9th April, 2013 –Gyuto Monastery, Dharamsala.
Meeting recently with a private group of 300 advanced Mahamudra students, the Gyalwang Karmapa explored what it means to be an authentic Buddhist. The group of international students had travelled to Gyuto Monastery to seek the Gyalwang Karmapa's heart advice in an annual tradition, after recently receiving the Level 6 Mahamudra transmissions from Kyabje Tai Situ Rinpoche.
The Gyalwang Karmapa began his teaching by observing that it's difficult if we merely call ourselves dharma practitioners or Buddhist followers in name, without really understanding the essence of being a true Buddhist. "Sometimes the most important thing is to be a good person, a good human being. This is very important," he began. Turning to himself as an example, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, "For example, in terms of me myself, sometimes I think I'm a real Buddhist follower or a real Buddhist student, because I was born in a Buddhist family and raised in a Buddhist environment, in a monastery. I think I'm the real sort of Buddhist practitioner or follower. But if you really think carefully about it and discover, 'Oh, maybe I'm a Buddhist practitioner or follower, but I'm not sure if I'm a good human being or not,' then that is a little bit funny."
Urging the students to cut to the core of being an authentic Buddhist, he continued, "So maybe the point is to confront ourselves with the question: am I really a good person, a good human being? Because that is what characterizes being an authentic Buddhist."
The Gyalwang Karmapa then returned to a key theme of his heart advice, that the essence of religion should be internal. He drew a clear distinction between merely following the external customs or traditions of religions, rather than the inner transformation of the mind. "We are involved in religious traditions with whatever degree of religiosity, and that means following certain traditions, or maybe more often they're just customs. But does it mean that we should be steeped in the external customs and traditions? Should religion come from outside us? Or should it be something we invoke within ourselves and cultivate within ourselves?"
Urging the students gathered to put the instructions they've received into practice, the Gyalwang Karmapa offered his support. "I want to encourage all of you to continuously engage in the practice," he said, "so that as long as you live you have this sense of determination and conviction to continue the practice."
23rd March 2013 - Gyuto, Dharamsala
"I have been a supporter of Earth Hour for the past three years and am happy to continue the tradition this year as well, by turning off the lights for one hour on March 23rd, from 8.30 to 9.30 pm. It might seem like a small gesture but Earth Hour represents the unified voice of hundreds of millions of people around the world who want to see practical climate change solutions and to see them now. It is an hour when all of us who are concerned about the terrible impacts of climate change are interconnected and determined in our resolve to prevent further climate tragedies. The moment for climate wisdom has arrived. I join Earth Hour in urging the international community to come to a climate agreement that protects the poor, stabilizes climate, prevents further droughts and floods, and develops clean energy." – His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
22nd March 2013 –Tashi Jong, Dharamsala.
On the 10th day of the second month, the Gyalwang Karmapa was Guest of Honor at Khampagar Monastery's 300th anniversary of the sacred Padmasambhava Garcham (Guru Rinpoche Lama-Dance).
Arriving early in the morning at Tashi Jong, the Gyalwang Karmapa's motorcade passed through crowds of well-wishers lining both sides of the road before he was greeted by His Eminence the Khamtrul Rinpoche, Abbott of Khampagar Monastery, Dorzong Rinpoche and Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche. The Gyalwang Karmapa was then led into the main shrineroom and seated on an ornate throne where he received mandala offerings from His Eminence Khamtrul Rinpoche.
Moving outside into the main courtyard for the Cham, the Gyalwang Karmapa sat under a gold and red canopy to watch the sacred dances, with sangha and over a thousand lay devotees filling the courtyard on all sides. As the Gyalwang Karmapa watched, His Eminence Khamtrul Rinpoche entered the mandala of the dance ground and personally led the dancers through a series of sacred Cham.
The Gyalwang Karmapa then gave a short talk for those gathered, emphasizing the powerful blessings embodied in the sacred dances. "The Cham is not for entertainment," the Gyalwang Karmapa said, "but rather a form of sacred tantric practice. We have to visualize the person who wears the mask, who wears the appearance of the deity, has transformed himself into the deity," he explained. "So even if we don't have the merit to see Guru Rinpoche directly, if we watch the Cham with pure devotion we can see the deity through the dancers, and receive the deity's blessings through them."
As the Tibetans inside Tibet are showing strong 'courage' and 'determination', the Karmapa called upon the exile Tibetans to offer their prayers and work towards the unification of Tibetans. 'This is our unavoidable responsibility,' he said.
The Gyalwang Karmapa continued to watch as the dances resumed after lunch, at times rising from his seat with respect as eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche were displayed. "Guru Rinpoche is the one who spread the dharma in Tibet like the sun," he said, "and so we should always remember his great kindness."
This particular Garcham, composed by the 3rd Khamtrul Rinpoche, celebrates the birth of Guru Rinpoche and was performed for 300th consecutive year. Many other eminent Drukpa Kagyu masters also attended the festivities, including His Eminence the Dorzong Rinpoche, His Eminence the Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche, and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. In addition, special invited guests included Jagat Singh Negi, Deputy Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly, and Ravi Thakur and Kishori Lal, both Members of the State Legislative Assembly.
12th March 2013 - New Delhi
New Delhi, 12th March 2013 - Today, the Gyalwang Karmapa visited Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, who is recuperating well after a recent road accident. His Holiness spent more than a hour visiting Ling Rinpoche at his farmhouse in suburb Delhi, giving advice and showing affection.
9th March 2013 –Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath.
