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    30th Sept, 2014. Dongyu Gatsel Ling Nunnery.
    His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje arrived today at Dongyu Gatsal Ling, a Drukpa Kagyu nunnery founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and under the spiritual guidance of His Eminence the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche, Shedrup Nyima. This marks the Gyalwang Karmapa’s first visit to the nunnery, where he will spend two days conferring teachings and initiation, visiting the three-year retreat centre and generally encouraging and expressing his support for the nuns.
    As the Karmapa arrived by road in the morning, monastic, yogic and lay members of the Khampagar community at nearby Tashi Jong lined the roads to welcome him. His Holiness was formally received at the nunnery, to the joyful sound of long horns with a ceremonial procession according to the Drukpa Kagyu tradition, with the addition of five young nuns dressed as dakinis.
    As an auspicious beginning to the visit, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the 8th Dorzong Rinpoche and Togden Chokyi Lodro—the senior Togden yogi of the Khampagar community—offered a long-life puja (tenshug) to the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, accompanied by 16 arhats offering prayers.
    His Holiness spent the remainder of the morning visiting the nuns in the nunnery’s long-retreat center, where five aspiring togdenmas are now in their sixth year of solitary retreat. Escorted into the retreat center by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the Gyalwang Karmapa gave private teachings on Mahamudra to the five retreatants. He then met individually with the five aspiring togdenmas one-by-one, to offer encouragement and personal instructions. He then blessed each of their retreat cells individually, and departed for a brief tour of the remainder of the nunnery, where he blessed the various shrine rooms and library.
    The day’s activities resumed after a short break for lunch, as the entire nuns’ community of Dongyu Gatsal Ling was joined by the lamas and monks of the Khampagar Tashi Jong monastery and study institute (shedra) for a special practice session devoted to creating conditions for the nuns’ sangha to flourish. In an assembly led by the Karmapa, the monks and nuns together performed a practice text composed by the Gyalwang Karmapa himself for the flourishing of the nuns’ sangha. The Gyalwang Karmapa compiled the ritual drawing on texts connected to Mahaprajapati Gautami, the first woman to request and receive ordination from the Buddha. Mahaprajapati Gautami’s petition for monastic vows was supported by the intervention of Ananda, the Buddha’s attendant. Accordingly, the practice includes supplications to Ananda, based on a text by Nagarjuna in which Ananda is described as indivisible from Avalokitesvara.
    Upon the conclusion of this group practice, two nuns stood before the assembly and delivered formal speeches of praise and welcome to the Gyalwang Karmapa, which they had recited from memory. A succession of nuns then engaged in lively debate of philosophical topics, providing a visible display of the eloquence and confidence that is one fruit of the training they receive in the nunnery.
    The activities then shifted outdoors, as the courtyard of the nunnery filled with spectators for a series of sacred dances. The 8th Dorzong Rinpoche, Togden Chokyi Lodro, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and Nupgon Chogyal Rinpoche accompanied His Holiness the Karmapa to view the nuns performing three sacred dances: the dance of the five classes of dakinis, the sacred dance of 16 female deities and a final dance of auspiciousness.
    The days’ activities closed with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo leading the Gyalwang Karmapa on a tour of the main shrine hall, where every available space is painted with sacred art. The hall’s artistic programme, designed by Lama Lodro and executed by artists from Bhutan, features an intense female presence. The walls are populated with images of female deities—including all 21 Taras—female protectors, the female disciples of Milarepa, and the bhikshunis who were direct disciples of the Buddha. As he walked through the hall slowly, His Holiness—who has read extensively about the history of the early nuns’ community—commented on the various nuns depicted on the walls of the shrine room before concluding the first day’s activities.
    The events of the second day include teachings and initiation and will be webcast live, with translation into English, Spanish and Chinese.


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    1 October, 2104 – Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery

    On the second day of his visit to Dongyu Gatsal Ling—the nunnery founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo—His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, conferred Mahamudra teachings and granted White Tara empowerment. The entire local Drukpa Kagyu community turned out to receive the Gyalwang Karmapa and to take teachings and empowerment from him. The main shrine room was packed as the nunnery’s 92 nuns were joined by the monks of nearby Khampagar Tashi Jong, filling all the available space in the ample hall. Outdoors, the lay community watched the proceedings on a huge screen in the tented courtyard. Yet the offsite audience far exceeded the number of those present, as over 20,000 people connected to the event’s live webcast.
    His Holiness opened the morning session by expressing his delight at the level of education and general welfare that the nunnery was providing to its nuns. He especially praised their monastic discipline, and expressed his appreciation to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo for all she had done to make it possible. The nunnery had requested the Gyalwang Karmapa to confer the oral transmission and commentary on the Mahamudra Aspiration Prayer by the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. Rather than limit his presentation to this seminal text from his own Karma Kagyu lineage, the Karmapa gave an extensive teaching focused more broadly on Mahamudra, as the core practice common to Drukpa Kagyu, Karma Kagyu and all other Kagyu lineages.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa’s discourse on Mahamudra ranged from historical contextualization to pith practice instructions to a discussion of its scriptural sources. Where different Kagyu lineages had differing interpretations, the Gyalwang Karmapa was careful to note what position on those issues had been taken by the luminaries of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. The philosophical presentation was interspersed with pith advice and anecdotes from the lives of various masters connected to the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, including Gyalwa Götsangpa and Gyalwa Yang-gönpa.
    His Holiness the Karmapa related a pith instruction that Lord Gampopa had given to Phagmodrupa, one of his three main disciples and a forefather within the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. Phagmodrupa had studied widely under Kadam masters, and had also received the Lamdre teachings from Jetsun Sakyapa. All the while, he was intent on finding a satisfactory answer to the question of what traps us in samsara. As he traveled around Tibet meeting the great masters of the day, everywhere he posed the question to them. He generally received the standard explanation that it is ignorance that binds us to samsara—an answer that is correct in itself, but too easily left at an intellectual level. However, it was Lord Gampopa who prompted a deep transformation within Phagmodrupa’s mind by replying that it is the consciousness that is present in this very moment—or our present awareness—that binds us to samsara. Phagmodrupa was deeply struck by the teaching that this is what binds us to samsara, but that this is also the basis for our liberation from cyclic existence.
    Before turning to the oral transmission of the Mahamudra text by the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, the 17th Karmapa cited Lord Gampopa’s observation that his ability to be of such vast benefit was thanks to the Kadampa teachings. Lord Gampopa himself had immersed himself deeply in the Kadampa teachings before receiving the Mahamudra and Six Yogas of Naropa from Milarepa, two streams of teachings that flow through the Kagyu lineages that run through him. Naropa’s advice is very profound, Gampopa had said. But without the teachings of the Jowo Kadampa that can be applied to all levels of beings, the teachings of Naropa would be of less benefit.
    “If you immerse your mind in the awareness of death and impermanence and the law of cause of effect first, for sure your mind will improve,” the Gyalwang Karmapa said, echoing the advice of Lord Gampopa. “But if you engage in a practice like Mahamudra without a prior foundation of contemplation on death and impermanence and karma, it is not at all certain whether you will get worse or better by practicing Mahamudra.”
    “Tame your mind well,” the Karmapa urged the audience. “Then practice Mahamudra.”
    Following the teachings, the Gyalwang Karmapa granted the oral transmission of the Mahamudra text composed by his predecessor the 3rd Karmapa. The entire assembly then took a break for lunch, and reconvened in the assembly hall and courtyard for an afternoon session at 2pm.
    As he began the empowerment during the afternoon session, His Holiness noted that the original plan had called for him to grant a 21-Tara empowerment. However, he said he had decided instead to give a White Tara initiation in honor of the complete retreat he had done on this deity while still in Tibet. This decision had been inspired, he said, by the presence of the female deities depicted throughout the assembly hall. During the empowerment, His Eminence the 8th Dorzong Rinpoche, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the 8th Drugu Chogyal Rinpoche and Nupgon Chogyal Rinpoche each approached the throne to receive the vase empowerment directly from the Gyalwang Karmapa.
    After the White Tara empowerment was complete, the Gyalwang Karmapa took the remainder of the session to address the issue of bhikshuni ordination. He spoke at length on the importance of establishing a bhikshuni sangha within Tibetan Buddhism. He said that some people have the misunderstanding that making full ordination available to women is part of an effort to modernize. “Some people have the wrong assumption that because of the talk of gender equality, women are seeking to become more visible and demanding more respect,” he said. “Actually, I think the respect for women was there in the beginning.” He went on to make a strong case in favor of reinstating the opportunity for women to receive the bhikshuni ordination that the Buddha had originally granted them.
    As he spoke, His Holiness the Karmapa used the Tibetan term “tsunma” (meaning “venerable”) to refer to nuns. He expressed his preference for “tsunma” as opposed to “ani” (meaning “auntie”) the colloquial term commonly used for nuns in Tibetan, saying it was not the best choice and commented that he himself did not know where the use of the term “ani” had originated. He reminisced that in the area of Kham where he was born, people used the term “jomo” to refer to nuns. Jomo was a high term of respect, reserved in ancient times for queens.
    Continuing his explanation of the need for a bhikshuni sangha, the Karmapa explained that the ideal basis for practicing the Dharma is provided by the precious human rebirth, meaning a human body that is endowed with ten conducive conditions and free from eight adverse conditions. As is made clear in the sutras and shastra commentarial treatises, the Karmapa stated, this entails being born in a land where the Buddhadharma is fully available, which requires the presence of the four-fold circle of disciples—bhikshu sangha, bhikshuni sangha, upasakas (male lay followers) and upasikas (female lay followers). His Holiness joked that whereas democracy is built around the three pillars of executive, judicial and legislative branches, the Buddhadharma requires four cardinal pillars to be able to stand firm. In Tibetan Buddhism, because of the absence of one pillar, he said, the building is in a more shaky state.
    He pointed out that women comprise more than half the world’s population, and among those practicing the Dharma the proportion is even higher. Although both women and men are needed as upholders of the teachings, only those with a male body currently have access to all the conditions needed to fully uphold the teachings. This needs to change so that women too have the full opportunity to become complete holders of the teachings.
    In conclusion, he expressed his aspiration that the nunnery Dongyu Gatsal Ling become a place that produces important upholders of the Buddhadharma, and serve as a place where the Dharma is maintained fully.
    As the Karmapa’s words of encouragement resounded in the hearts of all those present in the nunnery, they were echoed in the dozens of countries around the world where people connected to the live transmission. Along with the many people watching across Asia, students tuned in everywhere from Estonia to Zimbabwe and from Argentina to Morocco. Among the countries with a growing number of viewers were 1,000 connected from Germany, which His Holiness had recently visited on his first European tour earlier this year, closely followed by Mexico with over 800 computers connected.


