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    From Benchen Monastery office, March 29, 2017

    Please find the official Announcement letter from Benchen Monastery by clicking here

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    Photo by Kuma Chenpo

    This text is based on a draft by Michele Martin who conducted interviews with Tempa Yarphel, the search team and others. Thankfully this text was edited by Tempa and Tashi Sautter and may deviate from Martin’s final version that will be published elsewhere.

    Ever since he passed away on March 30th, 2012, finding Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche’s reincarnation (yangsi) has been awaited with tremendous hopes and great devotion, especially in the Karma Kamtsang lineage. When traveling in Germany, His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa spoke about him on August 30th, 2015: “While here in Germany, I had the opportunity to meet briefly with many students of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche and share some remarks with them. It has been a while now since he passed away but during all this time, his students and I myself have been continually remembering Rinpoche. This recollection has caused our faith, devotion, and love for him to continue flourishing.”“

    Before Rinpoche passed away, he spoke a few words to me about his future reincarnation. Therefore, I have a great hope and pray that we will soon meet with his yangsi. So my main words of encouragement for the disciples of Tenga Rinpoche and those connected to Akong Rinpoche as well is to let your minds be at ease and relax. Continue sustaining the enlightened activities of your teachers and I think this will be enough.”

    Half a year later, on February 22nd, 2016, during the closing ceremony for the Kagyu Monlam, the Gyalwang Karmapa made a thrilling announcement: During the Tseringma puja conducted at the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, he felt great devotion for Tenga Rinpoche and had a “thought or minor vision of where he might be.” He said he would keep these details quiet until he was able to share them with Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche but that he hoped Tenga Rinpoche would be able to return soon.

    Almost a year later to the day, on February 24th 2016, His Holiness presented the first prediction letter of Tenga Rinpoche to Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. In this special document, His Holiness gave the names of the parents and a clear description of the landscape in which they lived. Also on the 24th His Holiness and Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche together selected the members of the search team, which included the General Secretary Tempa Yarphel, Junior General Secretary Tashi Özer, Khenpo Ösung, and the Dorje Lopon Tsültrim Rabten. Afterward His Holiness said that the four members should come in the evening and that he would send a qualified person with them for the search.

    When they arrived that evening, the Karmapa said that Khenpo Garwang would be helping them, so there were now five people on the team. Khenpo joined as a representative of His Holiness Karmapa and the Tshurphu Labrang. His Holiness said that Khenpo Garwang is brilliant and has the awareness of nine people. Throughout the search the team could always seek his counsel. On that occasion Khenpo Garwang directly asked for the Karmapa’s help: “I need a map of the yangsi’s birthplace. Without one it will be difficult.” His Holiness said playfully, “OK. I’ll pretend that I know something,” and asked for paper. He talked as he drew: “There’s a mountain here, it looks la bit like this. And there are houses. Then there’s a river going along something like that. It’s not too big.” In the end he drew a picture that turned out to be clear as a photograph, showing the layout of the land with a river flowing through it and the design of the houses, some with flat roofs and others with peaked ones, and one house, that of the yangsi was directly beneath the great mountain, Manaslu.

    In further conversation His Holiness said there were 32 to 40 households in the area. (It turned out later that an NGO had tallied the households in this spread out village and there were exactly forty.) The Karmapa also stated there would be four and a half people in the family. Responding to a query, the Karmapa replied that the “half” could refer to a child in the mother’s womb. When Tempa asked how old the yangsi would be, the Karmapa answered, “It seems that he is three or four.” The prediction letter had said the place was near a blessed mountain called Gangpung Gyen (Gangs phung rgyan, Manaslu in Nepali, the eighth highest mountain in the world). Khenpo Ösung wondered which village it might be, as there were so many in that area. The Karmapa replied that it was the first village down from the Tibetan border, which turned out to be Samdo.

    His Holiness then encouraged them, “It is good to search for the yangsi right away,” so the following day they all went back to Nepal and left for Nubri, a high mountain valley in northern Nepal on the border with Tibet. Since Nubri is a six-day trek from Kathmandu, they took a helicopter to fly through the deep valleys and high mountains up to the northern border. Just before landing the search team was amazed to see the landscape matched His Holiness’ drawing in great detail. Once they arrived, the search team looked everywhere in the area of Samdo village in Nubri for six days. They went from house to house and Khenpo Garwang said to each of the familes: “I am looking for a very bright child. If this child could study, it will bring a great benefit to everyone. There are four children like this. We have found one in India, one in Bhutan, and another in Sikkim, and now we have come here looking for fourth one. It should be born in the Year of the Horse. Do you know a child like this from Samdo?” There were no other children. Khenpo mentioned them as a distraction. Despite the effort the search team could not find a child of three or four years, who had parents with names matching those in the letter of prediction. The team reported back to His Holiness that they did not find a child matching the description in the prediction letter. On the next day His Holiness replied by requesting the team to return to India. So sadly they had to return empty-handed to the Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya. During an audience with His Holiness the Karmapa observed that the team was unsuccessful and after a short pause advised that it was best for the Benchen Monastery to host the forthcoming three day long Tseringma puja at Thrangu Rinpoche’s Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath and make it as elaborate as possible. His Holiness then asked: „Can you arrange this?“ and Tempa replied: „Yes of course, Your Holiness. There is no problem at all.“ Then His Holiness further clarified that the senior Benchen monks should join and that he will also invite the senior monks, that is, dorje lopön (ritual master), umdze (chant master), chötrimpa (master of discipline), and forth, of the Rumtek Monastery to the puja. It should be lead by the Rumtek Umdze and the acting Dorje Lopön from Benchen.

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    Day Three, 8th Khoryug Conference
    24th March, 2017
    Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya

