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    January 31st, 2014
    Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    3.00 am. In the early morning darkness the only movement was from hundreds of festive red and golden fairy lights, strung in glittering garlands from the roof and walls of the temple. They swayed gently, their reflections shimmering in the windows. Suddenly, the stillness was rent by the call of Tibetan trumpets across the rooftops of Tergar Monastery: the Tibetan Year of the Male Wood Horse had arrived. Although the majority of Tibetans these days keep the Phukluk calendar, dating from 1447 CE and named after Phukpa Lhundrup Gyatso who founded the astrological tradition on which it is based, the Gyalwang Karmapas have preserved an earlier tradition. Known as the Tsurluk calendar, because of its association with Tsurphu Monastery, it is based on an astrological treatise The Compendium of Astrology compiled by the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284 CE -1339 CE). It became popular during the time of the Seventh Karmapa Chodrak Gyatso, and remains the official calendar of the Karma Kamtsang to this day.
    At 6.30 am Rinpoches, Khenpos, senior monks and the Gyalwang Karmapa’s staff met for a special private audience and puja in the small shrine room opposite his quarters on the roof of the shrine hall at Tergar Monastery.
    Meanwhile, two storeys below, nuns, monks and laypeople began passing through the security checks and filing into the temple for the New Year long-life ritual to be offered to His Holiness by the abbot of Mirik Monastery, Khenpo Lodrö Dönyo Rinpoche.
    The enormous golden throne had been brought down from the dais and placed in front of the rows of seating for monks and nuns. Garlands of gold and yellow marigolds interspersed with garlands of off-white and wine-red marigolds had been hung from the temple pillars and between the thangkas of the lineage forefathers and the Karmapas. In front of the throne, stood a special New Year altar, heaped high with fried Tibetan pastries called donkey’s ears because of their shape, fruit, sweets, dried fruit and nuts. In front of these were two ornately painted and carved wooden containers, one of chemar –Tibetan roasted barley flour mixed with butter and sugar–and one of roasted wheat. Planted in them were decorative butter sculptures mounted on wood. Finally, there were the traditional pots containing young sprouting wheat.
    At 8.00am, amid clouds of incense, and to the beating of the great temple drums, the assembly of monks and nuns rose to greet the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, led in procession by nuns in golden brocade robes. His Holiness was wearing his lesha, the black activity crown adorned with golden motifs, and clad in festival robes: a special tönka [monk’s waistcoat] panelled with golden brocade, embroidered white felt boots, and a decorative brocade chabshu hanging from his belt.
    The long-life ritual itself was distinctive. Based on the pure vision of the Third Karmapa and a treasure revealed by the Eighth Karmapa, it is called the Long Life Practice of the Union of the Three Roots. The three roots are the Lama Guru Rinpoche, the yidam deities of Dorje Phagmo, Tamdin and Gyalwa Gyamtso a form of Red Chenrezig, and the protector is Mahakala Bernakchen. All were displayed on the thangka hung behind the golden throne, but as this is a long-life practice, the five are visualised as Amitayus, the deity associated with longevity.
    The Arya Kshema Nuns Winter Gathering is still in progress, so the ritual itself was conducted by the nuns. The umzes were nuns, a nun acted as ritual master making the offerings at the altar, nuns played the gyalings, horns and cymbals, and nuns beat the two huge temple drums. Yet a further demonstration of how His Holiness is both encouraging and validating the empowerment of nuns in the Karma Kamtsang this year.
    About 1500 people were crowded into the shrine room, many hundreds more gathered outside on the surrounding verandas, peering through the windows and doors to get a glimpse of His Holiness. After the puja, everyone had the opportunity to offer a katag to His Holiness. As more and more people arrived, it seemed that the line of devotees filing past the throne would never end. Indeed it took two hours for everyone-approximately 3000 people in all-to receive His Holiness’ New Year blessing, along with a red protection cord and an envelope of ‘seed’ money, to bring wealth and prosperity in the coming year.
    In keeping with tradition, at the end of the line came the two oldest men, Tsering Dondrup, an 83-year-old Tibetan, and Tsering Dorjee, 86 years old, from Bhutan. Draped in white shawls and waving blue and yellow Karmapa dream flags, they were the concluding symbols of longevity, echoing the sincere prayer of all those present that the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, embodiment of the activity of all the buddhas, might remain long in order to bring benefit to beings.


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    February 3rd, 2014

    During the first ever Kagyu Monlam Animal Camp, the team of volunteer vets and para-vets treated a total of 830 animals. An elephant, a beetle, rabbits, a camel, ducklings, dogs: many different types of sentient beings received treatment during the animal camp. From an injured beetle to a sick elephant - all received equal care and attention.  Many concerned people brought a total of 540 injured or sick animals to the experienced veterinary team for help. 

    Goats: Thousands of goats live in and around Bodhgaya. During this winter, many were sick with a severe form of contagious pneumonia (lung infection) and were near death. Due to the efforts of the team, the goats were able to recover with treatment (antibiotics, intravenous fluids (glucose drip) and other medications).  A nearby Buddhist centre houses many goats who have been liberated from slaughter (Tsethar). These goats were similarly sick and the team travelled to the institute daily to give them treatments.

    Cows and Buffalo:  Most families in Bodhgaya own at least a cow and a buffalo. Their milk feeds the family and their dung provides fuel for cooking. The loss of a single animal is devastating to marginal villagers who depend on her for survival. Similarly, buffalo are used to plough the fields and provide milk. The vet team treated a number of different conditions and saved many lives. 

    Horses:  Horses are used to pull carts and transport people in and around Bodhgaya. Running on the hard bitumen roads creates massive stress on their legs and hooves. Many of these horses have chronic (old and ongoing) leg and joint problems causing pain and were treated during the camp. Two horses have been rescued from this life of suffering and released to live their remaining days on the Garchen ground. The first has lost the sight in one eye and the second has a crippled leg and was in great pain pulling a heavy cart all day. 

    In addition, the team gave 301 anti-rabies vaccinations and neutered 253 stray dogs.
    Another important part of their work was an educational outreach programme. Its first focus was on dog bite and rabies prevention:
    ·       Teaching the community of the importance of reducing the dog population to a healthy manageable size through sterilization programs and controlling rabies by vaccination all dogs.
    ·       Training children how to avoid being bitten by dogs and how to treat dog bites to prevent rabies infections.
    ·       Training children on the importance of compassionate care of animals and the interdependence of all life. 
    The second focus was teaching villagers and children the proper care and husbandry of animals. 

    There are many local myths about the care of goats, cows and other animals that are causing harm. For example, some villagers believe that giving fresh water to goats in winter causes diarrhoea. This leads to dehydration and disease rather than preventing it. A vital aspect of a vets work is teaching animal owners proper care and husbandry of the animals under their protection.

    The third focus was preventing the capture and caging of wild birds. 

    The Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical team expressed immense gratitude to His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Thinley Dorje for this opportunity to provide service in the holy land of Bodhgaya, to Drikung Gyaltsey Rinpoche for his guidance and inspiration, to the Bo Gangkar Rinpoche for his support, to the Kagyu Monlam Committee and to all the volunteers who worked long hours for the animals.

    They have dedicated their efforts to the long life of His Holiness the Karmapa.


