Transcript: An Explanation of the Kagyu Monlam logo by the Gyalwang Karmapa December 29, 2007
On December 29, 2007, His Holiness talked movingly about protecting the environment in a speech in Bodhgaya:
“There is a new logo for the Monlam this year, and I would like to explain it.
“Throughout my life I have always felt that the outer natural elements and my own mind are close. I have a special connection with the four elements. I am not being superstitious and saying I can talk to the elements, but sometimes it feels that way.
“Ever since the human race first appeared on this earth, we have used this earth heavily. It is said that ninety-nine percent of the resources and so on in this world come from the natural environment. We are using the earth until she is used up. The earth has given us immeasurable benefit, but what have we done for the earth in return? We always ask for something from the earth, but never give her anything back.
“We never have loving or protective thoughts for the earth. Whenever trees or anything else emerge from the ground, we cut them down. If there is a bit of level earth, we fight over it. To this day we perpetuate a continuous cycle of war and conflict over it. In fact, we have not done much of anything for the earth.
“Now the time has come when the earth is scowling at us; the time has come when the earth is giving up on us. The earth is about to treat us badly and give up on us. If she gives up on us, where can we live? There is talk of going to other planets that could support life, but only a few rich people could go. What would happen to all of us sentient beings who could not go?
“What should we do now that the situation has become so critical? The sentient beings living on the earth and the elements of the natural world need to join their hands together—the earth must not give up on sentient beings, and sentient beings must not give up on the earth. Each needs to grasp the other’s hand. So doesn’t the Monlam logo look like two hands clasping each other?
“Its shape is also similar to the design of the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa’s Dream Flag of peace and serenity, which is used regularly among the Karma Kamtsang. If I were to make up everything myself, I doubt it would have any blessings, but using the previous Karmapa’s design as a model probably gives this blessings.
“This is a symbol of the Kagyu Monlam. We hold the Kagyu Monlam for the benefit of the entire world. We will not give up on the earth! May there be peace on earth! May the earth be sustained for many thousands of years! These are the prayers we make at the Kagyu Monlam, which is why this symbol is the logo of the Kagyu Monlam. I also think this might become a symbol of people having affection for the earth and wanting to protect it.
“Now I will boast a bit. As I mentioned before, I am the one who designed this logo. I have the strong feeling that I am connected to the natural elements. Technological devices do not agree with me. I feel most comfortable using natural things. When I use technological devices, my body feels rather uncomfortable, although I have no choice but to use them.
“Both the body and mind are strongly connected to the unaltered, natural elements. Because I made this logo, I think it could probably provide some protection against dangers from the natural elements of the external world. But do not think that this logo alone will protect you: if you jump into fire or water while wearing it, you will still die. It is first and foremost a symbol that we are not giving up on the earth.
– reported byTashi Paljor
Transcript: Kagyu Monlam Chenmo’s Concluding Speech from His Holiness on 28th of December.
After the Kagyu Monlam was completed, His Holiness met with many of the organizers and participants to thank them:
“The 25th Monlam Chenmo is completed, not only in this place. I believe it is also completed in everybody’s heart.
“It could be said the reason why I am leading the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo’s work is because I am the head of the lineage; I am the person who bears the name of Karmapa. However, it can also be said that it is because I believe that everyone in this work team has been my family for many lifetimes, either my parents, or other relatives. Therefore, with gratitude, I plunge into the task, hoping that I can make everybody even happier.
“While working during the Monlam, maybe due to some temporary circumstances, you may sometimes have felt upset or uncomfortable, but from the ultimate perspective I believe Kagyu Monlam Chenmo is the spring of happiness and joy. And this is also my good wish for everyone. I am not at all concerned if I could continue to lead Kagyu Monlam Chenmo in the future. What I am concerned about is whether everyone involved can work together harmoniously with one mind, and make Kagyu Monlam proceed in accordance with Dharma.
