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More Precious than a Wishfulfilling Jewel

Eight Verses of Mind Training, Session 1

January 11, 2014

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

After a night of continuous rain across Bodhgaya, the first, brief rays of sunlight finally emerged just as the Gyalwang Karmapa prepared to begin his first teaching of the 31st Kagyu Monlam Chenmo.

In the lead up to the program, he had earlier explained his choice of texts for this year’s activities. During the pre-Monlam teachings the week before, he had taught for three days on Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye’s text, The Torch of Certainty. And, for the teachings during the actual Kagyu Monlam itself, he chose to teach on the Eight Verses of Mind Training by the great Kadampa master, Geshe Langri Tangpa.

The reason for this particular combination of texts, the Gyalwang Karmapa explained, goes back to the Kagyu founding luminary Gampopa, who skilfully combined both the Kadampa and Mahamudra traditions. This year, the Karmapa explained, he wanted to also combine texts from these two traditions during his Bodhgaya activities as a conscious reflection of Gampopa’s accomplishment, in modern practice.

The Gyalwang Karmapa began the teaching by explaining how the Read the rest of this article

The 31st Kagyu Monlam


January 11, 2014
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

Arriving at the centre

In the pitch black of the early morning, as lines of people make their way to Tergar Monastery, a rare winter rain falls steadily over Bodhgaya. Arriving from all directions they converge at the centre of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s vast mandala, the Monlam Pavilion, where his Buddha activities are about to commence.

The wet, muddy paths mean the usual long queues are fast-tracked, and people pass relatively quickly down the slippery driveway. They enter through the Monlam welcome gate, adorned with fluttering prayer flags and rows of fairy lights glowing in the early morning darkness.

Inside the vast pavilion, clouds of fragrant incense permeate the space as the neatly laid out mats gradually fill with people. Rows of monks and nuns, heads freshly shaven, sit wrapped in their warm winter dagam cloaks, while lay people bundle up in thick coats and blankets to ward off the pre-dawn chill.

At 6am the sound of gyalings pierces the darkness and all Read the rest of this article

The Seven-Line Supplication to Guru Rinpoche

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya – January 6, 2014


In the northwest of Uddiyana

Upon the anthers of a lotus

You achieved the wondrous supreme siddhi

And are renowned as the Lotus Born

Encircled by many ḍākinis

We practice following your example

We ask you come and grant your blessings


After receiving the empowerment of Guru Rinpoche, the sangha began an extensive four-dayLama Sangdu practice inside the Monlam Pavilion, restricted to ordained monks and nuns. In order to also include all the laypeople, the Gyalwang Karmapa arranged for a special tent to be erected alongside the Pavilion, where they could sit comfortably on chairs, facing screens displaying an image of Guru Rinpoche. He then requested that they collect as many repetitions of the Seven-Line Read the rest of this article

Konchok Chidü Empowerment


Monlam Pavilion

January 5, 2014

Long before the crowds arrived on day three for the empowerment of the Embodiment of the Three Jewels, or Konchok Chidü, at 6.15am the Gyalwang Karmapa was already in the Monlam Pavilion, seated on stage, quietly conducting the preparatory rituals.

By 8am the Pavilion was once more filled to capacity, this time with the slow chant of Guru Rinpoche’s mantra—Om Ah Hung Benza Guru Pema Siddhi Hung—resounding throughout the hall, while the Gyalwang Karmapa concluded the extensive preparations.

After taking a short break he returned to the Pavilion to start the empowerment proper, the gyaling horns that heralded his arrival harmonising effortlessly with the mantra-filled hall.

As the Gyalwang Karmapa set the boundaries for the mandala of the empowerment, the Monlam Pavilion was transformed from the ordinary into a vast, sacred space.

“In order to request the empowerment, please regard this place not as ordinary but as the Akanishta realm of the lotus display,” the Read the rest of this article

Taking the Vow of Refuge

The Torch of Certainty, Session 3


Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya, India

January 4, 2014


The slow chant of ‘Karmapa Khyenno’ resounded throughout the Monlam Pavilion, signaling a start to the second day of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s teachings on the Torch of Certainty. Soon the sound of gyaling horns could be heard over the chanting as the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived.

After he made three prostrations to the golden Buddha on the stage, the rest of the sangha followed suit. As ten thousand monks, nuns and laypeople prostrated in perfect synchronicity to the rhythm of a small drum, the visual effect was a reminder of the unity of the sangha, and their single shared purpose in coming together to hear the dharma.

Ten thousand voices then united as one in supplication to the Kagyu lineage masters; in a moment of perfect unity, perfect stillness, the entire gathering offered a mandala to the Gyalwang Karmapa, chanting with a single voice.

The Gyalwang Karmapa urged the packed hall to listen single-pointedly, with utter non-distractedness and not to miss even a single word Read the rest of this article