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    The precious silver statue of Drubchen Tashi Päljor (1st Sangye Nyenpa), which is known as “The Silver Statue that Floated in Mid air.” This precious statue was made by his heart-son and spiritual heir, the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje, and is said to have floated in the air for seven days after the Karmapa had consecrated it. During the destruction of Tsurphu, where the statue was kept, it was saved and buried on the mountain behind the monastery by one of the Tsurphu monks. Decades later, after Tsurphu Monastery was rebuilt, the same monk searched and found the statue again. It is now enshrined in the large silver reliquary in Tsurphu as one of the most precious relics of the Karma Kagyü Lineage.

    ( Shared from Benchen Karma Kamtshang Ling, Photo by Tsering Woeser )

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    29 November, 2014 Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    In Session One, the text had spoken of the four ways in which students can serve the Lama. Today’s section began with examples of disciples who showed great devotion towards their Lamas and the benefits derived from this.
    Jetsun Milarepa faced great hardship; he lived like a beggar in an isolated place with no one to share in either his happiness or his sorrows. However, as Dusum Khyenpa said, if you remember the qualities of the Lamas and supplicate them with great fervour, the power of the devotion and strength of the blessings is uninterrupted. For that reason Milarepa was able to stay in a remote place, in spite of all difficulties. “It’s like having an iron-rod of devotion in your heart,” explained the Karmapa.
    Gyalwa Gotsangpa was another example of great devotion. He practised extremely hard in a cave in a cliff-face for twelve years, and made the commitment that the cave, the cliff and the person should become one. People could hear the echo of his supplications on the far side of the valley.
    It is possible to supplicate the Gurus through physical postures; His Holiness read details of these from the text.
    Sometimes, the Karmapa pointed out, people think that they only need to listen to instructions from the Guru once, but actually we need to listen to them over and over again, until they become a part of our being.
    Mikyo Dorje’s text warns that without supplicating the Lamas, respecting their wishes, and practising with effort and devotion, our dharma practice will only accomplish the temporary things of this life.
    The text now moves on to contemplate the precious human life, which is not merely a human life. In order to practice the Dharma, if we want to practice the entire path which will lead us to liberation and omniscience, the support is the precious human body with the eight leisures and ten resources. This is the definition of a precious human life.
    To begin with, we need to appreciate how rare and difficult it is to achieve a precious human life which affords us this opportunity to practice the dharma. There are innumerable births in which it is not possible. It is more difficult to find a precious human life than “a star in the daytime”, or for a blind man to find a pin concealed in a haystack.
    The eight leisures signify freedom from the obstacles which prevent us from practising the dharma, whereas the ten resources are all the facilities we need to accomplish our practice. Often we fail to appreciate the amazing opportunity that we have in this life to practise. Though we might find it difficult to think of hell beings or hungry ghosts, we can understand the limited capacity of animals, and also how barbarians and people with wrong views are prevented from practising.
    Laying the text aside, His Holiness commented that people often think that outlying lands and barbarian lands are the same. Many presumed Tibet to be a central land, but as it lacks one of the four pillars –fully ordained nuns–Tibet is an outlying land. Consequently, you could end up saying that Tibetans are barbarians!
    Across the world today there are many places of conflict or deprivation in the world where people lack the leisures and resources. Living in a war zone, all your energy would go into staying alive, let alone practising Dharma. In some parts of the world, many had to live in great deprivation, not enough food or even water to drink; sometimes the only thing available to drink is the urine from oxen. In such a place, you would be focused on getting the bare necessities to stay alive not on dharma practice.
    On one hand, we need to realise what a great opportunity we have and take responsibility to use it properly and make our precious human lives meaningful. On the other, we need to think compassionately of those who do not have such opportunities.
    The Karmapa gave an heart-rending, true example: In Iraq there was a young girl, maybe five or six years old. She had no one. Her mother was dead. And so the little girl drew a large picture of her mother in the road outside her school. Placing her shoes outside the picture, she lay down on top of it, as if she were sleeping in her mother’s lap.
    We need to understand that we already possess all that we need. If we follow our desires, he warned, they are endless and we will never be able to fulfil them: A wise man said, “Contentment is a jewel which is present naturally within us. It is not something that we buy from outside. If we know how to be content then we are rich. If we do not have contentment, no matter how many billions of dollars we have, inside we will feel like a beggar. We will feel like we never have enough. We will never think, ‘I’ve got what I need. I’ve got all the resources I need.’”
    Addressing the monks specifically he compared the resources they had in India with those of a monk at Tsurphu, in Tibet. To begin with, a monk at Tsurphu had to build his own room, either from his own money or his family had to give him the money. Then he had to get his own food, and buy his own clothes. In India monasteries provide food, accommodation and clothing.
    Monks in India had the leisures and the resources, so they should not let the opportunity go to waste. The Karmapa gave a final warning from the text:
    “Accomplishing something for the purposes of this life is like eating poisoned food.”
    History of the Debate Texts and Details of the Gampopa Conference
    The final section of the afternoon was directed at the monks. The Gyalwang Karmapa noted that this is the third and final year studying Collected Topics, Types of Evidence, and Types of Mind. The book on Types of Evidence and Types of Mind contains a text by Namgyal Drakpa. The study book for Collected Topics has been published in three separate sections Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced level. It is based on a root text by the Sixth Shamar Choekyi Wangchuk with a commentary written by His Holiness.
    His Holiness went on to give details of the final part of the Gunchö, which will take the form of a four-day conference on Gampopa’s The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. Gampopa practised both streams of instruction from the Kadampa and the Mahamudra traditions, and the foundation of these instructions is contained in The Jewel Ornament of Liberation and The Precious Garland of the Supreme Path. The conference will continue for three years, so that the monks have the opportunity to fully appreciate this text which describes the stages of the path of the three different types of individual.
    Nine scholars from the monastic colleges spent two months with the Karmapa at Gyuto researching and analysing. In the first instance the focus was on the different editions of the text. Many scholars say that the Yangpachen edition is the best, so this was taken as the basis, and compared with the other seven editions, including Derge and Bhutan. The team also researched the source of various citations, and completed a fair amount of analysis of the text.
    As His Holiness explained, “This is a way in which those of us who follow the Dagpo Kagyu can repay the great kindness of Gampopa.”
    There will be several papers presented at the conference, and the monks will be able to ask questions.


