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Taking the Vow of Refuge

The Torch of Certainty, Session 3

 

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya, India

January 4, 2014

 

The slow chant of ‘Karmapa Khyenno’ resounded throughout the Monlam Pavilion, signaling a start to the second day of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s teachings on the Torch of Certainty. Soon the sound of gyaling horns could be heard over the chanting as the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived.

After he made three prostrations to the golden Buddha on the stage, the rest of the sangha followed suit. As ten thousand monks, nuns and laypeople prostrated in perfect synchronicity to the rhythm of a small drum, the visual effect was a reminder of the unity of the sangha, and their single shared purpose in coming together to hear the dharma.

Ten thousand voices then united as one in supplication to the Kagyu lineage masters; in a moment of perfect unity, perfect stillness, the entire gathering offered a mandala to the Gyalwang Karmapa, chanting with a single voice.

The Gyalwang Karmapa urged the packed hall to listen single-pointedly, with utter non-distractedness and not to miss even a single word Read the rest of this article

Authentic Refuge

The Torch of Certainty, Session 2

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya, India

January 3, 2014

 

In the morning session the Gyalwang Karmapa had explored the meaning of taking refuge and described how to visualize the refuge tree. After lunch he resumed his exposition of the text, blending an oral transmission of Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye’s commentary with his own insights and much practical advice.

Only the Three Jewels are able rescue us from samsara.  How then can we test the depth and authenticity of our refuge for ourselves?

First we can use the four measures:

1.     We need to be clearly aware of their unique attributes. This includes the qualities of body, speech, mind and activity.  The greatest and most immediate benefit for us comes from the qualities of the Buddha’s speech.  As to mind, the qualities of the Dharma are immeasurable because not only does it include the individual attributes of the Dharma of tradition and the Dharma of realization, but at the heart of the Dharma is the truth of the path and the truth of cessation. Ultimately, every good result  from our Read the rest of this article

Why Take Refuge? The Karmapa Continues His Commentary on The Torch of Certainty

The Torch of Certainty, Session 1

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya, India
January 3, 2014

On the first day of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s talks on The Torch of Certainty by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, the side areas of the Pavilion are overflowing with lay followers, while the center is filled with the ordained Sangha. The maroon and gold of their robes is reflected above in the three levels of pleated material that run in a fluttering row from the front to back of the hall along the huge arch of the roof. The large crowd faces the Pavilion stage, where at the very top of its long and broad flight of stairs, the image of Tibet’s Mt. Kailash forms the backdrop for a large statue of a golden Buddha. Beneath him is a life-like statue of the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, and a flight downward from him is another throne with a statue of the 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, and finally, at the base, the simple and beautiful throne of the present Karmapa, flanked by thrones for Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, along with rows of tulkus and khenpos.

Before the Karmapa begins these two days of teachings, he Read the rest of this article

Gyalwang Karmapa Begins the New Year

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January 1, 2014 – Bodhgaya.
For most people the first day of 2014 was a holiday, but the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s day was filled with a range of activities combining duty, social activism and ritual.

It began with a Massed Clouds of Nectar Sang smoke puja offering in his golden tent at the centre of the Garchen, for purification and invocation of blessings. His Holiness was joined in the puja by Gyaltsab Rinpoche and other Kagyu tulkus and lamas.

Next, on the first day of the new year, His Holiness paid a visit to the holiest Buddhist site in the world, the Mahabodhi Temple. There he launched the official 2014 calendar of the Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee in the inner sanctum, before presiding over a session of the Jonang Monlam under the Bodhi Tree.

Back at Tergar in the Monlam Pavilion, His Holiness distributed blankets to people in need, before returning to his quarters at Read the rest of this article

Uma Debate

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December 27, 2013
Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya, India
In the main shrine hall of Tergar Monastery, a large chair with a curving back covered in luminous white silk has been placed in front of the Buddha. His Holiness the Karmapa has taken his seat there to witness and participate in today’s debates on the Middle Way (Madhyamaka) view. The participants are senior monks and teachers from various monasteries, who have formed two groups, one of the defenders, seated behind a row of ornately painted tables, and the other of the questioners, who are gathered behind a standing microphone about fifteen feet away. Displayed on two screens flanking the Karmapa are digital clocks, counting down the split seconds of the fifty minutes for this debate.

The debate is unhesitating, animated, and vigorous. In the midst of the intense exchanges, the Karmapa listens with complete attention, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a critical look. He raises his arms out, stopping the debate to challenge and clarify. The usual protocol of great deference is Read the rest of this article