March 27, 2010 - Dharamsala
This beginning of the 15th Shoton festival, an annual celebration of Tibetan Opera (Lhamo), was blessed and inaugurated by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The event opened at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamsala on 27th March, 2010. His Holiness presided at the TIPA performance as the chief guest. From all over India and Nepal, Tibetan Opera associations from Tibetan communities came together to perform Tibetan dramatic arts. Through dramatic performances of song and choreographed dance, vibrant traditional Tibetan artistic practices were expressed.
In Tibet, Shoton is held annually from the end of the sixth month to the middle of the seventh month (according to the Tibetan Lunar calendar) and traditionally celebrates the coming of spring and a generous harvest
This year, the participating performance company will travel to six Tibetan Schools in the Dharamsala area, to introduce this historic Tibetan art and opera to the younger Tibetan generations. The school tour commences from Lower TCV on 29 March, 2010.
The Shoton will conclude on 6th April, 2010.
10 day Tibetan Shoton Festival
March 12, 2010 - Gyuto
His Holiness presided over the two-day Tantric Dialectical Examination of Gyuto Tantric University.
The examination is held every three years. In the presence of His Holiness and Khenpos, over 70 Geshe Lharimpas who have completed their studies of the four classes of tantra: Kriya Tantra, Carya Tantra, Yoga Tantra, and Annuttarayoga Tantra, took their Tantric Dialectical Examination. All the examinees came from the main three monasteries: Sera, Drepung, Gaden, and other 6 monasteries.
The previous Dalai Lama, The 13th Dalai Lama, introduced the first Tantric Dialectical Examination at Gyuto Tantric Monastery in Tibet.
Dialectical Examination of Gyuto Tantric University
March 4, 2010
The Office of Administration of His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa (Tsurphu Labrang) at Gyuto Tantric University has been reorganised. The new structure will take effect from March 4th, 2010, for a term of one year, with responsibilities allocated as follows:
1. Thupten Sherab: Director of Finance and Accounts & Secretary Tibetan
2. Lama Phuntsok: Director of Information and Communication
March 4, 2010 - Gyuto
At 7 am this morning, His Holiness bestowed the inaugural prayers for the appointment of new office bearers who have now been assigned to look after the different sections of Karmapa's Office of Administration (Tsurphu Labrang).
The prayer was attended by both Chagzoes, Ngodup Palzom.
The newly appointed office bearers are:
Appointment of the new Administrative Office
February 28, 2010 - Delhi
His Holiness gave a Chenrezig empowerment and "Mani" transmission to a large gathering of people, mainly from Himalayan region and Tibetans, at Buddha Jayanti Park in New Delhi. The Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association of Delhi organized the public teaching.
March 2, 2010 - Dharamshala
Gyalwang Karmapa attended the Tenshug (long-life prayer offering) ceremony for His Holiness the Dalai Lama on March 2nd, as a collective expression of gratitude and reverence for his leadership, organized by Tibetan Government-in-Exile. Kyabje Sakya Trizin conducted the ceremony that lasted for over three hours.
The ceremony was attended by Tibetan lamas, the Tibetan Prime Minister Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche and his cabinet members, speaker and deputy speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, heads of the autonomous bodies, and other officials of the Tibetan Government.
Gyalwang Karmapa will be attending the seven days teaching of Sangwa Due-pe Delwa Shidak from His Holiness Dalai Lama at Tsuklagkhang from March 3-9.
Delhi Teachings and Long Life Prayers for His Holiness The Dalai Lama
February 21st to 24th, 2010 - Nagpur
By the invitation of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) and the India Tibet Friendship Society, His Holiness visited Nagpur, Maharashtra from the 21st to the 24th of February, 2010.
On route from the airport to Ravi Bhavan, his place of residence, His Holiness visited Deekshabhoomi and felicitated two memorials of Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, also known as Baba Saheb Ambedkar. (He was the person who was responsible for bringing about the Buddhist Movement in India amongst the Indian people. He was also the person who wrote the Constitution of India, which was amongst his many achievements.) In the afternoon, His Holiness had a press meeting at Partakar Bhavan, Sitabuldi, and thereafter proceeded to a reception and a religious discourse organized by the People’s Democratic Movement. The program was hosted by the PDM and presided over by Dr. Nitin Raut, Honorable Cabinet Miinster, Govt. of Maharashtra. The Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) is an educational, cultural, social, literary and intellectual forum based on the philosophy of Tathagat Mahakarunik Bhagwang Gautam Buddha and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar based in Nagpur, Maharashtra.
