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    December 24, 2012

     

    Mahayana Sojong

    The monks and nuns attending the Monlam are expected to attend the whole day at the Pavilion and to take the Mahayana Sojong vows unless they are ill or old.  In addition, every morning so far the rear of the pavilion has filled with an astonishing number of laypeople who also wish to keep Sojong during the Monlam. Mahayana Sojong is a very powerful practice  taken  for restoration and purification of broken vows and precepts. As in all Mahayana practices its foundation is  bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment,  and the motivation is:

    "for the sake of all sentient beings; to benefit them; to liberate them; to eliminate famine; to eliminate illness"...

    Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche gave the Mahayan Sojong vows, enunciating them carefully two syllables at a time, for everyone to repeat.

    Session Two

    During the teaching  on the "Three Primary aspects of the Path", Gyalwang Karmapa gave the Bodhisattva Vows, and also gave two lungs [reading transmission of the text ] for the short ngondro practice which he himself  composed in 2006 specifically for use by students living in the developed world who might not have time to complete a more extensive ngondro practice, and for the longer ngondro written by the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje as a preliminary to Mahamudra.

    Session Three

    A large section of empty blue mats was noticeable at the front of the laypeople's area. Friends of Kagyu Monlam had gone for their special audience with the Gyalwang Karmapa.
    The third session often contains special prayers. Today the focus was on the removal of obstacles. To this end  the "Praises of the Twenty-One Taras"  was recited ,  followed by other  prayers to Tara and to Sarasvati.


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    Understanding the defects of samsara is the basis for developing renunciation

    December 22, 2012

     


    The Gyalwang Karmapa began the second day of teaching on Je Tsong Khapa’s text with a playful reference to the worldwide speculation and fear that the world would end on Dec. 21st:
    “Today is the second day of the 30th Kagyu Monlam. Yesterday the world ended so today we are in a new world. I would like to say good morning to all of you because today is the first day of the new world.”

    In keeping with this, the Karmapa went on to stress that every hour of every day we have an opportunity to become a better human being. We should let go of the problems of our past and begin each day anew with a joyful and peaceful outlook.

    Then he gave a little background information on the author of the commentary, the great Rime master Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye.

    You can almost say that he started the Rime [non-sectarian] movement. Even though the Rime view or principle was there in Buddhism from the beginning, later on the sectarian view grew stronger, especially during the time of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Lodro Thaye. One was a great Sakya master and the other was one of the main lineage holders of the Karma Kamtsang, but because they were so close, they were motivated to work very powerfully for the Rime movement and together had unequalled activity in propagating this nonsectarian form of practice.
    The Karmapa went on to stress that the reason we are able to listen to the teachings by the founder of another school today is due to the greatness of Jamgon Kongtrul’s activity and that by teaching this text of Je Tsong Khapa’s he is not doing something strange or unusual, but is in fact following the tradition of Jamgon Kongtrul. Then the Karmapa continued with the main text:
    The "Three Primary Elements of the Path” has three parts that reflect the three main principles of the path: renunciation, bodhichitta, and the right view of emptiness. Today we are talking about renunciation—the necessity of generating it and how to do so.
    As to the first point, the necessity of generating renunciation, the Karmapa said that first we have to truly understand samsara. Because we are under the sway of karma and negative emotions all the time, we go round and round and never become free. We experience the three kinds of suffering: the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and all-pervasive suffering. As long as we are trapped in samsara, we will have no true and lasting happiness. So, realizing this we need to generate a very clear and strong wish to be free of this shackle of samsara.

