[Voice of Tibet November 12, 2013 report] Fifth Conservation Conference today (the 12th) concluded in New Delhi, the seventeenth Karmapa Rinpoche at the ceremony, stressed that while the Tibetan Communist Party control is a fact However, the CCP has no right to do whatever the environment of Tibet, also called on the Indian government in Tibet environmental concerns.
This station reporters in New Delhi sent a message by the Tibetan Kagyu environmental organizations and the World Wildlife Fund jointly hosted the 5th Conservation Conference held today (the 12th) at the closing of the International Centre in New Delhi, in the period five days of the General Assembly and a number of environmental scholars from India, Nepal, Bhutan and other places more than 50 representatives of monasteries around global warming, the Himalayan region and Tibet's ecological environment and other issues in-depth discussion.
Tibetan Kagyu His Holiness Karmapa Rinpoche said at the closing ceremony, (recording) Many people think that talking about Tibet, and will involve political issues, but the issue of Tibet is not just a political issue, it is related to the environment problem. Tibetan plateau known as the world's third pole and Asian reservoirs, these show the importance of environmental protection in Tibet. Karmapa Rinpoche said that you want to protect Tibet's environment, it is necessary to follow Tibetan ancestors thousands of years of life, including the Tibetan religion and culture.Tibet and the Tibetan environmental issues related to the Tibetans not only benefit more directly related to the neighboring countries, the Asian countries' interests, we hereby appeal to environmental issues of common concern in Tibet. And stressed the Communist-controlled Tibet 50 years is true, but the CCP has no right to do whatever the environment in Tibet, the same as with the Indian government is most closely all aspects of Tibet country should take responsibility to contribute to environmental protection in Tibet.
At a mine in Tibet
Meanwhile, environmental organizations liaison Kagyu Sonam Ka participate in an interview with our station reporter said (recording) composed most of the Earth is from the ocean, so many people think that water resources are endless, but environmental scientists tell us , environmental change, population growth and other reasons, endangering water shortages and water pollution problems arising. Participants found the courses in their respective monasteries, increasing environmental course introduces water conservation issues, while the local population spread environmental knowledge.
Tuesday, 12 November 2013 20:36 The Tibet Post International
The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee during the conference held in New Delhi, the capital of India. Photo: TPI
New Delhi, India International Centre, 12 November, 2013: - His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorjee Tuesday called on the 60 monks and nuns attending the conference to lead water conservation initiatives in their local Himalayan communities.
At the close of a five-day environmental conference he convened in Delhi called on China to take responsibility for the environmental emergency on the Tibetan plateau, and for India to assume a greater role in protecting Tibet's environment as well.
The 5th Khoryug Conference on Environmental Protection for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries was dedicated to conservation of freshwater resources in the Himalayas, and brought together monks and nuns from 55 communities across the Himalayan region for education, problem-solving workshops and to formulate specific water conservation projects to implement in their local communities.
The conference included a trip to the bank of the Yamuna River, where His Holiness the Karmapa led prayers for the restoration of the sacred, yet highly polluted Yamuna, accompanied by the Khoryug monks and nuns and local residents, as well as Dr. Manoj Misra, Director of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan organization that is dedicated to restoring the river.
Speaking at the close of the conference, the 17th Karmapa said: "Some people think the Tibetan cause is a political issue, but it is much more than that. The Tibetan plateau is of such great environmental importance that we call it the Third Pole and the water tower of Asia. Therefore, most importantly, Tibet is an environmental issue that affects all of Asia."
The Karmapa also commented: "Just because China has had control over Tibet for the past 50 years does not mean it can do whatever it likes. China has responsibilities to protect the Tibetan environment. Historically, the Tibetan way of life was in harmony with the land, spiritually and environmentally, with no negative impact on Tibet's fragile ecosystems.
This way of life must at all costs be preserved, because of the central importance of the Tibetan plateau as a source of most of Asia's freshwater. It is in India's best interest to take a more active role in ensuring that China meets those responsibilities. Indeed the Tibetan plateau is the world's Third Pole and thus its environmental well-being is of great concern to the entire world."
"However, we cannot wait for governments to act. The environmental emergency is too urgent a crisis for us to wait for someone else to do something. Every single individual must act to protect the environment, and immediately. Each of us has a responsibility to act so we can leave a lasting home for future generations," His Holiness the Karmapa said.
"As spiritual practitioners and certainly as Mahayana Buddhists, our greatest aspiration is to bring about the happiness of all beings. The conservation of our environment, which is the very ground of the existence of many billions of beings, must be our primary concern. Conservation must be the very essence of our spiritual practice."
The Karmapa asked his followers to act on two areas – modifying their personal consumption of water directly, as well as indirectly. Pointing out that although much of the earth's surface is covered with water, less than 3% is freshwater, and within that tiny percentage a mere 1% is available for our usage. Along with checking our direct consumption of water, the Karmapa called on the gathering to consider also their indirect consumption, since the production of consumer goods also entails intensive consumption of water.
Noting that the bulk of our water is used in agriculture, the Karmapa presented the scientific figures showing that meat consumes exponentially more water than vegetarian foodstuffs, and reiterated his longstanding appeal for vegetarianism as an environmental as well as ethical issue.
Under the auspices of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Khoryug is a network of 55 Buddhist monasteries, nunneries and centres working together on environmental protection of the Himalayan region, with the aim of practically applying the values of compassion and interdependence towards the earth and all living beings that dwell here.
In association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Sacred Earth program, which provides technical expertise and support, as well as ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment), CSE (Centre for Science and the Environment), and the Director of the Environment and Development Desk within the Central Tibetan Administration.
The conference opened with an address by Union Minister of Rural Development Shri Jairam Ramesh, who urged the Khoryug association to "bring together institutions in these different countries in our region to launch a cohesive and unified challenge" to the environmental threat.
Since an important aim of the conference was for Himalayan monks and nuns to identify freshwater threats in their communities and create specific projects to counter those threats and conserve freshwater, the conference closed with monks and nuns presenting their plans for environmental initiatives for the upcoming year.
New Delhi: The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the third most important Tibetan religious head, Tuesday called on China and India to help save its environment. Speaking at the fifth Khoryug conference on environmental protection for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries, the Karmapa said: "Some people think the Tibetan cause is a political issue, but it is much more than that. "The Tibetan plateau is of such great environmental importance that we call it the Third Pole and the water tower of Asia. Therefore, most importantly, Tibet is an environmental issue that affects all of Asia. "Just because China has had control over Tibet for the past 50 years does not mean it can do whatever it likes. China has responsibilities to protect the Tibetan environment," the 28-year-old said. "Historically, the Tibetan way of life was in harmony with the land, spiritually and environmentally, with no negative impact on Tibet's fragile ecosystems. "This way of life must at all costs be preserved, because of the central importance of the Tibetan plateau as a source of most of Asia's freshwater," said the Karmapa, who resides in a monastery on the outskirts of Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama is based. He said it was in India's best interest to take a more active role in ensuring that China meets those responsibilities. "Indeed the Tibetan plateau is the world's Third Pole and thus its environmental well-being is of great concern to the entire world. "However, we cannot wait for governments to act. The environmental emergency is too urgent a crisis for us to wait for someone else to do something. "Every single individual must act to protect the environment, and immediately. Each of us has a responsibility to act so we can leave a lasting home for future generations," the Buddhist monk said. The Karmapa, who fled Tibet and sought refuge in India in January 2000, is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four sects of Buddhism. He is considered the third most important Tibetan religious head after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. IANS First Published: Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 21:35 http://zeenews.india.com/news/eco-news/karmapa-asks-china-india-to-help-save-tibetan-plateau_889457.html
[Voice of Tibet November 13, 2013] reported being launched in New Delhi itinerary of Tibet His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa Rinpoche Kagyu yesterday (the 12th) accepted this station interview, Rinpoche territory of Tibet to teach people to strengthen internal solidarity.
