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Kagyu Monlam: His Holiness Continues the Story of Milarepa

January 07, 2009

His Holiness drew several lessons from Milarepa’s story to illustrate how we should practice. The first concerned our commitment or rather lack of it, and our inability to tolerate hardship.

Like all the great masters in the lineage, Milarepa renounced the world, expressed his disgust with samsara, and had a fierce determination to practice the Dharma. He knew that this was the only way to bring benefit both to him and to others, including his dead parents. We, on the other hand, relax and enjoy good food.

The great translator, Marpa Lotsawa, endured many difficulties on his journey to India. He had to trudge across the never-ending Indian plains, and yet he translated all those texts! These days we get tired when we travel by train or plane!

Milarepa demonstrated immense commitment. Marpa set him to build four houses – not small but big ones – and then he had to take them down again, stone by stone. He was even made to build a house with nine storeys, which His Holiness had had chance to visit. His Holiness commented that the house looked like it had been built by one person – the pillars were unfinished wood and the construction generally was very rough. When Marpa threw him out of teachings or beat him, Milarepa still Read the rest of this article

Kagyu Monlam: His Holiness Telling the Story of Milarepa

January 06, 2009

The relationship between Marpa and Milarepa was unlike an ordinary lama-student relationship. Some lamas threatened their students that if they didn’t follow through instructions they would be breaking samaya, and so would go to a hell realm. In contrast, Marpa treated Milarepa like a son. Nor was he motivated by gain. A lama should skillfully nurture his students and always be compassionate.

His Holiness went on to discuss tsultrim – ethical conduct. He explained that rules of good conduct such as not stealing or not killing should be understood not as a codex, a set of laws to be observed, but rather as a description of the behavior which was necessary if we wanted to be happy. Ethical conduct was also essential for the well-being of the society in which we live. He reminded everyone once more of the interdependent nature of our existence. Throughout life we are dependent on others. We were born because of the love our parents had for each other. They cared for us and did their best for us. At every stage of our life, when we were born, as a baby, at school, when looking for work, when we were ill, we relied on others to help us. It was impossible to live completely independently. Given this interdependence, we should never ever look down on other people or Read the rest of this article

26th Kagyu Monlam at a Glance

Aspiration:

A drop of water which falls into a great ocean will neither be exhausted nor cease to exist until the end of the universe. Likewise, a virtuous root dedicated toward attaining enlightenment will neither be exhausted nor cease to exist until you reach perfect enlightenment.
– The Sutra spoken by Noble Inexhaustible Intelligence

The International Kagyu Monlam is an eight day Buddhist prayer festival held annually in Bodhgaya, the place of Buddha’s enlightenment. His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism, presides over the festival, supported by many leading Rinpoches from the Kagyu tradition, including H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, H.E. Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Ven. Zurmang Garwang Rinpoche, Ven. Kalu Rinpoche, Ven. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and Ven. Mingyur Rinpoche. Read more

26th Kagyu Monlam: January 5, 2009

His Holiness Karmapa gave a short commentary:

The Lord Buddha said that two things were essential: study and practice. Gampopa advised people to study first. The Kagyu is known as the practice lineage, and meditation plays a central role; it is the lineage of experience and realization. Like Milarepa, we had to receive the instructions, and then put them into practice. This involved hardship and effort.

Some Kagyu masters had studied extensively and then practiced, but others had had little formal study. Milarepa had not studied widely, but he had great devotion. He received the instructions, the direct understanding of how to practice, and then he practiced.

A Nyingma lama once said that when we were really suffering and our minds were deeply disturbed, the only things which helped were Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva, and The Songs of Milarepa. Correct meditation depends on correct view, and the correct view is emptiness. The lama, who has direct experience of the nature of the mind, gives instructions to the devoted student who must study, analyze, gain a conceptual understanding and practice it. His Holiness commented that although Kagyu say they are the practice lineage, when we study the biographies of great masters it can make us feel ashamed. As the saying goes, Read the rest of this article

The 26th Kagyu Monlam Begins

Saturday January 04, 2009

His Holiness dedicated the first day of Kagyu Monlam Puja to the victims of recent Mumbai attack.

26th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo began with a quiet thick, damp fog blanketed all over Bodh Gaya. At 5 am the participants proceeded to the Mahabodhi Stupa, only gradually did their forms emerge from the silent mist. The closer to the Stupa they came, the greater were their numbers, until monks, nuns and laypeople from all parts of the world came streaming through the great gates of the Stupa complex and began their circumambulation of the ancient site, murmuring mantras and prayers. An electricity cut made the early morning seem even more mystical, and the reduced lighting caused the Stupa to appear floating in space and insubstantial.

Beneath the Bodhi Tree, devotees found their way to their seats and sat waiting expectantly for the arrival of His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa, Jamgon Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and other high lamas. Fragrant incense wafted in the air, every stupa, wall and railing was decorated with strings of marigolds, and the Kagyu Monlam Shrine stretched resplendently across the front of the assembly against a background of draping yellow and blue cloth. Monks and nuns donned their yellow Read the rest of this article