Today, the Gyawang Karmapa accepted a request for a talk from the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India. Sitting majestically on an elaborately carved throne, he first received ceremonial scarves from the faculty and administration of the University.
The Karmapa began his talk by encouraging people to take a larger, long-term view of the Tibetan situation and think about the ways to improve it. The University has an excellent library, which can serve as a support for extended research. It is also true that many Tibetans now live in India, the ancestral home of Buddhism, and this provides another opportunity for research. Indian has many of the remains of Buddhist civilization but if you look around there are no individuals at these sites holding the tradition. In Tibet, however, the tradition was preserved in lineages passed from teacher to student down to this present day, so the two situations are complementary, and Tibetans can give back to India something Indians themselves can respect.
On the other hand, there are also things that have been disappointing. Some people, including Tibetans, are refuting Buddhism; however, we can use this as an opportunity to look for new reasonings and responses that will develop fresh experience. If we look back at Tibetan history, we can see another difficulty: the greatest problems have come from divisions between the religious traditions. What can we do about it? We can look at the whole range of religious traditions without a sectarian focus. This is extremely important, for it has been said in the treatises that if Buddhism comes to an end, it will not be from outside forces but from the competition between various religious traditions. We can all succumb to this, and so everyone has to be careful. We should reflect on all the detrimental effects of sectarian rivalry and make a commitment not to get involved.
When we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, we do not say I take refuge in the Buddha of my tradition, in the Dharma of my tradition, and in the Sangha of my tradition. We take refuge in all the Buddhas, in the complete Dharma, and in the entire sangha. If we do not let go of our own opinions, how can we decide what is true? It is difficult to say if one teaching is good or bad. For example, the teachings on emptiness are not for everyone, so if someone is not ready, that Dharma is not appropriate for them. The same is true for the Secret Mantrayana. Therefore, we should keep our minds open and free of prejudice. The Dalai Lama's teachings have spread throughout the world because he relates freely to all religions and all traditions of Buddhism. If we can have a similar intention and openness, our activity can also spread. Making connections with others is very important, especially if we look at the long-term. Afterward, the Karmapa's talk was translated into Hindi, and he generously gave a blessing to each of the students, which included monks and nuns, lay men and women.
7th March 2013 –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
On the 25th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan calendar, the Day of Dakinis, the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over special puja centered on the deity Vajrayogini. The Day of Dakinis celebrates female wisdom-deities, while Vajrayogini is considered to be the supreme manifestation of female enlightened energy. With His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche also in attendance, the puja assumed an extra dimension of tantric potency and sacredness.
The Gyalwang Karmapa began his preparatory rituals and the consecration of the mandala in the closed gompa several hours before the actual puja began. The puja was restricted to only those who had previously received the Vajrayogini empowerment. At 7pm the registered participants were invited inside to participate in the evening ritual, which stretched late into the night. Throughout the puja the Gyalwang Karmapa was adorned in a sacred costume and crown, each piece laden with tantric symbolism.
5 March 2013 –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
In a powerful ceremony, on the afternoon of 5 March 2013 the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over a sacred puja on behalf of those who have recently passed away. The puja, called the 'Korwa Dhung Drup', was dedicated to all sentient beings particularly to Pema Lakshi, the sister of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche.
The Gyalwang Karmapa, His Eminence Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, as well as the entire sangha. With these three masters in attendance the puja was extraordinarily powerful, and was an especially strong cause for liberating the consciousness of those who have passed away.
During the early stages of the puja, sacred visualizations and invocations were made to Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. The Gyalwang Karmapa then burned the names of the deceased in a powerfully symbolic ritual, directed the consciousness of those beings towards the pure realms of Dewachen, thus helping to liberate them from lower rebirths.
1-7 March 2013 –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
One of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa's core interests has long been to revive the "Thongwa Gyue-pe Chaglen" (unbroken ritual practice) and to modernize the education available to all Karma Kagyu monks and nuns. With this goal in mind, the Gyalwang Karmapa has this week been chairing a weeklong 'Workshop on Monastic Education' at the Vajra Vidya Institute. Key persons who are attending the discussions, including His Eminence Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, who has travelled to Sarnath especially for the Workshop, as well as Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Chant-masters(Umze), Discipline-masters(Choetrimpa) and Ritual-masters(Chopon) mainly from Rumtek Monastery.
The discussions are aimed at improving all stages of the monastic education system, from the earliest level right through to Shedra (university) level. One of the key ideas being explored is to add several modern subjects into the curriculum, such as Science and English language, in order to give monastics a more rounded education. The Workshop participants are also considering ways of combining the traditional strands of Shedra (university-level study), with Drupdra (ritual practice), so that individual monks may more easily benefit from both these specializations.
1 March 2013 –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
On the afternoon of March 1st the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over an extensive puja dedicated to the long life of his main tutor, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.
"Our Lord of Refuge, Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche, is now in his old age," the Gyalwang Karmapa said, as he announced the puja to the entire sangha. "But he is still present, and so hopefully he can remain and continue to bring benefit to the teachings and to beings. He is someone who has spent his entire life practicing the dharma, through both the teachings of scripture and through practice. At this point in Rinpoche's life I feel that even if we hear just a tiny amount of Rinpoche's speech it will be very beneficial, and I truly believe this. By doing this puja we can please the lama and ask him to remain, so the aim of doing this is for Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche's long life."
