17th Karmapa (Photo by Prince Roy available on Flickr)
This week, as world leaders gather in Paris for the United Nations’ 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to discuss climate change, EdenKeeper plans to bring you stories from communities vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change. The first story comes from Tibet, where a Buddhist monk is drawing attention to the rapid rate of warming at the Tibetan plateau and the impacts melting glaciers will have on water availability in Asia.
Asia’s Melting Water Tower
Tibet is sometimes referred to as the “Third Pole” because it is the third largest concentration of ice after the south and north poles. And, like the poles, the rate of warming in Tibet is occurring faster than the global average. The plateau has seen an increase in temperature of approximately 0.4-degree Celsius every 10 years. In the past 50 years, the temperature has increased by 1.3-degrees Celsius.
Warmer temperatures are causing Tibet’s glaciers to melt. They have retreated nearly 18% in the last 65 years and even the thick ice around the base camp of Everest has disappeared exposing the stones, said the director of Tibet’s mountaineering administration center. Climate researchers from the Central Tibetan Administration say that over two-thirds of Tibet’s 46,000 glaciers could disappear by 2050.
Melting glaciers will have serious impacts on countries like China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam and over 150 million people who rely on water from Tibet’s icy peaks. “They are sources of life for China’s western arid regions,” said Kang Shichang of the institute of Tibetan Plateau research, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
A Plea for Protection
Tibetan religious head and 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje spent his early years in eastern Tibet before fleeing to Dharamsala, India. On his 30th birthday last June, he reflected on the beauty of his homeland and warned of the dangers it’s facing.
“Each year on my birthday, I recall not only my parents, but also the sparkling beauty of the pristine natural environment in which I was born and raised,” said the Buddhist monk in a message in June. “This intensifies my sense of urgency for the protection of the fragile ecosystems of the Tibetan plateau as well as the Himalayas. As I have said, the area’s glaciers make it the source of the most of Asia’s major rivers, and the Third Pole of the globe itself. For this reason, the Tibetan plateau plays an important role.”
Later in an interview about COP21, he said: “If there is one thing we now know about climate change it’s that its impacts do not discriminate on the basis of a nation’s wealth or power.”
Buddhist Push for Climate Action
The Karmapa joins other Buddhist leaders, including the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh, who are urging global leaders to make a firm climate commitment during the COP21 talks. Signatories to the Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders warn, “We are at a crucial crossroads where our survival and that of other species is at stake as a result of our actions.”
Although this story focuses on the community of Tibet, climate change’s impacts to the region will have serious impacts on the survival of millions of people in Asia. Global leaders at COP21 have a responsibility to protect these people and the many others who face water shortages, food shortages, floods, heat waves, and devastating storms as a result of a changing climate.
Das Oberhaupt der tibetischen Karma-Kagyu-Sekte warnt vor den Folgen der Klimaerwärmung für ganz Asien
Aus dem 14-jährigen schlaksigen Teenager, der im Frühjahr 2000 vom Dach des Gyoto-Klosters nahe der nordindischen Stadt Dharamsala verwundert ein paar Reporter bestaunte und während einer kleinen Audienz neugierig mit den Fotoapparaten der Besucher spielte, ist ein fülliger – und einsamer – Mann geworden. „Wenn ich traurig bin, kann ich zu niemand gehen. Ich schließe mich ein und weine“, erzählte Tibets 17. Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje im Sommer einem US-Magazin.
Grund zum Tränen vergießen hat das nun 30-jährige Oberhaupt der 900 Jahre alten Karma-Kagyu-Sekte reichlich. Nach 15 Jahren im Exil in Indien vermisst „Apo Gaga“ (glücklicher Bruder), wie ihn seine Schwester in jungen Jahren nannte, die Eltern. Die Chancen auf ein Treffen mit den beiden Nomaden aus Lhatok in Tibet sind angesichts Chinas ablehnender Haltung gering. Außerdem bedrückt den Mönch die stetig zunehmende Wärme auf dem „Dach der Welt“: „Auf dem Plateau von Tibet steigen die Temperaturen doppelt so schnell wie im Rest der Welt“, warnt der Karmapa. „Wir wissen, dass Überschwemmungen und Dürren schlimmer werden.“
46 000 Gletscher ohne Eis
Während der vergangenen 50 Jahre stieg das Thermometer um 1,3 Grad Celsius in der Region des Globus, in der nach Nord- und Südpol die drittgrößten Eisvorkommen der Welt wegschmelzen. Zwei Drittel der 46 000 Gletscher Tibets könnten lauf Vorhersagen von Wissenschaftlern 2050 verschwunden sein. Zu der Zeit dürfte es auch mit dem Ruf Tibets als „Wasserturm“ Asiens vorbei sein. Millionen von Menschen in Indien, Pakistan, Bangladesch sowie Indochina werden dann auf dem Trockenen sitzen.
Der Karmapa, dem dank seiner Position auch ein paar hellseherische Fähigkeiten zugeschrieben werden, bezieht sich auf wissenschaftliche Fakten, wenn er über die düsteren Zukunftsperspektiven spricht, die steigende Temperaturen in seiner Heimat mit sich bringen. Das geistliche Oberhaupt der Karma Kagyu, die eine 200 Jahre ältere Tradition als der weitaus bekanntere Orden des 80-jährigen Dalai Lama aufweist, betätigt sich mit Eifer als Umweltschützer.
Seinen Anhängern in den über die ganze Welt verstreuten Klöstern trug er auf, mindestens einen und wenn möglich bis zu 2000 Bäume zu pflanzen. „Umweltschutz“, so predigte er einmal in dem Ort Bodhgaya im indischen Bundesstaat Bihar, in dem Buddha einst die Erleuchtung für seine Lehren ereilte, „ist wichtiger als Tausende von Predigten über die Freilassung von Tieren, um sie vorm Schlachten zu bewahren.“
Der Hang zu forschen und zu deutlichen Aussagen des Karmapa gehörten schon im Jahr 2000 – wenige Tage nach seiner Ankunft in Dharamsala, dem Sitz der tibetischen Exil-Regierung im Norden Indiens – zu den Charakterzügen des damals 14-jährigen Jugendlichen. Freimütig erzählte er bei seiner ersten Begegnung mit ausländischen Journalisten von seiner waghalsigen Flucht. Am 28. Dezember 1999 war er nachts chinesischen Aufpassern entwischt und zu Fuß, per Pferd und zum Schluss gar per Helikopter nach Dharamsala gelangt.