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    a pillar is missing from our house:
    gyalwang karmapa on full ordination for women

    Article by Dharmadattā Nuns' Community member Lhundup Damcho, originally written for publication in German in Dharma-Nektar Magazine.

    An abbreviated version of this article will appear in the Spring 2010  edition of Buddhadharma Magazine. Download a pdf of this and the accompanying articles on women's place in Buddhism.


    Last winter, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa stunned an international audience in Bodhgaya by making an unprecedented declaration of commitment to ordaining women as bhikshunis in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Responding to a question as to when there would ever be bhikshuni ordination in the Tibetan tradition, His Holiness leaned forward and spoke directly in English. “I will do it,” he said. As enthusiastic applause broke out across the large assembly hall, Gyalwang Karmapa cautioned against expecting quick results. “Be patient,” he said. “Be patient.”

    “As to when it will begin, and when there will be bhikshuni ordination,” His Holiness stated, during his annual winter teachings at Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya last December. “I cannot say when exactly the right time will be. But I am making every effort, with a sincere motivation, and I believe there is great hope. So please rest easy. The bhikshuni vows that lead to liberation and enlightenment are extremely important, and are in a sense the root of the Buddha’s Dharma. Therefore I do not believe it is wise to act hastily. So please relax, and please be patient.”

    Despite the warning that full ordination was not imminent, Gyalwang Karmapa’s statement in Bodhgaya was nevertheless ground-breaking, for it constitutes the first time that any spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism has publicly committed to making bhikshuni ordination available. His Holiness’ declaration marks the culmination of intensive research into the feasibility of establishing full ordination for women according to the monastic code that regulates Tibetan Buddhism. More broadly, it reflects Gyalwang Karmapa’s intense commitment to women’s issue and to nuns in particular.

    At present, women in Tibetan Buddhism may take a lower level of ordination, as novice nuns (Tibetan: getsulmas) or (Sanskrit: shramanerikas), but they do not have the opportunity to take the highest level of ordination that Buddha Shakyamuni initially created for women: bhikshuni or gelongma ordination. Full ordination for women is available in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Buddhist traditions, and has recently been re-established for nuns in the Theravada Buddhist tradition of Sri Lanka. Tibetan Buddhism still lags behind these traditions in the movement towards offering equal spiritual opportunities to women.

    For the past several decades, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consistently spoken out in favor of establishing bhikshuni ordination in the Tibetan tradition. To date, progress toward that goal has been incremental, consisting mainly of inconclusive conferences and discussions. Gyalwang Karmapa’s acceptance of a personal role in extending the opportunity of full ordination to women thus marks a decisive step forward on a path that His Holiness the Dalai Lama first asked Tibetan Buddhists to traverse.

    Not just a women’s issue
    During a stay in Sarnath, India, Gyalwang Karmapa granted an interview to discuss his views on bhikshuni ordination. His Holiness began by describing his reasons for taking such a strong stance on the matter.

    “There are several issues and several purposes,” he said.“If something is missing — such as gelongma vows, which do not exist in the Tibetan community—this affects the getsulmas and rabjungmas as well.… It affects the basic ordination of women. This means it is a very important issue.”

    But His Holiness went on to point out that the issue of bhikshuni ordination in Tibetan Buddhism is not only an issue of concern to women: “It also affects the whole teachings,” he added. “There are two types of people who practice the teachings, women and men. There are two types of holders of the teachings, male and female. So what affects women automatically affects the teachings, and impacts the flourishing of the Dharma.”

    Just days before his public statement in Bodhgaya, Gyalwang Karmapa presided over a five-day vinaya conference that he himself had convened during the Kagyu Winter Debates. High on the agenda of that conference was the question of bhikshuni ordination. His Holiness spoke at length to the large gathering of Kagyu khenpos, monks and nuns on the importance of establishing bhikshuni ordination in Tibetan Buddhism.

    His Holiness pointed out that Buddha Shakyamuni himself offered bhikshuni ordination to women as a means to bring about their liberation from samsara. The need to offer women all the conditions to achieve liberation is particularly clear from a Mahayana perspective of compassion and sense of responsibility for the well-being of others, he added. Nowadays the majority of those who seek the Dharma in Dharma centers outside India and Tibet are in fact women, he noted.

    Along with the need for bhikshuni ordination to support women on their path to liberation, bhikshuni ordination is needed for the benefit of the Dharma, to allow the teachings to spread and become fully accessible to people throughout the world, His Holiness explained. He commented that the four circles of disciples that Buddha created were like four pillars in a house. (The four pillars are bhikshus, bhikshunis, female holders of lay precepts and male holders of lay precepts.) Since the bhikshuni order was one of those four pillars, and is now lacking in Tibetan Buddhism, the house of Buddha’s teachings is missing an important condition needed to remain stable.

    His Holiness suggested that while there are procedural issues to be resolved, any obstacles need to be weighed against the great need to offer bhikshuni ordination to qualified female candidates. As such, research into the issues surrounding ought to take place with an appreciation of the need to offer women the opportunity to follow the complete path to liberation that Buddha created for them, he stressed.
    grappling with procedural issues
    Earlier in 2009, Gyalwang Karmapa  summoned khenpos from the major Karma Kagyu monasteries for several months of study and research under vinaya experts at his residence in Dharamsala. Gyalwang Karmapa himself was directly engaged in exploring the various options for conferring valid full ordination of women. According to the Mūlasarvāstivāda vinaya followed by Tibetan Buddhism, standard ordination practices stipulate that a sangha of bhikshus as well as a sangha of bhikshunis be present at the ritual ceremony to fully ordain new women. Yet a bhikshuni order does not appear to have been brought to Tibet from India. This absence of bhikshunis in Tibetan Buddhism has posed a stumbling block to the modern efforts to establish full ordination for women.

    However, a number of great Tibetan masters of the past did fully ordain some of their female disciples. Such masters include no less authoritative a figure than the Eighth Karmapa, Je Mikyö Dorje, one of the greatest vinaya scholars in Tibetan history. In the end, these isolated instances of ordinations did not result in the formation of a bhikshuni order in Tibet. Nowadays, two major options have been considered in Tibetan monastic circles. One is ordination by a bhikshu sangha alone, which would consist of monks from the Tibetan Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition. Another is what is known as “dual sangha ordination,’” in which the sangha of Tibetan bhikshus conferring the ordination would be joined by a bhikshuni sangha from a separate vinaya lineage, the Dharmagupta lineage preserved in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese Buddhism.