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    February 1st, 2014
    The second day of the Tsurluk Losar festival began with the ritual of The Sixteen Arhats in the main shrine room. The  Sixteen Arhats [Tib. Neten Chudruk], also known as the Sixteen Elders, were personally chosen by Shakyamuni Buddha from amongst his disciples.  He asked them to remain in the world in order to protect the Buddhist Dharma for as long as beings are capable of benefitting from the teachings.
    As His Holiness had explained during Kagyu Monlam, the Sixteen Arhats are invoked in order to help the Dharma flourish.  “The Dharma teachings are the sole medicine, the sole salve for all sentient beings. It’s the only medicine to eliminate the sufferings of sentient beings, ”he commented.
    In the context of the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for Nuns, there was special emphasis  on the role of the nuns in the flourishing of the Dharma and  an aspiration that the community of nuns would also flourish.
    Yet again, from early morning His Holiness had supervised the transformation of the temple until everything was to his satisfaction.  The Losar offering of kabse remained, but the shrine from the long-life ritual had been replaced as had the golden throne. Now statues of the sixteen arhats had been brought down from their positions on the ledge above the central aisle and placed on two new altars, one on either side behind the usual wooden throne.  On the left-hand side altar were displayed the eight auspicious symbols placed in gilded vases, and the right-hand side altar held the seven signs of kingship crafted in silver.
    After the conclusion of the morning ritual, everyone was invited to join the Gyalwang Karmapa for a special Losar lunch at the Monlam Pavilion. A wide selection of vegetarian food sourced from several restaurants in Bodhgaya was provided. The stage had been converted into a dining area where His Holiness sat with selected guests.  The bulk of the nuns and laypeople sat on cushions in the main arena and some chose to collect their food and sit outside in the sunshine.
    In the afternoon His Holiness went to the Root Institute, a local Dharma centre.


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    February 2nd, 2014 – Root Insititute
    Root Institute is an oasis of peace and tranquillity, like a Pure Land  within the environmental chaos of Bodhgaya. HH Karmapa’s teaching after the Monlam at the Institute, established by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, has become an annual tradition, a special event eagerly awaited by his Western students. When His Holiness enters the cosy shrine room it feels like the Buddha has come home to his sitting room, in marked contrast to the vast space of the Monlam Pavilion which seats 10,000.
    To create the right atmosphere, the Venerable Ani Sarah read Lama Zopa’s translation of Guru Rinpoche’s teaching on the benefits of making offerings to the Bodhgaya stupa, (and all stupas), a lengthy poetic treatise covering every possible object of offering and its incalculable benefits.
    With this preparation, HH Karmapa  enters and offers a katag to the life-like photo of HH Dalai Lama resting on the throne. His own throne is garlanded in brilliant orange and gold marigolds.
    Lama Zopa Rinpoche sits on a very low seat to his left, looking frail from a stroke he suffered some months ago. With determination born of pure devotion, he makes prostrations touching the ground with his entire body, stretching out his limbs as far as the human body can reach. The Karmapa protests several times, but Zopa Rinpoche offers his body, speech and mind to the Buddha, his hands shakily holding the mandala plate. After their heads touch, he offers the Karmapa a thangka.
    HIs Holiness expresses his pleasure at meeting Venerable Zopa Rinpoche at Root Institute for the first time since he has become ill. He extends warm greetings to staff and sangha and a deep admiration for the wonderful work of Root Institute encompassing the noble vision of Zopa Rinpoche. ”I express my heartfelt appreciation and rejoice in particular in the area of Bodhgaya. There’s a lot of wonderful projects going on”.
    I don’t have the ability to articulate the dharma or the experience of it. It’s not a matter of putting on a good show with body and speech. It’s mixing the dharma with one’s mind, taming one’s hardened mind, and diminishing mental afflictions.  We may appear to be a dharma person, but faced with adverse circumstances, it turns into another story. We can’t leave the dharma outside our everyday life. Its purpose is to diminish our afflictions. Under ideal circumstances, one can feel one is developing, but faced with adversity, our practice doesn’t always hold. We have to apply an antidote on a consistent basis.
    We entertain our mental afflictions. Once we feed them they strengthen out of the feedback we give them. Leave them alone and let go. Then they will weaken. Letting go will make them more and more powerless.
    Mahamudra texts say one must not pursue mental afflictions, but when they arise, one shouldn’t worry about it. For example, someone on a journey will see various scenery. One doesn’t have to stop seeing what one sees, nor does one have to be alarmed. The journey must go on. We tend to claim ownership of what is on the path.  Rather it is a journey of noticing mental afflictions, looking at their essential nature. Then mental afflictions will become powerless because they are not automatically equipped with the power to overwhelm us.  By feeding them, mental afflictions gain strength. Whatever is concocted like lies, must come to the surface. If one doesn’t entertain it, the mental afflictions will be defeated by themselves. We have to confront the afflictions with all means and methods and if we can weaken their power we can tame and even uproot them. All dharmas come to the same point. All the profound instructions aim to uproot our mental afflictions. It is important to understand this.
    Our mental disease is an old disease that has been with us from beginning-less time. It’s difficult to rely on a doctor because the doctor cannot cure it completely. Sometimes we consider the Buddha to be a doctor who gives us the medicine. But if we don’t eat it or use it properly, good medicine is not enough. We are the patient. We need to take responsibility. Sometimes we feel very spiritual and think ‘ I must get some degree of realization, or spiritual power’; but in real life, things change. In real life situations, we become another person. That kind of dharma practice is not very useful. We must have the spiritual power to face emotions and obstacles. This is what makes a dharma practitioner, or authentic practitioner. Sometimes we need to use different kinds of methods. All kinds of methods were used by great masters in the past. These provide inspiration to understand how to control the emotions. But we really need to find a personal method, not just follow the methods of great masters in the past.
    Dedicated consistent integration of the dharma into everyday life is the practical approach to dharma practice.
     The Karmapa’s talk began in Tibetan, jumped seamlessly into English, then returned to Tibetan. As it ended, His Holiness left the shrine room supporting Lama Zopa who was smiling and walking despite his disability. Starting with an initial reluctance to teach mahamudra, the Karmapa’s talk turned into spontaneous mahamudra, brilliantly encapsulating the essential moment of letting go and just doing it.


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    Februrary 4, 2014 – Bodhgaya.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa participated today in the opening of the Bodh Mahotsava 2014, a three-day cultural festival commemorating the 2,600th anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment here in Bodhgaya.
    Chief minister of Bihar, Mr.Nitish Kumar welcomed His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and salute tourists and pilgrims from all over the world who have successfully thwarted the designs of the saboteurs through their presence in a large number in the city of enlightenment.
    Lauded the constant improvement in the Mahotsava format and the increasing level of participation of cultural troops from abroad to make it a truly international event.
    Buddha Mahotsava, the much-awaited cultural event jointly organised by the tourism department of the state government and the district administration began on a positive note on Tuesday evening with the organizers offering the right mix of Indian and foreign cultural menu. The annual event that began in 1998 aims at promoting religious tourism and pilgrimage in the land of Buddha’s enlightenment.
    This year the event coincides with Basant Panchami signaling the arrival of the moderate spring season. Spring season and Buddha teachings have at least one thing in common and that is moderation and absence of extremism in thought, action as well as environment.
    Performing artists from Srilanka, Thailand, Tibetan, Bhutanese, Myanmar and South Korea made presentations of their popular culture on the state soon after the inaugural function.
    The event held on the Kalachakra grounds attracted over 8,000 people, including representatives of various embassies, national delegates and local attendees.
    Kyabje Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, Dilgo Khentse Yangsi Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche were present among other dignitaries.