    Next, in order to develop bodhichitta, first we have to have a very strong wish to free all  sentient beings from samsara because we have come to understand how bad samsara is and by contrast how good nirvana is. Thus renunciation and the understanding of impermanence is also the foundation for generating bodhichitta. The Karmapa continued:

    There is a saying that if you do not understand impermanence then even your practice of “Sangwa Dupa” and all the other tantras will not be very deep. But if you do understand impermanence, then even the foundational practice of taking refuge becomes very deep. Thus, how deeply our practice of dharma goes depends on our understanding of impermanence and the defects of samsara.
    The Karmapa said that we may think that the Vajrayana is very deep and profound, but in truth whether our practice becomes Mahayana or Vajrayana depends on us and our motivation. Some people think that if they practice something great or high like Mahamudra they will have a very profound practice, but that does not necessarily happen. It is up to us. Likewise, those who firmly hold the three kinds of vows but do not turn their minds away from samsara are simply driven by misunderstanding. To illustrate this, the Karmapa told a famous story:

    As Jowo Atisha lay dying, a yogi came to him and said, “After you die, what should I meditate on?” Atisha said, “Don’t meditate, that is very bad.” Then the yogi said, “Alright, then I will meditate sometimes and teach sometimes.” And Atisha said, “That is also not good, just forget it.” Then the yogi said in exasperation, “What should I do then?” And Atisha said, “Give up your attachment to this life.”
    Next the Karmapa talked about the kind of life we need to truly practice the dharma: this is the “precious human life,” replete with the eight freedoms and ten opportunities. He said that what this phrase really refers to are those beings with freedom to practice the dharma, unlike demi-gods, animals, hungry ghosts and hell beings, all of whom are deprived of the Buddha’s teachings. But even human beings could be deprived of the teachings of dharma, for instance, barbarians in the hinterlands or those with physical or mental impediments.

    Also, it should be noted that even among fortunate humans, there is no dharma without the “nam shi” or  four pillars: the gelong and gelongma, and the male and female genyen or upasaka. These are what are called the four followers of the Buddha, which are like the four pillars of a house.

    Then the Karmapa made a surprising comment about the “nam shi” in relation to Tibet:

    There is no gelongma tradition in Tibet so we are almost like those in the barbarian hinterlands. Generally when we talk about the place where the Buddhadharma spread, like in India, in Maghada where we are now, there are the four types of followers of the Buddha, gelong and gelongma, etc. And whether the Buddhadharma is really established or not depends upon whether these four followers of the Buddha are present or not.
    Karmapa focused on the importance of understanding impermanence and how to make our lives meaningful. He stressed the dangers of procrastination He said, “As soon as you have the thought to practice dharma, do it then and there, rather than postponing it until you’re old.”
    And he also presented a unique and skillful way to utilize impermanence:

    Some people think that impermanence involves only thinking about death and becoming very worried about it. But it is not like that. Since everything is impermanent and changing, there is always an opportunity to purify the past and make yourself a new person. One way to practice is to start from the time we get up from our bed in the morning. We should feel as if we are newly born from our mother. Then when we wash our face, it is like how a baby is washed after it’s born. Then when we have our breakfast, we should feel that we are fat with our mother’s milk. And when we go to our jobs we should think we become a youth. Later, in the evening, when we come home, have dinner, and go to bed, we should think we have died. So in that way, one day is like one life.
    There are two benefits of this. First you will realize that one day is as important as one whole life. So you cannot waste even a single day, because it is similar to a whole life. And secondly when death actually comes, you can accept it and go through it more easily. So this is something that I think it is important for everyone to keep in mind.
    At the end of the teaching the Karmapa led the assembly in chanting the Lam Rim Monlam (Aspiration for the Stages of the Path) by Lord Tsong Khapa, followed by a five minute meditation.

