21 February, 2012 Bodhgaya
On the afternoon of the last day of the Tibetan year of the Iron Rabbit, His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche bestowed the Buddha Amitayu Long Life Empowerment at the Monlam Pavilion in Bodhgaya from 2:00 pm on February 21, 2012. He was giving the empowerment at the behest of Gyalwang Karmapa. His Eminence’s throne was set in front of the pavilion, with the newly consecrated giant thangka of Buddha Shakyamuni serving as a magnificent backdrop to the ceremony. His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was seated on the right, along with other rinpoches and lamas, including Khenpo Lodro Dhonyo from Bokar Ngedon Choling Monastery in Mirik. Monks from all over the world took part in the ceremony, which lasted for over an hour. First Gyaltsap Rinpoche talked briefly about the significance of the Protector Mahakala for the Kagyu tradition. According to him, the Second Karmapa, Karmapa Pakshi, had said that the mind of the Karmapa and Mahakala are inseparable.
His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche also commented upon the previous day’s lama dance performance. Watching lama dance in Bodhgaya, he mentioned, is especially valuable because it has been said that protectors dwell in the eight charnel grounds surrounding Bodhgaya. He said watching the lama dance performance helps clear away obstacles, works as a method of purification, and also helps accumulate vast amounts of merit for oneself. According to him, particularly beneficial is witnessing Gyalwang Karmapa perform lama dance. Traditionally, the Karmapas perform lama dance in order to help sentient beings, he said. Seeing Gyalwang Karmapa perform lama dance helps accumulate a vast amount of merit, and the result is even stronger when done with strong faith and devotion. However, even watching it as a spectacle, can also bring positive results, not just to us humans, but also to animals fortunate enough to have the opportunity to glimpse the performance. His Eminence said he had seen the 16th Karmapa perform cham dances in the past, and now, having the opportunity to watch the 17th Karmapa dance was a matter of great fortune to him personally.
His Eminence said that there are two things necessary for a long life: the first is the cause, which is the accumulation of merit, and the second is the condition, which is receiving empowerment from the lama. If you do not have the cause, then mere empowerment is not enough. As a part of the cause, he said, one has to give up killing and also stop living off or creating suffering for others. His Eminence then told a story from the Jataka Tales regarding King Chandraprabha. At the end of the King’s very long life, someone came asking for his head. The king decided to give his head, despite counsel against it by his minister. However, as a result of the accumulation of merit by this selfless deed, in his next life the King had a very long and healthy life. Even though we are not able to lay down our lives like King Chandraprabha, at least, we can give up killing and causing suffering to others, His Eminence said. We can also conduct life release as a means of accumulating merit for long life. Receiving the long-life empowerment can also help raise one’s life force which is known as lungta – windhorse – in Tibetan. According to the Tibetan tradition, raising lungta can help improve one’s health and ward off demons and spirits who might want to harm us.