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Mahakala Puja Part Two: The Preliminaries for The Main Mahakala Practice

13 – 15 February, 2012

On the afternoon of February 13, after the Karmapa returned from the shrine room to his quarters, the sangha continued with the Mahakala ritual. Special to this day is the practice called “The Four Elements and Three Parts” (’Byung bzhi cha gsum), which removes obstacles for the practice of the next days. Pieces of roasted barley dough that bore the imprint of a hand were passed out to each participant. The dough was then rolled into a ball, flattened, and pressed to parts of the upper body that were ill. Divided into three, the pieces were returned to monks passing through the sangha with large containers. While the text of the practice was being chanted from two screens in front of the hall, the collected pieces were carried outside, and the direction in which they were placed had been determined by an astrologer.

On the evening of the thirteenth, the main shrine hall was transformed into a protector shrine dedicated to the practice of Mahakala. An imposing suit of medieval Read the rest of this article

Mahakala Puja Part One: Introduction, Empowerment and Reading Transmission

Februrary 12—13, 2012

For many days before the Tibetan New Year, the sangha traditionally engages in a practice of the Protector Mahakala (known as Gutor) to clear away the obstacles of the previous year and open the way for the new one to come. This year in Bodhgaya, the Seventeenth Karmapa has organized ten days of Mahakala practice, empowerments, reading transmissions and explanations to take place at Tergar Monastery, his residence here. The sessions began with empowerments on February 12 and will continue through February 21. Special this year is the text of the practice, which His Holiness has revived after this powerful ritual had lain dormant for centuries.

Empowerment, Reading Transmission, and Explanation

Traditionally, for every practice, one should receive these three: the empowerment that matures, the transmission that links to the blessings of the lineage, and the explanation that clarifies the text. On Read the rest of this article

Gyalwang Karmapa Supervises Rehearsal of The Cham Dances

Februrary 10, 2012 – Bodhgaya.

As the Tibetan year draws to a close, Tsurphu traditionally offers a special ritual known as Gutor. This ten-day long ritual is dedicated to the Great Protector of the Karma Kagyu, Gonpo Bernakchen, (Mahakala in Sanskrit). This year’s ritual will be very special as, for the first time since the Gyalwang Karmapa came to India, the complete Tsurphu Gutor Ritual will be offered, including ritual dances, known as Cham in Tibetan, performed by monks from seven Karma Kagyu monasteries in Nepal and India: Rumtek, Ralang , Mirik, Benchen, Phodong, Old Rumtek, and Old Ralang. An audience of about one hundred devotees clustered together in the chilly shrine hall at Tergar Monastery to watch an all-day rehearsal of the Cham.

The dancers wore partial costume – jackets decorated with rich brocades, white, embroidered Tibetan boots, topped with brocade, and, swinging from their belts, a golden brocade chab-shu. The chab-shu , a Read the rest of this article

Gyalwang Karmapa Presides over Three-Day Conference on The Vinaya.

Februrary 7-9, 2012 – Bodhgaya.

On Tuesday 7 February the Gyalwang Karmapa inaugurated a three-day scholarly conference, as part of the 15th Annual Kagyu Winter Debate (Kagyu Gunchö) at Tergar Monastery in Bodh Gaya. The focus of the conference was the relationship among the three levels of Buddhist ethical discipline ie the three vows (dom sum in Tibetan). Attending the conference were over 800 learned khenpos (senior monastic scholars), geshes and advanced students from Karma Kagyu monasteries and nunneries across the Himalayas.

Tibetan Buddhists uphold three levels of ethical discipline: 1) the pratimoksha vows that govern physical and verbal actions and are common to all Buddhists, 2) the bodhisattva vows that regulate thought as well as body and speech and are transmitted in all Mahayana traditions, and 3) the tantric vows that only the Tibetan traditions received from India and preserve to this day. These three levels of ethical discipline correspond to three Read the rest of this article

Statement from The Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

Februrary 6, 2012 – Bodhgaya.

Reports have just emerged that three more Tibetans set themselves ablaze within a single day in eastern Tibet. This comes shortly after four Tibetans immolated themselves and others died in demonstrations in Tibet during the month of January. As tensions escalate, instead of showing concern and trying to understand the causes of the situation, the Chinese authorities respond with increasing force and oppression. Each new report of a Tibetan death brings me immense pain and sadness; three in a single day is more than the heart can bear. I pray that these sacrifices have not been in vain, but will yield a change in policy that will bring our Tibetan brothers and sisters relief.

Having been given the name Karmapa, I belong to a 900 year old reincarnation lineage that has historically avoided any political engagement, a tradition I have no intention of changing. And yet as a Tibetan, I have great sympathy and affection for the Tibetan people and I have great misgivings about remaining silent while they are in pain. Their welfare is my greatest concern.

Tibetan demonstrations and self-immolations are a symptom of deep but unacknowledged dissatisfaction. If Tibetans were given a genuine opportunity to lead their lives as they wished, preserving Read the rest of this article