The puja, called 'A Ritual of Offerings to the Gurus' (Lama Chöpa), began with prayers recited in Sanskrit. The Gyalwang Karmapa then led the assembly in reciting the liturgies for a full three and a half hours, with Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche seated to his left. Hundreds of monks, nuns and lay devotees, including many international devotees, joined their voices with the Gyalwang Karmapa's in making united aspirations for Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's long life.
"The other day," the Gyalwang Karmapa said, "on the 15th of the Tibetan month, Rinpoche went to great effort to do the long-life puja and long-life offering for me. He prayed so that I might have a long life. In addition, all the members of the sangha made great aspirations and prayers that I would live long, as did all of my dharma friends who are here. And so I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart."
28th Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
Day 7 Report
On the final day of his weeklong Spring Teachings, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, shared some thoughts about his own life. He began the session by openly reflecting on his life situation, compared to the vast accomplishments of the previous Karmapas.
"From my own perspective, I'm growing older and older but I have this feeling that up until now I still have not really done much to bring benefit to Buddhism and sentient beings, or anything to be satisfied with. When I look at the activities of the previous Karmapas, from a very early age they all did vast activity for the benefit of the teachings and for the benefit of sentient beings. Putting aside whether or not I can be compared to the other Karmapas, but as a follower of the Karmapas I still do not really feel that I have been able to do the same amount of benefit for beings and the teachings."
The very name 'Karmapa' contains the seeds of vast accomplishments within it, since the name means 'the one who accomplishes enlightened activities', or 'the embodiment of all the Buddha's activities.' And yet, the Gyalwang Karmapa said, he personally is surrounded by many difficulties and problems.
"I have the name of the Karmapa, and so I need to fulfill the role of the Karmapa and do the activity of a Karmapa. But performing the activity of a Karmapa is no joke. It is not easy. It is extremely difficult to do. In particular, it is extremely difficult for an ordinary being who has all the faults in his being to be able to try to perform the activities of Buddhas, who have removed all of their faults. This is extremely difficult. Although I'm still young I'm surrounded by many difficulties and many problems. Personally my life is very difficult."
And yet, despite all these difficulties, the Gyalwang Karmapa expressed his innate aspiration to be able to continue to help the beings of this world.
"The Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas, and especially the previous Karmapas, have taken care of me with their compassion and their great affection, and they have given me in particular this special opportunity to be able to do something for the benefit of beings and the Buddhist teachings. There are many people who expressed that they feel like I am necessary, and that I am of benefit to them. And so for that reason I have the aspiration that I may be able to stay in this world-realm and be able to accomplish something of benefit for Buddhism and for sentient beings."
With this pure aspiration to be able to benefit beings to the full extent of his extraordinary capabilities, the Gyalwang Karmapa drew the Spring Teachings to a close. "I don't know whether or not these teachings have been beneficial for you," he said, "but they have been beneficial for me. When you teach the dharma to others it sort of encourages and inspires you yourself. You have all been coming here to the teachings and many people in different countries have been watching and taking great interest, and I'd like to thank all of you very much."
27th Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
Day 6 Report
On the sixth day of his Spring Teachings the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, cut straight to the core of an issue that is vital not only for the sustainability of our contemporary world, but also within our individual lives as Buddhist practitioners. Exploring the topic from many different angles, the Gyalwang Karmapa discussed his views on whether Buddhist practitioners should eat meat or not, and if so, when and how it may be acceptable to do so.
"A few years ago at one of the Kagyu Monlams I spoke about the topic of vegetarianism, giving up eating meat. You could say it was an announcement, but it was really like making a suggestion. Since then many years have passed, and over the years I've heard people say various things. Some people have even said, 'Oh, Ogyen Trinley Dorje says that if you don't give up eating meat then you're not a Kagyupa.' Now, it actually wasn't me who said that. It was the 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje who said that. So it wasn't my idea, and it's not like I said you better give up meat or else you're not a Kagyupa."
In fact, there are different ways we can interpret the 8th Karmapa's advice, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa continued. If we take a looser interpretation of Mikyo Dorje's words, then by eating meat you can say that you're not a truly pure Kagyu practitioner. "There are many great Kagyu masters who have eaten meat, so it is very difficult to merely say that eating meat means that you have faults. But eating meat is something that all of us who practice the dharma need to think about very carefully."
The Gyalwang Karmapa, himself a pure vegetarian, then turned to his own life as an example. "When I spoke about this, I was primarily thinking about the way I lead my own life. I can't really do anything about how other people lead their lives, but in terms of thinking about myself there are some reasons for this." He then explained two key reasons that he personally does not eat meat. The first reason is the intense suffering that the animals who are killed go through. Every single day millions of animals are killed to feed us, and many are subjected to terrible conditions to provide us with food. Just a few days previously the Gyalwang Karmapa had shared a story of how, as a child in Tibet, when animals were killed for his family's food he felt unbearable, pure compassion for them.
The second reason he doesn't eat meat, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, is because of his Mahayana training in seeing all sentient beings as his mothers. "We say I am going to do everything I can to free sentient beings from suffering. We say I am going to do this. We make the commitment. We take the vow. Once we have taken this vow, if then, without thinking anything about it, we just go ahead and eat meat, then that is not okay. It is something that we need to think about very carefully."
The Gyalwang Karmapa then acknowledged that there are some circumstances in which eating meat is allowed, or even necessary. He explained that within the Buddhist Vinaya, or rules for monks and nuns, eating meat is allowed mainly when one is ill, but only if three conditions are met: we must not have seen, heard, or thought that the animal was killed particularly for us to eat it. Meat is allowed when a person is sick, the Gyalwang Karmapa clarified, or for those people who need more nourishment and have great difficulty nourishing themselves without it.
