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  • 11/15/14--23:27: The Akshobhya Retreat Begins

  • Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya

    November 9, 2014

    The purpose of the International Kagyu Monlam is to generate peace and well-being in the world, and each year the Akshobhya Buddha ritual cycle, culminating in a purification fire ritual [Tib. Jang Sek] on the penultimate evening of the Monlam, plays an important role in this. The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has commended this practice as particularly suitable during the 21st century because of the increase in negative forces worldwide, and integrated it into the Monlam.

    Each year he gathers a group of dedicated practitioners to take part in a special, preparatory retreat, held in the small shrine room, opposite his living quarters on the roof of Tergar Monastery. The Karmapa joins in the retreat as much as his schedule allows, personally supervising the arrangements for the retreat and instructing the retreatants on the practice. Last year His Holiness extended  the Akshobhya retreat to forty days, and this year’s retreat also follows that pattern. The retreatants received the empowerments for the retreat on 8th November and the retreat proper began on the 9th November. It will finish on 18th December.  During this time, retreatants will complete six practice sessions daily, starting at 6.00 am each morning and extending until 8.30 pm, and recite the Akshobhya dharani mantra 100,000 times. They will also receive private teachings and instructions from the Gyalwang Karmapa each day.

    The schedule for the retreat:

    Session I      6:00–7:30 am

    Session II 8:00–9:30 am

    Session III        10:00–11:30 am

    Session IV       1:30–3:00 pm

    Session V 3:30–5:00 pm

    Instructions    6:30–7:00 pm

    Session VI       7:00–8:30 pm

    This year’s  thirty-one retreatants – six nuns,  fifteen monks and ten laypeople –  are all required to keep strict Mahayana sojong vows during the retreat.  They stay together in a local guesthouse within walking distance of Tergar Monastery. Their meals, consisting of breakfast and lunch only, are prepared specially by a small team of cooks and eaten in the company of His Holiness.

    Known as Mitrugpa in Tibetan [the one who never becomes disturbed by anger or aggression], Akshobhya Buddha is one of the five Dhyani Buddhas.  According to the story, there  was once a devout and sincere monk, who asked Lord Buddha, “What is the most important thing to do in order to attain enlightenment?” Lord Buddha answered, “Don’t get angry! Don’t let your mind be disturbed!” And so the monk made a vow: “From this moment on I will never get angry with anybody,” and henceforth he was known as Mitrugpa –and, eventually, attained buddhahood.

    According to the Buddhist teachings the present age is one of degeneration when all beings in samsara – the cycle of existence – are in a state of continual suffering because of negative thoughts and actions. The Akshobhya  ritual is a very powerful purification practice done for the benefit of all sentient beings. It can liberate not only the practitioners themselves from the fear of an unfortunate rebirth, but other beings as well.  Akshobhya Buddha promised that the merit generated by reciting his long dharani mantra 100,000 times and making an image of him could be dedicated to both the living and the dead, assuring their release from lower states of existence and rebirth in spiritually fortunate circumstances.

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    Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    9  November, 2014

    Khöndong Ratna Vajra Rinpoche, the elder son of Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, visited the Gyalwang Karmapa at Tergar Monastery this morning.

    The Gyalwang Karmapa presented two gifts to Rinpoche, a statue of Amitayus Buddha, and a copy of  the Nag-gyal-phag-sum.  A limited edition of this rare  practice text was produced at the behest of the Gyalwang Karmapa for  the 31st Kagyu Monlam in 2012,  as part of the commemoration of the contribution of the Jamgon Kongtrul Lineage.

    The author and compiler of this text was the Fifth Shamarpa, Kunchok Yenla. The original was printed in gold ink on black paper. The main subject of the text is a practice to the three protectors Mahakala, Gyalwa Gyatso and Dorje Phagmo, hence the name. As this text was in danger of being lost completely, the intention of the Gyalwang Karmapa was to preserve this precious text for future generations.


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  • 11/16/14--00:08: The Garchen Takes Shape

  • 12 November, 2014, Bodhgaya
    Preparations are under way to accommodate and feed the hundreds of monks who will arrive shortly for the annual Winter Debate and then be joined by hundreds more for the 32nd Kagyu Monlam.

    This  afternoon, the Gyalwang Karmapa  inaugurated the pitching of the tents for this year’s garchen – an encampment which continues the tradition established by earlier Karmapas in Tibet.  The tents are located in the fields behind the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion, and have their own shower block and toilets.  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.

    The  Karmapa personally  took charge of the proceedings,  working  enthusiastically  alongside  the small group of monks  who have come to Bodhgaya early specially in order to pitch the tents.

    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.

    In a separate field, the kitchen tent is being erected. This huge bamboo structure, covered by blue tarpaulins,  is where the meals for thousands of monks and nuns will be cooked during the Kagyu Monlam.


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    This long life prayer for the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche was written by 
    His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje in Rumtek.
    May this bring great benefit!

    Homage to the Guru!
    From the expanse of primordial, pure Dharmakaya
    effortless continuation of the body arises
    to accomplish the buddha’s activity,
    to benefit the ocean-like number of beings filling the space
    and to clear away the two obscurations and their habitual tendencies.

    From the space of unconditional truth,
    you expose the essence of Buddha Dharma
    in order to tame beings. Hence you are the sun that shines
    and brightens the practice lineage.
    Supreme Nirmanakaya, may you live long!

    Your wisdom is even greater than that of Mikyo Dorje ;
    the purity of holding the monastic vow is the same as that of the
    Victorius Dharma Kirti ; 
    when you bring up your devotees with great kindness,
    you are like Dudul Dorje ;
    being all three of them in one, your voice reaches above, below
    and on earth like a thunder.
    Whoever hears it, obtains auspicious, excellant wisdom.
    Supreme Nirmanakaya, may you live long!

    From the Sutras, Tantras and the all-inclusive ocean of phenomena,
    Mandalas, the union of E-vam (wisdom and skillful means) and
    the basis of the generation and the completion stages arise.
    The inseparability of apperance and mind is Vajrasattva ;
    being the embodiment of all these, and possessing all
    the above qualities, you are the absolute Protector.
    Supreme, sun-like Nirmanakaya, may you live long!

    By the power of the truth of all Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas,
    through the energy and ocean-like blessings of the Kagyu,
    and due to the auspicious words of aspirations made by Gurus,
    Yidams and Protectors,
    may you, the incomparable sun-like Nirmanakaya, live long!

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    In order to improve the nutrition of monks and nuns, last year His Holiness introduced a new bread at breakfast during the Monlam. He bought industrial mixers and ovens and set them up in the outdoorMonlam kitchen. Then he personally oversaw the production of wholemeal rolls, flavoured with nuts and raisins. Quite a change from traditional Tibetan white flour pagleb!

    (Thanks to Hong Kong Kagyu Monlam for the photos)

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    Sunday, November 23, 2014 

    New Delhi: ED has given a clean chit and dropped charges of forex violations against Tibetan religious leader Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, four years after the Karmapa and his associates were charged with keeping illegal foreign and domestic currency worth about Rs 6 crore.

    Enforcement Directorate (ED) has, however, ordered confiscation of the foreign currency haul which totals at over Rs 5.97 crore and includes a horde of foreign currency.

