Green Inspiration and Environmental Quotes From the Dalai Lama

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Dalai Lama

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The Dalai Lama is a man who garners respect around the planet, regardless of whether or not one is a Buddhist.

Many of his thoughts and teachings have overriding concepts of mindfulness and personal transformation embedded within.

Here are some quotes from the Dalai Lama that are either directly linked to a greater consciousness of our planet’s ecology or if not directly, have great relevance to the goal of changing ourselves and changing our way of thought and life regarding the care of our environment.


Regarding Personal Responsibility

“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”

Being accountable to ourselves is at the core of lasting change. The easy path, which is the path of least resistance, is simply to complain, grumble and comment on the faults of others, whether these others are our neighbors or the corporation or country 1000 miles away.

The challenging path is to become engaged individuals.


Regarding our Relationship with the Environment

“Just as we should cultivate more gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude toward the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.

This, however, is not just a question of morality or ethics, but also a question of our own survival. For this generation and for future generations, the environment is very important. If we exploit the environment in extreme ways, we may receive some benefit today, but in the long run, we will suffer, as will our future generations. When the environment changes, the climatic condition also changes. When the climate changes dramatically, the economy and many other things change. Our physical health will be greatly affected. Again, conservation is not merely a question of morality, but a question of our own survival.”

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Dalai Lama, A Policy of Kindness”

Gentle and peaceful are certainly often used words to describe Buddhists and their teachings. Here it’s made clear that this attitude has practical and important results.

Morality is an internal choice which may not necessarily impact others. In this context though, it’s made clear that our choices today have long lasting impacts.


Regarding Simplicity and Contribution

“As far as your personal requirements are concerned, the ideal is to have fewer involvements, fewer obligations, and fewer affairs,
business or whatever. However, so far as the interest of the larger community is concerned, you must have as many involvements as
possible and as many activities as possible.”

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”

This is an elegant way of extolling the virtue of personal simplicity, not needing anything or anyone. The flip-side is that we should be servants. We ought to give with no thought or need of receiving.

Simplicity, mindfulness, contribution; these are concepts which ring true with the goals of greater awareness of our ecology and becoming better stewards of our neighborhoods, cities, regions and Earth. In our culture, education and society, are we taught that it is better to give than receive? Or are we taught that we need to be bold, go and take what is ours, or what we think should be ours?

Being a servant, not subservient but a servant, is a vital element in our own personal growth, which ultimately will impact our world. This “heart of a servant” attitude is not only found in Buddhism but in Christian and other religious traditions and even in ancient traditions such as the Samurai. Curiously, it is a practice that is not prevalent in our present day culture.

Not surprisingly then, we see effects of our Western ways of “take first” in our local and global environments.

What do you think? Leave a comment!