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    January 24, 2014

     Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi was Chief Guest  at the inauguration of this new initiative  by Kagyupa International Monlam Trust aimed at  alleviating the suffering of  animals in Gaya District, Bihar,  and thereby improving  the health of the local human population too. Mrs. Gandhi has been a long-standing member of the Parliament serving as a minister in four Governments, and is renowned for her love and care for animals.  During her political career she has worked to pass important legislation, including specific measures to protect the environment, to promote social welfare and to protect the rights of animals.  She helped set up new institutions such as the National Zoo Authority and the Animal Welfare Board of India.  She also runs her own animal sanctuary in the heart of New Delhi, named in honour of her late husband, Sanjay Gandhi. This sanctuary, established in 1983, is the largest of its kind in Asia and cares for 3000 animals at any one time.

    The ceremony opened with a speech by Dr Catherine Schuetze, the veterinarian overseeing the project. Dr Schuetze spoke first of interconnectedness, a primary Buddhist concept, and how it was evidenced in the relationship between animal health and human welfare.  Secondly, at the heart of Buddhism is compassion for all sentient beings, as expressed in the prayer “May all beings be happy”. This wish included animals.  She reminded people that the great Mahatma Gandhi-ji supported caring for and protecting animals, and the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje had proved himself to be a strong advocate for protecting animals and the environment. She explained how a two-week camp was seen as insufficient. Hence, the decision had been reached to extend the project. In future, the veterinarian camp will be held annually in Bodhgaya. The camp was not limited to the ABC-AR programme, but included an outpatients department; out-reach programmes where the vets visited local panchayats; and  an education programme aimed specifically at children to teach them how to avoid being bitten by dogs and how to prevent rabies. [Full text of Dr Schuetze’s speech]

    Next at the podium was His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. When the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, His Holiness explained, “he realized that all sentient beings have the same value and their lives are all the same in worth”. This compassion for all sentient beings, moreover, could be seen as having its roots in “the ancient wisdom and compassion of India”. It was His Holiness’ great hope that the veterinarian camp would become
    “a mandala or pure realm for bringing benefit and happiness to animals”.

    Humans have often treated animals badly. I have the great hope that we can decrease that, and that an understanding that animals are members of our family in this world can spread everywhere, “he concluded.[English translation of Gyalwang Karmapa’s speech]

    Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi spoke of the occasion as “history in the making”. Expressing her deep respect for His Holiness, she said, “Every so many years one spiritual being in the form of a human comes to change history, to make religion more centred, to bring it to its original path, and I believe that Karmapa is amongst those beings who has come to help us realize ourselves.”

    She then developed the theme that all forms of life are deeply connected with delightful images of a little ant yawning when she wakes up and a mouse laughing when it’s tickled. However, she introduced a new perspective by reminding people that if they believed in reincarnation, they had a vested interest in protecting animals and improving their living conditions. “I have been a tree, I have been a donkey, I have been a dog, I have been a horse, I have been a snail, I’ve been a fish,” she proclaimed.   Who knew what they might be next life?  So, looking after the welfare of animals was a form of enlightened self-interest. But more than that, it was self-evident that the welfare and happiness of animals was intrinsically linked with the welfare of humans. “We need to understand we are them, they are us,“ she declared.  “I believe that if we are going to make the world a better place for humans, then we have to make it a better place for every living being.” Enthusiastic applause confirmed that her audience supported her views. [Full text of Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi’s speech]

    The next speaker was one of the veterinarians, Dr Thinley, from the SARAH programme in Sikkim, who gave an overview of this programme, its scientific and ethical bases, and its success. Speaking from the heart, he admonished everyone, “Animals have been associated with and benefited humankind for thousands of years.  We are very selfish indeed.  We forget that these speechless creatures have served human kind without expecting anything in return and we don’t really care for their welfare and wellness.”  [Full text of Dr Thinlay’s speech]
    Finally, Lama Chodrak, CEO of the Kagyupa International Monlam Trust spoke briefly, thanking everybody for their support and appreciation of this new venture in Bodhgaya.

    The Chief Guest and His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, accompanied by Guest-of-Honour Sri. Namzey Dorjee, secretary of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, and other VIPs then trudged across the field, now much drier than the muddy morass left by heavy rain a few days ago, to the tented area of the Animal Camp, where they were able to meet the vets and para-vets, and watch them in action.

    Other VIP guests at the event included Shyamdeo Paswan, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Prem Kumar, former minister and present Member of the Legislative Assembly of Gaya, and HariManjhi, Member of Parliament.


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    January ‎16, ‎2014

    Kyabje Rinpoche has passed away, however you all did your best in the past, and should continue like this as well in the future…
    When Yangsi comes we should be able to present it to him as it was.
    It is very important to continue whether it is in the Shedra or Drubdra, whatever practices you may have been performing, all this needs to be continued without declining.I think this is very important.

    About the reincarnation of Kyabje Rinpoche, before when Kyabje Rinpoche came to Gyuto, what he told me about his next reincarnation was that…in the future he would take rebirth near his Root Guru.
    If he takes rebirth in Tibet there will be difficulties to meet his Lama.
    He would therefore like to take his rebirth in the vicinity of his Root Guru.
    He said something like that, and not somewhere very far away.
    Therefore I presume it could be in India, Nepal or Buthan, nevertheless I cannot tell the precise place at this point.

    Sometime ago I had a dream, in that dream the Kudung(memorial stupa) is under construction, when the Kudung is completed Yangsi will come, this is what I remember.
    Once the Kundung is completed, then we will look into this matter.

    Even though Rinpoche is not around, I am here as if in the place of Rinpoche and from your side without being discouraged you should continue all your works, I think this is very important.
    If there is any special help you need, you should inform me, I will try to do my best to help.
    There is nothing special to say and also there is nothing special to offer you as a gift. 
    Thank you.

