The Earth as a Treasure in Tibetan Buddhism
Visionary Revelation and its Interactions with the Environment
Keywords: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.
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