    The agency had taken over the case a few months after Himachal Pradesh Police intercepted a vehicle in January, 2011, and seized suspected cash from the Karmapa's associates and later from his monastery.
    ED, which has been probing the currency haul under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), based its findings on the investigation that the Karmapa and two of the trusts that were under scanner for suspected Hawala transactions have "no role in the collection or management of donations" from global devotees, including the seized currency.
    The state police had dropped the name of the spiritual leader from its chargesheet in this case in 2012.
    A latest order by ED's Adjudicating Authority (a Special Director-rank officer of the agency) in the case, which was accessed by PTI, relied upon the Karmapa's statement made to it that "he has never been involved in any day-to-day transactions and working of the office... That he is an incarnated monk and has inherited the title (Gyalwang Karmapa) and the property of the 16th Karmapa".
    He also told ED that he "does not open or handle any of the gifts/offerings and the same is managed by the Tsurphu Labrang (administrative office)".
    His associates in the Gyuto monastery in Himachal Pradesh, who were co-accused in the case, recorded similar statements with the agency saying the Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage and "offerings are never touched by his Holiness and they are immediately taken charge of by the Labrang".
    The Karmapas's Director (Finance), who kept records for the said cash, Thupten Sherab, has, however, been held guilty under Section 4 of FEMA (holding of foreign exchange) and all the cash has been seized. 




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    This famous text by the great master and scholar Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye provides an explanation of the preliminary practices for mahamudra meditation. It provides clear descriptions of the three main sections: the four common preliminary practices (the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind); the four special preliminary practices (the four sets prostrations, Vajrasattva practice, mandala offering, and Guru Yoga); and the main practice of Mahamudra.  Each section contains instructions on what to do and then how to bring the practice into your experience from your whole being.

    This is the text that the Gyalwang Karmapa has been teaching for the last years at Kagyu Monlam and will continue to teach in the future. This year he will explain the instructions on Vajrasattva practice. This new translation is special in that His Holiness has gone over the English and made many suggestions which were incorporated into this version. The book will be available for a donation at the Monlam this year.


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    This year will see revised editions of the Monlam Prayer Books in eight languages: English, Chinese, Polish, French, Spanish, German, Russian, and Korean.  One of the main reasons for a new version is that previously, the prayers were divided into two books, a main Monlam Prayer Book and a Supplement. The advantage of the new edition is that one single volume contains all the texts plus corrections. His Holiness also added new texts to the new edition so that it now includes prayers from all Kagyu lineages and major Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

    For the benefit of those who have not memorized some of the basic prayers, the new books also contain The Seven-Line Prayer to Guru Rinpoche; the two Short Prayers for Rebirth in Dewachen; The Aspiration of He Who Accomplishes the Truth (a compilation of verses by the Seventh and Eighth Karmapas); and the mandala offerings as they are done at Monlam along with the various endings, such as requests for teachings, empowerments, and long life.

    The new prayer books will be on sale at Monlam this year, and some versions will be available in their home countries. Please check with your local center. In the listing of page references for the recitations during Monlam, pages in both the new and old books will be listed, so if you prefer, you can bring the previous edition, which, however, will lack the new prayers found in the recent one.

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  • 11/24/14--06:41: Faramita / Nirvana

  • Title:  Faramita / Nirvana
    Artist: 17th Gyalwang Karmapa
    Language: Chinese

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    Cherish the Earth environment calendar 2015, with introduction and quotations by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. All the profits from this carbon neutral calendar will be donated to environmental charities chosen by His Holiness. Please support this project by sharing with your friends - thank you! Available to order online from: www.simonfraserphoto.com

    The Cherish the Earth environment calendar 2015 is now selling in the UK, Europe, USA and India, with online sales across the world. You can order this carbon neutral calendar online from this website and it makes a beautiful and inspirational Christmas present for friends and family. All proceeds to environmental charities selected by His Holiness the Karmapa, who has written the introduction and quotations. If you would like to support this project, please pass on the details to your friends, families and colleagues. Thank you!

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    Produced under the guidance of 
    The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje

    Format: DVD 60 min.
    Publication Date: Dec. 2014

    Tormas are a unique form of Tibetan art using butter to create rich and radiant forms, beautiful in themselves and spiritually significant. Sculpted by initiated practitioners with absolute devotion, tormas are a link between the human and spiritual realms. The colorful intricate designs, born from mystical revelations, represent symbolic forms of enlightenment.

    This 60-minute documentary illuminates Vajrayana Buddhism through the lens of tormas. Documenting weeks of preparation for the Kagyu Prayer Festival in Bodhgaya, as well as a Mahakala ritual in Nepal involving tormas and sacred dance, the film features interviews with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa and other Kagyu Lineage Masters.

    Bonus Features:
    Includes 2 hours of additional interview material on tormas with the Karma Kagyu Lineage Masters:

    • The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
    • His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche
    • Kyabje Tenga Rinppoche
    • Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
    • Very Venerable Yongey Mingyur Rinppoche


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    Live translation in English and Chinese.

    Webcast Link:

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    22 November, 2014 – New Delhi
    For the fifth year, His Holiness the Karmapa was invited by the Foundation for Universal Responsibility—an organization founded by is Holiness the Dalai Lama—to offer public teachings in Delhi. This year, the weekend was devoted to exploring “The Art of Happiness” through the Eight Verses on Mind Training by Geshe Langri Tangpa. Responding to the overwhelming demand for a place at these annual teachings, this year the teachings were held in the largest space available in Delhi’s Habitat Centre, the Stein Auditorium. Although it seats 400, the auditorium preserves a sense of intimacy, and even before the Karmapa took the stage, the hall filled with the warm atmosphere of a family reunion. Many of those attending had met year after year at the Gyalwang Karmapa’s teaching hosted by the foundation, even as others were rejoicing in their good fortune at finally getting a place at the teachings, which routinely waitlists large numbers of would-be attendees. The organizers noted that the house was full to capacity with many local Indian devotees as well as people from 34 other countries in attendance.
    After a warm and heartfelt welcome by Rajiv Mehrotra, the Karmapa began the morning session by clarifying that “mind training” or “lojong” is an important approach to practice that was transmitted to us by the Kadampa school in Tibet. What we are training our mind to do with lojong, he explained, is primarily to give rise to bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is not something that instantly appears full-blown in everyone’s mind, but rather requires a gradual process of intentional cultivation over time. Bodhichitta forms a key focus in Mahayana Buddhism, wherein “maha” means great, while “yana” means vehicle. The Gyalwang Karmapa noted that the term Mahayana evokes the image of a vehicle to express the scope of the responsibility accepted in one’s spiritual practice. Just as an elephant can bear a heavier load than a goat, the Karmapa said, different people are able to carry greater or lighter responsibilities. The Mahayana refers to the extent of the responsibility for others that is incorporated into our practice as its motivation. Through training, we can learn to increasingly extend ourselves and thus develop the ability to care better for more beings. The Foundational Vehicle or common vehicle sometimes referred to with the term Hinayana gives us the base we need to begin to learn to lift more. In the Mahayana, our practice is motivated by the ultimate aim of being able to carry the responsibility of leading all beings to enlightenment. But training in these common Dharma practices must precede the Mahayana.
    The Eight Verses in Mind Training is generally classified as a Mahayana text, he noted. But if we would then ask whether by virtue of training in these teachings we can thereby automatically consider ourselves Mahayana practitioners, we would have to say that the answer is far from certain. This is because everything depends on our motivation, and thus it is within ourselves that we must look to tell whether our practice is actually Mahayana practice or not. It is only through focusing inside that we can truly train and that we can tell whether or not we are indeed taming our own wild beings.