    ......we will meditate on death and impermanence because there is nothing other than that to meditate on. Yesterday some people were saying that the world will be destroyed, and I was thinking about this as I was chanting: perhaps the ground underneath me would crack open and I would fall in. So, since many people yesterday thought the world would be destroyed, let us meditate now, thinking that five minutes from now the world will end. Please think about that when I ring the bell.

    http://www.kagyumonlam.org//English/News/Report/Report_20121222_2.html

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    Where to find happiness

    December 23, 2012

     


    Today as usual, the sound of the reed horns echoed in the distance and increased as the Karmapa neared the Pavilion. He entered from the side, made three bows to the Buddha, and sat on his throne carved of a rich brown wood. After prayers, came the supplications for his long life. The central aisle was filled from beginning to end with disciples holding the offerings—representations of enlightened body, (a statue), speech (a text), mind (a stupa), qualities (a long life vase), and activity (a double dorje), all tied with scarves in bright colors.


    Recently, the Karmapa explained that he was teaching The Three Primary Elements of the Pathbecause it presents the three central aspects of the Mahayana path: renunciation, bodhicitta, and the correct view. The text will benefit all who hear the teachings since they will know where to focus and can then practice with clarity about the key points. The commentary is by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye and remembering the contributions of his lineage is the essential theme of this year’s Kagyu Monlam.

    Today, the Karmapa began by saying that he had talked about overturning our attachment to this life. And now he will talk about reversing our attachment to future lives. We can do this by following the advice of the root verse:
    Repeatedly contemplating the unerring process of action and result and also the sufferings of samsara
    Reverses preoccupation with future lives.

    The Karmapa then gave a reading transmission for the commentary, The Path to Freedom for the Fortunate, by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye on renunciation in relation to future lives. He followed this with his thoughts on the main topics.

    “Preoccupation with future lives” means attachment to them of which there are two types. We may harbor hopes for birth with high status and wish to lead the good life, resembling our imaginations of celestial realms. Or, without the intention to help others, we could also wish for rebirth in a pure realm, which we envisage free of problems and suffering.

    Reflection on karma, the linking of cause and effect, can help to counteract these two preoccupations. In our past lives, we have taken wrong paths and created negative karma, which is so great that all of space cannot contain it. If we don’t do anything, our situation will not change. Negative karma will not finish itself off and come to an end on its own: we have to do something to purify it away. To spur us to action, we need a clear certainty, a confidence in karma’s pattern of cause and result, because merely believing does not help; we have to actually become engaged and do something.

    The most universal Buddhist practice is to discard the ten unvirtuous actions and take up the ten virtuous ones. This applies to everyone who is not enlightened; it includes both lay and ordained people, all of whom should do this practice. The beginning of the path is finding an authentic teacher; then the actual practice is to work on one’s karma, trying to live the right way through the ten virtues.

    I have a story to tell, which I’ve told before. It fits in here so I’ll tell it again.  There was a rich man who spent his evenings counting his money. By his house lived a beggar who sang at night. The rich man thought, “I’m so rich but I have no time for singing.” He wondered what would happen if the beggar had lots of money, so while he was out begging, the rich one put a chunk of gold the size of a goat’s head in the poor man’s place. When he returned he was amazed. He thought a god had given it to him and he spent that evening thinking about what he would do with his new wealth. He forgot to sing. The rich man was watching from the window and then he understood: “Due to my wealth, I have forgotten how to make myself happy.” This is what is happening in the world today. We work hard to become happy and then we forget what makes us happy. In my own experience, happiness is not a complex thing: The simpler things are the happier and more peaceful I feel. True happiness comes from the way we think and how we experience our life.

    We assume that happiness has to come through great effort. And since we don’t value what we do have, we think we need to get something new. Actually, we already have true happiness, but we don’t see what’s worthwhile. I’m completely certain that we don’t have to acquire something new. Happiness is to recognize what we already have.

    Once I was going around the monastery and the weather was nice. I relaxed my mind and noticed that I was just breathing. I thought that’s not special, we always breathe, yet spontaneously, I thought how satisfactory this experience was—there was a natural joy in it. Taking one breath is a rather complex process; it depends on oxygen from trees, an elaborate system of exchange within the body, and so forth. And yet my experience of that one breath came without any effort, and I just thought, “It’s amazing that I’m alive now and can breathe so easily.” If I had had to think about creating oxygen, for example, it would have been very complicated. But I was simply happy because I could breathe. It all depends on how we think.