„Ich konnte in Tibet nicht richtig studieren“, gab er damals die gleiche Begründung zum besten, mit der er bis heute seine Flucht erklärt. In Wahrheit hatte der 14-jährige Karmapa den chinesischen Machthabern eine gewaltige Blamage verabreicht. Peking wollte den Jungen zum spirituellen – den Kommunisten genehmen – Nachfolger des Dalai Lama aufbauen. Der 17. Karmapa ist deshalb der einzige geistliche Führer Tibets, der auch von Chinas Regierung anerkannt wird.
Ausgerechnet Chinas Schlüsselfigur im Kampf um die Herzen der Tibeter aber setzte sich nach Dharamsala ab – und der Karmapa will in seinem indischen Exil auch nichts mehr von irgendwelchen Plänen hören, in die Fußstapfen des Dalai Lama zu treten. „Er ist immer der politische und der spirituelle Führer aller Tibeter gewesen. Ich halte es für sehr unwahrscheinlich, dass nach seinem Tod noch einmal jemand universell als Führer aller Tibeter anerkannt wird. Außerdem ist dies ein Problem, bei dem Indien und China mitreden.“
Chinesische Spitzel in Indien
Der junge Mönch kennt das dünne Eis, auf dem er sich bewegt. Denn obwohl der Dalai Lama ihn als echten Karmapa anerkennt, gibt es mit Trinley Thaye Dorje einen zweiten Mönch, der den Titel des Karmapa beansprucht. In Indien werden Thayes Gefolgsleuten enge Verbindungen zu einem der indischen Geheimdienste nachgesagt. Sie sollen hinter den juristischen Problemen stecken, mit denen Ogyen seit Jahren zu kämpfen hat.
Behörden des indischen Bundesstaats Himachal Pradesh warfen ihm nach einer Razzia vor, in illegale Geldgeschäfte verwickelt zu sein. Die Zentralregierung in Delhi sprach ihn aber von allen Vorwürfen frei. Angesichts der Konkurrenz durch einen anderen Karmapa und höchst wahrscheinlich auch angesichts von Aktivitäten chinesischer Spitzel wird der umweltschützende Mönch kaum mit einer geruhsamen Zukunft rechnen können.
Today we are delighted to bring you the third episode in our new Podcast series.
This selected talk comes from the Karmapa’s recent trip to the USA where he was invited to give a talk at the famousPrinceton University.
The topic was gender equality and His Holiness spoke at length about his own role in this cause, and about how we can all be more effective activists by using patience and compassion. This wonderful lecture is an inspiring reminder about how each individual can make a difference to larger causes.
By Patrick Symmes | NEWSWEEK Published Feb 20, 2009 From the magazine issue dated Mar 2, 2009 Traditionally, the Karmapa Lama would not become the leader of the Tibetan people. Tradition may need to change. Prayers in Exile: Can the Karmapa Lama succeed where the Dalai Lama has failed?
For a god, he is a nice young man. lean and assured, dressed in red and gold, the Karmapa Lama is a scholar-prince greeted with bows wherever he treads. He switches between Chinese and Tibetan fluently, studies Korean at night and occasionally interrupts a translator to voice polite outrage in English. In his temporary quarters, at a new monastery outside Bodh Gaya in eastern India, he can be glimpsed at dusk, between courtly duties, pacing slowly on a lofty terrace that overlooks women gathering wheat from the parched fields below.
The Karmapa, now a handsome 24-year-old with a shaved head, was born to a family of nomads in 1985. But then a party of monks, told to search "east of snow" for their new leader, found him in eastern Tibet. At the age of 7, he was enthroned as a living deity, the 17th reincarnation in a succession of Buddhist leaders of the Kagyu sect. At 14, he fled his native land in a dramatic escape over snowy passes to Nepal, and then India, where he attached himself to the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama. Tibetans in the diaspora immediately saw something special in the Karmapa Lama—the deep personal charisma of his mentor, infused with the vigor of youth. Some saw, even then, a potential leader in his own right.
The Dalai Lama is without peer among living Tibetan deities. As head of Tibet's biggest sect, the Gelug, he is the revered and recognized leader of his people. He has won the Nobel Prize and built a global following on little more than moral strength, somehow keeping a movement of rival sects and international pressure groups united behind the notion of justice for Tibet. Yet the Dalai Lama has failed in one key respect: China has rejected even his mildest calls for autonomy and cultural freedom. March will mark 50 years since the Dalai Lama slipped into exile. Some Tibetans now believe that the Karmapa Lama may be able to succeed where the Dalai Lama has failed—if, against all tradition and precedent, he is given an opportunity to lead.
But a change of power among the Tibetans, as among less mystical movements, is a tricky business. Now 73, the Dalai Lama has shaken off minor illnesses, yet muses openly on his death or incapacity, urging Tibetan exiles to plan what may come after. By tradition, the 14th Dalai Lama will essentially hand off power to himself, when he is reincarnated after death. In one of the more intriguing rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, a search committee of monks interprets augury, dreams and mystical symbols on remote lakes, and then dashes off on horseback to identify and enthrone a baby as the next Dalai Lama. The problem is that it takes about 20 years before a credibly educated, suitably adult figure emerges to stand up for his people. And no political movement in this day and age—particularly one that China is determined to strangle—can survive a 20-year pause.