“Taking myself as an example, as leader of this Monlam, I cannot say that I have not made any mistakes in the process. Even though I have made many mistakes, as long as I am alive, even for one day, I will continue to devote myself to Kagyu Monlam. Why? This is because I hope, I wish to benefit every one of you, and even if I cannot bring real benefits to everyone, as long as my two feet are still planted on this earth, I want to bring you joy and happiness. And this has always been my wish.
“This time, there are so many people who have come to attend Monlam from all over the world. They all went back to their own countries full of joy. And this is the sign that Kagyu Monlam has really accomplished something.
So if it is just us, and we say that the monlam was successful, it doesn’t mean much. The real sign that Monlam is completed with satisfaction is to see that every participant’s heart is full of joy and peace, and will bring with them the feeling and the experience of compassion to their own home country. This is the success of Monlam.
“Why is it possible for Monlam to bring so many people such joy? I am only the planner; the one who really executed the plan is Lama Chodrak and everyone in this room. Because of your hard work, you made so many people so happy.
“If we want to talk about the mistakes we made – there are too many to talk about. It is understandable that we all make mistakes, but this time I really saw that everyone is completely devoted to pure Dharma with their body, speech and mind. So I want to thank everybody again. I want not only to thank you but I want to dedicate the merit of this Monlam to all of you. May you all be happier and happier in this life and in future lives and become closer and closer to perfect happiness. And I pray that everyone may never be separated from Karmapa’s activities, life after life.
I also want to say that compared to the difficulties you encounter working for the monlam, seeing the joy arising in so many people is even more powerful. I believe hundreds if not thousands of people are already eagerly awaiting the next Monlam. They are already asking when it is. I hope that for the sake of those who are waiting for the next Monlam, all of you will work together for it. Even though you may have made some mistakes working for the Monlam, I want to assure you that I will never give up on any of you because of the mistakes you might have made. Kagyu Monlam is not worldly work; you will not be fired because you did not perform well. In common worldly jobs in general people are selected based on their ability and performance, but not Kagyu Monlam. Kagyu Monlam wishes to give more people the opportunity to be involved. As long as you have the wish, as long as you identify with the purpose of Monlam, I welcome you.
” While working for the Monlam, you may have felt some afflictive emotions: you might have got angry or felt that somebody is jealous of you, or that some people took advantage of you, but if you decide to quit because of this problem of the afflictive emotions, then you should tell yourself, compared to those who make you angry or get jealous of you or take advantage of you, or abuse you, the one who trusts you is even more important. So you shouldn’t retreat because of those who are jealous of you or want to hurt you, you should march on because of the person who trusts you.
“Finally I want to thank all the Chinese workers. You have participated in different teams at the Monlam. You have worked hard and well. I trust you fully and I hope you will continue with your good work and become the pride of all the Chinese around the world.”
His Holiness also thanked all the westerners who worked for the Kagyu Monlam and encouraged more people from western countries to participate. – reported byTashi Paljor
Medicine Buddha teaching at the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, December 26, 2007
HH Gyalwang Karmapa spent one session teaching on the Medicine Buddha sadhana, ‘A Sadhana of Menlha, Compiled from the Clear Expanse of Mind, A Mind Treasure Found Within the Sky of Dharma Texts called, “A Stream of Vaidurya”.’
He began by emphasizing that bodhicitta is the most important factor in one’s practice. Only through bodhicitta can one attain enlightenment, and whether one’s practice is a Mahayana practice or not is determined by one’s motivation of bodhicitta. Everything is connected with bodhicitta; there is nothing that is not. May the bodhicitta arise in those where it does not exist, and may it increase more and more in those where it does exist.
Then, Gyalwang Karmapa talked about the origins and history of the Medicine Buddha Sutra. Lord Buddha taught the Medicine Buddha Sutra in Vaishali to a gathering of 80,000 monks, 36,000 bodhisattvas, Chenrezig, Vajrapani, Manjushri, devas, humans and non-humans, and his teachings were good in the beginning, middle and end. It was Manjushri who stood up in the assembly and requested Shakyamuni Buddha to teach the Medicine Buddha practice to those beings who have inner and outer sufferings, and who live in the midst of degenerate times.