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    1 December, 2014
    This chapter Vast and Profound Light: Instructions on the Two Types of Bodhichitta began with the fundamental importance of Guru Yoga on the path to enlightenment, followed by instructions on the first of the four meditation topics which form the common preliminary practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Their purpose is to ‘turn the mind to dharma’, and the first topic is the precious human life.
    In yesterday’s discourse, the 17th Karmapa explained how a human life in and of itself is not necessarily a precious human life. Many people face obstacles or lack the conditions needed for practising dharma. Indeed, it is a rare achievement to attain a precious human life, like a blind sea turtle who struggles to the surface once in a hundred years and yet manages to put his head through a yoke floating on the ocean swell.
    Having established the difficulty of gaining a precious human body with all the ‘leisures’ and ‘resources’ that are needed in order to practise the dharma, the text now reflects on how easy it is to waste this opportunity. People become distracted by mundane purposes. Their motivation is distorted by the eight worldly concerns, and even their dharma practice becomes a means solely of furthering goals for this life.
    “If we do not use the opportunity to practice the path we are wasting our lives,” the Karmapa warned.
    The text turns to the second topic of the four common preliminary practices, impermanence and death. The purpose here is not to discourage or depress the listener but rather to reinforce what has been said already. To have the opportunity to practice the dharma is a very precious gift, and because we do not know what will happen to us, because our human lives are so fragile, there is not a moment to lose.
    The meditation on impermanence begins with a description of the universe from Buddhist cosmology. It raises the question if something as vast as the universe changes moment-by-moment and can be destroyed, how can we delude ourselves that our lives, which are as fragile as a bubble, will last forever?
    People put so much effort into living their lives, but of all the beings who have ever lived, not one has not died. Some die young, some old, some in the prime of life. With every birth comes the certainty of death, and we do not know when we shall die.
    This is followed by a meditation on the charnel ground, imagining what will happen to our bodies when we die. All the things we strove to acquire in life, our possessions, our family, our friends, have to be left behind. In a sky burial, our bones are cracked open and crushed, and scavengers eat our flesh and drink our blood. If our bodies are cremated, they turn to ash. If thrown into water, the fish will eat them.
    While we have the chance, we should supplicate the Lamas for their blessings, abandon the eight worldly concerns, and dedicate ourselves to virtue.
    His Holiness’ commentary on this section emphasised that when we have achieved what is so difficult to achieve, a precious human life, we need to apply ourselves diligently to dharma practice, because this is the essence of its preciousness. If we do not use our precious human life for its intended purpose, it becomes like a beautiful jewel hidden away in a box, or a $100,000,000 dollars stashed under the bed—pointless and of no use or value.
    This is a matter of urgency. “If a snake or a scorpion appeared in our lap, we would get rid of it very forcefully,” His Holiness said. This is how we should practice the dharma.
    Reviewing the text, the Karmapa reinforced the idea of the inevitability of change and death. He spoke of the need to get our priorities right.
    “People think, “I have to do my job then I can do dharma practice…they put effort into worldly activities,” he said, “But there is always the danger that when you procrastinate, you might die first!” History is full of examples of things which were postponed until later, and then death intervened.
    “We need to think what is the most meaningful thing we can do in this life,” he urged.
    “The only thing that is certain is that we will die. All that is born will die. Birth itself is the condition for dying…we breathe in and then out, but there’s no guarantee that we will take another breath. It’s amazing that we are still alive!”
    The point of this type of contemplation, he insisted, was not to make us panic about dying, but rather to give us some feeling of urgency. Time is short, so we should never put off doing the things we wish to accomplish. Otherwise, at the moment of death, we will be full of regret.
    The Authorship of the Collected Topics Text
    In the second part of the session, when His Holiness primarily addresses the monks on topics concerning the Gunchö, he gave a fascinating account of the detective work and scholarship involved in finding the root text used for the Collected Topics study books, and how the evidence was collected to establish that the root text was indeed written by Chökyi Wangchuk, the Sixth Shamar Rinpoche.
    The Karmapa explained that it was only when he came to India that he first heard about a text on Collected Topics composed by the Sixth Shamar Rinpoche. Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche cited the text in his Treasury of Knowledge and Situ Panchen also mentioned it in one of his texts.
    The Karmapa was told that the text had most probably been preserved in the Gelugpa tradition, and, subsequently, it was found to exist in three versions, including one in a book published by Tashilhunpo Monastery. In the Tashilhunpo version there is a colophon attributing the text to Jamyang Shepa. Jamyang Shepa was the name of a 17th century Gelugpa scholar, Ngawang Tsondru, whose texts are still studied at Drepung Gomang and Drepung Deyang, two of the great Gelugpa university colleges. It had, therefore, been concluded, that this text had been written by him. The colophon also gave the name of the monastery where this text was composed. This was problematic, because there was no known connection between the Gelugpa Jamyang Shepa and that particular monastery. This raised doubts about his identification as the author. Furthermore, within the text, some of the terms used are specifically Kagyu not Gelugpa, such as ‘the great Madhyamika’, a term for the shentong view which is not accepted by the Gelugs who hold the rangtong view.
    Upon further research, His Holiness discovered that Jamyang Shepa was one of the names of Shamar Chökyi Wangchuk and that particular monastery was the place where he had studied with a great Kagyu scholar, also mentioned in the colophon. That Shamar Chökyi Wangchuk also went by the name Jamyang Shepa was further supported by information in the biographies of Chökyi Wangchuk, his student Karma Chakme, and other Kagyu masters.


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    3 December, 2014
    In commemoration of World Disability Day 2014, 30 children with learning disabilities were invited to Tergar Monastery for a special audience with the Gyalwang Karmapa.
    All are students at a newly-established unit on the campus of the local Bodhi Tree School. On the very day that the unit opened, they came with their mothers and teachers to receive the Karmapa’s blessings. Regular students from Class IX at the school accompanied them. Most of the children, who come from the villages around Bodhgaya, are Dalits from very deprived backgrounds
    His Holiness smiled at the children, welcomed everyone and gave a short talk.
    “Your human life is very important,” he began. ” I offer prayers that all of you may have great happiness in this life.”
    He went on to say that all human beings faced difficulties and hardships in life, but that these children would have particular challenges. However, as Bodhgaya was the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment, he hoped that they too would be able to pass on the lamp of wisdom in their own way.
    “I pray that you will be able to live your lives with the power of wisdom,” he concluded.
    Two little girls wearing silver-coloured, plastic diadems came forward carrying a celebration chocolate cake which His Holiness cut, to be shared out later.
    His Holiness then began the distribution of Indian sweets to all the children. He also presented a kata to one of the teachers at the school, a young woman from the Dalit community, who, in spite of being severely disabled by polio as a child , had successfully overcome her difficulties.


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    2 December, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    Gyalwang Karmapa continued the section in the text on the theme of death and impermanence, the second contemplation of the four common preliminaries. Today’s transmission began with a powerful evocation of the moment of death. Death is inevitable and cannot be escaped, however wealthy or powerful we are. Life is short and the time of death is uncertain, what can we have confidence in? Only the Dharma.
    The text continues with various meditations on death and impermanence, followed by examples from different Buddhist texts and namthar which reinforce this view.
    Life is like people meeting at a weekly market; the next day everyone is gone. The only thing which will accompany us at death is the Dharma. Thus we need to supplicate the Gurus, be diligent in our dharma practice, and devote our lives to virtue, as a matter of urgency.
    A story from the life of the 11th century Kadampa master and meditator, Kharak Gomchung, provides an example of the attitude a dharma practitioner should adopt. Kharakpa gave many teachings on how to overcome attachment to mundane concerns, and he himself was renowned for his renunciation.
    Once a tea merchant came to Kharakpa’s cave and left an offering of a brick of tea. Three years later the merchant returned to make another offering, but he found the first brick of tea untouched and gathering dust. Puzzled, he asked the meditator why he had not used the tea and Kharakpa replied, “I didn’t know whether I would boil the tea or the tea would boil me, and so I had no time! Take them both and go!” So the merchant picked up the two bricks of tea and left. Such is the urgency he felt of dharma practice.
    Supplicating the Gurus we ask them to bless us so that we are free of fixation on this life, bless us that we are spared from the rod of having no time, and bless us that our practice is meaningful. We have to get our priorities right and practise the Dharma correctly, because we might die at any time.
    “This life is as transient as dewdrops on the tip of a blade of grass… We do not know when we will die, and, as there is the danger of dying tonight, we should not be overconfident that we will have life tomorrow.” [One Hundred Short Instructions]
    “In Dharma only loving kindness, compassion and bodhichitta are unmistaken and these are the true way down the path to perfect Buddhahood.”[One Hundred Short Instructions]
    The Gyalwang Karmapa then reviewed and commented on the text.
    First there are meditations from the sutras, then from the great Indian masters of the past, such as Nagarjuna and Shantideva. Finally, there are examples from the lives of the great Tibetan masters.
    Nagarjuna in his Letter to a Friend says that it is a wonder that we do not die between the breath in and the breath out. The Karmapa expanded on this idea. When we stop breathing, we die, he said. Turn off a person’s life support machine, and they die. We take breathing for granted, breathing in and out, day after day, year after year, and we forget how amazing it is. Even one single breath is based on thousands of steps and on many other factors such as the plants which make the oxygen we need. If we had to buy the air we breathe, we wouldn’t be able to afford it. We might think we do not have much, but when we consider it, to be able to breathe is a great fortune.
    In The String of Jewels, Nagarjuna writes that there are few causes of life yet many causes of death, and even the causes of life can become causes of death. For that reason we need to practise virtue because only the Dharma will help us at the time of death.
    In The Way of the Bodhisattva, Shantideva writes that at the time of death we have to bear the consequences of our karma. We cannot share the consequences of our actions with friends or relatives. Our own happiness depends upon ourselves, but we make the serious mistake of forgetting that the negative karma created by our own misdeeds will ripen upon us. Lifetime after lifetime, our karma has thrust us into the prison of samsara.
    Turning then to the lives of the Tibetan masters, His Holiness told one of the stories about Geshe Tönpa.
    Once upon a time, Geshe Tönpa saw someone circumambulating a stupa.
    “What are you doing?” he asked.
    “I’m practising the Dharma,” the man replied.
    Geshe Tönpa observed, “It’s good that you’re circumambulating, but you should practise true Dharma.”
    The man was puzzled, so he stopped doing circumambulation and thought hard about what true Dharma might be. Finally, he decided it must be reading the scriptures, so he began to read the scriptures instead.
    Along came Geshe Tönpa, saw him reading and said, “Reading the scriptures is very, very good, but even better is practising true Dharma.” Once more the man was confused. He thought and thought and finally decided he should practise meditation, that must be true Dharma. So he sat down in meditation posture and began meditating.
    Geshe Tönpa arrived and saw him. “What are you doing?”
    “I’m practising true Dharma,” the man replied confidently.
    To which Geshe Tönpa said, “Meditation is good, but even better is to do true Dharma practice.”
    “So, what is this true Dharma?” the man asked in frustration.”Circumambulating isn’t Dharma. Reading scriptures isn’t Dharma. Meditation isn’t Dharma.”
    Geshe Tönpa said, “True Dharma is renouncing this life, and putting it out of your mind.”
    You have to have both revulsion and diligence, His Holiness explained. If you do not give up on this life, whatever you do becomes a worldly concern.
    There are two stories about Geshe Potawa, Geshe Tönga’s main disciple. He would teach two sessions of the Dharma, in the morning and in the evening. After his evening teaching he would say to his students, “If we do not die tonight we will continue the Dharma teachings tomorrow, but we don’t know what will happen tonight.” Geshe Potawa was so aware of the urgency of Dharma practice that he refused to repair a crooked pillar in his house. “There’s no need to change the pillar. Who knows whether we might die before we finish repairing it,” he said.
    If we want to die without regret, the Dharma has to be practised today, right now, the Karmapa urged those listening. Kharak Gomchung realised this. He had no time to make tea because he was aware that he could die at any time.
    These great masters had realised impermanence, and we need to follow their example, but, instead, we foolishly prioritise the wrong things. Counting them off on his fingers, the Karmapa enumerated our mistaken perceptions of what is important. We have clothes to wear but that is not enough, we want the best clothes. We have food to eat, but that is not enough, we want the most delicious food. We have water to drink or juice or whatever, but that alone is not enough. In Tibet we drink tea, he said, but ordinary tea isn’t enough, we need to have the oldest, most matured tea! Such thoughts indicate that we have not realised impermanence in our beings.
    The Kadampa suggest we think of each day as an entire life. When we get up it is like being born from our mother’s womb. When we wash our face we think that we are being washed after birth. When we take breakfast, we think we are drinking milk at our mother’s breast, and so we continue through the day. We do our studies and our practice, then in the evening when we go to bed, we think that we are about to die. Thus we view a single day as an entire life. If we practice like that, day by day, not wasting one day, we will not waste our lives. We must not waste a single instant. This precious human life, this precious human body, demands that we have a great aim, and accomplish great things. If we postpone things, they may never happen.
    Collected Topics and Details of the Debate on 12 December, 2014
    His Holiness explained the meaning of the term Collected Topics [it collects the meaning of all the words of the Buddhas and scholars], and gave a short history of Collected Topics and its importance in the monastic curriculum.
    Last year, there was a short forty-minute debate and discussion on whether the shentong view was a true view or not. This year, on 12th December, there will be a Western style debate on two topics. The first is whether the shentong view is a true view or not. The second topic will be on which is more important, scripture or practice. There will be a group supporting and a group opposing. As this is Western style, someone will have to take the opposing side, His Holiness explained.
    There will be a secret prize for the winners.
    Clarifying the difference in style between Tibetan debate and Western debate, His Holiness reassured the monks that if the opponent of the ‘shentong view is a true view’ were to win, it did not mean that the shentong view is a false view. It would just mean that the debater was the best debater!


