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    Day 1: Monday, December 29, 2014

    Session I • 6:00–8:30 am

    Mahayana Sojong Vows ................................................................................ 3 (S1)
    Sanskrit Prayers............................................................................................. 7 (17)
    Refuge and Bodhichitta and following.............................................. 31–42 (24–35)
    Praises from The Sutra of Ornamental Appearances ............................ 43 (36–46)
    Praises from The Ornament of the Sutras and following ................. 62–80 (55–72)
    An explanation of The Sutra in Three Sections............................................ 10 min.
    The Sutra in Three Sections and following ....................................................81–97
    .................................................................................................................... (74–90)
    The Dedication from the Light of Gold Sutra and following...... 106–116 (100–110)

    Session II • 9:00–10:30 am

    Mandala offering with thirty-seven features .......................................................613
    Supplication to the Lineage of the Bodhisattva Vow .........................................274
    Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment
    The Aspiration of the Mind Training .................................................... separate text
    Meditation .................................................................................................... 5 min.
    The Concise Aspiration .....................................................................................169
    Dedications for the Living and Deceased........................................... 170 (164–70)
    The Dharani for the Fulfillment of Aspirations .......................................... 175 (169)
    The Aspiration for the Teachings to Flourish .....................................................621

    Session III • 1:30–3:00 pm

    An explanation of The Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct 10 min.
    The Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct ............................................ 117 (111)
    Maitreya’s Aspiration................................................................................ 130 (124)
    The Aspiration from The Way of the Bodhisattva .................................... 136 (130)
    Session IV • 3:30–5:00 pm
    The Accomplishment of True Words........................................................ 333 (309)
    Joy and Comfort for Beings ..................................................................... 337 (313)
    The Aspiration to the Stages of the Path ................................................. 341 (317)
    The Indestructible Garland of Vajra ......................................................... 181 (175)
    Long Life Prayers............................................................................. 600–610 (S14)
    Offerings to the Protectors ............................................................ 479-84 (431–36)
    Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet ...................................................... 427 (382)
    Verses on Joy and Goodness from The Sutra Requested by a God ...... 197 (191)
    The Dharma Blaze Aspiration .................................................................. 177 (171)
    “The one who taught the truth...”.............................................................. 221 (215)


    Day 2: Tuesday, December 30, 2014

    Session I • 6:00–8:30 am

    Mahayana Sojong Vows ................................................................................ 3 (S1)
    Sanskrit Prayers............................................................................................. 7 (17)
    Refuge and Bodhichitta and following.............................................. 31–42 (24–35)
    Praises from the Rashtrapala Sutra and following........................... 54–80 (47–72)
    A Praise of Manjushri............................................................................... 227 (221)
    Praise of Noble Avalokiteshvara .............................................................. 229 (223)
    The Sutra in Three Sections and following .................................. 81–116 (74–110)

    Session II • 9:00–10:30 am

    Mandala offering with seven features ................................................................613
    Supplication to the Lineage of the Bodhisattva Vow .........................................274
    Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment
    The Aspiration of the Mind Training .................................................... separate text
    Meditation .................................................................................................... 5 min.
    The Concise Aspiration .....................................................................................169
    Dedications for the Living and Deceased........................................... 170 (164–70)
    The Dharani for the Fulfillment of Aspirations.......................................... 175 (169)
    The Aspiration for the Teachings to Flourish .....................................................621

    Session III • 1:30–3:00 pm

    The Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct ............................................ 117 (111)
    The Sukhavati Prayer “I prostrate with respect”....................................... 149 (143)

    Session IV • 3:30–5:00 pm

    An Aspiration for the Dharma of the Shangpa Kagyu .............................. 343 (319)
    The Thirty Aspirations .............................................................................. 351 (327)
    The Indestructible Garland of Vajra ......................................................... 181 (175)
    Long Life Prayers............................................................................. 600–610 (S14)
    Offerings to the Protectors ............................................................ 479-84 (431–36)
    Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet ...................................................... 427 (382)
    The Auspiciousness of Twelve Deeds ..................................................... 190 (184)
    The Dharma Blaze Aspiration .................................................................. 177 (171)
    “The one who taught the truth...”.............................................................. 221 (215)


    Day 3: Wednesday, December 31, 2014

    Session I • 6:00–8:30 am

    Mahayana Sojong Vows ................................................................................ 3 (S1)
    Sanskrit Prayers............................................................................................. 7 (17)
    Refuge and Bodhichitta and following.............................................. 31–42 (24–35)
    Praises from The Ornament of the Sutras and following ................. 62–80 (55–72)
    Brahma’s Crown: A Praise of Maitreya .................................................... 234 (228)
    The Sutra in Three Sections and following .................................. 81–116 (74–110)

    Session II • 9:00–10:30 am

    Mandala offering with seven features ................................................................613
    Supplication to the Lineage of the Bodhisattva Vow .........................................274
    Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment
    The Aspiration of the Mind Training .................................................... separate text
    Meditation .................................................................................................... 5 min.
    The Concise Aspiration .....................................................................................169
    Dedications for the Living and Deceased........................................... 170 (164–70)
    The Dharani for the Fulfillment of Aspirations .......................................... 175 (169)
    The Aspiration for the Teachings to Flourish .....................................................621

    Session III • 1:30–3:00 pm

    Removal of Obstacles: Praises of Tara and Sarasvati ..............................281–306
    (259–284)
    Session IV • 3:30–5:00 pm
    The Aspiration of Avalokita ...................................................................... 360 (336)
    Twenty Aspirations of Taklungthangpa.................................................... 367 (343)
    The Aspiration of Trophu ......................................................................... 372 (348)
    The Indestructible Garland of Vajra ......................................................... 181 (175)
    Long Life Prayers............................................................................. 600–610 (S14)
    Offerings to the Protectors ............................................................ 479-84 (431–36)
    Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet ...................................................... 427 (382)
    “May he who utterly conquers greed…”................................................... 187 (181)
    The Dharma Blaze Aspiration .................................................................. 177 (171)
    “The one who taught the truth...”.............................................................. 221 (215)


    Day 4: Thursday, January 1, 2015

    Session I • 6:00–8:30 am

    Mahayana Sojong Vows ................................................................................ 3 (S1)
    Sanskrit Prayers............................................................................................. 7 (17)
    Refuge and Bodhichitta and following.............................................. 31–42 (24–35)
    Praises from The Ornament of the Sutras and following ................. 62–80 (55–72)
    The Praise “Beautiful Ornament of the Earth”.......................................... 251 (244)
    Praise of Shri Samantabhadra with Aspirations....................................... 254 (246)
    Praise of the Six Ornaments and Two Great Beings ............................... 267 (250)
    The Sutra in Three Sections and following .................................. 81–116 (74–110)

    Session II • 9:00–10:30 am

    Mandala offering with seven features ................................................................613
    Supplication to the Lineage of the Bodhisattva Vow .........................................274
    Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment
    The Aspiration of the Mind Training .................................................... separate text
    Meditation .................................................................................................... 5 min.
    The Concise Aspiration .....................................................................................169
    Dedications for the Living and Deceased........................................... 170 (164–70)
    The Dharani for the Fulfillment of Aspirations .......................................... 175 (169)
    The Aspiration for the Teachings to Flourish .....................................................621

    Session III • 1:30–3:00 pm

    Clearing the Path of Obstacles ................................................................ 308 (285)
    Spontaneous Fulfillment of Wishes.......................................................... 321 (297)
    Requested Prayers for the Removal of Obstacles

    Session IV • 3:30–5:00 pm

    The Aspiration “The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel”.........................................................380
    An Aspiration for the Seven Spiritual Trainings..................................................383
    The Indestructible Garland of Vajra ......................................................... 181 (175)
    Long Life Prayers............................................................................. 599–610 (S14)
    Offerings to the Protectors ............................................................ 479-84 (431–36)
    Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet ...................................................... 427 (382)
    “I prostrate to the Buddha…” ................................................................... 186 (180)
    The Dharma Blaze Aspiration .................................................................. 177 (171)
    “The one who taught the truth...”.............................................................. 221 (215)


    Day 5: Friday, January 2, 2015

    Session I • 6:00–8:00 am

    Mahayana Sojong Vows ................................................................................ 3 (S1)
    Sanskrit Prayers............................................................................................. 7 (17)
    Refuge and Bodhichitta and following.......................................................... 31 (24)
    The Praise of the Twelve Deeds and following....................................................69
    Supplication of the Twenty-Five Chariots................................................. 270 (253)
    The Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer ...............................................................272
    The Sutra in Three Sections and following ...................................... 81–97 (74–90)
    The Aspiration from the Ratnavali......................................................................113

    Kangyur Procession • 8:00 am

    Session II • 8:30–11:00 am

    Mandala offering
    The Praise of the Twelve Deeds ..........................................................................69
    Reading of the Kangyur
    The Concise Aspiration .....................................................................................169

    Session III • 1:30–3:00 pm

    Prayers for the Well-Being of Tibet ................................................(no English text)
    Long Life Prayer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama ............................................595
    Long Life Prayer for His Holiness the Sakya Trizin .................... separate text (S7)
    Long Life Prayer for His Holiness Taklung Tsetrul ............................. separate text

    Session IV • 3:30–5:00 pm

    The Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct ............................................ 117 (111)
    The Aspiration of the Mahamudra of Definitive Meaning ......................... 353 (329)
    Yelpa’s Aspiration .................................................................................... 379 (358)
    The Barom Aspiration .............................................................................. 405 (359)
    Phagmodrupa’s Aspiration....................................................................... 408 (362)
    The Tsalpa Aspiration .............................................................................. 410 (364)
    The Uncommon Dedication and Aspiration ............................................. 416 (370)
    The Indestructible Garland of Vajra ......................................................... 181 (175)
    Long Life Prayers............................................................................. 600–610 (S14)
    Offerings to the Protectors ............................................................ 479-84 (431–36)
    Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet ...................................................... 427 (382)
    “May he who utterly conquers greed…”................................................... 187 (181)
    The Dharma Blaze Aspiration .................................................................. 177 (171)
    “The one who taught the truth...”.............................................................. 221 (215)


    Day 6: Saturday, January 3, 2015

    Session I • 6:00–8:30 am

    Mahayana Sojong Vows ................................................................................ 3 (S1)
    Sanskrit Prayers............................................................................................. 7 (17)
    Refuge and Bodhichitta and following..................................................... 31-33 (24)
    Prostrations and Offerings to the Sixteen Elders ........................ 469-471 (421–23)
    “For each and every being, a protector…” ........................................ 37-42 (31–35)
    “Peerless, the sight of you never satiates…” .............................. 471-477 (423–29)
    Abbreviated offerings ................................................................................... 80 (73)
    Abbreviated confessions.............................................................................. 91 (83)
    Rejoicing and so forth ....................................................................... 96-97 (89–90)
    “Arya arhats, emanations…”.............................................................. 478 (429–30)

    Alms Procession • 7:00 am

    Session III • 1:30–3:00 pm

    The Sutra in Three Sections ........................................................................ 81 (74)
    Reading the Akshobhya Sutras................................................................ 487 (S31)
    An Aspiration for Rebirth in the Realm of Abhirati.................................... 431 (387)

    Session IV • 3:30–5:00 pm

    An Aspiration for Birth in Sukhavati ......................................................... 442 (397)
    The Indestructible Garland of Vajra ......................................................... 181 (175)
    Long Life Prayers............................................................................. 600–610 (S14)
    Offerings to the Protectors ............................................................ 479-84 (431–36)
    Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet ...................................................... 427 (382)
    “I prostrate to the Buddha…” ................................................................... 186 (180)
    The Dharma Blaze Aspiration .................................................................. 177 (171)
    “The one who taught the truth...”.............................................................. 221 (215)

    Akshobhya Fire Puja • 5:00 pm


    Day 7: Sunday, January 4, 2015

    Fifteenth Day Sojong • 3:30 am
    Ordained Sangha only

    Session I • 6:00–8:30 am

    Mahayana Sojong Vows ................................................................................ 3 (S1)
    Sanskrit Prayers............................................................................................. 7 (17)
    Offerings to the Medicine Buddha............................................................ 501 (S45)

    Session II • 9:00–11:00 am

    Offerings to the Gurus................................................................................533–562
    (S96–111)

    Session III • 1:00–2:30 pm

    Offerings to the Gurus............................................................................ 562 (S111)

    Session IV • 3:00–5:00 pm

    Appreciation of the Sponsors................................................... 204–214 (198–208)
    Special Address ........................................................................................... 30 min.
    The Great Aspiration and Dedications ....................................... 157–180 (151–70)
    Mila’s Aspiration....................................................................................... 424 (379)
    Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet ...................................................... 427 (382)
    Lord Marpa’s Song of Auspiciousness..................................................... 215 (209)
    Auspicious Prayers from The Vinaya Topics ........................................... 185 (179)
    The Dharma Blaze Aspiration .................................................................. 177 (171)
    The Auspiciousness of the Great Encampment....................................... 217 (211)
    “The one who taught the truth...”.............................................................. 221 (215)


    http://kagyumonlam.org/Download/TEXT/32nd_Monlam_Program/32nd%20Monlam%20English%20Schedule.pdf

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    18 December, 2014  Bodhgaya

     The arrival of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin at Tergar monastery on December 18th, 2014 marked an historic re-connection between the Karmapa lineage and the Sakya Trizin. Previously the 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, nurtured the young Sakya heir when he first came to India, for which HH Sakya Trizin later expressed his gratitude in a letter.  

