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Gyalwang Karmapa Brings to a Close His Commentary on the Heart Sutra

The final session of the 17th Karmapa’s commentary on the Heart Sutra began with a brief explanation of the differences in the view of emptiness among the Middle Way (Madhyamaka), Mind Only (Chittamātra), and the Buddha Nature (Tathāgatagarbha) schools of Buddhism. The prajna paramita sutras, the Karmapa reminded everyone, are the root of philosophy of Mahayana Buddhism. All of its three main schools have their respective views of the four-fold emptiness and how emptiness and phenomena are related. However, the Karmapa cautioned, since all of them are teachings of the Buddha, it is not appropriate to say that one is superior to another. A variety of explanations are available in order to pacify our different afflictions.

The Middle Way school considers that the four-fold emptiness shows that all phenomena are essentially not truly existent, and Read the rest of this article

Celebrating Dharma Connections

August 18, 2016 – Gurgaon, India
The last afternoon of the Heart Sutra teachings saw a celebration of the entire seminar. The hundreds of low meditation tables in the hall had been set with a plate of the famous Taiwanese pineapple cake and a cup of renowned high mountain tea, both of which had been brought from Taiwan to India.

After His Holiness entered the hall and took his seat on the stage, the event began with twenty people taking three minutes each to share their experience of the seminar. Standing near the stage where the Karmapa sat in a high backed chair, and facing hundreds of people, they passed the microphone from one to the other and spoke of how they had been touched by the Karmapa’s presence, by his teaching so clearly and directly in Mandarin, and by the profound words of the sutra. Some people cried and the Read the rest of this article

The Nature of Everything Is Emptiness
August 17, 2016 – Gurgaon.
This afternoon the Karmapa continued to examine some of the points that he had talked about in the morning, when he focused on the lines of the sutra: “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Emptiness is none other than form; form is none other than emptiness.” Continuing from here, the sutra names the other four skandhas:

    Likewise sensation, perception, formation, and consciousness are empty.

When Avalokiteshvara explained emptiness, he started with the five skandhas: form, sensation, perception, formation, and consciousness. Using modern terms, we can classify these into two categories: matter, the first skandha of form, and mind (or psychology), the remaining four. All phenomena fall into the categories of these five skandhas. In our daily lives, we focus on material things and Read the rest of this article

The View of Emptiness and the Path to Buddhahood
17 August 2016 – Hyatt Regency Gurgaon,
His Holiness began the fourth session of his commentary on the Heart Sutra by reviewing the topics that had been covered in the previous sessions and then resumed his commentary on Section Five, the question:

    Son of a noble family, how should any son or daughter of noble family train, when they wish to practise the profound transcendent wisdom?

The Karmapa skilfully explained how what appears to be one question actually encompasses all aspects of the practice of the Mahayana from the beginning of the path to the attainment of buddhahood. Shariputra appears to ask how someone who wants to practise diligently should train, but there are in fact five questions embedded in this one question.

Writing from the Heart

2016.08.16 calligraphy
August 16, 2016 – Gurgaon, India
Following the advice of the Gyalwang Karmapa to practice the ten Dharma Activities, this evening everyone gathered again in the main hall to practice the first one: writing out the letters of the Dharma. On the tables in front of every cushion was an elegant, accordion-pleated book. It contained facsimiles of the Karmapa’s calligraphy in Chinese, including the Heart Sutra and the Praises of the Thirty-Five Buddhas. The texts had been screened so that the letters appeared in a soft shade of grey, giving a model to be copied over with the calligraphy pen set next to the book.

For over an hour the hall was filled with the spacious melody of a classical stringed instrument and the feeling of intense concentration as one nun reminded people to write Read the rest of this article