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    These notes are based on the 15th Karmapa’s Chenrezig instruction commentary

    Chenrezig painted by HH 17th Karmapa

    First, calm the mind by doing a little silent sitting meditation.

    Then, imagine Chenrezig in space in front of you. His form is not solid, but is seen as being illusion-like and made of light. He is white in color, sitting cross-legged on an open lotus flower topped by a horizontal white disk of the moon.

    He is brilliantly white, radiating an effulgence in five hues (mostly white). He is fine-featured, smiling with the love a mother has for her only child. He has four hands (symbolizing the Four Immeasurables, loving kindness, compassion, joy & equanimity): The first pair joined in prayer at his heart, holding between them a wish-fulfilling jewel. His right lower hand holds a crystal rosary; his left lower hand holds a white lotus and its stem. He wears a blouse of the finest white silk embroidered in gold, beautiful silk ribbons and a red silk skirt.

    His body is adorned with a five-jeweled crown, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, (armlets) anklets, a belt with tinkling bells, all made of gold and set with gems. Over his left shoulder, covering his left breast, is the skin of a Tinasara deer - a legendary animal said to be so kind that it never harms any being and is willing at any moment to give up its life to benefit others. His long, shiny black hair is bound up in a topknot, with some falling freely on his shoulders.

    Think that he is the embodiment of all buddhas, bodhisattvas, and teachers. While reciting the Refuge and Bodhicitta prayer, think that you are leading all sentient beings to take refuge in him.

    The following two pages contain the prayers with commentary.


    Refuge and Bodhicitta prayer

    (Say three times)
    At the conclusion of the refuge and bodhicitta prayer, think that Chenrezig bathes you and all sentient beings in purifying light, washing away your ignorance and negativities. He then dissolves into light and merges with you, blessing your stream of being.

    Sang Gye Chö Dang Tshok Kyi Chhok Nam La

    In the Buddhas, the Dharma, and the Supreme Community,
    Jang Chhup Bar Du Dak Ni Kyap Su Chhi

    Until I reach enlightenment, I go for Refuge.
    Dak Gi Jin Sok Gyi Pay So Nam Kyi

    By practicing the Six Perfections, Generosity and so forth,
    Dro La P’hen Chhir San Gye Drup Par Shok

    In order to benefit beings, may I achieve Buddhahood.


    During the Visualization section, visualize a seed syllable HRI on top of a lotus and moon mat above your head and the heads of all sentient beings. Then imagine that this seed syllable changes instantly into Chenrezig. In other words, there is a Chenrezig above your head, and a Chenrezig above the heads of all sentient beings. As before, the form of Chenrezig is not solid and is made of light.

    During the supplications and praises, think that you are praying to Chenrezig.

    Dag Sog Kha Khyab Sem Chen Gyi

    On the crown of my head and the heads of all beings filling space,
    Ji Tsug Pey Kar Da Way Teng

    Upon a white lotus and moon disk, is the seed syllable HRI.
    Hri Le P’hag Chog Chen re zig

    From this letter appears the Supreme Exalted One Avalokiteshvara.
    Kar Sal Ö Zer Nga Den Dro

    Luminescent white, radiating five-colored rays of light,
    Dze Dzum T’hug Je Chen Gyi Zig

    He gazes with eyes of compassion.
    Chak Zhi Dang Po T’hal Jar Dzay

    Of his four hands, the first pair are held palms-together at the heart;
    Og Nyi Shel Treng Pe Kar Nam

    The lower two hold a crystal rosary (right) and a white lotus (left).
    Dar Dan Rin Chen Gyen Gyi Dre

    He is adorned with garmets of silk and precious ornaments, and wears an
    Ri Dak Pak Pe Tö Yog Sol

    antelope skin as an upper garment.
    Ö Pak Me Pe U Gyen Chen

    He is crowned by Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light.
    Zhab Nyi Dor Je Kyil Trung Zhuk

    His two legs rest in the vajra posture;
    Dri Me Da War Gyab Ten Pa

    his back is supported by an immaculate moon disk.
    Kyab Ne Kun Du Ngo Wor Gyur

    He is, in essence, all the sources of Refuge combined.

    Prayer of Praise to Chenrezig

    (Say three times)

    Jo Wo Kyon Gyi Ma Gö Ku Dok Kar

    Lord, unmarred by imperfection, body white in color,
    Dzok Sang Gye Kyi U La Gyen

    whose head is ornamented with a perfect Buddha,
    T’huk Jey Chen Gyi Dro La Zik

    gazing on beings with the eye of compassion,
    Chen re zig La Chak Tshal Lo

    to Chenrezig I reverently prostrate.


    While chanting the verse before the mantra recitation, we imagine that the Chenrezig above our heads bathes us and all sentient beings with light, which washes away all of our ignorance and negativities and changes us all into Chenrezigs. In keeping with the earlier visualizations, we are not solid and are made of light. We also have the same form and attributes as Chenrezig.

    De Tar Tse Chik Sol Tab Pe

    Having thus offered one-pointed supplication,
    P’hag Pay Ku Lay O Ser Tro

    light rays emanating from the Exalted One’s body
    Ma Dak Lay Nang T’hrul She Jang

    purify impure actions and appearances, and confused mental states.
    Chyi No De Wa Chen Gyi Zhing

    The outer environment becomes the pure land of Dewachen (“The Blissful”)
    Nang Chu Kye Drö Lu Ngag Sem

    For the beings within, their body, speech and mind
    Chen Re Zig Wang Ku Sung T’hug

    become the body, speech and mind of the Lord Avalokiteshvara;
    Nang Drag Rig Tong Yer Me Gyur

    appearances, sounds and mental states becomes inseparable from emptiness.

    Mantra (Say many times)

    While meditatively cultivating the visualization’s essential point, recite OM MANI PEME HUNG. Recite however much you wish.

    During the mantra recitation, we think that all beings in the universe (in the form of Chenrezig) are reciting OM MANI PAYMAY HUNG; that all form is of the nature of Chenrezig (i.e., form and emptiness inseparable); that all sound is of the nature of mantra (sound and emptiness inseparable); and that the nature (though not the content!) of all thought is enlightened wisdom.