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    30 January 2014 – Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    In yet another special activity at the end of the first Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering—and, taking place on the last day of the year according to the Tsurphu calendar—the Gyalwang Karmapa led a ritual that he himself had personally composed especially for the nuns’ dharma to flourish.
    At this auspicious moment, when nuns in the Karma Kagyu tradition are stepping forward to more fully inhabit their valuable place within the sangha, and to take full advantage of the opportunities opening up for them, the Gyalwang Karmapa decided to perform this ritual so that the Buddhist teachings in general, and the community of nuns in particular can thrive.
    The ritual aims to dispel any harms, difficulties or obstacles to the nuns’ dharma, through powerful supplications to Avalokitesvara and the Buddha’s own personal attendant, Ananda.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa explained that the Buddha himself had said, in The Sutra of the Great Skillful Means of Repaying Kindness, that in the future when women monastics pray to Ananda, he will be able to protect them from harm and bring them great benefit.
    “We’ll do this ritual together now, and I hope that in the future it can also be done on a regular basis in the nunneries,” he said. He recommended that it could be performed in all Karma Kagyu nunneries particularly on the Sojong days that fall in the middle months of spring and autumn.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa composed the ritual based on texts relating to the Buddha’s own step-mother and disciple Mahaprajapati, the very first woman to request and receive ordination from the Buddha. After the Buddha had initially refused her request for women to become ordained as nuns, his attendant Ananda had interceded on their behalf and permission was later granted.
    The main part of the ritual centers around the Mahayana Sojong vows. After the opening Sanskrit prayers—led for the first time by female chantmasters or umzes—the gathered nuns, monks and laypeople kneeled on their right knees to repeat the liturgy for the eight Mahayana precepts after the Gyalwang Karmapa.
    The morning’s special practice also included supplications to Avalokitesvara, based on a sadhana by Nagarjuna called Sun of Avalokita 1000-Arms. In this practice Avalokitesvara and Ananda are seen to be indivisible, once more magnifying the power of the positive aspirations for the nuns’ dharma to flourish.
    As the ritual took place, a stunning thangka of Avalokitesvara hung behind the Gyalwang Karmapa’s throne, overlooking the gathering. Avalokitesvara was shown standing, with two arms, one holding a lotus flower in full bloom, the other in the mudra of generosity, with the Bhikshu Ananda emanating from his open palm—a visible image of their inseparability.
    To either side of the throne magnificent golden gilded statues of the 16 Arhats adorned the altars, together with sparkling gold and silver depictions of 16 auspicious symbols.
    With this special and historic ritual, the Gyalwang Karmapa once more demonstrated the fullness of his commitment to work for the welfare of nuns, and his aspiration that the nuns’ dharma may flourish.


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    January 24, 2014

    Thank you.  It is an honour to be here and to be involved in the Kagyu Monlam animal health program. On behalf of the veterinary team I would like to thank His Holiness for the opportunity he has given us to carry out this animal health program.

    There are strong connections between Buddhism and veterinary public health. The first is the Buddhist principle of interdependence. Amongst health care professionals, there is a growing awareness of the interconnectedness of animal and human health. 75% of global emerging diseases of concern are zoonotic, that is, they are spread between animals and humans. TB and rabies are good examples of this. The World Health Organisation promotes a “One Health” approach to its own programs- improving human and animal health are equally necessary to tackle community health problems. Without providing adequate health care and vaccination to the animal populations, you cannot control the disease in the human populations. Therefore the program we are inaugurating today is equally for the benefit of the people in this community as it is for the animals.

    The second connection between Buddhism and programs like this is compassion for all sentient beings. May they all equally be free from suffering. His Holiness has spoken on this many times and is a strong advocate of a vegetarian lifestyle, free from violence towards those sentient beings. Mahatma Gandhi also said A nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals. There are a vast number of Indian animal welfare organisations and work being done throughout India. This is due to Indians great compassion for animals as evidenced by the vast numbers of vegetarians. India is therefore a great nation. Mrs Gandhi has been championing that cause for such a long time and has made the most significant impact on animal welfare and rights of anyone, anywhere. She is always there to help anybody who is working for animals, big or small, rich or poor, despite their religion, caste or socio-economic status. We applaud her for that and thank her heartily for gracing us with her presence today.

    His Holiness is also a strong advocate for animals and the environment. It is therefore very fitting that the Kagyu Monlam’s social work program be extended to include Animal Health Camps. We recognise that while a single two-week camp will help many individual animals, it will not improve the overall health and welfare situation for animals of Bodhgaya in the long term. Therefore today is the inauguration of a long-term project where the veterinary team will return each Kagyu Monlam for several years and continue the work started this week.

    The program has several arms. The first and most technical is the surgical desexing and anti-rabies vaccination program. This is the only humane way to control the roaming dog population and rabies deaths in animal and humans. Health benefits for the whole community come through reducing dog numbers and the incidence of dog bites and rabies infections. It also allows the veterinarians to treat other health problems like skin disease, cancers, wounds and fractures. Research studies have shown that in areas where these programs are carried out, there are significant improvements to the animal health and also a reduction in the numbers of dog bites and rabies deaths in humans. It is therefore a very important part of this initiative and will build onto the significant achievements already made by the local NGO MAITRI who have been carrying on this work for many years now.

    The second wing of the Kagyu Monlam program is the out patients clinic where every animal, large or small, is treated and given free medicine. So far we have seen many buffalo, cows, goats, dogs and other animals brought in for urgent treatment. This will soon extend to an outreach program and the vets will travel from panchayat to panchayat dispensing medicines and advice in equal measure.

    The third wing is community education about animal diseases, welfare and the compassionate and responsible care of animals under their care. For example, we will be teaching children how to avoid being bitten by dogs, and what steps to take to prevent rabies in the case of a dog bite injury. Children are the ones most at risk from rabies through dog bites and so this is lifesaving training.

    This is a brief overview of the programs aims and objectives. The team of dedicated volunteer animal health care professionals from Sikkim and Dharamsala include vets, vet-aides cum dog-catchers and kennel hands. Many monks are also chipping in to lend a hand and have proven to be quite good at catching dogs and also are very kind with them. The team will be returning each Kagyu Monlam for the next few years and we hope you will come and visit again. Thank you.

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    February 12-19

    6:30-7:30 am (Indian Time) / 9:00-10:00 am  (Taiwan Time)

    February 14-21

    6:30-7:30 pm (Indian Time) / 9:00-10:00 pm (Taiwan Time)

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    Feb 5th, 2014 – Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa today visited the Mahabodhi temple where the anniversary of the 25th Nyingma Monlam was being celebrated. The sun was at last shining brilliantly lighting up the stupa grounds, where various groups gathered round ancient stone monuments and bodhi trees to chant prayers. While devotees gathered outside the inner sanctum of the temple, the Gyalwang Karmapa entered and offered a new shining gold robe to the sacred Buddha statue. He then led a procession of enthusiastic followers around the inner kora stopping at the thrones of Nyingma masters to offer katags and light butter lamps. On the south side was Khyentse Yangsi and Minling Khenchen Rinpoche, on the north Dudjom Yangsi, on the east Khenchen Pema Sherab, and on the west Namkha Drimed Rinpoche.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa did four outer circumambulations with calm dignified steps, while a growing procession of monks, Himalayans, and Western lay devotees followed. Seeing his radiant face shining like a full moon made it a joyous occasion.


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    Voice of Tibet [10 February 2014] reported that Tibet His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Rinpoche Kagyu yesterday (9th) introduction to the faithful Buddhist teachings in the Indian capital New Delhi, imparting Medicine Buddha Empowerment promise. (Recording)

    This station reporters in New Delhi sent a message that religion should Himalayan Prayer Management Association, yesterday (9th) in New Delhi's Buddha Jayanti Park (Buddha Jayanti Park) in the 17th Karmapa Rinpoche, to gather more than 1,500 Buddhist doctrine teaches believers and promised to teach the Medicine Buddha Empowerment open.

    Karmapa Rinpoche said before, the people of Tibet and the Himalayan region, due to a lack of learning opportunities, and cultural knowledge of Buddhism is not enough attention, but now the situation has changed, and therefore, in order to 'faith' is based on the premise, to strengthen learn Dharma knowledge, had a meaningful life is extremely important. (Recording) Karmapa said the Himalayan region of Tibet, and most people are devout faith and converted to Sambo, can say they have a 50% confidence Buddhism, if we can add a few percent of study and research, Dharma will surely own life play a positive role.

    Karmapa Rinpoche Himalayan region also encouraged people work together, through thick and thin. Karmapa said (recording) the most important part is that we are as human beings, followed by the same person for the Buddhists and the Himalayan region, we hope to strengthen unity, through thick and thin, friendly and peaceful coexistence, difficulties in life's journey, should be to face and overcome.

    President of the Council Management Association organizers Himalayan religious song 培索巴 Rama said (recording) honored to Karmapa Rinpoche, to explain to the Dharma, Buddha taught pharmacists promise initiations, mainly in order to promote the cause of Buddhism, prayer world peace and health and happiness in life.

