January 11th, 2009
The Last Day of the 26th Kagyu Monlam. His Holiness gave the Sojong Vows and precepts in the morning, the assembly recited the Twenty Branch Monlam. The second session concluded with the annual alms procession.
The Alms procession is from the Mahabodhi Stupa to the Deer Park it was instituted by His Holiness Karmapa five years ago to follow the traditional alms walk that the monastic of some Buddhist traditions make in their daily lives to receive their food. His Holiness also wanted for eight days to recreate, along with some other original Vinaya practices, the alms walk that ordained monastic undertook daily at the time of the Buddha.
The lay people and other monks and nuns gathered along the route of the procession eagerly waiting with their offerings of sweets, fruits, biscuits, nuts and dried fruits and snacks.
His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche led the procession, carrying the traditional monk’s staff. Behind him, and also carrying staffs, came Zurmang Garwang Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche. Then the most senior gelongs began to assemble and slowly made their way with the begging bowl in their two hands. They slowly and carefully walked, following the instructions in mindfulness of physical deportment and thoughts that His Holiness had given the evening before.
At the main entrance to the Mahabodhi Stupa, His Holiness Karmapa stood with Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche, watching the procession make its way through the entrance gates and out towards the Stupa courtyard.
Finally, as the monastics entered the Deer Park, they emptied their bowls for the last time and wait silently until all were assembled. His Holiness Karmapa and other lamas had already arrived from the Mahabodhi Stupa and observed the procession arrive and be seated. He then walked along between the rows of monastics, watching as the food was served out.
After chanting the food offering prayers and mantras, the begging bowls were raised, the food was eaten, and at the end of the meal final dedication prayers were recited. His Holiness left the Deer Park to return to Tergar Monastery.
In the afternoon His Holiness formally thanked all the sponsors, all those who had come, and those who had worked for the Kagyu Monlam, and gave his concluding remarks. Reviewing the results of the past year, he remarked that many of the monasteries had made their assemblies free from meat; and regarding the environment, ‘people are making attempts to do projects’.
‘There are changes in the environment’, he noted, ‘even in Tibet the ice is melting. This concerns people throughout the world. It’s about the life and death of the globe. This year I brought out a booklet on guidelines to protect the environment, to be spread everywhere.
Secondly, we are the practice lineage. Our main practice is meditation. There should be teachings on meditation in each monastery. The Lamas should make a program to meditate.
The practice lineage is not just a name. It means we have to do some meditation. We should encourage and train young monks and give emphasis to education. Let monks use their intelligence.
Buddha dharma is very much relied on the Sangha, not on individual Rinpoche or Tulku so it is very important to have a good discipline monastic system.
The Evening of Marme-Monlam
Gyalwang Karmapa take his place in front of the bodhi tree, at the head of the congregation, alongside H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, H.E. Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Zurmang Garwang Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and many other Rinpoches.
The evening began with the Short Chenresig Puja, All-Pervading Benefit of Beings which has the concluding aspiration.
The Refuge Prayer in Sanskrit and other Sanskrit verses followed.
After that small groups gathered on the steps below the red gate to offer prayers in their own language and musical style. This year a Chinese group came first, then Koreans, Vietnamese, and, lastly, English. The English group sang the prayer “One World, written by His Holiness himself, to a musical accompaniment on guitar and violin.
His Holiness beat a small gong three times. This was the signal for everyone to light their lamps for the Mar-me Monlam. The gelong and gelongma had lotus-shaped lamps; all-in-all there were more than 500 of these. In addition there were 2500 electric candles.
Next came Atisha’s Lamp Prayer. The Gyalwang Karmapa read the first part in Tibetan, Chinese, and English, and everyone repeated the lines after him. The other verses were sung.
May the bowl of this lamp become equal to the outer ring of this world realm of the great Three Thousands. May its stem be the size of the King of Mountains, Mt. Meru. May its oil fill the surrounding oceans. In number, may a hundred million appear before each and every buddha. May its light dispel all the darkness of ignorance from the Peak of Existence to the Incessant Hell and illumine all the Pure Realms of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions so they are clearly seen.