    Read more:
    Message from Gyalwang Karmapa to Benchen Monastery

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    January 26, 2014

     At 9.30am, during the morning tea break, His Holiness momentarily put aside his teachings on Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation and went outside for a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate Republic Day. Hundreds of nuns, monks, and laypeople crowded after him to watch. And across India, the peoples of the world’s largest democracy celebrated its 65th Republic Day in similar ways.

    On the paved path between the gated entrance to the monastery and the main shrine hall, more than a hundred young monks with their teachers lined up in straight lines and stood to attention.  Smartly kitted in khaki, Army security stood to attention, presenting arms with their automatic rifles. Indian security police, standing straight and tall, saluted. His Holiness stood and watched respectfully, as Gongkar Rinpoche raised the Indian national flag. Emblazoned with Emperor Ashoka’s 24-spoke chakra wheel in navy blue, the tricolour flag —with saffron, green and white panels— has become the symbol of modern, democratic India.

    After the young monks had sung the National Anthem and chanted Buddhist prayers for the happiness and well-being of the world and all sentient beings, they enthusiastically waved small national flags. Then everyone returned to their places in the shrine room to enjoy warm spicy milk tea and gooey Indian sweets – ladoo, rasgulla and jelabi


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    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. May 2008. Reception ceremony.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. May 2008. Purification puja and KTD staff appreciation ceremony.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. May 2008. Morning walk.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Karma Triyana Dharmchakra. May 2008. Guru Rinpoche empowerment.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. May 2008. Rainbows in the sky.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje watching multiple rainbows appear above Woodstock and KTD monastery.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. May 2008. Touring the new building.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje's first visit to Karme Ling retreat center. May 2008.

    The first visit of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to his North American seat, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, in Woodstock, NY. May 2008. We are all extremely happy to have His Holiness come and bless us with his presence and wisdom.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje blesses the KTD shrine room with a purification ceremony. May 2008.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje touring the new building at KTD monastery during his first historic visit to the US. May 2008.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa visits Kunzang Palchen Ling, Bardor Tulku Rinpoche's monastery in Red Hook, NY. May 2008.

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje's visit to the New Jersey Karma Thegsum Choling. May 2008.

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  • 02/01/14--06:29: Article 0

  • Webcast tomorrow morning of the Chod practice January 29th at starts 7am Indian Standard Time.


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     I was with my guru, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, for nine years solid. You would think that after nine years of seeing somebody every day they would become like your buddy. He never did. Because my previous incarnation was his guru he always treated me well, with honor and respect. He never beat me, or shouted at me, he was not ten feet tall, so there was really no reason to be afraid of him. But interacting with him was like being in the presence of a lion. I think this was because of his ever-present awareness. He was like a big, healthy, strong lion that understood me, took care of me and taught me with kindness and compassion. Everything was also very quiet around him even though he had an aviary full of birds, ten little dogs, a huge white dog, Siamese cats and a green peacock from Java. It was just like being in the depths of the ocean. I think this quietness also came from his ever-present, primordial wisdom. It had to have.

     (From: 12th Kenting Tai Situpa, “Ground, Path & Fruition”, pp. 269-270)

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  • 01/28/14--18:55: Hum

  • Title:  HUM
    Artist: 17th Gyalwang Karmapa
    Language: Tibetan

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    January 26, 2014

    Despite his heavy teaching schedule, the Gyalwang Karmapa slipped away during the lunch break to visit the Cham dancing at the Royal Bhutanese Monastery, Druk Ngawang Thubten Chokling.  The monastery is the seat of the Shabdrung of Bhutan, and belongs to the Drukpa Kagyu tradition.

    As His Holiness’ car approached, a line of leaping performers danced out to greet him, forming a unique, Bhutanese-style serbang or ceremonial procession to escort his car through the welcome gate into the monastery grounds and to the temple, where the Abbot and senior monks were waiting for him.  

    Entering the three-storey temple, the Karmapa first lit two butter lamps as offerings on the altar, and prostrated three times.  At the request of the Abbot, he then consecrated a new Buddha statue, before sitting down on the throne to receive a kusungthug mandala offering, presented by the abbot and senior monks, accompanied by the mother of the young incarnation of the Shabdrung.  

    His Holiness’ next duty was to consecrate the special Guru Rinpoche mask which was to be used during the Cham, and, in addition, to consecrate two newly-finished wall paintings, one of the Buddha inside the temple, and one on the entrance wall of the temple, illustrating the Kings of the Four Directions.

    Outside, to the left of the temple porch, a special seat had been prepared for him, inside a specially constructed golden cloth pavilion, fringed with green, from where he could watch the Cham.  As His Holiness took his place, a dance was already in progress, the Eight Aspects of Guru Rinpoche, and the costumed monk-dancers whirled around the improvised cham ground on the lawn in front of him.

    Then the dancers formed a long line to escort the figure of Guru Rinpoche, a monk wearing the Guru Rinpoche mask and heavy brocade robes. As His Holiness looked on he must have been reminded of the occasion little more than two weeks ago when he himself played the part of Guru Rinpoche in the Tsechu Cham at Tergar, walking onto the Monlam stage weighted down by the Guru Rinpoche image and mask. As the procession passed in front of him, His Holiness scattered a blessing of flower petals over the figure of Guru Rinpoche.

    Time was up. His Holiness rose and, smiling kindly at the hundreds of onlookers gathered to watch the event, strode to his car, and returned to Tergar to resume his teachings.


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    January 16, 2014

    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

    Right on time at 7:30, the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived to take his seat in front of the stage and the light show starts, bathing the stage in indigo blue as the spotlights find the golden statue of the Buddha who seems to float in space. On stage left appear two monks, who will be the MCs for the evening, one for Tibetan and one for English. They open with words of praise, reciting:

    Your orb of wisdom fills the space of all that is knowable; your thousand rays of deeds strike the ground, clearly illuminating all the Buddha's teachings.

    Precious Kagyu gurus we bow to you in respect.  

    After this invocation, warm greetings are offered to all the guests, beginning with Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, the tulkus and khenpos, continuing to the ordained and lay sangha, who have come from around the world.

