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Closing the Mandala

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The Final Session of the 31st Kagyu Monlam

January 15, 2014

 

A giant golden Buddha has replaced the thangka of Guru Rinpoche on the stage as the setting for the last day of the Monlam. Sixteen exquisite hand painted Chinese silk lanterns, eight on each side, are the ornaments for auspiciousness to close the mandala. Some of the lanterns have auspicious animals – tiger, lion, peacock, vulture, garuda- and others the 8 auspicious symbols and goddesses. Each cylinder is hanging with long gold decorative strands separated by crystal beads, creating a delicate, twinkling display of abundance.

With a sea of sangha surrounding him, the Karmapa honoured the monastics before going on to show his appreciation of the sponsors. As the main sponsor of this Monlam was Gyaltsap Rinpoche, the Karmapa first presented his entourage with representations of the Buddha in the form of statues and texts.

In the course of the evening, the Karmapa continued his support of both branches of his lineage, practice and Read the rest of this article

The Gyalwang Karmapa Bestows the Empowerment of Lama Sangwa Dupa: Guru Rinpoche Appears Again

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January 6, 2014
Continuing his immense generosity, the Gyalwang Karmapa bestowed a second empowerment of Guru Rinpoche, this time from the terma (rediscovered treasures) of Guru Chowang.  This great terton (treasure revealer) was a speech emanation of the Dharma King, Trisong Deutsen, and a reincarnation of Gyalse Lhaje, who was predicted to have thirteen successive reincarnations. Guru Chowang was the second of these and the last was the great master, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, a pillar of the nonsectarian movement of nineteenth century Tibet.

Again today, the Karmapa is seated on his high throne, and rising behind him is the immense thangka of Guru Rinpoche. He first performs the preliminaries of the initiation: purification by pouring blessed water over a sparkling mirror; cutting the boundaries for the empowerment by making offerings; and setting the blazing tent of vajras as protection. He reads in a resonant voice the introduction to the empowerment, which explains that this is a guru yoga, a practice devoted to realizing the inseparability Read the rest of this article

Bodhicitta: How the Light Gets In ‘The absence of compassion is the worst danger that we face.”

The Torch of Certainty, Session 4

 

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya, India

January 4, 2014

 

In the last session of his teaching on the Torch of Certainty, the Karmapa drew a vivid picture, in very few words, of a world without love, updating Jamgon Kongtrul’s classic commentary with a description that cracked the prison walls of samsara to let the light get in.

Normally when we talk about danger we think of the elements; we think of unforeseeable  natural disasters or epidemics. But worse than any of these is the danger that we will become a species without compassion. Slowly without our noticing it, we could become transformed into a society completely without compassion. This world could become a place where there is no caring for one another. But this will not happen if we are willing to help one another, willing to love one another. We can prevent that danger.

We all have within us the seed of compassion. We’re not like burned seeds that cannot sprout.  We have the natural capacity for it. Why is it so hard for us to generate great compassion? It is natural Read the rest of this article

Why Take Refuge? The Karmapa Continues His Commentary on The Torch of Certainty

The Torch of Certainty, Session 1

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya, India
January 3, 2014

On the first day of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s talks on The Torch of Certainty by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, the side areas of the Pavilion are overflowing with lay followers, while the center is filled with the ordained Sangha. The maroon and gold of their robes is reflected above in the three levels of pleated material that run in a fluttering row from the front to back of the hall along the huge arch of the roof. The large crowd faces the Pavilion stage, where at the very top of its long and broad flight of stairs, the image of Tibet’s Mt. Kailash forms the backdrop for a large statue of a golden Buddha. Beneath him is a life-like statue of the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, and a flight downward from him is another throne with a statue of the 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, and finally, at the base, the simple and beautiful throne of the present Karmapa, flanked by thrones for Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, along with rows of tulkus and khenpos.

Before the Karmapa begins these two days of teachings, he Read the rest of this article

Uma Debate

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December 27, 2013
Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya, India
In the main shrine hall of Tergar Monastery, a large chair with a curving back covered in luminous white silk has been placed in front of the Buddha. His Holiness the Karmapa has taken his seat there to witness and participate in today’s debates on the Middle Way (Madhyamaka) view. The participants are senior monks and teachers from various monasteries, who have formed two groups, one of the defenders, seated behind a row of ornately painted tables, and the other of the questioners, who are gathered behind a standing microphone about fifteen feet away. Displayed on two screens flanking the Karmapa are digital clocks, counting down the split seconds of the fifty minutes for this debate.

The debate is unhesitating, animated, and vigorous. In the midst of the intense exchanges, the Karmapa listens with complete attention, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a critical look. He raises his arms out, stopping the debate to challenge and clarify. The usual protocol of great deference is Read the rest of this article