Last Day of 26th Kagyu Monlam, Jan 11, 2009
January 10th, 2009
The Akshobhya Saddhana was recited for two afternoons on 9th and 10th January, and on the evening of the 10th His Holiness completed the Akshobhya Ritual with a fire puja. This began at 8.30pm, His Holiness with the sixteen retreatants who completed the fifteen-day Akshobhya retreat, gathered in the main assembly hall of Tergar Monastery to bless the deceased. In addition to the names proffered by individuals, the list included those killed in the Burmese typhoon, those killed in the Sichuan earthquake, those killed in the earthquake in Tibet, those killed in the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks, and those killed in the floods in Bihar. The ritual took three hours and concluded close to midnight.
At the end of the ritual Gyalwang Karmapa and the other monks, carrying a container of the names of the dead, came outside to the fire which had been burning for some time. The people who had been waiting quietly outside gathered around them. His Holiness gathered a handful of name lists from the container, paused to bless them, and then threw them into the fire until the list was finished.
Kagyu Monlam: Akshobhya Ritual, Jan 10, 2009
January 10, 2009
Kangyur (the Tibetan name for the Buddhist sutras) procession is one of important ceremony of Monlam.
At the head of the procession came the incense bearer and four monks playing gyalin. They were followed by Khenpo Hye-Neung, of Karma Jang Chub Dzong, Korea, Ven. Mingyur Rinpoche, Ven. Kalu Rinpoche, Ven. Dhoenyo Rinpoche, H.E. Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche and H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. Then came the ninety-nine gelong and four gelongma, each bearing a volume of the Kangyur, balanced respectfully on their left shoulders, steadied and supported by both hands. They walked at a steady, dignified pace along the pre-planned route, which took them along the side of the Mahabodhi Stupa, before climbing the stairs to the outer circuit. They completed one circuit and then returned to the Mahabodhi Stupa. Everything went very smoothly, perhaps because the Gyalwang Karmapa himself had directed and supervised the rehearsals for the event.
The route around the outer circuit of the temple was lined with sangha and laypeople showing respect by offering lotuses and other flowers.
Reading the Kangyur
After the procession had completed its circuit, the texts were distributed between the different monasteries and nunneries for the second part of the ritual, when they are read or rather recited aloud. This year one of the most difficult sections to read – difficult because it contains many complicated Sanskrit mantras transliterated into Tibetan- was allocated to the nuns. This shows a growing confidence in their academic achievement, now that many nuns have access to a study program similar to the ones that monks have enjoyed for centuries.
Kagyu Monlam: Kangyur Procession, Jan 10, 2009
January 08, 2009
His Holiness said that regarding tomorrow’s White Tara empowerment, He will give preparation Tara teaching practice today.
The image of Tara can be seen in many monasteries and stupas in India. No monastery in Tibet is without Tara.
Tara is one of the most popular yidams in the Buddhist world and is part of Vajrayana practice. Generally, secret mantra should not be taught to those who are not suitable vessels for Vajrayana, mantra meaning mind (man) and protection (tra). Vajrayana is part of the Mahayana Tantra of outer actions and inner yoga (kryiya). When Vajrayana prevailed in China the outer kriya was more prevalent as lower tantras were more emphasised at that time. The main place for translation was Samye Monastery in Tibet and unless permission was obtained from Samye, higher yogas were not allowed.
There are different kinds of practice in Buddhism and different teachings for different people according to their level and experience. Those who are beginners at the first level are taught how to evade negative emotions. Those at a little higher level have paramita teachings, to face negative emotions and fight against them. At a higher level they are taught to consider negative emotions as enemies but to catch them and make friends with them.
Anything which is not an antidote to mind poisons must be given up, for example trying to get rid of circumstances through which we have attachment. Mahayana Bodhisattvas have power to transform attachment into loving kindness and compassion. We need to work against anger and hatred and there are different ways to do this, such as wrathful deities and transformation of whole appearances. The main thing is to transform appearance, to see the impure nature of appearance.