5th Conservation Conference yesterday (the 12th) after the closing of the International Centre in New Delhi, the Tibetan Kagyu His Holiness Karmapa Rinpoche accepted an interview with reporters this station resident and pasture for domestic Tibetans various contradictions and disputes the bloody events, teaches Tibetan people want to strengthen internal solidarity.
Seventeenth Karmapa Rinpoche said (recording) in Tibet due to competition for grass and other small conflicts has witnessed a number of Tibetans internal strife and even bloodshed. This is a violation of religious and ethical practices, especially now Tibetans cultural, religious subject of much attention, when Tibetans shame like so bad events continue to occur, is to make the discouraging thing. Karmapa Rinpoche stressed, speaking from a moral and ethical matter what happens between people kind of conflicts should be resolved by peaceful means, rather than to increase the use of guns and knives contradiction, it is from religion is concerned, mischief if not for others to benefit him, nor retaliate way outdone.
Karmapa Rinpoche went on to say, (recording) Generally speaking, we should use the face of conflicting religious beliefs, to resolve it with compassion, rather than battles evil, blood for blood to try to increase the contradictions, contradictions no end. Therefore, all of us, especially the Tibetans inside, as compatriots, as a group with a common way of life, Tibetans in the dark in such a historical period, each of the Tibetans should do their best effort to the cause of Tibet, Tibet religious and cultural heritage contribute to the development, rather than internal fighting between compatriots discouraging the Tibetan people, Tibetans in history to stain. Meanwhile, Tibet's Karmapa Rinpoche for environmental issues to our station that (recording) from the ancient times, there is a saying that Tibet is snowy, the source of all rivers, several major rivers in Asia are by the Tibetan mountains, formed by glaciers. Tibet for the whole world, it is the Asian region is very important, modern scientists is known as the world's third pole of the Tibetan Plateau and the Asian Reservoir, also want to protect Tibet's environment, it is necessary to follow ancestors thousands of Tibetans years of life, including the Tibetan religion and culture.
Karmapa Rinpoche said that in this modern age of advanced culture, way of life in front of diversity, many people are unable to think deeply, blindly follow fashion, so that the loss of ancestral customs, and some think it is a superstition is not justified thing, therefore, to recognize that the Tibetans inside Tibetan ancestors lifestyle is beneficial to protect the natural environment of Tibet's unique importance.
Karmapa Rinpoche Again Communist Tibet 50 years is true, but the CCP has no right to do whatever the environment of Tibet. Karmapa said that the Chinese government in Tibet Luancai mining, construction of dams and other acts, causing serious environmental problems in Tibet, the authorities must take responsibility to protect Tibet's environment. As Tibet's most closely neighboring India, should contribute to the cause of environmental protection in Tibet. Similarly, Tibet's environmental problems are not only related to the interests of Tibetans, nor is it a place where the question of Tibet, which is directly related to the interests of the Asian neighbor countries, we hereby appeal to the Tibetan environmental issues of common concern as well as scholars in various environmental compliance practice under the guidance of pay.
Posted by KTD in Concerning His Holiness Karmapa, Lama Karma Drodhul and tagged with environmentalism, His Holiness Karmapa, Karmapa, khoryug, Khoryug Environmental Conference, The Kagyu Lineage His Holiness Karmapa, Tibetan Buddhism
Khoryug Environmental Conference – Nov. 8th to 12th 2013
India International Centre, New Delhi
by Yeshe Wangmo
Tuesday, Nov. 12 — The 5thAnnual Khoryug Conference wrapped up in New Delhi today with an extremely informative and inspirational speech by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje in the morning session. The five-day intensive gathering of about 60 monastic delegates from 50 monasteries and nunneries in the Himalayan region powerfully reflected the Gyalwang Karmapa’s ongoing commitment to environmental activism in the 21stcentury.
Khoryug (Eng. “environment”) was established by the Karmapa in 2009 and is headed by Dekila Chungyalpa, the founder of the World Wildlife Fund’s Sacred Earth Program. Dekila also is the main facilitator of this year’s conference, themed “Conservation of Freshwater Resources in the Himalayas.” Dr. Sarala Khaling, Regional Director at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), and Tenzin Norbu, director of the Environment & Development Desk at the Central Tibetan Administration, were co-facilitators.
Khoryug is comprised mostly of Karma Kagyu Monasteries and Nunneries, but membership is not limited to the Kagyu lineage. For instance, Gelukpa monasteries also are members of Khoryug.
Khoryug Coordinator Gyaltsen Sonam spoke briefly about the impact that great spiritual leaders like the Gyalwang Karmapa can have on environmental protection: “What is the reason for an organization like Khoryug in the Himalayan region? Many people here believe in science but not scientists. Likewise, Himalayan people have great faith in spiritual masters like the Karmapa, rather than in scientists. Therefore spiritual masters have a huge role to play in preserving and protecting the environment.”
In the morning of the very first session, Dekila summarized the topics to be covered at this year’s conference: “On the first day we will be providing the basics on Freshwater Science. There will be quite a lot of detail on the Freshwater ecological systems and biodiversity, and once the basics are there we will invite the monasteries to talk about their own experiences — about the uses of water in their monasteries, where it comes from, where it goes, and what the status has been if they are suffering from water scarcity. There will be a lot of focus on health, hygiene and sanitation, because this is a need, especially in the communities and our monasteries…. Following that, we will move into the solution section, which is all about how the monasteries can secure their own drinking water sources –whether they can do rainwater harvesting or springshed restoration and also whether they can engage in wastewater recycling.
“We hope that the outcome of the conference is that monasteries feel that this is an issue they want to engage in and that they actually design their own monastic projects and work together to create large projects as well, for freshwater conservation.”
The five-day conference was chaired by the 17th Karmapa and included Power-Point presentations by scientists, roundtable discussions, films on freshwater problems and solutions, and question and answer sessions. On the fourth day, a field trip allowed the attendees to venture outside of the cloistered conference venue to visit an actual wastewater treatment site at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in South Delhi. The large group of monastics went on a guided tour of an ingenuous facility designed in 2006 to treat 8000 liters of wastewater daily. The tour also included a demonstration of rainwater harvesting. CSE offered to help set up pilot programs in both wastewater treatment and rainwater harvesting at a couple of the Khoryug-member monasteries.
