January 11th, 2009
The Last Day of the 26th Kagyu Monlam. His Holiness gave the Sojong Vows and precepts in the morning, the assembly recited the Twenty Branch Monlam. The second session concluded with the annual alms procession.
The Alms procession is from the Mahabodhi Stupa to the Deer Park it was instituted by His Holiness Karmapa five years ago to follow the traditional alms walk that the monastic of some Buddhist traditions make in their daily lives to receive their food. His Holiness also wanted for eight days to recreate, along with some other original Vinaya practices, the alms walk that ordained monastic undertook daily at the time of the Buddha.
The lay people and other monks and nuns gathered along the route of the procession eagerly waiting with their offerings of sweets, fruits, biscuits, nuts and dried fruits and snacks.
His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche led the procession, carrying the traditional monk’s staff. Behind him, and also carrying staffs, came Zurmang Garwang Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche. Then the most senior gelongs began to assemble and slowly made their way with the begging bowl in their two hands. They slowly and carefully walked, following the instructions in mindfulness of physical deportment and thoughts that His Holiness had given the evening before.
At the main entrance to the Mahabodhi Stupa, His Holiness Karmapa stood with Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche, watching the procession make its way through the entrance gates and out towards the Stupa courtyard.
Finally, as the monastics entered the Deer Park, they emptied their bowls for the last time and wait silently until all were assembled. His Holiness Karmapa and other lamas had already arrived from the Mahabodhi Stupa and observed the procession arrive and be seated. He then walked along between the rows of monastics, watching as the food was served out.
After chanting the food offering prayers and mantras, the begging bowls were raised, the food was eaten, and at the end of the meal final dedication prayers were recited. His Holiness left the Deer Park to return to Tergar Monastery.
In the afternoon His Holiness formally thanked all the sponsors, all those who had come, and those who had worked for the Kagyu Monlam, and gave his concluding remarks. Reviewing the results of the past year, he remarked that many of the monasteries had made their assemblies free from meat; and regarding the environment, ‘people are making attempts to do projects’.
‘There are changes in the environment’, he noted, ‘even in Tibet the ice is melting. This concerns people throughout the world. It’s about the life and death of the globe. This year I brought out a booklet on guidelines to protect the environment, to be spread everywhere.
Secondly, we are the practice lineage. Our main practice is meditation. There should be teachings on meditation in each monastery. The Lamas should make a program to meditate.
The practice lineage is not just a name. It means we have to do some meditation. We should encourage and train young monks and give emphasis to education. Let monks use their intelligence.
Buddha dharma is very much relied on the Sangha, not on individual Rinpoche or Tulku so it is very important to have a good discipline monastic system.
The Evening of Marme-Monlam
Gyalwang Karmapa take his place in front of the bodhi tree, at the head of the congregation, alongside H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, H.E. Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Zurmang Garwang Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and many other Rinpoches.
The evening began with the Short Chenresig Puja, All-Pervading Benefit of Beings which has the concluding aspiration.
The Refuge Prayer in Sanskrit and other Sanskrit verses followed.
After that small groups gathered on the steps below the red gate to offer prayers in their own language and musical style. This year a Chinese group came first, then Koreans, Vietnamese, and, lastly, English. The English group sang the prayer “One World, written by His Holiness himself, to a musical accompaniment on guitar and violin.
His Holiness beat a small gong three times. This was the signal for everyone to light their lamps for the Mar-me Monlam. The gelong and gelongma had lotus-shaped lamps; all-in-all there were more than 500 of these. In addition there were 2500 electric candles.
Next came Atisha’s Lamp Prayer. The Gyalwang Karmapa read the first part in Tibetan, Chinese, and English, and everyone repeated the lines after him. The other verses were sung.
May the bowl of this lamp become equal to the outer ring of this world realm of the great Three Thousands. May its stem be the size of the King of Mountains, Mt. Meru. May its oil fill the surrounding oceans. In number, may a hundred million appear before each and every buddha. May its light dispel all the darkness of ignorance from the Peak of Existence to the Incessant Hell and illumine all the Pure Realms of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions so they are clearly seen.
Last Day of 26th Kagyu Monlam, Jan 11, 2009