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A Gift to Serious Practitioners: The Nag-Gyal-Phag-Sum Text

30th December – Bodhgaya.

As part of the commemoration of the Jamgon Kongtrul lineage celebration, the Gyalwang Karmapa has reproduced 300 copies of a rare text, the Nag-gyal-phag-sum, and offered it to practitioners who have completed a three year retreat, others residing in retreat centres, and leading rinpoches and lamas. The author and compiler of this text was the Fifth Shamarpa, Kunchok Yenla. The original was printed in gold ink on black paper. The main subject of the text is a practice to the three protectors Mahakala, Gyalwa Gyatso and Dorje Phagmo, hence the name. As this text was in danger of being lost completely, the intention of the Gyalwang Karmapa was to preserve this precious text for future generations.

The text originated in India. In the beginning, the three practices were separate but they were compiled into one book at the time of the Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi, consequently the text is regarded as particularly sacred. In the meditation tradition of the Karma Kamtsang lineage the number of practices Read the rest of this article

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Eight

28th December – Bodhgaya.

Early morning, Tergar Monastery
4.45 am. From the Garchen a steady stream of spectral figures emerges on to the road. The monks and nuns are making their way to the Mahabodhi stupa, two kilometres away, for a special full-moon-day Vinaya sojong, scheduled to begin at 5.00 am. Laypeople are usually not allowed to be at this bi-monthly ritual of purification of downfalls and restoration of vows and precepts which only monks and nuns attend.

Mahayana Sojong at the Mahabodhi Stupa
The Gyalwang Karmapa gave the Mahayana Sojong vows, followed by a short talk on the importance of aspirations and dedications.

A short teaching by the Gyalwang Karmapa
During the previous seven days of the Monlam, the assembly has employed body, speech and mind to make aspirations for the benefit of all sentient beings and the Dharma. Now is the time to gather together the merit generated and dedicate it for all sentient beings that Read the rest of this article

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Seven

27th December – Bodhgaya.

Mahayana Sojong at the Mahabodhi Stupa
The Mahayana Sojong vows were given by Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche.

Foggy vista
For those watching the webcast, please note the picture is not out of focus! This is the fog that we’re encountering because of sudden wintry conditions across northern India. Fog at this time of year is not unusual. It often disrupts transport across northern India. However, this year it is much colder than usual and many of the poverty-stricken people across Bihar and other northern states are suffering immensely.

Sessions Two and Three: The Akshobhya Ritual Cycle
Gyalwang Karmapa arrived shortly before 9.00 am and greeted the rinpoches, lamas and khenpos already seated below the bodhi tree. Session Two began with the Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer and then proceeded to the first part of today’s main focus, the Akshobhya Ritual and fire puja. Read more

The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day Six

26th December – Bodhgaya.

Once more some of the teams who support the Monlam had to work late into the night and arrive at the stupa early in the morning so that the site was prepared. By the time the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived before daybreak, new altars and torma had been set out, all the equipment for audio and webcasting had been transferred, and the sangha were sitting in their newly allotted places.

The area under the Bodhi tree was festooned with fresh garlands of yellow and gold marigolds. Fairy lights lit up the banks around the outer kora—the route which pilgrims circumambulate—and a signboard proclaimed “The 30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. Sarva Mangalam”.

As soon as he arrived, Gyalwang Karmapa went to the shrine room and offered prayers in front of the precious Buddha statue. He then went to the Monlam site under the bodhi tree and conferred the Mahayana Sojong vows. Returning to the shrine room, he offered a set of golden silk robes, [Each day during the Monlam, a new set of silk Read the rest of this article

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