The Colden Auditorium, Queens College, Flushing, New York – February 4, 2018
To over 2,000 people gathered at the Colden Auditorium, the Karmapa, for the first time in his life, offered a Green Tara initiation as a standalone ceremony and not part of a long series of empowerments. To begin, he gave some background on the initiation itself.
“This afternoon, I will bestow a permission empowerment for Green Tara,” he began. “From among the many Tara sadhanas and empowerments, this one comes from the Ninth Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje’s cycle of empowerments, “Knowing One Frees All.” Of the two Green Tara empowerments therein, the one for today is known as the Tara Empowerment with Five Yidam Deities. It forms a part of the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa’s sets of five yidam deity practices (lha lnga tshan lnga). In addition to Tara, they include the practices of Hevajra, Hayagriva, Chakrasamvara, and Vajra Varahi.”
The Karmapa continued, “This empowerment of Green Tara belongs to the Secret Mantra, which is divided into graduated sections: the Kriya or Action Tantra, the Upa or Performance Tantra, the Yoga tantra, and the Annutarayoga or Highest Yoga tantra. Today’s empowerment belongs to the lower tantric schools, which do not require making the commitments of the Secret Mantra as described in the major texts. The main focus here is on the bodhisattva vows.”
“When practicing the Secret Mantra, the main reason to transform ourselves into a deity,” he explained, “is to turn around our ordinary way of seeing. In this present context, the mode of visualization is to let the deity arise all at once and complete. And we do not focus just on the form of the deity, but clearly bring to mind its nature as well. The mind has many different abilities. Usually it is muddling around thinking of various things, and we should reduce this as much as we can so that our mind is not trapped in our usual world, especially when envisioning a deity such as Tara or Avalokiteshvara. When focusing on their essential nature, it would be strange if they manifested with our anger or jealousy. If we can reverse our attachment to the ordinary, it will allow new and pure appearances to arise.
“The main point is that practice should be combined with the view of emptiness. Any yidam deity practice begins with everything dissolving into emptiness, and out of that empty state arises the mandala of the yidam deity.”
Having recited the visualization, the Karmapa commented, “The empowerment of the noble body allows us to meditate on the deity’s form; the empowerment of the deity’s speech allows us to recite their mantra, and the empowerment of the deity’s mind allows for meditating in samadhi.”
After the Karmapa had bestowed these three empowerments, a mandala of thanksgiving was offered and a long line of offerings began with the five supports of body, speech, mind, qualities, and activity. The first, a statue, represents a wish that the lama live long and keep manifesting; the second, a Dharma text, represents a wish for their teaching to shower down upon us; the third, a stupa, represents a wish that they gaze upon us with their mind of wisdom and compassion; the fourth, a long life vase, represents the wish that through their positive qualities, they fulfill the hopes of all living beings; and the fifth, a crossed vajra, represents the wish that their activity be continuous, all-pervasive, and spontaneously accomplished.
Copious thanks were then offered to His Holiness for this day of teachings and empowerment, as well as to the Danang Foundation for organizing the event and in particular to Tsewang Rinpoche who guides the Foundation. On a very positive note, this special day was brought to a close.