    On the third day of the 8th Khoryug Conference, participants turned their attention to the topic of waste management, an issue that is faced by monasteries and nunneries across the Himalayas as one of the most difficult environmental problems to solve.
    Khoryug advisor, Dekila Chungyalpa, explained how the development of a cash economy and globalization has adversely affected regions such as the Himalayas by disrupting the traditional ways of life which produced very little waste. Although Himalayan people produce relatively small amounts of waste compared to those in developed countries, in the Himalayas the problem is not so much the volume of waste as the lack of infrastructure to dispose of it appropriately.  The solution to the difficulties facing religious institutions in the Himalayan region therefore lies in reducing the amount of waste that is produced and maximizing what can be recycled, composted or otherwise repurposed. 
    Waste management refers to the collection, transport, processing or disposal, managing and monitoring of waste materials to minimize the consequences on humans and the environment.
    In the Himalayas, the lack of infrastructure for waste disposal and recycling causes people to either burn their waste, bury it, litter or throw it in dumping sites where it often ends up in waterways. None of these options present a safe way for disposing waste.
    Dekila focused particularly on the problem of plastic, one of the most pervasive and difficult forms of waste in the Himalayas. She emphasized that plastic could take millions of years to break down and its disposal often creates serious health risks for humans and animals. Two videos raised awareness of the ubiquitousness of plastic and the problems it creates both for the environment generally and specifically for the health of living beings. 
    In order to reduce waste, the monastery representatives were advised to “reduce, reuse and recycle.” This practice includes avoiding products that come in disposable plastic packaging, buying in bulk and using reusable products such as cloth shopping bags or reusable water bottles. They were also encouraged to institute waste segregation in order to recycle and compost more of their waste. Effective waste segregation requires ongoing education on proper segregation methods and clear systems of labeling and sorting.
    Dekila further suggested that monastics should begin to explore the possibilities of upcycling. Upcycling requires a radical change of view: what would have been seen as disposable waste is seen instead as useful and productive. Examples include making bags out of plastic waste, using plastic bottles as building materials instead of brick, and using plastic bottles to create solar lighting systems for interior use during daytime. 
    Nuns from Tek Chok Ling Nunnery in Nepal gave a demonstration of how they use plastic waste to produce items for sale such as place mats, containers and bags. They are able to sell these products to raise funds to support the work of the nunnery while simultaneously decreasing the amount of waste they send to the landfill. Through their segregation initiative they have successfully reduced their amount of landfill waste by over 50%.
    Their presentation was followed in the afternoon by India Country Coordinator Lama Thinlay of Bokar Monastery in Mirik, West Bengal. He presented on the monastery’s new waste segregation center which they built in 2016. Whereas the monastery used to burn all of its trash before the project, they now segregate their waste into five categories and are able to maximize the amount they can sell as recycling or turn into compost. The project is already demonstrating promising results. Lama Thinlay explained that in only 8 months of the center being active they have earned over INR 13,000 and recouped 23% of their investment. In addition, they are able to process the waste from their immediately surrounding lay community and have completely stopped burning trash, protecting the health and well-being of themselves, their community and the local environment.

    2017.3.24 Day Three, 8th Khoryug Conference

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    Recent events in the Kamtsang Kagyu may cause a lot of discussion both inside the lineage and out, and I am slightly worried about the possibility of people trading barbed words over it. In particular, the lineages with the same dharma and gurus, the same crown and colors must give up making threats or criticizing each other. Do not look only at what appears right in front of you; carefully consider all the different sides and angles of the situation. Be spacious, patient, and forgiving so as not to lose control of yourself. Please be sympathetic and understanding so as not to disturb anyone else’s mind.

    Whatever happens to you or someone else,
    Do not dispute, exaggerate, or speak badly.
    Instead, look carefully at every side,
    Don’t search for others’ faults; give up your own.
    - By the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

    ཁ་སང་ཀཾ་ཚང་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད་ནང་བྱུང་བའི་གནས་ཚུལ་དེའི་རྐྱེན་གྱིས་ཆོས་བརྒྱུད་ཕྱི་ནང་དུ་གླེང་གཞི་མང་པོ་ཡོང་སྲིད་པ་དང་། ལྷག་པར་ཕན་ཚུན་ཚིག་མཚོན་འདེབས་རེས་བྱེད་སྲིད་པའི་སེམས་ཁྲལ་ཅུང་ཟད་འདུག །ལྷག་པར་ཆོས་དང་བླ་མ་གཅིག །ཞྭ་དང་ཁ་དོག་གཅིག་པའི་ཆོས་བརྒྱུད་ནང་ཕན་ཚུན་ལ་འབར་ཤ་བསྐུར་འདེབས་སྤངས་ནས། གདོང་ཏུ་གང་བྱུང་གི་གནས་ཚུལ་ཙམ་མིན་པར་གཡས་གཡོན་མདུན་རྒྱབ་ཀུན་ཏུ་བསམ་གཞིགས་ནན་མོ་བྱས་ནས། གུ་ཡངས་དང་། བཟོད་བསྲན་གྱིས་རང་ཚུགས་མ་ཤོར་བ། ཤ་ཚ་དང་། བསམ་ཤེས་ཀྱིས་གཞན་སེམས་མ་དཀྲུག་པ་གནང་རོགས་ཞུ་རྒྱུ་ཡིན།
    རང་གཞན་གནས་ཚུལ་འདྲ་མིན་ཅི་བྱུང་ཡང་། །
    བསྐུར་འདེབས་སྒྲོ་འདོགས་ཚིག་ངན་མི་སྨྲ་བར། །
    གཡས་གཡོན་མདུན་རྒྱབ་ཀུན་ཏུ་ལེགས་བརྟག་ནས། །
    གཞན་སྐྱོན་མི་འཚོལ་རང་སྐྱོན་འདོར་བར་བྱ། །

    སྤྱི་ལོ་ ༢༠༡༧ ཟླ་ ༣ ཚེས་ ༣༠ ཉིན།






    第十七世大寶法王噶瑪巴 鄔金欽列多傑

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    Friday, March 31, 2017 
    By Tenzin Monlam

    DHARAMSHALA, MARCH 31: The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, recognized by the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has requested followers of Kamtsang Kagyu to refrain from speaking ill about each other in the wake of “recent events”, which has caused a stir in the Buddhist community. 

    Without making any direct reference to the recent news of his rival Karmapa Thinlay Thaye Dorje’s wedding, the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje wrote, “Recent events in the Kamtsang Kagyu may cause a lot of discussion both inside the lineage and out, and I am slightly worried about the possibility of people trading barbed words over it,” Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje wrote on his official Facebook page, without specifically referring to any particular incident. 

    Addressed as ‘a request to all my friends’, the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje urged everyone to consider all the different sides of the situation before making any criticism. The 31-year old spiritual leader said, “Be spacious, patient, and forgiving so as not to lose control of yourself. Please be sympathetic and understanding so as not to disturb anyone else’s mind.”

    The 17th Karmapa Thinlay Thaye Dorje, chosen by late Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche Mipham Chokyi Lodro, announced his marriage to a ‘close childhood friend’ in a private ceremony in Delhi on March 25, sending shockwaves through the Buddhist community, especially within the Karmapa Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. 

    Karmapa Thinlay Thaye Dorje however wrote that his role and activities as Karmapa would continue as before with single exception of conducting ordinations.

    “I have a strong feeling, deep within my heart, that my decision to marry will have a positive impact not only for me, but also for the lineage,” the 33-year-old claimant to the Rumtek Monastery, seat of the previous Karmapa Rangjung Rigpai Dorje, said. “I have chosen a different path. At the same time, my commitment to protect and preserve the monastic sangha, and the lineage, remains paramount in my life, and my continued role as Karmapa.”

