3.00 am. In the early morning darkness the only movement was from hundreds of festive red and golden fairy lights, strung in glittering garlands from the roof and walls of the temple. They swayed gently, their reflections shimmering in the windows. Suddenly, the stillness was rent by the call of Tibetan trumpets across the rooftops of Tergar Monastery: the Tibetan Year of the Male Wood Horse had arrived. Although the majority of Tibetans these days keep the Phukluk calendar, dating from 1447 CE and named after Phukpa Lhundrup Gyatso who founded the astrological tradition on which it is based, the Gyalwang Karmapas have preserved an earlier tradition. Known as the Tsurluk calendar, because of its association with Tsurphu Monastery, it is based on an astrological treatise The Compendium of Astrology compiled by the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284 CE -1339 CE). It became popular during the time of the Seventh Karmapa Chodrak Gyatso, and remains the official calendar of the Karma Kamtsang to Read the rest of this article
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
The Torch of Certainty, Session 3
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya, India
January 4, 2014
The slow chant of ‘Karmapa Khyenno’ resounded throughout the Monlam Pavilion, signaling a start to the second day of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s teachings on the Torch of Certainty. Soon the sound of gyaling horns could be heard over the chanting as the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived.
After he made three prostrations to the golden Buddha on the stage, the rest of the sangha followed suit. As ten thousand monks, nuns and laypeople prostrated in perfect synchronicity to the rhythm of a small drum, the visual effect was a reminder of the unity of the sangha, and their single shared purpose in coming together to hear the dharma.
Ten thousand voices then united as one in supplication to the Kagyu lineage masters; in a moment of perfect unity, perfect stillness, the entire gathering offered a mandala to the Gyalwang Karmapa, chanting with a single voice.
The Gyalwang Karmapa urged the packed hall to listen single-pointedly, with utter non-distractedness and not to miss even a single word Read the rest of this article
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
3 December, 2013 – Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya.
The 17th Kagyu Gunchoe – Winter Debates began this year on December 3rd at Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya, India. The daily schedule includes debates during the morning and in the afternoon, the Karmapa’s teaching on a text by the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje, called The One Hundred Short Instructions. Throughout his presentation, the Karmapa emphasized the importance of balancing study with practice, of tempering intellectual pursuit with realization arising from experience. In the Tibetan tradition, debating is an integral part of intellectual and experiential training. Its purpose is to probe an individual’s knowledge of Dharma, to remove doubts, and to elucidate what is not clear. Debating helps to ensure that understanding does not stay at the level of words, but goes deeper into the meaning. It also allows a great number of topics to be explored in a short time and to be retained more easily.
From 3rd December the Gyalwang Karmapa will teach daily Read the rest of this article