    While the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje and other great masters in Tibet held bhikshuni ordinations using this first option—a bhikshu sangha alone—such a method was not universally accepted among Tibetan Buddhist schools. “Although perhaps in the vinaya we can find sources for ordination by the bhikshu sangha alone, this is something disputed and controversial,” His Holiness said. “I do not want to make more controversy, because nowadays Tibetan Buddhism is all together in exile, and if one lineage acts on its own, for example, if I give the ordination in our school alone, then other schools may be uncomfortable with that, and that is not good. But there are other ways and methods available to do so.”

    Asked which method he favors, Gyalwang Karmapa said: “I think the best way is dual sangha ordination, with the Dharmagupta tradition and Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition acting together. This is a more profound way. It would mean not only that we can offer gelongma vows, but also if we did this, we would create a relationship between Dharmagupta and Mūlasarvāstivāda. This would also be beneficial for the harmony between Buddhist schools.”

    A major objection lodged against dual sangha ordination has been that it would entail a “mixing” of traditions, potentially raising questions as to which vinaya lineage the bhikshunis would then hold, or which procedural rules should prevail during the ceremony itself. But His Holiness dismisses the gravity of this concern. “I do not think this is a major problem,” he said. “Why? There are many sources, but basically Buddhism evolved into 18 different sects, but they are all pure. They all proceed according to the Dharma. Each school has a different vinaya, and according to their own vinaya and rituals, the vows can be generated. This means it is not a problem to hold dual sangha ordination with different vinaya lineages.”

    In such a scenario, the vows that the new bhikshunis receive would be Mūlasarvāstivāda, the tradition followed by Tibetan Buddhism. According to Mūlasarvāstivāda ordination procedures, “the bhikshuni vows actually come from primarily the bhikshu sangha, not the bhikshuni sangha,” His Holiness explained. “Since in the dual sangha ordination, the bhikshu sangha will be from the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition, this means the bhikshuni  vows will be from the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition.”

    During the teachings in Bodhgaya, Gyalwang Karmapa had stressed that results would not come overnight. “I do not think there are major obstacles or challenges,” he told Dharma-Nektar. “But we do need to develop our views on the matter. There are some old views and old ways of thinking, and people who hold them are not prepared to accept bhikshuni ordination. But I do not think this is a big obstacle. The main need is for some leader to take a step, to move beyond conferences and discussions. What is needed is to take full steps.”

    Thus far, many Tibetan Buddhists have looked to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to take the initiative in organizing bhikshuni ordinations. When Gyalwang Karmapa was asked why he himself was now willing to accept the responsibility for doing so, he said: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama always takes responsibility. But he has lots of activities and is very busy, so he cannot devote a great deal of his attention to this issue and try to find sources and join every conference himself. He cannot simply focus on this issue. …Maybe I have more time, and so more opportunities to find some sources and hold conferences. And I also have some sort of personal interest in it myself.”

    Gyalwang Karmapa added, “I just want to be a simple Buddhist practitioner. I just want to give some suggestions or information to Tibetan nuns, to encourage them and increase their confidence. This is very important. I can’t take bhikshuni vows. Some Tibetan nuns will take these vows. They need encouragement and they need to know the benefits and the importance of bhikshuni vows.”
    working for the welfare of women
    In the end, what is perhaps most noteworthy about Gyalwang Karmapa’s stance is precisely the degree of his personal involvement. In an extraordinary articulation of his concern for nuns’ welfare, Gyalwang Karmapa concluded a series of teachings he gave at Tilokpur Nunnery in India in 2007 by stating: “My body is male, but my mind has lots of feminine qualities, so I find myself a little bit both male and female. Therefore although of course I have high aspirations to be of benefit to all sentient beings, I especially have a commitment to work for the welfare of women and especially of nuns. As long as I have this life, I would like to work one-pointedly and diligently for their cause. I have this responsibility as the head of this school of Buddhism, and from that point of view also, I promise that I will try to do my best to see that the nuns’ sangha will progress … I will do my very best.”

    Indeed, Gyalwang Karmapa’s willingness to work for the welfare of nuns extends well beyond settling procedural policy or issuing statements. His Holiness himself has undertaken to translate a volume of biographies of Chinese nuns from Chinese into Tibetan. While that translation project is ongoing, he is next planning to translate a collection of narratives of the lives of Buddha’s direct female disciples from the classical literary language of the Tibetan canon into colloquial Tibetan, in order to make the examples of these early nuns’ lives more available to modern Tibetan readers.

    His Holiness himself traces his early involvement with the bhikshuni issue in particular to the time when he instituted new discipline rules for monastics attending the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. “We were deciding how to organize the gelongs and getsuls, and there were some gelongmas from the Chinese tradition. Then we needed to think: Where do they sit? How do we make arrangements for them?” Since that time, bhikshunis have been given a prominent place at the annual Kagyu Monlam events in Bodhgaya, with special invitations issued to bhikshunis to attend.

    At a later point, His Holiness added, he came across an important source from the Eighth Karmapa, Je Mikyö Dorje. “We rediscovered an old text in the collected works of Mikyö Dorje on rituals,” His Holiness said. “In that text, he said that in Tibet there was no bhikshuni lineage, but that we can give bhikshuni vows using the bhikshu rituals. I thought, ‘Oh! This is news!’ I thought, okay, maybe… This was a sort of small beginning.”

    From that small beginning to the historical moment of establishing full ordination for women in Tibetan Buddhism may be a long journey. But it will not be the first long journey this exceptional lama has completed in order to benefit beings and the Dharma. And given his youthful age and his remarkable determination, it will surely not be the last.

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    Sahitya Akademi and International Buddhist Confederation

    Cordially invite you to the Talk on 


    An introduction to the Milarepa’s Songs of Awakening 

    By H.H the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa

    Monday 27, Octuber, 2014
    Timing 10 am – 6 pm 

    An invitation to experience the journey to the extraordinary life of Jetsun Milarepa; a life of sincere effort, tireless dedication, and amazing austerity culminating in supremely enlightened wisdom and all-embracing compassion through the most celebrated elements of Milarepa’ songs as spontaneous expression of meditative experience and realization that served as one of Milarepa's principal methods of instructions.

    This is the second in the series of Milarepa: Great Yogi and Mystic of talks by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje on the essence of teachings of Jetsun Milarepa’s : songs of awakening .

    Project coordinator: Chokyi Palmo

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    (Dharamsala, 13 October 2014) – The Gyalwang Karmapa today received a group of 30 North American university students, for a lively question-and-answer session. The students’ questions covered far-ranging terrain, exploring topics such as environmental protection, arts and music as part of spiritual practice, conflict resolution, animal rights and his work to bring about full ordination for nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The students are visiting India and Nepal as part of the semester-long SIT Study Abroad program, and will spend just over a week in Dharamsala.
    In response to their first question, regarding his experience as a leader on environmental issues, His Holiness the Karmapa described his childhood as a nomad in a remote corner of Eastern Tibet. Speaking entirely in English throughout the session, he told them of the natural beauty of his surroundings and the way he and his family lived in close dependence on nature, and identified this period of his life as an important source of inspiration for his environmental activism. “When I talk about protecting the natural environment, it is not a matter of knowledge or information. It is something that I speak of from the bottom of my heart or mind. I have some feeling. There are emotions when I ask people to protect the environment and describe how necessary it is for all beings.”
    He drew attention to the Tibetan and Himalayan environment as a matter of global and regional concern. “The Tibetan plateau is often called the Third Pole, and the water source of Asia,” he said. “If you want to protect the Tibetan environment, you need to protect the Tibetan way of life and Tibetan culture, because the Tibetan culture and way of life are very friendly with the natural environment.”
    The students inquired as to whether any progress has been made towards full ordination for nuns in Tibetan Buddhism, noting that this was an issue that His Holiness had been supporting in words as well as deeds. Echoing comments made in the press conference held upon arriving in Europe in June, the Gyalwang Karmapa said that he is optimistic that within a few years, “it will happen.” He said that although some nuns already recognize the value of holding the bhikshuni vows, an important step is for Tibetan nuns more widely to appreciate the importance of receiving full ordination, so that when the opportunity does arise, they should not have any sense of being pressured, but rather themselves eagerly seek to take the opportunity.
    Replying to a question about conflict resolution, the Gyalwang Karmapa stated that, “the 21st century should be an era for sharing. Previously we divided ourselves and saw ourselves as separate nations, but now we need to understand how close we truly are to one another. We need more awareness of the interdependence of countries as well as individuals.”
    The students then asked His Holiness about his activities as an artist. “People think I am an artist, but I do not think of myself as an artist,” he said. “But I am interested in art.” He described his painting as part of a spiritual practice, in which the mind calms down, becomes free of conceptual thought, and comes to rest in single-pointed focus on the action of painting itself.
    He went on to discuss music, saying, “Music is a kind of communication – a universal communication. We have many different languages in this world, but music is a language that everybody can understand. To bring harmony to the world, I think music also plays a very important role in bringing people together, to understand that we are actually the same.”

