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Holisticonline.com

THE SHELTERING TREE OF INTERDEPENDENCE

By

THE DALAI LAMA

"These lines have been composed to underline my deep concern, and to call upon all people to make continuous efforts to preserve and remedy the degradation of our environment."



Lord Tathagata born of the Iksvakus tree 
Peerless One 
Who, seeing the all-pervasive nature 
Of interdependence 
Between the environment and sentient beings
Samsara and Nirvana 
Moving and unmoving 
Teaches the world out of compassion
Bestow thy benevolence on us 



the Saviour 
The One called Avalokitesvara 
Personifying the body of compassion 
Of all Buddhas 
We beseech thee to make our spirits ripen 
And fructify to observe reality
Bereft of illusion 

3

Our obdurate egocentricity
Ingrained in our minds
Since beginningless time 
Contaminates, defiles and pollutes 
The environment 
Created by the common karma 
Of all sentient beings 

4

Lakes and ponds have lost 
Their clarity, their coolness
The atmosphere is poisoned 
Nature's celestial canopy in the fiery firmament
Has burst asunder 
And sentient beings suffer diseases 
Unknown before 



Perennial snow mountains resplendent in their glory 
Bow down and melt into water 
The majestic oceans lose their ageless equilibrium 
And inundate islands 



The dangers of fire, water and wind are limitless 
Sweltering heat dries up our lush forests 
Lashing our world with unprecedented storms
And the oceans surrender their salt to the elements 



Though people lack not wealth 
They cannot afford to breathe clean air
Rain and streams cleanse not 
But remain inert and powerless liquids 



Human beings 
And countless beings 
That inhabit water and land 
Reel under the yoke of physical pain 
Caused by malevolent diseases 
Their minds are dulled 
With sloth, stupor and ignorance 
The joys of body and spirit 
Are far, far away 



We needlessly pollute
The fair bosom of our mother earth
Rip out her trees to feed our short -
sighted greedTurning our fertile earth into a sterile desert

10

The interdependent nature 
Of the external environment
And people's inward nature
Described in Tantras 
Works on medicine, and astronomy
Has verily been vindicated 
By our present experience. 

11 

The earth is home to living beings;
Equal and impartial to the moving and unmoving
Thus spoke the Buddha in truthful voice
With the great earth for witness 

12 

As a noble being recognizes the kindness
Of a sentient mother
And makes recompense for it
So the earth, the universal mother
Which nurtures all equally
Should be regarded with affection and Care

13

Forsake wastage
Pollute not the clean, clear nature
Of the four elements
And destroy the well being of people
But absorb yourself in actions
That are beneficial to all

14 

Under a tree was the great Sage 
Buddha born
Under a tree, he overcame passion
And attained enlightenment
Under two trees did he pass in Nirvana
Verily, the Buddha held the tree in great esteem 

15 

Here, where Manjusri's emanation
Lama Tson Khapa's body bloomed forth
Is marked by a sandal tree
Bearing a hundred thousand images of the Buddha 

16

Is it not well known 
That some transcendental deities 
Eminent local deities and spirits 
Make their abode in trees? 

17 

Flourishing trees clean the wind
Help us breathe the sustaining air of life 
They please the eye and soothe the mind 
Their shade makes a welcome resting place

18 

In Vinaya, the Buddha taught monks 
To care for tender trees
From this, we learn the virtue 
Of planting, of nurturing trees 

22 

In times of yore 
Our forbears ate the fruits of trees 
Wore their leaves 
Discovered fire by the attrition of wood 
Took refuge amidst the foliage of trees 
When they encountered danger

23 

Even in this age of science of technology 
Trees provide us shelter
The chairs we sit in 
The beds we lie on 
When the heart is ablaze 
With the fire of anger 
Fuelled by wrangling
Trees bring refreshing, welcome coolness 

24

In the trees lie the roots 
Of all life on earth 
When it vanishes 
The land exemplified by the name 
Of the Jambu tree 
Will remain no more 
Than a dreary, desolate desert

25 

Nothing is dearer to the living than life
Recognising this, in the Vinaya rules 
The Buddha lays down prohibitions
Like the use of water with living creatures 

26 

In the remoteness of the Himalayas
In the days of yore, the land of Tibet
Observed a ban on hunting, on fishing
And, during designated periods, even construction.
These traditions are noble 
For they preserve and cherish
The lives of humble, helpless,
defenseless creatures 

27 

Playing with the lives of other beings 
Without sensitivity or hesitation 
As in the act of hunting or fishing for sport 
Is an act of heedless, needless violence
A violation of the solemn rights 
Of all living beings 

28 

Being attentive to the nature 
Of interdependence of all creatures 
Both animate and inanimate
One should never slacken in one's efforts 
To preserve and conserve nature's energy 

29 

On a certain day, month and year 
One should observe the ceremony 
Of tree planting 
Thus, one fulfills one's responsibilities 
Serves one's fellow beings 
Which not only brings one happiness 
But benefits all 

30

May the force of observing that which is right 
And abstinence from wrong practices and evil deeds 
Nourish and augment the prosperity of the world 
May it invigorate living beings and help them blossom 
May sylvan joy and pristine happiness 
Ever increase, ever spread and encompass all that is.

This poem was released on the occasion of the presentation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama of a statue of the Buddha to the people of India on 2 October 1993, at New Delhi.

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