    The Buddha said in The King of Samadhi Sutra that we should always make unsurpassed offerings of fine songs and dance, pleasing and delightful music, and glowing rows of lamps, so performances such as musical offerings and dance are a way to bring pleasure and delight. When the great Monlams were held during the time of the 7th Karmapa, Chodrak Gyatso, in the morning prayers and aspirations were recited, and in the afternoon, theatrical performances were given. In order to revive this wonderful tradition as the Karmapa wished, this Marme Monlam this year offers an extended program of music, song, and dance.

    The Karmapa was then invited to speak. He walked up to a low throne in the center of the stage just below the Buddha and above the great golden sun painted on the steps. After welcoming everyone, he said that one thing all living beings wish for is to have happiness in their mind and to be freed from the suffering in samsara. Therefore, we should bring happiness to others in all the ways that we can.

    One way to do this is to offer lamps to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas while making aspiration prayers. These lamps are not just ordinary or worldly lights, but lamps of wisdom, of compassion, and of peace. This evening, all of us are making this aspiration and lighting lamps with the hope that these fine qualities will pass from one person to another and travel far, so that peace, happiness, love, and compassion will fill the whole world.

    Touching on some of his favorite topics, the Karmapa stated that the performances this evening are not worldly ones but intertwined with the Dharma. Speaking of the presentations in the order that they appeared, he said that one depicts the natural environment, showing us what we must cherish. The next one makes us think of how we need to benefit all living beings, including animals, and generate a love for them in our minds. The third performance demonstrates the importance of our ancestral traditions and cultures. And finally, since the teachings of Buddhism in Tibet came from India, the last presentation shows the connection between the two countries and the importance of preserving these traditions.

    To underscore the spiritual dimension of the evening, the first event was a practice of Chenrezik called All-Pervading Benefit for Beings, which was recited by four umdzes (chant masters). Both the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa are said to be emanations of Chenrezik, the embodiment of compassion. This practice of opening our hearts to all living beings set the framework for the entire evening.

    The presentation which followed celebrated the beauty of the natural world. The introduction by the MC also educated the audience about the importance of preserving our environment. The earth with its complex ecosystems is what sustains our life, and we need to care for it.  In particular, Tibet is suffering from the results of human activity. Tibetan glaciers are melting and they supply water to a large portion of the people who live in Asia, so we must take responsibility to protect the waters in Tibet and to preserve its environment.

    On the large screen filling the back of the stage, stunning images of nature were projected ̶landscapes of vast plains and majestic mountains, clouds resting gently around their peaks.  These photos were interspersed with images of the performer’s ̶ a flautist, a drummer, a woman playing a traditional Chinese stringed instrument, and a man on an electric piano.  The music had a plaintive quality, a longing sadness for mother earth that went straight to the heart.

    The next piece is about the invaluable animals that inhabit the environment. It is played by the new ten-piece orchestra the Karmapa created from traditional Tibetan and Chinese instruments. In contrast to the previous music, this composition, called Hoof Beats of the Yak, is a happy one of animals walking through nature; one can feel their lively gait in the music. The lights are in rainbow colors and the images on the big screen are of wild birds taking flight, yak herds in Tibet, and water buffalo, known by the Tibetans as the yaks' cousins in India. The MC comments that we often do not appreciate what animals give us and that they too wish for happiness and want to be free of suffering. This song of the yaks is to help us appreciate the animals' intrinsic worth and equality.

    Traditions are a font of knowledge passed down through generations, an inheritance of wisdom that we need to preserve. The next group is singers and dancers from the Bhutanese Royal Academy for Performing Arts. They offer a dance to accompany a song written by the seventieth Je Khenpo of Bhutan. It is a happy and delighted performance reflecting the auspiciousness that song celebrates.  In a brief translation, it says:

    The sky has the sun and moon

    That illuminates everything impartially.

    May there be the auspiciousness of this never changing

    And the auspiciousness of well-being in the world.

    If the atmosphere is filled with clouds,

    The rain they bring gives a fine harvest.

    May there be the auspiciousness of this never changing

    And the auspiciousness of well-being in the world.

    Dharma is practiced in Bodhgaya, the place of enlightenment

    For a thousand buddhas of this fortunate era.

    May there be the auspiciousness of this never changing

    And the auspiciousness of well-being in the world.

    Bhutan has sacred sites of Guru Rinpoche;

    The lucky ones who go there find realization.

    May there be the auspiciousness of this never changing

    And the auspiciousness of well-being in the world.

    The themes of this bright song fit well with the setting this evening: it took place in Bodhgaya; before the Monlam, there were two Guru Rinpoche empowerments, three days of his practice, and lama dancing; and concern for the environment has been an important part of this evening and the Karmapa's work in general.

    The orchestra returned for the next piece, which offered a poem, called A Joyful Aspiration, along with a melody composed by the Karmapa. Both of these came to him as he was leaving Tibet. He wrote:

    "One night in the illusory appearance of a dream, there arose a lake bathed in clear moonlight and rippling with blooming lotus flowers that served as a seat for three Brahmins, wearing pure white silk and playing a drum, guitar, and flute. Created in pleasing and lyric tones, their melodious song came to my ears, so I composed this aspiration prayer."

     In January of 2000, about three weeks after the Karmapa arrived in India; this song became his first composition performed by TIPA to celebrate a special conference of the senior Kagyu lamas.  The song also became quite popular as an English translation spread widely through the Internet. The poem encompassed an aspiration for Tibet, for the Dalai Lama, for culture and knowledge, and for the world [http://the17thkarmapa.blogspot.in/2012/08/sweet-melody-of-joyful-aspiration.html]. This evening the poem is sung by a group four women and one man with the two flutes joining in parallel to their voices.  The screen displays classic images of Tibet celebrated in the Karmapa's song ̶ Tibetan faces of all ages, mani wheels, monks blowing conch shells, a woman making a prostration, and prayer flags lifted by the wind.