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    9 February 2014 – Buddha Jayanti Park, New Delhi
    The sun shone in a clear blue sky as many from New Delhi’s Tibetan and Himalayan communities gathered in the lush grounds of the Buddha Jayanti Park.
    In the crisp winter morning they followed winding pathways over green fields and small streams to cross the park—which was created in celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of the Buddha’s Indian birth—towards a special outdoor arena, beside the park’s iconic golden Buddha statue. A stage was set with the Gyalwang Karmapa’s throne, while a translucent red silk canopy floated in the gentle breeze overhead.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa was once more requested by the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association to offer empowerment and teachings, in an annual gathering of Delhi’s Tibetan and Himalayan peoples that has taken place for the past 5 years.
    On his arrival at the park the Gyalwang Karmapa was escorted through the grounds with traditional gyaling horns and clouds of fragrant incense, first pausing at the sacred golden Buddha statue to prostrate, kneel, and offer a white silk khata.
    Lama Chosphel Zopa – who is President of the Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association, former Member of the National Commission of Minorities and former Vice-Chairman of the National Commission of Scheduled Castes and Tribes of the Government of India – welcomed the Gyalwang Karmapa and explained that they had requested him to offer a Medicine Buddha empowerment, as well as to give a short introduction to the Buddha dharma.
    “We’ve been Buddhists for generation after generation, so I’m not sure why you want me to introduce you to Buddhism!” the Gyalwang Karmapa joked to the largely Tibetan and Himalayan crowd, to laughter all around.
    And yet, he then skillfully proceeded to teach those gathered how to deepen the natural faith and trust in the Buddha dharma that most present had enjoyed since their birth.
    Speaking in Tibetan, his words were also translated into Hindi by Roshan Lal Negi for the benefit of all the Himalayan peoples present.
    “Generally speaking, many Tibetan and Himalayan people have a strong foundation of faith, trust and belief in the Buddha dharma. This is very, very good, and gives you 50-60% of what you need. You already have a large part, and if you just add a few percent more through your own efforts to gain education, then you have the opportunity to become extremely strong practitioners,” he told those gathered.
    He explained that they were already very fortunate to have this quality of faith and trust in the Buddha dharma, which is an important foundation—and yet, on its own, this is not enough.
    “What’s left now is to study. We need to study how it is we should practice the dharma – if we do that, we can be 100% practitioners and our practice can be 100% fruitful.”
    “Even though we’ve a long history of engagement with Buddhism and being followers of the Buddha, we’re not familiar with or adept at applying the essential points of Buddhism within our lives. This is quite sad.”
    He observed that across the Himalayas there was traditionally a lack of emphasis on education—both in general terms, as well as in actual study of the Buddha dharma. And yet, in modern times schools were now opening up even in remote places.
    “Young people can seize these opportunities for education,” he said. “But, we don’t just need education in general, but to also place emphasis on dharma study as well.”
    The Gyalwang Karmapa then taught how faith and trust in the Buddha dharma have the power to lead our minds in a positive direction, and can spur us on through difficulties.
    “Many of us here have escaped to India from Tibet, and if we look at the experience of escaping from Tibet we can find a very clear example of the power of faith. Our faith was an important condition that allowed us to arrive here. The path we had to cross to reach India from Tibet is fraught with difficulties. In order for us to be able to face those difficulties—and even to set out on the voyage—it was our faith that allowed us to do so. If we had wavered, lost our faith, lost heart, we could have not undertaken the journey. So this is a vivid example of where we can see the power of faith at work.”
    He turned to his own decision to flee Tibet as a direct, personal example of the power of faith.
    “By making the decision to come, I could recognize it would be beneficial. But if I were only using my brain to identify the risks and assess the potential dangers, this alone would not have given me the strength to come. We need to have faith in the benefits of something, and to have faith and trust that we’re going to be able to do it. We need faith to even start out, and along the way faith keeps us firm when obstacles arise.”
    The Gyalwang Karmapa offered the Medicine Buddha empowerment, and skillfully conveyed the healing power of the Buddha’s blessings. He urged those gathered to take care of their own health, instructing them that with a healthy body and a healthy mind, happiness will naturally arise.
    Finally, he expressed how happy he was that all the members of the Tibetan and Himalayan communities in Delhi had come together, like a large family.
    “We’re united in that we’re human beings; we’re united in that we’re Buddhists; and we’re united in sharing a similar Himalayan background. My wish is that like a large family, we can share the good and the bad. When something positive happens, we can all share in that happiness. When difficulty arises for one of us then we can carry the burden of that suffering together. We can face all the difficulties that come like a family, together.”


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    Tsechu Practice from January 7 to January 10, 2014

    Guru Rinpoche was very present at the Monlam this year. The usual practices of the Monlam, which are based on the sutras of the mahayana, were shortened to five days. For four days beforehand,from January 7 to 10th, the sangha engaged in the vajrayana practice of Guru Rinpoche known as Tsechu, or Tenth Day Practice, the day of the Tibetan lunar calendar when Guru Rinpoche promised to be present. Beloved by the Tibetans, he is known in the Land of Snow as the Second Buddha.

    During his teachings, the Karmapa often referred tothe Nyingma tradition, the earliest source of Guru Rinpoche practices,emphasizing the importance of the link between the Nyingma and the Kagyu. "There is avery strong and intimate connection that is historical, Dharmic, and of samaya," he said,"between the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma traditions."  Historically, the first and second Karmapas were born into Nyingma families. The third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, had important Nyingma teachers and blended Nyingma practices, especially dzogchen or the Great Perfection, into his Kagyu tradition.When depicted in thangkas, Rangjung Dorjeis the only Karmapa to sit on a lotus like Guru Rinpoche(who is also calledPadmasambhava, the Lotus-Born). One way of looking at the incarnations of the Karmapas is to pair them with the eight emanations of Guru Rinpoche. Another links each Karmapa with a special terton, or treasure discoverer, most of whom have been Nyingma.

    The life of the 17th Karmapa is also intertwined with Guru Rinpoche. While his mother was still pregnant, she had a dream in which three cranes came to her.  One had a bowl of yogurt (a symbol of purity and goodness) and another had a letter around its neck.They explained to her that the letter was the letter of recognition for her son. When she asked who had sent them, they replied, "Guru Rinpoche."ThepresentKarmapa's name, Ogyen Trinley, means "the enlightened activity of the One from Ogyen (Guru Rinpoche)," and it comes from a prophecy of Guru Rinpoche discovered by Chokgyur Lingpa. The young Karmapa spontaneously knew the Seven-Line Prayer of Guru Rinpoche andwas regularly asked to recite it so that his nomad family would find good pasture land for their herds. The head of his village requested the young boy to say the prayer to prevent a wildfire from spreading to their homes.

    On many levels,therefore, the two great masters, Guru Rinpoche and the Karmapa, are interconnected and inseparable, a relationship which was apparent this yearat the Monlam in both image and in words.The central focus of the practices was the image of Guru Rinpoche in a great applique thangka, which filled the center of the Pavilion stage with its luminous depiction of Guru Rinpoche surrounded by his eight manifestations [http://the17thkarmapa.blogspot.tw/2014/01/preparing-palace-transforming-monlam.html ] . Another visual presence was a tall, hollow statue of Guru Rinpoche thatresided on the Karmapa's elegant white chair in the center of the stage for three days of the Tsechu practice.During the Golden Procession in the lama dancing, the Karmapa sat inside the statue, a golden umbrella floating above, as he was carried to his place in the center of the stage.

    During the previous year, the Karmapa had painted a picture of Guru Rinpoche with the inscription: "May unsurpassed well-being and happiness arise for all the living beings with a connection." To further extend these relationships, the image was reproduced and given to many who came to Bodhgaya.On the final day of Monlam practice, the sponsors were invited to come up and sit on the stage. To thank them for their generosity, the Karmapa offered each one an impressive statue of Guru Rinpoche. In this pervasive and artistic way, Guru Rinpoche's presence was invoked from the very beginning with the empowerment of The Embodiment of the Three Jewelson January 5 rightthrough to the end of Monlam practice on the 15th.