In the afternoon, the conference attendees were joined by the Gyalwang Karmapa and his entourage on the banks of the Yamuna River to pray for the sentient beings struggling to survive in and around the dank, stagnant waters of this river, considered largely “dead” by scientific standards. Fortunately, the Yamuna comes back to life further downstream where it is joined and fed by tributaries running into the Ganges.
Lama Karma Drodhul attended the Khoryug conference on behalf of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra and made presentations when invited by the facilitators. One two separate occasions Lama Karma sang a spontaneous song of homage to the Gyalwang Karmapa in front of the entire group. Finally at the end, he joined the conference attendees in their pledge to bring Khoryug’s vision back home, to share the knowledge gleaned in Delhi for the benefit of all, to implement the techniques learned, and ultimately to realize the environmental goals of Khoryug at all of their respective monasteries.
Nothing sums up the purpose and goal of the conference better than the powerful and timely speech the Gyalwang Karmapa made today, on the last day of the conference, with Lama Yeshe Gyamtso from KTD translating. Here is the Karmapa’s speech in its entirety:
Over the last several days, you have spoken a great deal and heard a great deal about water [and] in particular the [general] situation, including how it has been protected. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to be with you continuously over the last several days, it has been reported to me that you have been working very, very hard and have done very well. So I feel that in spite of my absence things have gone well. Now you have heard from expert scientists who have both experience and knowledge regarding the environment from a scientific point of view. You also have undertaken a field trip which has enabled you to actually see with your own eyes the condition of water. So therefore I don’t think there is really much need for me to add to your knowledge. However, both Dekila and some of the journalists I have met with have asked me to explain the importance of water to Buddhism.
In a sense I think it is unnecessary to give a particular Buddhist take on the importance of water because the supreme importance of water to Buddhism and to everyone is that water is essential to life. We cannot survive without it. I think that is the best reason for its importance.
Now about water, if you look at this planet from the outside, you’ll observe that about two-thirds of this planet’s surface or more seems to be made up of water, which will give you the idea that there is a lot of water. However, 97.5% of the water on this planet is salt water found in the oceans. We cannot really use salt water. It is theoretically possible to move to desalinate it, to turn it into fresh water but doing so is impractical because it would be extremely expensive and would involve a great deal of technology as well as expensive energy.
Only 2.5% of the water on this planet is fresh water; 70% of that freshwater is found in the poles, the North Pole and South Pole, and what we now call the “third pole,” the glaciers in the Himalayan region. Most of the remaining 30% is found in groundwater in various parts of the planet. Only 0.3% is found in lakes and rivers. Now of this freshwater, 70% of our use of it is for agriculture, including irrigation; 22% is used in industry in various ways; and 8% is used domestically, which means personally. Now, that 8%, which is what we could call “the direct use of water “– what we usually think of when we think about our relationship with water — is used by us to drink, to cook and to wash.
Let’s look first of all at that direct use of water. If someone takes a 15-minute shower, and does not turn off the water during it, but leaves the water on during the whole 15 minutes, they’ll use about 22 gallons of water. In addition, most people use another couple of gallons brushing their teeth, shaving and whatnot. Most people use 6 gallons of water a day in flushing the toilet and if you have a dishwasher, the dishwasher probably uses 10 gallons a day. That means a minimum of 40 gallons a day per person, but in fact, in some developed countries, for example in the United States of America, people typically use for their personal, direct use more than 100 gallons of water a day.
Now I think there are ways to lessen this. For example, in a lot of hotels you notice that when you flush the toilet, it keeps on flushing for up to two or three minutes after its function has been performed and I think that there are ways of improving on this. Some people that I know accumulate the water they use for washing their face in a basin and then pour that into the reserve tank in the toilet or into the toilet bowl itself so that they flush the toilet without using additional water. And there are lot of things we can do like that to minimize our direct use of water.
However, far greater than our direct use of water, even though it may reach 100 gallons a day, is our indirect use of water. Now indirect use is the water that is used to create things that we use. So we don’t actually think of it as using water because it is not in front of our face. We don’t see the water. But nevertheless we use huge amounts of water. For example, in the case of those who eat meat, to create one pound of beef, 1,799 gallons of water will have been used. To create one pound of pork, 576 gallons, one pound of chicken, 408 gallons, and one pound of goat meat, 127 gallons. One pound of rice requires 449 gallons of water, one pound of barley 198, and one pound of wheat, 132. So, in that way, we can see that we need to think not only about our direct use of water, but also about our indirect use and considering the amount of water that is expended for the consumption of meat, this adds a second ethical concern to the eating of meat. The primary ethical concern remains the taking of life and so forth, but the impact of the consumption on the environment through its use of water must also be considered. In short, I think there are many, many things we can do to save water.
Now, with regards to the sources of water among these are, of course, rivers. Rivers, however, are not only water sources. They serve other functions as well. Rivers obviously are the living environment for many different species and they also, if left to their natural course and natural state, carry nutrients in the soil itself from the headwaters, down to where they flow. They create wetlands, which enable us to farm, and they also form the shape of the land through which they flow. We are destroying these rivers, destroying them through the building of dams, through horrific pollution, and through diverting the natural course of these rivers themselves. I think that all these environmental problems have resulted from our human behavior; one could say, misbehavior. Environmental problems have not descended upon us from the sky. We’ve created them through our own incorrect view and incorrect behavior. In particular, the unbridled, unlimited greed and desire of human beings, which is subject to limited resources, is the principal source of all of our environmental problems. Especially, the technology that we have achieved by now in this 21st Century enables us to impact the environment in a negative way to a degree that has never been possible for humans at any previous point in our history.
For example, those of you who live in Delhi, or all who certainly are here now, have observed the tremendous number of automobiles on the roads. There are always so many cars going that there are constant traffic jams, so that a journey that really should take just a few minutes could often take much, much longer. Now there are far more automobiles in Delhi than there were when I first came to India. And I think that everyone drives their car as a matter of personal choice because they are thinking of their own needs.
The problem is that each and every person has that same need to go somewhere, and therefore each and every person is making that choice based upon their own individual need, therefore creating a traffic jam. I think that this indicates a change we need to make in our choices and concerns. The choices we make, such as means of transportation, use of roads and everything else that affects the environment must not reflect our own needs alone as an individual. Our choices much reflect the common benefit of everyone. Our choices must not just reflect our own particular personal needs, they must be based upon what is best for the planet and the environment as a whole.
Ever since human beings have resided in this world, we have always been capable of doing things, including killing and so forth. I don’t think that killing and the results of killing are anything new. But nevertheless, technology has given us the ability to kill on a scale that we never, ever dreamed of before. Recently in Africa there was a mass slaughter of 4,000 elephants. In our parent’s day, it would have been difficult to even kill one elephant, but now we have the means to, in an instant, kill 4,000; with our guns and other weapon technologies, we can kill innumerable beings in a moment. And also in the same way, we simply are exhausting all of the resources in this world. To give another example, where fish used to be plentiful, it is said that in many instances, entire species of fish have been exhausted or used up by overfishing.
