24th December – Bodhgaya.
The monks and nuns attending the Monlam are expected to attend the whole day at the Pavilion and to take the Mahayana Sojong vows unless they are ill or old. In addition, every morning so far the rear of the pavilion has filled with an astonishing number of laypeople who also wish to keep Sojong during the Monlam. Mahayana Sojong is a very powerful practice taken for restoration and purification of broken vows and precepts. As in all Mahayana practices its foundation is bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment, and the motivation is:
“for the sake of all sentient beings; to benefit them; to liberate them; to eliminate famine; to eliminate illness”…
Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche gave the Mahayan Sojong vows, enunciating them carefully two syllables at a time, for everyone to repeat.
During the teaching on the “Three Primary aspects of the Path”, Gyalwang Karmapa gave the Bodhisattva Vows, and also gave two lungs [reading transmission of the text ] for the short ngondro practice which he himself composed in 2006 specifically for use by students living in the developed world who might not have time to complete a more extensive ngondro practice, and for the longer ngondro written by the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje as a preliminary to Mahamudra.
A large section of empty blue mats was noticeable at the front of the laypeople’s area. Friends of Kagyu Monlam had gone for their special audience with the Gyalwang Karmapa. The third session often contains special prayers. Today the focus was on the removal of obstacles. To this end the “Praises of the Twenty-One Taras” was recited , followed by other prayers to Tara and to Sarasvati.