    With that introduction, His Holiness turned to the first line of the eight verses of training the mind.
    With a determination to achieve the highest aim
    For the benefit of all sentient beings
    Who surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem,
    May I hold them dear at all times.
    His Holiness noted that it took him quite a while to figure out how best to convey what was meant by a wish-fulfilling jewel. The term evokes the sense that to gain such a jewel one had to travel across the wide oceans and would need to retrieve it from the naga realms. Once you had it, although it might not buy you liberation or enlightenment, you could use it to get any worldly good you could imagine. Nowadays, the modern equivalent of a wish-fulfilling jewel is money. We turn to it as something that allows us to buy material goods and many other things as well. We use money to buy fame, to buy comfort and even to buy influence. Even if we might know deep down that money cannot buy us happiness, we direct so much energy in pursuing it that we seem to be treating it as if it were happiness itself.
    Thus reading the text with the analogy of money in mind, the first verse’s statement that sentient beings should be held more dear than a wish-fulfilling jewel reminds us of the limitations of material and worldly aims, and of the much higher value of primordial wisdom, compassion and Buddhahood, which we can only attain through sentient beings and through the bodhichitta attitude that we cultivate in relation to others. We readily set valuable statues of buddhas and bodhisattvas in the place of pride on our altars and make offerings and prostrate to them. Yet when we see a sentient being whose clothes are tattered or dirty and who does not strike us as physically attractive, we try to steer clear and avoid interacting with them. If we think of clay, we might form that clay into the shape of a Buddha and reverentially place it on our altar. Yet sentient beings are basically that same clay—just in a different shape at the moment.
    The first verse in the text is pointing out that in terms of their ability to grant us happiness and enlightenment, sentient beings are no different from buddhas. Thus it is said that accomplishing the benefit of sentient beings and making offerings to buddhas is identical.
    He next turned to the second verse.
    Whenever I interact with someone,
    May I view myself as the lowest amongst all,
    And, from the very depths of my heart,
    Respectfully hold others as superior.
    Nowadays, he observed, we have many cultural norms that seem to contradict this verse, especially those stemming from the ideal of egalitarianism. Even if we do not necessarily see ourselves as superior, we certainly are not willing to consider ourselves to be inferior. This verse can therefore be difficult to understand correctly. To guard against misunderstanding the purpose of practicing as indicated in this verse, the Gyalwang Karmapa drew a distinction between confidence, which is healthy, and pride, which is not.
    He began by distinguishing two potential uses of the term “pride.” One is that which needs to be abandoned and the other is a pride that is the remedy. The former—the pride that we need to work to reduce—is the pride or arrogance that leads us to look down on others. The latter—the remedy “pride”—is the attitude that has the confidence or pride that says, “I will not let the kleshas get the best of me. I will beat them.”
    Generally it is difficult to turn away from our kleshas or afflictive emotions. When we are under pressure or in a difficult situation, we often to turn to our kleshas for comfort or support. This is because we have not developed other resources to draw on. When we have the power of love within us, we can ignore the afflictions and say to them, “I can live without you.” This gives us confidence. But without the strength that we would have if we had developed our inner qualities, we feel we have nothing else to rely on and so our afflictive emotions seem attractive companions to us. We feel that we want and need them. Therefore the enhancement of our inner powers of love and compassion should be part of our work to reduce our reliance on our destructive emotions.
    In the work to reduce pride, our main aim is the pride that involves looking down on or overlooking others. When we have the pride that looks down on others, we are limiting our own growth. We find so many things to feel proud of. We can feel proud of our looks, of our social position or family background. If, on the basis of any such small and limited feature, we feel superior or important, this impedes the growth of our positive qualities.
    His Holiness then noted that in a change from previous teachings organized by FUR, this series of teachings is being held in a larger room with comfortable chairs that put everyone in danger of dozing off. For that reason, he proposed setting aside the rest of the session for questions and answers to keep it lively enough for people to stay awake. For the remainder of the morning session, the Gyalwang Karmapa fielded questions from the audience on topics ranging from how to tell that our Dharma practice is really working to the inseparability of great bliss and emptiness.
    They then adjourned for an Indian buffet lunch that was offered to all, allowing the community to spend the lunch break meeting with old friends, making new ones and all the while discussing the teachings they had just received. In the early afternoon, the hall filled once again for a second session, during which His Holiness continued his exposition of the third verse.
    In all my deeds may I probe into my mind,
    And as soon as mental and emotional afflictions arise-
    May I strongly confront them and avert them,
    Since they will hurt both me and others.
    He first drew attention to the use of the word “hurt,” which translates the Tibetan term “ma rung wa” that denotes making something wild, rough or harsh. This reminds us that as we become increasingly habituated to the arising of mental afflictions, we become rough or wild. We are not born bad from the outset, but through the force of repeated habituation, our minds become harsh and unruly.
    Every single one of the vast number of forms of Dharma taught by the Buddha has as its sole purpose to counteract our afflictive emotions. The essential point in practicing the Dharma is to tame our minds. The key to ascertaining whether our Dharma practice is working or not comes down to determining whether or not our mind is becoming less harsh and wild and more tame and gentle. This is true for Dharma practice in any and all Buddhist traditions. Therefore this verse condenses all vehicles in one key point, be it the vehicle of the disciples and pratyekabuddhas (Shravakayana), the Great Vehicle (Mahayana) or the Tantric Vehicle (Vajrayana), the Karmapa said.
    His Holiness then delivered a presentation of the —the pratimoksha vows, the bodhisattva vows and the tantric vows in connection with training the mind in bodhichitta. The three levels of vows associated with these three vehicles are designed to restrain our body, speech and mind, he observed.
    It is a particular feature of Tibetan Buddhism that all three vehicles are practiced together by a single person, and for that to happen, a person must hold all three types of vows. It is relatively straightforward for one person to practice one set of vows without holding the rest, but it becomes much more challenging when one holds all three sets and needs to keep them in harmony without contradictions. This is an area where a great deal of confusion enters, and thus where the textual tradition devotes a great deal of attention in an effort to clarify the apparent contradictions that arise in actual practice. All the vows or precepts serve as antidotes to our kleshas, or afflictive emotions. The pratimoksha vows help us to make and keep a commitment not to act physically or verbally based on our kleshas and especially our attachment. The bodhisattva vows are primarily aimed at the klesha of aversion. The tantric vows serve as means to counteract our underlying ignorance.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa especially underscored the opening words of the third verse “In all my deeds” as reminding us that our virtues must be cultivated in every single context and moment of our lives. Similarly, we must be working to reduce or remove our kleshas not only when we are engaging in formal practice, but in any and all instances. In order for the Dharma to truly work as an antidote to our kleshas, we often set aside time for special practice. But if when we leave our cushion or practice space we ease up or forget our work to apply the antidotes, we will not be able to develop the power, fortitude and momentum we need to succeed in our spiritual goals. He thus made a wholehearted appeal to the audience to make it a central goal to bring the Dharma into their daily lives. This did not mean making a display that we are Buddhists in our everyday lives, but rather that we incorporate all aspects of our lives into our practice. Since the kleshas do not solely arise when we are on our meditation cushion, it is not sufficient to work to counteract them only while we are on in a formal session.
    The Karmapa cautioned against understanding the third verse’s exhortation to “strongly confront and avert” the kleshas as a warning that they must be countered with force. Applying the antidotes does not mean willfully suppressing our negative emotions. For example, it does not mean that we are burning inside and we shut it in and do not let anyone see it. This will just bring you more suffering. Rather, we begin by recognizing that the kleshas in themselves are harmful and problematic for us. This awareness alone will reduce our kleshas, as we will no longer turn to them unquestioningly or welcome them as helpful allies. We will know them to be an enemy to us and to others.
    We need two basic sources of support in our work with our kleshas: inner sources of support and outer sources of support. As an analogy, he describes the process whereby once a king has identified a country he wishes to wage war against, he might create the support of an army that could fight and also send spies to gather intelligence. If it turned out that the country the king wished to conquer was flourishing economically, and its people liked their king, the first king would then spread false rumors to erode the people’s support of their king. Then, once the battle was joined, the first king would have created the outer conditions to win the war as well as the inner conditions. Similarly, we want to weaken our kleshas’ inner basis of support and reinforce our own inner determination and conviction, as well as arming ourselves with the outer support of a strong Dharma practice. To that end, we engage in formal practice, supplicate the guru, cultivate our virtues and generally ready ourselves with this outer support. But at the same time, if we do not have a heartfelt sense of disgust, disenchantment and desire to be rid of the kleshas, no matter how many supportive outer conditions we develop through our practice, we will not be able to win this battle.
    This process of working with the kleshas can be confusing because the kleshas are part of you and the one who is battling them is also part of you. Deep inside, we may feel those afflictive emotions have really been helpful and kind to us and we will not be able to fight them to the death. We may feel attracted to them and feel they have been faithful friends to us. This is why the clear and deep recognition of our afflictive emotions as truly and completely harmful to us is an indispensable part of our Dharma practice.
    When I see beings of unpleasant character
    Oppressed by strong negativity and suffering,
    May I hold them dear—for they are rare to find—
    As if I have discovered a jewel treasure!
    This verse calls us to change our habitual response to people with harsh personalities or people who have harmed us. We dislike them and feel they richly deserve any suffering that comes their way. This is an attitude we must replace with the awareness that this person should be the particular focus of your practice. It is easy to have compassion for someone we like or who has done us many good turns, but we need to train to extend our compassion well beyond that limited and easy target.
    It is in fact a handy way to evaluate our level of compassion by observing our reaction when someone who has harmed us or who has a difficult personality encounters problems. In fact, it is important to look within to assess our level of compassion in those moments. As we engage in this process of training, it is important to be honest about our progress. We may find that for all our efforts, we just are not feeling genuine compassion towards someone who has harmed us, and we can say to ourselves, “I tried but my efforts did not work.” There is no need to chastise ourselves if we fall short in our efforts, nor should we pretend to ourselves or others that what we are feeling is compassion, saying “Oh, how sad. Om mani padme hum.” We just take it as an indication of where we need to work further in our practice.
    People with difficult personalities are exactly the same as good-natured people in terms of their yearning for happiness and wish to be free of suffering. Those with good or bad characters have the same potential to become awakened. If we could develop our compassion and wisdom to the point where it had the power to help those with difficult personalities to transform into people with good natures, that would truly be an exceptional and splendid practice of the Dharma.
    While a person is harming us, we often forget that they also experience suffering and pain. In the case of someone who has engaged in serious and sustained activities aimed at harming us over a long period of time, it is not surprising if we find this difficult. But if we are practitioners in the Mahayana path, we must make a since effort to remember that they are suffering sentient beings and try to respect them and treat them well.
    When someone harms us, it is a mistake for us as Dharma practitioners to give rise to aversion or other negative emotions towards them. If, on top of that, we forget that they too are suffering sentient beings but instead feel they are not worthy of our compassion, we are adding a second mistake to the first. We always have a reason to feel compassion for that person, and on some occasions we may feel they have given us also a reason to feel anger or hatred. It is up to us to choose which reason to make the basis of our action.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa then devoted another half an hour to the growing pile of written questions that were arriving from the audience as well as from those watching around the world via webcast, and the international community of people seeking the Dharma dispersed with the joy of knowing there was more to come the next day.