    The late 14th Shamar Rinpoche, one of the three main disciples of the 16th Karmapa, recognized Thaye Dorje as 17th Karmapa. However, Tai Situpa Rinpoche, another of the three main disciples, chose Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa, who was also approved by the Dalai Lama. 

    The Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa. However, the Indian government has not yet lifted the restriction it imposed on the young Lama to visit Rumtek, which is guarded by Indian paramilitary force (BSF). 

    A circular issued on July 6, by the Sikkim Government appointed Acharya Tshering Lama of Simick Chandey as the Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Affairs Department sparking a new hope for his long awaited visit to Rumtek. However, the visit has not taken place yet. 


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    March 24, 2017

    The 8th Khoryug Conference, A talk on healing the heart and mind, addressing mental trauma during aftermath of disasters by the Karmapa.

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    March 12, 2017
    The Mahabodhi Stupa, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

    At the Mahabodhi Stupa, it is the morning of the first full moon in the Tibetan year. In the shade of the Bodhi Tree, nineteen nuns sit near the Vajra Seat, site of the Buddha’s enlightenment. On the path to full ordination, eighteen took the shramaneri vows in the same place the day before, and one remains to take them on this auspicious fifteenth day of the Month of Miracles.

    Soon the Karmapa arrives at the main gate, and led by a senior nun carrying a long incense holder and wearing the yellow cockade hat, he walked straight down the red carpet leading into the main temple and its famous statue of the meditating Buddha. Inside, the Karmapa offered shimmering golden robes to the Buddha along with alms bowls full of jars of honey and fruits.

    The procession then moved outside and around the great stupa to the back where a throne and altar had been arranged under the spreading limbs of the Bodhi Tree. The Karmapa took his seat, and behind him, placed above rows of offerings, was a special painting of a standing Avalokiteshvara. He held a lotus flower in his left hand and from the palm of his right hand emanated an image of Ananda, close disciple and cousin of the Buddha. As the Karmapa has explained elsewhere, Ananda is known for his great compassion in requesting the Buddha numerous times on behalf of Mahaprajnapati to grant vows to women. It is due to his success that women have been able to go forth and take ordination.

    In recognition of his pivotal role, Ananda is supplicated and praised in the Ritual Practice for the Dharma to Flourish in Women’s and Especially Nuns’ Communities, Based on the Inseparability of Avalokiteshvara and Ananda, composed by the Karmapa. In addition to sections with language inclusive of women newly written by the Karmapa, the text includes the traditional refuge, bodhichitta, and Seven Branch prayer as well as a beautiful praise of Avalokiteshvara, the mahayana sojong vows, the story of Mahaprajnapati’s requests, and the Dharma Blaze Aspiration, a supplication for the Dharma’s flourishing taken fromThe Sutra of the Essence of the Moon.

    The heart of this morning’s ceremony was the recitation of this Ritual Practice for the Dharma to Flourish. On either side of the Karmapa’s throne, rows of yellow and burgundy robed nuns flowed in rows interspersed with the grey and tan robes of nuns from more than seventeen countries; the wide stairs leading to the Bodhi Tree and the areas nearby were filled with women from east and west, delighted to be a part of this historic event and grateful for the Karmapa’s wholehearted support of women practitioners.

    After the ritual practice, three speakers brought three different perspectives to the history of how the vows were instituted. The first speaker, Tsunmo Tsultrim Sangmo, was one of the nineteen nuns who took vows:

    As a representative of all the shramaneris who have now taken the vows in the Dharmaguptaka tradition, I would like to thank HH the Gyalwang Karmapa for giving us this opportunity…. During the second Arya Kshema Winter Gathering in 2015, His Holiness spoke of the fact that in most Buddhist countries, there are exclusively bhikshus while the tradition of bhikshunis is followed in only a few countries. In particular, he said that this tradition should be reinstituted within Tibetan Buddhism. If it were, there would be the four-fold community of bhikshus and bhikshunis and of laymen and women with the five precepts. His Holiness stated that having the complete four-fold community would bring great benefit. At that point, many of the nuns were inspired, and on their behalf, I offered a request to be able to train in these vows.
    Tsultrim Sangmo then spoke of the great responsibility that the nineteen nuns have assumed:

    We should never be separated from the three Dharma robes; we should never be parted from the three trainings; we should always keep the precepts in our mind and keep them as purely as we can. It is our responsibility to do this in order to be able to restore the bhikshuni ordination within the Tibetan Mulasarvastivadin tradition, and this is a responsibility for all the nuns. It is something that His Holiness and all the masters of the great traditions have spoken of, and it is important for all of us to take the inspiration and responsibility seriously.
    She also noted the great benefit of taking the vows:

    They are a foundation that will allow us to serve the teachings and living beings and do a little bit of benefit. They also give us the opportunity to fulfill the wishes of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche [her teacher].
    She closed her talk with aspirations:

    On behalf of all the shramaneris, I would like to say that we have the great hope that we will be able to take the shramaneri, shikshamana, and bhikshuni vows in succession and be able to restore the bhikshuni vow within the Mulasarvastivadin tradition. We hope that through this, His Holiness will have a long life, that his activity will flourish and spread, and that he will be able to bring living beings temporary happiness and the ultimate benefit of liberation.
    Tsultrim Sangmo was followed by Khenpo Kelsang Nyima, the dean of the Rumtek Monastic College in Sikkim. He recounted that it was not just the Karmapa who had supported the reinstitution of full ordination for nuns:

    During the thirteenth Kagyu Winter Debates in 2009, there were discussions of the vinaya, and His Holiness spoke of the lineage of the gelongma vows, about which he had conducted considerable historical research. He especially referred to the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s writings about giving full ordination to women as well as other lamas….

    Not only this, while discussing the Buddha’s teachings, the Karmapa stated that both men and women are able to do the practice of the three levels of vows…. And further, in the world today, more women than men have an interest in the Buddha’s teachings. Therefore, if women could have the chance as men do to engage in the three trainings, it would benefit the flourishing of the Buddha’s Dharma.
    In 2013 at the seventeenth Winter Debates, while discussing the three essential practices of the summer retreat, —the ending of summer retreat, and sojong vows—all the khenpos present had the same thought: the transmission of the gelongma vows has few supporters and it needs to flourish. They felt that His Holiness should give the vows and supplicated him repeatedly. Then one day during the first Arya Kshema Winter Gathering, a group of nuns came to see him.

    “We want to request His Holiness to grant us the transmission of the gelongma vows,” they said. The nuns asked earnestly for the khenpo’s help with this and referred to the time when Prajnapati requested the Buddha to allow women to become ordained and Ananda had helped her. So I responded, “Write all of your thoughts down and bring that paper to me. We will put your case strongly to His Holiness.” We took this request with their thoughts and hopes to the Karmapa.