"The Chinese hard-liner strategy has always been, when the present Dalai Lama passes away, the Tibetan movement will fizzle out, or disintegrate," says Lobsang Sangay, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School who participated in a recent conference on the future of the Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala, the exile capital in western India. "So the issue is, is there anyone who can replace him? What will happen to the Tibetan movement after he passes away? That's the big question."
Lobsang is one of those who argues that the question already has a perfect answer: the Karmapa Lama can serve as a temporary replacement. Because he comes from a different sect, he can't become the Dalai Lama, but he could serve as regent until a new reincarnation reaches adulthood. The Karmapa is suited for this, in part, because he embodies the story of his people—a story of oppression, escape and exile that is very similar to that of the Dalai Lama himself, who fled Lhasa disguised as a common soldier in 1959. The Karmapa fled in 1999, at a time when he was under Chinese pressure to denounce the Dalai Lama. Instead, he joined the exile leader—after a daring late-December trek over the Himalaya. Some 150,000 Tibetans out of 6 million have made similar journeys to exile.
In recent years, the younger monk has been increasingly seen under the Dalai Lama's wing. The two live near each other in Dharamsala. Foreign delegations seeking audience with the Dalai Lama often find the Karmapa Lama included, or are urged by the Dalai Lama himself to seek out the newcomer. "He has grown up to be a very attractive lama to the general public," Lobsang says, "but also, importantly, to the young. They can connect with him. He's of the same age. They know the hardships he went through to escape."
At the meeting of Tibetan exiles in November, at least five of 15 working groups listed the Karmapa as a suitable candidate to lead the community in the future. He was mentioned by the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile as a potential leader, and also by the Dalai Lama, who named him among several monks who might emerge to lead the movement. In one scenario, the Dalai Lama would appoint the Karmapa now, to serve after the senior monk's death as a formal regent, providing theological and temporal leadership until a new Dalai Lama comes of age.
By naming a young and popular regent now, the Dalai Lama could assure a smooth transition to a figure who has become like a son to him, while dashing Chinese hopes of simply outwaiting the Tibetan exiles. He might also help to head off a full-blown power struggle over succession. As it is, any new leader—or joint leadership—will have to balance sectarian rivalries, win over alienated youth in Dharamsala, mollify the demands of sympathizers abroad and possibly deal with rival claimants to the title of the next Dalai Lama (each with his own powerful tutors and advisers).
The Karmapa Lama is not the only possible choice to forestall a succession struggle. The Dalai Lama has spoken highly of other monks, including the reincarnation of his former teacher. In a theological twist, the Dalai Lama also ruled last year that he can, under a doctrine called madey tulku, select his own reincarnation while still alive (dualism of this kind—alive, yet already reincarnated—rarely bothers Tibetans). This would allow the Dalai Lama to shorten the period without a leader, and control the selection and education of his replacement. But Chinese officials immediately disputed the ruling, insisting they alone have the historic right to choose the Dalai Lama's successor. This means that two rival Dalai Lamas would likely emerge, clouding the issue of succession for decades. Here the Karmapa offers another potential solution: he is the only major tulku, or reincarnation, currently recognized by both the Chinese and the Dalai Lama. He could be the hinge on which relations between Tibetans and China swing in a new direction.
The Karmapa's monastic order holds a prayer festival every January in Bihar, India's poorest province, at the spot where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment in the sixth century B.C. Called Monlam, the prayer festival had about 200 attendees in 1993. But several years ago, when the Karmapa Lama began to appear himself, the crowds swelled, and now 10,000 monks, nuns and lay people attend. They mostly want to hear the teachings of the Karmapa—regarded as the living manifestation of the four-armed goddess of compassion—accompanied by deep-voiced, ritualistic Tibetan chants and trumpets. This year the grounds of the pilgrimage site sometimes resembled a Buddhist Woodstock, with juniper smoke and an aroma of yak-butter candles blowing over the massed ranks of monastic adepts in saffron- and wine-colored robes.
Among several thousand lay people present, Tibetan exiles—women in striped aprons, and men in off-the-shoulder-jackets—barely outnumbered those speaking in the accents of Boston, Birmingham and Berlin. Although it is rarely acknowledged, foreign followers translate into power. Donations from Asia and the West help build new monasteries, wealthy supplicants fill begging bowls with silk and cell phones, and lamas who can shuttle between Boulder and Bihar assume greater importance than those who cannot. The temptations of the material world are not unknown even here: at the Monlam festival, the Karmapa sacked the administrator of a monastic center in Gangtok for corruption. A sweating and visibly nervous replacement was led out of a meeting with the Karmapa as a reporter from NEWSWEEK was brought in to an interview.
The rituals of Tibetan Buddhism approximate those of a medieval court, with hushed attendants, servants lighting incense and fetching tea, and hundreds of petitioners waiting for a word with the "glorious teacher of the karma people." Still, the Karmapa observes the probities of monastic life, fasting and sitting for long hours of meditation. His own interest in comfort seems no greater than massaging his toes at the end of a long day. "A little tired," he explained in his tentative English to a NEWSWEEK reporter who interviewed him twice during five days spent following him around. Visitors normally present white scarves to high Tibetan lamas, but the Karmapa seemed to make little of the offerings, and playfully drew an extra scarf from a pile of luxurious silks to toss at the reporter. Most questions from journalists were "too easy," he warned through a translator.
After that flash of pride, the Karmapa directed attention away from himself—as befits one who has renounced the ego. Asked directly if he can replace the Dalai Lama as a leader, he replied that he was only one of many possible heirs. "The Dalai Lama is like the sun. No matter how many stars there are, they don't look too bright in comparison." A broader leadership could form, he suggested, "if many stars come together [with] the same strength and power and brilliance of that sun."
The Karmapa shares the Dalai Lama's ability to navigate modern questions of geopolitics with a delicate balance of aphorism, riddle and ancient verities about compassion, nonviolence and generosity—along with modern nostrums on global warming and overconsumption. He has condemned violence, including the Tibetan riots against Chinese rule in Lhasa last April that killed dozens of ethnic Chinese. But he says he understands the "sheer frustration, the sheer sense of suffocation" of Tibetans scattered in exile or forced to live under Chinese rule. "For any living being," he said, "when you feel the force of being cornered time and again, more and more, the time comes when you have nothing else left except to explode."