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    Source: Catherine Schuetze

    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa's vision is to relieve the suffering of all beings, including animals. Therefore, the 2nd Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical Camp will take place from 2-8th December 2014 at the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion, Sujata Bye-pass road, Bodhgaya. Volunteers from the Sikkim Anti-Rabies Animal Husbandry Division, Tibet Charity India, England and Australia are working hard on various animal programs. One team will conduct a surgical steralisation, anti-rabies vaccination and general treatment for dogs. Another team will staff a clinic for local animals. A third team will visit all the villages in Bodhgaya district to treat sick and injured animals and a fourth team will conduct an education campaign in schools and monasteries on animal welfare, dog bite prevention and anti-rabies. With thanks to the Brigitte Auloy, Brigitte Bardot Foundation, and Karma Chodrak Monlam, Kagyu Monlam International Trust for sponsoring the program.

    Dr Thinlay Bhutia and Dr Phurba Lepcha ready to spread the message throughout Bodhgaya about the program and free medical care for animals.
    The team after a hard day working to set up the operating theatre, dog kennels and prepare the dog catching truck.
    Setting up a temporary cage for isolation of infectious dogs.
    Cutting and rolling surgical swabs.
    Dr Ruth Pye and Tongkor Lobsang Thubchoworking on the first patient. Although the program officially starts tomorrow morning, a few patients just couldn't wait any longer. 
    Dr Ruth Pye and Dr Kirsty Officer in the newly erected tent based operating theatre at the Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical Camp.
    The vet team stringing flowers just now to welcome His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa who will inaugurate the 2nd Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical Camp this morning. Special guest is Shri Sanjay Kumar Agarwal, Gaya District Magistrate. He has deputed 10 of his government veterinarians to assist in the program.
    His Holiness Karmapa visiting the operating theatre this morning to inaugurate the 2nd animal medical camp. The District Magistrate of Gaya listens while Dr Thinlay Bhutia and Dr Helen Byrnes explain the working of the operating theatre.
    His Holiness and Drs Diki, Thinlay and Helen from the SARAH program listen while the District Magistrate of Gaya requests their help in establishing a street dog steralisation and anti-rabies program for the dogs of Gaya district. Rabies is a big problem in Bihar with poor rural children mostly infected and dying from this tragic but preventable disease.
    Dr Diki Palmu Sherpa gives an interview to the local media on the Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical Camp while His Holiness and the District Magistrate look on.
    His Holiness gives Dolkar a hug after she shyly offered him a bunch of flowers. She is the daughter of Dr Thinlay Bhutia and Dr Diki Palmu Sherpa and the youngest (and cutest) member of the vet team.
    The Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical Team having a special audience with Dzonskar Kyentse Rinpoche under the Bodhi tree, Bodhgaya.
    The whole team pose infront of the Mahabodhi Stupa. Taking some well earned time off. 
    The super duper SARAH team, gathered in a holy place. Fruits of their merit- saving so many lives in Sikkim.

