December 22, 2009 – Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
2nd Annual Teaching for Foreign Students: Day 3
An extraordinary series of teachings by the Gyalwang Karmapa drew to its reluctant close today, as His Holiness completed the oral transmission of Nagarjuna’s “Letter to a Friend” (Suhrllekha) and selected verses for which he paid special attention. During the final morning session, his holiness offered strategies on how to use familiar Buddhist topics in fresh new ways. He suggested that there are ways that the contemplation of death and impermanence can generate a joyful appreciation for the value of our lives. His Holiness shared his own view of how meditation on Emptiness offers a direct support for the generation of compassion.
Included in His Holiness’ exquisite teachings this morning, he spoke of the Eight Worldly Concerns: of wanting praise, fame, material goods, and sensual comforts; and not wanting the contrary. His Holiness commented that, in general, there is nothing wrong with having a certain measure of comfort, praise and so on. The problem comes, he said, when we exaggerate their importance, feeling euphoric when good things happen and astounded or aghast when bad things happen. When we experience wild ups and downs in response to external conditions of praise, material goods and so on, our lives become totally unstable, as if we were constantly riding violent waves on a turbulent ocean. His Holiness offered a definition of cyclic existence, or samsara, as “things not working out,” or “things going wrong.” Just as it makes no sense to feel shocked when we are scalded by boiling water – since it is the very nature of our existence for things to go wrong – there is no point in feeling shocked when that indeed happens. If we can maintain this perspective on the nature of cyclic existence, our minds can become vast enough to hold both the good and bad experiences of life, without them overwhelming us.
Along with the advice he gave to help students create happiness for themselves, His Holiness vividly displayed his own personal commitment to work, himself, for the happiness of others. In response to a question from the audience on the possibility of him offering full ordination to women (bhikshuni or gelongma vows) in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, His Holiness expressed “great hope” that it would come about in the future. He added that this is not something that should be rushed, as it is an activity for the long-term benefit of the Buddhadharma, and has to happen at the right moment. In a demonstration of his exceptional courage in accepting the responsibility of working actively for the benefit of others, His Holiness added, in English, “I will do it,” but asked the audience to be patient in waiting for the right time.
At the conclusion of the teachings, Lama Chokyi Senge offered words of thanks to His Holiness on behalf of the audience. Recognizing His Holiness as a skillful gardener, who is carefully preparing the fields of students’ minds, the French translator requested His Holiness to continue caring for us and showering us with the warmth and moisture of his Dharma teachings.
Mandala Offering being made to His Holiness.