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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 71 The strongest tradition of ethics in Buddhism is found in the monastic traditions, and there are very specific rules that ordained monks and nuns follow in order to protect and respect the environment. For example, monks and nuns are prohibited from cutting down trees. That’s just one example of how respect for the environment is embedded in the ethical codes of Buddhism. However, the main endeavor of Buddhists is to tame the mind in order to bring peace and well-being into the hearts of oneself and all sentient beings. This is a very important way to protect the environment. If we focus only on changing the external circumstances, we will never be able to fully succeed in saving and protecting the world. Be- cause no matter how many changes we make on the outside, if our minds are not at peace, if they are disturbed and governed by self-centeredness, then that is always going to produce external disturbance in the world. So the primary focus of people who follow the dharma is to bring peace and well-being into their own hearts and into the hearts of all sentient be- ings, transcending self-centeredness. This is the most important point for Buddhists and for all spiritual practitioners. There is a lot of speculation that you are being groomed to succeed the Dalai Lama as the leading face of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. What are your thoughts about that? The activity of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been tremen- dously beneficial not only for the people of Tibet but for the entire world. His Holiness has been a source of inspiration and guidance in terms of how we may accomplish genuine peace and happiness. Therefore, it is important for us to continue the vi- sion he has set forth. This means we should all pray for the long life of His Holi- ness the Dalai Lama, but we must also prepare for the time after His Holiness passes away to ensure that his death does not mean the cessation of the vision that he has set into motion for the world. Therefore, everyone who is a student and a friend of the Dalai Lama has the responsibility to sustain his vision into the future. Since I have been recognized as an important spiri- tual teacher within Tibetan Buddhism, I’m kind of an obvious suspect for people to look to and say, “Well, we think he’s go- ing to be the successor,” and so forth. But I can tell you that His Holiness is not looking only to me with hope for the fu- ture; he’s looking to everyone with hope. I am a student of His Holiness, and from that perspec- tive, of course I’m going to do everything I can to preserve his spiritual legacy and continue his vision of peace and well- being in the world. But that’s something that everyone has the responsibility to do; it’s not something His Holiness is giving me alone. The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje SEPT 70-73.indd 71 SEPT 70-73.indd 71 7/3/08 1:33:10 PM 7/3/08 1:33:10 PM