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    MP3 download

    The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra

    普賢行願品 偈頌 

    With purity of body, speech, and mind,
    I bow to all the heroic buddhas of the past, present, and future,

    without exception in every world in all the ten directions.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 1





    普賢行願品 偈頌 1

    By the miraculous power of the Aspiration of Samantabhadra,

    I manifest in countless forms in the pure lands

    of all the victorious ones, prostrating and paying

    homage to each and every one of them.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 2





    普賢行願品 偈頌 (2

    I whole heartedly conceive the entire realm of true reality [the collection of countless universes, all space, time and beyond] to be completely filled with enlightened ones.
    Each atom I imagine there to be as many buddhas

    as atoms in the all pure lands,

    each Buddha surrounded by groups of bodhisattvas.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 3





    普賢行願品 偈頌 3

    I honor all these blissful buddhas,

    praising their perfections with all the sounds

    of an ocean of varied melodies,

    an ocean of endless praise continuing for all countless future aeons.
    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 





    普賢行願品 偈頌 4

    I offer to all those heroic buddhas
    the finest flowers, garlands, music, and ointments,

    excellent parasols, choice lamps, and the best incense.
    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 





    普賢行願品 偈頌 5

    I offer as well to those victorious ones,
    the finest array of all excellent things,

    The finest robes and fragrances, and

    heaps of sweet smelling powders as high as Mt. Meru .

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 6





    普賢行願品 偈頌 6

    By the power of my faith in the deeds of Samantabhadra,

    I prostrate and present vast and unequalled offerings

    to each of the victorious buddhas in three times.
    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 





    普賢行願品 偈頌 7

    I confess all kinds of negative karma

    that I have commited in body, speech and mind since beginningless time
    under the influence of desire, anger, and ignorance.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 8





    ~ 普賢行願品 偈頌 8

    I rejoice in the merits and virtues of
    all the buddhas, the bodhisattvas,

    pratyeka buddhas, arhats, practioners,

    and all sentient beings of the ten directions.
    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 





    普賢行願品 偈頌 9

    I request all the enlightened ones who
    have attained the achievement of buddhahood
    and illumined the worlds of the ten directions
    to turn the supreme wheel of Dharma.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 10





    ~ 普賢行願品 偈頌 10

    With sincerely folded hands, I earnestly request.

    buddhas who intend to pass into nirvana,
    please stay with us for eons numberless as atoms of the world,

    for the benefit and happiness of all sentient beings.
    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 





    普賢行願品 偈頌 11

    Whatever slight merits be accumulated

    by praising, prostrating, offering, confessing, rejoicing,

    and requesting buddhas to stay and teach in samsara,
    I dedicate to sentient beings in order that they attain buddhahood.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 12





    普賢行願品 偈頌 12

    May you buddhas now living in all the worlds in the ten directions,

    and all all those gone to freedom in the past, accept my offerings.

    May those not yet arisen quickly perfect their minds,

    awakening as fully enlightened ones.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra 13






    普賢行願品 偈頌 13

    May I follow the teaching of three times’ Buddhas in all the worlds

    And reach great buddhahood quickly.

    May fulfill aspiration and happiness of future Buddhas

    by performing the stages of enlightenment.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra14





    普賢行願品 偈頌 14

    May all the worlds of the three times and ten directions
    Become pure and vast solemnly,

    Filled with Bodhisattvas surrounding Buddhas

    Who proceed to the royal tree of Enlightenment.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra15





    普賢行願品 偈頌 15

    May all sentient beings in the ten directions

    Always be happy and free of hardship,

    Obtained the benefits of profound Dharma,

    Eliminated all annoyances completely.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra16





    ~普賢行願品 偈頌 16

    May I perform all the deeds of enlightenment
    and remember all my lives in all states of existence.

    In all my lives, after death, migration, and rebirth,

    may I always embrace the spiritual life.

    May I follow all the victorious buddhas
    and perfect all the deeds of Samantabhadra.
    Pure in the immaculate deeds of morality,
    may my conduct always be flawless and without fault.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra17





    ~普賢行願品 偈頌 17

    May I teach the dharma in the language of celestial ones,
    in every language of spirits and nagas,
    of humans and of non-humans,
    and in the voice of every form of sentient beings.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra18





    ~普賢行願品 偈頌 18

    May I always diligently perform pure paramitas,

    never forget bodhicitta, intention to attain enlightenment.

    May I remove obstacles and obscures without omission,

    and achieve profound perfections completely.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra19





    ~普賢行願品 偈頌 19

    May I be free from karma, defilements, interfering demons

    and from worldly constraints,

    like the lotus is undisturbed by water,
    As the sun and moon move unhindered in the sky.

    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra20





    ~普賢行願品 偈頌 20

    May I relieve the sufferings of the beings of the lower realms completely,

    and may I benefit all sentient beings to attain the pure bliss of Enlightenment,

    as long as the aeons of temples’ atoms,

    as vast as space in the endless ten directions.
    ~ The Aspiration of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra





    ~普賢行願品 偈頌 21



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    Producer: H.H. the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa 

    噶瑪巴天空下 [藏文版] Spacious Expanse of Dharmadatu: Karmapa [Tibetan]
    蓮師.我心 Lotus-Born, My Mind [Tibetan&Chinese]
    噶瑪巴天空下 [中文版] Spacious Expanse of Dharmadatu: Karmapa [Chinese]
    聖度母.愛 Noble Taras, Love [Tibetan]
    觸動三千世界 Resonance of Love In Infinite Universes
    覺之晨曦 [演奏曲] Dawn of Awareness

    In 2005, the album The Melody of Devotion – Karmapa Khyenno, the first album of Mahayana songs and chants in the name of the Karmapa, sung in a mixture of Tibetan and Chinese, was released, presenting pure singing and chanting and revealing the power of devotion in every word and every sound.

    In 2011, the 17th Karmapa personally wrote a new set of Karmapa Khyenno lyrics in Tibetan, completed at the request of the HH Gyalwang Karmapa Remembrance Association. On Spacious Expanse of Dharmadatu: Karmapa, the reincarnated Master Karmapa clearly points the way to the road to enlightenment that was traveled by the Buddha, the Lotus-Born, and Tara. Through the devoted singing and chanting of the singers and the beautifully light and restrained playing on this album, listeners can hear the sounds of inner enlightenment.