    At the conclusion of the mantra recitation, we see all beings as Chenrezig dissolve into light and merge with the Chenrezig above our head. The Chenrezig above our head then dissolves into light and merges with us. We feel that we and Chenrezig have indivisibly become one. Then, we (as Chenrezig) dissolve into light and thence into emptiness. This dissolution can be done in several ways:

    We simply dissolve into light, disappearing into space
    Or, we dissolve from top into our heart and bottom into our heart, where the mantra and seed syllable HRI rest on a lotus and moon. The mantra dissolves into the HRI, and the HRI from bottom to top and then into emptiness.

    When the first thoughts occur to us after this dissolution, we think, “I am Chenrezig!” and then re-create the visualization of ourselves (and all sentient beings) as having the light-made body of Chenrezig. It is in this form that we conclude the chanting.

    Om Mani Peme Hung

    Post Meditation

    Among the last prayers we recite are dedications of merit, dedicating the benefit of our practice to all sentient beings. In this way, we act on the vast aspiration of Chenrezig to benefit all sentient beings, and make our wishes identical with his.

    Dag Zhen Lu Nang Phag Pe Ku

    The bodies of myself and others, all appearances, are the form of the Exalted One;
    Dra Drag Yi Ge Drug Pe Yang

    all sounds are the melody of the six syllables;
    Dren Tok Ye She Chen Pö Long

    all mental constructs are the expanse of great primordial awareness.

    Dedication Prayer

    Once we have begun practicing this sadhana, we can recite the mantra any time we wish, and re-imagine ourselves as Chenrezig at any time. When we are in pain, when we are troubled, we can recite the mantra or visualize ourselves as Chenrezig and re-establish the thread of practice we developed when we are on the cushion. Eventually, our practice will help us uncover our basic compassion and understand the basic nature of our minds.

    Ge Wa Di Yi Nyur Du Dak

    By the virtue of this activity,
    Chen re zig Wang Drup Gyur Ne

    may I quickly attain the state of the Lord Avalokiteshvara,
    Dro Wa Chik Kyang Ma Lu Pa

    and having done so, then establish all beings
    De Yi Sa La Gö Par Shok

    without exception in that same state.

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    Beautiful paintings based on the Guru Yoga in Four Sessions (Tib. tun shi lami naljor) meditation composed by the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje (1507–1554).

    The Eighth Gyalwang Karmapa Mikyö Dorje, Karma Kagyu Lineage, Karma Gadri Painting School, Eastern Tibet 1800 – 1899, ground mineral pigment on cotton, from the collection of the Rubin Museum of Art, courtesy of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.

    The Four-Session Guru Yoga that we practice, composed by the Eighth Karmapa Miky Dorje, was based on an earlier guru yoga found in the writings of Lama Shangtsalpas (Lord Gampopas disciple), secret teachings that were sealed by command seal. Miky Dorje used this as the basis for his composition. There is a commentary on this practice written by the Ninth Gyalwang Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, which is impracticably long. Chakme Rinpoche wrote his commentary because until that time there was no easily accessible commentary for doing Four-Session Guru Yoga. Chakme Rinpoche’s commentary presents the meditations and visualizations to be done at the various sections of the text. Includes the sadhana of Four-Session Guru Yoga by Miky Dorje and a CD with Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche chanting the sadhana. Thangka on front cover: The Eighth Gyalwang Karmapa Miky Dorje, Eastern Tibet 1800–1899, ground mineral pigment on cotton, from the collection of the Rubin Museum of Art, courtesy of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.http://www.amazon.com/Four-Session-Guru-Yoga-Miky-Dorje/dp/193460836X
    1600 - 1699
    Karma (Kagyu) and Buddhist Lineages
    132.08x91.44cm (52x36in)
    Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
    Collection of The Norton Simon Museum

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    3 December, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    Hundreds of monks and laypeople packed into the shrine room to listen to the Gyalwang Karmapa continue his transmission of the chapter on Vast and Profound Light: Instructions on the Two Types of Bodhichitta According to the Founders of the Two Traditions . As they waited, they chanted Karmapa Khyenno. Then the sound of the gyalins heralded the Karmapa’s descent from his quarters on the roof of the monastery and an expectant hush fell.
    Having prostrated three times, the Karmapa mounted the throne, and after recitation of the prayer requesting the teaching and the short mandala offering, the teachings recommenced.
    Yesterday’s focus had been that having realised the priceless opportunity we have in our precious human life, and knowing that this life is impermanent, we should be inspired to practice Dharma wholeheartedly without delay.
    Today’s oral transmission begins with a further meditation on impermanence. All composites are impermanent, so our bodies, the moment they arise, co-exist with death. “We supplicate the Gurus to bless us to remember that we will die and that there is no time to waste, to bless us to give up attachment to misdeeds, and to bless us to give up any attachment.”
    Because it is impermanent, everything we see or hear is unreal, like an illusion.
    Now the text describes in graphic detail what happens at the time of death. Only Dharma can help, so, once more, we ask the Gurus to bless us so that we may develop devotion for the Gurus and compassion for all beings.
    The purpose of these meditations on impermanence is to reverse attachment to this life, and to engender compassion for all those who commit misdeeds.
    The text now moves on to the third contemplation of the common preliminary practices: the law of karma, cause and effect. When we are dying, we are powerless, and at that time our karma ripens. Firstly, there are the samsaric results: the karmic consequence of non-virtuous actions is rebirth in the lower realms; that of virtuous actions is rebirth in the higher realms. Then there are the compatible results: for example, because of killing, we will be reborn in a place where our lives will be short, or because of stealing, all our wealth will be stolen and we will be left destitute. The result of sexual misconduct is to be surrounded by enemies in a situation of conflict. As a result of lying we will be criticised or looked down on. Reflecting on this, Mikyö Dorje urges us to develop a fear of the lower realms and an understanding and confidence that karma, cause and result are infallible. This should then spur us on to commit virtuous actions.
    The next section considers nirvanic cause and result. Though non-Buddhists can achieve higher realms, they hold a wrong view and inferior refuge, so their actions are mistaken and the result is that they create more suffering for themselves. The true Buddha taught the unmistaken path to supreme enlightenment. The true Dharma is the path which will liberate us from suffering and take us across the ocean of samsara. The Sangha are our companions on the path. As those on lesser paths do not develop bodhichitta, they only achieve a nirvana appropriate to their level, practice and intentions. In contrast, the intelligent bodhisattvas, knowing that all sentient beings have been their parents, view them with unbearable compassion, and cherish others more than themselves.
    The text then describes the path of the bodhisattvas which results in Buddhahood.
    Reviewing what he had just read, the 17th Karmapa said that there were ten different methods for meditating on impermanence and we should consider all ten of them.
    “As I said before on death and impermanence, everything is changing moment by moment, and so we have no time to have either attachment or aversion to such things which change moment by moment.” If we knew that we would be here for a definite length of time, he commented, it might be possible to make plans for the future. But as we have no certainty about what will happen to us, we would be deluding ourselves to think that the future is certain. We do not have time to waste in meaningless activities.
    Birth and death co-exist. All phenomena, from the moment they arise, are destined to perish. His Holiness cupped his hands together to illustrate how impossible it is to hold water securely. Inevitably, it will leak out between the fingers in a second or two, without us knowing where it has gone. Our lives are similar, and, without us knowing, we are approaching the time of our death. Thus it is important to think about death now, and meditate on it.
    Contemplating death and impermanence, the Karmapa explained, is a means of motivating and inspiring us to practise the Dharma as quickly as we can. Having achieved this precious human body, each second we have this body is a precious moment, because it affords us the opportunity to practice Dharma and work for the benefit of others. If we let even a single moment go, we incur a great loss. If we do not practise these things now, the Karmapa emphasised, we will have wasted our lives
    General advice to the Gunchö Monks and the importance of the Four Session Guru Yoga
    The Karmapa now turned his attention primarily to the Gunchö monks.
    The 18th Gunchö is a wonderful opportunity to gather here, he began, and then talked about the reason for the gathering and the importance of the monks understanding its purpose properly.
    The Gunchö is primarily Dharma practice. It provides an opportunity for the monks to discuss Dharma and engage in the stages of listening and contemplation of the great scriptures and traditions. They should always remember this is the aim.
    “Over the last three years, we have had the debate competition, but if we begin to consider winning the competition as our ultimate aim, we are mistaken. The competition is a tool for accomplishing the actual aim, that first we become monks and then we begin to study,” explained His Holiness.
    Debate was a tool to practise the Dharma and deepen their understanding of ideas such as impermanence. However, it was more than an intellectual exercise. The understanding had to become part of their being. The ultimate aim was to reflect on the nature of our minds.
    “If we can recite things perfectly but our mindstreams do not become tamer and more peaceful, we have missed the point,” he said.
    Human beings often confuse means and ends. Money is a good example. People see money as the ultimate end rather than as a means to achieve other goals. They then become fixated on getting money. “Which is more important? “he asked. “Your life or your money?” We need an unmistaken aim and motivation.
    His Holiness then talked a little about the scholarly tradition within the Kagyu. This had existed especially during the time of the 8th and 9th Karmapas. There had once been Kagyu Rabjampas and great monastic colleges. Now, however, the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism as a whole are under threat, and the Karma Kamtsang in particular is in a precarious position.
    “We need to remember the great masters of the past and repay their kindness, and also repay the kindness of all beings in the six realms. Hold this in your mind while you do study and discussion,”His Holiness advised the monks.
    The session ended with a request from the Karmapa that all the monks join in the nightly recitation of the Four Session Guru Yoga, a tradition which dates back to the Garchen. In those days, the custom was for people to recite the prayer in their tents, and discipline masters would patrol from tent to tent wielding a large stick to punish anyone who had fallen asleep.
    Guru Yoga is the most precious and most sacred practice, encompassing all the yidams and protectors, and in the Karma Kamtsang the Four Session Guru Yoga is the primary and most important one.