    For over an hour an estimated one thousand people stood patiently holding ceremonial scarves and incense as they lined both sides of the one kilometre road that leads to Tergar. The Karmapa had sent his own black Audi to Patna to collect HH Sakya Trizin and his two sons, Khondung Vajra Ratna Rinpoche and Khondung Gyana Vajra. As the car approached Tergar Monastery, a procession befitting royalty escorted it. Monks and lamas bedecked in dazzling orange and red brocade played horns, blew the conch, beat ceremonial drums and held  victory banners aloft. A monk walked beside the car, holding high the golden parasol. The car cleared the gates through banks of juniper smoke and came to a halt near the steps of Tergar. HH Karmapa in ceremonial dress with HE Jamgon Kongtrul and HE Gyaltsap Rinpoches came down to the stone plaza to greet their esteemed guests with long silk scarves.  The two Holinesses gazed at each other with loving kindness and undisguised warmth as their hands touched. Under the shade of the fringed golden parasol, they entered the darkened temple, leaving crowds of enthusiastic devotees outside the heavy wooden doors.

    His Holiness  Sakya Trizin  and his two sons went to the shrine, lit butter lamps and threw a katag up to the huge golden Buddha. Then escorted by HH Karmapa, they went upstairs for a private lunch; afterwards HH Karmapa brought them back to the car and their heads touched in parting.

    On December 20th,  HH Sakya Trizin will bestow a Kriya Yoga empowerment prior to the Chik She Kundrol, a series of empowerments that the Karmapa will be offering that afternoon and on subsequent  days.

    It marks the first time that the head of another lineage will give an empowerment at Tergar.  

    ''There is a sectarian feeling that occurs in Tibetan Buddhism '' said the Karmapa, ''so (one of the reasons) we have invited His Holiness Sakya Trizin  is to decrease our sectarian feeling.''






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    11th December – Bodhgaya.

    From 23 November to 11 December the Gyalwang Karmapa taught daily during the annual winter Kagyu Gunchoe Debates at Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya. Over this three-week period he offered the reading transmission and teachings on a text by the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje, called One Hundred Short Instructions (Tri-thung Gyatsa). “I like this text very much,” he commented on the first day of the teachings, adding that in Tibet he used to read it aloud to others as a hobby or to pass the time.
    The Gyalwang Karmapa taught primarily to an audience of Khenpos and monks participating in the winter debates, however, simultaneous translations into English and Chinese were offered, and many international students also attended. The number of international students grew day by day, until the gompa quickly reached capacity.
    The Eighth Karmapa’s text One Hundred Short Instructions is divided into chapters covering a broad range of topics, arranged according to the path the dharma practitioner traverses. Commencing with the ‘Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind Towards the Dharma’, the Gyalwang Karmapa emphasized the preciousness of our human life, as well as the need for renunciation from worldly concerns.
    “If we are dharma practitioners then our priority should be to practice the dharma first and worldly activities second, and not the other way around,” he said. “Practice of dharma and pursuing worldly life cannot go together: one person cannot be a householder and an ordained renunciate at the same time; one person cannot accomplish the goals of the lower realms and liberation at the same time; one person cannot ride two horses at the same time. One cannot walk with one foot stepping forward and the other backward.” Gyalwang Karmapa added, “Many international students complain of their agony that though they want to practice the dharma, they have no time.” Over the following days, returning again to the theme of renunciation, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, “The goal of our renunciation should be to commit to what is beneficial for beings, and to what serves the cause of the dharma.”

    During the three-week period the teachings continued through a range of topics as the Gyalwang Karmapa paid attention to particular chapters of the text. As the days progressed, he returned again and again to the theme of relying on an authentic, genuine guru. “When the student matches the teacher there is no need to hesitate; the relationship is very clear and very direct,” he said. “You should feel that if it’s enough to please the Lama then that is enough for yourself. Sometimes people wonder, why is it so important to please the Lama? When we talk of pleasing the Lama it’s not a question of just pleasing a single Lama. If we please an authentic, genuine Lama, that is the same as accomplishing the dharma.

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    Tergar Monastery Shrine Room
    19 December, 2014



    An annual feature of the Kagyu Monlam is the examination of monks and nuns beforehand. His Holiness usually supervises this event personally, as part of his emphasis that the monks and nuns have a great responsibility to maintain the dignity of the Sangha. Because of preparations for the empowerment to be held the following day at the Pavilion, the test was relocated at the last moment to the shrine room at Tergar which created some difficulties. There were too many monks and nuns to squeeze into that space, so, initially, the nuns were forced to sit outside to wait their turn.  In the past, selected monks and nuns from participating monasteries and nunneries have been called up to be tested. This year the test was extended to include everyone.

    A central space in the shrine room had been cleared and carpeted. Five stern-faced Khenpos sat at the head, their duty to examine each monastery and nunnery turn-by-turn and award percentage marks for performance.

    At the beginning of the examination, the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived and gave a short talk on the importance of maintaining high standards of dress and behaviour. Many people would be watching the monks and nuns during the Monlam, he warned. To dress too casually, to behave inappropriately, or to wear the robes incorrectly gave a bad impression which reflected on the whole Sangha.

    Then, one-by-one, the monasteries and nunneries were called up to face the judges. Standing in rows of six, the monks and nuns were asked to demonstrate that they knew how to wear all the robes properly, with the jacket tucked in, and the sen placed neatly covering the left arm and shoulder but angled over the right shoulder, leaving the right arm bare. They had to demonstrate how to put on the yellow prayer shawl, and how to perform prostrations from both standing and kneeling positions, wearing the prayer shawls. They also had to show that they could walk in a dignified way with hands folded in front of them, and recite the tea offering prayers

    Gelongs had additional tasks. Because of their important roles in the Kangyur and Alms processions during the Monlam, they had to demonstrate that they could walk holding a sacred text correctly and alms bowl correctly.

    The monks and nuns sat around nervously awaiting their turn, but then, as the day wore on, and no one failed the test, their anxiety faded.

    The following day, in front of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin, all their training and the test were justified, as several thousand Sangha, bright yellow prayer shawls contrasting with their maroon robes, bowed and prostrated as one.



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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    20- 25 December, 2014




    At the request of the Kagyu Monlam Committee, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa is kindly bestowing a special series of initiations, the twenty-four peaceful deities of “Knowing One Frees All”(Chig shes Kun drol), composed by the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje (1556–1603). Though the Karmapa has given a great number of individual empowerments, this is the first occasion in this lifetime that he has bestowed such a series of initiations. This special program from December 20 to 25 is given in commemoration of the First Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, who passed away twenty-five years ago, and of the Second Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, who passed away ten years ago.What follows below is some background information for "Knowing One Frees All"―its traditions, structure, and the present Karmapa's connection to it.

    Depending on the capacity and inclinations of beings, the Buddha taught various types of dharma, which can be subsumed into two categories, the sutras and the tantras. The key difference between these two is the initiations given in the tantric tradition. The tantras are further divided into four main types: kriya, charya, yoga, and anuttara yoga, each one of which has its own special empowerments. The Hevajra initiation, for example, has a particular structure and way of being given. In order to receive these initiations and their practices, many Tibetan masters travelled to India, and in turn, Indian masters came to Tibet to bestow them. In doing so, the masters transmitted the specific view, initiation, and practice related to each individual deity.

    It was difficult, however, to receive this immense variety of initiations, and so collections were made. Two famous ones came from India. The realized master Mitra Yogi gathered one hundred initiations into a text known as "The Hundred of Mitra" (Mitra brGya rtsa), which was translated into Tibetan by Rinjung Zhiwa and known as "The Hundred of Rinjung" (Rin byung brGya rtsa). Another Indian compilation was made by Abhayakara (Mijikpay Jungne,Mi 'jigs pa'i 'byung gnas) and known in Tibetan as "The Ocean of Sadhanas," (sGrub thabs rGya mtsho).Compendia of initiations were also created in Tibet, such as Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye's "Precious Treasury of Termas."

    The Ninth Karmapa's initiation text "Knowing One Frees All"and Mitra Yogi's text of one hundred initiations differ from other collections that have specific initiations for each deity. In"Knowing One Frees All,"the ways of bestowing the initiations are the same: a template serves as a basis for giving the initiations, while the names of the deities are changed. This stable framework is what the One in the title points to. The practices, however, are different depending on the deity. (Recently, they have been translated into English and Chinese, so that disciples may do a practice to which they feel a special connection.)

    It seems that this type of compilation created by the Ninth Karmapa is unique in Tibet. Why so? In his Introduction to A Compendium of the Classes of Tantra, the Sakya scholar Loter Wangpo (a disciple of Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye) explained that it takes a very special lama to bring together so many initiations and distil them into one. First of all, the lama must have realization, and secondly, the yidam deities must give their permission. And in order to receive these initiations, a disciple must have received an empowerment from one of the four classes of tantra. To make sure that this happens and to show his great respect for the Sakya tradition, the Karmapa invited His Holiness Sakya Trizin to bestow an initial empowerment from his own tradition of the highest kriya tantras.

    Turning to the text itself, it is divided into three sections:(1) the practices of the peaceful deities known as "The Garland of the Peaceful Ones;" (2) the practices of the fierce deities, known as "The Garland of the Fierce Ones;" and (3) the protector practices known as "The Garland of Lightning." At Palpung Monastery in Eastern Tibet, the Eleventh Situ Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo (1886–1952) made a wood block print of "Knowing One Frees All" but it did not include the protector section. When the Sixteenth Karmapa gave the initiations to his four heart sons, he gave the protector section from a text, handwritten in ume script, which subsequently disappeared. So when Situ Rinpoche offered the initiations to the present Karmapa, he could only offer the first two sections. To keep the transmission of the protector practices unbroken, the Karmapa had searched for them extensively. In 2007, when he met with Shamar Rinpoche in Delhi, the Karmapa asked him to share a copy of these initiations if he had one. Shamar Rinpoche replied that he would go back and look, but nothing ever came of it.

    The Karmapa then heard that Yuthok Khenpo was going to Tibet and asked him to search for the text. When he arrived there, Yuthok Khenpo asked around and discovered that a lama in Eastern Tibet had a copy. Yuthok Khenpo travelled there, found the lama, and made a photocopy, which came into the Karmapa's  hands about a month ago, in November of 2014. Once the Karmapa receives these protector empowerments, he will have received the entire range of empowerments from his own tradition as well as many from other schools.

    Though the text is now complete with all three parts, the Karmapa is only bestowing the initiations for the peaceful deities. If he gave the fierce deities, there might be some misunderstandings, and one should be very careful not to create confusion, so this year the Karmapa is just bestowing the twenty-four peaceful initiations. For each of these, the Ninth Karmapa created three different lengths of initiations, extensive, medium, and brief. The present Karmapa will be giving the medium length, which has five main sections related to body, speech, mind, qualities, and activities. There is also a torma initiation which can be given.

    The tormas that are actually offered during the initiations are divided into four types. (1) In the Kriya tradition, all the female deities are combined into a torma called chokdok (lCog rDog), which probably refers to the single peak of these tormas.  (2)For all the six initiations of Manjushri, the torma is known as the Sword Torma (Ral gri ma), referring to the sword he carries aloft. (3) The torma for Maitreya is known as the Stupa Torma, referring to his emblem. (4) For all the other initiations, there is a general torma known as the Torma of One Hundred Deities, where "hundred" has the meaning of many.

    In general, these initiations are known as "permission initiations" or "permission blessings" (rJes gnang), because they give the permission, or lama's blessing, to meditate on the deity, recite the mantra,practice samadhi in relation to the deity, and also to care for or benefit others through this practice. Eventually, through meditation and realization, one can also give the initiation, though many conditions have to come together for this to happen.

    Finally, for this series of initiations, the Karmapa has created new wang tsak (dbang tsak), the cards of images that are found in the deity's mandala and also shown by the lama to disciples during the initiations. The Sixteenth Karmapa had the wang tsak for "Knowing One Frees All" as did Gyaltsap Rinpoche who printed copies and gave a set to the present Karmapa. However, in comparing these images with the descriptions in the text, His Holiness found that some of the emblems and the adornments were incorrect. He sent instructions to the painter in Tibet on how to redraw the images, so some are the same and some are redesigned. In addition, the Karmapa also altered the traditional size of the cards, increasing it to about six by nine inches so that people taking the initiations can see them more clearly.

    In this flow of his great kindness, the Karmapa has opened the door to important practices of his lineage, through making sure that people have the right preparation; bestowing the actual initiations; giving explanations; and finally, providing the practices to bring his blessing and that of the deities into our direct experience.