"But when you eat meat in these situations you should not just eat it in an ordinary sort of way," he continued. "You first need to meditate on compassion for one session—compassion for all sentient beings in general, but especially for this particular animal whose flesh is in front of you. Then you should recite the mantras of the Buddha's name, as well as mantras that can help purify misdeeds. Only then should you start eating the meat."
Yet his guidance did not stop there. Returning to the Mahayana training of seeing all sentient beings as mothers, the Gyalwang Karmapa explained further. "When you start eating the meat you have to think about it in a particular way. You should think of it as being the meat of your mother or your father or your child. You should think of eating it in that way, and so it's when you think of it as being your mother's or your child's meat, then that is when you can eat it."
We must also have a pure motivation when we eat the meat, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued. "We should not eat the meat in order to enjoy it, because it is delicious. We should not eat it because we want to enjoy the great flavor and savor what we are eating. Instead we should eat the meat only in order to keep ourselves alive."
To avoid any misunderstanding, the Gyalwang Karmapa repeated the need for each individual to reflect deeply on the issue: "Now, I did not say that we need to immediately give up eating meat. I understand that it's difficult to give up eating meat. But I did say that we need to think about it carefully. When we eat meat, if we are someone who has entered the path of the Mahayana, someone who has begun to think of all sentient beings as their father, their mother, or their child, in terms of someone who practices in this way it's really something that we need to consider very carefully."
26th Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
Day 5 Report
As the Spring Teachings entered their fifth day, the Gyalwang Karmapa began to explore the role of devotion in our practice. Teaching from a new instruction within the 'Tri Thung Gyatsa' text, he began by explaining that devotion is critical for our dharma practice, particularly within the Kagyu tradition. And yet, it isn't all that easy to correctly develop devotion.
First we need to understand what devotion means. Drawing a clear distinction between faith and devotion, the Gyalwang Karmapa said, "When we think about faith, then faith is like a feeling we have in our minds. But devotion isn't just a feeling. It's not just an emotion. It's something that we put into practice with our body and speech."
To illustrate his point, the Gyalwang Karmapa then explained the meaning inherent within the Tibetan term for devotion, mo-gü. The first syllable of the word means to have great longing, he explained, while the second syllable means actually doing things with our body and speech. Only by bringing these two elements together can we fully understand the active nature of devotion, which is more than a mere emotion or feeling. Rather, devotion means an act that we do with all three spheres of our being – our body, speech, and mind.
The Gyalwang Karmapa then touched on the vital role played by the qualified teacher. When correct understanding from the side of the student meets with great compassion from the side of the teacher, we must open the door of our devotion in order to receive their blessings.
"The student needs to have faith and longing, and if this faith and longing come together then I don't think that sort of a student will have any difficulty finding a genuine, authentic Lama. The reason is that all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are ready at all six times of day and night to do things to benefit sentient beings. They're all ready and waiting. If you have both faith and longing then they'll all come rushing towards you to help you. You just have to open that door of faith and devotion."
During the session the Gyalwang Karmapa also returned once more to a core theme which he has emphasized throughout the Spring Teachings – how to practice the dharma with our whole being.
"When we say practice, it's not all that helpful for us just to hear the dharma, or listen to the dharma. It's not all that helpful for us to develop some kind of understanding about the dharma. What we really need to do is join the dharma with our own being, and then we need to practice that over and over again. Joining our being with the dharma, so that we can become habituated and familiarized with it – this is what is most important."
25th Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
In the culmination of weeklong activities dedicated to the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, which was organized by Tsurphu Labrang, today Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche offered a grand long-life Tenshug ceremony to the Gyalwang Karmapa, on behalf of the Tsurphu Labrang.
Today is Chotrul Duchen or the Day of Miracles, an exceptionally auspicious day in the Tibetan calendar. The day celebrates the Buddha's great act of displaying miracles in order to subdue his opponents from rival philosophical schools. On this auspicious day the positive results of good actions are traditionally considered to be multiplied million times, making the vast offerings for the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa especially powerful.
The highlight of the morning's activities was an invocation of wisdom-dakinis, which represents the five elements, through a sacred Five-Dakini dance. The dancers began by weaving around the Gyalwang Karmapa's throne, before unfurling five silk scarves stretching outwards from the throne in the colors of the five wisdoms. As the dancers paused in meditation at the ends of the scarves, their movements symbolized the sacred connections between the wisdom dakinis and the guru, whose minds are one. Having thus invoked their samaya bonds, the wisdom dakinis then danced at the feet of the Gyalwang Karmapa, their flowing movements an effortless expression of meditation in motion.
During the morning's puja Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche stood before the Gyalwang Karmapa's throne, supported by his attendants, adorned in a red hat, to personally recite the liturgies. His voice rang throughout the gompa as he offered praises to the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, reminding those present of the deep bonds shared by these two masters over many lifetimes.
As the puja progressed, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and his General Secretary Pasang Trinley approached the throne to make offerings of body, speech and mind. Ashang Drub-Ngak, representing the Tsurphu Labrang, then offered mandala to both the Gyalwang Karmapa and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Long-life Tenshug was next offered by the Kagyu Association from the Central University of Tibetan Studies, who represent a unity of all eight kagyu lineages, followed by an offering from a group of sponsors.