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    (15 October, 2014 – Dharamsala)
    An international delegation of women’s rights activists met today with His Holiness the Karmapa as part of their global campaign for women’s empowerment. The group came seeking spiritual advice to sustain them in their work as gender activists,and requested the Gyalwang Karmapa’s blessing for their activities on behalf of women. The non-profit organization, We for WE, is active in 16 countries. Its delegation visiting the Karmapa included women’s rights advisers, ambassadors and activists from Canada, Ecuador, Malta, India, Rumania, Serbia and Venezuela.
    The NGO’s founder and president, Sarbjit Singh, asked His Holiness to describe his own work, and to give a message to all those committed to working for women’s empowerment. In response, the Karmapa said: “In my view, women’s empowerment, or women’s rights, are human rights. Each human being has the basic wish to be happy and to avoid suffering, and has the right to act to pursue this wish. This is not just a right, but is something that each of us should have and deserves to have. Therefore I do not think of working for women’s rights as a fight for power, but as a question of making available to women something that all human beings should have.
    “When I am working for women, I have in mind that every being with the capacity to experience pain or happiness deserves to have the same opportunities to seek happiness and avoid suffering. In my case, I have put special efforts into working for women who have given up lay life and become nuns, and particularly toward making a complete education available for them. I have been trying to create full opportunities for them. But in the future, I hope to be able to do something to benefit not just nuns and not just Tibetans and Himalayans, but all women. Therefore I fully support you and all those who are working for women’s empowerment. I hope you will take heart at the progress that has been made already, and keep going. I am sure this work can have great results.”
    The Ecuadorian member of the delegation spoke of the heartache of listening to the pains and problems faced by those she is seeking to benefit, and asked His Holiness for advice. “What does happen sometimes when we have a strong wish to help others,” His Holiness told her, “is that as they tell us of their suffering, we start to feel that we do not have the capacity to help them. It is as if we can feel our battery running out. In these cases, the main thing is to shore up our own inner capacity. We need to strengthen our own mind. First we strengthen and guard our hope, our courage, our loving compassion and our happiness. Then we can give to others. This mental strength we have given ourselves becomes the resource we draw on in working for others.”
    The Serbian delegate asked His Holiness’ advice on working in contexts where there is violence, prompting a short teaching on the nature of violence. “Sometimes we treat violence as if it were something physical,” the Karmapa observed, connecting his comments to the state of affairs in Iraq today. “But actually violence comes from inside, from a state of mind and heart that is not peaceful. If we want to control or address violence, we need to apply measures that are not just physical. Hatred and jealousy are the most common causes of violence, and they are both mental. Therefore any solution to reduce or end violence must also address these causes.”
    In response to a question about not being affected personally by violent surroundings, the Gyalwang Karmapa noted that our own fear can harm us and limit our ability to respond wisely and make positive contributions to a situation. “We need to cultivate strong positive qualities within us so that we do not have those fears,” he said, speaking in English. “We need more love. We need more compassion. The more of these positive feelings you have, the better you will be able to face difficult situations.”
    A woman from Rumania asked whether we can really create our own future or whether our life is determined by circumstances. “Of course, we can create our own future,” he replied. “But our lives are interconnected. They are interdependent, and so there are some environmental and cultural conditions that affect us. Those conditions might already be set, but this does not mean you cannot create a new future for yourself. But first you need to recognize the effect of those conditions, and then you create your future, taking those conditions into account.”
    A Venezuelan delegate asked His Holiness what he considered to be his life’s purpose. He responded by explaining how he was given the name Karmapa at the age of seven, and went on to add that he does not feel that his life has any special purpose unique to him. Rather, he continued, we all share similar responsibilities for others, and therefore our lives all have a similar purpose. “I would be content if my existence gives hope and encouragement to others,” he said.
    One of the questions the group posed to the Gyalwang Karmapa was whether he believed it was truly possible to empower women and bring about gender parity. “I definitely think it is possible,” the Karmapa replied. “If you compare the situation today with some decades or centuries back, we can see that great progress has been made. But it is not enough. There is a great deal of work still to be done. However, we can take heart by looking at how things do change. I strongly believe, and also have a feeling, that it will happen.”
    Later this week, the senior nuns of the Tilokpur Karma Kagyu nunnery will be undergoing a three-day workshop in leadership, team-building and communication skills arranged for them by Kunzang Kyong Trust on the advice of His Holiness the Karmapa. The training will be provided by Jagori, a highly-respected local organization committed to women’s empowerment, and forms part of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s broader initiative to provide the training, resources and educational opportunities needed for the nuns to flourish individually and as a sangha.

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    Spreading everywhere the sublime activity of the lineage that transmits realisation of absolute truth, and wearing the armour of pure intention rooted in bodhicitta, you care for beings and look after them. You clearly manifest the teachings of the realisation tradition, fully matured within you. May the truth of your aspirations endure forever.

    Holding and upholding the teaching of the practice lineage of the four transmissions and following the profound example of the extraordinary lives of the great masters of our tradition, you nurture beings. Through the power of the truth of your former good deeds, aspirations and prayers, may forever shine this sun whose lights illuminate the teachings of the Victorious One.

    Working with inexhaustible clarity of intelligence in an infinity of places, you manifest all sorts of extraordinary skills and qualities in order to conquer the thick darkness of ignorance which obscures the essential nature of beings. We pray that this buddha-emanation which gives us certainty of our own buddha-nature may live long among us. 

    ~Translated by Khenpo Tsultrim

    This prayer was slightly modified in 2013 by the Tai Situpa to become a “swift return” prayer for his next incarnation to appear soon. 

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    (18 October, 2014 – Gopalpur) His Holiness the Karmapa spent the day as chief guest of the Tibetan SOS Children’s Village in Gopalpur, northern India, during its 16th Annual Sport’s Day. Along with officially inaugurating the daylong event, the Gyalwang Karmapa was requested by the organizers to deliver an address to the students as part of the event’s opening ceremony.
    His Holiness the Karmapa recalled that he had already visited the Gopalpur TCV school several times in the past, and expressed his contentment at the current opportunity to continue cultivating his connection to the school. He described the athletic day as a joyful event and added, “sports may appear to be a matter of idle play, but actually it can have significance on many levels.” The inclusion of athletics in the educational curriculum of TCV schools offers an opportunity for students to enhance their physical fitness while engaging in play. This helps ensure that the school experience is enjoyable for students, he observed. Not only within a school or among schools, but “even among nations,” he said, “sporting events serve as a means to come together and enhance relationships.” In this way, the Karmapa noted, sports can even contribute in some measure to world peace.
    Wryly noting that lecturing them when they were waiting to engage in playful games was not the most opportune moment for him to speak at any length, the Gyalwang Karmapa observed that His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself had previously visited the school and given many encouraging words of advice, which the Karmapa urged them to keep alive in their minds and put into practice in their daily lives. He encouraged them to make the most of their time at school, and to intensify their courage and determination to achieve their aims in life.
    The remainder of the day was filled with the performance of school songs and good-natured exertion in each of the various sports. After a break for lunch, the games continued through the afternoon until the sun began dropping towards the horizon and the time had come for the awarding of trophies to the members of the winning teams. Before he departed for the drive back to Gyuto, His Holiness the Karmapa himself handed the trophies to the tired but exhilarated boys and girls, and the day was declared a success all round.


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    A 25 ans, le karmapa-lama est l'une des figures majeures du bouddhisme tibétain. Pourrait-il succéder un jour au dalaï-lama? L'idée semble effrayer l'Inde, sa terre d'accueil, qui l'a privé il y a peu d'une tournée en Europe. L'Express est allé le rencontrer.

    Voici un garçon venu du Toit du monde. Fils de nomades tibétains, Ogyen Trinlé Dorjé a été reconnu comme une "sainte incarnation" - la 17e, dans la lignée des karmapas, vieille de neuf cents ans. Avant de fuir la Chine en décembre 1999, à travers les montagnes de l'Himalaya, le jeune homme était le seul lama reconnu à la fois par le dalaï-lama et par le gouvernement de Pékin. 

    Aujourd'hui, certains voient en lui un successeur éventuel au chef des Tibétains en exil, âgé de 74 ans. Une perspective que le jeune homme refuse d'envisager - les karmapas ont toujours joué un rôle purement spirituel, rappelle-t-il, et n'ont jamais exercé le moindre rôle politique. Reste que l'idée semble inquiéter certains. Sa tournée en Allemagne, en France et au Royaume-Uni, prévue ce mois-ci, a été annulée, car les autorités indiennes ont refusé de délivrer les autorisations nécessaires. Sans doute soucieux de préserver ses bonnes relations avec Pékin, New Delhi ne semble guère enthousiaste à l'idée que les Tibétains en exil se découvrent, après la disparition inévitable du dalaï-lama, un nouveau leader charismatique. Et le jeune homme, qui a grandi sur les hauts plateaux du sud-est du Tibet, semble désormais limité dans ses mouvements. 