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    His Holiness Karmapa and His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Khenpos and Lamas offering Sang. His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche performing purification ceremony and Rabne (consecration) For more details please go to KM website. 2012/12/12


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  • 12/11/12--21:27: THE GREAT ENCAMPMENT

  • For 300 years, the Gyalwang Karmapas moved freely across the wide open spaces of Tibet, accompanied by a vast mobile practice community known as the “Great Encampment of the Karmapa” or “Karme Garchen.” While they did visit major Karma Kagyu monastic seats along the way, the Fourth through the Ninth Karmapas spent the majority of their adult lives on the move, traveling to wherever they saw opportunities to be of benefit.

    This unique institution of the Great Encampment allowed the Karmapas to move or stay put at will, setting up camp when conditions were right and continuing on when they were not. Yet unlike an ordinary camp, the determining factor was not what the location offered to those camping. Rather, it was what the camp could offer to the location, for the Great Encampment was effectively a vast means of reaching out to offer the Dharma in whatever place was then most receptive to it.

    Indeed, the Great Encampment reproduced the Buddha’s mendicant manner of spreading the Dharma as he moved freely about northern India—while adapting the practice for the thinly populated Tibetan plateau.

    As they travelled in the company of the glorious head of the lineage, the Gyalwang Karmapa, members of the camp continued to engage in intensive study and practice. In its heyday, the Great Encampment included within it a full-scale institute for philosophical study (in Tibetan, shedra) and a tantric college. In addition, a series of solitary retreatants (in Tibetan, chog dra) engaged in intensive meditative practice, each housed in their own one-person tent. At its peak, the Great Encampment was home to a full 500 such roving retreatants. At the same time, a large number of the philosophical treatises and meditation manuals composed by the Karmapas during this period were written within the precinct of the Great Encampment.

    Drawing on Tibet’s deeply rooted nomadic tradition, the encampment carried all it needed with it as it traversed the valleys and high passes of Tibet. Even when the Gyalwang Karmapa himself might be hosted in a local monastery, the Great Encampment could situate itself nearby without placing an undue burden on the Karmapa’s hosts.

    The mobility of the camp and its self-sufficiency allowed for a high degree of flexibility and spontaneity as well. From the time of the Seventh Karmapa, who founded the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, the Kagyu Monlam itself was not fixed to any particular location, as it is today in Bodhgaya, but was simply held wherever the Great Encampment happened to be situated when the date for Monlam arrived.

    Yet the Great Encampment was not simply an immense monastery on the move; it constituted a cultural institution unto itself. Every single person who joined the Great Encampment—even if only there to serve as a porter—was required to have completed certain minimal practice commitments, such as the accumulation of specific mantras. More broadly, the Great Encampment became renowned for its strict adherence to rules of discipline, which were enforced within the camp by a team of 30 full-time disciplinarians.

    Almost incredibly, the Great Encampment defied the dependence on meat consumption that is integral to nomadic life on the arid Tibetan plateau. From the time of the Fourth Karmapa, who instituted it, until the Tenth, who witnessed its final destruction by Mongolian forces, the Great Encampment was completely vegetarian. For 300 years, it was strictly forbidden to even bring meat onto the encampment grounds, earning the Great Encampment the epithet of “The Buddhadharma of White Soup,” with “white” indicating that it was free of meat products.

    From the art produced within it, it is clear that the Great Encampment offered a propitious climate for unbounded imagination. The Karma Kagyu lineage in general already placed a high value on artistic production, but the Great Encampment offered particularly fertile ground for creative output. The camp evidently included mobile artists’ studios, for one of the three major schools of Tibetan painting emerged from within it, and became known as the Karmapa Encampment Style, orKarma Gardri in Tibetan.

    During the three centuries it thrived, the Great Encampment served as an enormously vibrant and effective site for the production of art, scholarship and, most importantly, spiritual realization. Its unique form was profoundly rooted in the teachings of the Dagpo Kagyu lineage of Buddhism itself, combining the Kadampa instructions for enhancing renunciation and bodhichitta with the fresh spontaneity yielded by Mahāmudrā practice.

    The Great Encampment was established by the Fourth Karmapa, Rolpe Dorje, in the 14th century. When the number of people following the Karmapa and his entourage from place to place had grown unwieldy Rolpe Dorje alighted on the idea of organizing his followers into a structured encampment. The Great Encampment reached its peak during the time of the Seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso. The size of the Great Encampment—then numbering in the thousands—was scaled down to more manageable proportions by the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje. In the 17th century, during the lifetime of the Tenth Karmapa, the encampment was attacked and its inhabitants slaughtered by Mongolian forces. The Tenth Karmapa only managed to escape with his life by flying off for parts unknown. After the Great Encampment was thus destroyed, subsequent Karmapas largely remained in residence at Tsurphu Monastery.

    From the First Karmapa’s creation of the Tibetan institution of reincarnation lineages to today’s transmission of Dharma teachings live over the Internet, whenever existing means were inadequate, Karmapas have consistently found new ways of connecting with and caring for their disciples. For centuries, the Great Encampment served as an ideal means for Karmapas to reach their disciples wherever they might be, extending the range of their activities beyond each new horizon that presented itself. Defying the boundedness of place, the Great Encampment was a perfect manifestation of the Karmapas’ quintessential quality of unbounded activity for the sake of beings.

    The Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje, spent much of his
    adult life moving across Tibet—teaching, composing
    texts and guiding his disciples—in the company of the
    Karmapa Great Encampment.

    Detail: The Great Encampment of the Karmapas,
    as depicted in the thangka of the Eighth Karmapa
    (top image) from Palpung Monastery in eastern Tibet.

    Adapted from the book Karmapa: 900 Years.

    Published in 2010 by the Karmapa 900 Organizing Committee.


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    December 21-January 1

    ‎30th Kagyu Monlam Webcast Link

     30th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo - Webcast Schedule

    December 21 - 28
     Morning Session 
    06:00 - 10:30  IST


      9:30 - 14:00 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      8:30 - 13:00 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      7:30 - 12:00 Vietnam Time Zone
      6:15 - 10:45 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      4:30 - 9:00 Moscow Standard Time
      2:30 - 7:00 Central African Time
      1:30 - 6:00 Central European Time
      0:30 - 5:00 British Standard Time

     U.S.A. / Latin America  

    December 20-27 21:30 - 2:00 Brasili Central Time
    December 20-27 19:30 - 0:00 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
    December 20-27 18:30 - 23:00 Central Standard Time
    December 20-27 16:30 - 21:00 Pacific Standad Time
                             14:30 - 19:00 Hawaii Time Zone

    December 21 - 28  
    Afternoon Session
    13:30 - 17:00  IST

      17:00 - 20:30 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      16:00 - 19:30 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      15:00 - 18:30 Vietnam Time Zone
      13:45 - 17:15 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      12:00 - 15:30 Moscow Standard Time
      10:00 - 13:30 Central African Time
      9:00 - 12:30 Central European Time
      8:00 - 11:30 British Standard Time

