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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

The Way of the Authentic Practitioner

Eight Verses of Mind Training, Session 2

January 12, 2014

Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

 

The Gyalwang Karmapa enters the Pavilion as usual from the right side, walking around to the front with security guards on all four sides, while monks with incense and jalings precede him. Going up the three stairs, he stops to make three bows before taking his seat on the throne facing the thousands who have gathered for this second talk. After a mandala offering, more than a hundred people fill the main aisle all the way out to the gate near the road; they hold their long scarves in white, and yellow and slowly walk down the aisle to make their offerings. The Karmapa relates to each one as they pass in front of him, sometimes reaching out his hand to touch their head, sometimes nodding, sometimes giving a slight smile. He then makes his own prayers and begins his talk with thanks to all who have been working so hard.

He begins with the second verse:

    Whenever I’m in the company of others,
    
I will regard myself as the lowest among all,

    And from the depths of my heart
Cherish others as supreme.

An authentic Read the rest of this article

The 31st Kagyu Monlam

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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

Konchok Chidü Empowerment

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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

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