Februrary 2, 2012 – Bodhgaya.
As has become an annual custom, the Gyalwang Karmapa today addressed the entire gathering of monastics attending the 15th Annual Kagyu Gunchö (Kagyu Winter Debates) in Bodhgaya. Half an hour after the doors opened for the afternoon session, the assembly hall filled Tergar Monastery to overflowing, with nearly 1,000 monks and nuns occupying the bulk of the large hall, and laypeople seated in the little space remaining in the back and spilling outside onto the lawn surrounding the assembly hall.
The theme for His Holiness’ talk was Motivation, Conduct and Inspiration for Study and Practice. The Gyalwang Karmapa described the historical trajectory of study and debate within the Karma Kagyu, noting the influence of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje. He described a tendency in recent times for study institutions, or “shedra” to become distanced from the remainder of the monastery of which they form a part. With separate fund-raising efforts, separate emphasis and separate institutional structure, there is a danger that the study taking place in the shedra might appear to be separate from the activities of meditation and formal practice taking place in the rest of the monastery.
The Gyalwang Karmapa cautioned strongly against this, underscoring the complementary relation of study and practice. His Holiness went on to explore the correct relationship between study and practice not only within a monastery but also within a single practitioner. Study through reading and listening to Dharma teachings should become a basis for reflection, he said. In turn, this education that comes from studying and reflecting forms the basis for meditative practice. As such, study is neither an end in itself nor an activity that can yield its final fruits without the practice of meditation.
At the same time, His Holiness encouraged those present to devote themselves wholeheartedly to their studies while they have the opportunity, and offered advice on how to make the most of that opportunity. He identified several factors that pose serious obstacles to our study—laziness, pride and non-virtuous friends who mislead or distract us. Finally, the Gyalwang Karmapa offered detailed advice on how to guard against the three.
His Holiness spoke in Tibetan, and simultaneous translation was provided into English, Chinese, Spanish and French. The entire afternoon teaching was webcast live, with 500 computers connecting to view the event from around the world.