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The Long Life Empowerment of the Three Roots Combined

26 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The Long Life Empowerment of the Three Roots Combined is one of the practices associated particularly with the Karma Kamtsang, and this is the second successive year that the empowerment has been given.  Last year, His Holiness the Karmapa himself gave the empowerment, but this year it was given by Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, who originally gave the empowerment to His Holiness when he bestowed the Treasury of Precious Terma, or Rinchen Terdzo empowerments some years ago.

Before the empowerment began, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa made an elaborate body, speech, and mind offering to Gyaltsab Rinpoche. For this offering the Karmapa descended from his throne and Gyaltsab Rinpoche also came down from his throne to receive the offerings. It was a moving moment, when the two stood Read the rest of this article

Two Precious Items from the Past

26 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
Bangladesh is connected to two important figures in the history of Tibetan Dharma. Its town of Chittagong (formerly, Chativaho) was home to the mahasiddha Tilopa (10th to 11th century). He is the source of the Kagyu lineage and is considered the embodiment of Chakrasamvara, the main Kagyu yidam deity, whose empowerment the Gyalwang Karmapa bestowed on February 6, 2017 in the Monlam Pavilion. Bangladesh is also the birthplace of Atisha Dipankara (982-1054), the great Kadampa master who, in the latter part of his life, taught in Tibet and had a wide influence on the development of Buddhism there.

Although these days Bangladesh is mostly a Muslim country, Buddhism was the predominant faith in the area up to the 11th century, and today 3 million of its 170 citizens are Buddhist, making it the third largest Read the rest of this article

Historic Red Crown Ceremony in Bodhgaya

During the break, after the smoke offering Massing Clouds of Amrita had ended on Sunday morning, the stage needed to be cleared and rearranged in order for Gyaltsab Rinpoche to bestow the Red Crown ceremony and the Long Life Empowerment of the Three Roots Combined. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa personally took charge of arranging Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s throne with great respect and care; he had received the Empowerment of the Three Roots Combined from Gyaltsab Rinpoche when he bestowed the Treasury of Precious Terma, or Rinchen Terdzo empowerments some years earlier.

Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s throne was placed directly in front of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s high throne. To the right, on an elegant golden table covered with brocade, sat a delicately wrought silver pavilion.

At last the stage Read the rest of this article

The Last Day of the Tibetan Year Begins

26 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
The final day of Gutor for the Year of the Fire Monkey began at 4 in the morning when the stars were still out and the air had a chill in it. People were huddled in down jackets or wrapped up to their eyes in a thick woolen shawl. Jalings from behind the stage announced the Karmapa’s arrival, and after three bows, he took his seat on the black and gold throne to preside over the puja. One could often hear his voice blending in with the chant master’s.

The first text was the short Mahakala practice known as the Cinnabar Mahakala since the first parts to be chanted were marked off in a brilliant red from the long text Burning Up Hostility by the Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Dönden. At the end of this came a short section known as Receiving the Siddhi. At this time the Nyingzuk, the huge main torma sculpture that Read the rest of this article

The Mahakala Night

25 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
The night session of the Mahakala puja started at 11 p.m. The pavilion was covered in deep blue drapery inscribed with golden, fiery imagery allusive of the brilliant wisdom blazing through emptiness. The blackened atmosphere of the interior blended into singularity with the quiet night outside.

Along with 5,000 monks and nuns in their usual places, about 300 determined lay practitioners remained to practice throughout the night. This night’s ritual text is called the Abridged Incinerating the Hostile (Dang ba rnam sreg las btus pa), also known as the Golden One. Rather than inducing sleep, this kind of night, with the powerful sounds of chanting and drumming, was meant to evoke lucidity and wakefulness.

Below the main statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, statues of Mahakala, Mahakali and Dorje Lekpa Read the rest of this article