    Le karmapa-lama en Inde.
    ©Stuart Freedman

    A 25 ans, fan de Facebook et propriétaire actif d'une console de jeu, le karmapa-lama a longuement interrogé le photographe de L'Express sur les qualités et les défauts de son appareil numérique professionnel. Avec sa voix douce, ses yeux brillants et son sourire ravageur, on comprend que les Indiens aient hésité à le laisser se montrer en Occident - à Londres, le prince Charles avait déjà manifesté le désir de le rencontrer. 

    Le garçon venu du Toit du monde ira loin. Parmi les bouddhistes tibétains en exil, il est déjà l'"idole des jeunes". 

    Quel est votre plus ancien souvenir ?

    Le bruit des chevaux au galop dans la plaine. Ce jour-là, j'étais allongé sous une tente, me semble-t-il, auprès de mes parents. Jusqu'à l'age de 7 ans, j'ai habité dans la région reculée du Kham [sud-est du Tibet]. Nous étions des paysans nomades. Ç'a été le meilleur moment de ma vie. J'avais le coeur léger et tout me semblait simple. Je n'avais aucune inquiétude et, de fait, aucune raison d'en avoir. Je vivais dehors, dans un paysage de grands espaces. Mes parents possédaient des troupeaux de chevaux ; très tôt, j'ai appris à les monter. 

    En 1992, alors que vous alliez avoir 7 ans, vous êtes reconnu officiellement comme la 17e réincarnation du karmapa et devenez, à ce titre, le chef d'une des quatre écoles majeures du bouddhisme tibétain. Avez-vous compris, alors, ce qui vous arrivait ?

    Quand l'équipe de reconnaissance est venue de Lhassa, elle s'est d'abord rendue dans un monastère, non loin d'où nous habitions. Ces visiteurs ont posé de nombreuses questions, en particulier à mes parents, qui ne comprenaient pas toujours. Le Tibet est un immense territoire, où la population est très dispersée et s'exprime avec de nombreux dialectes. 

    Par la suite, ces inconnus vous emmènent à Lhassa, la capitale, où vous êtes plongé dans un environnement totalement nouveau. Qu'avez-vous ressenti?

    J'étais un enfant. Tout cela me semblait excitant. Quelle aventure! On m'a fait monter dans une voiture - la plus grosse que j'aie jamais vue - et, à l'intérieur, je me souviens avoir pensé que l'on m'offrirait sans doute de nombreux jouets et que la vie serait belle. A l'approche de Lhassa, cependant, j'ai commencé à éprouver des craintes. Peut-être ne serait-ce pas si facile... Comment une existence serait-elle aisée si vous êtes au centre de l'attention de tout le monde? En fait, j'avais déjà tout compris. 

    Est-ce à dire que vous êtes devenu karmapa sans joie, à contrecoeur?

    Ce serait trop fort. Je ne m'y suis pas opposé. Mais j'étais inquiet.

    "Beaucoup de kilomètres séparent le dalaï-lama des habitants du Tibet. 
    Mais ces derniers se sentent proches de lui." 
    ©Stuart Freedman

    Le 28 décembre 1999, âgé de 15 ans, alors que vous avez déjà été présenté au président de la Chine, Jiang Zemin, qui a avalisé le choix des autorités tibétaines, vous sautez d'une terrasse de votre monastère et fuyez à travers les montagnes, au péril de votre vie, vers l'Inde. Etait-il important pour vous de rencontrer le dalaï-lama dans son exil de Dharamsala?

    Beaucoup de kilomètres séparent le dalaï-lama des habitants du Tibet. Mais ces derniers se sentent proches de lui. Tous ceux qui parviennent à fuir souhaitent en premier lieu rencontrer le dalaï-lama. C'est, pour eux, la réalisation d'un vieux rêve. Et ça l'a été pour moi, aussi. 

    Comment décririez-vous aujourd'hui votre relation avec lui?

    Sa Sainteté le dalaï-lama est le leader spirituel et temporel de tous les Tibétains. C'est un homme hors pair. Sur le plan temporel, il est d'une grande dignité. Sur le plan spirituel, il joue un rôle de premier plan, qui est reconnu dans le monde entier. A titre personnel, j'ai la chance d'entretenir d'excellentes relations avec lui et de recevoir ses conseils. 

    Sur Internet, une vidéo circule dans laquelle il se tourne vers vous et affirme : "Vous devez continuer mon travail." Cela doit-il être interprété dans un sens spirituel et temporel?

    Il s'adresse ainsi à tous les Tibétains, et en premier lieu aux jeunes. C'est à ma génération de protéger, de préserver, de maintenir et de transmettre l'héritage de nos ancêtres. Afin de préserver la spiritualité et la culture tibétaines, nous devons protéger notre identité. Dans la séquence vidéo à laquelle vous faites allusion, il me semble que le dalaï-lama exprime notre proximité. 

    Si vous deviez succéder au dalaï-lama, sur les plans spirituel et temporel, seriez-vous prêt à le faire?

    Sa Sainteté le dalaï-lama me conseille de rester soigneusement à l'écart des questions politiques. Dans ma position, la seule chose qui m'importe est d'aider au maintien de l'héritage culturel et religieux du peuple. Comme individu et comme Tibétain, ma priorité est la condition de mes frères humains, tibétains ou non. Je n'aspire pas à une autre position ou à un autre statut que ceux que j'occupe aujourd'hui. Ce que j'ai me suffit largement. Je ne demande rien de plus. 

    "De nombreux Chinois se reconnaissent dans le bouddhisme; 
    un peu comme si cela faisait partie de leur histoire familiale."
    ©Stuart Freedman

    Pourtant, vous êtes reconnu à la fois par le dalaï-lama et par le gouvernement chinois. A cet égard, vous occupez une position unique. Mieux, depuis votre départ de Chine, Pékin n'a pas émis de remarque hostile vous concernant. N'êtes-vous pas en mesure de faciliter un dialogue, à l'avenir ? Il y a toujours eu, dans les siècles passés, une relation étroite entre le karmapa et l'empereur de Chine.

    Ces temps-ci, hélas, je ne vois guère de raison d'être optimiste. En théorie, en effet, je pourrais sans doute jouer un rôle positif ou utile. Je ne parle même pas de politique, mais de simples relations humaines. Chacun doit revenir au bon sens et abandonner toute rigidité idéologique. En pratique, toutefois, comment faire? La paranoïa règne et nous sommes condamnés à l'immobilisme. Comme Tibétain, comme être humain, si l'opportunité devait se présenter, je serais heureux de contribuer à un déblocage. 

    De nombreux Chinois se rendent en Inde et assistent à vos enseignements. De Taïwan, de Singapour, mais aussi, pour certains d'entre eux, de Chine continentale. Que cherchent-ils auprès de vous?

    A Pékin, le gouvernement est communiste, certes. Et on a parfois le sentiment que rien ne pourra jamais changer. Pourtant, certains Chinois regardent au-delà de leur vie quotidienne. Au fur et à mesure que leur niveau de vie s'améliore sur le plan matériel, ils s'aperçoivent qu'il leur manque quelque chose de plus fondamental - la vie spirituelle. Or, le bouddhisme a une longue histoire en Chine: s'il est une religion que l'on peut qualifier de "nationale", c'est bien elle. De nombreux Chinois se reconnaissent dans le bouddhisme; un peu comme si cela faisait partie de leur histoire familiale. C'est un retour aux sources. Voilà pourquoi, sans doute, on constate en Chine une renaissance de la pratique bouddhique. La soif de spiritualité ne fait aucun doute. Les sites Internet sont souvent bloqués par la censure, mais les Chinois parviennent à échanger des informations et à établir parfois des liens avec des lamas au Tibet. D'autres s'intéressent au bouddhisme sur un plan purement culturel. Ils veulent apprendre. Alors, ils viennent me voir. D'autant qu'il existe, en effet, de nombreux liens historiques entre les Chinois bouddhistes et les karmapas. 

    En France, la communauté bouddhiste tibétaine est divisée. Certains, minoritaires, reconnaissent un autre karmapa. Que leur dites-vous?