There are five wisdoms, for example mirror like wisdom, which is an antidote to ignorance (marikpa). There are different ways to generate wisdom and rikpa if we practice at that level, but if we are not ready for that practice it doesn’t work and can be a little dangerous.
It is said that if you practice Vajrayana you will be liberated in this lifetime, or eight or sixteen lifetimes. The main cause is the two accumulations together. To attain enlightened Dharmakaya, His Holiness gave two recommendations – positive deeds and respect for the Lama, to welcome him on his arrival and on his departure saying goodbye! These will contribute to the attainment of rupakaya.
Sometimes we talk about karma that is free from negative emotions. When you have completely cleared and purified subtle negative karma you will gain the wisdom body, but it’s difficult to have this.
In order to attain the two rupakayas you have to accumulate the reason or cause right now.
Shamata and vipassana practices directly lead to completing the form Buddha’s thirty two qualities. This is explained only in Vajrayana. There is a special method to lead to attainment, for example when we meditate as the yidam and through rays we purify, heal and transform other beings. So practice now, practice with skilful means. If you do this, there will be less difficulties to attain the result, cause and result must be similar. It is said that Maitreya Buddha, in a simple way of practicing, became enlightened. If we are skilful, directly working on the result of the two accumulations on the path, we don’t have to go through hardships. It is imperative to work on that – through Vajrayana we can swiftly attain Buddhahood.
Attain wisdom and compassion inseparably. You can’t have a result from a totally different seed. A result can only happen with causes, without causes nothing happens. The method is wisdom and compassion as inseparable and of the same nature.
Subtlest mind is clear light, always there from the beginning. Body, speech and mind are inseparable but at our level, we see these three aspects as something “out there”. Mind sees something separate. When you practice Vajrayana, wisdom and compassion together, understand that what you see isn’t separate.
Samsara is beginningless and even scientists are confused about this. They talk about the “Big Bang”, but what comes before that? They don’t know and in the same way we have the same problem. Look at my life. It is a continuation of my last life. After the last and this life, there was clear light, which happens at the time of death. There is white light, dark red light, more and more subtle then becoming natural state of mind, the essence of consciousness which we call clear light. Some people experience that, some don’t. Even though it arises, people don’t see it. Experience and emptiness are inseparable. If you can see it as clear light then death is no problem. At the time of Bardo we can become liberated. We must work on this and practice for the point after death.
We must understand the real meaning of Vajrayana, not just as ritual. It is more difficult to find that the Buddhas. There are thousands of Buddhas, but only Shakyamuni Buddha taught Vajrayana and we have met these teachings. There are three main specialties of Vajrayana. If you extract the essence of Vajrayana this is very good, but if you are only involved in mantra, rituals etc then this is not so good. You must understand the method. Lamas are extremely important. In Tibet they understood the importance of Lamas. Then the statues of Lamas were made and put in the main shrines so maybe you didn’t see Buddha Shakyamuni. That could be why it became known as Lamaism. We must not do what we did in Tibet because now we are connected with others. Practice in secret in our hearts, not to show off. Go according to what is appropriate to you. For example emptiness is important and if misunderstood can become nihilism, which is very bad and dangerous. It’s
When we do the empowerment we do not talk much, but you must understand it as well.
Meditate on emptiness. You might be apprehensive, emptiness maybe becomes a dark place. When I was young and had not studied much I had to meditate on emptiness. While examining everything disappeared. There was a kind of darkness, a strong fear in my mind. It was like a television going off. I was too afraid to sit and needed to go out for a walk. My teacher said yes, go for a walk. He had a white beard and I am afraid of him even now. Sometimes in contemplating emptiness people have sat down, gone mad and even vomited blood! For me it was a strong experience. Some say it’s good. Fear means you have thought about emptiness. I thought that this was maybe leading to nihilism.
When you analyze interdependence, there is a danger that it will go into nihilism. It is said that for beginners, it’s best to analyze from negation because if you look from the positive side you will find something. It’s like giving money to someone to buy something, he will find something to buy. From the negative side, every concept is negated then slowly you will understand emptiness. Understanding emptiness as nothingness is wrong, understanding emptiness through interdependence, relativity, is good. If you analyze emptiness through interdependence then nothing can go wrong. For example there is long and short. Long and short are relative to each other. Nothing is long or short within itself. There is nothing that is not relative to anything else.
