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A Joyous Celebration to Conclude the 34th Kagyu Monlam

The Pavilion stage underwent its final transformation of the Monlam into a space of simplicity with just the Buddha, a tall flower arrangement on either side of him, and in front, a seat and table for the Karmapa. The rest of the stage was cleared to give maximum space for this evening’s performers at this Marme Monlam, the Lamp Prayer. In front row of the audience were seated the Karmapa, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche’s Yangsi, and numerous other tulkus and khenpos. Also attending were two lamas from Hong Kong, the Ven. Master Kung Siu Kun and the Ven. Master Sik Yun Tsun.

A formal invitation had been sent to Indian dignitaries and many were present. Among these honored guests seated near the Karmapa were Amitabh Mathur, advisor to the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tibetan affairs; the District Magistrate of Gaya, Read the rest of this article

The Mahakala Night

25 February, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
The night session of the Mahakala puja started at 11 p.m. The pavilion was covered in deep blue drapery inscribed with golden, fiery imagery allusive of the brilliant wisdom blazing through emptiness. The blackened atmosphere of the interior blended into singularity with the quiet night outside.

Along with 5,000 monks and nuns in their usual places, about 300 determined lay practitioners remained to practice throughout the night. This night’s ritual text is called the Abridged Incinerating the Hostile (Dang ba rnam sreg las btus pa), also known as the Golden One. Rather than inducing sleep, this kind of night, with the powerful sounds of chanting and drumming, was meant to evoke lucidity and wakefulness.

Below the main statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, statues of Mahakala, Mahakali and Dorje Lekpa Read the rest of this article

The Torch of True Meaning: Session One

February 9, 2017 – Monlam Pavilion, Bodh Gaya, India

This year sees the conclusion of a five-part teaching begun by the Karmapa on 31st December 2012, the year in which the Kagyu Monlam commemorated the Jamgon Kongtrul lineage, and hence the choice of this text by the First Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye. 

The text is a guide to the ngondro or preliminaries to the practice of Mahamudra in the Kagyu tradition.  First, come the common preliminary meditations—known as the four thoughts which turn the mind to Dharma, they are the precious human life; death and impermanence; karma, cause and effect; and the unsatisfactoriness of life in samsara. Then  come the special preliminary practices. At successive Monlams, His Holiness has completed giving instructions on the first three: Refuge and Prostration; Vajrasattva Practice; and Offering Read the rest of this article

Preparing for the Chakrasamvara Empowerment

This second day of the empowerment began privately as the Gyalwang Karmapa performed the lama’s preliminary practice for the empowerment (dbang sgrub). During this time, the Vajra Master enters into a samadhi focused on the deity to actualize its special qualities. This middle day of the ritual is known as the preparatory empowerment (stag gon gyi dbang) as it prepares the disciples to receive the actual empowerment on the third day.

Today the stage was the same as the night before, except that in stage center, the grand black and gold peacock throne has been unveiled. At the top of the back panel is a golden image of Amitabha, on the front of its tall table is a pair of his mount, the peacock, and the stairs leading up to the throne are decorated with a swirling, powerful dragon. The Monlam Pavilion in front of the throne was filled Read the rest of this article

Direct Instructions on the Great Compassionate One, Day Two

January 18, 2017 – Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
Today the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his talks on the practice of Avalokiteshvara, moving on to discuss the main mediation practice of creation and completion. He began by reading the text, which describes coming to enlightenment in various ways: through emptiness, through the seat of sun and moon, through the syllable for speech, through the emblem for the mind, and through the perfection of the body.

For the main practice of creation and completion, first, meditating that our heart is empty is enlightenment through emptiness. Meditating that in its center are a lotus, sun, and moon is enlightenment through the sun and moon, the seat. Meditating that in its center there is a white HRIH is enlightenment through the syllable, speech. Light radiating from the HRIH purifies our misdeeds and Read the rest of this article