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    23 November,2014 – New Delhi
    On this second day of teachings at the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, founded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa continued his exposition of the practice of mind training based on the “Eight Verses of Mind Training” by the Kadam Geshe Langri Tangpa. As 400 people received the teachings directly in the auditorium, another 5,000 people watched live from offsite, via webcasts that extended access with translation into Spanish, Chinese, French, German and Polish. Remarkably, the number of people listening to the Spanish translation was twice the number of people listening to the English translation.
    His Holiness the Karmapa began by observing that practices to generate bodhichitta can be divided into three major types: 1) meditation on the equality of self and others, 2) the exchanging of self and others, and 3) the sevenfold cultivation of bodhichitta. Originally the instructions for the practice of exchanging self and others were kept secret by the Kadam tradition, but later began to be taught openly and are now widely practiced. He then turned to the text itself, continuing where he had left off the previous day.
    When others, out of envy
    Treat me wrongly with abuse, slander, and scorn,
    May I take the defeat upon myself
    And give the victory to others.
    This verse describes what our practice looks like when the intensity of our concern for others reaches the point that we no longer care whether we have to experience discomfort or difficulty for others’ sake. In particular, it outlines an enlightened approach to responding to others’ envy of us, giving us an option of responding very differently to their treatment of us.
    These instructions urge us to move beyond a mere theoretical understanding of the Dharma, His Holiness said. When we see others overwhelmed with envy, we apply our understanding of how the kleshas work. If our understanding of the effect of kleshas is complete and authentic, this should lead us to treat those who harm us as people who are visibly suffering, the Gyalwang Karmapa said.
    Our study of the Dharma makes us well familiar with the idea that the kleshas can control us, and that this causes us suffering. Yet this awareness too often stays on the intellectual level. We may not feel this in our heart and therefore put it fully into practice. If we could truly integrate this awareness into our emotional experience, we would readily be able to give rise to compassion, understanding and love when we see others struggling and behaving unwisely because they have fallen into the grip of a strong afflictive emotion. We would see that it was completely inappropriate to respond to their harm with aggression or aversion, the Karmapa observed.
    To describe a way that would be appropriate to respond, His Holiness used the example of people who file lawsuits against us out of envy. In that context, he drew a careful distinction between our response to the lawsuit as contrasted with our response to the envious person themselves. We would not generate great compassion toward the lawsuit itself and welcome it lovingly, but rather should make a proper legal defense against it. However, it would be wholly wrong to act out against the people filing the lawsuit, harboring a grudge against them and seeking ways to harm them personally. This would further disturb our own mind, causing us added unhappiness and distress on top of the harm the lawsuit itself was producing. Instead if we let our mind rest naturally while we are being sued, we will be able think about it rationally and make a wise and correct response.
    Before we reach this point of truly recognizing how others are controlled by the presence of afflictive emotions, and what it means for their wellbeing, the Gyalwang Karmapa underscored that we first need to recognize this dynamic at work in our own mind and heart. He then outlined how to undertake the important task of clearly recognizing the disadvantages of the kleshas.
    The different afflictions vary in terms of how difficult they are to recognize as problematic for us when they arise, he observed. The easiest is anger, whose faults we can readily observe and identify. Next is desire, followed by ignorance or delusion. There are also differences in terms of the strength with which any given klesha arises in the mind of each individual. In other words, there is a range of how many opportunities a particular practitioner has to see the harm done by the presence of those kleshas in their mind.
    When questioned as to what the faults of anger or desire are, if we answer by reciting the list of disadvantages we read in the texts, this is not a good sign, the Gyalwang Karmapa said. That shows we have an understanding born of study, not of experience. In order to truly respond with compassion to others who harm us, we need more than superficial knowledge gleaned from reading books or from hearing our teacher speak against kleshas. Rather, we need to draw on direct and personal experience of the afflictions in our own minds, and also to vividly recognize their presence as painful and disruptive.
    Therefore, we need to work to develop an understanding that arises from our own personal experience of just how dark the thickness of ignorance can be within us, and how intensely the heat of anger can burn. In this regard, mindfulness has a key role in allowing us to identify and observe our experiences, rather than just mindlessly undergoing them without learning anything from them. Similarly, we do need to exert ourselves, and make active efforts on a consistent basis, in the process of self-observation, watching our own kleshas in different situations and from different angles. If we have the capacity to view them carefully, it even gives us a way to transform the presence of those kleshas—and the mistakes we have made when acting under their sway—into a tool for our spiritual growth. In fact, the Karmapa reflected, if we think that observing the kleshas is one thing and observing their faults is another, this is another sign that we have not yet arrived at a true understanding, he said, for the nature of the kleshas itself is faulty. When we see the faults, we are seeing the kleshas, he stated, and when we see the kleshas, we are seeing the faults.
    There is no fixed timeframe for coming to truly recognize the faulty nature of any given affliction. Sometimes it might take five or ten years just to arrive at a real awareness of their faulty nature. But in reality, the recognition itself can happen in a brief instant, His Holiness said. It takes different people different lengths of time to come to that moment of real recognition. Some are quite quick, he observed.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa pointed out that it is not the case that holy beings were born with that awareness. Rather, holy beings are those who manage to rise above their mistakes and their own faults. This can be done by observing those faults bravely and turning them into a condition for our own improvement.
    Those who have confidence in the existence of past lives will be aware that we have endless lifetimes of faults that we have committed—a mountain the size of Mount Meru that we are carrying with us, he said. Rather than let that awareness discourage us, we should let it motivate us to use each fresh experience of our faults as a foothold that aids us to climb higher. Great beings are great because they have overcome their great problems and great faults. If they were just born that way, there would be nothing particularly amazing in that.
    When someone whom I have helped,
    Or in whom I have placed great hopes,
    Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways,
    May I regard him still as my precious teacher.
    When the people we have treated kindly and worked hard to help then turn around and harm us, this is more discouraging and upsetting than if we receive harm from someone we already regarded as an enemy. For this reason, it is an even greater challenge. Because it is harder to do, we gain more from our work to face that sort of unanticipated harm with equanimity and compassion. Therefore we can regard those people as our most precious teachers.
    It is important for practitioners to recognize that training in the Dharma is demanding and very often uncomfortable. Many practitioners live in urban environments and have lots of pressures, the Gyalwang Karmapa pointed out. The weekdays are full of frenetic activity and stress, and on the weekends we need to go somewhere to unwind, so we head to a retreat center as if it were a kind of resort where we can relax and be pampered with meditation and yoga, as if they were mental massages. This leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to return to our busy weekday schedules. Sometimes, we treat our Dharma practice like this—as something that keeps us comfortable enough to continue with our normal life. This is not the point, he said. It is like looking for a temporary pain relief rather than taking medicine that can actually cure us. The medicine to treat the kind of illnesses that we suffer from is not a gentle and luxurious treatment. It is an intensive course of treatment that is not comfortable or easy and takes serious effort and hard work.
    Practicing in the face of harm from people to whom we have done great service is an instance of this sort of demanding practice, the Karmapa said. We can easily appreciate that such people are great teachers offering us serious and powerful training in the Dharma.
    In brief, may I offer benefit and joy
    To all my mothers, both directly and indirectly,
    May I secretly take upon myself
    All hurts and pains of my mothers.
    This verse describes the practice of tonglen – giving and taking. The word “secretly” underscores the fact that we do not engage in this practice to make a display of our Dharma practice, for this would become one of the eight worldly Dharmas.
    It is very difficult, His Holiness noted, to actually remove others’ suffering just by doing this practice. Rather, the aim is to strengthen our motivation and our resolve so that we are fully ready to act whenever we do have the opportunity.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa explained that quite a few people have come to see him saying that they have a great wish to be of extensive benefit to others, and therefore they need to accumulate great material wealth. This makes him suspicious, he said, and he often asks them why they think they need money to help others. Others seek influence and power in order to be of more benefit to others. This is a mistake, he said, as it is not necessary to be rich or powerful to be of great benefit to others.
    Anyone who truly works for the benefit of other beings is a bodhisattva, His Holiness commented. Until we reach the state of a bodhisattva level ourselves, we cannot say with certainty who is and who is not a bodhisattva. Even a dog in the street could be a bodhisattva. Since we do not recognize them as they work in our midst, we do not appreciate and feel gratitude to the bodhisattvas for their presence and for their activities. His Holiness commented that this is one benefit of the system of recognizing reincarnated tulkus. Due to this system, there are always people we recognize as bodhisattvas and whose activities we appreciate. The Gyalwang Karmapa quipped that some tulkus surely are bodhisattvas, but one might fairly doubt whether they all are.
    We need to benefit others through our physical actions, through our speech and through our minds. These are the capabilities we need to cultivate. If we have these qualities and on top of that we happen also to have wealth or influence in society, then we use that to benefit sentient beings. But if we are not rich or powerful, we can certainly still help others. A beggar with no wealth or influence whatsoever is perfectly capable of benefiting others with his or her body, speech and mind. In any case, he said, without having stabilized an authentic motivation of bodhichitta, by the time we have managed to amass the profit or power that we imagine using to help others, we will likely have lost interest. We see this with election promises, His Holiness joked. During their campaign, candidates describe all the wonderful work they will do for the voters, but then when they reach office, it is as if they have already achieved Buddhahood! Even if you started with a sincere motivation in wanting to earn money to benefit others, by the time you have undergone all the activity needed to gain that wealth, you most likely will have been changed in the process. This is why it is so important for us to practice fully now to develop a profound and unshakable motivation of bodhichitta.
    May all this remain undefiled
    By the stains of the eight worldly concerns;
    And may I, recognizing all things as illusion,
    Devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.
    If our goal is solely to benefit others’ worldly or short-term aims, there is a great deal we can accomplish that does not require Dharma practice, His Holiness commented. However, if we wish to bring about lasting, long-term benefit not only in this life but in future lives as well, then we do need the Dharma and its longer-term reach. We might not believe in future lives, in which case we might not see the point in working toward aims we might never see. Using the category of the three scopes of beings in the context of lam rim teachings, the Gyalwang Karmapa noted that generally the lowest of the three is defined as someone who wishes to be free of suffering in future lives. Yet the texts also describe a second type of practitioner who also falls into this first of the three categories: people who are only interested in the aims of this life. His Holiness said he felt that nowadays it is important to include this second type of person within the scope of Dharma teachings.
    A present-day version of being deceived by the allure of the eight worldly concerns would be the consumerist lifestyle that has become so pervasive. It is very difficult for our lives to become meaningful if this is what motivates and inspires us in our daily lives. Some of the advertising seeking to stimulate our desire is quite subtle, but some of it is blatant fantasy. Citing the example that he had already mentioned in his book The Heart Is Noble, the Gyalwang Karmapa described an ad that showed a motorcycle taking off and flying through the air. As absurd as it is, if seen enough times, the allure takes hold and we too wish to ride on such a cool vehicle. With a laugh, His Holiness noted that even he could find his imagination captured and envision himself wearing dark sunglasses and lifting up into the air atop that motorcycle. This sort of fixation and attachment to worldly goods and comforts gives us a clear idea of the danger of the eight worldly concerns, and shows how easily they can distract us from the truly important aims in life and in our spiritual path.
    With that, the Gyalwang Karmapa brought his commentary on the Eight Verses of Mind Training to a close. He then announced that he would be conferring the oral transmission of the Chenrezig sadhana and mantra, as well as the Medicine Buddha mantra, instead of the previously scheduled Medicine Buddha empowerment. He then lengthened the morning session an additional 45 minutes, and then, as he put it, left people free to enjoy their afternoons. Following a long period for questions and answers, the Gyalwang Karmapa asked the audience’s forgiveness for any mistakes he had made over the course of the two days, thanked the translators both on and offstage, and slowly left the hall. Before exiting to receive the mani pills he had left each of them as gifts, the audience lingered long in the hall, apparently reluctant to dispel the wonder of the two days spent sharing the warmth of the Dharma in the Karmapa’s presence.