In the evening His Holiness had an informal meeting, dialogue, and dinner with representatives of various other religious heads of Nagpur.
On the 22nd, His Holiness visited Shantivan, which is a museum displaying the life and relics of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, and also visited other important Buddhist and religious institutions, such as the Buddhist Education Centre at Naglok, the Monastery at Buddhabhumi, and Dragon Palace. Thereafter, His Holiness proceeded to the Tibetan Settlement at Goathangoan in Gondi District, where he was accorded a traditional welcome by the monasteries, lay community, and school children of the settlement.
On the 23rd, His Holiness gave a teaching in the morning, and in the afternoon he visited the school, the elderly home, the medical centre, the Settlement Office, and the Nyingma Monastery.
On the 24th, His Holiness gave a Long Life initiation and teachings to the communities of the Settlement. The Settlement hosted a cultural show and Tibetan opera for His Holiness in the afternoon.
On the 25th, His Holiness departed for Nagpur Airport at 6:00am, and en route, he was hosted a reception by the India Tibet Friendship Society, at the Circuit House, in Bandara District. After the felicitation ceremony, His Holiness gave a brief religious talk to the gathering, and thereafter proceeded to visit centers of other religions, beginning with Reshmi Bhavan (i.e. a Hindu Temple in Nagpur) and was felicitated by Dr. Gupta, Head of the RSS Office. Thereafter His Holiness visited the Gurudwar (A Sikh Temple) and held a brief community prayer with the members of the Gurudwara. He then proceeded to visit the Chatholic Church of St Francis De Sales and the SFS College, where he interacted with the members of the Church and gave a talk to the gathering there. On route to the Airport of Nagpur, he also visited the Masjid and the Bhrama Kumari Ashram, where he was accorded a warm welcome.
Upon arriving from Nagpur at Trivandrum Airport, Kerala, His Holiness was received by Mr. Anand Kumar, Trust Founder and Executive Director of Sai Gramam and Sri Sathya Sai Orphanage Trust, Kerala.
On the 26th, in the morning, His Holiness provided a brief talk to a gathering at the Sai Ashram. In the afternoon, after a press meeting, he inaugurated a seminar on “Tibetan Cultures and Spirituality”, which was presided over by Sri C. Divakaran, Honorable Minister for Civil Supplies, Kerala.
On the 27th, in the morning, His Holiness inaugurated the Buddha Temple at Sai Gramam, Thonakkal, Kerala. In the afternoon, he proceeded to the Airport after a lunch hosted by the Trust Founder and Executive Director, Mr. Anand Kumar. The lunch was hosted at Mr. Kumar's residence.
Karmapa's Tour of Central and South India
February 20th, 2010 - Foundation for Universal Responsibility, Delhi
Continuing his teachings in Delhi, Gyalwang Karmapa today delivered a talk on compassion in the morning, and concluded the series in the afternoon by offering a transmission and guided meditation on the practice of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. The teachings on ‘Cultivating Compassion’ were organized by the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, an organization founded by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama with the Nobel Peace Prize awarded him in 1989.
During the morning session, Gyalwang Karmapa affirmed that compassion is a basic quality innate to us all. Using the analogy of the sun hidden behind clouds, he explained that although our compassion may not be apparent or fully manifest at the moment, it remains present with us as part of our nature despite whatever temporary impediments may conceal it from view. The obstacles that prevent our compassion from shining forth can be cleared away precisely because, unlike compassion, they are not integral to our basic nature.
Drawing on Buddhist teachings on sugatagarbha or buddha nature, His Holiness explained that what may be described as the seed of enlightenment is naturally present with all sentient beings. What allows that seed to grow, and what drives the limitless increase of our qualities, is compassion, he said.
