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Reviving the Tradition of the Cotton-Clad Yogis


19 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
The source for all practices and traditions that are followed at the Kagyu Monlam is the Seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso (1454-1506). In a letter to Minyak Gang Monastery in Kham, Chödrak Gyatso described how to combine the practices of the Six Yogas with the Monlam they were practicing. The letter detailed what to do, which texts to chant, and the practice of wearing the white cloth (ras bud byed pa). Usually the term cotton-clad (ras pa) refers to the followers of Milarepa (Mi la ras pa) who were mountain yogis and yoginis clad in white cloth. The other Kagyu tradition of Gampopa is for ordained monks who wear burgundy robes.

Evoking the tradition of Milarepa, a particular practice of wearing white cloth occurs at the end of a three-year retreat, and also in some monasteries on special days, such as Read the rest of this article

Awards Ceremony for the 20th Kagyu Gunchoe and the Examination of Monastic Forms


19 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

A lively demonstration by monks from the 20th Kagyu Gunchoe of their debating skills on the topic Turning the Wheel of Dharma preceded the awards for the Gunchoe debate competition. This was followed by a long dedication monologue delivered by Lhagpa Yeshe, a monk from Benchen Shedra. This composition containing sections in both verse and prose is the traditional way to finish a debate and is known as the Noble Words [Tib.Tsig Zang].

Then came the awards themselves. The winners received a trophy, a certificate and a cheque to be spent by their shedra.

First prize for Collected Topics (Dudra) was awarded to Lava Shedra. They received a trophy depicting a pecha atop a lotus and stem, and a cheque for 100,000 Indian Read the rest of this article

Memorial Service for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the late King of Thailand


18 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

“This is probably a very rare opportunity for us from the Tibetan tradition to invite so many Bikkhus and I think that it is historically significant”

With those words the Gyalwang Karmapa marked the day of the memorial service for His Majesty the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Prior to this unique event, meant to embody the unity of the sanghas, His Holiness had, as a true protector of beings would, with great diligence and kindness, personally tended to every detail. In efforts to accommodate the proper customs of Thailand, he collaborated with the Thai sangha and created the elegant setting: on the stage, at the far end of the corridor between the monks’ benches and below the pyramidal tiers of the stage, gold and silver ritual implements Read the rest of this article

The Procession of the Sixteen Arhats


18 February, 2017Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The Kagyu Mönlam is an auspicious gathering that generates immense devotion in its participants, and amongst its events, none does it more than the Procession of the Sixteen Arhats, which took place in the morning on the sixth day. Anticipation began the evening before, with the announcement that Mönlam Members were to line up to frame the procession, and that all participants would have the opportunity to make an offering.

In the morning, Mönlam participants arrived to find the Pavilion transformed. The central aisle had become a beautifully elaborate carpet of flowers, leading up to a giant golden bowl overflowing with piled fruits. Precious seats for the Sixteen Arhats were laid out on the main stage, where a black pagoda shrine occupied the centre ground.

More transformation was in store. In the Read the rest of this article

Honoring the Words of the Buddha: The Kangyur Procession


17 February, 2017 – Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

The Mahabodhi Stupa, Bodh Gaya, Bihar

In the Monlam Pavilion the night before the procession, the Gyalwang Karmapa, a consummate director who pays attention to the smallest detail, rehearsed the monks and nuns who would be carrying the Kangyur texts the next day. As they sat on the floor before him, he spoke to them about the significance of this event. “These texts hold the precious words of the Buddha, and you will carry them as you circumambulate the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment. This will make an auspicious connection for his teachings to flourish and spread throughout the world.” The sangha members then practiced walking with a paced dignity, passing out into the cool evening and coming back in the Pavilion as the Karmapa watched.

He advised them, ”Those in the Read the rest of this article