    Guru Rinpochealso appeared on the cover of an academic book that the Karmapa had published this year for the Monlam. It contains two long pieces on the positive relationship between the Kagyu and Nyingma,one by the 8th Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje, (1507-1554)and the other by Pawo Tsuglak Trengwa (157-1592), both major scholars in the Kagyu tradition. In particular, Mikyö Dorje wrote to defend the authenticity of the terma, or rediscovered treasure, tradition of the Nyingma, which had come under criticism. In this way, the Karmapa gave support to the Nyingma on perhaps the most controversial aspect of their tradition.

    During the four days of Tsechu practice, the sound of Guru Rinpoche's Seven-Line Prayer filled the long, open-sided rectangle of a tent just outside the Pavilion, in which hundreds of people were accumulating repetitions of the prayer. Slips of paper were given out for recording their numbers and werecollected at the end ofeach day for counting.Khenpo Garwang explained: "There are two reasons for including the Seven-Line Prayer during these days of the Tsechu practice. These seven lines are the most famous and important of the prayers to Guru Rinpoche. This is also a way of bringing everybody together, monks and nuns, lay men and lay women.(Since this is a vajrayana practice, men and women are seen as equal.)Not everyone will have a text of the Tsechu practice buteven those who cannot read Tibetan know this prayer by heart so that everyonecan participate."A beautifully printed card has the prayer in three languages, Tibetan, English, and Chinese:

    On the northwest border of the land of Ogyen,

    On the pistil of a lotus flower and stem

    You attained wondrous, supreme siddhis.

    Renowned as the Lotus-born,

    You are encircled by many dakinis.

    We practice following your example.

    Please come to grant your blessings.

    Guru Padma Siddhi Hung

    On January 6, the Karmapa gave an explanation of these lines and the reading transmission.[http://www.kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20140106.html] In this way everyone's needs were taken care of, from simple lay practitioners to the ordained sangha and the reincarnate lamas, who received copies of the new Tsechu text, with its elegant indigo blue and gold cover.

    In terms of empowerments, the Karmapa's generosity was immense as he bestowed not one but two of Guru Rinpoche: on January 5, the Embodiment of the Three Jewels, a terma of Jatsön Nyingpo, and on January 6th, Guru Chowang'sterma, Lama Sangdu, The Lama as the Embodiment of All Secrets. This latter empowerment was the basis for the four days of practice of Guru Chowang's Tsechu that followed. As with all guru yogas, the purpose of the Lama Sangdu practice is to receive the blessing and the siddhis of the lama's mind. We aspire that the qualities of Guru Rinpoche's mind enter into and blend with ours

    Newly printed for the 31st Monlam, the text of the Guru Rinpoche practice is included in a volume of twelve sections that were edited and arranged by the Karmapa himself. Meticulous in his scholarship, he workedup to the last possible minutebefore the manuscriptwent off to the printer in late October, 2013. The central texts included in this special volumeare the two practices related to the Guru Rinpoche empowerments the Karmapa gave plus those of the protector Shingkyong anda middle length Mahakala. The volume also containslineage supplications, the practice of Gonpo Maning, a special torma offering,and a beautiful prayer for the spread of the teachings.

    At ease with the computer, the Karmapainput the thirtypages of the essential practice. He also wrote an introduction with a scholarly discussion of the source texts he consulted to make his final editing decisions.From the Nyingma tradition, he looked at the versions of Minling Terchen and the Northern Terma tradition of Dorje Drak. After referringto numerousprint editions from his own Kagyu tradition, the Karmapa mainlyrelied on the version fromSitu Rinpoche's Palpung Monastery while also considering the edition from his own monastery of Tsurphu, and another from Karlep, thesmall Kagyu monastery near his birthplace in the mountains of Lhatok where he stayed as a boy under the tutelage of Amdo Palden, his first teacher. It must have given the Karmapa special pleasure to have found this text.Leavinghis homeas a young nomad with little schooling, hehas come full circle,returning to his origins as a great lama and scholar.

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    Tsechu Practice from January 7 to January 10, 2014

    In his Introduction to the new text, the Karmapa writes that Guru Chowang recovered the eight chapters of the Tsechu terma from a cave in Lodrak called Stairs to the Sky. Subsequently, the text was filled out with a lineage prayer to bring the blessings of the lamas by reciting their names; a torma for the leftovers during a feast; and then arranged to become the text that we know today. Noting that over the years random changes had been made in the text, the Karmapa warned that it is important to keep the traditional order and form of these practices; changes should only be made by qualified individuals like him and the heart sons, for otherwise, there is a danger of displeasing the dakinis and protectors.

    In the beginning, the Tsechu text states that in order to perfect the accumulations and become enlightened, the actual practice is arranged in eight sections. These follow closely the classic structure of a major deity practice: 1. the preliminaries (refuge, bodhichitta, etc.); 2. materials needed for practice (flowers, tormas, incense, and other offerings); 3. Inviting the yidam deities to be present; 4. making offerings; 5. repeating the mantra; 6. fulfillment and reparation (offerings to please the deities and repair mistakes); 7. invoking the deities (encouraging them to engage in positive activities); and 8. the concluding practices (the feast offering, aspiration prayers, the one hundred syllable mantra of Vajrasattva, asking the deities to be patient with mistakes, prayers for auspiciousness, the dedication, and so forth).  One day of four sessions, two and a half hours long, includes all eight of these sections.

    The actual practice began on the morning of January 7 at 6am with the Seven-Line Prayer and The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Wishes, one of the two most famous, longer prayers to Guru Rinpoche. In terms of the eight chapters, this first session covered the first four. The umdze (chant master) had a strong, resonant voice and often recited the first two lines alone before everyone else joined in. Generally, the chanting was quite slow and spacious, the tones drawn out in long sonorous waves that could gradually subside into silence and rise up again. This open quality of the recitation allowed the practitioner to reflect on the meaning of the words and be inspired by the haunting beauty of the lines. Around 6:30am before breakfast was served, the Karmapa came into the Pavilion and walked along the edge of the hall, making a circle around the thousands of ordained and lay sangha.

    The second session from 9am to 11:30am focused on reciting the mantras associated with Guru Rinpoche and also the practices of Maning and Mahakala. For the latter, the Karmapa had kindly added interlinear translations of the numerous Sanskrit mantras, so that they did not remain a clustered series of memorized sounds, but took on meaning and could be integrated into the practice.

    The third session from 1:30pm to 3:30pm was devoted to the protector Shingkyong, who guards the Pureland of Amitabha and usually resides on the mountain of Tsari Drak, spanning the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet. Shingkyong made a commitment to Shakyamuni Buddha and Guru Rinpoche to protect the teachings, and in particular, those of the Karma Kamtshang, so one often finds his practice interpolated into others.

    The fourth session from 4pm to 6:30 continued with the Shingkyong practice and then concluded the day with a generous feast offering and long life prayers for the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, and the main teachers of the lineage. The final part of the session covered the other concluding practices, which purify any errors that may have occurred; dedicate the merit to the realization of full awakening for the sake of all living beings; and send the joy and blessings of the day's practice out into the world to be shared by all.

    Each day followed the same basic schedule with a few changes. On the second day, January 8, the Karmapa again came in around 6:30, and very soon after, six monks carried onto the center of the stage a hollow statue of Guru Rinpoche. They placed it on the Karmapa's elegant, white chair, set before the immense Guru Rinpoche thangka that runs straight up from the back of the altar to the high arch of the Pavilion ceiling. [http://the17thkarmapa.blogspot.tw/2014/01/setting-stage-for-guru-rinpoche.html ]

    The message of this visual symbol was direct and clear: there is no difference between the Karmapa and Guru Rinpoche.

     On the third day, January 9,the Karmapa came to sit on his throne and participate in the second session. On both sides of the main aisle stretched a series of long white tables filled with offerings: in the center of the table on the right was a tall mirror that reflected from across the aisle, seven gongs set in a wooden framework. On either side of these two were huge offering bowls of silver with gold filigree ornaments; tall red tormas covered in a flurry of yellow butter flakes; lit flowers floating around in basins; three curling, gold dragons holding up an intricately carved incense bowl; nectar filled skull cups four times larger than life. Distributed among all these were tall, clear containers of various grains in their earth colors; biscuits round and square stacked in geometric patterns; candies wrapped in shades of lavender, blue, and soft green or Vicks in gold and blue, spiraling up from the table.

