Honoring the Earth, Planting Trees at KTD

(April 22, 2015 – Woodstock, New York) The 17th Karmapa opened the honoring of Earth Day by planting trees at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) in the morning, and giving a talk on caring for the environment to residents of the town of Woodstock in the afternoon.

David Kaczynski, Executive Director of KTD, opened the morning calling for moral, political and active ethical leadership on the issue of environmental stewardship. Our earth is very old, he said, but our recognition of the need to care for the earth is very young.

Addressing those assembled, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, abbot of KTD, expressed his profound delight at celebrating Earth Day with His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, particularly since the event was being marked by both political and spiritual leaders of the local communities. His Holiness the Karmapa was joined at the tree planting by Woodstock Town Supervisor Jeremy Wilber, Bill McKenna of the Town Board, Jim Hanson, Chair of the Woodstock Ecological Commission, as well as leading members of Woodstocks various faith communities. As such, the towns secular and religious leaders shared the space under a tent that had been erected since rain threatened to mar the morning.

Woodstocks Town Supervisor, Jeremy Wilber, took the microphone to observe that the Karmapa had written a book, The Heart Is Noble: Changing theWorld from the Inside Out, and that anyone who read it could plainly hear the words of a very committed environmental activist. Sandy Hu, KTD board member, described for those assembled some of the Karmapas environmental initiatives, and then the time came for the palpable demonstration of care for the earth.

Two trees had been made ready for planting, including a Japanese maple that had graced the stage during theKarmapas teachings in Kingstons Ulster Performing Arts Center. As if waiting for the moment to take action, when the speechmaking was complete, the 17th Karmapa strode over to the first planting site and immediately began preparing to plant. Once the tree had been placed gently in the ground, he himself shoveled the earth and poured the water with great care. As he was adding the mulch, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche approached and playfully aided him by tapping on the earth with his cane.

Once both saplings were in the ground, His Holiness reached down and touched the trunks, testing them gently. After he had determined that the trees had been firmly planted, he departed, entrusting them to the care of the earth and sky, which would oblige by releasing rain to water them after the ceremony was safely completed.

Swipe or click on photos above to view the full slide show. Photography by Lama Sam.