Buddhist Prayers for the Earth

Tara C. Trapani

Tomorrow is Vesak, the Buddhist celebration of the Buddha's birth, death, and enlightenment. And today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States. In honor of the conjunction of these two holidays, we'd like take this opportunity to share a couple of Buddhist prayers and reflections concerning nature and the environment. If you have a favorite Buddhist prayer that speaks to the preservation and restoration of our natural world, we welcome you to share it here on our Facebook page

First, we have a contribution from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. We'd like to share a few stanzas from his prayer, The Sheltering Tree of Interdependence, which in his own words has “been composed to underline my deep concern, and to call upon all concerned people to make continuous efforts to reserve and remedy the degradation of our environment.” You can read the prayer in its entirety at the Dalai Lama's website:

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 equally
Should be regarded with affection and care

13. Forsake wastage
Pollution 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 Saga 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 adobe in tree?

17. Flourishing trees clean the wind
Help us breathe the sustaining air of life
They please the eye and sooth 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

19. The Buddha forbade monks to cut
Cause others to cUt living plants
Destroy seeds or defile the fresh green grass
Should this not inspire us
To love and protect our environment?

20. They say, in the celestial realms
The trees emanate
The Buddha's blessings
And echo the sound
Of basic Buddhist doctrines
Like impermanence


Next, we have a Prayer for Our Natural Environment from Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order. Here is a beautiful excerpt, and you can read the entirety of the prayer at the Fo Guang Shan English Dharma site or listen to it recited in the video below:

Oh great, compassionate Buddha!
Please let us and our future generations:
Be able to play with fireflies
Under the radiance of star-brimmed skies;
Be able to sing and dance with great nature
On the shore of an emerald sea;
Be able to enjoy fresh air
In the thick forests of towering trees;
And be able to grow together with all things under the sun
On a field that extends out far beyond the horizon.

This is not just for the natural environment,
But also for the hometowns of humankind;
This is not just for the earth’s existence,
But also for our future generations.

Please grant us tender hands
To soothe all sentient beings on earth;
Please grant us ears that listen attentively
To the wondrous sounds of the world and natural phenomena;
Please grant us bright and keen eyes
To discover the limitless treasures of the universe;
Please grant us compassionate hearts
To preserve the ecology of our world.


And we'll close with a short Earth Prayer from Sensei Ulrich of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. This and other Buddhist prayers can be found on the World Healing Prayers site :

We gently caress you, the Earth, our planet and our home.
Our vision has brought us closer to you, making us aware of the harm we have done to the life-network upon which we ourselves depend.
We are reminded that we have poisoned your waters, your lands, your air. 
We have filled you with the bones of our dead from war and greed. 
Your pain is our pain.
Touching you gently, we pray that we may become peace-bringers and life-bringers so that our home in its journey around the Sun not become a sterile and lonely place. 
May this prayer and its power last forever.