Turning to practical tools for developing our compassion, Gyalwang Karmapa took what he called an eclectic approach, selectively drawing on different aspects of various Buddhist presentations. His Holiness began by underscoring the importance of having specific objects of our compassion. At times, he commented, when we try to include all sentient beings, our focus is too vague and our compassion becomes something abstract. He recommended instead to begin with a particular person whose kindness to us we feel clearly. Generally for this practice we take our birth mother, as someone whose great love and care for us we are able to feel vividly, although His Holiness acknowledged that not everyone has the same experience in their relationship to their parents. In any case, once we have been able to generate an intense feeling of compassion towards whatever person we are taking as our object, we then extend it to include others who are similar to them.
Gyalwang Karmapa observed that one common technique for enhancing compassion, known as the sevenfold cause and effect practice, instructs us to begin by reflecting that all sentient beings have been our mothers in one life or another, and thus have all shown us great kindness in the past. But those who have little conviction in the existence of past lives might instead simply reflect that everything we receive even just within this lifetime comes from others. Thus all others have been of great benefit to us in this life. The world today has become much smaller, and it is increasingly clear that what affects one corner of the world can impact the entire world. We who live together on this planet are very much dependent on one another, and in fact share this world due to our strong karmic connections with one another. All the positive things in our lives come from others, His Holiness stressed. This is true not only of the material goods that sustain our lives, but of such intangible things as our reputation and fame. Even if you arrogantly feel you are the most important of all, that pride or sense of superiority itself is utterly dependent on the existence of others, he noted!
Thus our interdependence on others, and the fact that our wellbeing depends on them is not a thought exercise, Gyalwang Karmapa said. It is simply a recognition of the actual reality of our situation. By familiarizing ourselves with the fact of others’ kindness to us, we can come to feel great affection and tenderness towards them. Just as children can come to feel tremendous affection for their stuffed animals, not wanting any harm to come to them or to be parted from them, so too we can habituate ourselves to feel love and compassion for others.
His Holiness cautioned that whatever compassion we do develop should not be kept hidden in our heart or left behind when we leave our shrine room. Compassion needs to be expressed in our actions, with our speech and physical gestures, he said.
In the afternoon, Gyalwang Karmapa gave an oral transmission of the Chenrezig practice known as All-Pervading Benefit of Beings, composed by the fifteenth century Tibetan master Thangtong Gyalpo. His Holiness explained that he was raised in an environment saturated with the practice of Chenrezig. In particular, his maternal grandmother and his mother had both been deeply devoted to the practice of Chenrezig and frequently chanted his mantra. His Holiness felt that growing up surrounded by the sound of Chenrezig’s mantra had left important imprints on him. Some parents bequeath material wealth to their children, but His Holiness left home too early to inherit his family’s wealth. Rather, what he himself had received as his patrimony—or, in his case as a sort of maternal inheritance, he said—was the practice of Chenrezig. For that reason, His Holiness stated, when he makes Dharma connections with those who come to see him at his residence in Dharamsala he does so by transmitting the Chenrezig practice and mantra to them. He hopes in that way to be creating familial bonds of affection with those he meets. By transmitted the Chenrezig mantra and practice to the group gathered today, he said, it what his wish that those present be joined with him in one large and loving family.
Gyalwang Karmapa then gave a brief explanation of the meaning of the name of Chenrezig and the symbolism of the four arms and other attributes. This was followed by the transmission itself, after which His Holiness guided a brief meditation and visualization of the practice. At the conclusion of the teaching event, His Holiness personally presented each participant with a rosary (mala) and a copy of his book, Heart Advice Book for the Karmapa.
Many of the attendees of the event remained on site long after His Holiness had departed, exchanging impressions and sharing the joy of having have been present during this extraordinary set of teachings.
February 19th & 20th, 2010 - India Habitat Center, Delhi
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa today commenced a two-day series of teachings in Delhi at the invitation of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility. The foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to him in 1989. The topic for this second set of teachings the Gyalwang Karmapa has given at the foundation was ‘Cultivating Compassion.’ As the talks were addressed to a general audience including Buddhists and those curious about Buddhism, the Gyalwang Karmapa offered practical tools for developing greater compassion, while philosophically grounding his call for greater compassion in Buddhist teachings on interdependence.
The teachings consisted of four sessions, morning and afternoon and included a question-and-answer period at the end of each session. The first morning opened with a warm welcome from Rajiv Mehrotra, an award-winning filmmaker and talk show host who manages the foundation at His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s behest.
