3.00 am. In the early morning darkness the only movement was from hundreds of festive red and golden fairy lights, strung in glittering garlands from the roof and walls of the temple. They swayed gently, their reflections shimmering in the windows. Suddenly, the stillness was rent by the call of Tibetan trumpets across the rooftops of Tergar Monastery: the Tibetan Year of the Male Wood Horse had arrived. Although the majority of Tibetans these days keep the Phukluk calendar, dating from 1447 CE and named after Phukpa Lhundrup Gyatso who founded the astrological tradition on which it is based, the Gyalwang Karmapas have preserved an earlier tradition. Known as the Tsurluk calendar, because of its association with Tsurphu Monastery, it is based on an astrological treatise The Compendium of Astrology compiled by the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284 CE -1339 CE). It became popular during the time of the Seventh Karmapa Chodrak Gyatso, and remains the official calendar of the Karma Kamtsang to Read the rest of this article
In yet another special activity at the end of the first Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering—and, taking place on the last day of the year according to the Tsurphu calendar—the Gyalwang Karmapa led a ritual that he himself had personally composed especially for the nuns’ dharma to flourish.
At this auspicious moment, when nuns in the Karma Kagyu tradition are stepping forward to more fully inhabit their valuable place within the sangha, and to take full advantage of the opportunities opening up for them, the Gyalwang Karmapa decided to perform this ritual so that the Buddhist teachings in general, and the community of nuns in particular can thrive.
The ritual aims to dispel any harms, difficulties or obstacles to the nuns’ dharma, through powerful supplications to Avalokitesvara and the Buddha’s own personal attendant, Ananda.
The Gyalwang Karmapa explained that the Buddha himself Read the rest of this article
In an historic occasion coming at the end of the first Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, nuns from six Kagyu nunneries performed an elaborate Chöd ritual, known as A String of Jewels, presided over by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.
While the Gyalwang Karmapa has been enthusiastic about Chöd practice from a young age, this was his first ever opportunity to publicly perform the Chöd puja—an opportunity he’d been looking forward to very much.
Since the time of the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, who wrote the first commentary on Chöd and who also compiled the text of this puja, the Karmapas have had a strong connection with the Chöd practice. Historically they are holders of the direct Chöd lineage, based on the Indian Buddhist deity Prajñāpāramitā, who is known as both the mother of all the Buddhas and the embodiment of wisdom.
Chöd, which means ‘to sever or cut’ in Tibetan, ultimately aims to cut through the ignorance of Read the rest of this article
Throughout eight days of teachings during the inaugural Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering the Gyalwang Karmapa covered the first five chapters of Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation. Beginning with developing a deep appreciation of our precious human life, through to the importance of contemplating impermanence, and understanding the manifold sufferings of samsara, he taught the gathering daily—sometimes twice daily—in a rain of pure dharma.
The enlightened wisdom of the Kagyu founding master Gampopa flowed effortlessly out through the Gyalwang Karmapa’s own enlightened speech as he progressed through the text, which is known as the earliest Lamrim text on the stages of the path to enlightenment.
The Gyalwang Karmapa spent several sessions exploring the topic of the spiritual master in detail, and the importance of correctly relying upon and entrusting oneself to a qualified teacher. The qualities to look for in a spiritual master include great wisdom, compassion that Read the rest of this article
Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teaching During the 1st Arya Kshema Nuns’ Gathering – Why Bhikshuni Ordination is Important
21-24 January 2014 – Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
Women monastics are indispensible
During the historic first Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for Kagyu nuns the Gyalwang Karmapa offered eight days of dharma discourses, interspersing his teachings with frank and well-researched advice on the important issue of full-nun’s ordination in Tibet (known in Sanskrit as ‘Bhikshuni’ ordination and in Tibetan as ‘Gelongma’ ordination).
Citing little-known textual descriptions, the Gyalwang Karmapa related accounts of thriving nuns’ communities—including many fully ordained nuns—in central areas of Tibet several centuries ago. However, such communities have disappeared and today there is no full ordination offered to nuns within the Tibetan tradition.
It is important for us to once again have a community of fully ordained nuns now, the Gyalwang Karmapa unequivocally said, stressing that only with the presence of fully ordained women is the Buddhist community complete.
Teaching primarily to around 207 nuns from six Kagyu nunneries who took part in the Arya Kshema Gathering, Read the rest of this article