    The final performance of the evening celebrated the connection between India and Tibet with a Doha (spiritual, or vajra, song) of the Indian master Tilopa, who was a forefather of the Kagyu lineage. Many Tibetan translators, including Marpa, the source of major Kagyu tantras still practiced today, disregarded the danger to life and limb in journeying to India. In turn, many Indian pandits have made the arduous trip up to Tibet. Thus there is a mutual connection of wisdom between the two lands. In appreciation of this relationship, the Karmapa has encouraged the tradition of singing these dohas in Sanskrit and in 2010 invited Dr. R.S. Nandakumar to sing this Tilopa doha at the Karmapa 900 celebration. Dr. Nandakumar is returning this evening along with his wife, Dr. Radhika Nandakumar, a superb classical Indian dancer, whom the Karmapa asked to perform as well. Including the feminine in this second presentation of the Doha, the Karmapa extended his support of women from the nuns in the lama dancing to this vivid and beautiful performance of a female artist offered to the luminous Buddha above her.

    The final event of the evening is the Lamp Prayer. In full monk's robes, the Karmapa walks up to his place in the middle of the stage, just below the Buddha, and sits holding a radiant lotus at his heart. As during an empowerment, he recites the Lamp Prayer phase by phrase, which the audience repeats. He then leads the singing in a resonant and lovely voice, performing for the first time at the Monlam. The audience joins in while holding up lotus shaped lights or round candles in small ceramic cups. The Pavilion becomes a night-time sea with thousands of stars reflected in it. And on stage the Karmapa sits in golden light, a Buddha beneath the Buddha.


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    January 15 and 16, 2014
    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

     There were two rehearsals for the Marme Monlam, one the night before and another the afternoon of the day itself. Both times, the Gyalwang Karmapa was present and connecting with all the performers. He conversed with the musicians from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, with whom he has worked for years. He talked with the technical manager, who directed a huge bank of equipment, set up like a small fortress at the back of the shrine. This complex controls over forty spotlights that hung like ripe fruit from the ceiling of the Pavilion stage; fourteen lights that stood across the back like soldiers in medieval armor, swinging right and left up and down, and another twenty or so along both sides lifted their heads and bowed again. The lights surrounded a huge screen, forty by twenty-two feet. During the last days of the Monlam, it depicted a deep blue sky with bright clouds, and now during rehearsals, videos are playing behind the performers. All this equipment came from one of India's top lighting and production companies, employed by stars like Bon Jovi. The staff came at 8am one morning and worked through to 4am the next day to set up everything before the Monlam started. In terms of the setting and the professional skill of the performers, this year's Marme Monlam is light years ahead of those in the past.

    Within this milieu, the Karmapa is clearly enjoying his role as director of events, taking care of even the smallest detail.  For the Lamp Prayer at the end, he sits in the middle of the stage, with rows of nuns on his right and monks on his left, each one holding in their lap a lotus that is lit from within. Looking at the whole picture, the Karmapa decides to change the format: they all should enter holding the mudra of meditation. And further, when they are sitting and a bell is hit twice, "Ting! ting!" they should lift the lotuses to their heart level. The Karmapa then walks over to the man with the bell and rings it twice to show him just the right sound.

    Off to the side of the stage, tuning their instruments or exchanging ideas about how to play or sing, other performers are waiting their turn. One musician talks with us about his experience of meditation and playing his instrument. His lama taught him that sound comes from emptiness and that practicing with his voice and instrument is meditation. The musician has played for many years and knows that if he tries too  hard to play well, he will not, even if he tells himself to loosen up, because he is nervous and the music does not come from his heart. After studying Buddhism, he can see through all these thoughts and relax. While playing, he now feels inspired; imagining that the whole audience is the Karmapa, he makes a musical offering to him and the music comes from his whole heart.

    Another musician talks about the orchestra, which was a new idea of the Karmapa for the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA).  Some of the traditional Tibetan instruments have come from China, and the Karmapa plays well a seven-stringed instrument called the Kuching, which may have inspired him to envision a larger group.  The orchestra includes flutes, yangching (strings like the insides of a piano played with small flexible sticks), a pipa (resembling a lute), nanhu (held upright and bowed), a Tibetan dranyen (like a small guitar), and an electric piano. The TIPA musicians trained especially for this occasion, improving their skills while preparing their musical offering.

    Watching the rehearsal from the front of the stage is an elegant Indian couple, Dr R.S. Nandakumar and his wife Dr. Rhadika Nandakumar. Both hold a PhD in musicology and come from Mysore in southern India, home to a community with a strong interest in preserving Sanskrit culture. In 2010 the Karmapa had been researching dohas (spiritual songs of realization) within his lineage, and the first one he found was from Tilopa, the great Indian master and fountainhead of the Kagyu lineage. At this same time, Dr Nandakumar was writing his dissertation on the doha tradition in Karnataka. Along with a few others, he was asked to sing this doha and send the recording to the Karmapa, who finally chose him as the one to perform at the Karmapa 900 celebration.  This year, the Karmapa has asked his wife, who is a classical Indian dancer, to perform with her husband, who will sing again Tilopa's doha.  

    The two artists talk about their work together on stage, which is always preceded by half an hour of meditation. This fine attunement is obvious during their performance, which embodies the sacred and timeless. In classical dance, they explain, the meaning of each word the singer puts forth is suggested by a gesture; the communication of the hand gestures is embedded in the style of dancing.  The earliest classical dance text has the Sanskritized word for doha, dvipadi, which means two lines. These are so well constructed that just these two lines can be the whole song; the singer can take any portion and sing it in a cycle to bring out the meaning. This spontaneity is built into the event, and so the song and the dance are different every time. To stay in touch, the Nandakumars have a secret system of communication so the dancer can shift with the song.

    The earliest dohas found in India have been Buddhist and they have inspired other traditions, so it has become a pan-Indian meditative form of artistic expression.  Talking about the meaning of the doha, Dr Nandakumar explains that they have composed new verses for the beginning that ask for the guru's blessing, "Oh Karmapa, these opening verses are an offering to you." Usually the singers include their name but not in doha, because "everything is the guru. It is the guru who sings in us, who moves us. The guru is the doha itself."