    Je n'ai rien à leur dire car - je vous l'assure, du fond du coeur - je ne veux pas me confronter à qui que ce soit. Je peux seulement parler de moi, plutôt que de prendre position sur le fond. Dans l'histoire sacrée de la lignée, la réincarnation précédente reconnaît le suivant. L'aîné, en quelque sorte, choisit toujours son cadet. Pour ma part, je suis identifié par le 16e karmapa dans une lettre de reconnaissance qui, me semble-t-il, fait foi. Je me contente de respecter la tradition. D'ailleurs, je ne saurais pas comment faire pour revendiquer le statut de karmapa. C'est une question d'ordre spirituel. Si d'autres ne me reconnaissent pas comme la réincarnation du karmapa, qu'y puis-je ? 

    Partagez-vous le sentiment de frustration, voire d'étouffement, de nombreux jeunes Tibétains en exil?

    Oui, ce mot d'étouffement est le bon et c'est ce qui explique le besoin de protester, parfois. Soyons réalistes, cependant. Ce n'est pas ainsi que l'on fera avancer la cause du peuple tibétain. Ce dont nous avons besoin, c'est un projet, un plan et un processus. 

    Etes-vous inquiet de la perspective d'une explosion violente si le dalaï-lama venait à disparaître?

    Oui, c'est une source d'inquiétude majeure pour moi. 

    Vous êtes un jeune homme qui porte les responsabilités et les charges d'un homme mûr. N'y a-t-il pas des moments où vous souhaiteriez marcher dans les champs, jouer avec d'autres, vivre une vie tranquille...

    Je comprends ce dont vous parlez, mais, voyez-vous, mon mode de vie est supportable. Ma formation spirituelle m'aide sans doute. L'esprit humain est sans limites. La capacité de chacun à endurer et à s'adapter ne doit pas connaître de limites. 

    Avez-vous des nouvelles de vos parents?

    J'ai parlé il y a peu avec ma mère. Nous conversons de temps à autre au téléphone. Elle est assez malade. 

    Pensez-vous un jour revoir vos parents?

    Je l'espère beaucoup, oui. 

    Comment faire?

    C'est très difficile. Ils vivent au Tibet, sous le pouvoir du gouvernement chinois. C'est très difficile, je le sais. Je les aime beaucoup. C'est la raison pour laquelle j'aimerais tenter de les revoir. Je leur dis toujours, au téléphone, que j'essaierai de les revoir. Mais je ne sais pas comment faire. 

    Ont-ils subi des pressions de la part du gouvernement chinois?

    Non. Enfin, rien de grave. Désormais, s'ils souhaitent se rendre à Lhassa, ils ont besoin d'une autorisation officielle. Ce n'est pas si terrible. Moi aussi, je devrais demander l'autorisation pour me rendre à Lhassa!  

    Le karmapa-lama

    1985 Le 26 juin, naissance au Tibet d'Apo Gaga, qui sera ensuite reconnu comme le 17e karmapa et se verra attribuer le nom de Ogyen Trinlé Dorjé. 

    1992 Le 9 juin, le dalaï-lama confirme la reconnaissance. 

    1999 Le karmapa fuit dans la nuit le monastère de Tsurphu, mécontent des obstacles dont usent les autorités chinoises pour empêcher sa formation. 

    2000 Après une périlleuse traversée de la chaîne de l'Himalaya, il atteint le 5 janvier Dharamsala, dans le nord de l'Inde, résidence du dalaï-lama.  

    2008 Il se rend aux Etats-Unis et enseigne pendant deux mois dans la communauté bouddhiste. 

    2010 Annulation d'une tournée en Europe : les autorités indiennes, peut-être sous la pression de la Chine, lui refusent l'autorisation de voyager. 

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    October 22, 2014 4:49 pm

    His Holiness the Karmapa Rinpoche and the dignitaries, observing a minute’s silence in memory of Tibetan self-immolators, at the founding anniversary of Tibetan Delek Hospital

    Karmapa Rinpoche addressing the ceremony on 22 October 2014.

    DHARAMSHALA: His Holiness the Karmapa Rinpoche today graced the 43rd founding anniversary of Tibetan Delek hospital at Gangchen Kyishong. The ceremony is also being marked as part of the ’2014 – Year of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama’ announced by the 14th Kashag.
    The ceremony was attended by Tibetan justice commissioners, members of the Tibetan Parliament and the respective Kalons and secretaries of the various departments of the Central Tibetan Administration.
    A new residence for the doctors of Delek hospital was also inaugurated on the occasion.
    Addressing the ceremony, His Holiness the Karmapa Rinpoche acknowledged the crucial public  service performed by the hospital in catering to the healthcare needs of the Tibetan community. He said: “ I am glad to be here today to mark ’2014 – Year of His Holiness the Great 14th Dalai Lama’ and the 43rd founding anniversary of Delek hospital. The healthcare services provided by Delek Hospital are really commendable and helpful to the Tibetan community as well as the local Indian people.”
    “ Personally, whenever I suffer any ailment,  I avail the services of Dr. Tseten la of Delek Hospital. I feel the health facilities of the hospital and the qualifications and determination of the doctors are really admirable. It serves as a perfect role model for aspiring Tibetan doctors,” he said.
    He urged the hospital authorities to continue their exemplary work and underlined the need to fulfill  His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s message of peace, non-violence and service to the needy. “ If you continue your exemplary service, you would be fulfilling the true aspirations of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, not just in words but in deeds,” he said.
    Mr. Dawa Phunkyi, chief administrator of Tibetan Delek hospital, read out a brief report of the hospital’s notable works and achievements.
    The ceremony also saw the presentation of souvenirs to Mr. Harrie Penders and group, for their financial charities and conferment of awards to long-serving staff of the hospital.
    A cultural performance was presented by Thangthong Lukar group at the end of the ceremony.

    Health Kalon Dr. Tsering wangchuk presenting an award to a long-serving hospital staff.

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    (19 October, 2014 – Dharamsala) The Gyalwang Karmapa met with a group of nuns from Tilokpur Nunnery upon their completion of a three-day training workshop in confidence-building, management skills and gender awareness. The training was provided by Jagori, a highly-respected local organization committed to women’s empowerment, and was organized for the nuns by the Kun Kyong Charitable Trust, of which His Holiness the Karmapa is primary patron.
    Reporting to the Gyalwang Karmapa at the close of the three days, the senior Tilokpur nun Wangchuk Palmo observed that as the nunnery has grown, the nuns have recognized that they need to develop skills and confidence to allow them to interact more effectively with the wider community. She explained that the three-day training workshop had given them a clearer grasp of the issues involved in establishing gender equality, which is increasingly being discussed in Tibetan society nowadays. She said that this had inspired the nuns to imagine that they could become qualified to offer greater service to society.
    She reported that the training had also given them specific tools in communicating effectively, in gaining confidence in public speaking and in resolving the interpersonal conflicts that can arise in any community. Finally, she described the work that they had done in the workshops to identify and cultivate leadership skills. The Karmapa then solicited the nuns’ views as to whether the training programme should be extended, and they unanimously supported the idea.
    Speaking to the 16 nuns who had attended the workshop, the Karmapa emphasized that along with a profound knowledge and practice of the Buddhadharma, monastics nowadays need also to understand more about how wider society works, in order to enhance their ability to contribute in positive ways. He spoke of the growing appreciation in their society that women can offer as much as men, and the new opportunities that are opening up for women to take greater leadership roles. Along with keeping abreast of these changes, he encouraged the nuns to prepare themselves to contribute as leaders in society. “Women have the capacity,” he said, “to have an even greater impact on society than men.” He urged them to continue pursuing whatever education was useful to equip them to do so. “We need more leaders among the nuns, to be educated in modern skills as well as the Dharma, to increase your ability to serve society.”
    Last January, with the inauguration of the first-ever winter gathering for Karma Kagyu nuns, which he named the Arya Kshema Winter Gathering, the 17th Karmapa launched a series of initiatives to ensure that nuns are afforded the education and training opportunities needed to assume a larger responsibility as full members of the Buddhist sangha. This three-day training forms part of that broader initiative. During this meeting with the nuns, the Gyalwang Karmapa spoke of the Arya Kshema Winter Gathering and urged the nunnery not just to send nuns who were engaging in Buddhist dialectics (or debate)—the traditional cornerstone of the institution of winter gatherings in Tibetan Buddhism. A broader group of nuns should attend, he said, since the Arya Kshema Winter Gathering was also aimed at building confidence and offering wider Dharma education opportunities for nuns.
    Abha Bhaiya, the founder of Jagori, told the Karmapa during this meeting: “The fact that you are giving importance to them becoming self-confident and igniting a fire in them to learn more—this has been of great value to them.”
    Jetsunma Ngodup Pelzom—His Holiness the Karmapa’s sister—spoke at the opening session of the three days of trainings, sharing with the nuns her own life experience in the hope it might be of some benefit to them. She was raised in a small village where education simply was not offered to women, she said, a fact that left her wholly unequipped to take on the responsibilities that arose later as her brother has become a world spiritual leader. She stressed to the nuns the great importance of education in both understanding the principles at work in their own life, as well as in being able to be of significant benefit to others and to accomplish their own aims in life.
    “I firmly believe that this training—which has never been available to you before—will be of tremendous benefit to you in making the most of your Dharma understanding in helping others but also in your own development as nuns,” she said, encouraging them to make the most of the opportunity.
    “My brother is continually looking for ways to support nuns and is always working to empower nuns and Himalayan women,” Jetsunma said. “If you empower yourselves through this sort of training, this could help fulfill his wishes for gender equality. As you become more confident and more educated, gender equality could actually begin to happen in actual reality, and not just in words.”
    In the following session, the nuns themselves were asked to state what they hoped to receive from the training. A recurring theme was the need to overcome shyness and gain confidence to speak in public. Over the next three days, Abha Bhaiya and Nimisha Desai—who had traveled from Gujarat to help lead the workshops—guided the nuns through a series of interactive exercises, including role play, team building and creative writing exercises. The overall aim was capacity building and gender awareness, with sessions focused on defusing community disputes, leadership training, public speaking, planning and time management.
    In the concluding session at Jagori, the nuns sat in a circle as each expressed what she had learned. The transformation from the initial session was dramatic. In the opening session, many nuns had been barely audible when addressing the group, speaking hunched over without lifting their eyes. In the concluding session, most of them projected self-confidence, as they spoke movingly of all they had learned from the experience. “Times are changing,” one of the nuns commented during this concluding session. “I did not understand much about the situation in society, especially about gender.”
    “Before, when we saw a woman being mistreated,” said another, “we just felt pity. Now, I can see that there is something to be done about it.”
    Echoing a comment made by many of them, one young nun said: “Since I came here, I gained the courage to speak up in front of the public.”
    Kun Kyong Charitable Trust, which sponsored the training of the nuns from Tilokpur Nunnery, was established in February 2013 to support the religious and charitable activities of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.