    So the bestowing of the full ordination was due 1) to the great compassion of His Holiness; 2) to the continued supplications of the Kagyu nuns; 3) to the fact that among the followers of Buddhism in the world today, there are many more women than men; and 4) to the nuns wanting to take the vows affirming that they would follow carefully the precepts as they had been given.

    Therefore, the Karmapa made plans and also researched where in the world the lineage of gelongma vows had been maintained. Khenpo Kelsang Nyima concluded his talk saying that today we are seeing the results of everyone’s efforts: the nineteen nuns representing all the nuns of the Karma Kagyu have had this excellent and fortunate opportunity through the great compassion of His Holiness. “With heart-felt joy and delight, from the depths of my being, I offer my thanks.”

    Finally His Holiness spoke, beginning with his thanks:

    At the sacred site of the Bodhi Tree, the Ritual Practice for the Dharma to Flourish in Women’s and Especially Nuns’ Communities and the ritual of bestowing the shramaneri vows have been successfully completed. On this wonderful occasion, I would like to welcome our special guests, the gelongmas from Taiwan, and especially, the new shramaneris.

    In general, the shramaneri vow is available in all four Buddhist traditions of Tibet, but this morning, a special shramaneri vow was given. Why is it special? Because this vow is the preliminary step to restoring the bhikshuni ordination in our tradition. And the reason it is so important to restore these vows is that according to the standpoint of the vinaya, all of the vows that women can take should be given by bhikshunis and all the vows that men can take should be given by bhikshus.

    In Tibetan Buddhism, however, we have not had a continuous lineage of bhikshunis, so bhikshus have taken their place and given vows to women. It is rather difficult to say that this is completely in accord with the meaning and intent of the vinaya. For that reason, so that women can actually take vows, bhikshunis are indispensable. We need women to become bhikshunis. This is why it is so important to restore the bhikshuni vow.

    The complete teachings of the Buddha are contained within the three superior trainings (discipline, samadhi, and prajna or wisdom), and the training in discipline forms the foundation for the two other trainings of samadhi and prajna. With a female body, however, women cannot attain the full training in discipline, making it difficult to practice the teachings of Buddhism in their entirety.

    Out of his great compassion, our teacher the Buddha gave teachings to men and women, allowing them all to enter the Dharma. Without any difference, men and women could fully practice the three trainings. It is beneficial and important for all of us to make sure that everyone can practice in the same way. It is our responsibility and something that all of us who follow the Buddhist teachings should pursue and make happen.

    My giving the Tibetan nuns the opportunity to practice the complete discipline of the pratimoksha is not something that came out of the blue. It’s not something I thought of by myself or did all on my own.

    Actually, at first I did not take much interest in this question and did not think about it much. We first began to discuss it when we developed the new codes of conduct for the Kagyu Monlam. At that point, we discussed how we would have the seating and the conduct for the bhikshus and the novices. As we continued to talk, we came to the bhikshunis and wondered how to handle their situation. From that point onward, I began to take an interest in the issue of full ordination.
    The Karmapa also mentioned His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s support of women:

    HH the Dalai Lama has often spoken about the need for the nuns to receive the same education and opportunity as the monks. He has encouraged the institution of the geshema degree and has spoken often of the need to revive the bhikshuni tradition. Likewise, the upholders of the vinaya from many different Tibetan traditions have held numerous meetings on this topic and I have attended a few of them. Through all of this, I began to comprehend how important and significant these vows would be. Only through seeing this did I think I should do all I could to make them happen.
    Then he reprised his thanks to the nuns:

    I would like to thank the bhikshunis who came from the Nan Lin Vinaya Nunnery in Taiwan on our invitation to give the shramaneri vows. I would also like to thank the nineteen nuns from the six different nunneries, who at their own wish have voluntarily taken these vows. They have spent the last weeks in numerous conversations and discussions with the Dharmaguptaka nuns and each other. While talking with them, I found that the nuns’ pure intentions and bodhisattva resolve are so wonderful, really incredibly good. Sometimes I think we monks should be a little bit abashed at our intentions when we take vows, as they are not nearly as fine or pure as theirs are. So I rejoice in what the nuns have done.

    This is the first time we have offered these vows. It is important that we preserve the lineage and the transmission of the Buddhist teachings so that they do not decline or wane. I think that through the power of our compassionate Buddha and all the great beings of the past, through the power of Mahaprajnapati and all the great female arhats, the opportunity to give the vows has happened, and we now need to maintain them so they are not lost.
    In closing, the Karmapa gave his essential advice to the whole Sangha:

    The most important thing, whether we are monks or nuns, is that we remain harmonious. This is the foundation for everything. Based on harmony, we can have good discipline and everything else. It is important that we all get along with each other, respect each other, and be mindful of each other. If we do this, then the teachings of the Buddha will flourish. I would like to thank everyone very much. [For the Karmapa’s clarification and expansion on this talk, see The Karmapa Unfolds His Thoughts about the Bhikshuni Vows, March 15, 2017]
    As the applause died down, the nineteen nuns rose and offered their long white scarves to the Karmapa who gave them his warm blessing and a blessing cord. Following the dedication, the Karmapa stepped down from his throne and walked around the main stupa to the famous image of Green Tara, carved in a side wall of the stupa and framed today in a curtain of brilliant yellow and orange marigolds. He stood on a platform before her and with great care, gilded her face and body with a fine brush. It was a fitting end to these extraordinary days that have the opened doors for women to practice as fully as they wish.

    2017.3.12 歡迎剛受戒的藏傳沙彌尼 History in the Making: The First Step Toward Full Ordinationhttp://aryakshema.com/index.php/en/4th-arya-kshema/13-arya-kshema/4th-arya-kshema/133-history-in-the-making-the-first-step-toward-full-ordination

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    March 14, 2017
    Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

    Two days after the ceremony at the Mahabodhi Stupa, Karmapa elaborated on the background of the Ritual Practice for the Dharma to Flourish in Women’s and Especially Nuns’ Communities. He first mentioned The Sutra of Being Skilled in Means (‘Phags pa thabs la mkhas pa’i mdo), which discusses repaying kindness, and that it was translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan and Chinese. “In the Chinese translation,” the Karmapa observed, “there is a passage describing how Mahaprajnapati asked Ananda to request the Buddha to allow women to take vows. This is the circumstance that made it possible in Buddhism for women to go forth and become ordained.”

    To express their gratitude to Ananda, it is said that on the spring and fall equinoxes, women should take the vows of the eightfold discipline and remember him. This eightfold discipline most probably refers to the eight precepts of the fasting vow (to avoid killing, stealing, sexual contact, lying, intoxicants, food after noon, sitting on a high throne or bed, and finally, wearing jewelry or perfume, and singing, dancing, or playing music). During the Ritual Practice, therefore, we take the mahayana sojong vows, which include all of these eight.