The Gyalwang Karmapa began his first talk by noting that compassion is core to all Buddhist traditions, and can rightly be called the essence of the Buddha dharma. He then drew a distinction between compassion that focuses outwards and compassion that focuses inwards. When we look outwards and observe the suffering of sentient beings, and feel a wish to remove their sufferings, this is what we generally call compassion. When we look inwards and observe our own suffering and wish to end it, this is called renunciation. These two forms of ‘compassion’ are distinguished primarily by the object on which they focus. Different Buddhist vehicles may stress one more than the other, yet Gyalwang Karmapa noted that both consist in the basic wish to remove suffering, either that of oneself or of others.
Continuing to clarify the relationship between working for ourselves and working for others, His Holiness commented that the scriptures speak of three types of bodhisattva. The highest are able to accomplish both their own aims and the aims of others at the same time, the middling type accomplishes the aims of others and the lowest accomplishes their own aims. Although the idea that there are bodhisattvas working to further their own aims might seem counterintuitive, in fact, His Holiness explained, without taming our own minds it is unrealistic to expect that we will be able to tame others. This does not mean that bodhisattvas give up the idea of working for others: far from it. Rather, some bodhisattvas—who may be likened to beginners like us on the path—recognize that they are currently unable to benefit others, yet they make strong aspiration to be able to do so in the future. On that basis, they engage first in the three higher trainings of ethics, concentration and wisdom in order to equip themselves to be able to benefit others.
In this sense, His Holiness urged the audience to cultivate affection for themselves. To truly cherish ourselves entails recognizing what is of real benefit and what is of harm to us, His Holiness emphasized. To that end, we need to think deeply and use our basic analytical intelligence. For example, we may treat others with contempt with the idea that this furthers our own interests but in fact it only harms us in the long run.
Although it is possible to achieve liberation from our own suffering simply by developing our wisdom, and specifically the wisdom realizing ultimate reality, this would only result in our own liberation, Gyalwang Karmapa pointed out. As principled human beings, it would be out of the question that we escape alone samsara’s cycles of suffering and leave everyone else behind to continue suffering. Especially in Buddhist teachings where we are urged to consider that all sentient beings have been our mothers in past lives and have raised us with great tenderness and kindness, it would be an act of ingratitude for us to strive solely to free ourselves from suffering.
Yet to be effective in working for the well-being of others we need to understand their individual dispositions, capacities and needs. Gyalwang Karmapa commented that this requires great wisdom and, ultimately, omniscience, since sentient beings are infinite and so are their dispositions. For that reason, out of compassion wishing to alleviate the sufferings of all sentient beings, bodhisattvas seek as their final goal the omniscient state of buddhahood.
In the case of our own cultivation of compassion, since at the moment we ourselves are also inundated with an ocean of sufferings, we cannot simply neglect our own condition and solely seek to care for others. Rather, we must cultivate a sense of affection and genuine love towards ourselves, and care for ourselves on that basis. His Holiness gave the example of wanting to make charitable donations. To do so, we need to possess wealth of our own to give, he said. In that sense, if we wish to bring about the wellbeing of others, we have a responsibility to work on our own minds as a means of developing the inner wealth to offer to them.
His Holiness opened the afternoon session with one of the initial verses from Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara, or Entering the Middle Way.
His Holiness stressed that the seeds of compassion that will ripen as buddhahood do not need to be bought in a store or imported from anywhere else. They are naturally present within us. But they do need to be planted and tended with care and attentiveness. Using the example of his own experience as a small child in a nomad family in Tibet, His Holiness recounted his own intense emotions when he saw animals brought to be slaughtered for meat. At that time he did not even know the word compassion much less what it signified, he said. Yet despite the intervening years of studying Buddhist texts and his facility in uttering such phrases as ‘may all sentient beings equaling space be happy,’ no experience of compassion he has had since then can compare to that spontaneous response to the animals’ suffering he had as a child, Gyalwang Karmapa said. This indicates that we do have the innate seeds within us, he added. But just as a tree needs roots that go deep into the ground to hold it firmly in place and to draw water that sustains the entire tree, so too we need to root compassion deeply in our hearts, and we need to allow our compassion to become stable so it can support our further growth.
