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The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Five

25th December – Bodhgaya.

Mahayana Sojong
Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche gave the Mahayana Sojong vows. Those who have taken Mahayana Sojong have to wait until daybreak in order to eat again. As the days pass, it seems the fog each morning thickens, and today it was impossible to tell when night ended and day began. However, breakfast was served at 6:35 am. The bread, fresh from the huge Garchen kitchen which produces 10,000 Tibetan breads each morning, was still warm, and we were able to wrap our hands around steaming cups of salty Tibetan butter tea for comfort against the cold.

Session Two: Vajrasattva Empowerment
The assembly chanted “Karmapa kyenno” while the Gyalwang Karmapa completed his preparations, meditating before the Buddha statue higher up on the tiered Monlam stage.

Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche took their seats, and then the Karmapa returned formally in procession to begin the empowerment. First he concluded the teaching on the Three Primary Elements of the Path by Je Tsong Khapa, and then, at the beginning of the empowerment, he linked the view of emptiness from the text with the empowerment, emphasising the importance of remembering Read the rest of this article

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Four

24th December – Bodhgaya.

Mahayana Sojong
The monks and nuns attending the Monlam are expected to attend the whole day at the Pavilion and to take the Mahayana Sojong vows unless they are ill or old. In addition, every morning so far the rear of the pavilion has filled with an astonishing number of laypeople who also wish to keep Sojong during the Monlam. Mahayana Sojong is a very powerful practice taken for restoration and purification of broken vows and precepts. As in all Mahayana practices its foundation is bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment, and the motivation is:
“for the sake of all sentient beings; to benefit them; to liberate them; to eliminate famine; to eliminate illness”…
Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche gave the Mahayan Sojong vows, enunciating them carefully two syllables at a time, for everyone to repeat.

Session Two
During the teaching on the “Three Primary aspects of the Path”, Gyalwang Karmapa gave the Bodhisattva Vows, and Read the rest of this article

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Three

23rd December – Bodhgaya.

Mahayana Sojong
As Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche began giving the Mahayana Sojong vows, the generator malfunctioned, leading to a massive power failure; the stage and much of the pavilion were plunged into darkness. Unfazed, Rinpoche waited calmly, and resumed the Sojong ritual as soon as power was restored.

Gyalwang Karmapa’s activities
Gyalwang Karmapa attended the second session and taught on “Three Primary Elements of the Path”. Much of the remainder of his day was taken up by audiences.

In the afternoon a public audience with Gyalwang Karmapa was scheduled for 3.00 pm in Tergar main shrine hall. However, so many people had arrived and the crush was so great that the time of the audience was moved forward. Approximately 2000 people—the head of security commented that there were too many to count precisely — gathered for the audience. So many attended that it was necessary to set up a special security system. Read the rest of this article

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Two

22nd December – Bodhgaya.

The work of the Kagyupa International Monlam Trust
The annual Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya is organised by The Kagyupa International Trust, a charitable organisation registered in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India.

Although its main activity is the Monlam festival, it also organises various charitable activities within the Bodhgaya area to coincide with the festival. These have included free medical camps, food for the poor, distribution of blankets and rice to the poor, and work to improve the environment.

Early morning at Tergar and the Monlam Pavilion
At 4.00 am promptly the wake-up gong resounded across the Garchen, followed shortly afterwards by a loud broadcast of the Gyalwang Karmapa chanting Milarepa’s aspiration prayer. The monks stirred and stumbled and coughed their way into the day.

Once more, a heavy mist lay over the land as ghostly people made their way to Mahayana Sojong at 6.00 am in the Monlam Read the rest of this article

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Begins

21st December – Bodhgaya.

Early morning at Tergar and the Monlam Pavilion By 5:15 am long lines of people, nuns, monks and laypeople, had formed along the road from the pavilion as far back as the main gates of Tergar monastery. The morning was dark and chill but they waited patiently to pass through the stringent security checks. Although it now has a greater capacity than last year, the vast space of the Monlam Pavilion filled steadily. Seats to left and right of the central aisle were allocated to nuns and monks respectively. The rinpoches, tulkus, khenpos, and some gelongs were seated on the stage. A space near the front was reserved for international sangha, and other designated areas were allocated to members of Kagyu Monlam, VIPs, and special guests. Clad in their distinctive yellow panelled waistcoats, disciplinarians patrolled the rows of monks and nuns.

At 6:00 am promptly, the gyalings sounded, and led by an incense bearer and monks playing the gyalings, Gyalwang Karmapa arrived on the stage and Read the rest of this article