The risks of explosion were increasing, he said, and every day that the Chinese stalled in accommodating legitimate Tibetan demands merely increased the chance of chaos. "The Chinese Communist Party needs to understand that for right now, there is His Holiness the Dalai Lama. [He] is the main force that is controlling the emotions, keeping the wave of anger from spilling out. When there isn't somebody like him, then there is a great danger." But isn't there someone like him waiting in the wings—the Karmapa Lama, perhaps? "I have no goals, nor any ambitions to be of great influence," the Karmapa said during the interview at his monastery in Bihar. "But if circumstances make me a force for change, then I am a force for change."
In some obvious ways, the Karmapa Lama is a wrong choice to replace the Dalai Lama. Already a tulku, or reincarnation, he cannot be chosen as the reborn Dalai Lama. The Karmapa is also from a rival school of Buddhism, the Kagyu, a small order known colloquially as the Black Hats. Naming the Karmapa as regent would effectively place an outsider at the head of the Dalai Lama's own Gelug, or Yellow Hat, sect. That's like sending an Episcopalian to oversee the Vatican for 20 years.
But the choice of the Karmapa is so wrong, it may be right. If the Dalai Lama acts decisively now to name the Karmapa as regent, or appoints him to lead in a purely temporal capacity, the choice could unite Tibetans more than divide them. "Theological issues are becoming secondary," Lobsang of Harvard notes. Choosing the Karmapa Lama fits "the political reality of the Tibetan movement."
"He's young," says Lhadon Tethong, the executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, which has 30,000 members worldwide. "Everyone talks about this. He's clearly a strong, dynamic character in Tibetan life, not just religious life, but spiritual and political life. He represents a new generation that continues to defy Chinese efforts to control Tibetans."
Asked during a second interview if he was in communication with the Chinese, the Karmapa at first demurred and deflected. He spoke instead of an enlightened Chinese policy toward Tibet, one that would be based on demonstrating China's Great Power status and accommodating Tibetan desires for genuine autonomy along the lines proposed by the Dalai Lama. The Karmapa then rose to leave, before being called to a halt by a reminder that the question was about contacts with China.
"I have no contacts, nothing political with anybody," he said—and then shrewdly conceded that some form of contact had taken place. The Chinese had conveyed, via India, that the Karmapa Lama should not engage in any political activities, he said. Yet if he remains purely a spiritual leader, China will not close a door on him.
His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa has students, friends and supporters from all around the world. While His Holiness is able to instruct and meet a large number of people on his teaching tours around India and overseas, many students remain at a great distance.
In order to bridge this distance and make new connections, His Holiness and his staff use modern technologies like live webcasting, social media and an active website that displays news and photographs relating to the Karmapa’s schedule and activities.
Recently some supporters have set up their own social media pages on Facebook, Google+ as well as the blogging platform Blogger. The Kagyu Office appreciates the support and is sure that these actions are well-intentioned. However, such pages are beginning to cause confusion online as it is sometimes difficult to determine which is an “official account” and which is not.
As His Holiness is a leader to many people around the world, it is important that his statements and intentions are not confused. The Kagyu Office is delighted when students share teachings and news of the Karmapa, but we request that those using the Karmapa’s name to run their own accounts to kindly desist. Please make it clear that your social media page is not run by Karmapa himself or his staff.
You can visit www.kagyuoffice.org for all official news, and use the links on this website to locate the offical social media pages run by the Kagyu Office staff. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us on: email@example.com
It is true that our cultural environment can affect our eating habits. Yet, we have the freedom to decide to change. We have complete freedom to eat meat or not.
Tibetans live on an arid plateau where herding livestock and eating meat have been central to our culture for millennia. If Tibetans can stop eating meat, so can anyone who lives in a place where vegetables and alternate sources of protein are readily available.
If you need more support against the pressures to eat meat, you could list the reasons why you shouldn’t eat meat, and compare them to the reasons in favour of eating meat.
The reasons individuals eat meat are mainly habit and the desire for pleasure. I am sure you will see that the reasons not to eat meat far outweigh such superficial, short-term reasons.
The reasons to be vegetarian are realistic and sensible, and based on long-term thinking. When we think seriously about the impact that our food practices have on our body, on the environment and on the animals themselves, it is clear that logic supports abstaining from eating meat.
If you decide you want to try to stop eating meat, you can fortify yourself in this way with reason. Empower your mind, and take responsibility for your body. Exercise your wisdom, strengthen your resolve and let your mind take good care of your body.
When I interviewed him for the book, The Power of Love, he spoke on the power of "pure love" in the face of suffering:
[When pure love is in us], we are seeing their suffering, we are seeing the other as a part of ourselves, and we feel ourselves to be a part of the other. For that reason, when we witness their pain or their happiness, we experience it as our own pain and our own happiness. And when this basis is there, the basis that comes from love, then naturally their pain becomes unbearable for us to witness and we must act to do something about it. Interview with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
He said that, recently, a friend of his was murdered. Love means to forgive the one who killed.
It is very possible to see that the person who does the killing is actually an object of greater compassion than the victim of the killing, because it's an action done out of great ignorance. Looking at the action, the action was clearly wrong, it was a mistake, and there's no way around that fact. There is no excusing of the action. But the person himself can be forgiven. Interview with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
When His Holiness visited the University of Redlands earlier this year, a student asked him how to view terrorists such as those of the Islamic State. "With compassion." We may have an initial reaction of anger and want revenge because the violence is so "horrific." But we can take a breath, step back from the strong emotional reaction, and see things from a "broader perspective" -- made possible by compassion. Compassion is born when we see that the terrorists are essentially "brainwashed from an early age." They are helplessly brought up to believe in a violent ideology and forms of behavior through "no agency of their own."