Yesterday we all visited the Yamuna River, which in the past was considered a very sacred place and was viewed with great wonder and great respect. In fact traditionally, the Yamuna itself is regarded as a pilgrimage site, for those who travel throughout India on pilgrimage. It has now become so filthy, so polluted, that it is a place that we seek to avoid at all costs and by every means at our disposal. For example, according to Buddhism, the Yamuna River is said to be the dwelling of one of the 16 elders, who is said to have dwelled there in the company or entourage of 1,600 other arhats. It seems unlikely given the state of the Yamuna that he is still there.
In the time of our parents, snow mountains, trees and rivers were all held to be sacred and any pollution of them was considered to be wrongdoing of itself. But now times have changed and many people regard the beliefs of our parents and our ancestors as meaningless superstition. They will tell you, “These things are not sacred. It doesn’t matter what you do with them. Do what you like.” Well this attitude is a problem and is one reason for our callous abuse of our environment. Another is the fact that the sheer population of human beings in this world has increased so greatly and so quickly, that whereas even if we abused the environment in the past, it had relatively, comparatively little impact.
Nowadays because of our sheer number, our abuse of the environment has a terrible impact. So because of the human population and because of modern technology, we are having a horrific impact on our environment, and we’ve become so jaded about this on the whole, that it is as if we are asleep. We are asleep in the sleep of ignorance of what we are doing to the environment. From one point of view, this 21st Century is an amazing time. We have amazing technology and we enjoy the benefits of that technology. But from another point of view it’s a horrible time because we are actually destroying the very basis of our existence and survival, such as water and other aspects of our environment. This is an utter contradiction. We are seeking to enjoy the benefits of our technology, while that technology is destroying our very means of survival.
Each and every one of the more than 7 billion people on this planet has a brain. We are all capable of understanding this and yet our ignorance about our misuse of the environment is shocking and the contradiction that what we want, and our self-destructive abuse of this planet, is horrific. We need to wake up from this ignorance, especially those who wish to practice spirituality must wake up. This is perhaps the greatest responsibility of us as spiritual practitioners. Therefore the main reason for offering environmental education to the monks and nuns of our many monasteries, is that our greatest hope as Mahayana Buddhists, our dream, our aspiration, is to bring about the happiness of all beings. If there is a way for us to do that, or make that closer to happening, surely that being our aspiration, we should engage in that with enthusiasm. Therefore, the conservation of our environment, which is the ground of the existence of billions and billions and billions of beings, must be our primary concern as Mahayana practitioners. And environmental conservation must be the very essence of our spiritual practice.
All of you gathered here, please make this intention central to your life. Especially as monks and nuns you are leaders and guides to the lay communities that you serve in the various regions within the Himalayas. If you can impart this message of environmental awareness and the importance of environmental conservation, it will bring tremendous benefit. Especially since, as you heard over the last five days, the Himalayan region is the water tower of all Asia.
I don’t want to say too much more because I don’t want to waste your time, and especially, it’s more important that you actually implement what you’ve learned here than that you hear more about it. In particular, make sure that you don’t separate your daily life from your acts of environmental conservation. Because it is, as we’ve seen, our choices in daily life, that impact the environment. If we do not change how we make these choices, and change the choices we make, simply attending this conference for a few days will not have much impact on the environment. So please implement what you have learned here and also explain what you have learned here to others. Don’t keep what you have learned hidden in your brains. Use it to help others. That is one of your responsibilities.
When we speak of the Tibetan cause – sometimes people mistake this as a uniquely political issue, but in fact it is much more than that and most importantly, it is an environmental issue. The Tibetan plateau is of great environmental importance to this world; we therefore call it the third pole and the water tower of Asia. In the past the Tibetan way of life, the way of life of our ancestors and our parents was one of environmental conservation, by which I mean, the Tibetan way of life was a way in which life was lived in harmony with the environment. Now this way of life fundamentally consisted of our religion, our spirituality and our culture. Therefore, since this way of life was a means of preserving or conserving the environment, this way of life must at all costs, be preserved, not only for the sake of Tibet itself, but because of the profound connection that the Tibetan environment has with all Asian nations, including Tibet’s adjacent neighbors. With regard to Tibet’s neighbors, of course China took over Tibet more than 50 years ago but that does not mean that China can do whatever it wants to the Tibetan environment. They must behave responsibly. With regard to the connection between Tibet and India, this connection is thousands of years old and is extremely profound. It is not simply a material or even a cultural connection; it is a spiritual one, the deepest possible connection. So therefore, India also is intimately connected with and bears some responsibility for this environment.
This is true of other Asian nations as well. Now as we are spiritual people, there is no need for us to dwell endlessly on political issues, but the happiness of beings, which cannot be entirely separate from politics, is very much our responsibility. Therefore, the environment and conservation of the environment is our primary responsibility. It is unnecessary for me to say much more but I would ask you all to keep this in your mind that we, all of us, bear a great responsibility for the environment and the environmental situation now is a state of emergency. Okay, now I’m really done.
(TibetanReview.net, Nov14, 2013) The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of Tibet’s foremost religious leaders and the head of the Karma Kagyu school within the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, has said Nov 11-12 that the issue of Tibet transcends politics and concerns the interest not only of its neighbouring countries but also all of Asia and possibly the rest of the world when it comes to talking about the environment. "The fact that China has control of Tibet does not mean they have the right to do whatever they want to the Tibetan environment," the AFP Nov 12 quoted the Karmapa as saying.
"Whatever happens to the Tibetan environment will definitely impact its neighbours and also eventually all of Asia," he was further quoted as saying.
The Karmapa spoke in New Delhi where on Nov 12 he addressed the Fifth Khoryug Conference, an annual environmental meet, attended by 60 monks and nuns from monasteries across the Himalayas at the India International Centre, New Delhi. Khoryug is a network of 55 Buddhist monasteries, nunneries and centres which work together on environmental protection in the Himalayan regions under the leadership of the Karmapa.
"During the more than 50 years since China took over Tibet, there has been a great deal of development and activity including military installations by the Chinese that have impacted the Tibetan environment," the report quoted him as saying. He has cited mining and dam building as other activities in Tibet that have disastrous environmental consequences for Asia.
He wanted India as the country having the deepest connect with Tibet to be clearer in expressing its concerns over the environmental devastation taking place there.
The annual environmental conference, an initiative of the current Karmapa, was designed to bring together monks and nuns from the participating communities and centres across the Himalayas for education, problem-solving workshops and to formulate specific water conservation projects to be implemented in their local communities.
During the latest, five-day conference, the participants undertook a trip to the bank of the highly polluted Yamuna River where the Karmapa led prayers for its restoration. He was accompanied by the Khoryug monks and nuns as well as local residents. Dr Manoj Misra, Director of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, an organization which aims to restore the sacred river, also took part.
