KHORYUG HISTORY

KHORYUG (Environment in the Tibetan language) is the short form for the newly launched Rangjung Khoryug Sungkyob Tsokpa, a network of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries which have jointly made the commitment to help protect the Himalayan region from environmental degradation.

KHORYUG was created by His Holiness, the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Thinley Dorje, during the 2nd Kagyu Conference on Environmental Protection in October 2009. On the occasion, His Holiness said:

" In order to save the Himalayas and Tibet from the threats of deforestation, climate change, and pollution, we have to be full of courage and believe whole heartedly that this endeavor is winnable. The alternative is unthinkable." 

 

He then suggested the name KHORYUG, a word that would remind everyone of what forms the basis of all life. He concluded by saying that Buddhist monasteries and centers that make commitments to protect the environment should feel that their projects are an evolution from enlightened aspiration to enlightened activity.

This website is designed to provide information and updates on the monastery projects within KHORYUG as well as environment-related updates from His Holiness himself. We hope that the website is a useful resource for anyone looking for environmental solutions in the Himalayas and the Tibetan region.

HISTORY OF KHORYUG'S CREATION

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa raised the subject of environmental protection at various occasions and talks but it was first in 2007 when he began strongly advocating for environmental protection activities within the Kagyu community. At the 2007 Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya, His Holiness made environmental protection a priority and said that he would like to see practical results within the Kagyu community. He made a special request to his monasteries that they plant 1,000 trees if they could. He also encouraged the congregation of his followers around the world to take individual responsibility for protecting the environment in their own respective countries. In the following year, all monasteries under him planted trees, and some monasteries planted several thousand saplings.

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Vajra and bell held by His Holiness during the 26th Kagyu Monlam

In 2008 His Holiness published Environmental Guidelines for Karma Kagyu Buddhist Monasteries , Centers, and Community. On doing so, he said:

This booklet is but a small drop in a huge ocean. The challenge of environmental degradation is far more complex and extensive than anything we alone can tackle. However, if we can all contribute a single drop of clean water, those drops will accumulate into a fresh pond, then a clear stream and eventually a vast pure ocean. This is my aspiration.

The Guidelines lay out environmental issues most important in the Himalayas and in Tibet; Forests, Water, Wildlife, Waste and Climate Change and offers solutions based on the most recent scientific and practical knowledge available. The booklet was initially produced in English and Chinese and distributed widely. The Tibetan translation was led by His Holiness himself and is available online in all three languages.

In March of 2009, His Holiness hosted the First Environmental Conference for Kagyu Monasteries, Centers and Community in Sarnath. It was attended by 60 representatives from 22 monasteries and nunneries, and had honored guests such as HE Thrangu Rinpoche and HE Drupon Rinpoche.

The purpose of the conference was to train representatives on environmental issues and to make them understand why environmental protection is so important in the Himalayas and in Tibet. The five day conference resulted in monastery representatives gaining a science-based understanding of these issues, being part of working groups to develop site-based solutions for their environmental problems, and making commitments to work on environmental issues that most affect their own community. Two days were set aside for problem solving and strategy development and ended up generating the  108 Things You Can Do To Save the Environment.

The Second Conference on Environmental Protection for Kagyu Monasteries and Centers was held in Gyuto Monastery in October 2009. 34 monasteries sent their representatives, many of whom had attended the 1st conference. Those monasteries that had created environmental goals made progress reports. Similar to the first conference, three days were put aside for providing science based training on environmental issues but this time with a practical hands-on approach. Working jointly with local Dharamsala NGOs, the attendees were able to see demonstration sites on water restoration, environmentally designed nunneries, waste management and composting and so on. The attendees also participated in a river clean up.

This conference benefitted greatly from the expertise of Nepal Buddhist Federation, Wildlife Trust of India, TESI Environmental Movement and WWF India. Both conferences were facilitated by Dekila Chungyalpa from World Wildlife Fund US.

One of the main results of this workshop was an agreement among the attending monasteries to create an association of monasteries that have launched environmental projects. Initially conceptualized as a Kagyu NGO, His Holiness was requested by Gyuto Monastery and NBF representatives to consider keeping the association open for all Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. His Holiness agreed, saying:

Whatever I do, I want it to have a long term impact and for it to be practical. If I have the opportunity, I want to create long term change and improvement of the environment in Tibet and Himalayas, especially to benefit the forests, the water and wildlife of this region. 

For more information  refer to the news section for all Khoryug activities since 2009