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      5:00 - 8:30 Brasili Central Time
      3:00 - 6:30 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
      2:00 - 5:30 Central Standard Time
      0:00 - 3:30 Pacific Standad Time
    December 20-27 22:00 - 1:30 Hawaii Time Zone

    December 24
    The Ocean of Songs and the Chakrasamvara Ganachakra
     19:00 - 21:00  IST


      22:30 - 0:30 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      21:30 - 23:30 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      20:30 - 22:30 Vietnam Time Zone
      19:15 - 21:15 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      17:30 - 19:30 Moscow Standard Time
      15:30 - 17:30 Central African Time
      14:30 - 16:30 Central European Time
      13:30 - 15:30 British Standard Time

      U.S.A. / Latin America  

      10:30 - 12:30 Brasili Central Time
      8:30 - 10:30 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
      7:30 - 9:30 Central Standard Time
      5:30 - 7:30 Pacific Standad Time
      3:30 - 5:30 Hawaii Time Zone

    A Commemoration of the Jamgon Kongtrul Lineage

    December 29
    Smoke Offering “Clouds of Virtue and Goodness”
     06:30 - 09:00  IST

      10:00 - 12:30 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      9:00 - 11:30 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      8:00 - 10:30 Vietnam Time Zone
      6:45 - 9:15 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      5:00 - 7:30 Moscow Standard Time
      3:00 - 5:30 Central African Time
      2:00 - 4:30 Central European Time
      1:00 - 3:30 British Standard Time

      U.S.A. / Latin America  

    December 28 22:00 - 0:30 Brasili Central Time
    December 28 20:00 - 22:30 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
    December 28 19:00 - 21:30 Central Standard Time
    December 28 17:00 - 19:30 Pacific Standad Time
    December 28 15:00 - 17:30 Hawaii Time Zone

    December 29   
    Dharma Dance Performance
     09:30 - 11:00  IST


      13:00 - 14:30 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      12:00 - 13:30 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      11:00 - 12:30 Vietnam Time Zone
      9:45 - 11:15 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      8:00 - 9:30 Moscow Standard Time
      6:00 - 7:30 Central African Time
      5:00 - 6:30 Central European Time
      4:00 - 5:30 British Standard Time

      U.S.A. / Latin America  

      1:00 - 2:30 Brasili Central Time
    December 28 23:00 - 0:30 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
    December 28 22:00 - 23:30 Central Standard Time
    December 28 20:00 - 21:30 Pacific Standad Time
    December 28 18:00 - 19:30 Hawaii Time Zone

    December 30-31
     Commemoration Ceremony
    08:00 - 10:30  IST


      11:30 - 14:00 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      10:30 - 13:00 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      9:30 - 12:00 Vietnam Time Zone
      8:15 - 10:45 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      6:30 - 9:00 Moscow Standard Time
      4:30 - 7:00 Central African Time
      3:30 - 6:00 Central European Time
      2:30 - 5:00 British Standard Time

      U.S.A. / Latin America  

    December 29 23:30 - 2:00 Brasili Central Time
    December 29 21:30 - 0:00 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
    December 29 20:30 - 23:00 Central Standard Time
    December 29 18:30 - 21:00 Pacific Standad Time
    December 29 16:30 - 19:00 Hawaii Time Zone

    December 30-31 
    Kongtrul Rinpoche Teaching on “Calling the Guru from Afar”
    15:00 - 17:00  IST


      18:30 - 20:30 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      17:30 - 19:30 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      16:30 - 18:30 Vietnam Time Zone
      15:15 - 17:15 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      13:30 - 15:30 Moscow Standard Time
      11:30 - 13:30 Central African Time
      10:30 - 12:30 Central European Time
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      U.S.A. / Latin America  

      6:30 - 8:30 Brasili Central Time
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      3:30 - 5:30 Central Standard Time
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    December 29 23:30 - 1:30 Hawaii Time Zone

    Teaching by His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa on
    Instructions on the Mahamudra Preliminaries The Torch of Certainty

     December 31 - January 1
    Morning Session
     08:30 - 10:30  IST


      12:00 - 14:00 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      11:00 - 13:00 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      10:00 - 12:00 Vietnam Time Zone
      8:45 - 10:45 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      7:00 - 9:00 Moscow Standard Time
      5:00 - 7:00 Central African Time
      4:00 - 6:00 Central European Time
      3:00 - 5:00 British Standard Time

      U.S.A. / Latin America  

      0:00 - 2:00 Brasili Central Time
    December 30-31 22:00 - 0:00 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
    December 30-31 21:00 - 23:00 Central Standard Time
    December 30-31 19:00 - 21:00 Pacific Standad Time
    December 30-31 17:00 - 19:00 Hawaii Time Zone

    December 31 - January 1 

    Afternoon Session 
    15:00 - 17:00  IST


      18:30 - 20:30 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      17:30 - 19:30 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      16:30 - 18:30 Vietnam Time Zone
      15:15 - 17:15 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      13:30 - 15:30 Moscow Standard Time
      11:30 - 13:30 Central African Time
      10:30 - 12:30 Central European Time
      9:30 - 11:30 British Standard Time

      U.S.A. / Latin America  

      6:30 - 8:30 Brasili Central Time
      4:30 - 6:30 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
      3:30 - 5:30 Central Standard Time
      1:30 - 3:30 Pacific Standad Time
    December 30-31 23:30 - 1:30 Hawaii Time Zone

    January 1 

    Marme Monlam 
    19:30 - 20:30  IST


      23:00 - 0:00 Japan / Korea / Australian Western Time
      22:00 - 23:00 Taiwani / Honk Kong / Singapore / Beijing
      21:00 - 22:00 Vietnam Time Zone
      19:45 - 20:45 Nepal Time

      Europe / Africa  

      18:00 - 19:00 Moscow Standard Time
      16:00 - 17:00 Central African Time
      15:00 - 16:00 Central European Time
      14:00 - 15:00 British Standard Time

      U.S.A. / Latin America  

      11:00 - 12:00 Brasili Central Time
      9:00 - 10:00 Eastern Standard Time / Venezuela
      8:00 - 9:00 Central Standard Time
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    11th December – Bodhgaya.