The Karmapa was recognized as the reincarnation of his 16th predecessor by the Dalai Lama while still in Tibet. China went along with that recognition and he was duly enthroned at his traditional seat of Tsurphu Monastery near the capital Lhasa. However, in Dec 1999, he fled Tibet, citing lack of religious freedom and fear of being used for political purposes by China. He currently lives at a monastery near Dharamsala, India, as the government of India still hasn’t cleared him to take up residence in his exile seat of Rumtek Monastery in the state of Sikkim.
Excerpt from a thangka of the vision of the great tertön Chogyur Dechen Lingpa, who foresaw that the 17th Karmapa would receive teachings from Situ Rinpoche somewhere outside Tibet.
The tertön Chokgyur Lingpa (1829-1870) was a great master and visionary who discovered many Dharma treasures. He was a prominent member of the vibrant nonsectarian movement that blossomed in nineteenth-century Tibet. In his prophecies about the Karmapa, he began by invoking Gyalwa Chokyang, the Karmapa’s incarnation as one of the main disciples of Guru Rinpoche:
Lotsawa Gyalwa Chokyang, listen to me. In the supreme place of speech, Palace of the Half Moon, You will have twenty-one future rebirths. An emanation of Chenrezik, you know all three times.
Chokgyur Lingpa then continued to give the names of the Karmapas who would be born after his time: The names needed after Thekchok (Supreme Vehicle, the fourteenth Karmapa) passes into nirvana Are the Dewe Dagnyi (Very Nature of Bliss, the fifteenth Karmapa), Rigpe Dorje (Vajra of Awareness, the sixteenth Karmapa), Ogyen Trinley (Enlightened Activity of Guru Rinpoche, the seventeenth Karmapa), and Samten (Stable Contemplation, the future eighteenth Karmapa), and so forth. He also spoke individually of each incarnation and made the following prediction of the seventeenth Karmapa:
Nearby, at the foot of a verdant tree that grows on rocky mountains is the seventeenth incarnation of the Karmapa together with Kenting Tai Situ. This is a symbol that through their minds being fused as one, the leaves and petals of the Buddha’s teaching will unfold and the fruit, the essence of the Dakpo Kagyu, will be plentiful.
The text of Guru Rinpoche, Hidden Predictions (mDo byang gud sbas), gives the vast perspective:
The teachings of my emanation, the Karmapa, Will not come to an end until the teachings of the fortunate kalpa have come to a close.
12 November 2013 – India International Centre, New Delhi
On the final day of the 5th Khoryug Conference on Environmental Protection being held in New Delhi the Gyalwang Karmapa spoke passionately about the environmental emergency facing the world, and pointed to our individual personal consumption choices as one way to make a difference.
“Because of the sheer numbers of the human population and because of modern technology, we are having a horrific impact on our environment,” he told the 60 monastic delegates gathered from across the Himalayan region. “And we’ve become so jaded about this on the whole that it is as if we are asleep in the sleep of ignorance about what we are doing to the environment.”
“Each and every one of the more than 7 billion people on this planet has a brain. We’re all capable of understanding this, and yet our ignorance about our misuse of the environment is shocking. We need to wake up from this ignorance, especially those who wish to practice spirituality. This is perhaps our greatest responsibility as spiritual practitioners.”
The Gyalwang Karmapa urged Mahayana Buddhists to bring environmental conservation into the very heart of their spiritual practice.
“The conservation of our environment—which is the ground of the existence of billions and billions of beings—must be our primary concern as Mahayana practitioners. Environmental conservation must be the very essence of our spiritual practice.”
He appealed to the gathered monastics to make a difference in their individual communities, and pointed out that there are simple choices we can each make to reduce our personal consumption of finite resources such as water.
“We need to think not only about our direct use of water, but also about our indirect use,” he said. As an example, he observed the large difference in the amount of water used to produce meat as opposed to grains. “Considering the amount of water that is expended for the consumption of meat, this adds another ethical concern to the eating of meat.”
Turning next to the environmental emergency faced in Tibet, the Gyalwang Karmapa called on China to take responsibility for protecting Tibet’s fragile and important environment.
“When we speak of the Tibetan cause, sometimes people mistake this as a uniquely political issue,” he began. “But in fact it is much more than that, and most importantly it is an environmental issue. The Tibetan plateau is of great environmental importance to this world, and therefore we call it the Third Pole and the water tower of Asia.”
The Gyalwang Karmapa then pointed out that traditionally the Tibetan way of life was lived in harmony with the environment.
“Since this way of life was a means of preserving the environment, it must at all costs be preserved—not only for the sake of Tibet itself, but because of the profound connection that the Tibetan environment has with all Asian nations, including Tibet’s adjacent neighbors.”
“With regard to Tibet’s neighbors,” he continued, “of course China took over Tibet more than 50 years ago. But that does not mean that China can do whatever it wants to the Tibetan environment. They must behave responsibly.”
The Gyalwang Karmapa then urged India to also play a more active role in protecting Tibet’s environment.
“With regard to the connection between Tibet and India, this connection is thousands of years old and is extremely profound. It is not simply a material or even a cultural connection – it is a spiritual one, the deepest possible connection. So therefore, India also is intimately connected with and bears some responsibility for this environment. This is true of other Asian nations as well.”
The Gyalwang Karmapa’s comments came at the conclusion of a week of training in water conservation issues for monastic representatives from 55 monasteries and nunneries across the Himalayan region. Under the umbrella of the Khoryug organization, which the Gyalwang Karmapa chairs, member monasteries and nunneries in the Himalayas actively protect their local environments through activities such as tree-planting drives, clean-ups, conservation of water resources, waste management, and education initiatives for their local communities.
Tenzin Norbu, Director of the Environment and Development Desk at the Central Tibetan Administration and who was a key speaker at the conference, commended the activities of Khoryug under the Gyalwang Karmapa’s leadership. He pointed out that the organization set an example not only for other Buddhist monasteries and nunneries from all lineages across the Himalayan region, but also for non-Buddhists too.
In a significant event for all concerned, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje became the first world spiritual leader to visit the central shrine of Buddhism, the 1500 year old Mahabodhi temple complex, since the bombings by extremists earlier this year.
At the entrance to the temple grounds, he was welcomed warmly by the Monk-in-Charge, the Secretary of the Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee and the District Magistrate, who then escorted him.
By-passing the newly-established security checkpoints, Gyalwang Karmapa walked into the complex, down the central steps and headed directly to the Mahabodhi temple shrine room. He was greeted along the way by devotees from around the world. Flanking both sides of the pathway, they proffered pink and lilac lotus blossoms or ceremonial white scarves, and asked for his blessing. Inside the shrine room, His Holiness first offered a three-piece set of robes of hand-woven golden silk to the image of Lord Buddha, followed by seven bowls of fruit, flowers and food. As the monk-attendant draped the new robes over the Buddha image, His Holiness prostrated three times before commencing prayers in praise of Lord Buddha and for the peace and well-being of the world and all sentient beings. The short ceremony concluded with the lighting of a butter lamp. When His Holiness emerged from the shrine room, hundreds of followers thronged behind him as he completed a circuit of the inner route around the temple, followed by a circuit of the outermost route. Blue skies and mild weather, much cooler than in previous years, made for a quick and comfortable circumambulation.