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    第一本介紹第十七世大寶法王 嘉華噶瑪巴 鄔金欽列多傑 的雜誌由尼泊爾 噶瑪列些林佛學院 在1992年初版發行1000 本,1994年再版印製 1500 本,2014年第三次印製 20000本. The 1st Magazine of the H.H. 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, published by Nepal Karma Leksheyling Institute. First edition 1000 copies 1992, Second edition 1500 copies 1994, Third edition 20000 copies 2014.

    The Karma Lekshey Ling School has published this charming picture book about the early years of His Holiness the XVII Gyalwang Karmapa's life, from the details of his search and discovery through 1992. Large and colorful photos with commentary are supplemented with a concise biography of the Karmapa's early years. This book provides an pleasurable introduction to the Karmapa's life, valuable for reference on an ongoing basis. 

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    (27 October, 2014 – Delhi) His Holiness the 17th Karmapa was chief speaker at an all-day symposium on the songs of awakening of Milarepa, Tibet’s most widely revered “yogin par excellence,” as he was described during the event. The day’s exploration of Milarepa’s poetic works was co-hosted by the International Buddhist Confederation and the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters.
    It served as an extension of IBC’s event on Milarepa earlier this year IBC’s event on Milarepa, at which His Holiness the Karmapa had delivered teachings on the life of Milarepa.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa prefaced his discourse on the songs of Milarepa by chanting homages to Buddha Shakyamuni and to Milarepa himself. He noted that the organizers had requested that he discuss the poetic style of Milarepa’s songs of awakening, yet claimed that he himself was not sufficiently learned in the art of poetics to deliver such a discourse. However, as someone who had a long personal connection to the songs of Milarepa, the Gyalwang Karmapa said he could make some remarks regarding the aesthetic experience of reading the poetic works of the great Tibetan yogi, Milarepa. He then gave the following teaching on the emotional impact of Milarepa’s songs and the transmission of meaning that they impart:
    “I have been studying the songs of Milarepa since a very early age, and have developed some familiarity with them. Therefore I can share some thoughts on the basis of the feeling that is inspired by the songs.
    “One aspect of Milarepa’s life that stands out as particularly moving is the guru-disciple relationship between Marpa and Milarepa. Their relationship is striking for the great affection between them, yet at the same time it is also quite an intimidating relationship. As we all know, when Milarepa approached Lord Marpa, Marpa did not immediately grant him Dharma instructions, but rather put him through tremendous hardships, including having him build various structures.
    “Milarepa’s fortitude and forbearance in the face of such obstacles inspire in us a sense of admiration and amazement. Yet what is even more admirable and amazing to me is how Milarepa dwelt in solitude in remote mountain caves following Marpa’s meditation instructions, without a single thought for food, clothing or fame, bent unwaveringly on accomplishing the path within a single lifetime.
    “Although Milarepa had no material offerings to make to Marpa, he had his intense practice. He made his practice the most valuable offering and offered it to his guru as an expression of his devotion and heartfelt gratitude.
    “In one of his songs, Milarepa describes how he dwelt in barren and uninhabited places, with no company but the wind and wild animals. With no one to talk to, as a human being with human emotions, at times he felt lonely and sad. Milarepa sang that the feeling of sadness was there to stay. He said, as the seasons pass by—spring, summer, autumn and winter—in this place with no sound but the howling of the wind and the call of wild animals, even with this feeling of loneliness and sadness, when I turn my mind to the presence of my omniscient master, inseparable from the Buddha, and unite my mind with him, there is also the experience of unceasing joy and bliss.
    “This shows us where Milarepa drew the strength to endure his life of solitude in harsh environments. We can feel his unwavering devotion and faith in his guru Marpa, and the mental sustenance he gained from the experience of being united with the awakened mind of his guru.
    “There is an account of his singing a song of awakening entitled ‘Six Ways of Recollecting the Kind Guru.’ At one point in his practice of austerities, Milarepa had the thought that perhaps his way of life had become too extreme. He did not have even the minimum provisions, and thought he must make a foray out from his cave to look at least for twigs to make a fire. He did not have proper clothes, but just enough cloth covering him for the sake of decency. The wind was blowing harshly and as he began collecting twigs, the bit of cloth he wore was carried off by the wind. As Milarepa bent to pick up the bit of cotton that served as his only garment, the bundle of twigs slipped from his hands. As he grasped at the twigs, he lost his grip on the cotton cloth. The thought arose in his mind: ‘Such is the futility of all samsaric phenomena.’
    “He at first took this as an indication that he should return to ground himself more deeply in meditation. But then on second thought he felt he should first make an effort to collect more twigs. As he was doing so, a branch broke and knocked him to the ground. Since his body was weakened by his life of austerities, he fell unconscious. He lay unconscious for a few hours, and by the time he regained awareness, a cool breeze was touching him and the sun had begun to go down. It seems his guru was residing off in the direction of the sun and Milarepa awoke with the memory of his guru intensely present in his mind.
    “In this song of awakening, Milarepa sang, ‘How wonderful it would be to meet Marpa right now.’ The feeling he expresses is that even now, if he were to meet Marpa and Marpa were to tell him to build another tower, he would be happy. Even though he was old and feeble, he would be delighted to construct another building on his command. Milarepa used to help Marpa’s consort Dagmema around the house, and he also expresses his yearning to be able to assist her with the household chores, weak though his body had become.
    “We can see that these songs are not intellectual or philosophical discourses. Nor is this is a poetry of words. Rather it is an expression of the profound relationship and the unshakeable devotion and commitment that Milarepa felt.
    “The power of his poetry is such that we ourselves can feel that Milarepa’s devotion is not something conditional, which one feels when the conditions are right but otherwise one does not have. It is not as if when things are difficult, one experiences it, but when things are going well one does not.
    “In Milarepa’s case, happy or sad, sad or happy, under any and all circumstances, his experience of devotion and confidence in Marpa was unwavering. Milarepa’s mind could not be parted from his experience of devotion and faith. That devotion formed a part of the very fabric of his mind, so much so that even many centuries later, when we read the songs of Milarepa or listen to them today, not only does it bring before us the images of such times but it also evokes powerful emotions in us.
    “Milarepa’s poetry is not a poetry of philosophy. It is not a poetry of words of ideas. Rather, it is a poetry of the transmission of meaning. As such, it impacts us and inspires us to this day.”