    Happiness is always there; we do not have to bring it in from the outside, but simply recognize it within and allow ourselves to feel it. For example, we can be content with what we have, whatever it is.  If we have a lot, it doesn’t mean we have to get rid of things. We are simply satisfied with that is there, be it large or small. With this contentment comes happiness. So we have to learn how to satisfy ourselves. This is extremely important as our endless greed is using up the limited resources of the world. We must think about future generations and our future lives. In some places, water is becoming scarce, so when we use water, we should keep this in mind. This is one way of thinking about cause and effect.

    It’s crucial for us to become good people. If we are not, then how could we say we’re Buddhist? We need to reflect: What kind of person am I? If you’re making a golden vase, first you have to see if the material is real gold. If it’s brass, then you’re not making a gold vase. To become a good Buddhist, you have to become a good human being. It doesn’t mean that you have no anger or jealousy, for example, but that you have decreased the negative emotions. Otherwise, it’s a sham: you have the name of a Buddhist, but have not transformed yourself. Nobody can change us. We have to talk to and instruct ourselves about the right way, then change will happen.

    http://www.kagyumonlam.org//English/News/Report/Report_20121223_2.html

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    The brotherhood of Bodhisattvas
    December 24, 2012

     

    A cold fog has settled thickly over Bodhgaya as the fourth morning's teaching takes place at the Pavilion pure land. Perhaps the rain of blessings has settled as snow on the cone of Kailash.  "It's quite cold today, my hand is freezing, " says the Karmapa when teaching bodhicitta. His carved throne is garlanded with wreaths of bright orange marigolds.
    We gallop through the second primary element of the path, bodhicitta.  The necessity of  developing it and how to generate it are both covered in a few definitive words before the Karmapa moves on to give Refuge and Bodhisattva vows.
    "If renunciation is not embraced by bodhicitta it does not serve as the cause for the  bliss of perfect and complete enlightenment".
    When we understand deeply  that everyone of us has mistaken the cause of suffering as happiness and the cause of happiness as suffering, then we can generate great compassion. Think about it: all of us have mistaken the intention and its cause.  With that deep understanding we generate the wish to pull every single being out of samsara from top to bottom.
    From the text:
    Carried off by the raging currents of the four rivers, 
    Bound by the tight fetters of karma so hard to undo, 
    Enmeshed in the iron net of self-clinging, 
    Completely shrouded in the pitch-black darkness of ignorance,

    Tormented by the three sufferings without respite,
    Through birth after birth in the infinite round of existence—
    Such is the condition of your mothers.
    Contemplating their plight, rouse the supreme motivation
    We may have very strong renunciation; we may have direct understanding of emptiness; we may have miraculous powers; we may even be developing the paramitas  -  but without bodhicitta we cannot become buddhas. Bodhicitta increases virtue so greatly, that even giving a bit of food to someone becomes a cause for enlightenment.  It closes the door to lower rebirths.  Whether we become enlightened in this life or not truly depends on bodhicitta. The qualities it radiates are so manifold that if bodhicitta had a form, the vastness of space could not contain it.
    The bodhisattva has his own kind of brotherhood, his own family. There are two ways of entering into it. The more courageous person will exchange self for others. More fearful mortals have to take instructions on the 7-point cause and effect. To actually put bodhicitta into action, first we have to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha because that makes us fearless.
    At this point the Karmapa gave Refuge and it would seem that most of the assembly knelt to take it again. Moving on immediately to the Bodhisattva Vow, he made a distinction between taking it as aspiration and as action. In brief, generating the bodhicitta is aspiration and taking the vow to actually work on it is action. It's up to the individual to decide which one to take. Again, it seemed the entire assembly knelt to take the vow.
    We human beings are creating so much suffering to other beings who are not independent; beings who are not free, who have no protection, or health. Therefore, I who have followed the dharma and generated bodhicitta, want to help others. I want to become their protector. I would like to give freedom to those who don’t have freedom, I would like to give well-being and happiness to those who have no happiness or well-being. I want to get rid of their suffering as much as possible.