Everything arises out of causes and conditions and there is nothing that does not have a cause and condition. The emptiness of a vase relies on the vase. Tashi is Tibetan. If there is no Tibet then there can’t be Tashi. If we meditate like this we can understand more clearly. Whatever you see in front of you look at it as emptiness. Everything is dependant of and relative to each other. Poison is poison and it can kill, but some animals eat poison and don’t die. Some do. Poison is poison to some, medicine to others. It is not a poison on its own. If it were poison on its own then it would not be beneficial to anyone.
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 persevered.
Gampopa too had to face great hardships. He was a householder with a wife and two children, until an epidemic killed first his children and then his wife. When his wife was on her deathbed it seems she was worried that he might remarry, but he reassured her that his only attachment was to the Dharma.
The First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, also had an interesting background. It is said that something happened when he was fifteen that changed his life. There are two explanations given, either he murdered his father’s enemy, or he murdered the man who ran off with his girlfriend. However as Dusum Khyenpa was quite ugly and looked like a monkey, perhaps his girlfriend had left him. Whatever happened, he became very sad and out of this experience came his decision to commit his life to practising Dharma. Gyalwang Karmapa grinned, “Because he was ugly, Dusum Khyenpa made a special prayer that in future all Karmapas should be handsome!”
According to His Holiness it seemed that when things were going smoothly we forgot about Dharma. This showed lack of commitment. It was essential to have determination and an aspiration that we put into practice. This applied not only to monks and nuns, but to householders too. If someone has never begun to do something, there was no problem, but if they had already made a commitment, they had no choice – they had to follow through to the end. A good person should never give up the Dharma.
His Holiness told a story about a pork butcher who killed a pig a day, and a total of 360 pigs a year. He was well aware of what he was doing, that his life was stained with blood, but excused himself, “It’s the only livelihood I’ve got. It’s not that I want to kill pigs, but that society wants pork.”
In this way, he transferred the blame and responsibility from his own shoulders to the larger community. But that is not how it is. Whether you are a Buddhist or not, it is of benefit to you to do something positive with body, speech and mind. If you are a Buddhist, you have promised to give up the ten non-virtuous actions and you have taken vows. If you disrespect these commitments and engage in negative actions, the result will not be good.
Next, His Holiness returned to the subject of breaking samaya. He explained that if you were unable to keep every detail of samaya, you might not be breaking the samaya, but, on the other hand, if you became careless or showed disrespect, you would be breaking the samaya, especially monks and nuns. You would be like someone who enlists, puts on armor, goes to the battlefield and then runs away. Continuing the analogy, His Holiness likened Rinpoches and Lamas to the generals, and the monks and nuns were like warriors. The enemy was the three poisons and the afflictive mental and emotional states. If you just give in when the enemy of afflictive emotions attacks, it is very shameful. You have surrendered to your enemy and become his slave. That is not the behavior of a warrior.
His Holiness pointed out that each of the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha were designed to work on one of the poisons. Every one of those teachings was like a sharp weapon against the poisons and afflictive emotions. All the commitments were about conquering them.
Sometimes people misunderstood the meaning of samaya. “Do you have a book called ‘Samaya’, please?” he joked. But, in essence, both samaya and tsultrim [ethical behavior] meant working on our negative emotions. We had to see the mind poisons very clearly as something really negative and undesirable. Then we had to work to overcome them, otherwise they would lead to suffering for ourselves and others, and to rebirth in the lower realms.
His Holiness used anger as an example. Sometimes, if he became a little angry, he confessed, he became aggressive. Some people considered anger and aggression to be helpful, but they were fooling themselves. “We are practising patience not kung-fu,” he quipped. If someone told us, “Kyakpa za!” [a common form of mild abuse in Tibetan meaning “Eat shit!”] Our response was usually “You eat shit!” but perhaps it would be better to think along the lines, “I wonder what it tastes like? Perhaps it’s sweet.”