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    6 December, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    The theme of karma cause and effect begun yesterday continued.
    The first meditation concerned all aspects of karma cause and effect combined.
    The meditation begins with a reflection on how, lifetime after lifetime, we have clung to our bodies, our possessions, our families and friends, ignoring impermanence and the certainty of death, only to be reborn again in the lower realms, not knowing how to free ourselves from the prison of samsara. Having accepted that our lives are impermanent, we should then use contemplation and meditation to develop certitude that karmic cause and effect is infallible.
    When we consider our own self-clinging, we should contemplate how we have been deceived by this mistaken view from beginningless time, and then resolve to completely eliminate self-cherishing.
    The text moved on to the final contemplation in the four common preliminaries, that of the defects of samsara.
    Mikyö Dorje’s text details the three types of suffering.
    With reference to the first, the suffering of suffering, he describes the suffering of the three lower realms. In the different hell realms, beings endure suffering far greater than anything we experience as humans. To fall into these realms is a consequence of acts of hatred or anger. Then there are the hungry ghosts who live tortured lives and can never be satisfied. Finally, there are the animals living in fear, eating each other, caught on hooks, forced to plough fields, or else deprived of their milk and offspring.
    If you are born in any of these three lower realms, in addition to the suffering you must endure, you are also unable to practice Dharma, Mikyö Dorje warns.
    Then comes the suffering of change. All the pleasures of samsara are temporary. Although we may have been born in a higher realm, there will still be many problems and much suffering is inevitable, for example we will be parted from loved ones, and this is true even in the god realms, where death is a far greater suffering than in other realms.
    Finally, there is the all-pervasive suffering of conditioned existence, which means that all our actions of body, speech and mind, are the seeds of future suffering. In samsara, all pleasure and happiness will turn to suffering.
    Contemplating this, we should develop renunciation and want to escape from the sufferings of samsara ‘like a bird flying from a frozen lake’. Thus, our minds are turned to the path to liberation. In this way, from the correct practice of the common preliminaries, we develop fear of samsara and renunciation, love and devotion towards the guru, compassion for all sentient beings, and the wish to achieve liberation.
    The three vows become ‘a ferryman who can carry us across the river’. Keeping these vows purely without any infractions is essential. We must supplicate the Gurus that we may develop unbearable compassion for all sentient beings and achieve the level of omniscience.
    Commenting on the text, the Gyalwang Karmapa emphasised the importance of meditating on the four common preliminaries before beginning the meditations on bodhichitta.
    Since beginningless time we have grasped at the five aggregates as ‘I’, we think of ‘my body’ and ‘my mind’, and have committed many unvirtuous acts in pursuit of what this ‘I’ wanted. We repeatedly forget the kindness of our mother sentient beings. Because of our concentration on ‘me’ and ‘mine’ we have made a prison for ourselves, an iron cage of ego-clinging, which cuts us off from most other people as surely as a prison cell would. And we don’t even realise we are in prison.
    The only way to free ourselves from this prison is through our compassion for other sentient beings which will force us to break out in order to help them.
    His Holiness illustrated this with the story of an only child who committed a crime and was imprisoned. Because he was in prison, there was no one to care for his parents and, in addition, they suffered mentally at the thought that their son was in prison. They became ill from worry and neglect and had to be hospitalised. They needed someone to help them, but there was no one. The son needed to free himself from prison in order to help his parents.
    All our parents who have been kind to us from beginningless time are outside the prison we have made, and waiting for us to escape so that we can help them. We need to think about the process by which we have put ourselves in prison, and of all the beings who have been kind to us. We need to develop compassion and give up self-cherishing.
    These four common preliminaries are extremely important, and we have to meditate on them until we have stability and confidence. They need not be practised in the order they appear, but rather the order in which we practise them should be based on what is most effective for us personally. They are called the preliminaries not because they are of lesser value than later practices, but because they are the indispensable basis for our practice and must be completed first.
    “If we do not practice the four common preliminaries well,” His Holiness explained, “the actual practices will not go well.” For example, the great masters said, “If you have not meditated on death and impermanence, Guhyasamaja will not be profound.” The profundity of a practice depends on its benefit for your mind. If you have contemplated death and impermanence properly, reciting the three lines of the refuge prayer is profound because you have a stable view.
    Likewise, whether we have entered the Middle Way [Madhyamika] depends on our view. If when we study the Madhyamika, we find afflictive emotions are growing stronger, perhaps we feel more partisan, and the clinging to our own school grows, we do not have the Middle Way view in our beings. Likewise, when we practise Mahamudra if we grow proud, we do not have the view.
    When people hear the term ‘preliminary practices’, they immediately think of the uncommon preliminary practices–prostrations, Vajrasattva, Mandala and Guru Yoga– but in fact the real foundation is the four common preliminaries. We must have established these in our being through contemplation and meditation before we move on.
    The Conference on The Jewel Ornament of Liberation
    His Holiness gave further details of the conference from 13th – 16th December, which would be part of a three year programme of in-depth study and discussion of this great Dagpo Kagyu text.
    Finally, he gave the oral transmission of the first part of The Jewel Ornament of Liberation.


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  • 12/12/14--18:02: Relics of the First Karmapa

  • The first Karmapa died when he was 84. His heart was found intact in the funeral pyre and some of his remaining bones had manifested into images of the buddhas. 

    Read more here: www.maitreyarelictour.com/relic/first-karmapa/ #Karmapa

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    10 December, 2014  Bodhgaya

    Following on from the Animal Camp, Kagyu Monlam, in association with Khoryug [the Gyalwang Karmapa’s environmental protection organisation], the Brigitte Bardot Foundation and SARAH, and with the support of the local police, has launched a poster campaign in Bodhgaya and the surrounding area to try to halt the trade in wild birds.

    In Buddhist tradition, life release, buying  animals such as goats  or fish destined for slaughter and rehoming them in an animal sanctuary or returning them to the river,  is considered an important compassionate act which also accumulates much merit. 

    However, in  the Bodh Gaya area, people go into the jungle and capture wild birds. They bring them into the town in cages and encourage Buddhist pilgrims to pay to release them. Sadly, such acts of genuine  kindness have several negative consequences. Firstly, it is a cruel practice and many  birds are killed or injured in the process. Secondly, many wild  birds are not adapted to a  town habitat and die of starvation or thirst when they are released. Thirdly, once all the birds have been sold, the vendors return to the jungle to capture more, depleting the population of wild birds.   Finally, the act of capturing and buying  wild birds is illegal and the people involved  risk imprisonment or a large fine.

    Each year whether to pay to release these caged wild birds is a dilemma which faces thousands of Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world who  visit Bodhgaya. The aim of the campaign is to inform them and those who carry out the trade of the consequences.