    During the mantra recitation, hundreds of devotees made offerings, so the line down the middle aisle seemed to be magically extending itself again and again. Afterward, the main lamas put on the red moon-shaped hats of the Kagyu and stood on their thrones to face different directions.  This made it possible to see the long strings of beads that hung from the Karmapa's damaru in a swaying dance and also the style of his cape (dagam) in gold brocade with a broad swash of deep cosmic blue brocade like the nighttime sky running down the middle of his back.

    After this last session, a flock of workers rearranged the Pavilion, moving the mats close together and setting up rows of red chairs at the back to accommodate all the people who would attend the lama dancing (cham) beginning at 7am the next morning of the 10th day, Tsechu itself. This night before, the Karmapa was in the Pavilion looking after the set up in all its details until 12:30am--just an hour and a half before the chanting of Tsechu practice would start at 2am. To accommodate the cham that began at 7am and finished at 4pm, three sessions had to be finished before the lama dancing began.

    Getting to Tergar before 2am was not easy for people who lived outside the monastery and had to arrange special transport. At 1:30am, Bodhgaya's roads are empty of their daytime bustle of rickshaws, three-wheelers, the ungainly bulk of tourist buses, and the klip-klop of the horse-drawn tonga carts. At this early hour, you can actually see the bare road, though it's softened by a slight haze that has settled near the ground. The headlights of two isolated cars going to Tergar illuminate the burgundy robes of two monks who walk matching their strides along the dirt path that lines the road.

    To make time for the cham, three of the four sessions had to be completed by 5am, so the pace of everything was faster: the music was cut short and the drawn out tones of the chanting were clipped. Seven and a half hours of practice were condensed into three. This gave two hours for the physical preparations, such as donning the elaborate costumes and rearranging the stage. The mental preparations were these four days of practice by thousands of monks and nuns. Further, those who will be dancing have been practicing for a long time as they must do the creation and completion stages of the practice. The dancers came from the monasteries where this cham is part of their practice schedule-- the Karmapa's Rumtek, Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and Tenga Rinpoche's Benchen, Gyaltsap Rinpoche's Palchen Choling, and Bokar Rinpoche's Mirik. Khenpo Garwang mentioned that during their months of training, the dancers have to memorize a lot, learning the music, the melodies, and the movements to the point of their being second nature. This is important for their mind training and also it can happen that when the dancers put on a mask, the experience changes so completely that they can forget what is happening if they don't know everything by heart.

    During the day of cham, the splendor and magic of the dance filled the Pavilion stage. 

    Chanting the Tsechu text was woven into some of the dances, so the thread of the familiar lines reappeared throughout the day. After the last dancer bowed his way off the stage, there was a break and then the last session of the practice began with the feast offering, during which cloth bags, reflecting the Karmapa's concern for the environment and filled with healthy fruit were passed out to everyone. Prayers that all be auspicious and that well-being spread to every corner of the world ended the day.

    As the crowds dispersed, all who were fortunate to attend the days of practice would carry away somewhere in their hearts the knowledge that the Karmapa and Guru Rinpoche are one and the same. As the Karmapa has said:

    No matter what changes happened at the main seats of the Karmapa, the Tsechu practices of the creation and completion phases along with the numerous details of the ritual performance remained intact. So from generation to generation, the Karmapas' disciples have had genuine, unshakeable faith that the Karmapa is inseparable from Guru Rinpoche.
    In his dedication of merit for publishing the Tsechu text, the Karmapa also emphasized a second theme of these recent days--the closeness of the Kagyu and Nyima traditions:

    Through this merit, may the teachings in general, and especially those of the heart essence of the Great Seal (mahamudra of the Kagyu) and the Great Perfection (mahasandhi of the Nyingma) flourish and spread.
    The Karmapa explained: "Personally, from the time I was little I have naturally felt great faith in Guru Rinpoche. So for many reasons, I myself consider it a great fortune to be able to hold this elaborate puja among a great ocean of the Sangha in this sacred place. I think it is also a great fortune for all the monastic and lay people who attend."

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  • 02/15/14--08:41: Prajna (Wisdom )

  • Title: Prajna (Wisdom)
    Artist: 17th Gyalwang Karmapa 
    Language: Chinese 

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    Flower arrangement by HH the 17th Karmapa

    Special features of the 29th Kagyu International Monlam: at the Monlam Pavilion

    The flower arrangements

    Spectacular bouquets of large red and yellow roses and huge white chrysanthemums line either side of the central staircase on the Monlam stage. Specially prepared by a group of Taiwanese women, the bouquets are based on an original flower arrangement created by the Gyalwang Karmapa himself.  His Holiness has been a frequent visitor to their backstage work-area, not just watching but enthusiastically joining in with the flower arranging whilst chatting away with them in Chinese.  The flowers themselves, though mainly artificial, are of the highest quality and convincingly lifelike. Arrangements of fresh flowers decorate the tables of His Holiness, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche.

    The base of the stage is cloaked by pots of foliage plants – also artificial.

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  • 02/19/14--05:33: Buddha-Dharma-Sangha

  • Title:  Buddha-Dharma-Sangha
    Artist: 17th Gyalwang Karmapa
    Language: Tibetan

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    February, 2014

    This year’s winter programme in Bodhgaya witnessed two major developments for the nuns of the Karma Kamtsang. Cham, dancing alongside monks. The second was the First Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for Nuns.

    The closing ceremony of the conference  took place in the afternoon of 2nd February, 2014, and both demonstrated what the nuns had achieved in a very short time and pointed out the way ahead.

    The first item in the varied programme was a demonstration of debate given by a group of nuns from two nunneries. The start was delayed because of technical difficulties, and the two defenders wearing tsesha and three contenders with their prayer beads slung over their left arms, waited with some trepidation. However, His Holiness gave them a reassuring and encouraging smile and, though the nuns began rather hesitantly, as their confidence grew the debate became more and more vigorous, with hands clapping loudly, feet stamping, and firm calls. The Karmapa watched intently, nodding approvingly as points were scored or a thorough answer was given.

    Short speeches from some of the nuns’ debate teachers followed. First, Geshe Rinchen Ngodrup detailed how the difficulty of women taking full ordination in Tibet was rooted in social customs rather than any problem specifically related to women. There had been gelongma in Tibet and Karmapa Mikyo Dorje had ordained gelongma. In his experience as a teacher, he had found that women have the same capacity in intelligence and wisdom as men, but that they often lacked confidence.  Now, however, because of the support for women coming from His Holiness and the Khenpos, he had great hopes for the future.

    Then came Khenpo Khandro from Thrangu Tara Abbey in Nepal who spoke of his impressions.  First he spoke of the compassion of the Gyalwang Karmapa in organizing this first ever gathering for the nuns. He felt that the nuns had really appreciated their good fortune and had put as much effort as possible into pursuing each and every opportunity to study, learn and participate.

    A group of nuns then came forward to present an unplanned request for gelongma ordination to be re-established in the Tibetan tradition, so that they could complete the three trainings and assume their position as the fourth pillar of the house in Tibetan Buddhism.

    In his closing speech the Gyalwang Karmapa admitted that he had not known the nuns would ask for the gelongma ordination vows. However, he confirmed: “whether the teachings of Buddhism are present or not depends upon whether the Dharma Vinaya is present or not, and that primarily comes down to whether the three foundational rituals of the Vinaya are practiced or not”, meaning that, in order for Tibet to qualify as a Buddhist ‘central land’, there have to be both male and female fully ordained practitioners. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had argued the need for gelongma ordination for many years and there had been investigations and discussions by various scholars and leaders. But the Vinaya contained the instructions of the Buddha, so that even a great Arhat could not change them, he explained, and then summarised the options for establishing gelongma ordination in Tibetan Buddhism:

    “The first is that there is a way for the male gelong sangha on its own to confer the gelongma vows. This is because in the past many Tibetan scholars and great practitioners have given gelongma vows with the male sangha alone.