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    20 November, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    Each winter, monks from Kagyu shedras [monastic universities] across India and Nepal gather together under the guidance of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa to engage in a month of intensive study and vigorous debate. This annual event is called the Gunchö, a Tibetan word which means ‘winter dharma’. This is its eighteenth year. The 2014 Gunchö was inaugurated by the Karmapa on the 20th November, before he left for his teaching programme in Delhi, and will continue until 17th December. The eight shedras participating in the debate competition this year are: Karma Shri Nalanda Institute from the Karmapa’s seat in Rumtek; Lungrik Jampal Ling from Situ Rinpoche’s Sherab Ling Monastery; Rigpe Dorje Institute from Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche’s monastery in Lava; Vajra Vidya Institute, from Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche’s monastery in Sarnath; Lekshey Ling, Chöje Lama Phuntsok’s Shedra in Nepal; Thösam Norling Gatsal, Bokar Rinpoche’s shedra; Tergar Ösel Ling from Mingyur Rinpoche’s monastery; and Zurmang Shedra Lungtok Norbu Gatsal Ling from Garwang Rinpoche’s monastery.
    The Gunchö is funded by the Gyalwang Karmapa’s Office of Administration, but responsibility for organizing the practicalities rotates between the shedras. This year’s organiser is Karma Lekshey Ling Shedra, based in Swayamboudh, Kathmandu, Nepal. The shedra’s founder, the Venerable Choje Lama Phuntsok, was also the initiator of the first Kagyu Gunchö in 1997. The different shedras were geographically remote from each other, and he envisioned an annual gathering as a means to facilitate exchanges between them and raise standards in Dharma study and debate. The Gunchö began with just a few participants but has grown to become a major event in the Kagyu monastic year.
    These days the Gyalwang Karmapa himself takes overall responsibility for planning the programme for the Gunchö, and each summer, he gathers together leading khenpos and teachers at his residence near Dharamsala, where they spend many hours and weeks discussing, debating and preparing for the event.
    This year’s Gunchö includes
    •An inter-shedra debate competition on the topics of Advanced Collected Topics, Types of Mind, and Types of Evidence
    •Two days of special pujas;
    •Teachings by the Gyalwang Karmapa on the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje’s text: One Hundred Short Instructions;
    •A four-day conference on Lord Gampopa’s The Jewel Ornament of Liberation.
    During this Gunchö, monks will study and debate from a text on Buddhist logic called the Dupa Chewa, compiled by the Sixth Shamar Rinpoche, Garwang Chökyi Wangchuk (1584 -1630), a renowned scholar who was tutor to the 10th Karmapa Chöying Dorje. They have been studying this text for two years now and they will conclude studying it this year.
    As in the previous two years, the inter-shedra debate competition will be adjudicated by specially invited scholars from all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. This ensures impartiality but also adds gravitas to the debate competition and shows respect for all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
    During the Gunchö, the participants live in tents, replicating the life of the Garchen in Tibet, and eat from a communal kitchen. Breakfast includes specially prepared wholemeal rolls, baked under the direction of the Gyalwang Karmapa, who wished to improve the nutritional quality of the meals provided for monks and nuns during the Winter Debate sessions and the Kagyu Monlam. Class and group debates are held at the Monlam Pavilion, but the rounds of the debate competition itself take place in the shrine room of Tergar Monastery.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa’s vision is that all Karma Kagyu shedras, for both nuns and monks, should attain the highest standards of rigorous study of Buddhist philosophy. The annual Gunchö plays an important role in raising the awareness of the monks and encouraging them to aim higher in their studies. Each day from 5.30am in the morning until 10.30pm at night, they follow a demanding schedule which includes private study sessions, group debates, class debates, teachings, and morning and evening prayers.
    As one student monk said, “When we are in front of His Holiness, the judges and discipline masters, we all take extra care in the debate. Personally, I feel it is very meaningful as my insight increases more than in the past, and I learn so much in all aspects. I really feel very happy during the month, and I’m never aware how quickly the time passes.”


