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27th Kagyu Monlam: Day Three – Karmapa Teaches on the Fault of Abandoning the Dharma

December 26, 2009 – Under the Bodhi Tree, Bodhgaya

Once again students had the privilege of receiving Mahayana Sojong Vows directly from His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, under the Bodhi Tree. In his reading of the Life of Milarepa, His Holiness reached the point where Milarepa was intentionally poisoned by a well-educated geshe who had become overwhelmed by jealousy and resentment towards Milarepa. Taking these events of Milarepa’s life as a departure point, His Holiness taught today on the danger of giving up the Dharma. Gyalwang Karmapa noted that the geshe in question had done extensive study of Dharma texts, but his actions reveal that he had completely abandoned the pure Dharma. His Holiness commented that giving up or abandoning the Dharma can also occur when we teach something that is not pure Dharma and present it as Dharma. Abandoning the Dharma does not only imply turning our backs entirely on all the Buddha’s teachings. It can also happen, His Holiness stressed, when we engage in sectarian partiality towards our own lineage or lama, and on that basis disparage other lineages or lamas.

When we accuse other lineages, lamas or philosophical systems of not teaching the pure Dharma, we are in grave danger of incurring the serious fault of abandoning the Read the rest of this article

27th Kagyu Monlam: Day Two – Karmapa Teaches on the Relationship between Lama Disciple

December 25, 2009 – Under the Bodhi Tree, Bodhgaya

The second day of the 27th Kagyu Monlam opened with His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche conferring Mahayana Sojong Vows on the thousands of fortunate disciples gathered beneath the Bodhi Tree.

His Holiness arrived for the second session, which was devoted to the biography of Milarepa. Along with the reading transmission of the text, which has been conferred over the past several Kagyu Monlams, each day His Holiness gives a Dharma teaching on a relevant topic, leads a meditation session, and selects one of Milarepa’s songs (Gur) for the entire assembly to sing together. Today His Holiness taught on the relationship between lama and disciple. After describing the qualities of a lama in different practice contexts, His Holiness gave advice on the correct way to rely on a spiritual guide. In general, we do not have the purity of karma to be able to meet buddhas directly and receive teachings from them in their full form as nirmanakaya or sambhogakaya. Instead, our only option is to connect with teachers in the form of ordinary individuals. Thus, we have cause to be grateful when we do receive Buddha’s teachings from these ordinary human beings. It is extremely difficult nowadays to find a lama who is completely without Read the rest of this article

27th Kagyu Monlam Opens in Bodhgaya – A Theme of “Gratitude”

December 24, 2009 – Under the Bodhi Tree, Bodhgaya

As His Holiness moved through the dawn mist yesterday to take his place under the graceful branches of the Bodhi Tree, the long-awaited 27th Kagyu Monlam was officially underway. The theme for this year’s prayer gathering is “gratitude,” and this theme was surely reflected in the hearts of the thousands of disciples who managed to bring together the conditions to be present in Bodhgaya after this year of economic turmoil.

The Gyalwang Karmapa opened Kagyu Monlam by offering the 24-hour Mahayana Sojong precepts to the immense gathering of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen. His Holiness has noted in the past that aspirations made by men and women together are more powerful and carry greater effects, as are the aspirations made by people holding vows. As such, the Mahayana Sojong ceremony is a particularly appropriate way to open Kagyu Monlam, since it allows monastic and lay to observe pure ethical discipline and so to strengthen the power of the prayers they make throughout the day.

During the second session of the day, His Holiness continued the reading transmission of The Life of Milarepa that he had begun in previous years. This year he will conclude that transmission, and in honor of that, the Read the rest of this article

Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teachings on Nagarjuna’s “Letter to A Friend” – Detailed Report

Setting the Scene – Early Morning, Tergar Monastery

Session One : Sunday AM

The following summary of the morning’s teachings is based on Ringu Trulku Rinpoche’s translation from Tibetan into English, except where the Gyalwang Karmapa spoke directly in English.

The teachings should have begun promptly at nine o’clock. Gyalwang Karmapa was seated expectantly on his majestically high, intricately carved and gilded throne. The sound crew was confident. Hours of preparation had gone into setting up the sound system: microphones, speakers, and the FM translation transmission system. At the final dress rehearsal everything had worked perfectly, but now suddenly, it took on alife of its own and began emitting high-pitched squeals, squeaks and whines. The audience sat patiently while the sound crew dashed back and forth, fretting over banks of equipment, antennae, cables and microphones. His Holiness smiled, pulled faces, and tentatively tapped his microphone. Finally the problems were resolved, and the teachings were under way.

Having greeted everyone warmly, Gyalwang Karmapa explained why he had chosen this particular text – Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend – because, not only did it thoroughly cover the Read the rest of this article

Extraordinary Teachings Come to an End

December 22, 2009 – Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya

2nd Annual Teaching for Foreign Students: Day 3

An extraordinary series of teachings by the Gyalwang Karmapa drew to its reluctant close today, as His Holiness completed the oral transmission of Nagarjuna’s “Letter to a Friend” (Suhrllekha) and selected verses for which he paid special attention. During the final morning session, his holiness offered strategies on how to use familiar Buddhist topics in fresh new ways. He suggested that there are ways that the contemplation of death and impermanence can generate a joyful appreciation for the value of our lives. His Holiness shared his own view of how meditation on Emptiness offers a direct support for the generation of compassion.

Included in His Holiness’ exquisite teachings this morning, he spoke of the Eight Worldly Concerns: of wanting praise, fame, material goods, and sensual comforts; and not wanting the contrary. His Holiness commented that, in general, there is nothing wrong with having a certain measure of comfort, praise and so on. The problem comes, he said, when we exaggerate their importance, feeling euphoric when good things happen and astounded or aghast when bad things happen. When we experience wild ups and downs in response to external Read the rest of this article