    The second method is to confer the gelongma vow through the dual male and female sanghas. However, there is no gelongma community in Tibet, so for the gelongma sangha, gelongmas from another tradition—primarily the Chinese Dharmaguptika tradition—would be invited. They would assemble along with a sangha of Tibetan gelongs from the Mulasarvastivada tradition and confer the gelongma ordination. So this is the second option.

    The third option is for a dual male and female sangha from another tradition— the Chinese Dharmaguptika tradition—to confer the vows. So that is another option.

    But, to put it in a nutshell, fundamentally there are only two options: conferring the vow with a single sangha or with a dual sangha…many people think it would be good for there to be a lineage of the Mulasarvastivada gelongma vows because the Tibetan Vinaya is from the Mulasarvastivada tradition. Thus it would be good for any gelongma sangha or community of nuns to be from the Mulasarvastivada tradition. If we were all the same tradition, the teachings would not be divided into different parties…

    I don’t think that this would present any particular difficulties. The reason is because if the ordination were conferred by the male sangha, it is hardly necessary to say that the lineage of the vow would be from the Mulasarvastivada, because the bhikshus themselves would give it. Even if the vows were conferred by a dual sangha, if the male sangha were from the Mulasarvastivada tradition, the lineage of the vow that the supplicants would receive at this time would be from the Mulasarvastivada tradition. The reason is because the actual vow is received from the sangha. In the dual ordination, there are two sanghas, the male and the female. Since there are two, the actual vow is received from the male sangha. This is extremely clear in the Buddha’s words as well as in the treatises of the Indian masters. Thus the lineage of the gelongma vow that is received in that situation is the Mulasarvastivada lineage…”

    His Holiness emphasized, however, that if it were to be successful, it could only be done ‘at the right time’. He promised to ask His Holiness the Dalai for his advice and opinion and to consult the senior lamas from the different lineages as well as the senior lamas of the Kagyu lineage and spiritual masters inside the Karma Kamtsang lineage. He felt it was his duty as Karmapa to do as much as possible to fulfill the wishes and aspirations of the nuns.  

    This was the first ever nuns winter gathering in the 1000 years of the Karma Kamtsang, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, and praised the enthusiastic support of the tulkus, khenpos and teachers who had even helped move furniture when preparing the shrine room, but it was just a beginning. Now they had the task of establishing good study centres for nuns with experienced and high quality instructors. However, he warned, whatever plans people might have were subject to change because of the law of impermanence.

    In conclusion:
    “We have held this Winter Dharma Gathering that has been virtuous in the beginning, middle, and end. I would like to express my prayer that through whatever virtue there has been in this, may Buddhism in general may spread and flourish, may sentient beings may be happy, and especially may all sentient beings may achieve whatever temporary benefit and ultimate happiness they desire, just as all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas wish. 
    May all of the communities of Buddhist nuns in this world and especially the community of nuns in the Snow Land of Tibet grow and thrive, and may their study and practice increase like the waxing moon. I am making this dedication for my part, and ask you to make the same aspiration. “
    Thus, in Bodhgaya this year, the stage was established for the nuns of the Karma Kamtsang to move forward with hope, confidence and determination, fully supported by the Gyalwang Karmapa, the Kamtsang Rinpoches, and the Khenpos, with the promise of a second Arya Kshema Winter Gathering for Nuns to be held in Bodhgaya in 2015.

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    February 2nd, 2014

    First of all I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all the spiritual friends, scholars, and members of the monastic and lay communities who have come to this closing ceremony of the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering.

    We have held this gathering over the course of two weeks, and for over one week I spoke both in the mornings and afternoons, so I feel that I have run out of anything to say. I don’t have anything in particular to say. It’s like grinding sand to extract oil.

    However, the various nunneries have made the request that it would be good to have the opportunity to take the bhikshuni vow. We didn’t plan this—it’s not as if we said to them, “You do this, you make this request.” At first I didn’t know about it. When I first heard there was a request, I didn’t know what it was.

    As I said the other day, whether the teachings of Buddhism are present or not depends upon whether the Dharma Vinaya is present or not, and that primarily comes down to whether the three foundational rituals of the Vinaya are practiced or not. Though I am merely a mediocre follower of the Buddha, I rejoice that you have had the resolve and confidence to make such a request in order that the root or basis of the teachings does not wane. So first I would like to thank them for having such an idea and such courage.

    For many years, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that we need the complete fourfold community in Tibet and that it would thus be good if there were the lineage of the bhikshuni vow. He has put a lot of effort into this. Likewise the khenpos, acharyas, and geshes of all the different lineages have had many discussions on this subject. This is because it concerns the lifeblood or the foundation of the Buddha’s teachings, so everyone has taken great interest in this. It is not that there is no interest.

    However, for one thing this issue is extremely important, and likewise the rules in the vinaya must be based on the words of the Buddha that even an arhat as great as a mountain is not allowed change them. Thus it has been difficult for everyone to come to a decision that does not contradict the three baskets of the Buddha’s teachings.

    I myself have had the opportunity to go to several meetings to discuss the issue of reviving the lineage of the bhikshuni ordination. In those meetings, it has been discussed that there are three ways that the lineage of bhikshuni ordination could be revived. The first is that there is a way for the male bhikshu sangha on its own to confer the bhikshuni vows. This is because in the past many Tibetan scholars and great practitioners have given bhikshuni vows with the male sangha alone.

    The second method is to confer the bhikshuni vow through the dual male and female sanghas. However, there is no bhikshuni community in Tibet, so for the bhikshuni sangha, bhikshunis from another tradition—primarily the Chinese Dharmaguptika tradition—would be invited. They would assemble along with a sangha of Tibetan bhikshus from the Mulasarvastivada tradition and confer the bhikshuni ordination. So this is the second option.

    The third option is for a dual male and female sangha from another tradition— the Chinese Dharmaguptika tradition—to confer the vows. So that is another option.

    But fundamentally there are only two options: conferring the vow with a single sangha or with a dual sangha, to put it in a nutshell.

    But how shall I put this, many geshes have spoken at great length about this. In any case, many people think it would be good for there to be a lineage of the Mulasarvastivada bhikshuni vows because the Tibetan Vinaya is from the Mulasarvastivada tradition. Thus it would be good for any bhikshuni sangha or community of nuns to be from the Mulasarvastivada tradition. If we were all the same tradition, the teachings would not be divided into different parties. Since there there are these reasons and this benefit, many people express the opinion that it would be good to be from the same tradition.

    I don’t think that this would present any particular difficulties. The reason is because if the ordination were conferred by the male sangha, it is hardly necessary to say that the lineage of the vow would be from the Mulasarvastivada, because the bhikshus themselves would give it. Even if the vows were conferred by a dual sangha, if the male sangha were from the Mulasarvastivada tradition, the lineage of the vow that the supplicants would receive at this time would be from the Mulasarvastivada tradition. The reason is because the actual vow is received from the sangha. In the dual ordination, there are two sanghas, the male and the female. Since there are two, the actual vow is received from the male sangha. This is extremely clear in the Buddha’s words as well as in the treatises of the Indian masters. Thus the lineage of the bhikshuni vow that is received in that situation is the Mulasarvastivada lineage. It would not be too bold to say that this is basically decided.

    Thus it is probably not so that there would be no opportunity to revive the bhikshuni vow or the community of bhikshunis. There is an opportunity, and there is a way to do it. But like the English expression, there is a “right time.” We need the appropriate occasion—not too early and not too late. It’s like seasonal rains—too early is no good, too late is no good.