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    ''The Kagyu and Sakya are like children born at the same time''

    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    December 20th, 2014


    The stage at the Monlam pavilion is set with exquisite attention to detail for the Muni Trisamaya Vyuhaempowerment of Buddha Shakyamuni. A gold leaf pagoda with wind chimes hanging in each corner, and golden auspicious symbols embossed on green panels, contains the mandala of the deity. Large ornate carved offering bowls sit on its rim. At centre stage is a floor to ceiling appliquéd Buddha Shakyamuni thangka. Behind that to the left is a smaller golden statue of Buddha Shakyamuni. A screen with the kings of the four directions painted in the Chinese style is placed at the forefront of the stage to conduct preliminaries for the empowerment. From the ceiling inverted silken petals drape the overhead lights like chandeliers. Garlands of marigolds hang from horizontal ceiling banners. The assembly of more than four thousand monks and nuns in golden prayer shawls stretch out like an undulating sea. Behind them sit four thousand laypeople. 

    While the gyalins announce Sakya Trizin's entrance, the Karmapa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche enter quietly from the side and stand waiting for HH Sakya Trizin, who is ushered in by a regal monastic procession. He sits behind the Chinese screens to prepare the initiation. The monks chant 'Namo Shakya Munaye'. HH Karmapa then unveils the masterpiece, a majestic golden throne with golden carved Ashoka lions on black panels at the base, and wide steps as if leading to Akanishta heaven. He inspects it to see that it is set up properly.

     All the masters prostrate three times to the Buddha and HH Karmapa escorts his illustrious guest to the throne. His own low throne is to the side of Sakya Trizin's. To the Karmapa's right are the two royal lineage sons and to his left are Jamgon Kongtrul and Gyaltsap Rinpoches. The entire assembly then rises to prostrate in perfect unison to the sound of the vajra master's gong.

    In a private interview the day before the empowerment, HH Sakya Trizin explained the connection between the Sakya tradition and the Kagyu lineage.

    When Buddhism came from India to Tibet it came in two different periods. The earlier was the Nyingmapas. We are connected with the old school because the Sakya was founded by the Khon lineage who was direct disciples of Padmasambhava. After many generations they felt the time had come to found a separate school. The Sakya school was founded in 1073 and then it became part of the new translation group. Moreover many of the Karmapas and Sakyapa masters were exchanging teachings and initiations. That's why the Karmapa is giving a series of initiations which came originally from the Sakya. The empowerment I'm giving is Buddha Shakyamuni. It's tantra but this is Kriya tantra, the very basic tantra. Since it is basic, it's like a bridge between Sutrayana and Mantrayana.
    The main deity is Shakyamuni Buddha himself.  I feel it's very important because the Theravadins and Mahayanists find it difficult to comprehend the highest deities. But this is Shakyamuni's form so it's a good way to connect the Vajrayana and other Buddhist traditions, the Mahayana and Theravada.
    Chikshey kundrol belongs to the Kriya tantra. Prior to receiving them, one has to receive a major initiation as a preparation; it is the condition to receive the series of Chikshey kundrol initiations.
    The 16th Karmapa was very kind to all of us. I met him in Lhasa in 1955 at a conference. I was very small and he was so kind to look after me. Since then I've known him and met him in India many times. The last time I saw him was when he was ill in Delhi and I offered him a long life ritual. He discussed some high initiations with me. He said it was very important for us to uphold the new tantras. He requested a Vajrakilaya initiation and offered me his gold watch.  At that time I had just received the collection of tantras, so he said it was very good I'd received the full circle of initiations and he also wished them to be given to his young tulkus. Now they asked me to give them the initiations.
    Sakya Trizin explained that Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, one of the three great 19th century Rime masters, holds an important place in the Sakya lineage. In the Sakya tradition there were originally nine cycles of the path of practice but only the Lamdre or foundation practice, was extant.  Jamgon Kongtrul collected the other eight cycles and included these Sakya practices in his compilation. The clearest explanations were those written by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.

    During the empowerment His Holiness Sakya Trizin elaborated further. ''All the collections have come down to us and it is through the collections of Jamgon Kongtrul particularly that it has come down. If you talk about the lineage of lamas the primary lama, the root lama, is Shenphen Nyingpo. He received it from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye himself. ''
    ''The Kagyu and Sakya are like children born at the same time. The place they come from is the same place.'' Kunga Rinchen, who was predicted by the Buddha, was very careful about preserving practice and study in the Sakya tradition. He said the tradition from Marpa was excellent and he never refuted it.

    Because of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa's kindness, I have the opportunity to give this empowerment, the great empowerment of Trisamaya Vyuha. The Buddha originally gave this empowerment to the bodhisattvas in the heavenly realm sitting on a lion throne. He taught the 100 syllable mantra of the Tathagata. The Buddha Shakyamuni has the ushnisha, is wearing the 3 dharma robes, and is surrounded by a retinue of bodhisattvas.
    This is the Kriya tantra, said to be for those lesser individuals, less interested in the benefit of others, and focuses primarily on body and speech. It is said to be the foundation of all the different tantras. The source of all the Kriya tantras comes from the secret general empowerment. Among the particular empowerments, there are the vajra and pema families. Within this is the transcendent and worldly. This is the transcendent one, in the tathagata family, and a primary deity of the family. This is a perfect empowerment for now.
    When we take the empowerments the most important thing is to have a good motivation. If we think to liberate only ourselves, that is not correct nor is it acceptable to have the motivation to achieve happiness in the next life. As this is a secret mantrayana vajra practice we must have an unadulterated attitude of revulsion to samsara.  All sentient beings have been our parents even the harmful ones. We have to protect them from suffering and bring them to happiness. This is our responsibility. We are ordinary individuals but if we achieve perfect buddhahood, in any instant we'll be able to protect all beings and bring them to happiness. The primary aim is to achieve perfect buddhahood to benefit all sentient beings. We need to have this kind of uncontrived motivation; not the motivation to remove obstacles or have wealth.
    The empowerment then commences with a supplication to enter the mandala and a request to receive the empowerment. HH Karmapa wearing the Gampopa hat leads the mandala offering to HH Sakya Trizin. As the grains of coral-coloured wheat are heaped onto the mandala plate, the assembly chants the offering of the universe.

    HH Karmapa, representing the assembly, throws the stick into the mandala. Then together with Jamgon and Gyaltsap Rinpoches, the three great bodhisattvas receive the vase empowerment. They all place the dhyani Buddha crown on their heads representing the sambhogakaya.

    In his closing remarks, HH Sakya Trizin said, ''HH Karmapa has taken great interest in the Vinaya. He has vast activity particularly during Monlam for the conduct and rules of the Vinaya. I rejoice in this from the depth of my heart. The great forefathers said to train in the Vinaya as the foundation. Even if there are great yogis with realisation, it is great benefit for us to practice the Vinaya discipline. Likewise all of you please put this into practice as he has instructed you. If we are teaching we need to do it truly and authentically. This is the best way for Tibetan Buddhism to flourish. We have to take this to heart. Our conduct should be in accordance with the Vinaya. Please keep this in mind. We have a profound connection between our dharmas. HH Karmapa is leading all the teachers who are holding the lineages.''

    Lama Chodrak and HH Karmapa's sister, Jetsunma Ngodrup Palzom lead the closing mandala. The ceremony ends with the long life prayer for HH Sakya Trizin.

    White scarves like doves flying high in the air soar through the vaulted Monlam Pavilion in celebration



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    14 December, 2014 – Tergar Monastery

    During the winter debates, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa made a special time to announce the creation of a new software program for a searchable version of the Jang Kangyur (the words of the Buddha). Adarsha means mirror and the program is so named because the scriptures appear on our computer screens just like a reflection in a mirror.


    The Karmapa noted that the twenty-first century is a time of technology which makes information easily available. We no longer have to travel to a library to access texts, but can download them directly from the Internet. Programs like Adarsha, which runs on a PC or a Mac, will make study and research much easier and help to preserve Tibet’s wisdom tradition as well as its culture. The Karmapa’s plan is to also make available different editions of the Kangyur and Tengyur (the commentarial treatises) as well as the collected works of the great Tibetan masters and scholars. Right now, this is a pilot project, a beta version, but in the future there will be no problem to obtain copies of it.
    A few minutes into his talk, the Karmapa lifted up an elegant, small silver box. He opened the lid and took out a USB in the shape of a golden key, which held seventy-one volumes of the Jang Kangyur; they contain its first 298 texts from the vinaya through to the sutra sections. For over two years, these texts have been checked and carefully edited by a team of twenty-one people. This work of inputting and meticulously checking the texts is difficult, the Karmapa noted, as it’s rather tedious and still requires very careful attention. The team had to sit at the computer all day long and often worked until their eyes hurt. They also trimmed and resized all the scans so that they all measured the same.
    The software developer for Adarsha is from Taiwan, where Internet connections are excellent and it’s easy to connect to the whole world. The texts can be searched in both Tibetan letters or in Wylie transliteration as most western scholars use the latter. Another aide to research, which took effort and time, is a comparison of various editions of the Kangyur, such as the Jang, Dege, Beijing, and Cone. This was printed in two large books.
    The original text of the Jang Kangyur was the first wood block print in Tibet. It was sponsored by the King of Jang and edited by the Sixth Shamar Rinpoche Mipham Chokyi Wangchuk. When the Eighth Situ Chokyi Jungne was conducting his research for the famous Dege Kangyur, he relied mostly on this Jang Kangyur. Since these wood blocks were eventually kept in the Lithang Monastery, this redaction of the Kangyur is also known as the Lithang Kangyur. These blocks, however, were burnt so we do not have a complete edition and the prints are quite rare.
    Continuing his discussion of the present project, the Karmapa mentioned that since there is always a possibility of error, the input texts are accompanied by scans of the original so they can be checked against an impartial record. For ease of search, the texts will be divided into chapters and then paragraphs, depending on their meaning. These would be given a number allowing a researcher to find a word or concept easily as the program would provide a specific reference.
    The Karmapa also has plans to incorporate a dictionary into the project as well as a listing of the old spellings and their new counterparts. The older version of how to spell a word is often found in the Vinaya, for example. In the future, Sanskrit and Chinese texts will be made available so that these can be compared with the Tibetan. It would be difficult to input all these texts, but the most important can be selected, such as The Heart Sutra, The Diamond Sutra, The Pratimoksha Sutra, and so forth. Also possible will be searching for a word in all three languages as well as English.
    Given the vastness of this task, the assistance of many scholars and skilled staff will be needed to complete it. The plan is to have the whole Jang Kangyur finished by 2016; the intention is to preserve and make easily available these treasures of the Buddhist tradition, thereby encouraging a delighted interest in research and study.



    http://kagyuoffice.org/the-gyalwang-karmapa-introduces-adarsha-a-new-software-program-along-with-an-electronic-version-of-the-jang-kangyur/

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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    20 December, 2014



    The day began in magnificence with the rich pageantry welcoming His Holiness Sakya Trizin and the empowerment he bestowed. The brilliance continued in the afternoon with the Karmapa bestowing the first initiation in the cycle known as "Knowing One Frees All." True to his way of meticulously checking everything down to the smallest detail, before he left the stage, where he was the main recipient of Sakya Trizin's empowerment, the Karmapa gave instructions on how to set up the mandala in the golden mandala pavilion for the beginning of the initiations he would bestow.

    Here, behind the traditional offering bowls and set in a row are the main articles for bestowing the initiation of White Tara: a vase with an image (wang tsa) of her set into a spread of peacock feathers; a painting of her emblem, the white utpala flower; a mandala disk; and another vase with a red tie. (Later, the Karmapa would mention that the vase in his hand had been used by the previous Karmapa.)Behind all these offerings and in the center of the pavilion stage is the main torma representing White Tara. It has delicately colored lotus petals at the base and a white cap near the top.

    The center of the stage is dominated by a floor to ceiling thangka of the Buddha, which is flanked by two lithe sambhogakaya deities while above him sails a garuda with two gods on either side. Underneath this radiant image are laid out three tiers of extensive offerings. The top level displays a series of three-foot tormas decorated with brightly colored medallions of the eight auspicious signs and the eight auspicious substances. Alternating with them are ornately decorated bowls with long sticks holding opalescent tsampaka flowers arranged as blossoms in radiating petals.  The next level has the traditional offerings of seven bowls (water for drinking and for bathing, flowers, etc.) made of silver and gold, while the flame of a butter lamp burns brightly in the middle. The final tier has fifteen double layers of gold lotuses surmounted by glistening silver images of the eight auspicious symbols and the seven articles of royalty (yogurt, a mirror, mustard seed, and so forth).

    In front of the offerings and aligned perfectly beneath the Buddha is the new resplendent throne, elegant in gold and black.  It is made of agar wood, so dense that it took twenty monks to barely move it into place. The back of the throne is crowned with a blazing golden jewel under which sits a very life-like Amitayus, almost more human than iconic. His mount is the peacock, two of which are depicted in the table set before the throne. Their heads face each other and their long golden bodies and tails flow gracefully down to the right and left. Traditionally, the Buddha's throne is supported by stylized turquoise and white snow lions, but here they are replaced by two powerful, life-like lions, looking as if they had just strode in from the savanna. Dragons swirl over the surfaces on the side of the steps leading up to the throne and on the ends of the table: they rise powerfully above surging waves, their round eyes staring straight ahead and the scales of their curving bodies flashing in the light, setting space into motion.