His Holiness was unable to complete the middle circuit this time because of another noteworthy event being held in the temple complex: the gold-plating of the dome of the 180- foot high Mahabodhi temple. The work is being carried out by a team of forty technical experts from Thailand, who work from bamboo scaffolding high above the temple grounds. They will be using nearly 300 kilograms of gold which has been gifted by the King of Thailand and his people. More than a thousand Thai monks, nuns and lay pilgrims, dressed in traditional white lay pilgrim’s robes, have gathered for the occasion. As His Holiness completed his circumambulations, the sound of their prayers and chanting filled the grounds. This was the first official event of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s 2013-2014 winter programme in Bodhgaya.
Over the last decades, a lot of changes took place in the world. These changes, fostered by material and technological developments will continue to take place. However, what we must think about is whether we will be able to gain genuine happiness through this material development or not. Likewise, it is not impossible that in the future, we might face great and unbearable mental burdens and a sense of chaos because we have made ourselves so dependent on technology. Therefore, instead of working just for material development the next generation of young people should find means and methods for gaining inner peace because what we desire is mental happiness and peace. I think it is very important for us to think deeply about that.
When we mention about harmful friend,we do not only refer to that person him/herself,but also refer to his/her harmful intention.So we should avoid them. But,we actually also have a "harmful friend" within ourselves,i.e our harmful intention towards others that we sometimes have in our mind. If we cant avoid the harmful intention in our deeds, we will never be able to avoid the harmful friend. —HIS HOLINESS THE 17th KARMAPA
In the first official event of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s 2013-2014 winter programme in Bodhgaya, he visited the central shrine of Buddhism, the 1500 year old Mahabodhi temple complex.
Escorted by the Monk-in-Charge, the Secretary of the Mahabodhi Management Committee, and the District Magistrate, Gyalwang Karmapa went directly to the Mahabodhi temple shrine room where he offered a three-piece set of robes of hand-woven golden silk to the image of Lord Buddha, followed by seven bowls of fruit, flowers and food. As the monk-attendant draped the new robes over the Buddha image, His Holiness prostrated three times before commencing prayers in praise of Lord Buddha and for the peace and well-being of the world and all sentient beings. The short ceremony concluded with the lighting of a butter lamp.
Hundreds of followers from all over the world thronged behind him as His Holiness circumambulated the temple, first on the inner route and then on the outer route.
While His Holiness completed his circumambulation, the sound of prayers and chanting from the Thai congregation, assembled for the gilding of the Mahabodhi temple’s dome, filled the grounds. The work is being carried out by a team of forty technical experts from Thailand, who work from bamboo scaffolding high above the temple grounds. They will be using nearly 300 kilograms of gold which has been gifted by the King of Thailand and his people. More than a thousand Thai monks, nuns and lay pilgrims, dressed in traditional white lay pilgrim’s robes, have gathered for the occasion.
Each year an important part of the International Kagyu Monlam is the Akshobhya ritual, which usually takes place on the penultimate day of the Monlam, and every year a small group of chosen, dedicated practitioners take part in a special, preparatory retreat, held in the small shrine room on the roof of Tergar Monastery, opposite the living quarters of the Gyalwang Karmapa.
This year’s retreat, composed of thirty-three practitioners drawn from European centres, North America, Asia, including two Rinpoches, and senior members of Tsurphu Labrang, will last for forty days rather than the usual four weeks. Retreatants received the empowerments for the retreat on 18th November and the retreat proper began on the 19th November. It will finish on 28thDecember. During this time, retreatants will complete six practice sessions daily, starting at 6.00 am each morning and extending until 8.30 pm in the evening, and recite the Akshobhya dharanai mantra 100,000 times. They will also receive private teachings and instructions from the Gyalwang Karmapa each day. His Holiness is giving these teachings in Tibetan, Chinese and English, so that everyone can understand.
When the retreat finishes, the retreatants will join in all the pre-Monlam activities including the special Guru Rinpoche Tse Chu, the Monlam itself, and finally, will form the group which supports the Gyalwang Karmapa’s activities during the fire ritual which concludes the day of Akshobhya rituals on 14th January , 2014.
Akshobhya Buddha is one of the five Dhyani Buddhas. In Tibetan he is known as Mitrugpa, the one who never becomes disturbed by anger or aggression. According to the story, Mitrugpa was originally a devout practitioner, a gelong, who asked, “What is the most important thing to do in order to attain enlightenment?” and the answer given was, “Don’t get angry! Don’t let your mind be disturbed!, and so he vowed “From this moment on I will never get angry with anybody,” and hence he became known as Mitrugpa – the undisturbed – until, eventually, he became the Buddha Mitrugpa.
According to the Buddhist teachings the present age is one of degeneration when all beings in the cycle of existence (samsara) are suffering because of negative thoughts and actions. The Akshobhya ritual is a very powerful purification practice done for the benefit of all sentient beings. It can liberate not only the practitioners themselves from the fear of an unfortunate rebirth, but other beings as well. The Buddha Akshobhya promised that the merit generated by reciting 100,000 of his long dharani mantra and making an image of him could be dedicated to other people, both living and dead, and this would assure their release from lower states of existence and rebirth in spiritually fortunate circumstances.
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has commended this practice as very suitable at a time when negative forces are increasing in the world.
Gyalwang Karmapa today celebrated Mingyur Rinpoche’s 38th birthday by leading the monks of Tergar monastery in a dedicated long-life Tsedrup puja.
The sound of gyaling horns echoed down the stairwells from the roof of Tergar monastery, heralding the Gyalwang Karmapa’s arrival as he descended into the gompa below to lead the final session of the three-day puja. He joined around 300 monks as well as a small crowd of international devotees in the birthday long-life aspirations.
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, abbot of Tergar Monastery and one of the highly respected lamas, entered an advanced meditation retreat two and a half years ago. After leaving behind a letter to his students around the world setting out his intentions, he disappeared alone into the Himalayas to follow the path of a solitary wandering yogi. He carried no provisions, and no fixed plans, as he set off to meditate alone in remote Himalayan caves and at sacred sites.