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    28 November, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa entered the shrine room of Tergar Monastery, preceded by incense bearers and monks playing gyalins. Hundreds of monks from Karma Kagyu shedras were waiting with great anticipation for the first session of his teachings during this the 18th Gunchö. Joining them were many international lay students who sat to the back and sides of the hall.
    Once the Karmapa was seated, the Venerable Choje Lama Phuntsok, founder of the Gunchö in 1997, made the mandala offering to request the teachings. This year’s winter debate session has been organised by his shedra, Karma Lekshey Ling, in Nepal. A few minutes later, the Gyalwang Karmapa, in his opening remarks, thanked Lama Phuntsok warmly for his hard work and commended his devotion to the teachings.
    The Karmapa also mentioned the inter-shedra debate competition judges, who represent four different traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Inviting them was a symbol of the respect and importance he and the Karma Kagyu hold for all lineages, he said. Any seeming differences between the lineages and traditions in Tibetan Buddhism, such as in terminology, were minor. Because all lineages and traditions accept the Buddha and the Dharma as sources of refuge, in actuality, there is no difference. All qualify as Buddhist teachings. Harmony between them was crucial as the only basis on which the teachings could flourish.
    For the third year in succession, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his oral transmission and commentary on the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje’s text: One Hundred Short Instructions; a somewhat misleading title as this classic text of advice on Buddhist practice comprises two volumes and 687 pages in the Vajra Vidya edition which most people use, and 500 pages in the traditional loose-leaved pecha.
    Turning to the text, His Holiness began at the final chapter in the first volume: Vast and Profound Light: Instructions on the Two Types of Bodhichitta. The chapter opens with a series of visualisations, and the Karmapa highlighted two elements: supplicating the lamas, who hold the lineage of the Bodhisattva Vows and the Stages of the Path, and considering the suffering of countless, myriad sentient beings.
    “In order to increase our bodhichitta, we visualise the buddhas and bodhisattvas and supplicate them. Day and night we need to hold this unbearable compassion for all sentient beings.”
    In order to have bodhichitta, we need to develop great compassion, he explained, which is not the same as limitless compassion. The latter refers to compassion for all sentient beings, whereas great compassion means unreserved compassion for all sentient beings without any being excluded. When we recite from the Four Immeasurables ‘may all sentient beings be free of suffering’ we need more than a mere mental aspiration. An aspiration alone will not free them from suffering. We need the determination and motivation to take upon ourselves the task of freeing all those sentient beings from their suffering. We need to think, “I myself am going to take responsibility to do this.”
    So how should we develop this ‘unbearable compassion’ which encompasses all sentient beings? To begin, we need to understand the different types of suffering which sentient beings experience: the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and the all-pervasive suffering of conditioned existence. Then, as Jetsun Milarepa said, when uncontrived great compassion arises it is as if we are in a pit of fire. Such a circumstance would be unbearable; we would immediately try to escape. So it is immensely difficult to develop such compassion. Whenever we recite, “May all sentient beings be happy…may they be free from suffering and the causes of suffering,” we need to check our minds to see the quality of our compassion, and then put effort into developing it further, with fervent devotion to the lamas.
    His Holiness then read the next meditation, which visualises a charnel ground and the eight worldly concerns, in the presence of Sangye Nyenpa, whom we request to grant us the supreme and ultimate siddhis. By using this context to contemplate the eight worldly preoccupations–happiness and suffering, praise and blame, fame and infamy, gain and loss – we can develop revulsion for samsara and hence true renunciation, and then offer everything to the lama.
    The First Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche served as Mikyo Dorje’s tutor and root lama for only three years, but had a profound effect on the Eighth Karmapa, who showed great devotion towards him, which is why most of Mikyo Dorje’s works begin, “I prostrate to the Mahasiddha Sangye Nyenpa”.
    Essentially, this section is a Guru Yoga, in which we offer everything- body, possessions and virtue- to the Lama and think that it is for the benefit of all sentient beings that they may achieve liberation and omniscience. Finally, the merit we have generated is also dedicated for the benefit of all sentient beings. However, the Karmapa pointed out, in actuality, even though we say that we wish to use our being for the benefit of all sentient beings, even though we give our body and possessions, because we are unable to free ourselves from fixation on and attachment to this life and the eight worldly concerns, our intentions never turn out as we expect.
    Serving the lama can take four different forms: offerings, respect, service and practice. Materially, we can make offerings and provide food, drink, clothes and daily necessities for the lama. Serving with respect refers to prostrating before him, being humble in his presence, speaking softly and politely, and so forth. Serving with service includes such things as giving medicine, massage, or washing and anointing the lama’s feet. Serving the lama with practice can be differentiated between actual practice, when we follow the lama’s practice instructions exactly, and approximate practice, when we fulfil the lama’s wishes and commands.
    Summing up, His Holiness said, at the heart of the matter is the precious teaching of the Buddha, and the Gunchö is a way of preserving it. The monks should regard this as the purpose of their gathering together to study and debate. By studying the teachings of scripture and practising the teachings of realisation, the teachings of the Buddha could be preserved.
    Why should the Buddha’s teachings be preserved? Because they are the source of happiness and well-being. The teachings explain how we can develop the roots of virtue which are the ultimate source of well-being and happiness. They tell us what should be adopted and what should be abandoned. However, in order to achieve our aim for the Buddha’s teachings to spread to bring happiness and well-being to all sentient beings, we need a vast, long-term vision and motivation which transcends any concerns we might have for our individual monasteries, lineages and traditions. Now that all the Gunchö facilities for the monks were in place, the Karmapa concluded, it was their responsibility to use the opportunity well, holding the correct view and motivation at all times.
    “If our aspirations and hopes are wrong, though we might think that things are going well at the start, in the end it will never work out well.”


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    2 December, 2014, Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

    As the Gyalwang Karmapa said, last year,

    “Humans have often treated animals badly. I have the great hope that we can decrease that, and that an understanding that animals are members of our family in this world can spread everywhere.”

