October 11, 2016 – Tibetan Children’s Village Upper Dharamsala, India
The Gyalwang Karmapa began his second day at TCV by circumambulating the shrine hall while turning the prayer wheels, and then he spoke briefly with the teachers and staff. Afterward he went to visit classrooms for the Middle and Senior students Sometimes the Karmapa stood in the back of the classroom to observe, and at others he stood with the teacher or next to a student watching how they were taking notes or reading their book. In the science lab, the students showed him the projects they had recently completed.
During the afternoon, the Karmapa returned to the main hall to talk to the Middle and Senior students as well as the faculty. Sitting on the stage beneath a large image of the Buddha, the Karmapa recalled that he had come many times this school as well as other TCV schools. This occasion, however, was special since he could spend three consecutive days with them and thanked all who had made it possible.
After mentioning that he felt older than his years due to all the difficult experiences he had known, the Karmapa turned to his childhood: “Until seven years old, I was a child like all of you. I was an ordinary, really normal child.” He related that he was told that there were special signs at his birth, which he himself had not experienced, and that his neighbors in the village believed he was special. His parents had gone to lamas to ask and find out who he was. Then the search party looking for the Karmapa’s reincarnation came to the remote area of his home, known as Lhatok (lha thog).
[In a lighter vein as an aside, he remarked, “Many people do not know where my homeland is. Some think I’m from Amdo, some think I’m from Utsang, and others think I’m from Kham. Actually, this is quite fortunate. When I’m with people from Kham, who think I’m a Khampa, then I speak a little in their language. When I’m with people from Utsang, who think I’m from there, I use some of their words. And when I’m with people from Amdo who think that we share a homeland, I talk a little like them. And so it all turns out quite well.”]
The Karmapa explained that Lhatok was a remote area and history books tell that it once was a rather small kingdom. When the search party came to Lhatok from Lhasa, they did not give any notice of their coming and the Karmapa thought that they must have faced some problems. The search party asked many questions of his father and mother and then returned to Lhasa. The second time the party visited, they declared that he was the Karmapa’s reincarnation. “At that time, my life underwent a powerful change,” the Karmapa recalled. “When we were young children, we would play a game together. I would pretend to be a high lama and the others would pretend to be ordinary people. After I became the Karmapa and people prostrated, it seemed to me that we were still playing that same game.”
Then, as he did for the foster mothers (see the report for the afternoon of October 10th), the Karmapa shared the story of his coming to Tsurphu, his seat near Lhasa, and how the situation was not at all what he had expected. In sum, he said, “I was a normal child who went from being ordinary to growing up as the Karmapa.”
Continuing this line of thought, he said, “Many people think that when one is a high lama like the Karmapa, immediately one is exceptional and very advanced, so one would not need to study much. But it is usually not the case that a tulku will quickly become a special person.” He explained that some tulkus have a sharp intellect from birth and some understand immediately what they are taught. However, most tulkus are made, or to use Dharma terms, their qualities are acquired. One has to make efforts to become an authentic reincarnation.”
“In my case,” the Karmapa explained, “receiving the name Karmapa is nothing astounding. First the name is given, and then in accordance with that name, you are given a very intensive education since people have hope and faith in the Karmapa. You put all your energy into this study and still the teachers say, ‘You have to do better than that. You’re the Karmapa.’ Anyway you look at it, engaging in this kind of study and training is not at all easy.”
The Karmapa then turned to the students’ education and remarked, “You are all here to study and are doing well. It is important that we have hopes and ideas about what we will do in the future and it is good that each one of us has their goals and plans.” We should think far ahead into the future, he counseled, and through a stable hope and trust, engage in our studies.
The Karmapa also encouraged the students: “We Tibetans are a people with a long history. We have a rich culture and an excellent Buddhist philosophical system. Therefore, it is a most valuable and precious activity to study and have a deep interest in our traditions, culture, and sciences.”
The modern world, he commented, is only interested in expansion, and if things continue this way, it will be difficult to think that everything will be all right. Interest in material things has taken over and we live in a world of consumerism. We meet ads at every turn telling us that we must buy this and have that. “Actually,” the Karmapa remarked, “we do not need all these things we are told to buy.” But ads everywhere increase our craving to get and consume things. If this continues without anyone at the helm, he warned, we will be faced with a huge disaster. Scientists today are saying that our planet is not big enough to satisfy all our cravings.
Encouraging everyone to consume less, the Karmapa gave advice on how to shop. Before going to the store, he said, we should think carefully and in detail about what we are going to buy. If it is a watch, then what color? Shape? Size? We should set clearly in our minds how we will use it and what features it should have. Then we should go straight to the store and buy exactly what we set out to purchase. This would be fine. But if we just think, “I’d like to buy something” and wander around different stores, we will wind up buying too much. It is important to make a clear distinction between what we want and what we really need, he stated, and not fool ourselves by confusing the two.
Knowing what to take up and what to give up can be learned through study. “We have to know well,” the Karmapa advised, “what is virtuous and what is not, or what is truly positive and what is actually negative within ourselves. To be able to see this, we need the two eyes of the traditional science of logic and the teachings on discernment bequeathed to us by the traditions of our forefathers.” This traditional education should be combined, he said, with a modern one, which allows us to move in our contemporary society. Both types of education are needed in the same way that we need two hands. With the two eyes of logic and discernment and the two hands of traditional and modern education, he explained, we will have all that we need.
The Karmapa concluded by saying that in order to accomplish their goals for the future, students needed to engage in their education and study well, always developing further. “Please try hard to become a good person who is dignified and well mannered, who has loving-kindness for people, and who embodies the excellent attitude of wishing to benefit others. Thank you.”
The day ended with a lively spelling bee in the main hall. The Karmapa was the Chief Guest, sitting in the center of the audience to watch the ten young contestants.
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