    If I don’t have that kind of aspiration and don’t want to do it or don’t make an effort to do it, then it isn't dharma practice. If dharma practice is just to make me happy or just to have a good time, then it’s not necessary.

    There is one way to break the vow and that is to abandon someone. If you see that someone is unhappy and you feel that it's alright for that person to be destroyed; if you have the power to help someone who has no protector and is suffering but you don't do it; if you say one person is bad and you completely cut off all contact -  these three ways of thinking are described as abandonment.
    "If you give up a sentient being then you will completely get rid of your aspiration—no Bodhisattva Vow, no aspiration of bodhicitta."
    These ways of thinking can be purified and the bodhisattva vow renewed.
    But if you really completely give up sentient beings at that very moment you become a non-Bodhisattva, you have lost the Bodhisattva Vow. If you give up the Bodhisattva Vow, you cannot become enlightened in that lifetime.  Maybe in the next life you can – that’s another matter. But that’s how it is understood. This is bodhicitta.


    http://www.kagyumonlam.org//English/News/Report/Report_20121224_1.html




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    December 19, 2012


     
    As head of Karma Kagyu, the Gyalwang Karmapa has placed particular emphasis on restoring the discipline and dignity of the ordained sangha of monks and nuns.

    Each year, on the eve of the Monlam, he conducts tests. Picking the names of monasteries and nunneries out of an envelope at random, he calls on groups of monks and nuns to show that they can follow the correct procedures for donning the prayer robes, prostrating, making the tea and food offerings, and, for fully ordained monks, that they know how to carry the sacred scriptures and how to walk in the alms procession.

    In a short speech, full of humour, the Gyawlang Karmapa reminded them of their reponsibilities as representatives of the Buddhist sangha. 


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    Mahayana Hotel, Bodhgaya

    December 26, 2012



    After the Monlam’s second session  at the Mahabodhi stupa today, the Gyalwang Karmapa surprised Kagyu Monlam members by joining them for lunch in the dining hall of the Mahayana Hotel. The Karmapa’s entourage arrived at the hotel quietly and he was greeted with a kata by the hotel’s Tibetan manager Tinley-la. Then he was escorted into the hall by his sister Chamsing-la and Lama Chodrak. He quickly went to the front of the dining room where many trays of steaming food were heaped in an expansive buffet. He looked at the choices and gave his blessing. Then he was offered a monk’s bowl and proceeded to serve himself from the trays. A rectangular table had been set for him in an alcove of the dining room affording a semi-private place for him to sit. For a while he sat alone at the table adorned with a fruit basket, a large beet and carrot salad, and a small vase of flowers. He ate with chopsticks and was eventually joined by Chamsing-la and Lama Chodrak as they strolled up with their plates of food.

    As the members streamed in and served themselves, the tables around the Karmapa gradually filled up. Some were surprised as they walked by the table and saw the Karmapa sitting, because they hadn’t known that he was there. But even if some of the members got flustered, the Karmapa seemed naturally at ease and unhurried. After taking a few symbolic bites of his meal, he helped himself to a raw slice of beetroot from the salad bowl, followed by a few grapes. Occasionally he chatted with his sister.

    The Mahayana Hotel’s restaurant has been serving the Kagyu Monlam members three meals a day since Monlam began on December 21st. Though the line is long, it moves quickly and the vegetarian food is tasty, healthy and filling. After about a half hour, the Karmapa and his party rose and made their way out of the dining room to their cars. Once the Karmapa left the dining room, the noise level increased abruptly as the diners shared their feelings of glee and good fortune at being unexpectedly blessed with the Karmapa’s presence at lunchtime.