    Befitting the splendor of this setting, today the Karmapa is wearing a special zen fashioned of golden yellow brocade in an elegant geometric pattern. The folds in the thicker fabric are delineated clearly, emphasizing the stately quality of the Karmapa's movements.

    While the sangha chants the Twenty-One Praises to Tara, the Karmapa performs the preparations for the initiation, seated in front of the mandala pavilion and behind a screen of the kings of the four directions. After finishing, the Karmapa leaves for a short time and returns to make three bows to the Buddha and take his place upon the resplendent throne. As the Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer comes to an end with "In all of our births may we never be separated from the perfect guru," H.H Sakya Trizin's two sons, Khondung Ratna Vajra Rinpoche and Khondung Gyana Vajra Rinpoche, come before the Karmapa to offer white scarves and their departing good wishes.

    The initiation itself then moved through the traditional stages of purification,(the Karmapa poured water from a vase onto a crystal ball shimmering in reflected gold);clearing the space of negative spirits; setting up the vajra tent; the recitation of the lineage for the initiation; the presentation of a mandala accompanied by a long line of offerings; and the reciting of praises and supplications for the Karmapa's long life. At this point, he took the opportunity to give a short talk welcoming everyone―rinpoches, khenpos, all the shedra monks, the nuns, lay men and women. He also stated that His Holiness Sakya Trizin's coming to the Kagyu Monlam is a sign of virtue that will be recognized in many future generations. That this visit could happen is due to H.H. Sakya Trizin's great compassion, and the Karmapa extensively thanked him and his retinue.

    The Karmapa continued to explain that when you take an initiation, you first have to examine  the master who's giving it. Since our own mind is not hidden to us, he could look at his own to see if it's an authentic one or not. When he looked, he could also see that his strength was pretty much exhausted, since he has had so much work to do. To give an authentic initiation in this state is very difficult, like seeing a star during the day. However, so as not to lose the dependently arising opportunity of this occasion,the Karmapa said that he would do his best.

    It is also true, he said, that the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions plus all the root and lineage lamas are always present and willing to give their blessing. If we have pure faith, they will take the opportunity to give us the blessing or initiation we wish for.  The Karmapa said he was convinced of this and asked everyone to maintain the same attitude and pure vision while receiving the initiations.

    He further mentioned that when he was young, he had the opportunity to practice White Tara and complete the one million mantra  required, so he had some confidence in giving this initiation. He made the aspiration that through receiving it, we would have a long life, and in that life, be able to accomplish great things for ourselves and others.  Since the time was short, he would not give other explanations now.

    The Karmapa then proceeded through the next stage of the initiation: the description of the visualization, the evocation of the wisdom deities, and bestowing the initiations of body, speech, mind, qualities, and activities. He said it was not necessary to give the torma initiation but he would do this as well. Usually during the torma blessing, the lama should place it on top of the disciple's head, but there are too many people here to do that. He once saw an image of the previous Karmapa with a long arm of light reaching out to give the initiation to everyone.  We'll have to wait and see, he said, what might happen on the final day. With these words, the Karmapa descended from the throne, and while ringing his bell and reciting the mantra, he blessed with the White Tara torma the tulkus on stage, beginning with Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche.

    During the initiation, one could also hear the sounds of long radung horns and thigh bone trumpets as well as drums emanating from the back of the pavilion.  This music belonged to a protector practice from “Knowing One Frees All”, performed just outside the pavilion gate (the far edge of the mandala) by Urgyen Topgyal Rinpoche and his monks.  December twentieth in the Western calendar falls on the twenty-ninth of the Tibetan one, the special day for doing protector practices.

    Completing the initiation, the Karmapa offered prayers for the lamas to live long and the teachings to remain in the world and flourish. A mandala of thanks was offered by everyone, along with their body, speech, and mind so that all beings throughout space may be benefitted.



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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    21 December, 2014


    At 5.30am His Holiness’ car left Tergar Monastery, its headlights cutting through the early morning fog, as he made his way to the Monlam Pavilion to begin the preparations for this morning’ s three empowerments. Two hours later, there was still a distinct chill in the air as monastics and laypeople, wrapped up warm in jackets, scarves and woollen hats, waited patiently to pass through  security control into  the pavilion. 

    On the stage inside the pavilion, the ritual master put the finishing touches to the golden mandala shrine, checking that all the sacred objects necessary for the morning’s three empowerments—White Tara with Retinue, Tara of the Acacia Forest, and Single Tara Who Shakes the Three Worlds—  were ready. Inside the shrine, as if suspended, an opaque crystal Tara rested on a wooden dais, an ornate white torma standing before her. This torma will be used for all the Tara empowerments,but each session the offerings and ornaments are changed to reflect that session’s deity. Clouds of purifying incense drifted across the stage from a censer swung steadily by a young monk. Leaving the stage, he began the task of purifying the huge pavilion itself, weaving his way carefully between the congregation already seated, awaiting  the Karmapa.

    At 8.00am promptly, the chant masters began the recitation of the “Praises of Twenty-One Taras”.

    The two heart sons, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche were already seated on raised seats to the left-hand side of the magnificent black and gold throne. During each stage of the empowerments they would represent everyone and receive the three aspects of body, speech and mind directly from the ritual master. At the conclusion of each empowerment, however, His Holiness descended from the throne in order to give the final torma initiation for each deity directly from his own hands to his two heart sons, to the Rinpoches and tulkus sitting behind them, and to the two translators.

    After the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived, the recitation of the “Praises” continued for a few minutes more, and then, on a signal from His Holiness, the assembly rose as one to prostrate and recite the refuge prayers,  followed by the Vajradhara Lineage Prayer.

    2. White Tara with Retinue

    First, His Holiness bestowed the body, speech and mind blessing empowerment of White Tara with Large Retinue, according to the tradition of the Sixth Karmapa Thongwa Dönden, which had been passed down unbroken until the time of 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje when it became part of the Karma Kamtsang lineage of realisation.  

    His Holiness explained that there are many forms of Tara in the activity tantras, but this form includes all aspects of Tara’s body speech and mind.  Tara in her essence is non-arising, she is the Prajnaparamita, the mother of all the buddhas of the three times. Therefore, it is difficult to say to which tantra she belongs. However, the great masters of the past have said that she is the mother of the Lotus family in the kriya tantra. Of all the yidam deities of the kriya tantra she is considered the greatest because:
    • She can bestow the four different types of activities: pacifying, increasing, magnetizing and subjugating.
    • Through her practice we can accomplish the eight mundane siddhis: clairvoyance, clairaudience, flying in the sky, becoming invisible, everlasting youth, or powers of transmutation, as well as the supreme accomplishment.
    • She is able to dispel the eight external and internal dangers: floods and attachment, fire and anger, elephants and ignorance, snakes and jealousy, lions and pride, imprisonment and miserliness, thieves and wrong views, ghosts and doubt.
    In the sadhana which Karmapa Thongwa  Dönden wrote, White Tara is surrounded by a retinue of all the Taras of the different families. Consequently, by receiving this empowerment, you receive an empowerment for all the forms of Tara, His Holiness explained.

    Although it is possible to give this empowerment in summary, he continued, this would break the lineage, so he read it exactly from the empowerment text.  The initiation began with refuge and generation of bodhichitta, echoing what His Holiness the Sakya Trizin had told the assembly the day before,that  the motivation for receiving empowerments should be bodhichitta, concern for the welfare of all sentient beings, and not any concerns for this life or future lives.

    The section concluded with a thanksgiving mandala offering which also served as a request mandala for the next initiation.

    3. Green Tara of the Acacia Forest with Five Deities

    His Holiness explained that Tara arose from the tears of the noble Avalokiteshvara who was distraught at the suffering of sentient beings, because, however many activities he performed, the number of beings in samsara was never reduced.  As two of these tears fell on the ground, one became White Tara and one became Green Tara. The two Taras promised to help him perform his activities to benefit sentient beings. So, it is said that there are as many emanations of Tara as forms of Avalokiteshvara  benefitting beings.

    There are several traditions of Tara. This one comes from the Indian scholar Suryagupta  who composed a collection of 21 names of Tara, 21 forms and 21 mandalas. In this tradition Tara belongs to the mother tantra of the unexcelled yoga tantra.

    The tradition of Green Tara of the Acacia Forest comes from Nagarjuna, who was meditating in an acacia forest when Tara appeared to him. He requested Tara to benefit sentient beings and she agreed.  He built a temple for her there which she herself blessed and consecrated.  Consequently, all those who practised there were able to achieve the ordinary siddhis very quickly. Out of compassion for people who lived far away from the sacred place, Nagarjuna composed the sadhana of Green Tara of the Acacia Forest.

    Later this tradition was passed down to the first Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa, and became one of his five sets of five meditational deities. The five sets were: Tara, Hayagriva, Vajravarahi, Chakrasamvara and Hevajra. The transmission lineage for all except the last one are still extant in the Kamtsang tradition. This tantra has always held a special place in the Kamtsang Kagyu tradition; it was transmitted from Nagarjuna, through one of his four principle disciples, Nagabodhi, in an unbroken transmission until it became part of the Kamtsang lineage of realisation at the time of Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje.

     In an interesting aside, His Holiness mentioned that there are two sources which support the claim that Nagabodhi lived for an exceptionally long time. One comes from the account of the Chinese translatorXuanzang, who visited South India in the seventh century and describes meeting Nagabodhi who was extremely old by then and living in a forest. The other tells of an Indian master who was sent to study with Nagabodhi because he was a direct disciple of Nagarjuna.

    4. Single Tara Who Shakes the Three Worlds

    His Holiness began with a short description and history. This form of Tara has four faces and eight arms. It is a mother tantra within the Lotus family of kriya tantra.  The practice comes from the tantra known as “The One Hundred and Eight Names of Tara” which was taught by Chenresig on the Potala Hill.  The Indian master Chandragomin composed a sadhana for each of the 108 names. (He was called ‘chandra’ because of a moon-shaped birthmark on his forehead, and ‘gomin’ because he held strict upasaka vows.)  A renowned scholar who received blessings directly from Tara, he  received this tantra directly from her, and the lineage  was passed down unbroken until it finally entered the Karma Kamtsang tradition through the 9th Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje.

    His Holiness then gave the empowerment.

    As if by the blessing of Tara, the sun finally broke through the mist at 10.30am, and the pavilion began to warm up slowly.

    5. Single Kurukulla

    During the afternoon session, for the first time, illustrations of each deity were posted on two huge video screens.

    The Lady Kurukulla is often known as Red Tara. Four-armed and red in colour, she is one of the Three Red Deities for achieving the ordinary siddhis.

    His Holiness explained that this yidam deity has a very complex lineage history.  One tradition tells how, in olden times, there was a King who had many wives.  There was one he never visited.  Therefore, she sent her maidservant to the market to find a way to attract the king. In the market the girl encountered a dark-red woman who said she could help.  The dark-red woman gave the servant a special pill, and told her that anyone who  ate the pill would fall in love with her.  However, when the servant delivered the pill to the queen, the queen thought it might be harmful so she didn’t give it to the king. Instead she threw it into a pond where a naga ate it. The naga transformed himself  into the likeness of the king and began visiting the queen at night. She became pregnant and when the king heard about it, he confronted her. She told him what had happened so the king sent her servant to the market again. There the servant found the red woman and brought her back to the palace. Immediately, the king saw her, he recognised her as the Lady Kurukulla.  Later the king became very learned, a great scholar, and achieved the siddhis. In this tradition, the king himself wrote the sadhana.

    Another tradition says that Kurukulla appeared to Nagarjuna and gave him this sadhana directly.

    6. Single Auspicious Tara who Accomplishes Aims

    This form of Tara is yellow-skinned, and has four faces and eight arms. This sadhana also comes from the sadhanas of “The One Hundred and Eight Names of Tara”  composed by Chandragomin.

    In summing up, His Holiness told everyone that translations into Chinese and English of all these sadhanas from the “Knowing One Frees All” did exist but were awaiting final checking before publication. It was possible they would be translated into other languages as well.
    During the afternoon session there were several fluctuations in the power supply.  At one point a power surge caused one of the lights behind His Holiness to explode, showering the stage with glass fragments. His Holiness looked surprised but unperturbed and carried on. Then the central lights began to flicker. Twice the power was cut and the teachings were interrupted. At the end of the session he finished session on a humorous note: 

    “This is the first time such a thing has ever happened at the Pavilion. Perhaps the Tara who Shakes the World is active.”



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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    22 December, 2014



    A dense, opaque fog blankets the holy land of Bodhgaya as morning dawns on the third day of the “Knowing One Frees All” (Chikshey Kundrol) empowerments.

    Outside the mandala of the Monlam Pavilion, thousands of people make their way through the cold and misty morning air to join their place in the long queue snaking down the road. Inside the mandala of the Monlam Pavilion, the Praises to Tara resounds, led by the Umzes, half an hour before the empowerments’ scheduled start time. And at the secret heart of the mandala, upstairs in the Monlam Office building behind the Pavilion, the Gyalwang Karmapa once again conducts the preparatory empowerment rituals in the shrine of his private library, hidden from sight.