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    (5 November, 2014 – Bodhgaya) The Gyalwang Karmapa left Tergar Monastery at 9 am today to pay homage at the central shrine of Buddhism, the Mahabodhi Temple, home to the Bodhi tree and other sites linked with the time when Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment.
    Mr N.T. Dorje, Secretary of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, and the Head Monk-in-Charge the Venerable Bande, welcomed the Gyalwang Karmapa.
    Gyalwang Karmapa walked into the complex, down the central steps and headed directly to the Mahabodhi temple shrine room. Devotees from around the world greeted him along the way. Flanking both sides of the pathway, they proffered pink and lilac lotus blossoms or ceremonial white scarves, and asked for his blessing. Inside the shrine room, His Holiness first offered a three-piece set of robes of hand-woven golden silk to the image of Lord Buddha, followed by seven bowls of fruit, flowers and food. As the monk-attendant draped the new robes over the Buddha image, His Holiness prostrated three times before commencing prayers in praise of Lord Buddha and for the peace and well-being of the world and all sentient beings. The short ceremony concluded with the lighting of a butter lamp.
    When His Holiness emerged from the shrine room, hundreds of followers thronged behind him as he completed a circuit of the inner route around the temple, followed by a circuit of the outermost route.
    This is the first official event of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s 2014 winter programme in Bodhgaya.
    In Bodhgaya His Holiness will preside over the Eighteenth Kagyu Guncho, which will be held from 20th November to 17th December, 2014. Participants from Kagyu Shedras will discuss and debate the topics of Advanced Collected Topics, Types of Mind, and Types of Evidence. His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa will continue his teachings from Mikyö Dorje’s Hundred Short Instructions, and the Guncho will conclude with a four-day conference discussing Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation.
    His Holiness will bestow a special series of initiations, the twenty-four peaceful deities of “Knowing One Frees All”. This is the special program prior to the 32nd Kagyu Monlam. From 20th – 25th December, 2014.
    His Holiness will give Teachings on “The Torch of True Meaning” from December 26–27, 2014
    32nd The Kagyu Monlam will be from December 29, 2014–January 4, 2015
    His Holiness will preside over the Second Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering will be held from 8th – 24th January, 2015 at Tergar Monastery, in Bodhgaya.

    Click for detail schedule of His Holiness Karmapa.


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    ANI  |  Bodh Gaya  

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    November 7th, 2014

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje is very active and concerned about the protection of the environment. His influence and recommendations affect thousands of people around the world. These are already creating a more environmentally conscious atmosphere and outlook throughout Kagyu monasteries and practitioners in Tibet, India and in many countries.

    “The main reason that I am so interested and dedicated to protecting the environment is because it is the basis of life and it transcends politics and religion. The environment is not merely a political or even a religious matter – it is a matter of the survival or non-survival of all living beings who inhabit the earth, including us humans.” (H.H 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee)

    His Holiness the Karmapa’s, clarity, honesty and environmental awareness have touched us at Active Remedy. He continues to be a source of inspiration for us. It is for this reason that we have on many occasions spoken with His Holiness about the efforts, goals and achievements of Active Remedy. He has been positive, encouraging and has expressed his approval for the work that we are doing along with his blessings for success.

    In 2007 he requested that we create an exhibition for the Kagyu Monam. The Kagyu Monlam is a large prayer festival held in Bodhgaya, the enlightenment place of the Buddha in India. The main focus of this festival is world peace and preserving the environment. We did create and display this exhibition and found it to be a very worthwhile experience. We were able to communicate with many different people from across the Himalayan regions and also to listen to His Holiness speak more deeply on the subject of environmental conservation.

    In 2009, in Dharamshalla, N.India, His Holiness the Karmapa gave Active Remedy his blessings and a letter of support for the Active Remedy project.

    We are very happy and honoured to have the continued encouragement and support of His Holiness the Karmapa.
    We hope that this support will encourage monasteries and individuals within the Kagyu lineage to look more seriously at the global importance of mountain ecosystems and freshwater. We also hope that they will therefore join together with us in addressing the global situation of degraded mountain ecosystems and a seriously threatened global water cycle, while there is still yet a chance to remedy the situation.

    “My hope is that this attention and care for the environment will be internalized within the monasteries and will then expand outwards from them into the communities that surround them, until eventually it touches more and more people in the world.” (H.H 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee)

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    November 9, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    Khöndong Ratna Vajra Rinpoche visited the Gyalwang Karmapa at Tergar Monastery this morning. Rinpoche was received with the highest honours and escorted in procession to the Karmapa’s residence, where the two spiritual leaders spent half-an-hour in private conversation. The Karmapa then presented Ratna Vajra Rinpoche with a Buddha statue and a facsimile of a rare practice text, the Nag-gyal-phag-sum. The author and compiler of this text was the Fifth Shamarpa, Kunchok Yenla and the original was printed in gold ink on black paper.
    Following the meeting, Chamsing Ngodup Pelzom, the Karmapa’s elder sister, escorted Rinpoche on a tour of the International Kagyu Monlam site, visiting the administration block and the Monlam Pavilion.
    Khöndong Ratna Vajra Rinpoche is the elder son of H.H. Sakya Trizin, the current throne holder of the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The Khön family holds an unbroken lineage of great Tibetan Buddhist masters stretching back over a thousand years. Rinpoche himself is an acknowledged Dharma teacher and travels extensively. He is currently in Bodhgaya to preside over a three-day Sakya Prayer Ceremony at the Mahabodhi Stupa.
    On Saturday 8th November, the renowned Bhutanese lama Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche came informally to Tergar Monastery and met with the Gyalwang Karmapa. The following day they lunched together at the Royal Residency Hotel.
    Dzongsar Rinpoche has been in Bodhgaya since October. He is well- known for three award-winning films which he wrote and directed: The Cup (1999), Travellers and Magicians (2003), and Vara: A Blessing (2013). He is also the author of two popular books on Buddhism: What Makes You Not a Buddhist and Not for Happiness: A Guide to the So-Called Preliminary Practices. He is the driving force behind the 84,000: Translating the Words of the Buddha project, a global non-profit initiative that aims to translate all of the Buddha’s words into modern languages, and to make them available to everyone, free of charge.


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    First Karmapa relic at the Zen Center of Denver in Denver, CO August 23, 2013. 
    (Photo By Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post)

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    12 November, 2014, Bodhgaya
    The Gyalwang Karmapa has often quipped that the word ‘Karmapa’ is somewhat equivalent in meaning to “Action Man”. He is now recognised as a leader who ‘does’ as well as ‘says’, and repeatedly urges his followers to transform their Buddhist beliefs into action.
    “Because our lives are interdependent, we carry the responsibility for ourselves, for the welfare of our family and friends, and for all living beings in the world. Interdependence is not just a philosophy: it’s a way of life,” he has said.
    This morning, reflecting his advice that we should all take individual responsibility for protecting the environment, he met with an enthusiastic group of children from the local Bodhi Tree School and joined them in cleaning the local area.
    The school is currently leading a campaign in conjunction with students from Magadh University to clean up the environment. The Karmapa has a long-standing connection with the Bodhi Tree Educational Foundation, a non-profit organisation which supports and helps develop educational programmes for children and their families in Bodhgaya and Bihar. The organisation provides schools and vocational training, healthcare and courses in safer childbirth and neo-natal care, as well as nutritional and medical support for children.
    Before they began this morning’s street cleaning activity, the Karmapa was asked to address the students. Explaining that Tibetans have great reverence for India, particularly for Bodhgaya, the place where the Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, he explained that they call India the Arya Bhumi or Noble Land. Those who live in Bodhgaya, he suggested, have both the privilege of sharing in the nobleness of the place, and a responsibility to use that nobleness of mind to set an example which will inspire the people who come there, most of whom are pilgrims or have some spiritual purpose. He concluded by saying how much he supported and rejoiced to see the students’ efforts to protect and clean the environment, as an ideal way of both bringing benefit to those who come here and also of setting an example.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa then took up a traditional broom made from thin sticks and joined the children in sweeping the dusty street and collecting litter and rubbish.
    In the afternoon, the Gyalwang Karmapa left his quarters and strode down the road to the fields beside the nearby Monlam Pavilion to inaugurate the pitching of the tents for this year’s garchen – an encampment which continues the tradition established by earlier Karmapas in Tibet. Within a few days, hundreds of shedra monks will begin arriving for the annual Kagyu Gunchö or Winter Debate Session and these tents will be their home for the next two months. Later, more tents will be erected in a separate area for the nuns who will join the monks for the Kagyu Monlam Prayer Festival and stay on for their own winter debate session in January 2015.
    In a routine familiar from previous years, the Karmapa took charge of the proceedings and personally demonstrated to the group of fifteen or so monks and helpers what to do and how to do it. Working together they deftly assembled the metal frame for the first tent and placed it on the already-prepared foundation. The Karmapa then co-ordinated the correct positioning of the canvas over the frame and, with the advantage of his height, helped manoeuvre it into place, prompting the monks: “One,two,three, pull!”
    After six tents had been pitched, it was time for a short rest and a tea break, with cake and tea served at the work site. Then it was back to work until, as the light began to fade, the Karmapa called it a day, and returned to Tergar Monastery.


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