NEWS & CURRENT ACTIVITES

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The Alms Procession

This year, for the first time, the ceremony was not held at the Mahabodhi stupa but transferred to Tergar Monastery and the Monlam Pavilion. It was also brought forward to six o’clock in the morning. The procession replicates the alms round from the time of Lord Buddha, a tradition which survives still today in some countries.  Buddhist monks and nuns set out each morning with their bowls to collect whatever food is given them by the villagers or townspeople.

By 5.15am the first laypeople had already begun lining up along the route, guided by Kagyu Monlam volunteers, easily recognized by their emerald green volunteer vests. The alms round is conducted in silence so people were encouraged to chant the refuge prayer.  After Mahayana sojong at the Monlam Pavilion, the monks and nuns gathered in the shrine room at Tergar Monastery and the round could begin.  A monk bearing incense headed the procession. He was followed by H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Khenpo Dönyö and Ringu Tulku bearing metal staffs Read the rest of this article

The Kangyur Procession at The Mahabodhi Stupa

For five days this year’s Monlam had been held at the Monlam Pavilion, two kilometers from Bodhgaya, so it felt strange on the sixth day to be in Bodhgaya, standing at the entrance to the Mahabodhi stupa grounds at five o’clock in the morning once more.  Strange, but also very comfortable, like coming home. This ancient site radiates a pervasive feeling of sacredness, as if the broken stones themselves are a repository for two thousand years of devotion, hope, and trust in the way of the Buddha. Sitting under the bodhi tree, waiting for the Gyalwang Karmapa to arrive, people commented that they missed being at the stupa. However, for once, laypeople were able to sit where the novice monks and nuns would have been sitting, closer to the shrine, His Holiness and the bodhi tree, rather than crowded into the margins, hidden behind monuments, or perched precariously on the grass banks.  Perhaps they had forgotten the advantages of the pavilion, where everyone is included and can have a clear view of Read the rest of this article

A Summary of The Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teaching on The Kangyur

India is the source of Buddhism in Tibet and most of the teachings were translated from Sanskrit and other Indian languages into Tibetan. So in order to honor that, at the beginning of every Tibetan Buddhist text, the title is first written in Sanskrit, followed by Tibetan. This is done in order to recollect where the dharma comes from and to appreciate that. At the time the texts were translated, there was usually a great pandit from India and a Tibetan translator working on them together. During the first period of translation, all the texts were translated in this way and edited by great masters. They took a tremendous amount of care in producing the texts. And during the later period, they also took a lot of care with translation by traveling to India and doing a lot of editing and correction.

  The Kangyur was not published at first. The teacher of Chim Jampel Yang (Tib.mchims ‘jam-dpal dbyangs) made the first collection of the Kangyur and it was handwritten. Because it was kept in a shrine room called the Jam Lhakhang at Narthang Monastery, this edition later became famous as the Lhakang Kangyur (sometimes known as the Old Narthang Kangyur.). After some time in Tibet, the Kangyur Rinpoche was produced by xylograph or woodcarving in Read the rest of this article

Reading The Kangyur

After the procession and Gyalwang Karmapa’s teaching the final part of the celebration of the Kangyur was the reading session, during which the whole Kangyur was read once. This activity generates tremendous merit.

The 103 novice monks who had been assigned the task of distributing sheets of the Kangyur  busily wove their way between the rows of monks, nuns and laypeople, offering pages to anyone in the congregation who could read Tibetan. The pages came with strict instructions to remember the letter on the monk’s orange badge so that pages could be returned to the correct person. This system has been devised to prevent the problems of earlier years when, following the reading,  texts were found to be missing pages, or pages turned up in the wrong texts.

The Monlam Pavillion filled with the sound of people reading their pages of text in Tibetan chanting style. Within ninety minutes, the task was finished and the monks had collected the texts back in. Let’s hope that this year no pages went missing or were misplaced! Read more

Karma Pakshi and A Jataka Tale : A Play with Dance and A Tibetan Opera

 

On the evening of March third, the Monlam stage with its huge altar was transformed by the presence of four tall pillars arrayed across the front of the stage. In deep brown decorated in gold filigree, topped by lotus flowers, they supported the four animals—a tiger, garuda, vulture, and snow lion—that appeared to Milarepa in his famous dream. The four represent the main disciples of Marpa the Translator, through whom the Kamtshang lineage flows. In front of the stage, the rows of seats in the Pavilion are filled right up to the back while three screens on either side bring into the evening darkness the radiant and warm colors of the stage.

This is the setting for tonight’s play based on the life of the Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (1206-1283). Written by the Gyalwang Karmapa in a contemporary idiom, the drama focuses on three events: the arrival of Orgyenpa (1230-1312), who would hold the Karma Pakshi’s lineage; the meeting of these two great lamas; and finally, Orgyenpa’s meeting and recognizing the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339). During the time of the Read the rest of this article