At the end of the teachings this morning, the Gyalwang Karmapa announced that in the evening, there would be a special ceremony for the deceased. After he left the shrine hall, the ordained sangha wrapped themselves up in their warm, woolen zens and the lay people pulled on their puffy jackets and slung their scarves around their head and shoulders to brace against the cold outside. Many of the exiting crowd headed quickly for the Tsurphu Administration’s office near the side gate into Tergar. Here, on the shiny black desks, they would find rose pink sheets of lined paper with “Deceased” printed at the top. On these, they wrote the names of loved ones, relatives and friends, who had passed away. During the evening’s puja, these sheets would be offered to a ritual fire that, after prayers, mantras, and supplications, cleansed away negativities and obstacles for those whose names went up in flames.
In one of the key rituals of the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, and a particularly rare and precious opportunity for those gathered, the Gyalwang Karmapa led an extended day-long Chöd puja.
“There are both masculine and feminine Chöd practices,” he said in the lead up to the puja. “This Chöd practice was passed down from Machig Labdrön, so it’s a feminine practice, and I thought it would have particular meaning for us to do it during the nuns’ Winter Dharma Gathering.”
Chöd is renowned as a practice lineage established by a woman, the enlightened female master Machig Labdrön, and female practitioners have traditionally excelled in the practice. However, the Gyalwang Karmapas have historically had a particularly close connection with Chöd practice, and are direct holders of the Chöd lineage. His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa has been enthusiastic about Chöd practice from a young age.
The Gyalwang Karmapa arrived in the Tergar shrine room at 9am to Read the rest of this article
On 14 January, dancers, leaping and prancing, came out to greet the Karmapa as he arrived at Ngawang Thubten Chokling, a Bhutanese Drukpa Kagyu monastery. They escorted the Karmapa along the path, lined with well-wishers offering their katas, to the welcome gate and further to the dance grounds and the main temple beyond, where the Abbot and senior monks waited to greet him. They invited the Karmapa inside where he lit a butter lamp and then took his seat on the veranda, surrounded by flowing yellow silk curtains. Under a golden canopy, the Karmapa enjoyed the colorful dances by the Bhutanese monks, who are justly famous for their agility and spirit.
During the first Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for Nuns last year, the Karmapa began teachings on The Jewel Ornament of Liberation (literally, The Ornament of Precious Liberation). This is the most important treatise written by Gampopa the Physician (Sgam po Lha rje, 1079–1153), for it combines the instructions of two great rivers—the kadampa and mahamudra lineages. All kagyu practitioners should value, take an interest in, and study this text. The Karmapa said that he himself considers it very important.
The Karmapa continued his teachings, saying that this year, we have not only the nuns from the kagyu monastic colleges, we also have nuns from the practice sections of the nunneries. If they had no other jobs to do, they were allowed to stay on after the Kagyu Monlam for this gathering of nuns. This enables them to receive these teachings and also promotes the connection between our branches of teaching and practice. Only if these two come along together Read the rest of this article
20 January 2015, Tergar Monastery
During the Second Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, the Gyalwang Karmapa led a special ritual that he himself had composed, making powerful aspirations in support of all female practitioners and particularly for the flourishing of the nuns’ dharma.
Blending his voice with those of the female chantmasters, the Karmapa led the gathering through a recitation drawn from the ‘Sutra of Repaying Kindness, Great Skill in Means’, in praise of the qualities of nine exceptional Bhikshunis who were the direct disciples of the Buddha. “May we have the merit to uphold the teachings properly like the Buddha’s mother, the elder Bhikshuni Mahaprajapati Gautami,” the verse began.
“May we be supreme among all with prajna and confidence like Bhikshuni Kshema,
May we be supreme among all with miraculous powers like Bhikshuni Utpalavarna,
May we be supreme among teachers like Bhikshuni Dharmadatta,
May we be supreme among those who uphold the vinaya like Krsa Read the rest of this article