    From 23 November to 11 December the Gyalwang Karmapa taught daily during the annual winter Kagyu Gunchoe Debates at Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya. Over this three-week period he offered the reading transmission and teachings on a text by the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje, called One Hundred Short Instructions (Tri-thung Gyatsa). "I like this text very much," he commented on the first day of the teachings, adding that in Tibet he used to read it aloud to others as a hobby or to pass the time.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa taught primarily to an audience of Khenpos and monks participating in the winter debates, however, simultaneous translations into English and 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.
    "If we are dharma practitioners then our priority should be to practice the dharma first and worldly activities second, and not the other way around," he said. "Practice of dharma and pursuing worldly life cannot go together: one person cannot be a householder and an ordained renunciate at the same time; one person cannot accomplish the goals of the lower realms and liberation at the same time; one person cannot ride two horses at the same time. One cannot walk with one foot stepping forward and the other backward." Gyalwang Karmapa added, "Many international students complain of their agony that though they want to practice the dharma, they have no time." Over the following days, returning again to the theme of renunciation, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, "The goal of our renunciation should be to commit to what is beneficial for beings, and to what serves the cause of the dharma."
    During the three-week period the teachings continued through a range of topics as the Gyalwang Karmapa paid attention to particular chapters of the text. As the days progressed, he returned again and again to the theme of relying on an authentic, genuine guru. "When the student matches the teacher there is no need to hesitate; the relationship is very clear and very direct," he said. "You should feel that if it's enough to please the Lama then that is enough for yourself. Sometimes people wonder, why is it so important to please the Lama? When we talk of pleasing the Lama it's not a question of just pleasing a single Lama. If we please an authentic, genuine Lama, that is the same as accomplishing the dharma.

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    December 12, 2012

    The sole purpose of buddhas and bodhisattvas is to benefit others. They all share this goal, but their ways of accomplishing it are different. The Karmapa has said that his way of helping others is to prevent them from falling into the lower realms through their seeing his face and hearing his voice. So his activity has been to travel to as many places as possible. Chinese rulers have invited several of the Karmapas to stay with them in China, but the Karmapa has always refused, saying that his work is to move around and not remain in one place.

    If we look at the successive incarnations of the Karmapa, history shows that the first three traveled with only a few followers. Though the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi, sometimes had a larger group with him, it was not called the Great Encampment. According to the historian Karma Trinleypa, it was with the Fourth Karmapa, Rolpay Dorje (1340 to 1383), that the tradition of the Garchen began. Rolpay Dorje had been invited for a visit by the Mongolian ruler of the time, and on the way back home, the Karmapa passed through  Eastern Tibet. His sojourn in China had made him famous, and such huge crowds of people came to see him that audiences had to be restricted to one a month for each person. 

    Amongst the faithful were those who “offered their head and their body.” This traditional expression means that they gave all they possessed, including their body, to the Karmapa, who was then responsible for their care. Since these devotees now had no place to stay, they followed the Karmapa to Tsurphu where they pitched tents, covering the land from the monastery all the way down to the Dowo river crossing, located near the famous Mahakala image painted on a rock face.

    As the years passed, increasing numbers of people joined the Great Encampment, which allowed all the Buddhist sciences to flourish from studying in depth the major treatises to all the arts, such as painting, calligraphy, and metallurgy. At its peak, during the time of the Seventh Karmapa, Chodrak Gyatso (1451-1506), there were 10,000 people living in the Garchen—monks, nuns, female and male lay practitioners, and the old and young. Yaks, horses, donkeys, and other animals were also part of the Great Encampment. Actually,  whatever there was in Tibet could be found at the Garchen. There was even an area of poor people who lived close by. The Encampment was filled with life in all its diversity. The leader was usually a powerful monk, but sometimes a formidable woman arrived and she became the head. One was known as Wangchuk Kyimo, the Delightful One of Great Power.

    The Eighth Karmapa reduced the size of the Great Encampment, but it survived to the time of the Tenth Karmapa, Chöying Dorje (1604 to 1674). Then Mongolian and Tibetan armies destroyed the Great Encampment, killing or capturing over six thousand monks and nuns while the Karmapa was compelled to escape on foot. This forcibly shut the gates of the Great Encampment. The next four Karmapas had to stay at Tsurphu, and the Fifteenth was allowed to travel with a small group. Similarly, the Sixteenth Karmapa was accompanied by a limited entourage when he journeyed to Palpung, Pangphuk, Pukje and other monasteries in Eastern Tibet. In this way, Tsurphu became the main residence of all the Karmapas from the Eleventh through the Seventeenth.

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    December 12, 2012


    An historic occasion

    In Bodhgaya on December 12, 2012, history was made: for the first time in four hundred years, the Karmapa’s Great Encampment, Ornament of the World, was established.  (Follow link for a brief history.) Its form this time is serried waves of large forest and soft green tents pitched on the fields next to Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya. The focal point of the whole area is the Gyalwang Karmapa’s quarters, fenced off by woven bamboo and containing the bright yellow tent that is his residence and shrine hall. It is flanked on either side by dark blue tents. One is a Protector Shrine for Mahakala with his gold and black banner rising high above it and the banners of Palden Lhamo and Damchen on either side. The other tent is a residence for Kyapje Jamgön Rinpoche and Kyapje Gyaltsap Rinpoche. In the four corners of the area are lighter blue tents for the guards and attendants. The grounds are ornamented with a profusion of red, orange, and yellow flowers backed by rows of long green-leaved plants and bushes.

    The initial ceremonies

    On the first morning, coming through a fresh, cool mist, the sound of reed horns pierced the air. It was soon followed by the golden robes of the musicians, leading the way for the Gyalwang Karmapa, who strode along a path with Jamgön Kongtrul close by. With great dignity, the Karmapa entered his tent, the color of sunshine, to reside on his throne next to the altar. Khyabje Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche followed immediately afterward, sitting on a throne opposite the Karmapa, as the two rows below them filled with senior monks.

    Together the lamas performed the ceremony of purifying and offering (sang chö) known as Heaping Clouds of Nectar. Based on Tibetan and Chinese traditions, the ceremony’s purpose is to purify the outer world, the entire environment, and the inner world, all its inhabitants. The ceremony is also an offering to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha above, and a generous giving to those below in the lower realms. Special substances were offered in abundance—fragrant woods, such as juniper and sandalwood, plus nutritious  grains, elegant fabrics, and many precious substances. They were carried to the twenty-six white sculpted kilns that arch in a semi-circle behind the Pavilion, their aromatic smoke blending with the misted air to perfume the grounds. The theme of the ceremony was also displayed in the seven radiant banners for sang chö that were created to encircle the Karmapa’s tent.  A modern touch were the solar panels, set next to the tent to provide electricity, signaling again the Karmapa’s deft ability to blend tradition with the modern world.