After lunch, the Gyalwang Karmapa returned once more to the gompa to preside over the afternoon's puja as Umze (Chantmaster), leading the entire sangha in an extended Mahakala puja. With the protector Mahakala holding special significance for the Kagyu lineage, performing an extended version of the puja on this auspicious day generates powerful blessings for the entire lineage.
24th Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
Day 4 Report
On the fourth day of the Spring Teachings the Gyalwang Karmapa turned the focus firmly inwards: if we look inside our own minds, a wishfulfilling jewel is already waiting. No matter how long we may search elsewhere for it, in the end we come back to what was already present within ourselves from the very beginning.
"Within our beings, all of us, there are these uncontrived, natural roots of virtue, these instinctive seeds of innate goodness. We still look for something outside ourselves, not knowing how priceless and how important what we already have is. We need to look at these seeds of virtue in our mind as if they were as rare as a Buddha."
By first being able to see the innate treasure already present in our own minds, we can then work to develop it further and further. "We need to take those virtuous seeds within ourselves and increase them," he said. "We need to elicit the power that is naturally there and work with that until we achieve the ultimate state of awakening."
From exploring the innermost essence of our mind, the Gyalwang Karmapa then shifted the focus back outwards again, by reminding those gathered that sometimes we need to look from the perspective of others to see the full value of our lives. Using the metaphor of a net, in which each individual life is completely connected and completely interdependent with others, we must also be able to see how others find our lives meaningful.
"When we are trying to figure out what the essence or the meaning of life really is, then it's not just a question of looking inside oneself. Sometimes we have to look outwards to see the meaning we hold for others. We have to look in all different directions to be able to see what is good about our life."
Leaving the audience with this beautiful perspective on interdependence, the Gyalwang Karmapa told those gathered that he would continue the next teaching session with a different instruction from the 'Tri Thung Gyatsa' text, on devotion.
The Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings continue until February 28. In addition to the seven languages already offered, live translation is now also available in Russian.DOWNLOAD AUDIO/VIDEO
24th Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
On the 14th day of the Tibetan calendar, the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over a day of activities commemorating the founding luminaries of the Kagyu lineage. Organized by the Kagyu Relief and Protection Committee from the Central University of Tibetan Studies as well as the Vajra Vidya Institute, the day was an opportunity to venerate the realized masters who together form the great wellspring of the whispered lineage.
This year marks the 1000th birth anniversary of the glorious Marpa Lotsawa, the great translator who made the arduous journey to India four times in order to receive the sacred instructions and thereby plant the seeds of the practice lineage within Tibet. At the same time, today marks the commemoration of the Mahaparinirvana of Marpa himself and his heart-son Milarepa, the exalted yogi-saint whose remarkable life has inspired countless practitioners for generations. With this combination of lineage milestones, it was a particularly auspicious moment to conduct a day of lineage commemorations in the presence of the Gyalwang Karmapa.
The day's activities began by invoking the blessings of the lineage with a procession of the sacred statues of Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa, who together comprise the 'Mar Mi Dag Sum', or the three great Tibetan founding forefathers of the Kagyu lineage. Devotees lined the pathway leading to the gompa, many bearing sweet incense and white khatas to welcome the procession. The statues were escorted on one slow circumambulation of the gompa, led by Tulkus and Khenpos from Vajra Vidya Institute, with the rest of the sangha and lay devotees falling into procession behind.
The statues were then led into the gompa and installed on a dais to the left of the Gyalwang Karmapa's throne, overlooking the assembly. At around 8.30am the Gyalwang Karmpa arrived in the gompa to preside as Dorje Lopon or Vajra Master over an extensive puja. Lasting for 3 hours, the elaborate prayers included praises to Marpa Lotsawa, the sadhana of the Guru Yoga of Milarepa, as well as recitations of some of Milarepa's Gur (famous songs of realization), written spontaneously during his lifetime of intense meditation practice and retreat. At the end of the puja a grand Ganachakra feast offering was made.
Later in the afternoon the Gyalwang Karmapa was Guest of Honor at a tea party organized by the Kagyu Relief and Protection Committee and the Vajra Vidya Institute. Inside a large white marquee on the front lawns of Vajra Vidya, tea and cake were offered to the sangha and lay devotees. Special guests at the tea party included Dr Pema Dorje, Visiting Professor at the Central University of Tibetan Studies as well as personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in addition to many other Professors and faculty members from the University.
Afterwards, in the shrineroom above the Vajra Vidya gompa, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche personally offered the Gyalwang Karmapa the sacred long-life blessing nectar, which was continuously consecrated throughout the previous 4 days of the Long Life Tsedrup puja, endowing them with especially potent blessings dedicated to the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.
At the end of the day of lineage commemoration activities, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his Spring Teaching series, delivering the fourth day teaching.
23rd Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
Day 3 Report
On the third day of his Spring Teachings the Gyalwang Karmapa began by reflecting on the sacredness of the teaching space, and it's preciousness to him personally. Arising out of the vast vision of its Abbot, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Vajra Vidya Institute is nestled at the edge of Sarnath's Deer Park, the sacred place where the Buddha Shakyamuni first turned the wheel of dharma. The towering Dhamek Stupa, constructed over a millennia ago to venerate the Buddha's monumental act of teaching the dharma, is only a short walk away from where the Gyalwang Karmapa's own teachings are taking place, in Vajra Vidya Institute's temple. "When I come to this temple it's like I have a special feeling that arises here," he said. "Since the time I came to India, for the few small things that I have done in my life they've all started here, in this monastery's temple. It's like this place has been the starting point for everything that I have done."
