Can you remember the time when you were very small, playing in the garden or running around in a park? I don’t think children today have the luxury of connecting with the nature, not as much as older people like us. These days, parents are entertaining their children with iPad, iPhone, computer games and modern technologies. I am not saying that it is a bad idea to expose young children to modern technologies, but I would like to recommend that children should be spending more time with the nature so that when they grow up they will appreciate their life more.
These days, many parents conveniently put the responsibility of bringing up their children into the hands of the schools, TV programs, computer games, etc. It’s no wonder when some children grow up, they become either very far away from their parents and the nature, or they are completely indifferent to the suffering of others. If you feed your children’s mind with fabricated things, then of course they will become reflections of these fabrications. As parents, it’s a heavy responsibility to bring up children, not only to feed them, but to take care of their spiritual well being.
Most situations happen due to karma and conditions. Some children turn out very well when they grown up despite their difficult environment. So we can’t really tell. But one thing that we should remember is to always keep them close to mother nature. Without understanding mother nature, children will not be able to appreciate it, and this is how all the abuses to the natural environment are happening. When we are connected with the natural environment, we would have an understanding of how it works and how we depend so much on it. It is only with this understanding that we will appreciate and value the mother nature.
Egoistically speaking, I remember when I was just 5 years old. I used to roam around my monastery at night, all by myself, to check if lights were turned off. As I was very short and small, I often had to struggle quite a lot to switch off the lights, especially the ones in the toilets and bathrooms. Most people always forgot to switch off the light when they finished their business there. So I was always feeling that it’s my responsibility to make sure that lights were switch off. My beloved tutor, Khenpo Noryang, praised me several times saying to the elderly monks, “Although he (that means me) has such a small and short body, his mind is so great, he does not want to waste energy. You fellows are so big in size, yet your mind is so small. You just leave lights on and water tap on, without having any concern for the environment.” Most of the time, because of my own laziness and mischief, my tutors, total in 8, used to give me such a hard time. They would beat me till I became unconscious. Since my parents were not allowed to be with me, I had a very hard time all by myself when I was very small. But my tutors, especially Khenpo Noryang, loved to praise about my “night shift”, going around to turn off lights in the monastery. So that gave my ego a boost and encouraged me to nurture my original nature loving personality.
Of course, like most of you, I gradually gave in to modernisation. I lately realised that I have been leaving lights on too in the bathrooms. This is like our refuge and spiritual practice. When we started as a beginner, we had such a great enthusiasm, we almost wanted to be enlightened right away. We would do thousands of prostrations in a day, tens of thousands of mantras in a day, but slowly by slowly, our engine would start to slow down. There are so many distractions out there, so we tell ourselves, “Let’s go and see what’s happening out there and then come back to finish our practice. If we can’t practise today, we will do it tomorrow.” Once we break the chain of practice, then we will start dragging. Eventually, we forgot even our first moment of deep urge, wishing to help all beings so that we would be enlightened. One thing would be leading to another, then our old negative habits would start to catch up. In no time, we might even become worse than the time before we started our spiritual path. Like anything we do, spiritual practice and Bodhicitta motivation always have to be kept on trek. Otherwise we will drift away from our original or beginner’s mind.
In light of our need to continuously give back to our mother nature, let me again encourage all of you to join us in the Live to Love record breaking tree planting initiative in Ladakh. We need everyone’s support o help us keep our consistent action and commitment to protect, preserve and save our environment. See you soon in Ladakh at the 4th Annual Drukpa Council.