When we realized the need to rid ourselves of these mind poisons, practice became an ornament not a burden.
His Holiness gave another example. If people who wanted to work for world peace failed to understand the negativity of the mind poisons, in spite of a fine aspiration, they could not succeed because all their endeavors would become mixed with pride, arrogance or other mind poisons, which infiltrated their good intentions. In a similar way, when someone wanting to work for the Dharma failed to understand the afflictive emotions the result could be like good food mixed with poison. If, for example, the person has the poisons of aversion and attraction, this could lead to sectarianism, so that even if they were trying to preserve the Dharma, because of the intrusion of their negative emotions, they would end up harming it.
His Holiness reminded everybody, “It is said that the Buddha Dharma is the source of all benefits, but that depends on being a good Dharma practitioner too.”
We needed to make the aspiration to be good Dharma practitioners, otherwise we would be selling the Dharma short, like selling something for 100 rupees when it was worth 10, 000.
His Holiness concluded by reasserting that the Dharma was the path to true and lasting happiness for ourselves and others. As to our own happiness, we had the choice to practice or not, but if we chose to work for the Dharma, more than our own welfare was at stake. We had committed ourselves to working for the benefit of all sentient beings, and that meant it should never be mixed up with envy, jealousy and pride. Sectarianism was particularly dangerous to the Dharma. Our work for others had to be based on compassion and the realization that other sentient beings are just like us in that they want happiness and they do not want suffering. We should view all the beings of the six realms as like our mothers.
His Holiness then led a short meditation on the Lord Buddha, when he was meditating in the area around Bodhgaya for six years, practicing asceticism.
His Holiness reflected on how we ourselves were like hungry ghosts, chasing after food, wealth, fame, and all the attractions of this life, never considering the next life, whereas the Buddha renounced the world in order to bring benefit to limitless sentient beings as vast as space. We were a disgrace to his name.
Later that day: Approximately five hundred members gathered in the assembly hall at Tergar Monastery, waiting expectantly for His Holiness. Seated quietly in rows, the array of races and nationalities truly illustrated the international nature of the Kagyu Monlam, and the bond of friendship through the Dharma which has united people from all five continents.
His Holiness arrived, walking briskly and energetically, he smiled and bowed his head before sitting down in an armchair specially placed below the dais.
Having recited a blessing, His Holiness gave a short speech, in which he compared the growth of Kagyu Monlam to the growth of a fruit tree. The seed had been planted twenty-six years ago, with the inception of the Kagyu Monlam in India, and now the tree had grown to maturity, its branches had spread and were fruit-bearing. Continuing the analogy, fruit trees needed the right conditions in order to grow, and His Holiness acknowledged the support and generosity of the Kagyu Monlam Members which had provided the conditions for the growth of Kagyu Monlam.
His Holiness then showed everybody a postcard-sized print of one of his own drawings, a White Tara, which he wanted to share with them. He apologized that it had not turned out as he would have liked, but assured everyone that he had drawn it with one-pointed concentration. It was a symbol of the one-pointed concentration with which he regarded all his followers, and was linked with the Tara empowerment he would give on Friday. Finally his hope was that by the merit accumulated from participating and supporting Kagyu Monlam, all those present would be absorbed into the Tara mandala of longevity.
Settling down with the prints on a table in front of him, His Holiness joked that he’d brought a lot of pens with him in order to sign the prints. Members then came forward, one-by-one, to present their khatags, and each received a freshly-signed print, the ink still wet, directly from the hand of the Gyalwang Karmapa.
Clutching their prints, the members moved reluctantly away from His Holiness and left the hall with radiant faces. Many had tears in their eyes. Through the power and grace of His Holiness, this had been an extraordinarily precious experience for everyone, a moment of transcendence, out of time and the ordinary dimensions in which we live our lives. It would be a memory to treasure when they returned home, a source of strength in the future, and a reassurance that the Gyalwang Karmapa sincerely holds every one of his disciples in his heart and mind.
26th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo: Jan 7, 2009
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 show them disrespect. We should never intentionally harm others. It was very difficult to live in a society where people disrespected and harmed each other.