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    December 25, 2012

     

    Mahayana Sojong


    Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche gave the Mahayana Sojong vows.

    Those who have taken Mahayana Sojong have to wait until daybreak in order to eat again. As the days pass, it seems the fog each morning thickens, and today it was impossible to tell when night ended and day began.  However, breakfast was served at 6:35 am. The bread, fresh from the huge Garchen kitchen which produces 10,000 Tibetan breads each morning,  was still warm, and we were able to wrap our hands  around steaming cups of salty Tibetan butter tea for comfort against the cold.

     Session Two: Vajrasattva Empowerment

    The assembly chanted "Karmapa kyenno"  while the Gyalwang Karmapa completed his preparations,  meditating before the Buddha statue higher up on the tiered Monlam stage.
    Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche took their seats, and then the Karmapa returned formally in procession to begin the empowerment.  First he concluded the teaching on the Three Primary Elements of the Path by Je Tsong Khapa, and then, at the beginning of the empowerment, he linked the view of emptiness from the text with the empowerment, emphasising the importance of remembering that In a sense everything is emptiness.

    He explained that this particular Vajrasattva empowerment had come from India via Marpa the Translator.  During the empowerment, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Gyaltstab Rinpoche and Surmang Gawang Rinpoche represented the assembly, receiving the body, speech and mind initiations directly.  Gyalwang Karmapa explained that the body initiation confers permission to visualise oneself as the deity; the speech initiation gives permission to recite the mantra; the mind initiation gives  permission to meditate on the mind and experience of the buddhas.
    During the session the Karmapa also announced the publication of a book specially for the commemoration of the Jamgon Kongtrul lineage celebrations: The Illuminating Orb of the Sun. Photographs Recalling the Incarnations of Jamgon Kongtrul

     Session Four

    The final session in the afternoon ended earlier today  in order to allow time for the relocation to the Mahabodhi Temple site.

    Gyalwang Karmapa's activities

    In the afternoon  Gyalwang Karmapa gave private audiences to more than two hundred devotees, many from Dharma centres world-wide. Today's audience included people from Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, his seat in Woodstock, New York, U.S.A.,  Karma Choeling in Auckland, New Zealand, and  Samye Ling in Scotland.

    In the early evening he visited the main shrine room at Tergar to speak briefly to the nuns and monks rehearsing for the Alms and Kangyur processions.
      

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    Kagyu Monlam transfers to the Mahabodhi Stupa

    December 26, 2012

     
    Once more some of the teams who support the Monlam had to work late into the night and arrive at the stupa early in the morning so that the site was prepared. By the time the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived before daybreak, new altars and torma had been set out, all the equipment for audio and webcasting had been transferred, and the sangha were sitting in their newly allotted places.

    The area under the Bodhi tree was festooned with fresh garlands of yellow and gold marigolds. Fairy lights lit up the banks around the outer kora—the route which pilgrims circumambulate—and a signboard proclaimed "The 30th Kagyu Monlam  Chenmo. Sarva Mangalam".

    As soon as he arrived, Gyalwang Karmapa went to the shrine room and offered prayers in front of the precious Buddha statue. He then went to the Monlam site under the bodhi tree and conferred the Mahayana Sojong vows. Returning to the shrine room, he offered  a set of golden silk robes, [Each day during the Monlam, a new set of silk robes will be offered.] and performed the hair-cutting ceremony for  two Taiwanese disciples who wished to take ordination. 

    Mahayana Sojong at the Mahabodhi Stupa

    After Gyalwang Karmapa gave the Mahayana Sojong vows, he spoke once more on the great good fortune possessed by everyone gathered in Bodhgaya for the Monlam. He reminded everybody of the great masters of Buddhism whose heartfelt dream was to come to India to this the most sacred site—the root of Buddhism the central land of Magadha, the hub of the world.