    Usually during a fasting ritual, for example, the fasting practice of Gelongma Palmo, we engage in the practice through visualizing the eleven-faced Avalokiteshvara. There are fasting practices with other yidam deities, but the most well known involve Avalokiteshvara. In the Ritual Practice, we engage in a fasting practice, and primarily this means that we are taking mahayana sojong (restoration and fulfillment) vows. We visualize Avalokiteshvara and in his presence take these vows, after which he turns into Ananda.

    The background for this transformation is a sadhana of the thousand-armed, thousand-eyed Avalokiteshvara, composed by Nagarjuna. Here, when it comes to taking the siddhis (accomplishments), in front of Avalokiteshvara is Ananda who is supplicated for whatever siddhi is sought and then received. So there’s a true connection between Avalokiteshvara and Ananda—some sutras even mention that Ananda is his emanation—and therefore, this transformation is incorporated into the Ritual Practice.

    Another way of thinking about this is that Ananda showed great compassion in asking the Buddha numerous times to give women vows. Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ compassion, and his turning into Ananda signifies Ananda’s compassion and loving kindness for all living beings and especially for women. Thusthe Ritual Practice for the Dharma to Flourish in Women’s and Especially Nuns’ Communitiesis a way of bringing his generosity to mind.


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    March 15, 2017
    Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

    On the full moon day, the Tibetan 15th (March 12, 2107), there was a ceremony to celebrate the nuns who took the shramaneri vows at the Mahabodhi Stupa. The Karmapa reprised his talk there, as he wished to say more about his thinking on issues related to full ordination for nuns.

    “As I have mentioned before, in Tibetan history during the time of the Dharma king Trisong Deutsen when the first ordained Sanghas were established, there were six or seven princes who went forth and the monastic community was established. Previous to this, we can probably say that there were monastics in Tibet, as monks from China and India stayed at Samye; however, there were probably no Tibetans who were ordained before then, though this needs more research. That said, it is clear that when the first Sangha was established, there were both ordained men and women (rab byung po mo gnyis ka).

    “After this, especially during the early spread of the teachings, the histories do not describe clearly the situation of nuns: We do not know how they flourished or how they decreased. For the later spread of the teachings, we have histories from the Sakya lineage, which include the Documents about India and Tibet (rGya bod yig tshang chenmo for the short title and rGya bod yig tshang mkhas pa dga’ byed chen mo for the long one) and also a Brief Account of the Familial Lineages of the Glorious Sakya (dPal ldan sa skya’i gdung rabs mdor bsdus). In these texts it is written that women went forth, and not only that, among them were bhikshunis (fully ordained nuns).

    “But we should not spend too much time focusing on Tibetan history. The bottom line is that there was no continuous bhikshuni Sangha or the transmission of these vows in Tibet. This then raises the question: What would be the problem if there were no bhikshunis? The greatest fault is that according to the vinaya, when vows are given to women, bhikshunis are needed to ask them the questions about their previous going forth from their homes and about the present ceremony to take shramaneri vows (when they are asked about obstacles etc.).

    “Bhikshunis are needed whether we are speaking about the vows of the upasika (dge bsnyen or lay woman with precepts) or the ordaining vows (rabtujungma), including those of the shramaneri (dge tshul ma or novice nun) and the shikshamana (dge sblob ma or nun in training). Likewise, a Sangha of bhikshunis is necessary when the bhikshuni (dge slong ma or full ordination) vows are bestowed. Therefore, if there were no bhikshunis, it would be difficult to give the vows to women in a proper and authentic manner as described in the vinaya. In Tibet, the bhikshus (fully ordained monks) substituted for the bhikshunis in giving the vows for ordination. Whether these are authentic vows and whether they were properly given is a question to be examined.

    “In the Buddha’s words, it is said that if there are no bhikshunis, the bhikshus could give the vows. Later the great scholars who followed the Buddha’s teachings in composing their treatises wrote in a similar vein. The Kadampa tradition of Tibet treasured the practice of the vinaya and kept their distance from the mantrayana. In the writings of these Kadamapa masters of the past, it is said that if there are no bhikshunis, the bhikshus can give women all the vows they need. Likewise, in the Mahaprajnapati Sutra, the Buddha said that a male, such as a bhikshu, khenpo, utpadaya, or an archarya, may give women vows.

    “So then we have to look and see if there are bhikshunis in the world or not. In the past, the world seemed huge but now everything has come closer; the planet has transformed into a big global village where we all have connections with each other. So the world is different from what it was the past. Previously, if you said there were no bhikshunis in Tibet, it meant there were none in the entire world. But now, the world has become smaller, and we are able to look to see if there are bhikshunis in the larger world or not. When we do so, we can see that in the Chinese tradition, there are indeed bhikshunis. They may belong to the Dharmaguptaka tradition, which is different from the Tibetan vinaya in the Mulasarvastivadin tradition, yet undeniably, there is a Sangha of fully ordained nuns in China. Due to this, there is a hope or a basis for being able to restore the vows of full ordination for women.

    “In Tibetan Buddhism we may not have fully ordained nuns, but we do have nuns who have gone forth and ordained, the shramaneris or novices. These vows were given by the bhikshus of the male Sangha, and if there were no other choice, we could restore the full ordination for nuns through them. If we were to do this, however, there would be the question of whether or not this was the most excellent and perfect way of giving the vows. If we could not do it perfectly, then we would have to go through the male Sangha but I think we need to make efforts to do it properly and perfectly. For that reason, this year we have invited bhikshunis from the Dharmguptaka tradition, and they have given the vows of going forth (rabtujung) and the shramaneri (dge tshul ma or novice) vows in order to establish a foundation for the vows (of full ordination). My hope is that this will work out perfectly and be the best way of doing it.

    “Some people might think that we are making these efforts to restore the full vows due to the influence of western nuns. But the purpose is as I have described before: without a Sangha of bhikshunis, it is very difficult to give proper and authentic vows to individuals in a female body. This is why it is extremely important to reinstitute the community of bhikshunis. When we look at the ceremonies for the vows that can be taken with a female body—such as a female lay practitioner with precepts, the female who has gone forth, and the novice nun—as they are described in the vinaya (and many of the ceremonies have been translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan), they all state that the bhikshunis should bestow the vows that can be given to women. If we seek these authentic true vows, then the bhikshunis are key.

    “Further, as I have mentioned before, the Buddha’s teachings can be condensed into the three trainings (superior discipline, samadhi, and prajna or wisdom). This first of these is training in discipline and it is difficult for women to completely practice this without access to full ordination. They have faith and the altruistic motivation to be holders of the Dharma, and so it is important they have the opportunity to take the vows of full ordination.”


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    Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa XVII Ogyen trinley Dorje became the initiator of the return of women to take full monastic vows, according to the portal «Save Tibet».