Gyalwang Karmapa went on to discuss Tibetan Buddhist history from the time of the first king, Nyatri Tsenpo, when the Bon religion existed in Tibet, and how Buddhism came to Tibet from India at the time of the great King Songtsen Gampo, and the pre-eminent translator Thonmi Sambhota, who began to render texts into Tibetan at that time.
Gyalwang Karmapa described the time of King Trisong Deutsen and the construction of Tibet’s first monastery of Samye. There was no monastic sangha in Tibet at that time, but Shantarakshita who came from Eastern India brought the Sarvastivadin lineage to Tibet and began to ordain a small number of virtuous people into the monastic tradition. He did so as a test to see whether they could uphold monastic discipline.
It was also Shantarakshita who first promulgated and practised Medicine Buddha in Tibet, to help the King. He offered the King the short, middle and long practices, and the King chose the middle length practice. After Shantarakshita, Atisha DIpankara, who founded the Kadampa tradition, spread the Medicine Buddha practice, and it was through him that the practices of the 16 Arhats and Medicine Buddha spread throughout Tibet and became very important.
Gyalwang Karmapa explained that generally such practices as Medicine Buddha belong to the Kriya Yoga class of Tantra, but some Kriya Yoga practices are related to Anuttarayoga Tantra. This Gong-ter or Mind Treasure Medicine Buddha sadhana, although based on Kriya Yoga, is an Anuttarayoga Tantra practice and more specifically belongs to the class of Ati Yoga practices. For this reason, an empowerment and transmission are needed to practice it.
Next, Gyalwang Karmapa discussed the benefits of the practice. He said that faith and trust in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is the seed of enlightenment or liberation, but he cautioned against blind faith and the faith that just prays for and expects desired results without having proper cause. Faith develops gradually, like making a clay image which begins as a rough shape only. It is important to understand the reasons why faith and trust can develop and become genuine.
Atisha made strong prayers that whomsoever would hear the name of Medicine Buddha would be rid of the sufferings of the lower realms. The name of Medicine Buddha is so powerful that it has the capacity to clear the sufferings of beings, especially in this degenerate age. The Medicine Buddha Sutra states that in the time when deadly new diseases appear and are hard to cure, the power of Medicine Buddha will become even stronger. It is said that the practice may even have the power to revive people who have already died. Although other mantras may lose their power in degenerate times, the Medicine Buddha mantra becomes more powerful, and it is especially important to recite it during these times.
Some diseases can benefit from medicine, but some cannot. In some places there are hundreds of sick beings and very few doctors, so there can be little treatment. In these cases, Medicine Buddha practice can be dedicated to those suffering beings.
Gyalwang Karmapa said that the Medicine Buddha practice can be included in either Sutra or Tantra, but Shantarakshita based the practice in the Sutra tradition. Many sadhanas are based in Tantra, and many Medicine Buddha practices are included in Kriya Yoga Tantra, so it is also not out of place if it is included in the Tantra. Gyalwang Karmapa also explained that, since the practice comes from the Nyingma tradition, recitation of the words and meditation upon the meaning should be done concurrently; meditation should not follow the recitation.
Then, Gyalwang Karmapa briefly went through the sadhana itself and described the sections beginning with refuge and the receiving of blessings. He explained that the self visualization and front visualization should be performed at the same time, but that as the practice is primarily included in the Sutra tradition, visualization does not need to be as precise and clear as in the Vajrayana. Then followed the invitation, bestowing of offerings and praise sections. During the mantra recitation, Gyalwang Karmapa said to focus the mind on the mantra rosary in the hearts of the self and front visualizations radiating light, and then to recite the mantra with good concentration.
Finally he gave the lung for the practice.