    Dr Nandakumar  gives a synopsis of the meaning that follows these opening lines. The entire world is connected, yet only with the guru's blessings can we understand. The knowing mind is just like the wind blowing around us. With the blessing of the guru we come to experience the purest mind. We supplicate the Buddha without impurities or concepts; we envision him and give everything we have. In this worldly existence, Tilopa counsels us, don’t rest your mind on things. Go back to the Buddha, let your mind rest on the Buddha, because he is the nectar of the ocean of wisdom.

    The word Buddha appears in each line, and the singing and dancing circle around this word so that the mind of the practitioner is captured. The final statement of the doha is A ham shunyata (emptiness), the ultimate destination, and the last line of the doha. The experience of the shunyata is spontaneous. There is nothing less, nothing more; there is nothing to take away and nothing to add. Everything is of one nature, everything is the guru.  At the end, the performers offer their song and dance to the Karmapa and ask if what they have done is acceptable to him. "Would you accept our offering?"

    Meditation and offering, devotion and the inspiration of the Karmapa are themes that run throughout the conversations during rehearsal. They are the framework, the very medium through which the performances take place. So the entertainment is not ordinary, but permeated with spiritual purpose, a fitting end to the Monlam with its aspiration to spread peace within the hearts of everyone and throughout the world.

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    During the historic first Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for Kagyu nuns the Gyalwang Karmapa offered eight days of dharma discourses, interspersing his teachings with frank and well-researched advice on the important issue of full-nun’s ordination in Tibet (known in Sanskrit as ‘Bhikshuni’ ordination and in Tibetan as ‘Gelongma’ ordination).
    Citing little-known textual descriptions, the Gyalwang Karmapa related accounts of thriving nuns’ communities—including many fully ordained nuns—in central areas of Tibet several centuries ago. However, such communities have disappeared and today there is no full ordination offered to nuns within the Tibetan tradition.
    It is important for us to once again have a community of fully ordained nuns now, the Gyalwang Karmapa unequivocally said, stressing that only with the presence of fully ordained women is the Buddhist community complete.
    Teaching primarily to around 207 nuns from six Kagyu nunneries who took part in the Arya Kshema Gathering, the Gyalwang Karmapa also opened up the teachings to the general public, with many Tibetan and foreign lay people filling the gompa. A number of respected Geshes, Khenpos and other monks also took part.
    As each teaching session began, those gathered enjoyed the rare sound of a female umze or chantmaster leading the nuns, monks and laypeople through the opening prayers, the female voices ringing strong and clear. They also welcomed the sight of nuns escorting the Gyalwang Karmapa into the gompa with traditional gyaling horns and incense, while female disciplinarians oversaw the rows of nuns sitting on raised cushions, their backs straight and true.
    Welcoming them on the first morning of teachings, the Gyalwang Karmapa first explained the name of the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering.
    “It is said that among the female disciples of the lord Buddha, the one with the greatest wisdom and greatest confidence was named Arya Kshema. This shows that female monastics were the same as male monastics, and were able to achieve the highest realization,” the Gyalwang Karmapa explained. “But the most important thing is that in this day and age, women monastics are indispensible for upholding the Buddha’s teachings.”
    Hidden histories: a thriving nuns’ community
    The Gyalwang Karmapa then explored the origins and history of the female monastic community in Tibet—observing that while parts of this history may not be well-known, they are nonetheless very important.
    He began by demonstrating clearly and unambiguously that the Bhikshuni sangha previously existed in Tibet, referring to particular historical documents that contain evidence of this.
    The first seven men took ordination in Tibet during the reign of King Trisong Detsen. And, the Gyalwang Karmapa explained, the female monastic sangha was also initiated at that time.
    “Just as the complete vows of individual liberation were given for the male monastic sangha, I also believe that at the same time the complete vows were also given to the female monastic community,” he said.
    Moreover, the histories show clear examples of many nuns in Tibet who received the Bhikshuni or Gelongma ordination, while there are documented cases of such great lamas as Shakya Chogden, Bodong Chogle Namgyal and the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje conferring full ordination to women.
    “If we look at the histories of the family lineages of the Sakya tradition, then there are stories about how the daughters of some of the great Sakya lineage holders took the Bhikshuni vows. It is also recorded in history that the sister of the great translator Rinchen Zangpo became a Bhikshuni. It seems fairly clear that at that point there was either a living tradition of conferring the Bhikshuni vows, or there was another manner of conferring the vows.”
    “Likewise, in the histories of the lama Yeshe Ö who exerted power over the areas of Ngari, some documents show that if the wives of the kings—as well as women from both higher and common classes of society—wanted to take the Bhikshuni vows, they were allowed to. These documents exist, and I have seen them,” he said.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa then cited texts indicating that during the time of the 10th Karmapa, in the central areas of Tibet in fact more nunneries existed than monasteries. In the 17th century the nun’s community was evidently thriving, he told those gathered.
    “Now, history such as this may not be very well-known, but it does exist. These stories are true. In the old times in Tibet there was a thriving community of nuns who had opportunities to study, listen and contemplate, and to practice meditation. There were many yoginis and other great nuns who achieved realization and accomplishment through their practice. Whether or not these stories are well-known, we do know that this was the case.”
    The current situation
    After establishing that the Bhikshuni sangha had indeed once existed within Tibet, the Gyalwang Karmapa next turned to the current situation—where the Bhikshuni sangha has died out—and the need to change it.
    “It is important for us to have the Bhikshuni sangha. This is something that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has put much effort into, and also great scholars from all lineages have taken a keen interest. There has been a lot of discussion over this issue. Several conferences have been called—in fact, these conferences have been going on since well before I came to India.”
    “It’s probably been over twenty years of discussion and further research, and still people are unable to come to a decision about this issue. So I’m not sure whether it’s that people are unable to come to a decision, or that they don’t dare to, or don’t know how to. And so that is the state that we are in now.”
    Upholding the teachings
    Next the Gyalwang Karmapa discussed some of the scriptural reasons why it is important to have a Bhikshuni sangha, and their valuable role in fully upholding the Buddha’s teachings.
    According to the lamrim definition of a precious human rebirth, the presence of Bhikshunis is needed for a land to be considered a ‘central land’, he explained. Whether a place is a ‘central land’ or not depends on the presence of the four circles of disciples—fully ordained monks, fully ordained nuns, male lay precept-holders, and female lay precept-holders—that are like four pillars holding up a house. And yet, in the Tibetan tradition one of those pillars is missing as there are no fully ordained nuns.
    “In many texts it says that what determines whether the teachings of the Buddha are present in a country is whether the teachings of the Vinaya are present in that country or not. And that depends on whether there is the practice of the three foundational rituals,” he explained.
    These three rituals refer to the sojong or twice-monthly confession ceremony for monks and nuns, the rains retreat, and a special ceremony relating to the rains retreat.
    “If we think about it in terms of male practitioners, we have the trainings and the three foundational rituals. Yet, for women, we don’t have the three foundational rituals, and certainly not as described in the Vinaya, because there are no Bhikshunis. So, it’s important for us to have Bhikshunis who are able to maintain the practice of the three foundational rituals. This is necessary.”
    An undisputed ordination
    The Gyalwang Karmapa then raised another important reason why the Bhikshuni sangha is important. Without it, he explained to those gathered, it becomes very difficult to give any level of ordination to women that is 100% free from dispute—including the novice or Getsulma ordination.
    “Without a Bhikshuni sangha it is very difficult to truly give the monastic vows to women. Now there is debate as to whether the Bhikshu sangha is able to give the Bhikshuni ordination to women or not. Some say that the Bhikshu sangha is able to follow the ritual text and give it, while others say they are not. There is much debate about this.”
    “But, if there is debate as to whether the Bhikshu sangha is able to give the Bhikshuni vows or not, then automatically it also becomes disputed as to whether the Bhikshu sangha is able to give the novice nun’s ordination as well. It’s difficult to say this and be 100% undisputed.”
    “If we have a Bhikshuni sangha then we can give undisputed monastic vows, but otherwise it will be difficult for us to give any monastic vows that are 100% free of dispute. So this is another important reason for the Bhikshuni ordination.”
    Collective responsibility
    Finally, the Gyalwang Karmapa once more highlighted the importance of the issue, and how responsibility now rests upon the entire sangha in addressing it.
    “We need to understand that the situation now with Bhikshunis is an important issue. Some people think that there have been some foreign nuns who’ve come over and started making an issue out of it and it’s only then that the Bhikshuni issue has become an important question, and that before it wasn’t important. But that is absolutely not the case. The fact that it was not an important issue for us before is our fault. It’s our problem, and it’s us not living up to our own responsibility. And this is for monks and nuns both—we have both let this slide, so it is all of our responsibility.”