    The Karmapa and the Dalai Lama insist, for the preservation of Buddhist teachings requires a community, consisting of four parts (full monks (elongi) full of nuns (gelongma), and women and men holding practising the vows of laity). In reality, however, the transmission line is a complete women’s vows broken.

    «Monks and nuns can equally follow the principles of Buddha’s teachings and bear the same responsibility for compliance with these principles. However, there was a period when the nuns do not have the opportunity to fully practice the teachings and this is not the best way affected the status of Buddhism as a whole», — quotes the portal words Karmapa XVII.

    Gelong or bhikshu — the highest degree of monastic commitment. Monks galangi observe more than 220 vows. It was decided that the restoration of full monastic ordination for women will be phased. At the beginning of the novices will be able to take vows sramanera (getsome), which must comply with during the year, then they will be given the vows shikshamana or gloppy that must be followed two winters or two summers. And finally, from the nuns to the tradition dharmaguptaka and Tibetan monks tradition, mulasarvastivada they can make women full monastic vows. This process is carried out in three stages, as Karmapa firmly believe that restoring full ordination for women, it is important to lay a solid Foundation.

    Recently carried out the first stage. Nineteen nuns who wish to take a full degree of monastic ordination, was given the primary vows sramanera.


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    March 14, 2017
    Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

    After a day off for the holiday of Holi, the Karmapa returned to teaching chapter ten on the “Precepts for Generating Aspiring Bodhicitta” from Gampopa’s Ornament of Precious Liberation. The Karmapa focused on the five precepts of aspirational bodhichitta. One of these precepts, never mentally abandoning sentient beings, is the means of guaranteeing that our bodhicitta does not get lost. The Karmapa noted that our achieving the qualities of the Buddha comes down to whether or not we have given up on sentient beings.

    This section also treats the causes for losing aspirational bodhicitta. For instance, if our aim is incompatible with the Mahayana, then we will lose aspirational bodhicitta. To counter this, we must have the wish to benefit others and the wish for great enlightenment.

    The Karmapa drew parallels between the four defeats of the Pratimoksha vows and the loss of the aspirational bodhicitta vow. In the bodhisattva vow, the following are downfalls: (1) With great attachment to gain or respect, we praise ourselves and disparage others. (2) We have the power to assist a sentient being who is suffering, but fail to do so. (3) We continue to speak badly about someone who has made a mistake, and they confess but we lack forgiveness. (4) If we pretend to have a higher view, but do not. These are grave offences of the bodhisattva vow and are analogous to the four defeats.

    When we have really strong negative emotions, the four grave offences are performed with great involvement. It is precisely this great involvement that makes these into the four actions analogous to defeats since (1) we do them continually while knowing they are mistakes; (2) we do them with no shame or embarrassment that they are unacceptable; (3) we enjoy doing them; and (4) we view it as being positive. Performing these actions with great involvement becomes the cause for losing the vow of engaged bodhicitta. Such defeats are committed with varying degrees of involvement related to losing the vow. Some say loss of the vow entails the presence of all four actions whereas others say only three must be present.

    Other causes for losing the vow include returning the precepts of the vow and developing wrong views. However, in terms of restoring the vow, there are methods for restoration of both aspirational bodhicitta and engaged bodhicitta. The vows of bodhicitta can be restored whereas the pratimoksha vows cannot be restored.  A common practice of restoring the vow is three recitations at day and three at night of the Sutra in Three Sections, also known as The Sutra of Confessing and Restoring.

    The Karmapa told a humorous anecdote regarding the practice of the reciting this. He said that in the Indian tradition, reciting the Sutra in Three Sections was considered the most powerful purifier. It was only recited when there was a grave misdeed, such as a root downfall of a bodhisattva vow. When Indian people came to Tibet, however, they said Tibet must be fill of terribly wicked people since they recite the Sutra in Three Sections so often.

    To further clarify the precept of not abandoning sentient beings, the Karmapa provided the following example. There was a monkey mother and her two children, a son and daughter, who would go into the fields in search of food. The owner of the field would see them there and chase them while throwing sticks and stones. The mother, who favored her son, would carry him on her chest and her daughter on her back as they escaped out of the field. Once the monkey mother reached a tree, she could not climb up with her son on her chest so she dropped him and climbed up the tree.  Once she reached the top, she realized he was still at the base of the tree while her daughter was safely on her back. This is what it is like when we try to benefit beings.  Just like the monkey mother, in difficult situations, we often run away and leave our bodhichitta (the son) at the base of the tree. While we may have the wish to benefit beings, some urgent situation arises and or something bad happens. At this point, we begin discriminating and forget about other sentient beings.

    The Karmapa concluded with the hopeful and joyous news that if the proper signs and conditions manifest, Tenga Rinpoche would be recognized during this Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering. In the case that it does happen, the Arya Kshema will be extended for a couple extra days.


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    March 15, 2017
    Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

    The Karmapa continued speaking on the topic of the precepts of aspirational bodhicitta from chapter ten of Gampopa’s Ornament of Precious Liberation, focusing on the precept of recalling the benefits of bodhicitta.  He noted that this precept and not giving up on others ensure that our bodhicitta does not wane and that we do not forget it in this life.

    The benefits of bodhicitta are listed in the Gandavyuha Sutra (Marvelous Array Sutra) and also in the root text and autocommentary of the Lamp for the Path to Awakening by Jowo Atisha. In the latter text, it is explained that there are two hundred and thirty similes for the benefits of bodhicittaas presented in the Gandavyuha Sutra, and they are summarized into four different categories: (1) the wellspring of benefits for oneself, (2) the wellspring of benefits for others, (3) benefit of eliminating all impediments, and (4) benefit of causing accomplishment of all the favorable conditions. Recalling these not only protects bodhicitta from decreasing during this life but also develops so we take delight and joy in our bodhicitta. For this reason, we need to continually remind ourselves of bodhicitta, even if it is only one time for each of the six periods the day.

    The Karmapa emphasized that it is important for us to remember the benefits of bodhicitta, which is not merely thinking about its results; we need to remind ourselves that the Dharma we are practicing is indeed virtue. The Karmapa explained that if we only think about results, we will not feel much delight or joy in the process of arriving there: “When we get the result, we think, ‘I got it!’ and we feel excited. But here it is different. To increase our enthusiasm, we need to remember that bodhicitta by nature is virtue itself, and so practicing bodhicitta is also by nature virtuous. Reflecting on this, we can develop enthusiasm even before achieving bodhichitta’s result or buddhahood. These days, we have high hopes and expectations for immediate results; our attention spans are so short that we lack the patience for long-term results. Only when the result is immediate, do we feel happy. We must, therefore, distinguish between benefits as they arise along the path and results.”