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    7- 8, December, 2014
    The Gyalwang Karmapa began as usual with the command: Please arouse Bodhichitta and listen to the teaching.
    Having covered the common preliminary meditations which form the basis for all further Dharma practice in previous sessions, on Sunday [Day 7] the section on the actual practice of arousing bodhichitta began.
    The text explains that you should develop aspirational bodhichitta then take the Bodhisattva vows with engaged bodhichitta. But first come detailed instructions on several meditations to prepare the mind. The whole text is an extended Guru Yoga, and, thus, at each stage there is a supplication to the Guru for his blessings in order to accomplish the practice.
    Initially, so that your being becomes more malleable, you practise shamatha meditation in an isolated place and develop meditative stabilisation. Meditating on the breath, you begin by counting from 1-10 breaths, and then step by step increase until you can focus perfectly on 1-100 breaths. As a result, the mind becomes peaceful and tame, and you naturally engage in virtue without effort.
    The next section, eliminating conceptual fabrications, you look directly at your mind, and rest simply. This is followed by the contemplation that all phenomena are like dreams in order to realise that appearance and emptiness are not contradictory. Next is a section on analysing the nature of unborn awareness. Then comes a section on looking at the mind with the mind, and a further section on practising through meditation, followed by a section on eliminating the mental factors: whatever we see or think, we just rest without changing anything.
    “Just as clouds and mist arise in the sky and dissolve into the sky, all the appearances of thought, subject and object come from the dharma expanse and dissolve into the dharma expanse.”
    There is then a meditation on resting in the essence of the paths and grounds.
    Whatever we are doing, we should never lose the feeling of meditation. Do not grasp at what appears as true but recognise that it is like an appearance in a dream. Keep the precepts. Avoid downfalls. Engage in the ten dharma practices, and offer everything to the Three Jewels.
    Now the instructions on generating bodhichitta begin. First, you should meditate on compassion for those it is easy to feel compassion for, beginning with the kindness of your mother in this life, who has made it possible for you to follow the path of liberation. But imagine that this mother, when she dies, will fall into the lower realms. How can you help her?
    In the next stage of the meditation, the compassion you feel for your mother is extended to all sentient beings because they have also been your mother at some time. Now, they are about to fall into the lower realms. The text states your compassion should be “like an armless mother whose child is being carried away in a flood”. At this point, you should determine to stay in samsara for as long as it takes to benefit all your mother sentient beings. As the only hope for them is the Three Jewels, imagine that you have the wisdom and compassion and the ability to protect them. Then devote yourself entirely to the Gurus because they know what to do to benefit your mother sentient beings. Consider the sufferings of all these sentient beings and how difficult it is to repay their kindness. Supplicate the Gurus. Expand your compassion further. Think of the billions of universes, the innumerable beings who inhabit them, all of whom have been your mother. Meditate on them with unbearable compassion.
    Next this unbearable compassion has to be extended to those whom you regard as your enemy or towards whom you feel aversion. These beings have also been our parents and friends in previous lives, but moving from life to life, we have forgotten. Especially develop unbearable compassion for them too. Think in this way: if I return their harm with help, it will cancel out the karmic debt between us.
    The subsequent meditations use physical postures and supplications to the gurus and yidam deities to enhance our compassion.
    [Day8] The next section of the text contains instructions on different meditations which can be used to generate loving kindness, the wish that all beings be happy and have the causes for happiness, and follows a similar pattern to the advice on developing compassion.
    First we consider the mother of this life and how we could not bear to see her suffering. We wish an end to her suffering and want her to be happy. Having generated loving kindness for her, we then extend this to all other mother sentient beings, imagining especially how because they are ignorant of the law of karma cause and effect, they experience intolerable suffering. We then extend this further to include all those us regard as enemies.
    The next section begins the actual practice of bodhichitta, taking the suffering of all other sentient beings upon you. It combines a Guru Yoga practice with tonglen, giving your happiness to others and taking on their suffering.
    First we reflect how we have committed many misdeeds from beginningless time, under the power of the three poisons, and pray that the karma caused may ripen on us, but, in addition we pray that we may take on the suffering incurred through the ripening of the karma of all other sentient beings. We vow, “I will take upon myself the burden of the suffering of all sentient beings.”
    The instruction tells us to visualise the Guru Yoga, consider your kind mothers and practice tonglen for them. Then dedicate the merit to mother sentient beings and imagine that they achieve Buddhahood.
    The section ends with a summary of the whole practice: meditate on the four preliminaries, supplicate the guru, exchange self for others, and rest in non-conceptual equipoise.
    Preparations for the conference
    In addition to the transmission of One Hundred Short Instructions, His Holiness gave the oral transmission of Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation up to the chapter on The Spiritual Friend.
    He also spoke to the monks about the extensive preparations for the conference on The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. The Gyalwang Karmapa talked of the research that had been undertaken in order to establish an authentic text. A group of Khenpos had studied the texts of the different editions and the citations. They also consulted with Geshe Lharampas from Gyuto Monastery, and even His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
    Masters from other Kagyu lineages have been invited to the conference. The aim is for the conference to become an ornament for the teachings. The purpose of the conference is for the sake of the teachings and bringing happiness to all sentient beings.
    Prior to the Monday session, His Holiness held a private meeting with the Gunchö Khenpos and those monks who had completed their shedra studies to talk about Tantra.


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    His Holiness the Sakya Trizin will bestow the
    Muni Tri-Samaya-Vyuha Empowerment
    20th December 2014, 8.00am
    Monlam Pavilion

    His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, has graciously agreed to bestow this empowerment as a prelude to the special series of initiations, the twenty-four peaceful deities of “Knowing One Frees All”. 
    Before receiving the “Knowing One Frees All” initiations, it is necessary to have received a Kriya-tantra empowerment. The Tri-Samaya-Vyuha tantra belongs to the Tathagata family, the highest of the three families of Kriya-tantra [action tantra], and so serves for all the deities in the “Knowing One Frees All” initiations. 
    The Gyalwang Karmapa requested His Holiness the Sakya Trizin to grant this empowerment in honour of the fact that  it was due to the great kindness of the Sakya masters that this tantra  came into the Kagyu tradition at the time of the Sixth Karmapa Thonwa Donden


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    32nd Kagyu Monlam Special Program
    The Initiations of “Knowing One Frees All” and Vajrasattva Initiation
    20th –25th December, 2014
    Location: Monlam Pavilion

    updated on Dec 14, 2014


    At the request of the Kagyu Monlam Committee, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje will kindly 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.  The initiations are to be given in commemoration of the First Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, who passed away twenty-five years ago, and of the 2nd Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, who passed away ten years ago.

    The initiation text “Knowing One Frees All” [Tib. chig shes kun drol] was composed by the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje [1556 – 1603 C.E.].  Having collected together  many sadhanas of both  peaceful and  wrathful deities, he made  a  common  text  which could  be used to unify the initiation for all  forty five deities.  For this reason it is called  “knowing one frees all’.

      “Muni Tri-Samaya-Vyuha” Empowerment by His Holiness the Sakya Trizin

    His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, has graciously agreed to bestow this empowerment as a prelude to the special series of initiations, the twenty-four peaceful deities of “Knowing One Frees All”.

    Date: 20th December, 2014
    Time: 8.00am
    Place: Monlam Pavilion

    “Knowing One Frees All” Schedule

    From  20th  – 25th  December, 2014.
    The initiations will be given over six days, divided into two sessions:
    Morning:        8:00–10:30 am
    Afternoon:      2:00–4:30 pm

    Vajrasattva Initiation

    According to the wishes of the 17th Karmapa, and at the request of the Kagyu Monlam Committee, the 12th Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche will bestow the initiation of Vajrasattva from Marpa’s Three Exalted Deities tradition, on the afternoon of 25th December, 2014.

    Important Information for Participants

    Translation into Hindi, English, Chinese, Spanish and several other languages will be available.  Participants should bring an FM radio.

    The Kagyu Monlam organisation will provide lunch for all participants, as well as tea and light refreshments during the morning and afternoon sessions. For the sake of the environment, please bring your own cup.

    Registration is required for this event, and will take place between 15th – 18th December, in the Kagyu Monlam building, at the rear of the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion.

    The Twenty-four Peaceful Deities of “Knowing One Frees All”

    Single White Tara
    White Tara with retinue
     Acacia Forest Tara with retinue of four
    Single Shaker-of-the-Three-Realms Tara 
    Single Kurukulle
    Single Auspicious and Accomplished Tara
    Yellow Prajnaparamita with retinue
    8 Single Ushnisha Vijayi
    9 White Parasol with retinue
    Single Blazing Ushnisha
    Five Dharani Queens
    Single Yellow Parna Shavari
    Maricima with retinue
    Single Dhvaja  Grakeyura
    Single White Sarasvati
    16 Orange Manjushri with retinue
    17 Single White Manjushri
    Manjushri  Nama Samgiti with retinue
    Single Lion’s Speech Manjushri
    Single Arapatsa Manjushri
    Single Lion’s Roar Manjushri
    Single Amitayus
    Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara with retinue
    Single Maitreya