His Holiness cited two reasons for engaging in ethical behavior.
The first was our responsibility to transform the society in which we lived because we were dependent on all the other members of that society. If it were full of negativity, non-virtuous actions and a general lack of compassion, there would be so much suffering and so many difficulties that we would find it very hard to live in a peaceful and positive way.
The second was that if we did not guard our own values, we might be ousted from society. Therefore we had to maintain ethical discipline, which meant practising the ten virtues of body, speech and mind. [The three related to the body are to abstain from killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct; the four related to speech are to abstain from lying, from slander, from harsh speech, and from gossip or meaningless talk; the three related to the mind to be avoided are covetousness, malice and wrong view. ] However, His Holiness commented, it was self-evident that a good person would not kill or rape. When society had to make laws to control behavior it was as a last resort.
Living by these ten virtues we could transform both our own lives and society. As a matter of fact, we didn’t have much choice in the matter, because positive deeds produced positive results. Those people who do great things for the good of others – such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama – are highly respected by other people and seen as indispensable to society. On the other hand, those who always engaged in negative actions were not respected, were viewed as bad people to be avoided, and ostracized. By engaging in good behavior we could bring peace and smiles to the faces of other people.
Many people had a tendency towards negative actions. People were often very selfish and believed that through negative actions they would fulfill their wishes very quickly. In contrast, those who did positive deeds were considering the well-being of lots of people; they were concerned for the welfare of the world and society. As dharma practitioners we should want to bring peace and well-being to all sentient beings. If things weren’t going well, we should remember the first line of the four immeasurable: “May all sentient beings be happy and have the causes of happiness”
This was not just a great aspiration, it was also something which was achievable. But we had to take action. In which case, what should we do? Basically we had to practice virtue, work on transforming our minds, and change our behavior. There were many types of virtuous actions described in the Dharma, but some were culturally dependent or archaic. The baseline was to be somebody who refrained from non-virtuous actions.
His Holiness went on to say that he thought people who committed suicide sometimes did so because, without help and support and with no one to love us, it was too difficult to live in such a gloomy world. He expressed some amazement that in some countries there are now self-help books on committing suicide. This was indicative of society’s failure. In the past, life used to be viewed as the most precious thing, but now knowing how to commit suicide had become a necessity.
Our responsibility, however, remained the same. Even if the whole world was filled with negative people and actions, still we had to do good. We had to make the aspiration to live truthfully and act ethically, showing love and respect to all other sentient beings. These days society was very difficult and full of falsehood, but without good people the world would lose all hope. Whether we were male or female, lay or ordained, we needed courage, sincerity and the commitment to be a good person. It wouldn’t be easy. Yet, however dark the world might be, we had to be a small lamp in that dark. From now, everybody had to take on that responsibility from today.
After singing another doha His Holiness instructed everybody in a short meditation focused on rooting out the three poisons. When you practiced Dharma, he told everyone, it was important to aim the arrow in the direction you wanted to go, and reminded the assembly that they were the lineage holders of Panchen Naropa and should not disgrace his name. If you did nothing about the three poisons, he advised, your dharma practice would not be Dharma. These three poisons could not be destroyed in one go; you had to work on them day by day. He gave the following visualization of the three poisons.
At the navel is a blue pool or lake which represents attachment, because it is as if we drown in it. At the heart is a red fire representing hatred and aggression. At the forehead is blackness and darkness in the form of smoke or a cloud. This represents ignorance.
In the sky above is Buddha Shakyamuni or your own root guru. You request blessings from his body that all 3 mind poisons be eliminated. From his forehead a pure white light radiates, from his heart centre a red light radiates, and from his navel a blue light. Visualise the blue light entering your navel, the red light entering your heart, and the white light entering your forehead, thus eliminating all three poisons.
So once more, in front of the bodhi tree, in the shadow of the Mahabodhi temple, the Gyalwang Karmapa led the Kagyu Monlam assembly in five minutes of meditation, before concluding the morning session with The Great Aspiration Prayer.