    The Lamp for the Path to Awakening explains the precept of gathering the two accumulations, which strengthen bodhicitta. The accumulation of merit is the aspect of skillful means, and the accumulation of pristine awareness is the aspect of profound wisdom; together they comprise perfect enlightenment. The Karmapa summarized from the Sutra of the Inconceivable Secret that a bodhisattva seeks to gather the accumulations of merit and wisdom. The accumulation of merit comprises the first five perfections (paramitas), which relate to skillful means, and the accumulation of wisdom is the sixth perfection of wisdom (prajna paramita). In this way, the two accumulations encompass the six perfections. Furthermore, the accumulations include all the practices and the entire path of the bodhisattva; they are the favorable conditions for achieving liberation and omniscience.

    Drawing from Chandrakirti’s Entering the Middle Way, the Karmapa used the simile of a bird in flight to illustrate the gathering of the two accumulations. Birds such as geese migrate long distances each year and need two wide, broad wings to cross over oceans. If a goose has only one wing, it is, of course, unable to fly. Likewise we also need two wings: one of merit and the other of wisdom. With these, we can cross the ocean of the Buddha’s qualities. So having only prajna or only merit is not enough. The shravakas and the pratyekabuddhas, for example, realize emptiness and selflessness but lacking the aspect of means, they are unable to develop bodhicitta. The two accumulations in union are what we seek.

    For this reason, in the Ornament of Precious Liberation, this third precept is given for strengthening bodhicitta. Gathering these accumulations of merit and wisdom is like planting crops: the main work is providing the nourishment of water and fertilizer, which requires a lot of effort. For a bodhisattva, practicing bodhichitta also demands a great deal of work in gathering the two accumulations. The Karmapa noted, however, if you offer properly a single mandala, do a single prostration in the right way, or repeat one mantra correctly, all six perfections are complete within it and this can complete the two accumulations.

    The Karmapa turned to the fourth precept, which is training repeatedly in bodhicitta to increase it.  (This is emphasized in Atisha’s Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment and his Ceremony for Developing Bodhicitta.) The Ornament of Precious Liberation states that we need to train in the causes of bodhicitta, in actual bodhicitta, and the conduct of bodhicitta. Training in the causes of bodhicitta means primarily training in loving-kindness and compassion, which are the roots of great compassion. Training in actual bodhicitta is training in bodhicitta itself. Training in the conduct of bodhicitta is first developing aspirational bodhicitta and then engaged bodhicitta.

    The example given for this is like a mother with an only child, whom she loves dearly. If an enemy stole this child, the mother would think about her child all the time, whether sitting, walking, or lying down. Her only thought would be, “What can I do get my child back?”  Similarly, when bodhisattvas arouse bodhicitta, they are consumed by loving-kindness and compassion: their only thought is for all sentient beings who suffer in the three realms of samsara. The bodhisattva is never separated from concern for all sentient beings, and this is the method for training in bodhichitta. A ritual or ceremony to develop bodhicitta, whether it be long or short, can help. What is most important is that our mind is inspired by what we do.

    The Ornament of Precious Liberation describes two ways of cultivating bodhichitta: (1) the wish to benefit others and (2) the wish to purify our own being. For the first, we need to be willing to dedicate our bodies and all we have for the benefit of others. There is an aspiration for this by the Great Drikung Kyabgön in the Kagyu Monlam Book: “May my body be beneficial to living beings. May my speech be beneficial to living beings. And may my mind be beneficial to living beings.”

    To clarify this first point, the Karmapa gave an example. Many types of people come to see him stating that they wish to help others. They say, however, they do not have the capacity to benefit all sentient beings since they do not have great wealth or power. So they ask me, “Please give me great wealth so I can benefit others.” Or they request, “Please give me great power so I can do good in the world.” But having wealth and power does not guarantee that we will help others. Actually, the first thing we must do is direct our body, speech, and mind toward assisting them. With this motivation, whether we are wealthy and powerful or not, we will definitely benefit others through using the main tools we have—our body, speech, and mind. If our altruistic mind can direct our body and speech, we will be able to practice the six perfections.

    The second way to cultivate bodhichitta is the wish to purify our own being. From the outside, it may look like we are benefitting others, but on the inside our hearts are not aligned with a pure motivation. Just projecting the image of benefitting others may not benefit them at all. Thus, it is always necessary to check our motivation and make sure that it is genuine and pure.
    In the aforementioned prayer by the Great Drikung Kyabgön, immediately following is the aspiration: “May I never have the affliction of desire. May I never have the affliction of hatred. May I never have pride or envy. May I never have the attachment to gain or respect. May I never have any thought of this life. May I always have bodhicitta in my mind.” This is the aspiration for the purity of our mind, which follows on wishing to benefit others.

    The Ornament of Precious Liberation counsels that we should recognize and enumerate all of the downfalls. A six-session guru yoga in the Gelukpa tradition has a passage for enumerating the downfalls of the three different types of vows: pratimoksha, bodhisattva, and samaya. The Karmapa also noted that when he wrote the Dusum Khyenpa Guru Yoga, he included the identification and enumeration of the three different types of vows and the downfalls. It is good to memorize and recite such texts so that we can recognize these and refrain from them. With this practical advice on how to bring the teachings into practice, the Karmapa concluded his talk.

    2017.3.15-16 Arya Kshema - Recalling the Benefits of Bodhicittahttp://aryakshema.com/index.php/en/4th-arya-kshema/13-arya-kshema/4th-arya-kshema/135-recalling-the-benefits-of-bodhicitta

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    • 2 Apr 2017
    • Chandigarh
    • Naresh K Thakur n naresh.kumar4@hindustantimes.com

    DHARAMSHALA: With his rival Trinley Thaye Dorje now a married man, who shed monk’s robes to get hitched with his childhood friend, the claim of Ogyen Trinley Dorje to the title of the 17th Karmapa and Rumtek Monastery throne has become stronger

    Thaye Dorje, 33, married Rinchen Yangzom, 36, in a private ceremony attended by close family members in New Delhi on March 25 and announced it on March 30. His office described the couple as “close childhood friends” who have known each other for more than 19 years.

    Karmapa is the title given to the spiritual leader of the Karma Kagyu sect, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and are the oldest institutionalised series of rebirths in Tibetan Buddhism, preceding the Dalai Lama of Gelug sect. Currently, there are three contenders who claim to be the rightful reincarnation of 16th Karmapa. While Ogyen Dorje, who is recognised by the Dalai Lama as well as the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) lives in Dharamshala, Thaye Dorje resides in New Delhi while the third claimant Dawa Sangpo Dorjee in Nepal.The controversy over succession to the leadership of the Karma Kagyu sect is more than twodecade old.

    The 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje died in 1981, and the controversy over his successor that has raged ever since, also epitomises a struggle for control of assets of Kagyu sect including vajra mukut, a sapphire-studded black crown, housed in the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim.