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  • 02/01/14--22:40: Updated Webcast Schedule

  • Indian Time

    January 30th 7am - The Flourishing of Dharma for Nuns ( Puja )
    January 31st 7am - Tsurphu Losar ( Puja )
    February 1st 7am - 16 Arhats and Tara Puja
    February 2nd TBD - Closing Ceremony of the 1st Arya Kshema

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    Scroll painting Of Ming Dynasty, Length 4948cm, Width 66cm, The first year of Yongle in Ming Dynasty (1403 A.D.), Ming Chengzu Zhu Di sent a representative to Tibet to invite Halima (Karmapa). In the winter of the fourth year of Yongle (1406 A.D.), Halima started his journey to Nanjing. Ming Chengzu established camp-style residential area in the capital and the Linggu Temple for Halima and his entourage. In the beginning of the following year, Halima and his entourage arrived at Nanjing. He was welcomed by the Emperor, the Queen, the Prince, the officials, and the public.  (Source)

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    As the expanse of simplicity, the unchanging space of reality,
    Your enlightened vajra mind, embodiment of the Heruka,
    Manifests in the form of the guru until the end of time.
    Peerless guide, may your life be long!

    To ensure that the aspirations of Kaybje Mingyur Rinpoche are fulfilled and that his life is stable, this aspiration was made on March 16th, 2012 by the Karmapa Orgyen Trinley in response to the requests of his students. May it be virtuous!

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    Bodhgaya: January 20, 2014

    I begin by paying homage to this distinguished assembly, headed by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa and His Eminence the 12th Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, along with the eminent tulkus, learned khenpos and geshes, venerable sangha and community of lay supporters.

    The Gyalwang Karmapa has convened this historical first winter Dharma session for Karma Kagyu nuns in this most sacred site of Bodhgaya, so it might be auspicious to recollect a conversation that took place here shortly after the Buddha’s enlightenment and before he left the vicinity of the Bodhi tree. At that time, Mara came and suggested that the Buddha should pass into parinirvana since he had already accomplished his aim of attaining complete enlightenment. The Buddha replied that he would only pass into parinirvana after not only his bhikshus but also his bhikshunis and upsakas had a clear understanding of the Dharma and could successfully debate with those who argue against the Dharma. This conversation is related in the Sanghabhedavastu (dge ‘dun byen gyi gzhi) and other Sanskrit texts as well, and clearly demonstrates that the Buddha intended that his female sangha also take an active role in defending the Dharma, and thereby preserving it for future generations.

    Now, a very short distance from the Bodhi tree where this conversation took place, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is creating new opportunities for nuns to develop our clear understanding of the Dharma, so that we too can debate and help fulfill the Buddha’s plan for his female sangha to also contribute to the preservation of the Dharma in the world.

    To do so, as His Holiness often reminds us, we need to actively cultivate the wisdom that arises through study, reflection and meditation. We are incredibly fortunate to be under the care of such a kind and wise guru who is leading us along the path to liberation and arranging all the outer conditions that we need to complete that path. We ourselves also need to work hard to develop the inner conditions so we can make full use of the outer opportunities.

