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Another Step Forward for the Nuns of the Karma Kamtsang: The Opening Ceremony of the 1st Annual Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering

2014.01.20
January 20, 2014

Tergar Monastery Shrine Room

 

The main shrine hall of Tergar Monastery had been transformed for this the first ever Karma Kamtsang Nuns’ Winter Dharma Gathering. The great tormas from the Kagyu Monlam had been brought over from the pavilion and, along with offerings of fruit, biscuits and sweets, intricately arranged into cylindrical shapes Korean style, they adorned the front of the dais behind the Gyalwang Karmapa’s throne.

The magnificent, brightly-coloured stitched thangkas of the Kagyu forefathers and lineage holders, which had lined the sides of the Monlam Pavilion aisle, now hung on either side of the central section of the shrine room. The 197 nuns, drawn from 6 Karma Kagyu nunneries in Bhutan, India and Nepal, along with a scattering of Chinese and Western nuns who follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, sat patiently in rows of raised seats, and a nun umze waited to lead the chanting..

The Gyalwang Karmapa has several times expressed his intention to raise the educational Read the rest of this article

In Praise of the Gurus

2014.01.15
January 15, 2014 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

Sessions 1, 2, 3

 

Although still cloudy, the land was clear of mist and fog this morning, when the gong sounded clearly across the Garchen at 3.00am, waking the monks and nuns in order to attend the full-moon day sojong for ordained sangha at 4.00am, administered by Khenpo Lodrö Dönyö Rinpoche. Laypeople began arriving at the Monlam Pavilion two hours later to receive the Mahayana Sojong vows bestowed by the Gyalwang Karmapa.

On the top tier of the stage, the great tormas rose magnificently, set against a translucent blue sky peppered with white clouds, projected on to the new screen background, installed three days ago. This screen will be used for visual effects during the Marme Monlam on 16th January, and stretches the width of the stage, concealing the painting of Mt. Kailash.

The Karmapa sat facing the congregation  on a low seat,  flanked by Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. Behind, a row of Chinese-style festive banners had Read the rest of this article

Invoking the Blessings of the 16 Arhats: the Alms Procession Takes a New Form

2014.01.14
January 14, 2014

Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya

 

The Alms Procession, an annual feature of the Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya, took on a new form and meaning this year when the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa revived another Kagyu tradition, the Procession of the 16 Arhats. Originally, during the time of the 7th, 9th and 10th Karmapas, this procession of the 16 Arhats was held on the final day of the Monlam Chenmo. During the time of the 15th and 16th Karmapas it was held on full-moon day in the first month of the Tibetan year.

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has given this tradition new life by incorporating it into the Alms Procession, and he invested his time and energy to ensure that it went well. On Sunday evening, amid much laughter, he personally chose the gelongs who would represent the arhats in the procession. He checked each candidate, made jokes about height and weight, and debated whether an arhat could wear glasses or not. Sadly, because of the Read the rest of this article

Returning the Buddha’s Words to the Source: Kangyur Procession

2014.01.13
January 13, 2014

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya

Echoes of enlightenment

The morning dawns grey and foggy on the third day of the Monlam, as all gather at the Monlam Pavilion where the Gyalwang Karmapa once more gives the day’s Sojong Vows.

Shortly afterwards he leaves the stage to prepare for the Kangyur Procession, the only major activity of the 31st Kagyu Monlam scheduled to take place at the Mahabodhi Stupa.

2500 years after Shakyamuni Buddha attained awakening beneath the branches of the sacred Bodhi Tree, today the Gyalwang Karmapa returns a complete copy of all the Buddha’s words—known in Tibetan as the Kangyur—to the place of origin, the centre of the Buddhist universe.

These are words born of an enlightened mind that have since spread out in all directions, like golden threads weaving through time and space, and that still linger thousands of years after they were uttered.

Yet the Buddha’s words themselves are merely an imprint, a captured representation of the Read the rest of this article

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