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The Akshobhya Fire Purification Ritual

2016.02.21ii
21 February, 2016 -Tergar Monastery
On the evening of day six of the Monlam, the entrance to Tergar Monastery was transformed by a spectacular ritual of prayer and fire performed by the Gyalwang Karmapa and the Akshobhya retreat participants. The ritual was the concluding activity of an intensive two-month Akshobhya retreat, which began on December 24, 2015. A significant part of the ritual included the burning of names of the deceased and the living, as a means of prayer and purification. Over the past week, thousands of people made offerings and wrote names down on behalf of their friends and relatives.

In anticipation of the ritual, prayers to Akshobhya Buddha took place both at Tergar and in the Pavilion during the afternoon. In the Akshobhya Shrine Room, located on the top floor of Tergar, the retreatants gathered for a final time Read the rest of this article

Offerings to the Sangha: the Alms Procession and the 16 Arhats

2016.02.21
21 February, 2016 -Monlam Pavillion, Bodhgaya
The tradition of almsgiving dates back to the beginnings of Buddhism, 2500 years ago. At that time monks and nuns were not allowed to keep or prepare food and were therefore completely dependent on whatever they were offered to eat by the local community. Each morning they would go from door to door and collect food. By offering food to the Sangha, laypeople not only showed their respect to the spiritual values that the Sangha symbolized, but were able to accumulate merit both by the action of generosity towards the Sangha and also by sharing in the merit which the monks and nuns generated through their spiritual practice.

In some Buddhist countries, the custom of the alms round has survived to this day, but in Tibet, because monasteries were supported by the local communities, it was no longer Read the rest of this article

Geshe Potowa’s Soliloquy Session Three: Now Is the Time to Practice and How We Avoid It

2016.02.18i
18 February, 2016 -The Pavilion, Bodh Gaya, India
Recapitulating the essential message of the previous days, the Gyalwang Karmapa began his talk emphasizing the importance of recalling impermanence and death. Doing so, he said, allows us not to be attached to the things of this life and mired in thoughts about it. He then continued reading from Potowa’s text:

    You do not know when you will die, so resolve not to procrastinate about practicing the Dharma. Nothing else will help at the time of death, so be determined that you will not have attachment for anything.

To illustrate what this might feel like, Potowa gives the example of a person being led to their execution. If along the way stunning jewels and gold were spread out before them, what interest would they have? We alone will face death, and knowing this, we should not be Read the rest of this article

Gyalwang Karmapa Presides over a Day of Chö Puja

2016.02.03
February 2, 2016-Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
Following the final day of teachings at the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over a full-day Chö puja with all the participating nuns. The text that was chanted is called Chö: A String of Jewels and was composed by the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje.

Since the time of the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, who wrote the first commentary on Chö and who also compiled the text of this puja, the Karmapas have had a strong connection with the Chö practice. Historically they are holders of the direct Chö lineage, based on the Indian Buddhist deity Prajñāpāramitā, who is known as both the mother of all the Buddhas and the embodiment of wisdom.

Chö, which means “to sever or cut” in Tibetan, ultimately aims to cut through the ignorance of self-grasping Read the rest of this article

The Gyalwang Karmapa Presides over White Tara Puja, “Bestowing all Siddhis”

2016.01.24
January 24th 2016-Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya, Bihar
Today His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over a White Tara puja in the main shrine hall of Tergar Monastery. The hall was decorated with garlands of marigolds, strings of their yellow and orange flowers hung from the door of the main entrance and on each of the sixteen pillars of the traditional Tibetan style monastery. Bouquets of white lilies and red roses lined the front of the stage. The Karmapa took his seat on the high, golden throne, this time on the main stage, where space was also made for a three dimensional mandala. On its top tier was a gold statue of White Tara, the Goddess of Long Life. A miniature parasol, one of the eight auspicious symbols, floated above the statue. To the left of Tara was a torma sculpture created to represent her, and to the right of the gold statue, was Read the rest of this article