Returning once again to the theme of the previous day, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his guidance on how to practice the dharma correctly, until we eventually reach a point where the dharma and our life have merged.
"To really practice the dharma we have to understand the reasons for the dharma, and we have to have full dedication and interest in the dharma. When we have that, only at that point are our dharma practice and the individual who is practicing the dharma no longer separate from each other. That is when the dharma, and the individual who is practicing it, become the same in flavor. That is the point when our dharma practice and this life become part of each other and they share the same nature."
Moreover, as dharma practitioners we also need to truly understand and accept impermanence. We need to develop our ability to be relaxed and open to changes as they naturally occur, accepting situations as they arise around us. Likening the process of change to the natural and beautiful play of the four seasons, the Gyalwang Karmapa reminded those gathered that when things change they can be even better.
"When, because of external or internal circumstances there comes some sort of a change, we need to be able to go along with that change. So whatever happens, we go with the flow of events. If we are able to do this, then in our own mind we can be more relaxed. We can be more expansive. When we go along with that we can be comfortable, relaxed and spacious in our minds. If we are able to do this then we are able to be happy, and to have a comfortable and content life."
The Gyalwang Karmapa then urged his students to uncomplicate their worlds, by keeping a simple outlook on life. Delivering profound guidance with skillful simplicity, he emphasized the importance of living grounded in the present moment, and of seeing the good that is already right in front of our eyes.
"The best thing is to be in the present. It's better if we don't have too high hopes for the past or the future situations. It's better just to stay in the present. Whatever is right in front of our eyes, we need to be able to see the good in it. If we can see the good in it, then good things will be able to occur from that. I really feel that it helps to try to just have a simple outlook on life."
The Gyalwang Karmapa ended the session by sharing one of his own personal strategies for dealing with problems when they arise. "When I have difficulties," he said, "I feel like sometimes it's good to just close the door, relax a little bit, let my mind be a little bit looser and more spacious. I feel that this is helpful, and this is probably something that will be helpful for you as well."DOWNLOAD AUDIO/VIDEO
22ND Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
Day 2 Report
Beginning several hours before the scheduled teaching time, hundreds of people began to gather at the Vajra Vidya Institute gompa for the second day of the Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings. With Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche once again in attendance, together with Tulkus and Khenpos, monks and nuns, and international and local devotees, the gompa was quickly filled to capacity. A large group of students from the nearby Central University of Tibetan Studies gathered, while a growing webcast audience also tuned in live from across the world, all eager to absorb the Gyalwang Karmapa's vast and profound wisdom.
As the rain of dharma continued for a second day, the Gyalwang Karmapa opened the teaching by once again reiterating the urgency to practice the dharma right now, in this very moment.
"We need to practice the dharma from now. We need to do it on this very seat, in this very session. It's right now that we need to begin the dharma. If we postpone it, if we think to ourselves I'm going to do it tomorrow or the next day, then we will not be able to really practice the dharma well. It's important to understand this."
From this urgent call to practice, the Gyalwang Karmapa then turned his attention to making sure that we do it properly. He observed that there are many people who wish to practice the dharma, but don't truly know how. By focusing mainly on the external appearances of our practice without carefully checking our mind, we can easily fall into the trap of spiritual materialism.
"Sometimes when we practice dharma we think that we need to show some sort of external or physical sign of it. We pay a lot of attention to the rituals and these actions of our body and speech. This is practicing dharma when we're focusing outside. But instead what we need to do is turn our attention inwards. We need to see whether what we're doing is functioning as an antidote to the afflictions or not. We need to see whether we are taming our mind or not. We need to see whether our mind is improving, getting kinder, or not. If we don't look at it in this way then there's no benefit to doing these actions – we think that we are trying to do the dharma, but actually we are just making a show with our body and speech. We are putting on appearances, and that's all we really take an interest in. And the moment that happens, this becomes spiritual materialism."
Expanding his focus to the wider twenty-first century world we inhabit, the Gyalwang Karmapa touched on both the ways it shapes us as people and the ways that we as individuals in turn can shape it. Observing the growing trend towards materialism in the modern world, he encouraged the audience to look beyond the idea that happiness can be found outwards in external things.
"These days in the 21st century it's a very materialistic time. Most of the time, we don't really know what true happiness is. Many people have the idea that external things and external conditions will bring them happiness, and will lead them to the real meaning. But when we think about material things, the more we have of these things the more disturbances we have. The more difficulties we have. Things get more and more problematic. We have more and more busyness, and what happens then is that we lose ourselves. We lose our nature, what really is there."
Continuing his exploration of our place in the modern world, the Gyalwang Karmapa skillfully reminded each person of the important role they play in shaping an increasingly interconnected and ever-more deeply interdependent world.
"In this Information Age people are developing closer and closer connections with each other. All the people in the world are seeing that they have greater mutual connections. It has become very clear to us that these are deeper and stronger connections. When we think about our own good acts and wrong acts, we can see more clearly how they have an effect on the world. We can see that the individual things that we do are connected to the benefit or the harm of the world. They are deeply connected to the happiness and suffering that is in the world. The good and bad acts of one person are becoming the good and bad of the world. When we examine the good and bad that we do, we can see that it is becoming even more profound and even more vast. It's the good and the bad that people do that determine on a fundamental level if there is peace or happiness in the world. It's very tightly connected."