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    9 December, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    During the teaching today, the Gyalwang Karmapa gave the monks the oral transmission and practice instructions for the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s Four Session Guru Yoga, the practice recited over loudspeakers across the Garchen last thing each evening at 10.00pm.
    First, however, His Holiness read a short section from Mikyö Dorje’s text, continuing the instructions on how to increase bodhichitta. The whole chapter can be understood as an extensive Guru Yoga practice, with a visualisation of the gurus in front of you, and continuous supplication of them. Within this section, the instructions on tonglen meditation continue.
    By the blessings of the Guru and your own compassion, visualise that all the happiness and virtue you have exits on the out breath and transfers to all other sentient beings. Then, as you breathe in, you inhale their suffering in the form of black smoke. First you visualise this happening to those you feel close to, your parents, family and friends, gradually extending the circle of your compassion to include those in the wider society you belong to, until finally you are giving away your virtue and happiness to all sentient beings and taking their suffering upon yourself. At the end, you visualise that all the gurus dissolve into you, and you become a buddha blazing in splendour. The subtle light from your body pervades all the universes, bringing all sentient beings to buddhahood. Imagine that the sources of refuge melt into you, and then rest in equipoise. If a thought arises at this point, begin the tonglen meditation again.
    You conclude the practice with the aspiration, “May I cherish others more than myself; may I take their suffering upon myself.”
    In this way, ensure that whatever you do becomes mind training. Recognise anything not on the path to enlightenment as delusion. Whenever you have either physical or mental suffering visualise that you are taking on the faults of all sentient beings. Whether we feel attachment or aversion to others, we should always cherish others more than ourselves.
    We can check whether our practice of tonglen is successful or not. When training in bodhichitta, if we still feel hatred for those who have wronged us or if we are still attached to prosperity, it is a sign that we have not been training our mind correctly. If bodhichitta fails to arise, it is a sign we are training poorly. If we have a temporary wish to cherish others when we are meditating, but then afterwards we are only concerned for the purposes of this life, it means our mind training is not stable, like a field of young shoots destroyed by frost.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa advised that if any of these faults occur we should confess them through the four opponent powers of purification: regret for the action, reliance on the objects of refuge, applying the antidote, and resolving not to repeat the action. We need to practise gathering the two accumulations and purifying the obscurations. In particular, we should practise Guru Yoga with great fervor.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa then gave the oral transmission of the Four Session Guru Yoga and gave detailed instructions on the visualisations which accompany this practice. He also discussed the role of the Karmapas.
    In his summing up, His Holiness made some important general observations about samaya and devotion to the guru.
    He spoke about the importance of maintaining samaya—the sacred bond created between a guru and his or her students during empowerments—and linked the problems which had arisen within the Kagyu during the last two hundred years to the many violations of samaya. These violations of samaya are the greatest enemy and the greatest obstacle, he warned. If there are infringements of samaya, we need to recognise the faults, confess, and make the commitment not to repeat them in the future.
    His Holiness then raised the question: What is an authentic guru? Firstly, we need to look beyond appearances. When Naropa, a high-caste prince, first met Tilopa his guru, Tilopa was in the form of a low-caste fisherman, drying fish on the riverbank. If Naropa had rejected Tilopa at that point, there would never have been any Kagyu! Whatever the guru does, it is important not to develop misconceptions.
    It has been said that we should observe a guru for up to twelve years to check whether they are authentic or not. This does not mean checking them for faults, but primarily assessing whether they have qualities or not. But once we have made a commitment and begun to serve the lama, even if we find faults, it is important not to break samaya of body speech or mind with them if we want to follow the path of the secret mantrayana. This is extraordinarily difficult because if your guru is an authentic guru anything you do which does not conform to the dharma is breaking samaya.
    We are all dharma friends here, the Karmapa continued. We are gathered together in a single mandala and we have all received empowerments together. When minor things happen we should be prepared to forgive. Whatever our dharma friends do, we need to recognise that, from one aspect, it is our own fault, the result of bad karma we have accumulated from something we did in the past. Consequently, when we recognise them as our fault, it is unlikely that we will break samaya.
    Samaya is an extremely special connection between guru and disciple, which can lead to the transfer of an authentic guru’s realisations to the disciple, if that disciple has unbearable, uncontrived devotion and faith.
    Devotion in Tibetan is mö-gu. Mö means ‘longing’ and gu [pa] means dedication. We need to please the guru, by making offerings—practice, service, and material goods—but best of all is to always obey the guru’s command and accomplish their wishes.


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    11 December, 2014 Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
    The Gyalwang Karmapa completed the transmission of the chapter on Vast and Profound Light: Instructions on the Two Types of Bodhichitta According to the Founders of the Two Traditions by reading Mikyo Dorje’s post meditation instructions.
    First come instructions on taking adversity into the path.
    •  During illness, think that you are suffering because in the past, deluded by self-clinging, you have struck, beaten and killed others. So the more serious the illness, the happier you should be. Visualise and supplicate the           Guru, acknowledge that this is the ripening of karma from a previous life and pray that you can take on the sufferings of other beings.
    • When you are stricken with illness caused by demons, you should visualise offering your flesh and blood to the harmful spirits which are causing the difficulties, similar to the Chod practice. Begin with a short Guru Yoga practice, and at the end, pray that you can bring all these beings to enlightenment.
    • Bringing adversity to the path whatever occurs: you accept that all adversity is the result of the ripening of karma consequent on the harm you did to other sentient beings, so it is completely appropriate. Rejoice that it is happening and pray that your suffering will repay the karmic debts of other sentient beings. Supplicate the Gurus that all of your virtue will bring happiness to other sentient beings.
    • Protecting ultimate bodhichitta: as illness and pain cannot be established as truly existing they cannot harm you. By meditating on the inseparability of wisdom and compassion, realise the two types of selflessness.
    Next come instructions on training in bodhichitta, in the four activities. In other words, use whatever you are doing as a method for developing bodhichitta. Think that all the forms you see are forms of Chenresig [Avalokiteshvara]. All the sounds you hear are the sounds of the six syllable mantra [Om mani padme hum]. Meditate on devotion until all appearances become pure.
    The chapter concludes with instructions on what to do at the time of death.
    Transfer your consciousness at the time of death using the four powers–the seed, aspiration, resolve and habituation. The power of the seed is the state of the consciousness at the moment of death, so offer up all your possessions. Make the aspiration to develop bodhichitta. Resolve to give up all self-cherishing and work only for the benefit of others. Train in great compassion.
    When you die, sit in the vajra posture if you can, otherwise lie on your right side in the lion posture. Visualise your lama at the centre of a pure realm, inseparable from Amitabha, and rest in mahamudra.
    Details of the Muni Trisamayavyuha Initiation
    Before the Monlam the Karmapa will bestow the blessing empowerments of the 24 peaceful deities of the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje’s ‘Knowing One Frees All’. His Holiness explained that this was the first time he had ever given an extended set of initiations.
    Usually, before receiving an initiation, the supplicants need a tantric empowerment. The deities in the ‘Knowing One Frees All’ are mainly from the kriya [action] and carya [conduct] tantras. There are three kriya tantra families, Tathagata, Lotus and Vajra. The Tathagata family is the highest, so covers empowerments in the other kriya families. For this reason, on the morning of 20th December His Holiness the Sakya Trizin will give the empowerment from this family, the Muni Trisamayavyuha.
    There are several reasons for requesting His Holiness the Sakya Trizin to bestow the empowerment. Firstly, this tantra has come down to us in the Sakya tradition. Secondly, Sakya Trizin is a highly-respected master and practitioner. Thirdly, from accounts of the life of the Sixteenth Karmapa, it is clear that Rigpe Dorje felt very close to the young Sakya Trizin and tried to nurture him during the early years of their exile in India.
    From a different perspective, inviting Sakya Trizin counters the sectarian bias that sometimes exists in the Kagyu.
    Concluding Remarks
    The Karmapa turned his attention once more to the monks and gave advice on correct attitude and behavior.
    The Kagyu forefathers said that listening, contemplation and meditation are the way to tame a rough and unruly mind, the Karmapa told them. Tibetan nomads have a way to make yak hide supple. First they steep it in water, then they rub butter into it, then they rub it again and again with their hands. Likewise, for our minds, listening is like the water, contemplation is like the butter, and meditation is like rubbing the hide again and again. The result should be that our minds become less rough and suppler. If our minds are becoming tamer and more malleable, it is a sign that our listening, contemplation and meditation is being done effectively.
    Shedra studies need to be based on an unmistaken motivation and resolve from the beginning. Hearing even a single word of Dharma should help to decrease afflictions and increase pure perceptions.
    The Karmapa also had a few words for the laypeople who had attended the teachings. He said how happy he was that they had come, even though it felt to him as if they had been short-changed, as the main emphases of the teaching was for the monks.
    “It encourages me and makes me feel like I have support,” he said and thanked them.


