A diverse audience gathered at the Tibet House, the Cultural Center of H.H the Dalai Lama, in New York City for an enlightening evening with Benki, where he shared his insights into the Ashaninka mythology and how their ancient knowledge systems have kept the Amazon rainforest intact. In doing so, he highlighted the vital importance for indigenous and non-indigenous people to recognize the sacredness of life and all living beings in order to protect our natural environment.
Benki’s message lies in the belief that we are all part of a unique creation woven together by the creator’s spirit. This creation is our paradise – a world graced with the sun, the moon, water, and wind. To seek paradise, to seek God, is to recognize that we are already here. In Benki’s view, God is not distant but resides within us, for we are made of his spirit. We are his creation, and this paradise, with its waters, seas, fish, and fruits, is our home.
“Paradise is here.” Benki
He urged us to understand that respecting the natural world honors the creator’s work.
Benki’s talk was not just a lecture but a call to action. It was an invitation to embrace our role as custodians of this paradise and to recognize that paradise is not a distant dream but a reality we must cherish and protect. In doing so, he responded to a series of questions from the public about forest preservation, cultural values, and traditional medicinal knowledge of the Amazon rainforest.
Benki emphasized that the guardianship of the Amazon isn’t merely a matter of ecological preservation but a cultural and spiritual imperative for the indigenous communities that call this marvelous rainforest home. Their age-old wisdom passed down through generations, holds the key to maintaining the delicate balance of this vital ecosystem and the sacred interconnectedness that permeates all life, echoing the ancient wisdom of his Ashaninka ancestors.
Photo by Anton Rivette featuring Ben Meeus and Benki Piyãko.