Recordings of the Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings are available on YouTube in English and Chinese, and are also available for download the day following each teaching session. The live webcast steam can now also be accessed on all mobile devices, including iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.DOWNLOAD AUDIO/VIDEO
21st Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
Day 1 Report
On the 11th day of the 1st month of the Year of the Water Snake, in the holy land of Sarnath, very close to the exact site where the Buddha Shakyamuni taught his first five disciples more than 2500 years ago and thereby set into motion the entire Buddhist teaching tradition, the Gyalwang Karmapa once again turned the wheel of dharma.
Coinciding with an annual dharma seminar at Vajra Vidya Institute being led by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, the Gyalwang Karmapa commenced a week-long series of teachings on a text which has been one of his personal favorites since a young age, called 'Tri Thung Gyatsa' or 'One Hundred Short Instructions.'
The text, composed by the glorious 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje, comprises a treasury of pith instructions spanning the entire path to enlightenment. Each instruction is skillfully crafted so that the reader can enter the text at any point to find a gem of the 8th Karmapa's heart advice and enlightened wisdom. "From time to time I myself take a look through these 100 short instructions, and I really feel that they are very beneficial for me," the Gyalwang Karmapa said. "All of these instructions are given for serious practitioners," he continued, "and sometimes they are extremely forthright. They go straight to the heart of the matter."
Deciding that it would be beneficial to focus on one or two of the instructions contained within the collection, the Gyalwang Karmapa chose to begin the teachings with an instruction on 'Rules for Karma Kamtsang Meditators'. From this somewhat abstract title, he then began by emphasizing the need to contemplate death and impermanence in order to generate a sense of renunciation from worldly concerns, as a necessary precondition to genuine dharma practice. The Gyalwang Karmapa urged those gathered to use their own intelligence in understanding and practicing the essence of Buddhism, rather than just blindly following traditions or customs.
"The essence of Buddhism is being able to distinguish what it is that we need to do from what it is that we need to give up. It is taking up virtue and giving up non-virtue. We need to identify what it is that will bring benefit to ourselves and others, and then we need to do that. We also need to identify what it is that will harm ourselves and others, and then we need to give that up. So you can condense it all into doing what is beneficial and giving up what is harmful. We need to know what the essence of dharma is, and then bring it into our lives."
He stressed the importance of not delaying the practice of the dharma, but rather taking the teachings on death and impermanence to heart and allowing them to motivate our practice in the present moment.
"If we are going to practice the dharma, this is what it means and we need do this now in our lives. We might think that we have our whole lives to do it, but we need to start doing it from today. This is not something that we should think, 'Oh I can start tomorrow, or I can start the next day, or I can do this when I'm older.' We need to do dharma practice now. We cannot postpone this. We need to start it right now."
As thousands of the Gyalwang Karmapa's students around the world logged onto the live webcast of the teachings simultaneously from all corners of the globe, this served as a timely reminder that the vast enlightened activity of the Gyalwang Karmapa cannot be limited by time and space. The Gyalwang Karmapa's skillful use of modern technology enables him to directly reach and teach in accordance with the needs of those both near and far. "There are many people who are not able to come to these teachings in person," he commented, "so it seems that the best way to bring benefit to those people is to have a live webcast. This is very beneficial for them." Live translations were offered in seven languages, including: English, Hindi, Chinese, Spanish, Polish, German, and French.
The Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings continue daily until 28 February 2013, with the exception of 25 February (Chotrul Duchen) when other activities are scheduled to take place.DOWNLOAD AUDIO/VIDEO
21st Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
On 21 February 2013 the Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje's main teacher, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, commenced an elaborate Tsedrup (long-life puja) dedicated to the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. Lasting for five consecutive days, the extensive prayers are being conducted at Vajra Vidya Institute by tulkus and monks from Thrangu Rinpoche's monasteries, including many who have travelled especially from Nepal.
With the chanting lasting from morning until night, the puja will culminate in a grand long-life Tenshug offering to the Gyalwang Karmapa on the auspicious day of 25 February, which is known as Chotrul Duchen or the Day of Miracles. The 14 days leading up to Chotrul Duchen are considered to be a very auspicious time in the Tibetan calendar, with positive deeds performed at this time being especially potent. In this context, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's offering serves as a particularly powerful cause for the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, as well as for the flourishing of his enlightened activities and those of the entire lineage.
The Ninth Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, one of the senior most Rinpoches and foremost elders of the present Kagyu lineage, is the Abbot of Vajra Vidya Institute and has also been the Gyalwang Karmapa's personal tutor appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama since the Gyalwang Karmapa's arrival in India. As a mark of the importance of his role in the Kagyu lineage, in 2010 at the 28th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo in Bodhgaya the Gyalwang Karmapa performed a special long-life ceremony for Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and two other senior Kagyu masters, in the presence of the entire sangha under the Bodhi Tree.
Today, His Holiness the Karmapa's latest book is being officially launched in North America and continental Europe, entitled The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out. The book is based on a series of teachings His Holiness gave to a group of 16 American college students over the course of three weeks in 2011. Each chapter in the book explores a topic selected by visiting students. For each session, two of the students took lead responsibility in presenting their concerns to the Karmapa, and His Holiness' personal responses to their concerns fills the pages of this book.
In this book, the Gyalwang Karmapa takes a hard look at the urgent challenges facing his generation as a society, as a planet and as individuals. In the process, he encourages us all to rise to these challenges, using a resource we already have in abundance—the basic nobility of our human heart. The book is nothing short of a call to action, outlining his vision for bringing transformative social action into daily life. To read excerpts from the book and find out more about how the book evolved, visit the website of the book: www.theheartisnoble.com
8th Feb –Vajra Vidhya Institute, Sarnath.