    At 8am gyaling horns herald the Gyalwang Karmapa’s arrival into the pavilion for the start of the morning session. Fresh, warm bread rolls and steaming-hot, sweet tea are distributed to all the participants while they chant the opening Kagyu Lineage Prayer. Wrapped in their thick coats and woollen blankets, the participants purify and offer the tea and bread with both Sanskrit and Tibetan prayers before they enjoy the warm, welcoming breakfast on a particularly cold winter’s morning.

    “I would like to tell you a little bit about the reasons and the purposes for giving you the empowerments,” His Holiness explains during the morning session.

    2014 is the 25th anniversary of Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche’s passing away, as well as the 10th anniversary of Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche’s passing away. For this reason it is a very special anniversary year, particularly for the Monlam, since the deceased Kalu Rinpoche and Bokar Rinpoche really had unequalled kindness for the Kagyu Monlam.

    Initially we made a plan to have a remembrance of Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche and Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, and we decided that since they were primarily interested in practice and meditation it would be best to give an offering of the dharma. So therefore the reason for giving these empowerments of “Knowing One Frees All” is to commemorate the anniversaries of these two masters passing away, as well as to make an offering to them of practice and meditation.

    The Gyalwang Karmapa launches straight into the opening liturgies of the first empowerment. His hands dance sublimely through the air as he performs the mudras while grasping his sacred vajra and bell; his deep voice chants the melodies and mantras with a sonorous resonance. Throughout the empowerment he communicates in gestures of body, speech, and mind that are exquisite, precise, and potent with tantric symbolism.

    Throughout this third day, the Gyalwang Karmapa offers the eight-thousand strong assembly five empowerments – three in the morning session, and two in the afternoon session – beginning with the empowerment of the female deity Great Mother Prajnaparamita.

    7. Great Mother Prajnaparamita (Yum chen sher phyin ma)

    The Gyalwang Karmapa turns first to the prajnaparamita sutras, and explains that many different dharani mantras appear in the long, middle, and short length Prajnaparamita sutras. These include the well-known mantra in the Heart Sutra: TADYATA GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SWAHA.

    These dharani mantras were not actually in the tantras, he explains, but when the masters who were preparing the Tibetan Kangyur were arranging the texts, they took these mantras from the sutras and included them as part of the kriya tantra.

    The practice of Great Mother Prajnaparamita in fact appears in all the different classes of tantra: kriya, carya, yoga, and anuttara yoga. Therefore we can say that the practice of the Great Mother Prajnaparamita fits within the practice of all the sutras and tantras, and also within all four classes of tantra, so we can actually practice it in accord with each of these different classes.

    Next the Gyalwang Karmapa explains that the particular prajnaparamita tradition of this empowerment comes from a female emanation of Prajnaparamita, known as Machig Labdron, a great yogini who achieved accomplishment and siddhi in Tibet.

    “There are many who have achieved accomplishment through the tantras, but only Machig Labdron achieved it through the sutras,” he says. “She realized the meaning of the sutras on prajnaparamita and achieved siddhi on this.

    “Her primary instructions are on the Chod or severance practice, and what we sever in this practice are the four maras. Within the Chod practice, the creation phase is the meditation on the Great Mother Prajnaparamita.”

    The Gyalwang Karmapa explains that the practice relating to the current empowerment descends from Machig Labdron, while the sadhana was composed by the 6th Karmapa, Thongwa Dönden.

    8. Ushnisha Vijaya (gTsug tor rnam par rgyal ma)

    Next the Gyalwang Karmapa offers the empowerment of Ushnisha Vijaya, which is in the tathagata family of the kriya tantras. He explains that the dharani mantra was requested by Avalokiteshvara and taught by Amitabha while he was in the pureland of Sukhavati, as well as by Buddha Shakyamuni. The empowerment has descended from the tradition of the Ocean of Sadhanas by Abhayakara.

    9. Ushnisha Sitatapatra (‘Phags ma gtsug tor gdugs dkar)

    The third empowerment is Ushnisha Sitatapatra, the White Parasol with her large retinue. This is also within the tathagata family of the kriya tantras. The Gyalwang Karmapa explains that within the tathagata family there is the principal of the tathagata family, the master of the family, the mother, the ushnisha, the wrathful male and female deities, the messengers, as well as other aspects of the family for a total of eight, and among these she is the ushnisha of the family. The empowerment is based on a longer sadhana written by the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje.

    “This mantra of the white parasol comes from when the Buddha Shakyamuni was in the “heaven of the thirty-three” in meditation. From his ushnisha, the crown protuberance on the top of his head, came the sound of this dharani mantra, which was then included by those who compiled all the tantras,” he says.

    10. Blazing Ushnisha (gTsug tor ‘bar wa)

    Returning after the lunch break, the Gyalwang Karmapa begins the afternoon session with the fourth empowerment for the day, Blazing Ushnisha. The purpose of this initiation is to avert all illness, harm, bad circumstances, bad dreams, obstacles and the various types of sorcery another might cast upon us, he explains. The mantra is in the root tantra of Manjushri. The empowerment is again part of the kriya tantra, included within the ushnisha section of the tathagata family. It was passed down by Abhayakara, from his Ocean of Sadhanas.

    11. Five Queens of Awareness (Rig pa’i rgyal mo lnga)

    The fifth and final empowerment is the Five Queens of Awareness, also known as the Five Protectresses. These five female deities are: Infinite Galaxies, Great Peacock, Shitavana, the Pursuer, and the Holder of Secret Mantra. The sadhana is from the tradition of Abhayakara, and was passed from Buton Rinpoche through several others down to the 6th Karmapa, Thongwa Donden.



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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    23 December, 2014


    At the end of the fourth day, there was a sudden lull as the empowerments, given in such swift rota, came to a halt. Each empowerment follows the same structure. First there is the supplication to receive the profound empowerment, the 7 branch prayer and instruction to arouse bodhicitta, a description of the visualization, the bestowal of body, speech, mind, quality and activity, repetition of the mantra of the deity, and blessing with the torma. Each empowerment ends with a mandala which both closes the last empowerment and serves as an offering for the next one.       
       
    As the packed audience relaxed, the Karmapa seized the moment to make a powerful exhortation to the audience.

     We have all achieved a precious human body with leisure and resources. Leisure means we are free of the eight states that lack freedom and we have all the resources that come from ourselves and others. We have the facilities that allow us to practise the dharma. We have a great opportunity now and we must not let it go to waste. We must use this precious human body to accomplish great benefit and achieve a great result.
    The eight states that lack leisure are the hells, hungry ghosts, animals, barbarians, long-life gods, having wrong views, the dumb and idiots. Because we are free of those eight states we have the eight leisures. If we are free of the eight states that lack leisure but we spend all our time in various busyness, it doesn't make any difference if we are free of the eight states or not. When we have the leisure we need to use it to accomplish the dharma.
    We have all gathered here at the Monlam, whether monastics or lay people. We have everything we need to practise the dharma. It's all been prepared for us. Having all the facilities to practice the dharma, we may be free of external impediments to practising dharma, but we should think what it means to be free of impediments. Many people lack basic livelihood; they have no clothes to wear,no drinking water, or medical treatment. They have great difficulties. If we compare ourselves to them we can see what it means to have all the facilities to practise. It means we have a particular responsibility to use everything we have. We need to make an effort to help all those beings. For that reason it’s important for us to make an effort to help all those sentient beings who are deprived and keep them in our mind. Sometimes we don’t realize what fortune we have. Only when some unfortunate situation occurs do we realize what an excellent opportunity we have.
    It is important for us to have a broader perspective.

    12. Leaf-Clad Shawari

    When the Buddha was staying in Sravasti he taught the dharani mantra, essence mantra, near-essence mantra and root mantra, and many different rituals, to his entourage and the four communities [bhikshus, bhikshunis, male and female lay practitioners]..

    It belongs to kriya tantra and, of the three transcendent classes of kriya tantra, it is in the lotus or Padma family. She is considered one of the wrathful deities. However, there are also many different forms of the goddess, leaf clad Shawari, that were taught by the great masters of the past. There are different colours of  body and many different numbers of faces and arms. There are some with three faces and six arms, or with one face and four arms.

    The lineage comes down from the Buddha, to Manjushri, to the master 'Victorious over Enemies',and then to Wangchuk Dorje, the 9th Karmapa, from whom it was passed down through the realization lineage of the Karma Kamtsang.

    13. Mārici

    This is also a kriya tantra. Of the three transcendent families, she is in the Tathagata family. The Tathagata family has eight sections; of these she is in the mother of the family section.
    When the Buddha was staying in Śravasti he taught the dharani of Marici to the victors. There are many sadhanas of Marici written by the great masters of India; sixteen sadhanas of Marici are in the” Ocean of Sadhanas” alone. This particular one was written by the 6th Karmapa, Thongwa Donden in accordance with the sadhana found in Acarya Abhayakara’s  “Garland of the Perfection of Yogas”.

    In degenerate times the goddess Marici  is especially beneficial because most yidam deities are difficult to practice; but she is especially strong and powerful in degenerate times. She is followed by Buddhists and non-Buddhists in many lands, including China and Japan. She is  well-known in China and practiced by Taoists and others, as well as Buddhists. She is particularly famous  amongst warriors. She appears prominently in popular  tales of the western armies of the monkey king.

    14. Armband of the Noble Victory Banner’s Peak

    When the Buddha was in the heaven of the thirty-three, there was a war between the gods and demi-gods. The gods lost and Indra was very discouraged and disappointed. So the Buddha taught the dharani mantra of Armband of the Noble Victory Banner's Peak and then the gods were victorious over the demi-gods.

    This is yet again kriya  tantra, in the Tathagata family. It is also included within the wrathful female deities.

    The lineage was passed down from Abhayakara’s  “Ocean of Sadhanas”.

    15. Goddess Sarasvati

    The practice of Sarasvati is praised as being the greatest for removing the darkness of ignorance and unknowing, for developing the light of wisdom, and for being able to write poetry and treatises.

    This sadhana of Sarasvati is superior to other sadhanas of Sarasvati. This practice came from Vajradhara to the wisdom dakinis, and then to Rinchen Jungney down to the 9th Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje.

    16. Orange Manjushri with Retinue

    The Karmapa began with a story.

    In India near Nalanda there lived an old man of ninety-nine years. He felt weary with samsara and thought he needed to achieve buddhahood.  He went to see a pandita who lived nearby and asked for help. The pandita said: You are ninety-nine years old. You are too old, you cannot even read.

    The old man thought to himself, 'This is very true, I cannot read and I cannot study the dharma and if I cannot read or study I will not be able to achieve the state of buddhahood'. So he felt very discouraged.

    As he sat there, he met a master named Chariot of the Sun, who gave him a practice of Manjushri. He asked, 'How long will it take me to accomplish the practice?' The answer was: If you have a karmic connection then you can achieve this in one day. So he took a sword and put it by his table and vowed,  'If I do not see Manjushri face to face by tomorrow morning I will commit suicide'. He did the practice. The next morning he saw Manjushri who gave him teachings. By the blessings of Manjushri he became like an eight year old boy. He was called Kumaradeva, the youthful wise one. He became well -versed in all areas of knowledge.

    Kumaradeva  taught it to Pa Dampa Sanjay who then gave it to Machig Labdron, from whom it passed down to the Ninth Karmapa.

    In the final empowerment of the day, the Karmapa blessed his Lamas with a special multi-coloured,  tiered torma of Manjushri, which resembled an elaborate confection. In both shape and colour, it was very different from the previous tormas used during the empowerments.
    ''Seven or eight years ago Gyaltsab Rinpoche told me that I should have a torma of Manjushri such as this one,” the Karmapa explained, “ so that’s why I had this torma made.''


    1. http://www.kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20141223.html

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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    December 24, 2014



    In the chill of the late afternoon, the Pavilion is surrounded by the warm light of candles, tracing the edges of the roof above, and below, the curving lines of the walls around the offering hearths. Across the fields, the walls of the main shrine and the Karmapa's quarters are aglow, draped in the flowing lines of bright lights, remindful, too, of the Christmas Eve that is being celebrated in other parts of the world.

    Inside the Pavilion, the magnificent throne is now occupied by a life-like statue of Dusum Khyenpa, his eyebrows slightly raised as his eyes gaze downward in meditative concentration. The Gyalwang Karmapa's carved throne of a warm brown wood has been placed on the right side of the stage in between lower thrones for his heart sons Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche.

    A Rain of Blessings,the Dusum Khyenpa celebratory puja to be chanted this evening, was written by the present Karmapa for the 900th anniversary of Dusum Khyenpa in 2010. The text is now displayed in clear, colorful letters (Tibetan, roman transliteration, and Chinese) on the new high tech screens placed on either side of the hall. The verses are full of poetic  beauty and depth. In speaking of Dusum Khyenpa, the Karmapa writes:

    All-pervading lord, you are the nature of all things;
    Like space, you do not stay, you neither come nor do you go,
    Knowing neither motion nor stillness yet appearing
    Wherever we looklike the moon shining in water.