3 December, 2013 – Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya. The 17th Kagyu Gunchoe – Winter Debates began this year on December 3rd at Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya, India. The daily schedule included debates during the morning and in the afternoon, the Karmapa’s teaching on a text by the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje, called The One Hundred Short Instructions. Throughout his presentation, the Karmapa emphasized the importance of balancing study with practice, of tempering intellectual pursuit with realization arising from experience. In the Tibetan tradition, debating is an integral part of intellectual and experiential training. Its purpose is to probe an individual’s knowledge of Dharma, to remove doubts, and to elucidate what is not clear. Debating helps to ensure that understanding does not stay at the level of words, but goes deeper into the meaning. It also allows a great number of topics to be explored in a short time and to be retained more easily. From 3rd December the Gyalwang Karmapa will teach daily during the 17th Kagyu Gunchoe Debates at Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya. Over this three-week period he will continue the remaining teaching and reading transmission on a text by the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje, called One Hundred Short Instructions (Tri-thung Gyatsa), which was not finish at 16th Kagyu Gunchoe. The Gyalwang Karmapa taught primarily to an audience of Tulkus and Khenpos and monks participating in the winter debates, however, simultaneous translations into Chinese were offered, and many international students also attended. The number of international students grew day by day, until the gompa quickly reached capacity. The Eighth Karmapa’s text One Hundred Short Instructions is divided into chapters covering a broad range of topics, arranged according to the path the dharma practitioner traverses. Commencing with the ‘Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind Towards the Dharma’, the Gyalwang Karmapa emphasized the preciousness of our human life, as well as the need for renunciation from worldly concerns. Nine shedras are present for this year’s Winter Debates. In the afternoon and evening, additional debate sessions took place in the Monlam Pavilion, so day and night the sound of challenging voices and clapping hands could be heard. And the monks continued to discuss matters as they circumambulated the shrine hall and walked back and forth to their rooms or meals. http://kagyuoffice.org/17th-kagyu-gunchoe-begins-gyalwang-karmapa-teaches-daily-during-the-annual-winter-debates/
On the anniversary of the parinirvana of the great First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa led several special celebratory events in the holy place of Bodhgaya.
After continuing the scheduled Kagyu Gunchö program in the morning, in the afternoon the Gyalwang Karmapa gave a detailed teaching on the sacred spiritual biography or namthar of Dusum Khyenpa, followed in the evening by a special Feast Offering Puja.
The great master known as Dusum Khyenpa, or ‘the knower of the three times’, was renowned for his ability to clearly see the past, present and future. He was the wellspring of the Karma Kamtsang lineage, and the first in the string of lives of the seventeen Karmapas, following one after another like beads on a mala.
Teaching to a gompa packed full with monks, nuns and a growing crowd of international students, the Gyalwang Karmapa began by observing that only recently have people begun to give greater importance to the anniversary of Dusum Khyenpa’s passing. “In the tantras it is said that we should pay attention to special dates and the special moments in great masters’ lives,” he began, “because our positive actions on these days are multiplied many times and we can accumulate great merit.”
He then explained that great masters of the past have said that their core instructions are actually their spiritual biographies. “When masters would tell their life stories it’s not just their words or teachings, but their own lived experience of putting the dharma into practice. Their life stories are living instructions,” he said. “Therefore Dusum Khyenpa’s biography is something to keep in your heart.”
The Gyalwang Karmapa described how, long before his eventual birth, Dusum Khyenpa’s coming was predicted in many sutras and tantras, such as the Samadhiraja Sutra. His life-story is filled with miraculous feats of spiritual accomplishment and signs of his high degree of realization, beginning right from when he was still in his mother’s womb.
“One day his pregnant mother Lhathok was working in the fields when she heard a voice from her belly, saying, ‘Please go home, I’m going to take birth soon’,” the Gyalwang Karmapa related. “Hearing that voice she went home very quickly to give birth to Dusum Khyenpa. Those fields are still there in Tibet today, called the ‘fields where a voice came from’.”
The Gyalwang Karmapa then told how as a child Dusum Khyenpa became famous for other miraculous feats such as creating springs, leaving handprints and footprints in many boulders, subduing a demon at the age of 8, and making rain fall during a very dry summer at the age of 9. At the age of 11 Dusum Khyenpa was able to pacify conflict throughout the region using extraordinary tantric means. It was at the age of 16 when Dusum Khyenpa ordained as a novice monk that he first came to possess the famous black crown that is now synonymous with the Karmapas.
“In the historical accounts, at that time Dusum Khyenpa had a pure vision in which 100,000 dakinis appeared and placed the black crown on his head,” the Gyalwang Karmapa explained. “Together they empowered him as the ‘doer of the activities of all the Buddhas’, and gave him the name Karmapa. In some of the biographies it’s said that all those who were present even saw this vision.”
The Gyalwang Karmapa also commented that according to some historical sources, the black crown symbolizes the inseparability of Dusum Khyenpa and the great Indian Mahasiddha Saraha.
The Gyalwang Karmapa then related how throughout his life Dusum Khyenpa was known by a series of different names, including Khampa Usay, or ‘the yellow-haired Khampa’.
“Since he was a child he was blond,” the Gyalwang Karmapa said, “and his face was just like the face of a monkey.” He told the story of how in a previous life Dusum Khyenpa had insulted a monk, telling him his face looked like a monkey. With this one act, the Gyalwang Karmapa explained, he created the karma to be reborn with monkey features himself for many lifetimes, and Dusum Khyenpa was the last of these monkey-faced lives.
Throughout his long life Dusum Khyenpa spent many years meditating in remote caves, under the guidance of his root guru Gampopa, and attained many signs of realization. He also founded the three monasteries which became his main seats in Tibet, Kampo Nenang, Karma, and Tsurphu.
“It was due to the power of Dusum Khyenpa’s strong prayers and aspirations that the Karma Kamtsang lineage first appeared,” the Gyalwang Karmapa told those gathered—a lineage which flourishes to this day, over 900 years on.
After completing his detailed two-hour teaching on Dusum Khyenpa’s spiritual biography, around 7pm the gompa once again started to fill as the crowd assembled for a special ‘Dusum Khyenpa Feast Offering’ puja. By 7.30pm the gompa was full, with people spilling out onto the surrounding balconies in the cool early winter night, all eager to take part.
The Gyalwang Karmapa first offered three prostrations before an exquisite thangka of Dusum Khyenpa surrounded by the Kagyu lineage masters. He then took his seat on a throne facing the elaborate altar, filled with precious offering substances and tormas.
On the anniversary of Dusum Khyenpa’s parinirvana those gathered were gifted with the rare treat of the Seventeenth Karmapa personally leading a two-and-a-half hour puja as Umze or Chantmaster. The Gyalwang Karmapa’s voice rose and fell with the melodies, carrying the blessings of the Karmapa lineage, and became a bridge that momentarily connected all those present with the mindstream of Dusum Khyenpa.
Under the spell of the transformative power of his presence, the puja became imbued with an extra layer of the sacred, and as the Gyalwang Karmapa personally led hundreds of monks, nuns and laypeople through the chants the blessings of all seventeen Karmapa incarnations rained down.
As one of the major events of the upcoming 31st Kagyu Monlam Chenmo prayer gathering, on 10 January 2014 the Gyalwang Karmapa will lead a historic performance of the Guru Chöwang Tse Chu lama dance in Bodhgaya.
The day-long event heralds the revival of the unique Tsurphu tradition of the dance, and will be performed for the first time in India under the Gyalwang Karmapa’s direct guidance.
The Gyalwang Karmapa will personally dance during the event, adorned in full costume, while other luminaries to join him on stage include Kyabje Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Kyabje Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, and numerous other Kagyu lineage tulkus.
