The Earth as a Treasure in Tibetan Buddhism

Visionary Revelation and its Interactions with the Environment


  • Antonio Terrone National Chengchi University



Tibetan Buddhism, visionary revelation, mountain deities’ cult, sacred place, environment, Dechen Ösel Dorjé, religious life and customs, Tibet, China


In this article I examine conceptions of the environment in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Treasure revelation that I propose are founded upon systems of exchange and relationality. Tibetan religious specialists known as Treasure revealers do not simply remove a Treasure from its place; they often leave a ‘replacement Treasure’ intended to appease both the local protective deity believed to be in charge of guarding the Buddhist Treasure and nourishing the local environment. I demonstrate that the logic of Treasure revelation is based on forming an interdependent exchange between humans and the land they inhabit. The source of the Treasure becomes a place deserving respect, protection, and devotion on both religious and ecological levels. I call this phenomenon ‘the ecology of revelation’, and I maintain that this is a fundamental socio-religious ethic characterized by respect for the environment and awareness of humans’ connection to it.

Author Biography

Antonio Terrone, National Chengchi University

Antonio Terrone is Assistant Professor of Religious and Tibetan Buddhist Studies at the Graduate Institute of Religious Studies (GIRS).


Achard, Jean-Luc. 2004. Bon Po Hidden Treasures: A Catalogue of Gter Ston Bde Chen Gling Pa’s Collected Revelations (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers).

Ammerman, Nancy (ed.). 2007. Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Doi:

Apffel-Marglin, Frédérique, and Pramod Parajuli. 2000. ‘Sacred Grove and Ecology: Ritual and Science’, in Christopher Key Chapple and Mary Evelyn Tucker (eds.), Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press): 291-316.

Atisha, Tenzin P. 2008. ‘The Tibetan Approach to Ecology’. View Tibet Adventure Tours. Online: [Tibetan Review, 1991 (25).2: 9-14].

Buffetrille, Katia. 1998. ‘Re



How to Cite

Terrone, A. (2015). The Earth as a Treasure in Tibetan Buddhism: Visionary Revelation and its Interactions with the Environment. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 8(4), 460–482.