    Simultaneous with this first ceremony was another performed by Khyabje Gyaltsap Rinpoche, which he began within the Monlam Pavilion. For this second set of rituals, which had three aspects, Gyaltsap Rinpoche first performed the ceremony in the Pavilion and then walked through the Great Encampment, the sound of his bell growing softer and louder as he moved away and came close to pause at the Karmapa’s tent. Gyaltsap Rinpoche's first round of the encampment was to expel negative spirits that could cause harm and as he walked he tossed great sprays of yellow mustard seed to send them away. The second round was for purification, and he carried a golden vase with consecrated water that he poured onto a brass plate as he recited prayers. The third was for auspiciousness, and in all directions Gyaltsap Rinpoche generously offered blessed rice and flowers into the air. This final time he wore the Gampopa brocade hat as he stood in front of the Karmapa’s tent and offered the auspiciousness that had been gathered throughout the morning. This then concluded the preparatory ceremonies for the afternoon’s official opening of the gate. 

    The Gate Opening ceremony

    To create an auspicious occasion, it is not only the area of the Great Encampment, the space, that matters but also the time. The afternoon of this day of December 12, 2012 (12.12.12) was constellated in a very fortunate and profound way according to how Tibetans understand the disposition of the stars and planets.  In the afternoon, the Karmapa walked to the Encampment’s impressive main gate, which had in large letters the official name for the Encampment in Sanskrit, Dzambudvipa Alankara Mahapandap, and in Tibetan, Garchen Dzamling Gyen, “The Great Encampment, Ornament of the World.” Khenpo Garwang explained that gar refers to a place where many tents are pitched, and since they cover a large area, it is called chen “great.” At its peak, the Encampment was home to an institute for higher Buddhist studies, to artists creating in the famous Karma Gardri (the tradition of the Karmapa’s Encampment) style, and to hundreds of individual retreatants as well as monks who performed the traditional ceremonies. Since it was such a rich environment, nourishing every aspect of Buddhist practice, the Tibetan people gave it the name dzamlingor “world” and gyan or “ornament.”  And since it was the residence of the Gyalwang Karmapa, it was also known as The Karmapa’s Great Encampment, Ornament of the World.

    It is this magnificent tradition that was revived today with the Gate Opening Ceremony. The gate was festooned with swags of marigolds and a braided sash of red, yellow, blue, and white scarves spanning the space between the gate’s pillars. Surrounded by a great gathering of monks, the Karmapa stood in front of the gate, flanked by Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, all three of them wearing the gold and rose colored hat of Gampopa. They chanted prayers for auspiciousness, invoking eight each of the tathagatas, bodhisattvas, protectors, and offering goddesses, and aspiring that in this place, the Garchen tradition would again flourish to bring peace, well-being, and realization to all corners of the world.

    Proceeding into the Garchen, the three lamas blessed the main tent area and then returned to the Karmapa’s yellow tent to complete the ceremonies. With the statue of the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, behind him, the Karmapa along with his two heart sons gave audience to the Akshobya retreatants, to the khenpos (professors) and senior monks, to the little monks from Tergar Monastery, and then all the other monks and nuns, each of them offering scarves and receiving a blessing from all three rinpoches on the thrones, and a blessed cord from the Karmapa. Finally, lay disciples could also offer a scarf to the Karmapa and receive his blessing. Thus ended the ceremonies of a day shaped by the far-reaching vision of the Karmapa, whose great compassion does not forget to reach out and touch all living beings.

    On the evening of this first night, so the tents would not be left empty, specially chosen monks will sleep in them : two have been selected from each of the ten shedras attending the Winter Debates, plus two representatives each from the Karmapa’s administration, from the Kagyu Monlam’s administration, and from the five administrations of Situ Rinpoche, Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Pawo Rinpoche, and Treho Rinpoche. Zimpön Gelek Könchok would sleep in the Karmapa’s tent. The following nights, up to 15 monks will stay in each of the tents, bringing alive this ancient tradition.

    The Seventeenth Karmapa and the Great Encampment

    In the beginning, the Karmapa had no plans to recreate the Great Encampment. However, after the last Kagyu Monlam in March 2012, Lama Chodrak went to speak with the governing committee of Bodhgaya’s Mahabodhi Stupa, as he has done for many years. He discovered that the regular time for the Kagyu Monlam had already been reserved by another group and that they had also rented the usual places for the monks to stay. When the Karmapa heard of this, he reflected on the situation and then became very enthusiastic about setting up tents and holding the first days of the Monlam at the Pavilion next to Tergar. The engineer Chokyi Gyatso took the main responsibility for all the construction and Karma Yeshe was also there to help. The main financial support came from Lama Chodrak, who had been gathering funds to erect a permanent residence for the monks. He generously offered this money to the Karmapa to purchase tents and set up the camp.

    Plans were made to pitch two hundred tents and create all the necessary facilities for the monks and nuns staying there. In addition to the solar panels on all the individual tents and in the Karmapa’s area, also on the agenda were solar powered strip lights along the walkways and the tall lights surrounding the Pavilion. An elaborate water recycling system was also planned, which included ponds filled with reeds, lotus flowers, and other local plants. (See the longer article on the environment). With all these aspects, the site naturally turned into an encampment. When asked if it could be named The Great Encampment, Ornament of the World, the Karmapa was delighted and also gave special names to three “continents” or areas of the camp. To the left and right of the Karmapa’s quarters (described above) is an area for monks known as Densely Arrayed (a name for the pure realm of Akanishta, also used for Tsurphu itself). Near the immense, kitchen tent with its two-tiered roof is another section for monks called The Array of Lotuses (related to the pure realm of Amitabha). And behind the Pavilion is the nuns’ area known as The Array of Turquoise Leaves (the name of Tara’s pure realm).

    The way the revival of the Garchen came about can be seen from two perspectives. From the perspective of all the planning and labor that went into reviving the Great Encampment, many people with a variety of skills worked very long and hard to set it up. From another perspective, it happened spontaneously, arising without effort. It is hoped that the practice of all the monks and nuns residing in the Great Encampment will equal that of their forebears and also be spontaneously accomplished for the benefit of all. 

    With thanks to Khenpo Garwang for background information.

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  • 12/21/12--21:45: The greening of the Garchen

  • December 18th, 2012

    How do you implement  cost-effective environmental  protection initiatives  on a site which is temporary, only operates at full capacity for approximately two weeks each year, and yet has to cater during that time for more than 4000 people?

    This is the challenge which faced engineer and architect  Choekyi Gyamtso  when designing the temporary encampment for monks and nuns, and the kitchen facilities which provide food not just for the sangha but also for the hundreds of  volunteers during the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo.

