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The 29th Kagyu Monlam: Day One – Mahayana Sojong Vows

29 1 March, 2012 Bodhgaya

The sounds of auto rickshaws reverberated through Bodhgaya in the wee hours of March 1st, 2012 as monks, nuns and laypeople made their way to Tergar Monastery to attend the first day of the eight-day Kagyu Monlam prayer festival, and to receive Mahayana Sojong vows. Sojong vows taken for the benefit of all beings are called Mahayana sojong vows.

The Tibetan word sojong is the equivalent of the Sanskrit uposatha. The reason why the vows taken in our tradition are called the Mahayana sojong vows is the unique motivation. Ordinary uposatha precepts are usually taken with the intention to purify one’s negativities and to attain one’s own liberation. However, if we take these ethical vows with the intention of benefiting all beings, then – owing to the great power of motivation – the results of maintaining self-discipline are immeasurably bigger.

The sun was yet to rise but the sky was already luminous. Hundreds Read the rest of this article

Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teachings on the Vajradhara Lineage Prayer Session Two: Material Things cannot bring True Happiness

27 February, 2012 Bodhgaya (Monlam Pavilion)

Gyalwang Karmapa began the second day of his teachings on the Vajradhara Lineage Prayer by providing further explanations on the previous day’s teachings on the history of the Karma Kagyu lineage.  His Holiness spoke at length on the role of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche in the history of the Karma Kagyu tradition.

He said that Jamgon Lodro Thaye is the first Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and his reincarnation, Jamyang Khyentse Oser, was born as the son of the Fifteenth Gyalwang Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje. The Fifteenth Gyalwang Karmapa decided to include him as one of the heart sons, along with Tai Situpa, Shamar Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Pawo Rinpoche and Treho Rinpoche.  Including the Karmapa, this brought the total number of heart sons in the Karma Kamtsang tradition to seven. Gyalwang Karmapa said Jamgon Kongtrul was clearly predicted in the prophecies of Lord Buddha. He said Jamyang Khyentse Wangmo and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye were extremely influential figures in the rime or the non-sectarian movement in Tibet. They propagated all the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.

They received all the empowerments and instructions available during that time. They not only remained Read the rest of this article

Losar : The Year of The Water Dragon Begins

22 February, 2012 Bodhgaya

Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya held its Tibetan New Year prayer ceremony on February 22, 2012. At around 7 am, two major lamas of the Karma Kagyu tradition, His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche, entered the shrine room to lead the prayers, the first day of the three-day Tibetan New Year prayer festival. Monks, nuns and laypeople expectantly queued outside as early as 6 am, entering the monastery’s main shrine room gradually at sunrise. Soon the monastery’s main hall was packed to the brim. Visible from the main door and the windows were hundreds sitting on the portico of the monastery, partaking in the celebrations from the outside.

The two lamas, sitting on thrones facing each other, led the prayers to clear away the obstacles and make an auspicious start to the new Water Dragon Year. The monks began to read from the texts, especially compiled by the Gyalwang Karmapa for the New Year prayer ceremony. At Read the rest of this article

Kyabje Gyaltsap Rinpoche bestows Long-Life Empowerment

21 February, 2012 Bodhgaya

On the afternoon of the last day of the Tibetan year of the Iron Rabbit, His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche bestowed the Buddha Amitayu Long Life Empowerment at the Monlam Pavilion in Bodhgaya from 2:00 pm on February 21, 2012. He was giving the empowerment at the behest of Gyalwang Karmapa. His Eminence’s throne was set in front of the pavilion, with the newly consecrated giant thangka of Buddha Shakyamuni serving as a magnificent backdrop to the ceremony. His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was seated on the right, along with other rinpoches and lamas, including Khenpo Lodro Dhonyo from Bokar Ngedon Choling Monastery in Mirik. Monks from all over the world took part in the ceremony, which lasted for over an hour. First Gyaltsap Rinpoche talked briefly about the significance of the Protector Mahakala for the Kagyu tradition. According to him, the Second Karmapa, Karmapa Pakshi, had said that the mind of the Karmapa and Mahakala are inseparable.

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New Year’s Eve: Unfurling the Large Appliqué Thangka

21 February, 2012 Bodhgaya

This morning, in a two-hour ceremony at the Monlam Pavilion, a magnificent appliqué thangka of Buddha Shakyamuni, flanked by the bodhisattvas Maitreya andManjusri, was unfurled and consecrated. It had taken six months, from June to December 2011, to make the thangka, measuring 20 feet by 30 feet. It was constructed in a prayer hall at Gyuto Monastery, the Gyalwang Karmapa’s current residence in North India, under the close supervision and direction of the Gyalwang Karmapa  himself, who visited the project at least once a day. On completion, the thangka was carefully packed into a specially constructed metal cylinder and brought across India by lorry from the north eastern Himalayan foothills to Bodhgaya on the central western plains.

Rehearsals for the ceremony, began just after 7.00am and finished at 10.00am; patiently the Gyalwang Karmapa instructed everyone in precisely what to do and when. The ceremony itself began at 10.15am when the Read the rest of this article