    Until now, women around the world have faced two major obstacles to developing their potential: outer obstacles and inner obstacles. The outer obstacle is lack of material and educational opportunities, and His Holiness is now creating those outer conditions for us. The inner obstacle is a lack of confidence in our own ability to make use of those opportunities. 

    I think to many of you, it may look as if Western women have never faced any of these obstacles. But, actually, the equal opportunities that women now have in the West are relatively recent. Less than 100 years ago in the United States, women could not even vote! Over the course of just a few generations, women were offered more and more educational and professional opportunities, but many times have been held back by doubts about their own abilities. My own mother was born in a time when women could receive the same education as men, but many had not yet developed the confidence to actually use that opportunity. My mother received a good education, but becomes painfully shy in public. So many times I have heard her say, “I could never do that,” yet she never told me and my sister we could not do it. She and my father both encouraged us children to believe in our own potential, and this was an important condition for us to explore to see for ourselves what our limitations really are.

    The point is that even if we have opportunities, if we think we are not really able to make use of those opportunities, this thought will limit our confidence and hold us back.

    As His Holiness has said in the past, ideas about what a woman or man can do or what a woman or man should be are just ideas – they have no existence outside our mind. However, when we believe that these ideas describe our actual nature, this belief affects our experiences and limits our efforts to develop our potential. If we believe we cannot accomplish something, we definitely will not accomplish it.

    We should not let the mundane views of society tell us what our capacity is, but rather we should let the wisdom of the Dharma shape our understanding of ourselves. The Dharma tells us we all have exactly the same Buddha nature. When we fully realize this potential within us, we will have all the qualities that society normally tells us are either masculine or feminine.

    Even if we do not always have full confidence in our own potential, we do have full confidence and trust in our supreme spiritual guide, the Gyalwang Karmapa, and he has been telling us nuns that we do have the capacity to study seriously and practice deeply, and therefore to become qualified to take up more responsibility for the Buddhadharma. So our trust in our supreme guru and in the teachings of the Buddha can become the basis for us to develop confidence in ourselves.

    This historical conference is taking place in the 21st century, at a historical moment when there is an unprecedented need for the teachings of the Buddha. Our rapid material progress has led much of the world to believe that we can find happiness by having more material things. This view creates more dissatisfaction on a personal level, and collectively our unbridled consumption is having a devastating effect on the natural environment. If we do not change our understanding about where happiness comes from, in just a few generations we may have destroyed the planet’s capacity to support this way of life. The Buddhadharma offers a blueprint for a more sustainable way of living on this planet, based on a correct understanding of where lasting happiness comes from and a more compassionate way of relating to one another and to the planet.

    Therefore there is an urgent need for everyone who has committed their lives to upholding the Dharma to develop themselves to their fullest capacity, and especially for nuns to actively contribute to the flourishing of the Dharma. The Gyalwang Karmapa has also commented that we are living in an era when the world especially needs the particular qualities that women manifest more clearly. Society has long assigned to women the role of caring for others, and if we look to our own experiences, we can all see the quality in women of “sensitive listening to others’ needs,” setting aside their own wishes and allowing compassion to guide their loving actions that are represented in the figure of the mother, and that are so urgently needed in today’s world.

    In his own immeasurable kindness to us, His Holiness is now providing the means for nuns to develop, so that this inherent potential of lovingkindness can become a full source of benefit to the world.

    On behalf of people in Western countries whose happiness and wellbeing depends on the availability of Buddha’s teachings, I would like to request you nuns to deepen your Dharma understanding and practice, and to accept the responsibility of helping to keep the teachings of Buddha alive and available around the world, wherever they are so very much needed.

    Thank you.

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    "Actually, there is nothing special about 'new year.' The ideas '2013' and '2014' are but figments of the human imagination [conventional concepts]. Having said that, we can make something good out of it. We can use the [idea of] transition to reconsider our lives and to renew our resolutions. My wish for you all in 2014 is that you will be happier, more joyful, and healthier than ever before, that all your good wishes will be fulfilled. Above all, as human beings, we should understand that one's existence is interconnected with all other sentient beings, and none of us is able to survive, or to live a life, completely independent of relations. As such, we ought to always maintain good relations with other living beings; that is, compassionate and cordial relations. I think this is very important. So I hope all of you can work on this aspect with more effort in the coming year."