    His solution  has been to incorporate effective systems built at mimimum cost which use natural features in the environment wherever possible. These systems are pilots and it is hoped to improve on them next year.

    Grey water from the two massive kitchens is first collected in a tank where it is filtered for solid kitchen waste and cooled. The water  then  flows along zigzagging channels  through a bed of broken bricks and reeds  to remove chemicals such as salt and chilli. The outflow from the reed bed is  pumped into a nearby lake.

    There is no mains sewage system in the area,  a common situation in rural India, so black water constitutes a real hazard to the environment.  The Garchen - the great encampment for the monks and nuns - has about 150 toilets, and the waste from the toilets flows into septic tanks.  A  chambered filter bed of broken bricks and gravel was constructed  to take the overflow from these tanks. This filter bed removes  any remaining solid waste. The water then  flows under the boundary wall  through a large pipe into the first of three  natural  ponds,  connected by  meandering reeded water course. These ponds and water courses already existed but have been enhanced by planting grasses, reeds, and  local water plants such as lotuses, elephant ears, water hyacinth, and so forth. This has transformed them   into wetlands which not only process the black water but are also so healthy that frogs and fish flourish in them.

    Such a huge  temporary encampment would normally require a massive input of power. However, each tent has come supplied with a voltaic solar panel which produces enough electricity to power an interior LED light.  In addition, the walkways are lit by solar-powered, low-energy striplights.  Each light is connected  to an  80 watt voltaic panel with its own storage battery.

    Much effort has gone into greening the environment.  Early on in its development, a  nursery was set up so that young plants could be nurtured and acclimatized before they were planted out. 

    The walkways  between the tents are lined with potted plants, mostly green-leaved, but including some huge, colourful flowers. The perimeter is planted with a variety of trees. Square plots of  bamboo and palm trees have also been established, and there are even mango and guava trees.

    The previously cracked and dusty earth has been transformed into  a tented garden city, pleasing to the eye, which will continue to flourish as the trees take firm root and the plants mature.

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    December 19, 2012


    The seeds of the present day Environmental Team were planted many years ago when Drayang and Drolma Tsering joined forces to clean up the area around the Stupa during the Kagyu Monlam in 2003. According to Drayang, their job was to maintain the pure environment around the Bodhi  tree and minimize the damage to the Stupa and the ancient monuments surrounding it. At that time, a Thai Buddhist woman named A-wood made a lasting impression on Drayang when she pointed out that the Monlam participants were pouring the dregs of their salted butter tea and soft drinks on the grass under the Bodhi tree and she feared that this would have a deleterious effect on the longevity of the tree by seeping into the soil and damaging the tree’s roots. From that point on Drayang was committed to educating others about the importance of protecting the Bodhi tree as well as the Stupa environs.

    From those humble beginnings, the Cleaning Team morphed into the present day Kagyu Monlam Environmental Team with  team leaders and approximately 36 dedicated annual helpers. Drolma Tsering, the original Cleaning Team leader for the Kagyu Monlam since the 1990s said, “We are lucky to have found this kind of job.”

    Drayang and Drolma Tsering still take care of the Stupa area, but Drayang’s responsibilities have expanded to include supervising volunteers and Indian workers as well as overseeing the toilets and waste facilities at Tergar Monastery. Drolma’s responsibilities include organizing the light and flower offerings at the Stupa and Tergar, and caring for the Monlam Pavilion site that was established near Tergar in recent years.

    Drayang said, “Our basic duty at Tergar is to pick up garbage wherever we see it and make sure the drainage system runs properly. It also involves seeing that the Indian workers clean the toilets on a daily basis and sweep the floors properly.” Although this may not sound like the most glamorous kind of work, it has made a huge difference in the experience of the thousands of people who attend the annual Kagyu Monlam.

    Drayang recollected how he became inspired to address the public toilet issue when he was working at the Stupa with Drolma in the early years. “Besides helping to clean the entire puja assembly area, I spent a lot of efforts on keeping the public toilets tidy and efficient. Because huge numbers of the sangha needed access to the toilets during the breaks, I initiated a project to build extra temporary toilets exclusively for use during the Kagyu Monlam. I found sponsors for the construction of a curtained bathroom area for the monks to use so that they could have quick access without getting caught in the traffic jam near the regular toilets.” Impressed by Drayang’s efforts, Ven. Deenanand, the monk supervisor of Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), eventually took over funding and construction of the temporary toilets during subsequent Kagyu Monlams.

    Drayang said that it took about six years to train the Indian workers to keep the toilet areas clean. “Now the local people work really hard and are truly part of our ongoing efforts in environmental protection. Recently I surprised them by showing up to spot check the toilets near the Stupa. They were quite clean and the floor was dry. I was so touched that tears ran down my face spontaneously. It took six arduous years of training but now they can work independently and one of the toilet cleaning staff was doing such a great job that he was recently promoted by the BTMC to work in the Temple Reception area.”

    After the Gyalwang Karmapa took over supervision of the Kagyu Monlam in 2004, the Cleaning Team’s name was changed to the “Environmental Team” to reflect his burgeoning interest in environmental protection.

    Drayang recalls how this name change came about. “Usually, once the Monlam was over, the staff would meet with the Karmapa to review that year and make plans for the future. During the meeting that year, I suggested that we change our team’s name from Cleaning Team to Environmental Protection Team.  The Karmapa wasn’t sure if this was a functional proposal or not, but after a few months of looking into it, he realized this concept of environmental protection was extremely important and timely and that there was great meaning behind the name change.” At the Monlam planning meeting  in March, the Karmapa announced that the Cleaning Team would henceforth be called the Environmental Team. Then, in September at another meeting, the Karmapa said to Drayang, “Set up your environmental protection team now.”

    Drayang said, “The Karmapa felt that the Kagyu Monlam should slowly figure out how to put the concepts of environmental protection into practice. From that point on I started putting slogans around Bodhgaya urging people to protect the earth. With the help of the Lumbini Hotel’s manager I found a good local artist named Manish to make the signs. We made slogans in English and Hindi with beautiful illustrations reminding people to consume less water and electricity and asking them not to throw garbage on the ground or jam the toilets with paper.

    Education is a big part of what we do. Incidentally, the very talented Indian artist Manish who made these signs for us was later asked by Chokyi Gyamtso to sculpt the large golden Buddha statue that was featured at last year’s Kagyu Monlam.”

