of volunteers participating in the Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) initiative. More than 2.5 metric tons of heavy pollutants were collected, and enterprises like the conglomerate DHL and local tech leader LiteOn have pledged to intensify their respective commitment therein.

Dharma Master, too, holds spirituality in high esteem in his religious devotion. His dedication to the future University for Life & Peace in Myanmar is a case in point. The University has been designed to play an active role in safeguarding the Earth with strengths in cultivating future leaders in spirituality, ecology, and technological innovations. The future university's spiritual education will anchor in practicing repentance and meditation to create and fortify an energy field so strong, that the Earth will be able to tap it for a trigger mechanism for self-healing. Spiritual practice leads to an ecological awakening for people to truly appreciate our environment, with the heart more capable of details and beauty, even a sense of the sacred. Such is spirituality.

Dharma Master said that we can retrieve spirituality by practicing meditation, and Peace Meditation can be an ideal fit for that by virtue of its clearly defined steps and stages that are easy to understand, to follow, and to achieve. To allow direct access to an ever-increasing international following, Dharma Master Hsin Tao has recently completed the establishment of the LJM Milarepa Meditation Center in Nepal, with the cave once occupied by Milarepa himself for meditative practice as an integral part of the facility that also boasts of use by 84 other famed and venerated gurus of meditation. The magnetic field of the venue is thus simply ideal for meditation.

Dharma Master has spared no efforts in giving his utmost for the preservation of the holy site, and his quasi-brother His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa has also been paying a great deal of attention to the Milarepa Meditation Center in his quiet way, by visiting the place and traveling the distance by riding his bicycle. Their shared efforts in many ways connect Taiwan and Nepal despite the great geographic distances. 

Core to his philosophy is the transformation of compassion into action (Live to Love), and His Holiness has been consistent in his deeds ranging from mountain cleaning, tree planting, and ecology promotion on the bicycle, to building schools for education, among others. His Holiness said that to educate children goes beyond teaching them to read and write. It also goes beyond the teachings of Buddha to focus on an enlightenment of a sort: the importance of our environment and the scarcity of resources such as water, the importance of the family as a building block of the society, and, especially, the importance of knowledge. His Holiness believes that Dharma Master Hsin Tao thinks along similar lines and believes in changing people by teaching them how to think and reason properly first.

Dharma Master's future University for Life & Peace, in a parallel, has been designed to cultivate future leaders of thought and religion with a focus on ecology, to enable graduatesto return to their respective domains to create and manage changes. The planned university has already been awarded a government-issued license. Venerable Master Hsin Tao said that “the University for Life & Peace will be a university of ecology and that ecology is symbiotic and interdependent for all its parts that constitute the whole. The University aims at achieving research findings to show and share with the world so that people finally understand that the ecology is symbiotic and interdependent. To prevent people from canceling one another out by destruction, the ecology needs to be protected and harm to Nature be harnessed and corrected. The objectives and purposes of the University for Life & Peace are to identify issues and find solutions to sustain the ecology.”

Dharma Master Hsin Tao also pointed out that the Winter School with its tailor-made curriculum for two years running is a pilot project before the formal launch of the University for Life & Peace. The Winter School 2019 saw the participation of expert scholars from 14 countries to find the best possible ways to integrate ecology into the syllabus of a Buddhist university, to enable ecology and other branches and disciplines of science to become a perfect fit for one another so that theory and practice work hand in hand for the best possible synergy and general results.

From spirituality over education to ecology, His Holiness the Twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa and Ven. Dharma Master Hsin Tao have been striding shoulder-to-shoulder on a challenging path yet never once entertained the notion of giving up. In his publication titled “Everyday Enlightment - Walking the Path to Happiness in the Modern World”, His Holiness reminds us that  'a sense of peace arises from within, once you realize that everyone in the world is interconnected to one another.'  The movie "The Power of Awakening" shown at the opening of the Winter School 2019 also features the Dharma Master's appeal to the world that the ecology be heeded and safeguarded. Both supreme gurus are speaking with once voice in making an urgent appeal to the world that the world and its people are interconnected. We therefore realize that this wonderful world depends on us all for its making and keeping. The necessary awakening is never too late - as long as it begins right away.

Chinese (ver.)中文→https://tv.093.org.tw/news-detail/411

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