    Translated by Ratanayano Bhikkhu

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    25-28 January 2014 – Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    Throughout eight days of teachings during the inaugural Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering the Gyalwang Karmapa covered the first five chapters of Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation. Beginning with developing a deep appreciation of our precious human life, through to the importance of contemplating impermanence, and understanding the manifold sufferings of samsara, he taught the gathering daily—sometimes twice daily—in a rain of pure dharma.
    The enlightened wisdom of the Kagyu founding master Gampopa flowed effortlessly out through the Gyalwang Karmapa’s own enlightened speech as he progressed through the text, which is known as the earliest Lamrim text on the stages of the path to enlightenment.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa spent several sessions exploring the topic of the spiritual master in detail, and the importance of correctly relying upon and entrusting oneself to a qualified teacher. The qualities to look for in a spiritual master include great wisdom, compassion that can lead students without bias, and no attachment to this life, he explained.
    “The benefits of following a spiritual master are deeper than the ocean and vaster than the sky. We should think about all the benefits that can arise,” he told those gathered.
    And yet, he continued, the spiritual master is only fifty percent of the story. The other fifty percent is up to us – the disciples.
    “We need to realize that the student and the lama are equally important. If there is a good spiritual master but not a good student then nothing’s going to happen, and vice versa. There has to be balance between the two.”
    “When we think about the student and master, it’s like the two wheels of a bicycle. If one of the wheels is broken, then no matter how sound the other wheel is it won’t be able to go anywhere. Whereas, if we have both wheels on the bicycle we can go wherever we like. Similarly, there is no greater or lesser in importance between the master and student.”
    When later exploring the topic of impermanence, the Gyalwang Karmapa turned to the natural world around us as a powerful teacher.
    “We can learn about impermanence by looking at the skies and the seasons. If you know how to look and see the stars moving in the sky and the seasons changing, you can come to an understanding of impermanence from this. You can get a feeling of what impermanence is, without anyone saying anything about it. This is a teaching that is not written in a book – it’s an actual feeling.”
    He then bought the teaching on death and impermanence to another level, drawing the minds of his students to an awareness of this very moment of existence.
    “Our human life is always passing away. When we think about how long we’re going to live, imagine that we had a clock that said, ‘this is the 70 years that you have, while this is the amount of time already passed’. It shows us each minute, each second, of how much time we have left. At first it seems like we have a lot of time, and we do. But each moment passes, and finishes.”
    “The past is over—it’s already done. Every split second that goes by is past. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. So the only time that we have is now. Thinking like this about impermanence really encourages us towards dharma practice.”
    Stopping occasionally to point out places where there were errors in the Tibetan text, the Gyalwang Karmapa announced that at the end of the year, during the 18th Kagyu Gunchö Debates, he will convene a special conference on the Jewel Ornament of Liberation. Khenpos and students from different shedras will research and examine the text very carefully and critically, focusing on clarifying the errors that have crept in over the centuries. If the review goes well they may produce a critical edition of the text, together with updated translations into English and Chinese.
    “This text is a jewel for all the Kagyu lineages,” he said, “not just for the Karma Kagyu, and it would be very beneficial to study it more.”
    As the teachings wound to a close on the final day, the Gyalwang Karmapa directly addressed the nuns taking part in the first Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering.
    He observed that despite having had the flu, he had been able to continue offering dharma teachings throughout the eight-day gathering. Moreover, each day people had also spontaneously made material offerings.
    “From beginning to end I’ve been able to give you this offering of dharma without missing any days and I feel good about that. We’ve also had daily material offerings. Neither the dharma offerings nor the material offerings have been interrupted, so it feels to me like this Winter Dharma Gathering has been complete, both internally and externally.”
    He then commented that now the nuns had begun studying logic, the Geshes and Khenpos had already told him they were doing very well.
    “As the great masters of the past say, it’s important to examine whether the first link of interdependence is good or not. This is the nature of interdependence—if the initial link goes well, all the rest goes well. Here, the first link of the Winter Dharma Gathering has gone very well. I think this is great sign that the teachings of the Buddha, and particularly of the nuns’ dharma, will go very well. This is a most excellent sign.”


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    29 January 2014 – Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    In an historic occasion coming at the end of the first Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, nuns from six Kagyu nunneries performed an elaborate Chöd ritual, known as A String of Jewels, presided over by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.
    While the Gyalwang Karmapa has been enthusiastic about Chöd practice from a young age, this was his first ever opportunity to publicly perform the Chöd puja—an opportunity he’d been looking forward to very much.
    Since the time of the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, who wrote the first commentary on Chöd and who also compiled the text of this puja, the Karmapas have had a strong connection with the Chöd practice. Historically they are holders of the direct Chöd lineage, based on the Indian Buddhist deity Prajñāpāramitā, who is known as both the mother of all the Buddhas and the embodiment of wisdom.
    Chöd, which means ‘to sever or cut’ in Tibetan, ultimately aims to cut through the ignorance of self-grasping that is the root of all our suffering, using the wisdom that realizes emptiness. It is renowned among the eight practice lineages of Tibetan Buddhism as being the only lineage established by a woman, the great female master Machig Labdrön, and female practitioners have traditionally excelled in its practice.
    From the first opening strains the nuns’ melodies rang clear and bell-like throughout the gompa, the soaring notes of the puja carried effortlessly by the female voices.
    The gompa was transformed for the puja, with rows of nuns seated on raised cushions facing inwards in the traditional arrangement, while a row of Geshes, Khenpos and venerable monks were seated to either side of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s throne. The nuns skillfully performed all the traditional roles of the puja, including Umze or chantmaster, Chöpon or ritual-master, as well as playing all the horns, drums, and other ritual implements.
    Those present witnessed the spectacular sight of rows of nuns playing their ritual chöd-dar drums and bells in unison, led by the Gyalwang Karmapa at the head of the gathering. At points in the puja the haunting sound of kangling horns, famously made from thigh-bones, reverberated through the air, in a direct symbol of cutting through gross attachment to the physical body.
    Arising from the enlightened female wisdom principle, the power of the morning’s Chöd practice was magnified under the unified voices of hundreds of nuns. Throughout the five-hour-long ritual, the Gyalwang Karmapa presided as Dorje Lopon or vajra master, his powerful, supportive presence guiding the nuns through to the end of the puja.


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    In Chinese fish has the same sound as “surplus” and “abundance” "餘".
    "年年有餘“ (nian nian you yu) means having more enough for the coming year.

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    Voice of Tibet [1 February 2014] reported that Tibet His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Rinpoche Kagyu New Year greeting released video, I hope you and all beings of compassion, friendly relations in the new year.
    Bodhgaya Buddhist shrine in India preach the 17th Karmapa Rinpoche on Monday (the 27th) New Year greeting video released through life television that (recording) "In fact, I think the New Year is actually nothing, 2013 is now 14 years, all of us, fake out, but it was just that we can, through such a turning point in our life can be reconsidered and re-do the program. " Karmapa Rinpoche went on to say, "hope in 2014, we had over the past joy, happiness, good health and everything to do so. most important thing is that we, as a people, should understand that our existence with all living beings are closely related, so we did not way to survive independently, there is no way to go independent way of life, so you should keep beings have a good relationship, compassionate, very friendly relationship and I think this is very important, so I hope the new one years on this issue, they can be much effort. "
    It is understood that the Karmapa Rinpoche to Bodhgaya Buddhist shrine, mainly to attend the 31st Kagyu Monlam, and presided at the local temple held in Germany Karma, the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism 900 years The first woman in the history of public debate by "prophecy Mobiqiuni debate by the Council."


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