His Holiness the Karmapa walking into a class building at the University of Redlands Photo credit: Carlos Puma/University of Redlands
Today we bring you the fourth episode in our new podcast series.
This very special informal teaching from His Holiness the Karmapa took place at the Root Institute in 2013.
The Karmapa received a question early in the session about Buddha Nature and then proceeded to give a short but vibrant talk on how to use everyday moments to meditate on the true nature of mind, sometimes speaking directly to the audience in English!
This was a wonderful moment for everyone present, including His Holiness, who has made the trips to the Root Institute somewhat of an annual tradition.
In September of 1994, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje received a formal invitation from the Chinese government at his main seat, Tsurphu Monastery in Central Tibet, to visit Beijing. It has been traditionally, throughout the centuries, that the Karmapas have made the journey at least once, to visit the leaders of China. The Second, Third and Fourth Karmapas served as the state tutors of the Yuan Dynasty, and the Fifth Karmapa received the title of (Dabao) Prince of Dharma, from Emperor Chenzu of the Ming Dynasty.
Loga, the mother of H.H. the Karmapa
On September 18, 1994, His Holiness and entourage, including his parents, teachers, attendants and senior monks from Tsurphu Monastery, left on the first leg of their journey to visit Lhasa, where they stayed at the Tibet Guesthouse for one week. He visited, performed prayers and made offerings at the most sacred temples in Tibet, the Jokhang and the Potala Palace. He also visited the main Gelugpa monasteries in Lhasa: Drepung, Sera and Ganden Monasteries, where he made offerings to the Buddhas in the large assembly halls, of these vast temple complexes. He also visited the main temple of the Panchen Lama, Tashi Lunpo Monastery in Shigatze, where he offered (mangja) a tea ceremony which includes the offerings of tea, money and khatas to all the lamas and monks. The night before he and his party left for Beijing, a grand ceremony was held for him in Lhasa, attended by leaders of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
His Holiness Karmapa and his party arrived in Beijing by air, on September 25, 1994. They were picked up and escorted by cars to the main government Guesthouse. He was soon met there by Ngapo Ngawang Jigme, an 80 year old Tibetan, who is the Vice-chairman of the CPPCC (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) and the grandfather of the late Jamgon Khongtrul Rinpoche, the third. Mr. Luo Gang, the State Councilor and secretary-general gave that evening a banquet in His Holiness's honor. The next day the president of the Chinese Buddhist Association, Zhao Puchu met with Karmapa in the Guangi Temple. The following day the CPPCC Chairman, Li Ruihan met him in Zhongnanhai, the Grand Palace and seat of the Chinese government. When Karmapa entered the meeting hall, Chairman Li rose to greet him, Karmapa offered a khata and expressed greetings, wishing him a long life. Chairman Li also presented Karmapa with a khata and said, "On behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, I express my warm welcome to the 17th Living Buddha Karmapa and hope you will have a good time in Beijing and other parts of the country." On the 30th of September, he went to pay homage to the Buddha's relics in a temple in the Western Hills outside Beijing, in the morning and attended a National Day reception party in the Great Hall of the People, in the evening. October 1st marked the 45th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic and tens of thousands of people gathered at Beijing's Tiananmen Square to celebrate this occasion. With his younger brother, Tsewang Rinzin who is also a tulku, Karmapa went early in the morning to see the national flag raising ceremony at the Square. He attended the festivities throughout the day in the Summer Palace, frequently receiving state leaders and was deluged by reporters and cameramen. That evening, Karmapa was very excited to see the elaborate fireworks display, "Flowers" in the sky. He rushed around, joining the crowd to watch this impressive event as fireworks flashed continuously throughout the dark skies. Even Umdze Tubten Zangpo, Karmapa's reading teacher, an older monk who has traveled extensively and was with him often, in his previous life, was impressed by the spectacular display, saying, "It's raining flowers, a good omen for prosperity". President Jiang Jemin and other state leaders went over to meet the Karmapa. When Karmapa presented President Jiang with a khata, the president said to him in Tibetan, "Tashi Deleg" (Good luck and auspicious times). Then he added afterwards, "I hope you will study hard, so you can make a valuable contribution to the prosperity of Tibet, when you are grown up." His Holiness was happy to have had the opportunity to meet President Jiang and Chairman Li.
Manjushri representing the wisdom aspect
The next stop on the pilgrimage was a place sacred to Manjushri, (the divinity representing the wisdom aspect of the Buddha's mind) called Wutai Shan. The Five Sacred Mountains of Manjushri are where Manjushri is said to assist in the guidance of beings who have recently passed away. The third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje also gave teachings here. On October 3rd and 4th, Karmapa and his party visited nine Han Chinese and Tibetan temples and was warmly greeted and welcomed by the head Lama along with over a thousand monks and nuns.