    This sadhana of Dusum Khyenpa is supplemented with compositions by the four heart sons, which were interleaved throughout the practice today. As the Karmapa notes with humility in the colophon: "I used the words of earlier masters, leaving them as they were, and then decorated them with supplementary texts that are the unchanging words of the heart sons."The Karmapa also wrote: "I dedicate this virtue so that all my parents, living and deceased,may move along the path going from happiness to happiness, and that this be a cause for them to be cared for by the noble Three Jewels and the lord of Dharma, the glorious Karmapa."

    As part of the celebration, delicious rice cooked with apricots and dates was offered to the thousands present. And at the end of the puja, the Karmapa stood in front of the throne where the statue of Dusum Khyenpa was seated and offered beautiful bronze statues of the First Karmapa to the Administrations of Tai Situ, Jamgön Kongtrul, and Gyaltsap Rinpoches; to the Tsurphu Office; the Kagyu Monlam Organizing Committee; Mingyur Rinpoche's Tergar Labrang; to Khenpo Lodro Dönyö for his connection to all the work Kalu Rinpoche did for the Monlam; to the Taiwanese master teacher Hai Tao Fa Shih of Life TV; and to Gyatson Rinpoche who has committed to be the main sponsor of Monlam for five years. At the very end before leaving the stage, the Karmapa wished everyone a Merry Christmas.



    http://www.kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20141224.html

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    26 27 December, 2014
    Location: Monlam Pavilion


    32nd Kagyu Monlam Teachings Indian Time
    The Torch of True Meaning
    by His Holiness Karmapa
    December 26 & 27 - Morning Session
        8:00 - 9:00 • 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 Tea break
        9:30 - 10:30 • Vajrasattva practice
    • The Aspiration of the Mahamudra of Definitive Meaning (p. 353)
    • An Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet (p. 427)
    December 26 & 27 - Afternoon Session
        14:00 - 15:00 • Mandala Offerings (p. 613)
    • Teachings on Vajrasattva Practice from The Torch of True Meaning
        15:00 - 15:30 Tea break
        15:30 - 16:30 • Vajrasattva practice
    • The Aspiration of the Mahamudra of Definitive Meaning (p. 353)
    • An Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet (p. 427)



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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    24 December, 2014


    This fifth day of the empowerments was filled with blessings of various forms of Manjushri, the embodiment of wisdom. The Karmapa also added one of the deities from the following morning as the empowerment then  would take some time.

    The torma of Manjushri is a special one: the square base comprises sixteen volumes of long, rectangle-shaped texts stacked four by four. They include the twelve volumes of the Prajna Paramita (Perfection of Wisdom) sutras from the words of the Buddha (the Kangyur). The double flaps on the ends of the texts (for writing the titles) create lively rows of squares in brilliant, variegated color.The texts are surmounted by flowers and a pair of doves while above them rises the blue finial of an upright sword, the emblem of Manjushri.  The same torma will be used for all of the Manjushri initiations.

    17. White Manjushri ('Jam dbyangs dkar po)

    The Karmapa explained that there are many different types of wisdom―profound, vast, swift, and great wisdom. He had heard that white Manjushri is the best for developing swift wisdom.The story connected with this deity relates to a master named Jetari Draley Namgyal who had actually seen Manjushri, received teachings from him, and achieved siddhis. One time Manjushri came to him and said, "You are eighty years old now and have only ten years of life left. You need to find a student who is a proper vessel for your teachings."

    With his miraculous powers, Jetari looked around in all directions for a suitable disciple, but could not find one. Finally, he returned to Magadha and there saw a man who was tending water buffaloes. He was seventy years old and decrepit, but Jetari saw that he was worthy, and said to him, "You should come with me and enter the gate of the Dharma."

    The old man replied, "I'm already old and don’t even know how to read. How can I study the Dharma? It'd be better if I became your disciple in the next life.  I'm basically finished with this one." Jetari answered, "No problem. I have a sadhana that will work for you." He gave the old man the sadhana of Manjushri. After only five days of this practice, the man became a scholar called Mati who knew all the Dharma and traveled to Nalanda where he became a monk. He was also called Norbulingpa.

    He said to Jetari, "It was kind of you to take me in as a student, but now I am old and I don't have any time to teach the Dharma. It would be better for me to practice meditation."

    Jetari replied, "You still have ten years of life left. Manjushri predicted that I would have another ten years of life. Two of those have passed, so I'll give you the remaining eight years. Now you'll have a total of eighteen years to teach the Dharma and benefit beings. If you pray to your special deity, you could live even longer than that." Jetari then passed away and his pandita student spent many years teaching.

    As for the lineage of the practice, the pandita gave these instructions to a student who gave them to the great pandita Shakya Shri,who came to Tibet at the invitation of the translator Tropu Lotsawa. At that time, the Tibetans thought that all Indians were very wise and that it was impossible for the Tibetans to compare with them in terms of wisdom.So the Translator Tropu asked Shakya Shri to give instructions that would increase wisdom. Shakya Shri replied that he had an ocean of instructions and among them was a special one called the “Chapter on Manjushri”.The translator requested the instruction, but Shakya Shri said, "I must now go to Nepal. If you come along with me,I'll give you the teaching."So they went together to Nepal where Tropu Lotsawa received the instructions on Manjushri. Thus the lineage comes from Manjushri to Jetari, to Pandita Mati, to the Junior Norbu Lingka, to Shakya Shri and on to the Ninth Karmapa.

    18. Namasangiti Manjushri, Reciting the Names of Manjushri ('Jam pal mtshan yang dag par brjod pa)

    When the Buddha taught the Dharma wheels of the secret mantravajrayana, he taught many Dharmas. This form of Manjushri  is from the unexcelled yoga tantra, which is divided into mother, father, and non-dual tantras. Reciting the Names of Manjushri belongs to the father tantra, which emphasizes skillful means, and within the six families of the father tantras― Akshobhya, Vairocana, Amoghasiddhi, Amitabha, Ratnasambhava, and Vajradhara―it belongs to the family of Vairocana.  Within this family, there are two divisions: Mayajala (Net of Illusion) and Yamantaka, and this text belongs to the former. The root text of Mayajala is in sixty thousand verses, and one of its chapters is known as ”The Net of Samadhi”, within which we find “Reciting the Names of Manjushri”.

    Some Indian scholars say that this text belongs to the non-dual tantras, where means and wisdom are not separated, because thought resembles that of the Kalachakra, which is categorized as a non-dual tantra. Some explain it in terms of the yoga tantra.”The Treasury of Kagyu Instructions” contains a practice called Jamyang Sungden, which belongs to one of the seven mandala cycles of Ngok Choku Dorje, a disciple of Marpa Lotsawa.

    There are many different versions of this practice, and the one being given is from Abhayakara's ”Ocean of Sadhanas”. Taking this as a basis, the Sixth Karmapa Tongwa Dönden composed a practice in which a central Manjushri is surrounded by yidam deities from other families.

    19. Manjushri the Lion of Speech ('Jam pal smra seng)

    There is no official story for this initiation. The Karmapa believes that it belongs to the same story as that of the Orange Manjushri and the old man from India who put a sword by his pillow and vowed to kill himself if he did not see Manjushri by the morning. These days,it would be difficult to realize Manjushri by just putting a sword by our pillow. Many causes and conditions need to coalesce for realization to happen: we need great capabilities, good fortune, proper instructions, deep faith, and so forth.

    In the life stories of realized masters from the past, we find accounts of incredible feats that we cannot imitate. They are quite amazing, like the story of the great siddha Telopa hitting Naropa with his shoe whereby Naropa received the wisdom of the empowerment. These days, we cannot empower people by slapping them with a sandal. There are many politicians who get shoes thrown at them but they do not receive wisdom this way.When we look at the life stories of past masters, we can see the immense efforts they made in practice. If we went through the austerities and made all the effort they did, then if we were hit with a shoe, we might develop the wisdom of the Buddha. But nowadays, we just expect something to be put on top of our heads and thereby receive the empowerment.
    The Karmapa concluded by speaking of a meeting with the organizers of Kagyu Monlam the night before. The discussion revolved around how to give the empowerment to everyone on the last day. Should people file by the Karmapa? (What some of the organizers suggested.) Or should he come down from the throne and walk among people? (What he wanted to do.) It has not yet been decided.

    20. Manjushri Arapacha (‘Jam dpal A ra pa tsa)

    The Gyalwang Karmapa begins the afternoon session with the Manjushri Arapacha empowerment. He explains that Manjushri is the embodiment of the prajna or wisdom of all the buddhas, in the form of a deity.

    “If we want to realize the profound meaning of emptiness then it is important for us to request the blessings of Manjushri,” he says.

    Actually, when we study texts on the Middle Way, if we want it to be more than just mere letters and words, if we want to actually develop realisation of the meaning of these in our being, then we need to pray to Manjushri. Only then will we be able to develop realisation.
    We need these blessings in order to develop quick and sharp prajna. A sharp wisdom which is not just sharp intelligence—rather, this is the sharp discernment that can discriminate among the different types of dharmas. It is Manjushri’s special power and activity to bring us that ability.
    The Karmapa continued to say that these days our faculties are getting duller and our thoughts are proliferating. On the outside, it seems as if people are getting smarter. They always have more questions to ask: What's reason? What's the essence? It seems as if they are asking very deep and sharp questions. Yet if we really think about it, we just have more and more thoughts, but we never come to their end and eliminate our doubts. Instead our doubts keep growing and we don’t get to the bottom of anything. It’s just one thought after another.

    When we look at people from older times, it might seem as if they don’t know how to do anything. Yet when it comes down to it, they had no doubt about the main points of the view and so they had certain comfort in their mind. But we these days never find that sort of comfort―we are always entertaining doubts and worrying about something.
    So we’re just following after the words and thoughts, one leading to the next. We use a lot of logic and never plumb the depths. It’s only if we are able to receive the blessings of our lamas, the buddhas and the bodhisattvas that we can develop loving-kindness, compassion, and devotion―only then will we be able to see the nature of things directly.
    21. Manjushri the Lion's Roar (‘Jam dpal senggesgra)

    The second empowerment for the afternoon session is Manjushri the Lion's Roar, for which His Holiness does not give an explanation. This empowerment was also passed down by the Indian master Abhayakara.

    22. Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara

    Originally scheduled for the following day, His Holiness next gives the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) empowerment, an extra addition to the afternoon’s schedule.
    “It shouldn’t be necessary to give an introduction to Chenrezig because everyone knows it,” he says. “But this particular practice is one that Padmasambhava hid as a treasure and then was later revealed by the great Mahasiddha Ngodrup. Then it was passed down to the 6th Karmapa, Thongwa Dönden.”



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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
    25 December, 2014


    The Karmapa arrived in a ceremonial silk chögu, which draped in glistening folds over his robes. Once he was seated on the throne, however, it was quickly concealed by a heavy woollen cloak . Around his neck he wore a maroon muffler to protect his throat and chest.  Even though the sides of the pavilion had been hung with heavy Tibetan door cloths, a chilly draught swept across the stage, and the butter lamps on the golden shrine guttered uncertainly.  The unusually cold, wintry weather was continuing across North India.

    This morning was the last of the Chikshey Kundrol initiations, so celebratory sweet rice was served as well as bread and butter tea. From his throne, the Karmapa watched the distribution of rice and tea carefully, to ensure that everyone was served and no one left out before he began the morning’s  empowerments. Then he began.

    23. Single Amitāyus

    His Holiness gave the medium length form of the initiation: the body, speech, mind, qualities and activities of Amitayus, with the torma empowerment.

    Amitayus is red with one face and two arms, holding a vase which contains the nectar of immortality and wisdom.

    Though all of the buddhas of the three times are equal in their power of compassion and have the ability to bestow the siddhi of long life, His Holiness explained, it is Amitayus who is praised as supreme in this respect.  The Lord Buddha himself taught Manjushri this mantra of the ‘Sound of the Drum of Deathlessness’, which came from the world realm Immeasurable Quality. The Buddha there Immeasurable Infinite Life and Wisdom said that the life of anyone who recites the 108 mantras of the 108 names of the Buddha will be lengthened. Based on this dharani, the Indian Mahasiddha Jetari composed a sadhana of the nine deities of Amitayus.[The other eight identical forms which surround Amitayus in the mandala are east Vajra Amitayus, south Ratna Amitayus, west Padma Amitayus, north Karma Amitayus, northeast Avaloka Amitayus, southeast Guna Amitayus, southwest Jnana Amitayus, and northwest Achala Amitayus.]

    Padmasambhava accomplished this practice with his consort Mandarava. Later she, in the form of Machik Drupey Gyalmo [Queen of Siddhas], taught Milarepa’s disciple Rechungpa, who brought the practice to Tibet. The Sixth Karmapa Thongwa Dönden composed an outer, inner and secret practice of Amitayus which is the tradition of the empowerment given today. The order of the initiations had been changed, and now the Amitayus initiation fell on the last day. His Holiness expressed his hope that this would be an auspicious omen and blessing that everyone present would have a long life and be protected from untimely death.

