29 January 2015, Bodhgaya.
The Gyalwang Karmapa spent almost three months in Bodhgaya, beginning in November with the monks’ Winter Dharma Gathering followed by the peaceful empowerments from the cycle of Knowing One Frees All, and then teachings on The Torch of True Meaning. These led into the 32nd Kagyu Monlam and then the nuns’ Winter Dharma Gathering, which included management and medical training for the nuns as well as debating. Further, the Karmapa made the major announcement of a program leading to full bhikshuni ordination. Also during the nuns’ gathering, the recognition and haircutting ceremony of Bokar Rinpoche’s reincarnation took place. These months have been an incredibly rich and fulfilling time, a vast cornucopia of Dharma flowing from the profound generosity and the compassionate activity of the Gyalwang Karmapa.
His last gesture was to dedicate all of this merit at the Mahabodhi Stupa, where he stopped on his way to the airport. Inside the main temple in front of the Buddha whose petaled halo of light was radiant as if studded with diamonds, the Karmapa made extensive offerings of flowers and alms bowls filled to overflowing with fruit. With his entourage, he recited prayers for the precious lamas to live long:
- Like space, may they pervade everywhere.
Like the sun and moon, may they illuminate everything.
Like a great mountain, may their lives be ever stable.
The prayer continued to supplicate that the teachings prosper, the sangha’s practice go well, and all who support the Dharma know good fortune.
The Karmapa then began an inner circumambulation of the stupa, making offerings to the lamas and the shrines set up in three directions. At the first side exit through the tall, carved stone fence, he turned left and went to offer a kata to the mandala and to Kyabje Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma tradition, who was presiding over a gathering of monks and practitioners in a tent on the left side of the stupa. The Karmapa then continued on the inner path and passed through the back exit by the Bodhi Tree to offer a kata to the mandala and at the throne of Penor Rinpoche. Returning to the inner circuit, he proceeded around to the right side of the temple, offered a kata to the offerings on that side, and stepped though the pink stone fence one last time to give a kata to Namkha Drime Rinpoche, who stood as he waited to receive the Karmapa. Reentering the path for a final time, the Karmapa climbed up the stairs to the main gate and stopped for a moment in the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee’s reception area.
To everyone’s surprise, the Karmapa came out and headed again for the stupa’s main gate and the outer circumambulation path. The reason became clear as he turned to enter the tent where the nuns were practicing. Keeping his promise to support the female sangha, the Karmapa again offered a kata to their shrine, and to the Mindroling Khenchen who was presiding there. Finishing the outer path with a delighted group of followers, the Karmapa passed out of the main gate and walked the wide pink marble promenade along the outside of the temple, its breadth allowing some breathing room while he moved at a brisk pace. The flow of his motion carried him down a few stairs and into his waiting car.