Buddhist Reflection on Sacred Earth, Sacred Being


 

Geshe Kalsang Rapgyal
Director, Drepung Gomang Institute

From the perspective of Buddhist philosophy we categorize evolution of our own existence into two groups – “external environment” and “internal sentient being.” This interpretation, based upon the law of causality, entails that our very own survival as a living being must rely upon our external environment. Therefore we consider protecting and preserving our environment as something extremely important. Environment includes earth, air, water, mountain, forest, grassland, river, and so on.

Within the “internal sentient beings,” because of various physical bodies, we have many different types of living beings. For instance, in many Buddhist texts we find the presentation of human body as something very precious and sacred. We find the metaphor that the human body is far more precious than wish-fulfilling jewel. Especially for Buddhist practitioners human form is inevitable to attain their highest objective of enlightenment. Emphasis has been mentioned also in maintaining sound and healthy psychophysical aggregates for proper practices such as studying, contemplation and meditation. And for overall healthiness, requirement of basic factors were mentioned such as good diet, sleeping, exercise and good environment. Among many Buddhist philosophies of interdependence, we find these under the interdependence of cause and effect.

Within many practices in Buddhism, one which is practiced widely by Buddhist is called ‘taking and giving’ practice. This practice is performed by those who are engaged in the practice of ‘altruistic mind.’ In ‘altruistic mind’ practice, practitioners train their mind by visualizing voluntarily giving up whatever they possess including their own body, wealth, and positive merits that they accumulate from spiritual practices for the welfare of others, and in-turn receive the suffering of others. This is one way Buddhists train their mind in benefiting other unlimited numbers of sentient beings.

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