    For the second year in succession, Kagyu Monlam International has organised a veterinary camp to help in a small way to redress the balance and fulfil His Holiness’ hopes

    This year’s animal camp is being supported by the Government of Sikkim who deputed members of staff from the Sikkimese Anti-Rabies and Animal Health Division [SARAH]. The team is headed by four Sikkimese vets, Dr Thinley Bhutia, Dr Karma Dolma Bhutia, Dr Phurba Lepcha, and Dr Diki Palmu Sherpa. They are being assisted by six Sikkimese para-vets. There are also four volunteer vets who flew in especially from Australia, Joy Fredericks of the NGO Dogs of Gaya, and Sonam from Dharamsala Animal Welfare. 

    Following a small reception in the library at the Monlam Pavilion to mark its inception, His Holiness visited the animal camp, stationed next to the main gate, behind the monks’ encampment.  He was accompanied by the District Magistrate, Sri Sunjay Kumar Agarwal I.A.S.   As  they approached, the youngest member of the team, five-year old Dolkar, came forward shyly, and presented the Karmapa with a colourful flower arrangement.  His eyes lit up.  He smiled warmly, thanked her, and gave her a hug. Dolkar, dressed specially for the occasion in a lilac brocade bokku,  is the daughter of Dr Diki Sherpa and Dr Thinley Bhutia, and met the Karmapa for the first time at last year’s camp.

    The Karmapa and the D.M. walked through the camp side-by-side, asking questions of the staff and watching various procedures underway. In the first room they looked on as two dogs were prepared for surgery and saw a demonstration of ultrasound equipment. In the operating theatre, three vets stood operating on three dogs, and, outside, in separate compounds, woozy animals lay recovering from the morning’s surgery, while others awaited their turn. Finally, the Karmapa and the D.M. visited the Outpatients section, where a lame pony, a very sick puppy and a camel were receiving medical care.

    The vets, para-vets and volunteers have been divided into four teams.  One team will continue the anti-rabies initiative  through the ABCAR programme begun last year. Each day the team will go out to round up street dogs. The dogs are operated on and vaccinated against rabies, and their left ear is clipped to show that they have been treated. They are then kept overnight in the camp for post-operative observation, and released the following day in the vicinity where they were captured.

    A second team will treat out-patients in a tent outside the Monlam Pavilion entrance.  All are welcome to bring an animal, wild, domestic or pet, for assessment and treatment there.

    In addition, this year, following a request from the Gyalwang Karmapa that they pay more attention to the needs of the local villages, a third  team will concentrate on an outreach programme to the villages.  Working in close co-ordination with the local panchayats [village councils] the team hopes to visit all thirty or more villages in the Bodhgaya area during the week, offering medical assistance and advice on the care and management of livestock and pets.

    The fourth team’s role is to visit local schools and monasteries and provide education in four vital areas

                ·       Animal welfare;

                ·       Dog-bite prevention;

                ·       Rabies prevention;

                ·       Humane stewardship of animals

    Gaya District has a major problem with street dogs and rabies. The District Magistrate was so impressed by the effectiveness of last year’s initiative that he approached the CEO of Kagyu Monlam, Lama Choedrak, and Dr Schuetze, and asked them to organise a training programme for local vets. Consequently, ten local vets will be joining the animal camp as observers and trainees this year.  Afterwards, a group of them will be sent to Sikkim  to train with SARAH, which is an accredited national training centre under the Animal Welfare Board of India.  Sri Sunjay Kumar Agarwal hopes that Gaya District will then be able to operate its own ABCAR  programme.

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    Thursday , December 4 , 2014 

    Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee distributes sweets and books among differently abled children in Bodhgaya on the World Disability Day on Wednesday. Sai Health Care Physiotherapy and Pain Management Clinic organised a physiotherapy camp in Patna, in which around 200 people were treated for free. The camp would end on Friday. Members of Bihar Viklang Adhikar Manch sat on a dharna at Kargil Chowk in support of their 21-point charter of demands, including more facilities for the differently abled people in the state. 

    Picture by Suman

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    2 December, 2014, Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s vision is to relieve the suffering of all sentient beings. He urges everyone to extend their compassion to include animals, and insists that compassion needs to be translated into action.
    For many years, the International Kagyu Monlam has organised medical camps and food kitchens to help local people, but, during the 31st Kagyu Monlam, at the instigation of His Holiness, they organised a veterinary camp in order to address the needs of animals in the area.
    At the time, the Karmapa commented, “Humans have often treated animals badly. I have the great hope that we can decrease that, and that an understanding that animals are members of our family in this world can spread everywhere.”
    That first camp was very successful, and so the Gyalwang Karmapa directed that a further veterinary camp be organised in conjunction with the 32nd Kagyu Monlam. The animal camp is being held from 2-8 December, 2014 at the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya.
    This morning, the Karmapa visited the camp, accompanied by Sri Sunjay Kumar Agarwal, A.I.S., the District Magistrate and Collector of Gaya District. During an informal discussion, the D.M. asked His Holiness to include the town of Gaya in this year’s programme, and His Holiness agreed.
    Together they walked through the camp, asking questions of the staff and watching various procedures underway. In the first room they witnessed two dogs being prepared for surgery and saw a demonstration of ultrasound equipment. In the operating theatre, three vets were already operating on three dogs, and, outside, in separate compounds, woozy animals lay recovering from the morning’s surgery, while others awaited their turn.
    In addition, at the outpatients’ clinic, situated in front of the Monlam Pavilion, they saw a lame pony, a distressed puppy and a camel, all patiently awaiting medical care.
    The core expertise for the camp comes from volunteers from the Sikkim Anti-Rabies Animal Husbandry Division [SARAH], Tibet Charity, Dharamsala, India, England and Australia, all of whom are working hard on various animal programmes. One team will conduct a surgical sterilisation, anti-rabies vaccination and general treatment for dogs. Another team will staff a clinic for local animals.
    Following a request from the Gyalwang Karmapa that they pay more attention to the needs of the local villages, a third team will concentrate on an outreach programme to the villages. Working in close co-ordination with the local panchayats [village councils] the team hopes to visit all thirty or more villages in the Bodhgaya area during the week, offering medical assistance and advice on the care and management of livestock and pets.
    A fourth team will conduct an education campaign in schools and monasteries on animal welfare, dog bite prevention and anti-rabies.
    Financially, this year’s camp is being supported by the Government of Sikkim who deputed members of staff from the Sikkimese Anti-Rabies and Animal Health Division to attend, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation which has contributed €8000 towards medicines, equipment, vehicles, dog food, promotional materials, travel costs of the SARAH team and ancillary costs, and the International Kagyu Monlam Trust.
    Staff at the camp have been encouraged to see how the influence of this important work is spreading. Gaya District has a major problem with street dogs and rabies. The District Magistrate was so impressed by the effectiveness of last year’s animal camp initiative that he approached the CEO of Kagyu Monlam, Lama Choedrak, and Dr Schuetze, and asked them to organise a training programme for local vets. Consequently, ten local vets will be joining the animal camp as observers and trainees this year. Afterwards, a group of them will be sent to train further with SARAH in Sikkim, which is an accredited national training centre under the Animal Welfare Board of India. Sri Sunjay Kumar Agarwal hopes that Gaya District will then be able to operate its own ABCAR [Animal Birth Control–Anti-Rabies] programme.


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