Consecration ceremony at the Bangladeshi Buddhist Monastery
26th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo: Jan 6, 2009
His Holiness Karmapa gave a short commentary:
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, “The great master practiced this way, and I disgraced him.” We should be grateful to the great masters and take them as our model. We look at Milarepa and say, “This was an extraordinary person, but it’s not possible to do what he did”, rather than take him as an example to follow.
We also need to be aware of interdependence. The environment supports us, all the plants and trees that grow, and yet we mindlessly destroy it. We cut down the forests, and claim every bit of land we can, without a thought for the environment and the other sentient beings with whom we share it. We forget that all the basic necessities which we need to live are provided by myriad beings - even a cup of tea. There’s a tea-bush, and the tea-picker, and then we need milk or butter, and the person who made the tea – so many people are involved in order to sustain our lives, we should remember them with gratitude. Instead we just gulp the tea down and never consider the kindness of others. This is not what Mahayana Buddhism teaches. A Mahayana Buddhist has to understand interdependence and appreciate the kindness of other sentient being with deep gratitude.
Mao Tse Dung said that religion was poison to society. Indeed, Gampopa said that if you do not practice dharma in the correct way it can lead to rebirth in the lower realms. So we really have to understand the dharma and practice it properly.
At this point, the chant masters led the singing of Milarepa’s doha, on how to see the face of the deity.
Then His Holiness taught a meditation visualizing the Lord Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment – smiling, eyes filled with love, and a radiant golden glow, and, for five minutes, everyone sat silently on meditation.
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.
In the words of His Holiness:
This year’s Monlam has several special features which reflect His Holiness’ concern to develop peace, harmony and understanding between different peoples and religions, making it a truly international festival.
THE MONLAM PRAYER BOOK IN EIGHT LANGUAGES
This has now been translated from the original Tibetan and published in Hindi, Chinese, English, French, German, Korean and Spanish.
A MANDALA CONTAINING STONES FROM 101 COUNTRIES
A specially constructed mandala shaped altar, with Mt. Meru at the centre, has been filled with pebbles from all five continents of the world and 101 different countries, symbolizing the earth and all her peoples. Bringing the pebbles together symbolizes bringing together their minds and wishes. The collection also includes two meteorites. There will be a special blessing ceremony to bring peace and happiness and well-being to all corners of the globe. The mandala will then be dismantled , the stones packed into special individual boxes, and the boxes distributed to foreigners attending the Monlam, who will take them back to their countries. So the stones will once more be dispersed to all five continents, carrying the blessings with them.
THE MAIN ENTRANCE GATE
This year’s entrance gate is constructed from wood and covered in colored cloth. The five colors of the cloth – white, green, yellow, blue and red - are known as the ‘wisdom’ colors. Each represents one of the five Buddha families. Suspended from the gate are banners of the mantra: Om Pemo Uni Kha Bema Le Hung Phat. This mantra has powers of purification so that all who pass through the gate during the Monlam festival will receive some spiritual benefit.
ASPIRATION PRAYER BANNERS
These have been hung along the stone palisade near the back gate. They show aspirations from all over the world: in Tibetan, Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish and Korean. His Holiness’ intention is to raise awareness of how people of different cultures have different concerns, hopes and aspirations.
ASPIRATION PRAYER GATE
HH Gyalwa Karmapa
Detailed biographical information about His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is available from the drop down menus above. The materials are divided into:
17th Karmapa (His Holiness's current activities and schedule)
Background (Kagyu history regarding predictions about the 17th Karmapa)
In Tibet (His Holiness's early years, enthronement in Tibet and activity at Tsurphu Monastery)
In India (The Karmapa's escape to India and activities in India)
Reference (Official releases from the Kagyu Office and historical background documents referenced in other sections)
When not traveling, His Holiness holds regular public audiences at his temporary camp at the Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University in Dharamsala, HP, India
Kagyu Office of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa (about the Kagyu Office)
Web pages © Kagyu Office except as noted in the text of the page or on the copyright notice page (click link for copyright information); photographs, drawings and images © Kagyu Office except as noted in the text of the page or on the copyright notice page (click link for copyright information)
Web design by His Holiness Karmapa's Office of Administration