July 19, 2011 – NY Woodstock KTD
Disciples from afar gathered again today at KTD in New York, for a second full day of Dharma nectar dispensed by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. Continuing his historic second visit to the United States, His Holiness the Karmapa began the morning session by announcing that rather than the previously announced Thousand Buddha initiation, he would confer Buddha Shakyamuni meditation transmission. Explaining the change in plans, His Holiness first commented that the Thousand Buddha initiation is an elaborate initiation involving considerable time to prepare. He added that authentic tantric initiations are precious and of great value, and therefore it might be best not to confer them too readily. With this stance, His Holiness continued a theme he had touched on the previous day, when he observed that nowadays there is a tendency for people to feel that they have already accomplished something simply by having received an initiation, and thus do not go on to actually practice. Rather than making tantric initiations easily available, perhaps it is better, the Gyalwang Karmapa suggested, for people to continue fervently requesting an initiation, heightening their aspiration to receive it and their resolve to practice it intensely once they have been granted the initiation.
His Holiness opted instead to give refuge vows and confer a Buddha Shakyamuni meditation transmission that would empower those who receive it to do Buddha Shakyamuni meditation and mantra recitation. The meditation transmission had been transmitted by Lord Atisha, and formed part of the Kadam tradition. In preparation for conferring that transmission and refuge vows in the afternoon, His Holiness the Karmapa dedicated much of the morning session to the topic of refuge. In that context, the Gyalwang Karmapa raised the question of what we are receiving protection from and who is protecting us when we have taken refuge. He distinguished between direct and indirect protectors, and stressed that we ourselves bear the responsibility to serve as our own direct protectors, while Buddha and the sangha can indirectly protect us, by showing us the path and accompanying us in our journey along it, respectively.
Following a lunch break, His Holiness granted the refuge vows and meditation transmission in the afternoon. As the gathering drew to a reluctant close, His Holiness observed that his first trip abroad had been to the United States, and as it turned out so had his second trip overseas. He reminded the audience that the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa had visited the United State multiple times, and had also made it the place where he passed into parinirvana. these were clear indications, His Holiness said, that the Gyalwang Karmapa lineage and the people of the United States are joined together through wholesome karmic connections. If the trend continues, it looked like America might end up being the destination for his third trip overseas as well, His Holiness jested, and the tent filled with wave after wave of deafening applause.
In conclusion, His Holiness turned to Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and expressed his gratitude for all that Rinpoche had done over the past three and a half decades. His Holiness stated, “Khenpo Rinpoche has fulfilled all the wishes that the Gyalwang Karmapa had for him.” For a disciple with such deep devotion in the Karmapa as Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, there could surely be no more treasured praise. Even the unflappable Yeshe Gyamtso’s voice wavered with emotion as he translated these words of thanks. In this way, many hearts filled with joy and eyes filled with tears, as the two-day Dharma reunion was concluded.