    24.  Single  Maitreya

    The last initiation of the 24 deities in the Chikshey Kundrol was that of the Protector Maitreya. First Gyalwang Karmapa gave the background and lineage of the empowerment.
    When Shakyamuni descended from the Tushita Heaven he requested Maitreya to be his regent.  Maitreya is one of the great bodhisattvas and will become the fifth Buddha of this world. The lineage of the empowerment comes from the great Indian master Abhayakara Gupta’s text “Ocean of Sadhanas”, explained the Karmapa.

    “When the Protector Maitreya comes to this world as the future buddha, it is my prayer and aspiration that all of us gathered here will have the fortune to encounter his teachings,” the Karmapa said. “I think that if everyone here generates as much pure perception and faith as they are able, it will definitely happen.”

    He continued,

    I think this is a very good connection. For that reason when I give the Maitreya empowerment I will try to place the torma on the heads of everyone here. The most important thing is our aspiration. During the time of the buddha there were many students who, because of the power of previous aspirations, were able to meet the buddha, receive dharma teachings and serve him. For that reason it is our aspiration that is most important.
    His Holiness then gave the empowerment in the short form, as time was limited.

    After the conclusion of the empowerment, there was a magnificent body, speech and mind, qualities and activities long-life mandala offering to His Holiness, led by Karma Khenchen Rinpoche, the principal organiser of the event, and Lama Choedrak, the CEO of the International Monlam. They were accompanied by Rigdzin Gyatson Rinpoche, the main sponsor of the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. The offerings included large statues of Ushnisha Vijaya, White Tara and Amitayus, all long-life deities. Following, came others connected with the Kagyu Monlam as well as representatives of all the administrations of the various Rinpoches and monasteries present, bearing more traditional gifts: Buddhist texts, a set of robes, rolls of colourful silk brocades, huge bags of barley, money offerings and so forth. Bringing up the rear was an eighty-five year old Tibetan, clad in white, and symbolising long life.

    There was then a short break during which everyone recited Maitreya’s aspiration

    The assembly of more than 10,000* people waited to see what would happen next. How could Gyalwang Karmapa fulfil his promise to offer the torma empowerment to everyone? Very few knew that late the night before, His Holiness had visited the pavilion and devised a plan.

    The Gyalwang Karmapa returned to the throne and from there directed the staff to divide the people in the huge auditorium into sets of opposing rows, two-deep, with a walking space between.

    Taking up the Maitreya torma, he first blessed the Rinpoches and Khenpos on the stage. Then he descended the steps into the huge auditorium.  Followed and preceded by an entourage of security personnel and attendants, the Karmapa began at the centre and made his way to the left of the Pavilion first. Walking down the rows of devotees, he blessed those on the left- side of the row. Returning up the rows, he blessed those on the right-side of the row.

    Everyone was deeply affected by the great kindness that His Holiness showed in this effort to include everybody in the last empowerment. Swiftly and tirelessly, he moved up and down the rows, touching the crown of people’s heads with the Maitreya torma in his right hand, while ceaselessly ringing a ritual bell with his left. Some were completely overwhelmed and wept. Other faces shone with happiness.

    Nearly two hours later, as the Karmapa returned to the throne to perform the completion rituals for the empowerment, the assembly clapped and cheered. The completion of the empowerments with a final demonstration of the authentic Lama’s great compassion and loving kindness had been an extraordinary and unprecedented Christmas gift for all.
    EMAHO!

    *More than ten thousand people were officially registered as participants in the Chikshey Kundrol, and many more had arrived on the day without registering, so the unofficial estimate of those present is 11,000.



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




    Webcast Link:



    32nd Kagyu Monlam Chenmo

    Indian Time

    Day 1: Monday, December 29, 2014

        6:00 - 8:30

    • Mahayana Sojong, Twenty-Branch Monlam

        9:00 - 10:30

    • Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment

        13:30 - 15:00

    • The Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct, Maitreya’s Aspiration, Aspiration from The Way of the Bodhisattva

        15:30 - 17:00

    • The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 2: Tuesday, December 30

        6:00 - 8:30

    • Mahayana Sojong, Twenty-Branch Monlam

        9:00 - 10:30

    • Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment

        13:30 - 15:00

    • The Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct, The Sukhavati Prayer “I Prostrate with Respect...”

        15:30 - 17:00

    • The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 3: Wednesday, December 31

        6:00 - 8:30

    • Mahayana Sojong, Twenty-Branch Monlam

        9:00 - 10:30

    • Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment

        13:30 - 15:00

    • Praises of Tara and Saraswati

        15:30 - 17:00

    • The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 4: Thursday, January 1, 2015

        6:00 - 8:30

    • Mahayana Sojong, Twenty-Branch Monlam

        9:00 - 10:30

    • Teachings on The Four Freedoms from Attachment

        13:30 - 15:00

    • Prayers to Guru Rinpoche: Clearing the Path of Obstacles and Spontaneous Fulfillment of Wishes

        15:30 - 17:00

    • The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 5: Friday, January 2

        6:00 - 8:00

    • Mahayana Sojong, Twenty-Branch Monlam

        8:00 

    • Kangyur Procession

       9:00 - 10:30

    • Reading the Kangyur

       13:30 - 15:00

    • Prayers for the Well-Being of Tibet

       15:30 - 17:00

    • The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 6: Saturday, January 3

       6:00 - 8:30

    • Mahayana Sojong, Twenty-Branch Monlam, Sixteen Arhats

       7:00

    • Alms Procession

       13:30 - 15:00

    • The Sutra in Three Sections, Akshobhya Sutras

       15:30 - 17:00

    • The Twenty-Branch Monlam

    Day 7: Sunday, January 4

        6:00 - 8:30

    • Mahayana Sojong, Medicine Buddha

       9:00 - 11:00

    • Offerings to the Gurus

       13:00 - 14:30

    • Offerings to the Gurus

       15:00 - 17:00

    • Sponsor Appreciation, Special Address

    Monday, January 5, 2015
        19:30

    • The Marme Monlam



    Download 32nd Kagyu Monlam Program




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    Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya,
    25 December, 2014 


    After five glorious days of transmissions the participants are treated to one final empowerment, specially requested by the Gyalwang Karmapa. In the afternoon session on the final day, Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche offers the Vajrasattva empowerment, bringing the “Knowing One Frees All” empowerments to an auspicious completion.

    “This Vajrasattva empowerment will be particularly beneficial for those doing their ngongdro preliminary practices,” the Gyalwang Karmapa had told the participants earlier in the day.

    An hour before the empowerment begins Gyaltsab Rinpoche is already on stage, performing the preliminary rituals behind the ornately painted, four-panelled screen. By 2pm the Monlam Pavilion is once more packed to capacity, with more than 10,000people coming together from all over the world, their faces radiant after days of empowerments. The rows of cushions laid out from the front to the rear of the pavilion are full; an extra crowd gathers in the back, where there is now standing-room-only.

    The stage has been redesigned for the afternoon’s session: a life-size statue of the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, sits regally on the Gyalwang Karmapa’s large and elaborate throne, while Gyaltsab Rinpoche is seated on a slightly smaller throne in front. This is a particularly auspicious moment  as Gyaltsab Rinpoche had received this empowerment himself from the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, while this afternoon the foremost recipient is His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.

    To the left of the stage a radiant Vajrasattva statue, seated peacefully in cross-legged posture, now rests inside the exquisite golden mandala-pagoda, with various torma and other offering substances arrayed in front.

    Gyalings announce Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s arrival back into the hall for the empowerment proper, and four incense bearers wearing ceremonial yellow hats escort him to the stage. The Gyalwang Karmapa is seated to Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s left on a throne of equal height, with Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche seated on a slightly smaller throne beside the Gyalwang Karmapa’s.

    Gyaltsab Rinpoche first offers three prostrations before the kingly statue of the 16thGyalwang Karmapa. He then grasps a symbolic mirror and chants the opening liturgies, his voice resonating melodiously around the vast hall, thus beginning the Vajrasattva empowerment.

    Gyaltsab Rinpoche instructs those gathered to request the empowerment with a genuine Mahayana bodhichitta motivation, in order to bring all sentient beings as limitless as space to the state of Buddhahood.

    A body, speech,and mind mandala for requesting the empowerment is bought forward by representatives of Tsurphu Labrang, led by Chamsingla, the Gyalwang Karmapa’s older sister. 
    “Compared to all the infinite deities within Vajrayana Buddhism, Vajrasattva is different,” Gyaltsab Rinpoche teaches.

    He is more pervasive, more encompassing. And whichever Vajrayana deity we practice, whether it is Kalachakra, Chakrasamvara, or Vajravarahi, we absolutely must practice Vajrasattva along with it. Whatever our Vajrayana practice may be, we must rely on Vajrasattva so that we’re not affected by downfalls,wrongdoings, impediments, and obstacles.

    There’s not a single other tantra that does not also mention Vajrasattva. He appears in all the tantras, and for this reason he’s particularly important. Several tantras and instructions also teach that Vajrasattva is principal among all the deities.

    Next Gyaltsab Rinpoche explains that generally the more empowerments we take, the greater the power of our virtue becomes.

    But sometimes when we are overcome by our wrongs and downfalls then the more empowerments we take, the heavier those wrongs and downfalls become.

    When we do commit wrongs and downfalls we should immediately use Vajrasattva practice to purify those misdeeds and obstacles. When we do this, the greater number of empowerments we have, then the greater our power to purify.

    This particular Vajrasattva empowerment comes from the tradition of Marpa of Lodrak, and includes the vase empowerment of body, the mantra empowerment of speech, and the samadhi empowerment of mind.

    As the ritual progresses, Gyaltsab Rinpoche descends from his throne in order to confer the individual empowerments on His Holiness. But the Gyalwang Karmapa stands up before Gyaltsab Rinpoche can reach him—in a spontaneous expression of high esteem and devotion, the Gyalwang Karmapa crosses the stage and meets his heart son half-way. The Karmapa bows forward and Rinpoche gently places the vase on the Gyalwang Karmapa’s head, and pours nectar into his cupped hands.

    Gyaltsab Rinpoche repeats the gestures of physically conferring the empowerment one by one for all the eminent rinpoches and lamas on stage. He then stands at the edge facing the participants, and with grand sweeping gestures sprinkles nectar from the bumpa and tosses handfuls of rice in all directions, symbolically conferring empowerment upon all. 

    The participants recite Vajrasattva’s 100-syllable mantra three times in unison with Gyaltsab Rinpoche, thus sealing the mantra garland in their minds.

    Next comes an elaborate mandala offering of thanks, led by the main sponsors, who carry exquisite statues, precious dharma texts, golden stupas, silken cloths, and the like.
    At the end of the empowerment the Gyalwang Karmapa approaches Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s throne to offer him a long white silk khata and personal offering, and this time it is Gyaltsab Rinpoche who stands up from his own throne in order to meet him half-way.

    The close warmth and mutual respect between Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Gyalwang Karmapa is evident as heart son and master meet in the centre of the stage for a third time, before the incense bearers escort them both out of the Pavilion.



    http://www.kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20141225_1.html

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    Monlam Pavilion
    26 December, 2014


    In his Foreword to the new translation of The Torch of True Meaning, the Karmapa writes:

    Many people, when they hear of the highest stages of Dharma study and practice, such as "emptiness" or "mahamudra" want to study and practice them immediately. However, without a stable foundation, which is the essential prerequisite to such advanced practices, even if they were to study or practice them, they would not be able to experience their profundity.

    This is the reason why The Torch of True Meaning is such an important text. Composed by the first Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, it gives comprehensive instructions on how to practice the ngöndro, the essential preparation for all practitioners before beginning mahamudra.  Anyone who wishes to practice the ngöndro of the Kagyu lineage, and in particular the Karma Kagyu lineage, should first read this text carefully and internalize its meaning. They will then have a stable ground for the practice of mahamudra. This is not just the correct way to practice but also the most beneficial.

    Picking up the thread from past Kagyu Monlams, the Karmapa resumed his teachings today on The Torch of True Meaning, this time focusing on Vajrasattva. During the empowerment yesterday, Gyaltsap Rinpoche gave a general explanation of the benefits of Vajrasattva practice and its history, so there was no need to repeat these. However, the Karmapa explained, "It is necessary to continue to read the instructions from The Torch of True Meaning. We need to read all of these withnothing left  out, so I will read the instructions now." And he gave the reading transmission for the following section of the text:

    2. The Instructions on the Hundred-syllable mantra that Purifies Misdeeds and Obscurations.

    There are two types of hundred-syllable mantras, the hundred-syllables of the Tathagata taught inThe Tantra of the Manifestation of the Three Samayas and the hundred-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva taught in many tantras. There are two kinds of hundred-syllable mantras of Vajrasattva, the peaceful hundred syllables of all families that can be changed into the name mantras of infinite supramundane deities, and the hundred-syllable mantra of the wrathful heruka, taught in The Highest Tantra of Speech. Although they may not all have exactly one hundred syllables, they are known as hundred-syllable mantras because they are all of the same mantra family.

