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The 29th Kagyu Monlam: Day Four

4 March, 2012 Bodhgaya

This morning began with another first.  H.E. the Fourth Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Chökyi Nyima gave the Mahayana Sojong vows to those gathered before dawn at the Monlam Pavilion for the very first time. The surrounding fields resounded with the chattering of waking birds, as, in a deep voice, reminiscent of the Gyalwang Karmapa, the sixteen year old led the congregation for the first time.

Significantly, this Monlam, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche has assumed a more prominent role. Earlier, he was in evidence at each session of the Gutor Mahakala Puja, supporting the vajra master Gyaltsap Rinpoche. In addition he gave a short teaching on Calling the Lama from Afar and led the Subduing the Ground vajra dance.

Born in Central Tibet on November 26, 1995, Rinpoche was located  in the summer of 1996 by a search party following instructions given by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. During this Monlam, His Holiness commented how, of all the recognitions of trulkus he made while he was in Tibet, this was the one he experienced most strongly and clearly.  Jamgon Kongtrul Read the rest of this article

The 29th Kagyu Monlam: Day Three – Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teachings on the Pure Realms to the East and West

3 March, 2012 Bodhgaya

According to science, this earth is the only planet where all of the positive conditions exist for human life. So to have all the conditions necessary for life is very rare. And human beings have a special quality that other beings lack: we are able to distinguish right from wrong. Many species of living beings have become extinct, but among those that exist, humans are the most intelligent because they have the capacity for ethical or moral discernment, knowing which actions are positive and which are negative. It is not just a matter of gain and loss in the short term; we can also comprehend what is beneficial in the long term. But even though we have this capacity, so far we have not used it very well. We tend to only look at what is good for ourselves in the short term, but we do not look closely enough at what is best for everyone in the long run. On top of that, for our own benefit or that of our immediate communities, we mistreat other groups of beings and create a lot of damage and loss of life. In this way, because of negative human activities, many beings have been killed and have become Read the rest of this article

The 29th Kagyu Monlam: Day Two – Mahayana Sojong Vows

2 March, 2012 Bodhgaya

At the close of the first day, the chief chötrimpa (disciplinarian) gently chided some of the monks for being late for the first session of the Monlam. Today, everyone was on time.

The session began with Gyaltsap Rinpoche bestowing the Mahayana Sojong vows, proceeded on to the refuge prayers in Sanskrit, and then on to the Twenty Branch Monlam. The Gyalwang Karmapa  attended the second session of the Monlam but not the other sessions. He worked busily in his quarters with preparations and audiences. He also visited the Nyingma Monastery and dropped in on the gelong and gelongma who eat lunch in the shrine room at Tergar Monastery. In the evening he went to the Monlam Pavilion to supervise the final rehearsal for the evening performance of “Karma Pakshi” on the 3rd March.

Gyalwang Karmapa’s teachings on the pure realms to the East and West

—Day 2

March 2, 2012, underneath the blue arch of the Monlam Pavilion, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued to teach on the pureland of Sukhavati (Dewachen). Yesterday, he talked about Read the rest of this article

The 29th Kagyu Monlam: Day One – Mahayana Sojong Vows

29 1 March, 2012 Bodhgaya

The sounds of auto rickshaws reverberated through Bodhgaya in the wee hours of March 1st, 2012 as monks, nuns and laypeople made their way to Tergar Monastery to attend the first day of the eight-day Kagyu Monlam prayer festival, and to receive Mahayana Sojong vows. Sojong vows taken for the benefit of all beings are called Mahayana sojong vows.

The Tibetan word sojong is the equivalent of the Sanskrit uposatha. The reason why the vows taken in our tradition are called the Mahayana sojong vows is the unique motivation. Ordinary uposatha precepts are usually taken with the intention to purify one’s negativities and to attain one’s own liberation. However, if we take these ethical vows with the intention of benefiting all beings, then – owing to the great power of motivation – the results of maintaining self-discipline are immeasurably bigger.

The sun was yet to rise but the sky was already luminous. Hundreds Read the rest of this article