And, in another historic first, nuns from five Kagyu nunneries will also take part in the lama dance, allowing female dancers for the first time to perform the female roles such as Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal. The nuns will join monks from four monasteries of the Tsurluk tradition, including Rumtek, Palchen Choling, Mirik, and Benchen.
The lama dance centers around the sacred biography of Guru Rinpoche, in a profound ritual discovered by the great treasure revealer Guru Chöwang. Preparations have been underway for a full year to create the elaborate masks and costumes that form an essential part of its performance.
The purpose of this particular lama dance is to ward off outer and inner obstacles, and it is said to have a powerful effect on all who witness it.
The dance will come at the culmination of a special Guru Rinpoche puja, the Garchen Tse Chu, taking place from January 6-10, and is followed immediately by Kagyu Monlam prayers running from January 11-16, both of which will be presided over by the Gyalwang Karmapa.
Gyalwang Karmapa’s Winter Schedule
December 2013 – February 2014, Bodhgaya
The following is the detailed schedule of Gyalwang Karmapa’s activities during his annual winter sojourn in Bodhgaya.
His main public activities taking place during this period include:
Pre-Monlam Teachings (Jan 3-5, 2014);
Special Monlam Program: Garchen Tse Chu (Jan 6-10, 2014);
31st Kagyu Monlam Chenmo (Jan 11-15, 2014);
Marme Monlam (Jan 16, 2014), and
Losar New Year Celebration (according to the Tsurluk calendar) (Jan 31, 2014).
Several of the other activities listed below are intended primarily for monks and nuns.
Many of the public activities will be broadcast via live webcast. Full webcast details will be announced closer to the time of the activities.
Updates and changes to the schedule will be announced on this page – please check back regularly.
The Karmapa Continues His Commentary on The Torch of Certainty
Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya, India
January 3, 2014
On the first day of the Gyalwang Karmapa's talks on The Torch of Certainty by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, the side areas of the Pavilion are overflowing with lay followers, while the center is filled with the ordained Sangha. The maroon and gold of their robes is reflected above in the three levels of pleated material that run in a fluttering row from the front to back of the hall along the huge arch of the roof. The large crowd faces the Pavilion stage, where at the very top of its long and broad flight of stairs, the image of Tibet's Mt. Kailash forms the backdrop for a large statue of a golden Buddha. Beneath him is a life-like statue of the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, and a flight downward from him is another throne with a statue of the 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, and finally, at the base, the simple and beautiful throne of the present Karmapa, flanked by thrones for Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, along with rows of tulkus and khenpos.
Before the Karmapa begins these two days of teachings, he is offered an extensive mandala by monks wearing the traditional red Kagyu hat shaped like a half moon. He is also given representations of enlightened body, speech, mind, qualities, and activity to encourage his long life and support the flourishing of his work to benefit others.
The Karmapa starts his talk with warm greetings to those who have come, adding his good wishes for the New Year and the fulfillment of everyone's aspirations. During the previous Monlam, from this same text, the Karmapa had taught the four common preliminaries (the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind), and this year, he will continue to the next topic of the Four Uncommon Preliminaries, which begin with going for refuge and generating bodhichitta.
The Karmapa first gives a reading transmission for the extensive visualization that accompanies the recitation of the refuge prayer. There are beautiful descriptions of a pure realm with jewel-laden trees, lakes of pure water, and the grass flecked with numerous flowers. The pliant ground gives when stepped upon and springs up when released, while the songs of birds fill the air. These vivid experiential details bring the whole image to life. A central wish-fulfilling tree is the basis for the many figures of buddhas, yidam deities, and the sangha who surround Vajradhara while the lineage lamas rise in space above his head. We ourselves are surrounded by all living beings, including our parents and enemies, who take refuge with us. At the end, the whole image dissolves into light and into ourselves; we rest in the natural state for a while and then dedicate the merit.
After a half-hour break for tea, the Karmapa resumes his talk, now focused on the meaning of taking refuge. He began with the twofold goal of a Buddhist practitioner: helping to improve the lives of beings in this world, and ultimately, to help them achieve the full awakening of a Buddha. First, relying on a qualified teacher, one needs to listen to the teachings with pure, undistracted attention, hearing all the words. There is a lot to know and we cannot know it all, so it's important to draw out what is necessary and practical, like the proverbial swan that can extract the milk from water.
We can study the major treatises, and if that is not possible, we can examine a treatise on the stages of the path, like this Torch of Certainty, learning what is essential and secondary, and then applying all that we know to practice. Like this, when practice is based on hearing and reflecting, we have greater confidence and trust in it. And we also become actual Buddhists, for we should choose Buddhism not because we prefer it to other traditions, but because we have used our intelligence to investigate the reasons for taking refuge in the Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Why is refuge taught first? We should develop a special understanding of what is necessary for practice, the purpose of practice, and its result. In the beginning, we generate an intense desire to be free of samsara's entanglements. This, in turn, depends on recognizing the suffering that samsara is, which further depends on finding a precious human rebirth with its freedoms and resources. We realize the fragility of this life that it is like a butter lamp running out of fluid.
Two things will help us in going for refuge. Fear of samsara is a key motivator for inspiring us to take refuge, and there are three types: the lesser individual fears rebirth in the lower realms; the average one fears rebirth in any part of samsara, positive or negative; the superior individual does not fear for their own suffering, but fears the long and intense suffering that others undergo in lower rebirths. The second quality we need is faith and belief that the Three Jewels can actually protect us. For the refuge vow to become powerful, it has to come from the depths of our heart. When we are in a difficult situation, where do we naturally turn? Often it is not to the Three Jewels, but a more worldly refuge like divinations or astrology. If we go for refuge with an intense fervor, our vow will become stable reference for us.
There are four reasons why is it possible to take refuge in the Three Jewels. First of all, the Buddha himself is free of samsara. We cannot protect others because we are still stuck in samsara. The analogy is that of a double drowning: if we do not know how to swim, how could we save others? The second reason is that the Buddha has the perfect skill of being able to free others from samsara. Thirdly, he has great impartial compassion, not seeing some as close to him and others as distant. And finally, the Buddha benefits everyone, regardless of whether they have helped or harmed him.
Since the Buddha is said to have such great powers, we might wonder why he has not already liberated us from samsara. In his praise of the Buddha, the great scholar Dignaga said that the Buddha can protect us only if two conditions are met: the outer condition of a buddha being present in the world, and the inner condition of having trust and faith in him without reservation. We know that we are entrusting ourselves to him one hundred percent if we are fully implementing his teachings, not just paying lip service.
It is also true that the Buddha cannot take away our negative karma; it is up to us to do the practice. An analogy illuminates this situation. Imagine a person standing in a large open field with a tent in the middle. Suddenly a huge hail storm pours down and they have the choice of running around the field and suffering or entering the tent for protection. The field represents samsara and the tent, the practice of Dharma and the Three Jewels. If the person does not enter the tent of practice, the Buddha cannot protect them from samsara.
So it is in our hands to take up the practices that lead to full awakening. And the first stage is going for refuge with our whole being to what is the most precious, the Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.