    So for that reason I will keep this hope you have expressed to me in mind. I will ask His Holiness the Dalai for his advice and opinion. Also I will consult the senior lamas from the different lineages as well as the senior lamas of the Kagyu lineage and spiritual masters inside the Karma Kamtsang lineage, and when there are the wishes, aspirations, and support of all of them, I will do as much as I can so that the community of bhikshunis will be as undisputed, untarnished, and unexcelled as possible. I have said this before, and I say again today that it is my responsibility to do as much as I can for this. This is because I have the title of the Karmapa, so this is a task that I must undertake. So I will do as much as I can.

    That is one topic. The other topic is that…

    This Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering is something that has never occurred before in the many centuries of the precious Kagyu lineage. It’s OK to say that. But this did not happen because I have such great skills, such great compassion, or such great intelligence, as I said the other day. I’m speaking from my heart—I’m not just mouthing this words.  

    I have the feeling that it is solely due to the compassion and aspirations of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions, our Teacher the Buddha Shakyamuni, those with great compassion and concern for monastics and the community of bhikshunis such as the Noble Ananda, the forefathers of the Kagyu lineage, and the successive incarnations of the Karmapa, masters of our Karma Kamtsang lineage. They have not actually come here physically and spoken aloud, and we cannot see them. But they regard us from the invisible expanse, give us confidence through their compassion, and bless us with their aspirations. Because of this, this gathering has been virtuous in the beginning, middle, and end. There has been no internal or external discord or difficulty at all from the time it began until now.

    One way that we can consider this is that if what you are doing is Dharmic, it is something that is worthy to be done, and it is clear that while doing it you have the support of the lamas, yidam deities, and Dharma protectors. For that reason, if we in the future are doing something that is truly Dharmic, it is important for us to do it with great confidence and accomplish it without procrastination. Once you have begun, you will have the support of the lamas, yidams, and Dharma protectors. I really believe this.

    The reason is because in my life there have been many problems, I have encountered many difficulties, and I have had to make many big decisions. For example, when I first came here from Tibet, if I were to say the probability that I would actually escape from Tibet, it would be hard to say there was even a 1% chance. But because of the lamas, yidams, dakinis, and dharma protectors, or since my resolve or motivation was unmistaken, I was able to have confidence and take the first step. If I were to have used my own intelligence and discernment and thought about it, it would have been difficult to take even one step. It is through faith and belief alone that I came here. For that reason, looking at my own life I feel that we could say that it is faith and belief. Or else before we do any virtuous thing we ourselves need to give it value, find belief in it, and take a step. If we were to wait for someone else to place a value on it before we took a step, it would be very difficult.

    So that is why we have been able to start this Winter Dharma Gathering, and this is really because of the compassion and kindness of the masters of the past and the lamas and spiritual friends who are currently alive, as well as of the khenpos, masters, teachers from the various shedras, and sangha members who have actually come here, of the various ladrangs and monasteries. All of them have enthusiastically supported this from the bottoms of their hearts. For example, when we were working the other day, the cushions had to be moved here and there, things carried from one side to the other. I’m not easy to satisfy, so everything had to be schlepped three or four times. And the people who did this were the khenpos and tulkus—the khenpos and tulkus all became porters. Normally a khenpo is someone who puts on airs, sitting on a throne and pointing out things to his students. But all the khenpos, teachers, and instructors who were here this year—you can’t say there were that high but you can’t say they were too low as they are the leaders of our monasteries—have given their support with their bodies, speech, and minds.

    It was the same with the nuns from the various nunneries. At first it was uncertain how it would turn out and so I had to take the bold step and say we would hold this gathering. I had to impose this, because I was a bit apprehensive or worried about how would the nuns respond, how the debates would go, and how it would all turn out. But when we actually began the Winter Dharma Gathering, it was unlike any other. We have held the Kagyu Gunchö seventeen times, and you can’t say that this was any better or any worse than that. So it has turned out very well.

    And it turning out well is due to the organizers of the Winter Dharma Gathering, especially the nuns. They all recognized this good fortune for what it is and combined all their efforts of body, speech, and mind into one, so it has been equally good on the outside and inside.It has been good in the beginning, middle, and end. I really ought to thank each of you individually, but we don’t either the time or the custom of doing that. Maybe that’s good—if I were to shake hands with each of you it would take several hours. Instead I would like to say thank you to all of you.
    This year’s Winter Dharma Gathering is just a beginning, and the path ahead is very long. But some people say that once you have begun, fifty percent is done. The Kadampa spiritual friends said this—once you achieve a precious human body you are halfway down the path to buddhahood. To put it plainly, the path to buddhahood is extremely long, and achieving a precious human body means you have already reached halfway. It’s like that. Now that we have started this, we are halfway there. We’ve done fifty percent. Now we need to make efforts at the remaining fifty percent continuously without break and without flagging.

    So for my own part I will continue to give my support and assistance, as I have said before. But impermanence is scary, isn’t it? We don’t know what will change. When I say “impermanence,” I’m not saying “death and impermanence.” Various changes occur. As the time and circumstances change, my own situation and position will change with them. There’s no certainty. For example, my mother’s younger sister died today. She had the hope of seeing me before she passed away, but that didn’t happen. Many things happen like this. So impermanence comes, but regardless of what happens, I will continue to offer my support.
    Also monastic colleges have now been founded within our nunneries, and it is important that the instructors be of the highest quality. Similarly, it is very important that the curricula be well-designed.

    Whatever work you do, whether worldly or Dharmic, you need the resources—not just financial but human as well. These are very important, so we can continue to offer opinions and have discussions of these. We can figure out what is best to do, and no matter how many nunneries there are we can establish centers for practice and study. This shouldn’t be just giving a name and saying “We have a retreat center and a monastic college.” They must live up to the name and be of high quality. I think it is critical that we bring this about.

    I won’t speak too long. I’m holding everything up so I won’t speak too long.

    Thus we have held this Winter Dharma Gathering that has been virtuous in the beginning, middle, and end. I would like to express my prayer that through whatever virtue there has been in this, may Buddhism in general may spread and flourish, may sentient beings may be happy, and especially may all sentient beings may achieve whatever temporary benefit and ultimate happiness they desire, just as all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas wish.

    May all of the communities of Buddhist nuns in this world and especially the community of nuns in the Snow Land of Tibet grow and thrive, and may their study and practice increase like the waxing moon. I am making this dedication for my part, and ask you to make the same aspiration.

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    Voice of Tibet [22 February 2014] reported Kagyu Tibetan Rinpoche, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, once again called on Tibetans to stop the recent self-immolation protest, seek other ways to protect traditional Tibetan culture.
    High-handed policy in the face of the Chinese authorities in Tibet escalating, Tibetan cultural assimilation policies implemented to prohibit Tibetans speech and freedom of religion, as well as minerals and other natural random plundering Tibet from 2009 has been nearly 130 Tibetan self-immolation protest Chinese rule, for which the central Tibetan administration has repeatedly called on the Tibetan people to stop self-immolation in protest.
    Recently, Tibet, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Rinpoche Kagyu in accepting this station interview for Tibetan self-immolation protests, issued a call on again. Karmapa Rinpoche said (recording) is currently ongoing in the territory of the self-immolation of Tibetan way reflects on the nation sincere thing, in the face of their suicide, their courage, in addition to us speechless with emotion. However, Tibetans have become minorities, the other from religion, secular outlook various ways, is the most valuable person, no life unable to accomplish anything. So I want to once again appeal to the Tibetan people to stop self-immolation protest, hoping to other ways to protect traditional Tibetan way of life based Tibetan culture, language and environment, this can make the case to protect it from harm Tibetan culture. Meanwhile, the Karmapa Rinpoche also praised the courage of Tibetans in Tibet, the Tibetan people living in the territory, said a number of difficulties that their courage and sincerity, we learn from these overseas Tibetans, should be commended and respected.

    In addition, the central Tibetan administration in Dharamsala in northern India, an official blessing Puja held yesterday (21) afternoon in the courtyard Mahayana for the 5th and the 13th of this month, at the expense of self-immolation in Tibet Amdo County, Huangnan Zeku Maosan Zhi Peng Aba Tibetan and Tibetan Luosangduojie County led all the self-immolation of Tibetans carried salvation blessing, expressing condolences and sympathy.

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