March 19, 2011 – Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath
Once more the shrine room had been re-arranged, and the three images of the glorious Kagyu forefathers, Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa, had been placed centrally below the great golden image of Lord Buddha. They now topped a special shrine decorated with seven white torma offerings and seven bowls of rice and incense sticks.
A day-long celebration of rituals began at 8.00am with the Lama Choepa [Offering to the Lamas] in the main shrine room, and ended in the evening towards 9.00pm. The Gyalwang Karmapa attended every event. During the morning and afternoon sessions in the temple, His Holiness sat on a low throne at a level below the three images of the Kagyu forefathers, his presence adding a sense of completion, great blessing and timelessness to the ritual. During the Lama Choepa, he led everyone in the prayers for taking refuge and generating bodhichitta.
In the afternoon session, from 1.30pm until 6.00pm, the monks completed reading and chanting the Rain of Wisdom and His Holiness led the Fulfillment Practice to the Dharma Protectors.
The Lamp Prayer
The day concluded with a special Lamp Prayer for the victims of the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Gyalwang Karmapa sat on the porch of the temple, and several hundred monks, nuns and laypeople bearing lighted candles gathered in the grounds in front of the temple, and hundreds of butter lamps flickered on tables nearby. In the sky above hung a full moon, and beyond the walls of the Vajra Vidya Institute, the night was punctuated by explosions of firecrackers and fireworks, and the air carried a hint of the smoke from festive bonfires, as the local villagers celebrated Holi.
Prayers were offered for the benefit of all sentient beings, and, in particular, the famous Lamp Prayer composed by Jowo Atisha was recited and then sung three times.
As people drifted away at the end of the evening, the full moon was clearly reflected in the small pool on the lawn, reminding everyone of the Mahamudra analogy that appearances are like the reflection of the moon in still water.