    Practising dharma and keeping pure conduct during a degenerate age or in an impure realm is of greater merit because of the number of obstacles which have to be surmounted. We need to recognise this great opportunity and not waste it.  Maintaining ethical discipline is the way to attain our aims, and because both men and women are present, our aspirations will be fulfilled more quickly.

    Once more, the Karmapa returned to the question "What does it mean to practise dharma?" Reciting texts all day long, prostrating, chanting mantras, making offerings are not dharma activities unless we have pure, unstained motivation, he warned. We need to have the aspiration to benefit all sentient beings, in particular the living and the dead of this world.  Although it might be difficult to envisage the suffering of hungry ghosts and the hell realms, we are surrounded by the self-evident  suffering of impoverished, destitute and sometimes terrified people, and that of enslaved animals, enduring incredible distress and pain at the hands of humans. In addition, there are those with whom we share a karmic connection: our relatives, friends, teachers and so forth. We need to aspire to liberate all these sentient beings and bring them to enlightenment. This was the first step taken by all the Buddhas.

    Aspirations are powerful but only if they are more than words: we should make them from the depths of our hearts. In the end it is all up to us, our responsibility. The Dharma distinguishes between the outer and inner spiritual friend. The outer spiritual friend is anyone who advises us on what is beneficial and what is harmful. But we ourselves are the inner teacher. We need to maintain an inner dialogue, give ourselves advice, and be our own protector, our own refuge.

    Medicine Buddha

    Instead of the usual Twenty-Branch Monlam, this morning there was a Medicine Buddha Offering Puja, based on a text by the great master Karma Chakme.

    Kangyur Procession

    See feature for details of this event.


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    December 27, 2012


     
    Mahayana Sojong at the Mahabodhi Stupa

    The Mahayana Sojong vows were given by Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche.

    Foggy vista

    For those watching the webcast, please note the picture is not out of focus! This is the fog that we're encountering because of sudden wintry conditions across northern India. Fog at this time of year is not unusual. It often disrupts transport across northern India. However, this year it is much colder than usual and many of the poverty-stricken people across Bihar and other northern states are suffering immensely. 

    Sessions Two and Three: The Akshobhya Ritual Cycle

    Gyalwang Karmapa arrived shortly before  9.00 am and greeted the rinpoches, lamas and khenpos already seated below the bodhi tree. Session Two began with the Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer and then proceeded to the first part of today's main focus, the Akshobhya Ritual  and fire puja.

    The Akshobhya ritual cycle is in four parts: the first three parts which take place at the stupa are  the Akshobhya Self-Visualisation ritual, the Akshobhya Mandala ritual and the reading of the Akshobhya   dharani and sutra. The text for the first two parts of the ritual is only available in Tibetan in the prayer books issued to the sangha as usually only the sangha takes part because of the requirement for pure conduct. 

    The third part of the ritual, the recitation of the 'Dharani that Thoroughly Purifies all Karmic Obscurations' and 'The Sutra of the Dharani that Thoroughly Liberates from All Suffering and Obscurations,' is open to everyone.  The recitation of this dharani is believed to  purify all karmic obscurations and all the karma flowing from lifetime to lifetime. Reciting it three times daily can even cleanse the karma of the five heinous deeds, the four root downfalls and the ten non-virtues.  It can be used for the dead and the living. These texts were recited several times.

    The Alms Procession

    The Alms Procession of  gelong and gelongma took place at the end of the second session. [See separate article.]

    Gyalwang Karmapa's activities

    Gyalwang Karmapa returned to Tergar after the third session in order to complete the private audience schedule from yesterday. Although he met more than three hundred people on Wednesday,  time ran out and about a hundred had to be sent away, according to an attendant.  These people were invited to attend for a specially scheduled audience this afternoon.

    The Akshobhya Jang-Sek at Tergar Monastery


    This took place between 6.00 pm to 8.15 pm. [See separate article.]



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