His Holiness and Umdze La climbed up the mountain to visit the cave sacred to Chenrezi (Avalokitesvara), where the sixth Dalai Lama was said to have done a meditation retreat. There is a spring inside the cave and it is believed to carry the spirit of this Dalai Lama. Karmapa sprinkled this sacred water on his head and also drank some. The next stop on their itinerary was the coastal town of Tianjin. This was the first time Karmapa had seen the ocean! Here he was given the opportunity to take a ride on a ship around the seas off Tianjin. He had a great time, quite excited at all the sights he could see from the ocean, looking through the ship's telescope. After returning from the port town, the party then flew from Beijing to Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province. They visited the 1,000-year-old Qixia Temple and the head abbot there presented Karmapa with a complete set of Chinese language version of the teachings composed of 7,241 volumes of the Buddha called the Tripitaka. They also visited an astronomy observatory in the mountains of Zijing Shan and the Nanjing Radio Factory in the city in the afternoon. Karmapa was very interested in all the latest technological developments and asked many questions about the things he saw and how they worked. They then went by train from Nanjing to Suzhou, a city known for its beautifully designed house gardens. From Suzhou, they flew to Shanghai, where arrangements were made by the local government officials for him and his party to stay in the famous Shanghai Mansions. From his window in the guesthouse he had a clear view of the city's Huangpu River. He commented on the amazing bustle, so much traffic, and so many bright lights. He was taken to the "Pudong New Area" where there is a building boom. The vice-mayor, Zhao Qizhen briefed everyone on the massive urban construction, taking place throughout Shanghai. In the evening, the Shanghai Mayor, Huang Ju sponsored a large banquet in honor of Karmapa's visit. So far, the schedule was so packed that no one in the party had had a moment free. So, a shopping trip was arranged to visit Shanghai's biggest department store. As others in the party shopped around, Karmapa went over to the toy department and was fascinated with the large variety of electronic toys. The manager presented him with a remote control toy truck that he played with as soon as he got back to the guesthouse. On October 13th, Karmapa and his party flew from Shanghai to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. This was to be the last leg of their journey. In Chengdu, Karmapa visited the city's zoo and he showed great interest in all the small animals. On Oct. 15th they went to the sacred mountain of O'mei Shan. He and his party climbed to the summit in a steady drizzle. As soon as His Holiness reached the peak, the sun emerged from behind the clouds flooding the mountain's top with a beautiful golden light. On the morning of Oct. 17th they flew from Chengdu back to Lhasa to return home to Tsurphu Monastery.
Dharamsala, Nov. 15 (ANI): Tibetan spiritual leader, the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, said today that an environmental award would be given to monasteries or nunneries that are carrying out environmental protection projects.
He said that the monasteries, which are showing a lot of innovative work or that have done a lot of consistent environmental projects, would win the prize. He said that it is a way of recognizing all the hard work that monasteries put into environment protection.
"We should do it in two ways, one award for nunneries and another for monks in monasteries but we have to see that whether it should be separate for India, Nepal and Bhutan, it can be decided later. It is a way of incentivising and recognizing all the hard work those monastries or nunneries put into environment protection," he added.
The 17th Karmapa addressed a conference on environmental protection at Norbu Lingka institute near north Indian hill town Dharamshala here.
"It would be some kind of incentivising the activities and the initiatives so he has not clearly pointed out when will it be awarded, but he has some plans for it and we are looking forward to that," said Lhakpa Tsering, the organizer of the conference.
"Today what he spoke about was more to do with the guidelines that we could work on for the coming five years regarding all the environment activities. People are very enthusiastic and they all are more enthusiastic now because his holiness came and gave wonderful guidelines that we could work on. At the moment, we have 43 participants from 29 monasteries and nunneries and three other organizations from India, Nepal and Bhutan," he added.
Deki Chungyalpa, th environmental adviser to Karmapa, said he is here today because we have a closing ceremony right now for the 6th Koryug conference, Koryug means environment in Tibetan.
"It is an association that he created which consists of 55 monasteries that are doing environmental projects all across the Himalayas and we just had the conference that was quite different from previous conference because this focused on what the next five year plan should look like for Koryug as an organization. He focused very much on interdependence and why we as Himalayan people but of course he mainly speaking to monastic should care about the environment and he also talked a lot about having to integrate with community. He mentions several times that we cannot wait for other people to fix the problem. We must move into the community and come up with the solutions ourselves. He focused a lot on how coordination within Nepal, India and Bhutan could be stronger on environmental projects and in that discussion he also spoke a lot about social media and the role of social media," he added.
Kun Kyong, a Tibetan charitable trust, organized the sixth Khoryug (environmental) conference for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries in the Himalayas.
The annual conference was first started in 2009 with the guidelines of Tibetan spiritual leader the 17th Karmapa for environmental protection. (ANI)
Norbulingka Institute, Dharamshala, India November 15, 2015
With the goal of setting a positive example themselves, monks and nuns have been discussing for three days the environmental projects they want to pursue during the next five years. They voted on which issues were most important to them and the results were tallied. On this last day, final reports were presented to the Gyalwang Karmapa in four broad areas: implementation, communication, coordination, and organizational structure. In his talk to the gathering, he addressed each one.
First the Karmapa thanked in depth the monks and nuns who have been working for Khoryug and developing projects that have benefitted their monasteries, nunneries, and surrounding communities. He then turned to the main issues of the conference. First he asked, when we speak of protecting the environment what does implementation mean? It indicates, he answered, that we work not just for one or two days, but month after month, year after year, sustaining a flow of continuous activity. “Protecting the environment,” he explained, “does not mean merely planting some trees or painting a few signs on garbage cans. Our projects must have a real benefit and make a positive impact. They must have an effective cause and a clear result that everyone can see.” Just thinking “Well, I’ve done something” is not enough, he stated.
On a key topic of waste management, the Karmapa encouraged working with the local people. For example, here in the Dharamshala area, he suggested, we can connect with the local community and municipal authorities, as well as local Tibetan organizations, and monasteries in other places could do the same. In general, he said, when we think about protecting the environment, there is a great deal of work to do so we have to reflect carefully about what we will take on. To assist such communication, the Karmapa suggested improving theFacebook page for Khoryug where the teams in the monasteries and nunneries can post reports and share their activities.
To facilitate the conference planning, the Karmapa set a fixed time for the yearly conferences, which will take place in different venues and last for four days. The topic for next year’s meeting will be natural disaster management, as it was in 2012, since the importance of focusing on training around this issue was made clear during the recent earthquake in Nepal when people suffered so greatly. For such times of natural disasters, he advised establishing in the monasteries and nunneries an emergency response team that could also reach out to local communities. He said that Khoryug would develop a training program specifically for these teams.
The Karmapa took a two-pronged approach to promoting environmental awareness and understanding within the Sangha. First he will use the occasion of the yearly Kagyu Monlam, when many monasteries and nunneries along with their leaders gather in Bodhgaya, to emphasize the importance of protecting the environment and to encourage all the monks and nuns to support the activities of Khoryug.