In that regard, the Gyalwang Karmapa stressed the component of choice in the cultivation of compassion. If we want to plant a forest, he said, we cannot simply wait and hope that the wind might blow the seeds to some spot where the conditions are right for them to grow. Rather we must choose to begin the process, and then follow up with consistent action; not only do we need to choose to plant the seeds but also to tend them mindfully by giving them the water they need in the right amounts at the right times.
His Holiness wryly noted that he once had the thought that since there are bombs that can instantly kill hundreds of people at the same time, it would be nice if we could make a bomb of compassion that would suddenly alleviate the sufferings of hundreds when it exploded and make them all burst into delighted laughter. As wonderful as that would be, it is not possible, Gyalwang Karmapa said, precisely because ordinary bombs rob us of our lives against our will, while the development of compassion is not something that can be done to us against our will. We must voluntarily wish to develop compassion. In that sense, compassion involves personal choices, and brings us freedom. By contrast, our afflictive emotions remove our freedom and place us under their control. Compassion gives us the opportunity to take control of our own lives.
For the remainder of the day’s teachings, Gyalwang Karmapa turned his attention to the cultivation of patience or forbearance. He stressed that patience or forbearance does not imply merely putting up with adversity or forcing oneself to bear hardship. Rather, His Holiness said we must actively train ourselves to see the faults in our afflictive emotions, such as anger. This recognition must not be limited to seeing them as partially faulty, of sometimes inappropriate and other times good. Rather, we must gain a clear certainty that our anger and other afflictions are completely and fully faulty. With that certainty, we will be prepared to defend ourselves against them. Gyalwang Karmapa gave the example of a person who has already decided that they do not want to do something. If they are then asked to do it, they can say no without hesitation or doubts. In the same way, if we have determined ahead of time that there is nothing whatsoever to be gained from following our afflictive emotions, that knowledge will fortify us against them when they do arise.
Gyalwang Karmapa Commences Two-Day Teachings on Compassion in Delhi
Report of Events from January 21 – February 18, 2010
Gyalwang Karmapa Receives Teachings from Yongzin Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
Fulfilling the primary purpose of his visit to Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath, Gyalwang Karmapa has been meeting daily with his senior tutor, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, to receive the oral transmission and commentary on Maitreya Buddha’s Five Sets of Dharma.
Hevajra Puja Cycle, January – February 2010
In 2002 to ensure that a high level of knowledge and experience of the major tantras was maintained in the Karma Kamtsang lineage, His Holiness gave various monasteries particular responsibility for the practice and study of specific tantras, and guardianship of the Hevajra tantra was entrusted to Vajra Vidya. From 13th January - 6th February, the monks of Vajra Vidya performed an extensive cycle of Hevajra practice. On February 6th, His Holiness himself attended the concluding sessions of the puja cycle.
Four Days of Teachings for International Students, 6th – 9th February, 2010
Responding to an unanticipated request from his foreign disciples present in Sarnath, His Holiness gave four evenings of impromptu teachings on Aspiration Prayer for Mahamudra (Chagchen Monlam), a text by his predecessor the Third Karmapa, Je Rangjung Dorje. The teachings were attended by a small group of just over 100 international students from 31 different countries, and will be made available online at www.kagyu.org.
Teachings to the Kagyu Association of the Central University for Tibetan Studies - 7th February, 2010
On February 7th, Gyalwang Karmapa taught on and gave the oral transmission of Community Dharma (tsog chö), a rarely-taught text by Dusum Khyenpa, the first Karmapa. The day of teachings included a morning and afternoon session. The event was opened with a welcome speech by Gen Wangchug Dorje Negi, and closed with an expression of gratitude by Khenpo Sogyal, both professors at the Central University for Tibetan Studies.
Gyalwang Karmapa addresses the staff and students at the Central University for Tibetan Studies - 11th February, 2010
His Holiness was invited to address the faculty, staff and students of the Central University for Tibetan Studies on February 11th. In his speech, the Gyalwang Karmapa emphasized the great opportunity that the university presents for followers of different Buddhist lineages to learn about and from one another, and also exhorted students to develop expertise in specific areas of study, such as social sciences. The vice chancellor of the university, Geshe Ngawang Samten, opened the function with a welcome speech. The event concluded with a warm praise of His Holiness by the university’s most senior professor, the highly respected Geshe Yeshe Thabkey.
Mahakala Puja, 8th – 12th February, 2010
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)
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