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    32nd Kagyu Monlam Special Program
    The Initiations of “Knowing One Frees All” and Vajrasattva Initiation
    20th –25th December, 2014
    Location: Monlam Pavilion

    Webcast Link:

    32nd Kagyu Monlam Speical Program Indian Time
    Trisamayavyūha Empowerment
    Bestowed by His Holiness Sakya Trizin
    December 20                 8:00 - 10:30 IST
    The Initiations of “Knowing One Frees All”
    Bestowed by His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa
    December 20 Single White Tāra                14:00 - 16:30 IST
    December 21 • White Tāra With Retinue
    • Tāra of the Acacia Forest
    • Single Tāra Who Shakes the Three Worlds
    8:00 - 10:30 IST
    December 21 • Single Kurukullā
    • Single Auspicious Tāra Who Accomplishes Aims
    14:00 - 16:30 IST
    December 22 • Yellow Prajñaparamita with Retinue
    • Single Uṣnīṣa Vijaya
    • Uṣnīṣa White Parasol with Retinue
    8:00 - 10:30 IST
    December 22 • Single Blazing Uṣnīṣa
    • The Five Queens of Awareness
    14:00 - 16:30 IST
    December 23 • Single Yellow Leaf-Clad Shavari
    • Mārichi with Retinue
    • Single Dhvaja Grakeyura
    8:00 - 10:30 IST
    December 23 • Single White Sarasvatī
    • Orange Mañjushrī with Retinue
    14:00 - 16:30 IST
    December 24 • Single White Mañjushrī
    • Mañjushrī Nāma Saṁgiti with Retinue
    • Single Mañjushrī, Lion of Speech
    8:00 - 10:30 IST
    December 24 • Single Mañjushrī Arapacha
    • Single Mañjushrī the Lion's Roar
    14:00 - 16:30 IST
    December 25 • Single Amitāyus
    • Four Armed Avalokiteshvara with Retinue
    • Single Maitreya
    8:00 - 10:30 IST
    Vajrasattva Empowerment in the Tradition of Marpa
    Bestowed by Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche
    December 25 14:00 - 16:30 IST

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    Grand Examination of Monastic Forms

    Date: December 19, 2014
    Location: Monlam Pavilion
    Time: 8 am–4 pm
    Trisamayavyūha Empowerment
    Bestowed by His Holiness Sakya Trizin

    Date: December 20, 2014
    Location: Monlam Pavilion
    Time: 8:00–10:30 am
    The Initiations of “Knowing One Frees All”
    Bestowed by His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa

    Dates: December 20–25, 2014
    Location: Monlam Pavilion

    Day 1: Saturday, December 20

    I 2:00–4:30 pm • Single White Tāra

    Day 2: Sunday, December 21

    I 8:00–10:30 am • Praises of the Twenty-One Tāras (p. 281)
                             • White Tāra With Retinue
                             • Tāra of the Acacia Forest
                             • Single Tāra Who Shakes the Three Worlds
    II 2:00–4:30 pm • Prayers to Guru Rinpoche (p. 308)
                            • Single Kurukullā
                            • Single Auspicious Tāra Who Accomplishes Aims

    Day 3: Monday, December 22

    I 8:00–10:30 am • Praises of the Twenty-One Tāras (page 281)
                             • Yellow Prajñaparamita with Retinue
                             • Single Uṣnīṣa Vijaya
                             • Uṣnīṣa White Parasol with Retinue
    II 2:00–4:30 pm • Prayers to Guru Rinpoche (from page 387/8)
                             • Single Blazing Uṣnīṣa
                             • The Five Queens of Awareness

    Day 4: Tuesday, December 23

    I 8:00–10:30 am • Praises of the Twenty-One Tāras (page 281)
                             • Single Yellow Leaf-Clad Shavari
                             • Mārichi with Retinue
                             • Single Dhvaja Grakeyura
    II 2:00–4:30 pm • Prayers to Guru Rinpoche (from page 387/8)
                             • Single White Sarasvatī
                             • Orange Mañjushrī with Retinue

    Day 5: Wednesday, December 24

    I 8:00–10:30 am • Praises of the Twenty-One Tāras (page 281)
                             • Single White Mañjushrī
                             • Mañjushrī Nāma Saṁgiti with Retinue
                             • Single Mañjushrī, Lion of Speech
    II 2:00–4:30 pm • Prayers to Guru Rinpoche (from page 387/8)
                             • Single Mañjushrī Arapacha
                             • Single Mañjushrī the Lion's Roar

    Day 6: Thursday, December 25

    I 8:00–10:30 am • Praises of the Twenty-One Tāras (page 281)
                             • Single Amitāyus
                             • Four Armed Avalokiteshvara with Retinue
                             • Single Maitreya
    Vajrasattva Empowerment in the Tradition of Marpa
    Bestowed by Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche

    Dates: December 25, 2014
    Location: Monlam Pavilion
    Times: 2:00–4:30 pm
    Virtue in the Beginning
    Teachings on The Torch of True Meaning

    Dates: December 26–27, 2014
    Location: Monlam Pavilion


    I 08:00–9:00 am • The Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer (p. 272)
                             • Mandala Offerings (p. 613)
                             • Teachings on Vajrasattva Practice from The Torch of True Meaning
        9:00–9:30 am Tea break
        9:30–10:30 am • Vajrasattva practice
                               • The Aspiration of the Mahamudra of Definitive Meaning (p. 353)
                               • An Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet (p. 427)
    II 2:00–3:00 pm • Mandala Offerings (p. 613)
                             • Teachings on Vajrasattva Practice from The Torch of True Meaning
       3:00–3:30 pm Tea break
       3:30–4:30 pm • Vajrasattva practice
                            • The Aspiration of the Mahamudra of Definitive Meaning (p.353)
                            • An Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet (p. 427)

    Virtue in the Middle
    The Kagyu Monlam

    Dates: December 29, 2014–January 4, 2015
    Location: Monlam Pavilion 

    Day 1: Monday, December 29, 2014

    I 6:00–8:30 am Mahayana Sojong, The Twenty-Branch Monlam
    II 9:00–10:30 am Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment
    III 1:30–3:00 pm The Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct, Maitreya’s Aspiration,
                              Aspiration from The Way of the Bodhisattva
    IV 3:30–5:00 pm The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 2: Tuesday, December 30

    I 6:00–8:30 am Mahayana Sojong, The Twenty-Branch Monlam
    II 9:00–10:30 am Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment
    III 1:30–3:00 pm The Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct,
                             The Sukhavati Prayer “I Prostrate with Respect…”
    IV 3:30–5:00 pm The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 3: Wednesday, December 31

    I 6:00–8:30 am Mahayana Sojong, The Twenty-Branch Monlam
    II 9:00–10:30 am Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment
    III 1:30–3:00 pm Praises of Tara and Saraswati
    IV 3:30–5:00 pm The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 4: Thursday, January 1, 2015

    I 6:00–8:30 am Mahayana Sojong, The Twenty-Branch Monlam
    II 9:00–10:30 am Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment
    III 1:30–3:00 pm Prayers to Guru Rinpoche: Clearing the Path of Obstacles and
                             Spontaneous Fulfillment of Wishes
    IV 3:30–5:00 pm The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 5: Friday, January 2

    I 6:00–8:00 am Mahayana Sojong, The Twenty-Branch Monlam
              8:00 am Kangyur Procession
    II 9:00–10:30 am Reading the Kangyur
    III 1:30–3:00 pm Prayers for the Well-Being of Tibet
    IV 3:30–5:00 pm The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 6: Saturday, January 3

    I 6:00–8:30 am Mahayana Sojong, The Twenty-Branch Monlam, Sixteen Arhats
              7:00 am Alms Procession
    II 1:30–3:00 pm The Sutra in Three Sections, Akshobhya Sutras
    III 3:30–5:00 pm The Twenty-Branch Monlam
                5:00 pm Akshobhya Fire Puja

    Day 7: Sunday, January 4

      3:30 am Fifteenth Day Sojong (Ordained sangha only)
    I 6:00–8:30 am The Twenty-Branch Monlam, Medicine Buddha
    II 9:00–11:00 am Offerings to the Gurus
    III 1:00–2:30 pm Offerings to the Gurus
    IV 3:00–5:00 pm Sponsor Appreciation, Special Address
    Virtue in the End
    The Marme Monlam

    Date: January 5, 2015
    Location: Monlam Pavilion
    Time: 7:30 pm

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    32nd Kagyu Monlam

    Participant Registration Information

    Participant registration is required for all those who would like to attend any Kagyu Monlam events.

    Note: Kagyu Monlam Members do NOT need to register as participants

    Registration will begin on December 15, 2014 at 2:00pm.

    Registration is free of charge.

    Location: Blue and white tent located in the field between Tergar Monastery and the Monlam Pavilion.

    Opening hours:


    Dec. 15

    Dec. 16 – Jan. 3


    2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

    8:00 am – 5:00 pm

    *Schedule subject to change

    Required documents for registration:


    Indians, Bhutanese, Nepalese and Tibetans 


    Photo ID card

    Valid Indian Visa

    ID size photo

    Photocopy of passport

    Photocopy of visa

    ID size photo

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    For security reasons, the following items will not be allowed:
    Cameras, mobile phones, i-Pads, Androids, computers, scissors, knives, lighters, and aerosols. You will not be allowed to use your mobile as an FM radio. There will be nowhere to store these items securely, so please don’t bring them.

    You may need to bring:
    An FM radio with earphones to listen to translations of the teachings, prayers, and empowerments. We recommend you buy a radio in your own country because good quality radios are not available locally here in Bodhgaya. The English translation will be broadcast through the speakers for all the events, so you won’t need an FM if you listen to the English. 
    Your own cup, plate and utensils will be useful for the tea served during the break, and the complimentary lunch during the “Knowing One Frees All” initiations from Dec 20 – 25, 2014.

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