Secondly he will establish special awards for environmental excellence. They will be given to the nunnery and the monastery that were most creative and consistent in their efforts to promote the protection of the environment. The prize will also come with a financial reward to be spent on Khoryug projects.
In conclusion, His Holiness thanked all the monasteries and organizations, which for years have been working and taking on hardships. As a token of his appreciation, he gave each participant an elegant certificate of attendance and then, followed by all the participants, he climbed up to the roof of the shrine hall, whence one could clearly see the Himalayan range in all its majesty as the late day sun set it alive with burnished gold. Inspiration enough to continue this work of protecting the environment and all who dwell within.
The third annual Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical Camp started today at the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya and will run from 20th – 30th December, 2015.
Funded by the Foundation Brigitte Bardot and Kagyupa International Monlam Trust for the third consecutive year, many of the same faces have returned to help the animals and people of Bodhgaya. The program is staffed mainly by volunteers from across the Himalayas: Sikkim, Dharamshala and Bhutan, alongside a few from Australia, England and Germany. This year the core veterinary team from Sikkim are joined by volunteers from the Department of Livestock, Royal Government of Bhutan, who have taken special leave in order to assist at the Animal Camp. Tibet Charity Dharamsala Animal Care Clinic, regular supporters of the camp, have deputed Dr Mili and Lobsang Thukchey, and sent donated medicines and supplies. The Municipal Corporation of Gaya have also contributed two government veterinary officers to assist.
This international team will be delivering important animal health, welfare and public health initiatives in the holy land of Bodhgaya, the place of the Buddha's enlightenment.
Program activities will include a street dog sterilisation and anti-rabies vaccination clinic; an out-patient's clinic where local people can bring any animals for treatment; a mobile veterinary team moving around villages treating animals remotely; and an education team teaching humane animal education in schools. see more pictures
Today is the first day of 2016 and as such we are very happy to present you with a new Podcast episode where His Holiness gives a brief but powerful teaching on breathing (shamatha) meditation.
This particular recording comes from a recent trip to Europe where His Holiness began talking about how dissatisfaction often creeps into our lives because we are so focused on outer forms of “happiness” and entertainment. These may seem like they bring happiness but actually just lead to more and more wants.
His Holiness then spoke about how breathing meditation can serve to “bring us home” because it is very natural and resting by its nature. The simple act of breathing meditation can help us to realize the mind’s amazing qualities.
His Holiness left Tergar Monastery in the early morning to begin the western New Year by offering his homage at the Mahabodhi Temple, marking the place where the Buddha attained full awakening. The Gyalwang Karmapa was welcomed to the sacred site by Mr. N.T. Dorje, Secretary of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee, and the Head Monk-in-Charge the Venerable Bande.
The Gyalwang Karmapa passed under the first gate, covered in beautiful flowers, and descended the long steps on the path to the main temple. Along both sides stood disciples holding white offering scarves and colorful blossoms to brighten his passage and receive his blessing. Once inside the shrine, His Holiness offered to the radiant Buddha statue, golden robes along with heaping bowls of fruit and generous arrangements of flowers. After three prostrations, the Gyalwang Karmapa began the prayers in praise of the Buddha:
Through compassion and skill you took birth in the Shakya family. As no one else could, you conquered the host of maras. Your physical presence, radiant like a mountain of gold, I bow to you, King of the Shakyas.
These verses were followed by prayers for peace and well-being to spread throughout the world and into the hearts of all living beings.
Earlier, the Gyalwang Karmapa departed from New Delhi on December 22th and arrived in the afternoon at Tergar Monastery in Bodhgaya, his residence during the winter months. This year was a special occasion as Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, who has been on solitary retreat in the Himalayas for four years, was there at the gate to welcome His Holiness. The reception was accompanied by a traditional golden procession of colorful banners and resonant drums and horns. Crowds of ordained and lay disciples filled the area, delighted to see the Gyalwang Karmapa again as they held out their flowing white scarves.
Tergar Monastery is also the site of the yearly Akshobhya retreat, which started on December 24th and will last for forty days. Following the wishes of His Holiness, this special retreat, focused on the phase of approach, takes place in Bodhgaya as part of Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. This year thirty-six participants have come from all over the world and include monks and nuns as well as female and male lay disciples. For preliminaries of the practice, the Gyalwang Karmapa bestowed the empowerment of Akshobhya in the morning and in the afternoon, gave commentary on the practice along with his guidance and advice. As it will throughout the retreat, the daily practice began at 6am and finished at 8:30pm, encompassing six individual sessions. Continuing to give his counsel, the Gyalwang Karmapa will lead the retreat, and afterward perform the ritual of the fire puja related to Akshobhya.
While present in Bodhgaya, His Holiness will preside over two months’ of activities, which begin with the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for nuns, taking place from January 12, 2016 to February 3, 2016. As a prelude to the Tibetan New Year, the Four-Armed Mahakala Torma Offering ritual will be performed from February 4 to 7, 2016. Celebrations for the Tibetan Year of the Male Fire Monkey will be held from February 9 to 11, 2016.
The Gyalwang Karmapa will teach the chapter on mandala offerings from The Torch of True Meaning on February 12 and 13. February 14 will see a celebration of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, and on February 16, the thirty-third Kagyu Monlam will begin, continuing through February 22. The Monlam will draw to a close with the celebration of the Marmey Monlam on the evening of February 23, 2016. Finally, the Gyalwang Karmapa will oversee the Nineteenth Kagyu Gunchö Winter Dharma Teachings and Debates for Kagyu Shedras from February 26 to March 10, 2016. Which concludes the Gyalwang Karmapa’s winter activities in Bodhgaya.
On the 19th of November 2013 the group of thirty two invited people started their two months retreat under the guidance of His Holiness Karmapa in Bodh Ghaya. Poland was represented by Lama Rinchen, whose impressions are written down below.