    Once the concern for environmental protection was firmly aroused the Karmapa initiated the startup of Khoryug in 2009 headed by Dekila Chungyalpa. She had been invited by Karmapa to serve as the Kagyu Monlam’s environmental advisor but then Khoryug spun off as an independent organization comprised of 36  monasteries with their own meetings and programs (www.khoryug.com). In addition to founding Khoryug, the Karmapa began holding annual conferences on environmental protection to educate all the Karma Kagyu monasteries and centers. He published a booklet calledOne Hundred and Eight Things You Can Do to Help the Environment that has been translated into several languages and distributed worldwide.

    Last but not least, Karma Tseyang joined the Kagyu Monlam Environmental Team in 2007 and has worked on different projects such as establishing a roof-top  garden for the Gyalwang Karmapa's quarters,  removing  rubbish  from the   area surrounding the monastery. This year shewill be  supervising  the cleaning  of some areas within the Kagyu Monlam.

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    The inner Monlam

    In a keynote address to the 200 plus people who form the Kagyu Monlam's support team, the Gyalwang Karmapa emphasized the spirit of the Monlam. It was an unusual  and moving acknowledgement to the dedicated helpers who form the backbone of this thriving event; and a prelude to the 30th Monlam starting on the 21st December.

    The Monlam helpers (Sangha Sevakas) wearing blue uniforms, sat in tidy rows sorted according to the services they provided: food, environment, cleaning, storage, registration, technical support, seating, translation, donations, health care and publicity; and clapped as the Karmapa walked in. He sat down with customary dignity and gave a transmission for the Chenresig prayer before sharing  his thoughts.

    The real Monlam is whatever substantially occurs within one's mind. Participate with an open relaxed outlook. It should be stress-free, without the seriousness of worldly activities. Make your mind more spacious and expansive than ever. There is an opportunity for the play of the mind to occur. Look at it in this way.
    Don't be completely caught up by the symbolic appearance of the Monlam but be tuned into its essential purpose. No matter how elaborately we create the Monlam, its essence lies within the mind and heart. Generate the proper attitude.
    He acknowledged the Monlam had grown significantly in scope and size, with many coming from abroad, and declared  this has added to the majesty of the Monlam.

    Your support has become indispensable and an added ornament to the Monlam. So with that in mind I would like to  express my genuine appreciation.
    The first Kagyu Monlam began 500 years ago in Tibet during the time of the 7th Karmapa. Kalu Rinpoche revived the Kagyu Monlam in India in the early 1980s and Bokar Rinpoche enabled it to flourish after Kalu Rinpoche passed away in 1989.

    Since his arrival in India, the Karmapa's presence in Bodhgaya has caused the Monlam to expand, each year increasing and refining his activity. This year he has been seen walking between Tergar temple and the Monlam site, frequently working manually to participate in the new site from the ground up. He continued:

    By passing on noble aspiration and loving kindness from one person to another continuously to this day, it can be said that you now have access to the warm blessings of the lineage masters of the Monlam. That itself provides a significant context. Now you can access the warm blessings and compassion of the masters and you also have the opportunity to expand it outwards to others.
    The main purpose is to remember the great kindness of the Buddha; secondly to benefit beings. When we practice the conduct of the Monlam in the sacred place of Bodhgaya with one unified voice,  if we make the aspiration for the peace and happiness of the world with genuine motivation and participate in the Monlam activities, it creates a very precious opportunity. The program is designed to enable us to engage in pure and wholesome dharmic activities. It should give rise to strength and confidence in our hearts, and engender more similar activities.

    In closing, the Karmapa high-lighted the theme of the 30th Monlam and gave an extraordinary present from the lineage of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.

    This year the special theme is the commemoration of Jamgon Kongtrul, in particular the third. It has been 20 years since he passed away. In the spirit of remembering the lineage masters, I'd like to give you a token - a photo of the handprints of the first Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. In our tradition it is very significant to receive the hand and footprint of such a greatly realised master. It is equal to the presence of the great master. It is much more than having just a photo.
    A photo from the museum and one that is handed down is very different. We are the keepers of the lineage. In modern terms, we have the original copyright. Normally one would have to request it at least three times. And only then is it given.
    In the absence of the physical presence of the precious lama, this would be an important substitute for the lama. And whatever transmissions you have not received, in the presence of the hand or footprint, you could receive them. So this is given in the spirit that you are always embraced and protected by the compassionate blessings of the lama. And it is also given with my prayers for the fulfilment of your wishes and for your present and future well-being.
    Once more I would like to express my thanks for your willingness to support the Kagyu Monlam. Thank you very, very, very much.

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    19th December – Bodhgaya.

