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Returning the Buddha’s Words to the Source: Kangyur Procession

2014.01.13
January 13, 2014

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya

Echoes of enlightenment

The morning dawns grey and foggy on the third day of the Monlam, as all gather at the Monlam Pavilion where the Gyalwang Karmapa once more gives the day’s Sojong Vows.

Shortly afterwards he leaves the stage to prepare for the Kangyur Procession, the only major activity of the 31st Kagyu Monlam scheduled to take place at the Mahabodhi Stupa.

2500 years after Shakyamuni Buddha attained awakening beneath the branches of the sacred Bodhi Tree, today the Gyalwang Karmapa returns a complete copy of all the Buddha’s words—known in Tibetan as the Kangyur—to the place of origin, the centre of the Buddhist universe.

These are words born of an enlightened mind that have since spread out in all directions, like golden threads weaving through time and space, and that still linger thousands of years after they were uttered.

Yet the Buddha’s words themselves are merely an imprint, a captured representation of the Read the rest of this article

The Way of the Authentic Practitioner

Eight Verses of Mind Training, Session 2

January 12, 2014

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

 

The Gyalwang Karmapa enters the Pavilion as usual from the right side, walking around to the front with security guards on all four sides, while monks with incense and jalings precede him. Going up the three stairs, he stops to make three bows before taking his seat on the throne facing the thousands who have gathered for this second talk. After a mandala offering, more than a hundred people fill the main aisle all the way out to the gate near the road; they hold their long scarves in white, and yellow and slowly walk down the aisle to make their offerings. The Karmapa relates to each one as they pass in front of him, sometimes reaching out his hand to touch their head, sometimes nodding, sometimes giving a slight smile. He then makes his own prayers and begins his talk with thanks to all who have been working so hard.

He begins with the second verse:

    Whenever I’m in the company of others,
    
I will regard myself as the lowest among all,

    And from the depths of my heart
Cherish others as supreme.

An authentic Read the rest of this article

More Precious than a Wishfulfilling Jewel

Eight Verses of Mind Training, Session 1

January 11, 2014

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

After a night of continuous rain across Bodhgaya, the first, brief rays of sunlight finally emerged just as the Gyalwang Karmapa prepared to begin his first teaching of the 31st Kagyu Monlam Chenmo.

In the lead up to the program, he had earlier explained his choice of texts for this year’s activities. During the pre-Monlam teachings the week before, he had taught for three days on Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye’s text, The Torch of Certainty. And, for the teachings during the actual Kagyu Monlam itself, he chose to teach on the Eight Verses of Mind Training by the great Kadampa master, Geshe Langri Tangpa.

The reason for this particular combination of texts, the Gyalwang Karmapa explained, goes back to the Kagyu founding luminary Gampopa, who skilfully combined both the Kadampa and Mahamudra traditions. This year, the Karmapa explained, he wanted to also combine texts from these two traditions during his Bodhgaya activities as a conscious reflection of Gampopa’s accomplishment, in modern practice.

The Gyalwang Karmapa began the teaching by explaining how the Read the rest of this article

The 31st Kagyu Monlam

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January 11, 2014
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

Arriving at the centre

In the pitch black of the early morning, as lines of people make their way to Tergar Monastery, a rare winter rain falls steadily over Bodhgaya. Arriving from all directions they converge at the centre of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s vast mandala, the Monlam Pavilion, where his Buddha activities are about to commence.

The wet, muddy paths mean the usual long queues are fast-tracked, and people pass relatively quickly down the slippery driveway. They enter through the Monlam welcome gate, adorned with fluttering prayer flags and rows of fairy lights glowing in the early morning darkness.

Inside the vast pavilion, clouds of fragrant incense permeate the space as the neatly laid out mats gradually fill with people. Rows of monks and nuns, heads freshly shaven, sit wrapped in their warm winter dagam cloaks, while lay people bundle up in thick coats and blankets to ward off the pre-dawn chill.

At 6am the sound of gyalings pierces the darkness and all Read the rest of this article

Gyalwang Karmapa’s Introduction to the Tsechu Lama Dance


Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya, India
January 10, 2014
The tenth and twenty-fifth days of the lunar month are significant times for practice. The outer reason is that according to tantric teachings, on these dates, the heroes and yoginis from the twenty four sacred sites naturally gather to bless the yogi. The inner reason is that the meditator’s subtle channels, winds, and essence drops naturally gather around the central channel on these dates, so they are a superior time for meditation. The secret reason is that if a yogi performs a puja with the particular samadhi of the secret mantra, there is especially great merit.

Another reason why the tenth day is significant is its association with Guru Padmasambhava. Many in Tibet consider that Padmasambhava was extraordinarily kind to the Snow Land of Tibet. He himself said that in the future he will actually come on the tenth day of every lunar month to bless his followers.

The History of the Tsechu Puja

The Tsechu Lama dance arose 800 years ago from the pure visions of Guru Chöwang. There are long and short versions. The long is called the black hat dance, and the short the white horse Read the rest of this article