My visit lasting over two months in this most special place for Buddhist practitioners, where a thousand Buddhas of our kalpa achieve enlightenment, is coming to an end. I remember when our beloved Kyabye Tenga Rinpoche, after taking part for the first time in the Kagyu Monlam led by His Holiness Karmapa, said that He had never before done anything more profound. Rinpoche encouraged everyone to participate in the Monlam with Buddha Karmapa. Today, looking back over the last two months, I can only say a similar thing: these have been the most important and the most meaningful months of my life.
There were two reasons why I didn't share my experiences with you at the time. First, the schedule was quite intensive – usually I was out of my room from early in the morning till the evening – and the Internet on my phone was almost not working. But, the main reason was different. In the art of baking, there are some kinds of cakes that if, through curiosity, we look into the oven before the baking is finished, we can be sure that the cake will not be a success. Our cake will sink and be spoilt. I remember that once I made such an experiment in spite of my mother's warnings – all my hopes for a delicious cake were dashed!
It is very similar with the Yidam practice. It requires total discretion until it is finished. I have seen many practitioners who lose the opportunity to experience the blessing or make real spiritual progress during their meditation retreats. It was like that because they couldn't stop themselves from describing in letters or telling others about their temporary states of mind– either uplifted or doubts or difficulties.
My capacity to practice is very limited so I didn't want to make it even worse and to waste such an extraordinary opportunity for practising under the direct guidance of the Karmapa who is Akshobya Buddha in a human body. Receiving abhisheka and teachings from Buddha himself; having the possibility to ask Him about everything; being offered wonderful food and a sleeping place – all of these in such a special place! I don't know how many lives one must wait to get such a chance!
I cannot find words to describe how all-pervasive and amazing is the presence of Karmapa. But on the other hand I cannot talk about these two months emotionlessly. Although such an ordinary person as myself are not able to understand fully and appreciate all the qualities of Karmapa, I understand now much better why Kyabye Tenga Rinpoche had such limitless devotion to His Holiness. On the other hand, among all the Teachers of His Holiness, Tenga Rinpoche has a very special place – but that is another story...
During these days my thoughts were often with Tenga Rinpoche. With great gratitude I thought that all the great opportunity that I had this time was merely thanks to His teachings, help and recommendations. With great gratitude I was also thinking about all of you. I was invited as a ''Lama of a Centre'' which is a tribute to the activity and development of our centre that is created by all of us. By myself I could build a hut made of paper and sticks at most and sit there thinking about Buddhism. But such a centre is a result of the shared effort of so many people. This is really not my false modesty but genuine thankfulness.
Thirty two people from different countries and of different nationalities took part in the retreat. Half of them were Tibetans, including two tulkus. But this year, especially lamas from Europe were invited. On the occasion of previous Kagyu Monlams the practice of Akshobhya was also organised but it lasted usually one or two weeks. At the end of this 2 month retreat, His Holiness said that He saw now what a good idea it had been.
Our retreat started with the Akshobhya abhisheka and the instructions for the practise bestowed by His Holiness Karmapa. The regular practice started the next day. We took sojong vows every day and meditated and recited mantras in six sessions. Practice and teachings took place in the private Karmapa chapel dedicated to Akshobhya Buddha. This Yidam is especially important for our Lineage because Marpa, Milarepa and all Karmapas belonged to this Buddha Family. His Holiness says that in this life He has a special connection with Akshobhya Buddha.
Additionally, almost every day we met with the Karmapa for an hour and a half. During these meetings we received detailed instructions for the practice as well as other teachings. His Holiness took care that each smallest detail of the shrine, ritual and the whole practice was in accordance to the rules described in ancient tantras. Although the Karmapa ate in His room, He usually was with us during our meals. This was a great opportunity to get to know Him more directly and ask Him about many topics. The closer the time for the Kagyu Monlam was, the more His Holiness was engaged in other things. In spite of this, He always found time to visit our retreat place and ensure that everything was going well. The Karmapa took also care about the retreatants' health. When somebody was ill, His Holiness brought the medicines by himself.
First, for over a month, we accumulated the required amount of recited mantras, practising dag-kye – identifying oneself with Buddha. During that time certain rules had to be obeyed, e.g. no one from the retreatants – even both Rinpoches taking part in the retreat – could bless anyone or anything. His Holiness was jokingly comparing this stage of practise to charging the batteries. A Fire Puja lasting three and half days ended this part. Later, during the Kagyu Monlam, the retreatants were evoking Akshobhya Buddha from the Pure Land imagining its form (dun-kye) and asking for its activity in fulfilling the needs of all beings, especially of those for whom the prayers were requested. It lasted one week. At the end of each session the participants blessed various objects and substances needed in the ceremony for the deceased. During the last day we accompanied His Holiness in the special ritual that liberates beings from the after-death state of bardo. Earlier, there was a possibility to request for the prayers of intention for the deceased. During the ceremony, the given names were burnt in the wisdom fire.
From the beginning, His Holiness Karmapa was repeating that this retreat was organised and dedicated so that the finishing practises for the living and the deceased ones were performed as best as possible. But anyway, for us, it was a great opportunity to stay in the presence of His Holiness and receive His blessing that pervades each atom of the body and each corner of the mind. The Karmapa could also get to know lamas running the Karma Kamtsang Centres better and they could get to know one another better.
During the last days I said to the Karmapa that now I saw that everything that Kyabye Tenga Rinpoche had taught me had been a preparation for meeting His Holiness. I don't have any doubts that this was the intention of Rinpoche who always pointed out His Holiness Karmapa and His Eminence Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche as lamas to whom we should ask for guidance and blessing. I dedicated the whole merit accumulated during this retreat to the general happiness of all beings but especially that we may satisfy all our Lamas with our practice and work. May we continue to cooperate in harmony with the Lamas from Benchen Monastery, may we create a place which His Holiness Karmapa can visit soon, where His Eminence Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and other masters will be glad to come and where Kyabye Tenga Rinpoche will joyfully come back in His new body. May all of you meet Buddha Karmapa face to face very soon!