    The custom of debating entered into the Kagyu tradition through the great scholar, Chapa Chökyi Senge, a Kadampa who was a teacher of the First Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193). Marpa also brought the tradition of debate to Tibet, however it was Je Tsongkhapa who developed extensively the practice of debate along with the collected topics of logic so that they became a special trait of the Gelukpa tradition. The Winter Debates originated at the Geluk monastery of Ratö located in the Jang area of Central Tibet. Then in 1997, Chöje Lama Phuntsok of Lekshey Ling Shedra suggested that it would be excellent to start a tradition of Winter Debates for the Kagyu shedras, so the first session was inaugurated and they have continued regularly up to the present.The sixteenth session of the Winter Debates began this year on November 23 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.
    In previous years, the debates were conducted with judges from within the Kagyu tradition, and the atmosphere was more relaxed, as the monks enjoyed getting to know each other and exchanging ideas. To enliven the monks' interest and raise the esteem for the debates within the Kagyu monasteries, the Karmapa decided to change their format and add an element of competition.
    The first major change was an historic one: never before in the history of Tibet had judges from all four traditions been invited to evaluate Kagyu debates. This year, there were scholars from the Nyingma, Sakya, Geluk, and from within the Kagyu, the Drikung and Drukpa lineages. There were none from the Karmapa's own lineage, the Karma Kamtsang, so the judges could not be accused of partiality. Further, they stayed in Tergar and the head judge rotated every day.
    People often pay lip-service to the ideals of non-sectarianism. But knowing of the ultimate benefit, the Karmapa, lion-hearted, boldly invited all the lineages into the heart of the Kamtsang shedras. It took considerable courage to invite other traditions to judge the debates. One might hesitate for fear of revealing one's special techniques or of exposing one's weaknesses to the world. For their part, the judges appreciated his openness, and from their side, they worked very hard for over two weeks, attending not only the central debates but also the additional sessions.
    Of the ten shedras present for the Winter Debates, eight were participating in the main debates, held during the morning in the main shrine hall at Tergar Monastery.* 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.
    The Karmapa's second innovation was to structure the debates like a tournament with prizes at the end. Half of the points were awarded to the monasteries for the monks' performances as the defender of a thesis and half were awarded to the questioning opponent's monastery. The subjects for debate covered three areas: the collected topics of the logic texts, the classifications of mind, and the classifications of reasons. From within these, especially difficult questions were chosen, such as the presentation of uncommon contradictions or the difference between what is direct and valid and what is spurious. The basis for all of these exchanges was were the major treatises that the monks study in the shedras.
    Over twelve days, the eight teams were reduced by a process of elimination to two each for the three topics. In the first rounds, four teams were eliminated; in the second, they were narrowed to two teams for each of the three topics, and on the last day, these winning teams debated the three topics to decide the winners and runners up for the three categories as well as the overall winner of the debates.
    On December 13th, the final debate on classifications of the mind was shifted to the evening in the Monlam Pavilion so that everyone could easily see the event. On the steps rising behind the main platform, the Karmapa, Jamgön Rinpoche, and Gyaltsap Rinpoche sat on brocade covered chairs behind ornately carved wooden tables. Below them were the five judges, and further down on the apron of the stage were two smaller thrones for the defenders from Bokar Rinpoche's Thösam Norling Gatsal. Some twenty feet back, stood two microphones for the ten questioners from Jamgön Kongtrul's Rigpe Dorje Institute. The defender's position is actually the most difficult as they are vigorously challenged by a group of lively monks at the mics who often move in perfect unison, tuning into the same point with the same words.
    To begin the final debate, the two defending monks came forward and made three bows in the direction of the Karmapa and then took their seats, wrapping themselves in their maroon cloaks and setting beside them the yellow cockade hat they would wear when quoting texts to back up their arguments. As with all the debates, the session lasted forty minutes, which were which were counted down on digital clocks displayed over two screens on either side of the stage. The element of passing time added to the heightened intensity of the evening, as the monks waited to see who would win the coveted prizes. At the end of the debate, one monk, walking in slow circles in front of the others, gave an elegant summary, making the traditional dedication of merit and expressing everyone's wishes for auspiciousness to spread throughout the world.
    The MC for the evening was from Sherab Ling and served this year as the head discipline master. He introduced the debate and announced the prizes at the end. A table on stage right was set with seven trophies, with certificates for the winners, and a stack of large, rectangular replicas of the checks to be given. Alongside these were three new mobile phones. The prizes were awarded on the basis of three criteria: the monks' ability to stay on topic; their use of quotations that were relevant and within their own tradition; and finally, their conduct in maintaining decorum and respect for others.
    As the debate ended and the award ceremony began, the Karmapa came down the steps to the front of the platform to give out the prizes. The first award of a Wisdom Text trophy along with a certificate and a check of 25, 000 Indian rupees for their monastery went to Sherab Ling, the runner up in the debates on the collected topics. The same prizes for the runner up in the second and third categories of the classifications of mind and of reasons were both awarded to Rigpe Dorje Institute. The top winners in these same three categories—Rigpe Dorje for the first two, and Sherab Ling for the last one—each received an elegant and transparent, smaller Sword of Wisdom, certificates, and a check of 50,000 for their monastery. The top prize, which was the greater Sword of Wisdom, certificate, and check of 100,000 for the monastery, was awarded to Bokar Rinpoche's shedra for the best performance over the whole period of the Winter Debates.
    The final three prizes went to three individual monks. The top award of a new iPhone 5 was given to a monk from Sherab Ling for being consistently diligent. The next prize, the newest Samsung Galaxy, went to another monk from Sherab Ling for being the best defender. The final trophy of an HTC mobile went to a monk from Tergar monastery for being the best questioner.
    As the excitement from the award ceremony subsided, the judges took turns speaking about their experience and the practice of debate in general. All five mentioned how impressed they were by the Karmapa's wisdom and learning, his qualities as a spiritual leader and human being, and his great humility. One judge remarked that although all five came from different traditions, when they compared the marks they had assigned to the debaters, their numbers were very similar, so there was a natural consensus on what constitutes good debating. Another judge spoke of the blessings of the lineage that can be received through debate. Yet another judge emphasized the importance of studying Dharma, the highest form of education. He also said that all the monks won prizes, as each one had the opportunity to deepen his understanding of the definitive Dharma.
    The Karmapa cautioned the monks not to let the awards go to their heads or focus on personal achievement but to remember a wholesome pride in the Dharma and all its qualities and to let the awards be an inspiration to study even harder. He mentioned that debates belong to the practice of integrating experience and study and remain an important vehicle for training in the Dharma.
    In his advice to his winning monks from Bokar Rinpoche's shedra, Khenpo Dönyö echoed the Karmapa's way of thinking when he said that it is thanks to the Karmapa, the lineage lamas, and their teachers that the monks had the benefit of this special opportunity. Performing with excellence is the best offering that they could make.
    The Winter Debates concluded with four days of presenting papers and discussing three aspects of the vinaya (monastic discipline): the ceremony of restitution and purification; the summer retreat; and the ceremony to end the summer retreat. At the conclusion of the seminar on December 19, the Karmapa received feedback from the monks on all aspects of the Winter Debates and on how to improve them. He also spoke of instituting in the future a Winter Debate session for the nuns, which would be a wonderful revolution.
    On the evening of December 19, the Karmapa gave extensive thanks to everyone, from the monks who participated, through the monks in the administrations of Tsurphu and Tergar, all the way up to the government of Bihar. He also prayed that people would seek to help each other and create peace in the world. He concluded that when good deeds are done, it is important to dedicate them for the benefit of others and to make aspiration prayers as well. With these good wishes for the teachings to expand, and in particular, for the tradition of discussion and debate to flourish, he concluded the Sixteenth Winter Debates.
    * The eight were: 1) Karma Shri Nalanda Institute from the Karma's seat in Rumtek; 2) Lungrik Jampal Ling from Situ Rinpoche's Sherab Ling Monastery; 3) Rigpe Dorje Institute from Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche's monastery in Lava; 4) Benchen Nangten Tösam Ling from Tenga Rinpoche's monastery; 5) Lekshey Ling, Chöje Lama Phuntsok's Shedra; 6) Thösam Norling Gatsal, Bokar Rinpoche's shedra; 7) Tergar Ösel Ling from Mingyur Rinpoche's monastery; and 8) Zurmang Shedra Lungtok Norbu Gatsal Ling from Garwang Rinpoche's monastery. Two shedras were present but did not participate in the formal debates: Nedo Tashi Chöling from Karma Chakme's monastery and Drodön Kunkhyab Chöde from Kalu Rinpoche's monastery.

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