Dongzhulin School for Young Monks
The Waterschool China programme emphasizes communities’ reconnection with indigenous knowledge and local culture, learning from ancient eastern philosophy and wisdom to contribute to global action for a sustainable earth. We believe that through learning from the experiences of local people, local lifestyles and local traditional values can be of great benefit to the Water School implementation process. In fact, we have found this so through our project practice in the different Water School areas.
Set amidst the breathtaking scenery of Baima Xueshan Nature Reserve, the school for young monks is situated within Dongzhulin Monastery in the northern part of Yunnan Province. At present, it accommodates more than 500 monks and is the second largest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Yunnan Province. Established in 1667, Dongzhulin Monastery is famous for its splendid history; under the monastery’s guidance this region enjoyed centuries of harmony between humans and nature.
However, the cultural revolution of the 1960s’ brought much destruction to this ‘harmony’. Nowadays Shangri-la has become an international tourist destination – but this opening up to the outside world has been accompanied by serious environmental and economic pressures and a severe threat of overexploitation and overuse of its natural resources.
Dongzhulin Monastery has been working with Baima Xueshan Nature Reserve and Shangri-La Institute in the areas of nature conservation and preservation of traditional culture since 1996. In all its activities the Monastery emphasises and applies a traditional Buddhist perspective. This helps the surrounding communities and tourists to understand that mankind and nature can and should live in harmony with each other and that the conservation and preservation of nature and local cultural traditions is of vital importance.
In March 2008, Dongzhulin School for Young Monks, became an official member of the Waterschool China project. As a special pilot school, young monks here have launched a series of water protection initiatives. They have organized Jinsha River investigations (a major tributary of the upper reaches of the Yangtze), community education on environment protection, tree-planting and so on. At the same time, Dongzhulin Monastery also opened a new community education centre, nature conservation seminars for the older monks, and has developed many materials on Buddhism and environment protection. The participation of the young monks in the water school and their continuing efforts in water and nature conservation have set an excellent example for local communities, more and more of whom have been inspired to join in activities of Waterschool China.