Sarnath, Feburary 8: The Gyalwang Karmapa was accorded a grand reception today upon his arrival in Sarnath.
Vajra Vidhya monks with their Serbangs, Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten the Vice Chancellor and the students of Central University for Tibetan Studies and international devotees lined up on the streets to welcome the Gyalwang Karmapa.
The Gyalwang Karmapa is scheduled to preside over Mahakala prayers and Losar prayers over next few days. His Holiness will be staying here at the Vajra Vidhya Institute for a month and will give the spring teaching after Losar.
4th Feb –Gyuto Monastery, Dharamsala.
DHARAMSHALA, February 4: The Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala offered a long life prayer ceremony (Tenshug) to Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Monday.
The tenshug offering was held at the Gyuto monastery near the exile Tibetan headquarters. The 17th Karmapa has lived close to His Holiness the Dalai Lama since his escape from China occupied Tibet at the turn of the new millennium.
Monks of the Gyuto Monastery recited prayers as Kalon Pema Chhinjor made the ceremonial offerings, beseeching Gyalwang Karmapa to continue blessing and guiding the Tibetan people in particular and the all beings in general.
Hundreds of Tibetans and foreigners, along with the two Kagyu Members of Parliament and Secretaries of the Departments of Religion and Culture and Home of CTA also attended the ceremony.
At 27, Gyalwang Karmapa is the most prominent teacher of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the most widely followed and respected Buddhist teachers.
Speaking to reporters following the ceremony, Kalon Chhinjor said the tenshug offering to Gyalwang Karmapa was part of the Department of Religion and Culture's initiative to conduct long life prayer offerings to all prominent lamas of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the ancient Tibetan religion of Bon.
Kalon Chhinjor remarked on the deep and ancient bond that the Tibetan lamas and the Tibetan people share and the important role that religion plays in the life of the Tibetan people.
9th Jan – Bodhgaya.
Guru Rinpoche comes to the dance
Sonam Dorje, the Shabdrung's attendant exclaimed how wonderful it was to have the presence of Guru Rinpoche himself in the form of the Karmapa. " To see this kind of sacred dance in Bodhgaya where all the buddhas are enlightened, is very rare; and to see it in the presence of the Karmapa, who is Guru Rinpoche in human form, makes it an even more special occasion."
It was the third and last day of the Guru Rinpoche dance. Cham or sacred dance is considered to be part of the 'thong drol' tradition—liberation by seeing. It is not an entertainment but a sacred dance which should be both performed and watched in a meditative state. As if by arrangement, the sun came out from the thick blanket of fog covering Bodhgaya, enlivening the sparkling brocades of the dancers as they relaxed into meditation and performed 3 dances: Dance of the Drum Beaters, Dance of the Lords of the Cremation Grounds, and Tshokling - a dance to pacify those who would harm the dharma. Their movements were flexible like swans, flowing from one graceful step to the next in an elegant, well-rehearsed, confident performance.
The Karmapa watched with absorption, taking short breaks while the comic actors were strutting about, to talk intimately with the Khenpo of the monastery, Tshokey Dorje . Three dances and two hours later, he departed from the arena as smoothly as he had entered. The dances went on with light-hearted joy for the rest of the day, including the dance of the 8 manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, after a mid-day lunch break. It felt like Guru Rinpoche was there the whole time, embodied in Karmapa, and then in blessing form through the masked dancers.
6th Jan – Bodhgaya.
When teaching on compassion, the Gyalwang Karmapa has continuously emphasised that feeling compassion towards other sentient beings was not enough. Our compassion has to be turned into action. As temperatures dipped to freezing point and below across North India, the Gyalwang Karmapa bought and distributed over a thousand warm blankets to Bodhgaya's poorest.
Several thousand people from Bodhgaya and nearby villagers, mostly women with small children, queued for hours at the gates to the Monlam Pavilion before the scheduled time of 3:00 pm. The Gyalwang Karmapa then spent nearly an hour inside the Monlam Pavilion personally handing out the thick woollen blankets to each delighted recipient. Their stressed and worn faces lit up as they received the Gyalwang Karmapa's gift, together with his compassionate blessing.
Later, as they dispersed across the surrounding fields clutching their new blankets, their delight could be clearly seen on their smiling faces. Later that evening, the brand new grey blankets could be seen wrapped around the shoulders of many of the beggars lining Bodhgaya's streets.
This active expression of the Gyalwang Karmapa's compassion has helped protect over one thousand people from the deadly cold. Every winter thousands of people, many of them homeless, die from cold across North India. Each of the thousand new blankets gifted by the Gyalwang Karmapa is made from thick wool, perfectly suited to the freezing winter conditions.
For past news about His Holiness Karmapa's activities click here.
His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa, from a recent photograph. His Holiness is now 26 years of age (according to the reckoning of the Western calendar system).
The preliminary restructuring of the Office of Administration of the Gyalwang Karmapa has been reviewed. The structure w.e.f 23rd September, 2010 is as follows:
Tsurphu Labrang Dharamshala (Karmapa's office of Administration)
Camp: Gyuto Tantric University
Tel: +91 1892-235307
Chinese language Website
The Kagyu Office maintains an official Chines-language website for His Holiness Karmapa at www.kagyuoffice.org.tw.
FRENCH LANGUAGE WEBSITE
A French-language version of the website for His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa has been opened under the auspices of His Holiness Karmapas Office of Administration: www.kagyuoffice-fr.org.
Kagyu Office of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa (about the Kagyu Office)
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