    Here I will describe the stages of visualization of the hundred-syllables of the peaceful Vajrasattva. There are two traditions: that of a single figure in the form of a universal emperor according to yoga tantra, and a coemergent one in union with a consort according to the tradition of the unexcelled yoga tantra. (The Torch of True Meaning by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, translated by David Karma Choephel, KTD Publications and Kagyu Monlam, 2014, p. 47)

    No matter how much good we do in this and future lives, it’s necessary to make great efforts to purify our misdeeds and obscurations in various ways. Indian masters wrote that keeping samaya is the essence of achieving common or supreme siddhis. Milarepa also taught that if we do not confess the unwholesome and erroneous things we have done, not just in this lifetime but from beginningless time, it would be difficult to become a true vessel of the teachings, or to meditate on the path, or to understand the dharma.Among all the numerous methods to purify wrongdoings and downfalls,the greatest is the practice of Vajrasattva.If we are careless and do not acknowledge or confess our wrongs, even when they are slight, that small misdeed can grow huge.

    The great Indian mahasiddhas also composed treatises that explained these downfalls and their remedies from the mantrayana's point of view.The vinaya tradition holds that even if we confess and vow not to commit them again, if we incur one of the defeats (killing, stealing, etc.),it cannot be purified. But The Sutra of the Manifestation of Three Samayas explains that due to great compassion in the secret mantra tradition, if we do fasting practice with the three stages of preparation, the actual practice, and conclusion, there’s no defeat or downfall of the pratimoksha vows that cannot be purified. The charya tantra also teaches ways of purification and so does the yoga tantra, stating that if we recite one hundred thousand mantras of Sarvavid Vairocana, we can purify all of our misdeeds.

    There are two main traditions of Vajrasattva in terms of preliminary practices. For mahamudra in the yoga tradition, Vajrasattva is usually a single deity. For the Six Yogas of Naropa in the unexcelled yoga tantra, the coemergent Vajrasattva has a consort.

    In sum, root downfalls in the tantric tradition are weighty and grave; they are also easy to commit and hard to avoid. If we do commit them, we will fall into the incessant or Avici hell for an incredibly long time.(It is said that during an equivalent period, someone could practice the mahayana path and come to buddhahood.)

    However, if we recite the hundred-syllable mantra one hundred thousand times―not just with our mouths but from the depths of our heart―we can purify all the root downfalls of samaya.

    Lord Atisha said that the downfalls of the vajrayana happen easily: if we even look at an object and think of it as an ordinary thing,that can become a downfall. If you carefully polish a mandala plate and just leave it out in a dusty place, it will naturally gather dust and grime. It is the same with the downfalls of the Vajrayana.

    So one student asked Atisha, "If this is true, it must be difficult to achieve buddhahood through the vajrayana path." Atisha replied, "There's no need to worry about this. In the vajrayana, even though it’s easy to commit downfalls, we have a supreme method, the inconceivable meditation on Vajrasattva."

    Some scholars say that if an individual has pratimoksha vows and later takes bodhisattva and vajrayana vows, the pratimoksha vows become an aspect or part of these later two vows. So if that person restores their vows through the methods of the bodhisattva or mantrayana, any violations of the pratimoksha vow are also restored at that time. It is also said that the bodhisattva vows are harder to keep than the pratimoksha vows, and secret mantra vajrayana vows are even more difficult to keep. Just as higher vows  are more difficult to maintain, there are also more wondrous methods for restoring any downfalls. So we do not have to fear that these vows are too difficult and we will be unable to keep them.

    If someone who has bodhisattva vows and aspirational bodhicitta in their being, incurs a defeat of the pratimoksha vows, this person can once again restore their vows, without being weakened in any way, in the presence of a support. This doesn’t appear in the vinaya, but a bodhisattva needs to accomplish a vast benefit for sentient beings and needs to gather the accumulation of merit for innumerable eons. This is a very long time, so it’s difficult for an individual in that situation to be so tight about the pratimoksha vows. Therefore, this is a particular allowance for an individual bodhisattva, but for Buddhism in general it’s better to hold the vows―holding the vows properly is more in accord with the vinaya and teaching in general.So we can say that in terms of the higher vows, they are more difficult to keep but this is balanced by being easier to restore. For his reason, there is no need to have any fear or apprehension about practicing them.

    The Karmapa then spoke about the Vajrasattva practice that would follow after a short break. He wanted to borrow five minutes of our time as he had something to say.

    Yesterday we received the Vajrasattva empowerment. After the break, I will give you the reading transmission for the practice and then we will do the practice and recite his mantra.

    Kyabje Tai Situ Rinpoche’s tutor said to me that during the Kagyu Monlam, it would be good for us to recite ten million Vajrasattva mantras. Since this would be difficult, I thought about what to do. This year we’re having the Vajrasattva instructions, and it occurred to me that if we all recite the mantra together, we may not reach ten million but together we should accumulate a few million.

    In general, we’re all practitioners of the secret mantra vajrayana and accumulate many root downfalls. If they fell upon Atisha like rain, for us they’re like a flood or an ocean. Particularly within the Karma Kamtsang for the last few decades, different situations have happened that relate tothe samaya between master and disciples,and between Dharma friends. We have many downfalls. We may think that we're very pure within ourselves, but that would actually be very difficult. For that reason, we need to recognize that our downfalls are downfalls and make efforts to purify them. If can do this,we will be able to have harmonious samaya connections, and the samaya within Karma Kamtsang lineage will not be tarnished in any way.

    With this important statement, the Karmapa concluded the morning session of teachings.


    http://www.kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20141226.html

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    Monlam Pavilion
    26 December, 2014


    ''It is said that doing this visualization is like gathering the accumulations of merit and wisdom for three aeons. ''

    Thin rays of sun have finally penetrated the dense fog for the first time in several days, creating a festive feeling in the pavilion. The series of initiations that concluded recently with a grand finale when the Karmapa came through the aisles and in record time, personally blessed 10,000 people with the Maitreya torma, fulfilled our wishes beyond the wildest expectations.

    As the Karmapa commented, the Monlam is not really a one man job.  However, so far he has been carrying it himself. Just before the teaching on Vajrasattva, he declared he was strong enough to carry The Torch of True Meaning; and sat with all of us reciting the Vajrasattva mantra for forty minutes. Following on as it did, from yesterday’s individual blessing with the Maitreya torma, this too created  a sense of intimacy, as if it was a one-to-one encounter with the Karmapa.

    The stage now emphasizes the lineage of Karmapas with Mount Kailash in the background and a large gold and copper Shakyamuni directly behind Dusum Khyenpa and the 16th Karmapa. The splendid throne backrest of  silk brocade with swirling dragon, displayed during the major empowerments, has been replaced by an abstract pattern. The Karmapa prostrates on a red carpet placed there for the occasion and climbs the steps to the throne. Garlands of red and gold lights twinkle from the back of the Pavilion, a reminder that we are in India, and it is Christmas.

    The Karmapa announces he will be discussing the visualisation for Vajrasattva and reads from the new text renamed The Torch of True Meaning.  (p. 47 last paragraph). The text describes the usual Vajrasattva visualization: a white PAM above the crown of one's head, transforming into a white lotus and the AH into a moon seat; on top is a HUM which transforms into a white five- pronged vajra with a HUM at the centre. Light rays radiate from the HUM making offerings to the noble ones and benefitting beings and are then re-absorbed to transform into Vajrasattva, inseparable from the root guru. And then the text describes the appearance of Vajrasattva, with vajra and bell, right leg forward, left leg bent, Akshobhya Buddha above his head, and mantra garland circling clockwise around a white HUM in his heart. Light radiates, inviting the buddhas and bodhisattvas who dissolve into the HUM and mantra.

    But as the Karmapa comments on the visualisation, it becomes clear that he is expanding it infinitely to purify broken samaya for all beings. First he explains the tradition of visualising the white lotus with eight petals, just as it is: a pinkish stem, bluish green at its centre and orange stamens. In the centre of the lotus is AH, the first of the Sanskrit vowels, which looks like a bubble in water. That letter AH transforms into a full moon, the size of the centre of the lotus. The reason to meditate on the white lotus is that it rises unstained by the mud it grows in, representing renunciation from samsara. The full moon represents relative bodhicitta: the motivation to achieve buddhahood in order to bring all beings to enlightenment.

    The Karmpa comments: ''If we look within, we see our own attitude is more like a crescent moon than a full moon. We only think about the needs of a few people and we do not have compassion for all beings. When our compassion is complete and full it is like the orb of the moon''.

    When we visualize the moon we should visualise it as we see it, flat, and like looking into a mirror. not like scientists show it, like a piece of bread filled with holes and pock marks. The HUM on top should be a Tibetan or Sanskrit letter or even the letter of an old Chinese script. He emphasizes that it is not just the sound  that is important but also the shape. The English letters, he says, don’t carry the meaning of the shape of the Tibetan or Sanskrit .

    The white HUM, representing the non-dual wisdom of all the buddhas, transforms into a five-pointed white vajra standing on its end. This five-pointed vajra is like a clear white crystal,  unblemished on the inside and outside. At the hub of the vajra is a small white HUM and this letter is also vertical, like a lamp in a clear vase. Light from the HUM radiates to all pure and impure world realms.  We make offerings up to the buddhas and down to all beings. The light performs both functions.

    At this point the Karmapa adds a vast and profound dimension to the visualisation.  
     On the tip of the light that radiates out there is a Vajrasattva that goes to each sentient being and comes to rest on the crown of their head. So we visualise that the light brings a Vajrasattva to each sentient being and the nectar flows into the crown chakra filling them and purifying their bodies. Then Vajrasattva dissolves into them so their three gates become inseparable from the body, speech and mind  of Vajrasattva. The entire environment becomes the pure land and all sentient beings become Vajrasattva.

     He points out that there is also another visualisation in kriya tantra in which light rays radiate and a Vajrasattva is on the tip. Clouds shower nectar on all beings, freeing them from the hell of heat and cold, freeing hungry ghosts from hunger and thirst, animals from the suffering of being dumb and mute, in effect,  purifying all six realms of samsara and transforming all beings  into Vajrasattva. The light also makes offerings to the noble ones: on the tip of  the light rays are the offering goddesses which causes extraordinary bliss to arise in all the buddhas.  The light then returns with the blessings of all buddhas and dissolves into the HUM. Alternately, we can visualise that the light invites all buddhas to return, and they dissolve into the HUM in the form of Vajrasattva.

    This is extremely important.

    In the past few days we've had many empowerments. What should we do to practise? I'm not going to say practise this or that one. Instead if you have a special feeling of devotion then you should practise that one. It is not necessary to practise all the deities. Realise that you are not meditating on one individual deity, that each deity is a combination of all the qualities of the buddhas. We have to realise that all the deities have all the blessings of all the buddhas. They  are not separate, solid, discreet entities. There is a saying: one deity suffices for the Indians, 100 deities don''t suffice for the Tibetans. So many deities came into Tibet, that people forget that if you accomplish one deity you've accomplished all the deities.
    There is a final warning.

    ''It is said this visualization serves in place of gathering the accumulations of merit and wisdom for three aeons, “ he explains,  “But we have been wandering from beginning-less time in samsara  and if we don't know how to do it,  we will keep on wandering,.''


    http://www.kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20141226_1.html

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    26 December, 2014


    The Torch of True Meaning is a famous text by the great master and scholar Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye, which provides an explanation of the preliminary practices for meditation. In direct and colloquial language that makes it easily accessible, the text gives clear descriptions of the three main sections of meditation practice: 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.

    For the first time in a published book, the bulk of Lodrö Thaye's pithy instructions on mahamudra practice are also included. Originally, The Torch of True Meaning was intended as a companion volume to the Ninth Karmapa's famous manual on mahamudra practice, The Ocean of True Meaning, in which these preliminary practices are not discussed at length.

    An earlier English version of The Torch of True Meaning, entitled The Torch of Certainty was published in 1974. It was a wonderful work for its time, but now forty years have passed and there have been developments in translation that can be incorporated into a new version.The Karmapa has been teaching this text for the last years at Kagyu Monlam and will continue in the future, so this new translation is offered a support for his teaching activity.This year he will explain the instructions on Vajrasattva practice.

    In ancient times, a Tibetan translator would work with a Sanskrit scholar to bring Dharma texts into Tibetan. This new version of The Torch of True Meaning is special in that the translator, David Karma Choephel, was able to read through the whole text with the Karmapa who made many suggestions that were incorporated into the book. End notes have been added to explain things that belong to the earthy Tibetan culture and might not be clear to readers. The notes also cover scriptural references and terms that are not readily known which a lama would explain to a student.

    For those who want to engage in the actual practice, the new book also provides a fresh translation of the traditional practice text for the preliminaries by the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, The Chariot That Travels the Noble Path, which many know as the Mahamudra Ngöndro (or Preliminaries). There are two main differences between the new and old texts. The long lineage prayer had developed by accretion over the centuries as new lamas were added and the Karmapa has made it briefer. In the Guru Yoga practice, the Karmapa eliminated parts that had been appended in the past, moving the text closer to its original version.

    In sum, this new book provides all one needs to do the traditional preliminary practices of the Kamtsang Kagyu.It gives very inspiring guidance on how to practice. Since the teaching involves mahamudra, it covers everything.  We may think of it as the preliminaries, but actually whatever Dharma practice we may do, we need the attitude of taking the Dharma completely to heart and letting it pervade our entire lives.

    The book will be available at the Monlam and also from KTD Publications.


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