    Matters came to a head in January 2000 when Ogyen Trinely, who was installed by the Chinese government at Trushup monastery in Tibet, staged a stunning escape to India. This started the tussle over the control of the Kagyupa, or the “Black Hat” between the factions supporting Ogyen Dorje and Thaye Dorje.

    After violent clashes at Rumtek, the Indian government barred all the three claimants from entering the monastery.

    Meanwhile, the office of Ogyen Dorje has refused to comment on the fresh development. However, common Tibetans feel that Thaye Dorje was never a rightful successor to the title of Karmapa. “One cannot be a practitioner and a married person at the same time,” Lobsang Wangyal, the director of Miss Tibet pageant. said, adding that in Tibetan Buddhism only accomplished spiritual masters can marry and yet claim the spiritual authority.


    Karmapa is the title given to the spiritual leader of the Karma Kagyu sect, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and are the oldest institutionalised series of rebirths in Tibetan Buddhism, preceding the Dalai Lama of Gelug sect.

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    Introducing His Loneliness

    His Holiness the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Reflects on the Feeling of Loneliness

    By Ogyen Trinley Dorje

     I know what loneliness feels like. Many people use the title His Holiness to refer to me, but I sometimes joke that His Loneliness would be more accurate. In my own case, although I do not connect to people online, I do have lots of people surrounding me all day long, supporting me in different ways, as well as other people coming to see me. It would seem I should never be lonely. However, I am seen as the reincarnation of a 900-year-old historical figure. In traditional Buddhist terms, the Karmapa is a lofty figure, on a par with the Buddha. People who view me in this way expect me to be a mind reader, a miracle worker, and perfect in every way. When they look at me, this is quite often what many people believe they are seeing. Forget about being on a pedestal, I am practically expected to float in the sky!

    For so holy and exalted a personage, it is a little complicated to go about finding friends. Who wants to be friends with someone who is considered to be not entirely human? In terms of social media like Facebook, I am a public figure. This means I can have only a following and likes, but I cannot have friends. In any case, someone else maintains my presence on social media. If I wanted to connect with my friends on social media, I would need to use a pseudonym, which would be unethical for me. In any case, posing as someone else defeats the whole purpose of a real friendship.

    I know that my life situation is unusual, to say the least, but we all have to deal with unrealistic expectations that others project onto us. Such projections can leave us feeling isolated and prevent us from being seen for who we really are.

    Sometimes consciously but often not, we ourselves actively project an illusory online self onto social media and other virtual platforms. It is more typical for people to post pictures or stories of themselves when they are happy than when they are feeling distressed. The virtual world does not generally encourage us to share our vulnerable side. Since everything we post is judged by the number of likes and retweets or shares, we are selective in what we expose of ourselves. Even when we post about our problems, we might do so in a way that leaves us free of apparent responsibility for those problems, so we can appear as victims and elicit sympathy. We learn to market ourselves. As a result, the electronic version of ourselves is a distorted and packaged self. This is another significant obstacle to authentically connecting with others through electronic media.

    Loneliness is not solely a product of our use of technology. There are many other conditions, inner and outer, that contribute to our feeling that way. With such heavy emphasis on being self-reliant and standing on our own two feet, people resist leaning on others and can end up feeling very lonely. The fact is, we all rely on others in different ways. Why should we deny it? We place so much value on individuality and independence, it seems as if wanting to be close and feel connected to others is embarrassing or an insult to one’s dignity.

    One difference I have observed between Tibetan and Western contexts is that people raised in Western cultures tend to be less comfortable acknowledging that they need help. If an elderly Tibetan is having a hard time standing up, he or she warmly appreciates being lent a hand to get up. In fact, not to do so might be considered impolite or selfish. In the West, if you reach out to help, you run the risk of embarrassing or insulting the elderly person, as if you were implying that they are incapable of getting up on their own.

    When people are urged to see themselves as autonomous and independent, loneliness is more common. Learning to live as an interdependent human being can help overcome your sense of loneliness. When you are emotionally aware of your interconnectedness, you will know you are never truly alone.

    Loneliness is not just a result of your outer physical or social situation. If mentally or emotionally you feel alone, it does not matter how many thousands of others flock to you, as I know from personal experience. Nor is the experience of loneliness the result of a single cause or a single condition but of numerous ones. Therefore it cannot be completely resolved by one single cause or condition. But accepting the undeniable fact of your own interdependence, and learning to work with it, is a powerful condition that can help bring about a shift.

    His Holiness the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the head of a 900-year-old lineage and one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most important spiritual leaders. He is the seventeenth incarnation in the Karmapa lineage, which dates back to the twelfth century. He is the author of Interconnected: Embracing Life in Our Global Society, from which this excerpt is taken with permission from Wisdom Publications. 


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    March 19, 2017
    Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India

    The sharp, unhesitant and unbounded voice of a debater punctured the air in Tergar monastery one recent afternoon this March. Commanding, it webbed layer after layer of analytical reasoning, tethering other debaters to join her in unison and capturing the attention of the audience. Standing at one end of the temple, the Karmapa, hands held behind his back, lengthened his neck upwards and listened.

    That tempered afternoon, a distinctive quality also arose with that young voice for the Karma Kagyu order: that a nun could deliver a sound debate in the presence of the Karmapa unlike before, and that she — along with her fellow debaters — could do so in a setting full of judges, shedra faculty, her own competitors, an assembly of nuns from nine distinctive nunneries, and anyone else who was watching.

    To be sure, her own effort marked the courage of some 450 nuns, who unaccustomed to the spotlight, competed with each other in a similar setting over a period of two weeks. The topics they debated distilled the finer points of the fundamental subjects of Buddhist logic known as “Collected Topics” and “Types of Evidence”. In this, their first debate competition, the nuns demonstrate how far they have come since the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering for the nuns was established in 2014.

    “It’s only been three years since they’ve been studying and there’s been an incredible improvement,” the Karmapa would laud that same evening as he awarded prizes for the best group and individual performances. Two nunneries obtained first and second places in both subjects, Thrangu Tara Abbey in Nepal, and Karma Drupdey Palmo Chokyi Dinkhang Nunnery in Bhutan. Karma Drubgyu Thargay Ling Tilokpur Nunnery in India saw one of its nuns take the first prize for the most diligent contestant, while Thrangu Tara Abbey received the overall first place, and first prizes for best debater and defender.

    All of the nuns had displayed incredible diligence, the Karmapa had said that evening jubilantly while teasing the khenpos. “The khenpos were very surprised. Sometimes they get a little worried.”

    Referring to the three geshemas who served as judges of the competition, he added:

    “It must have been really difficult to decide who is the most diligent. If I were one of the judges, it would have been very difficult for me because they are too diligent.”

    Though diligence comes easy for the nuns, it appears that confidence is less so.

    Three years ago, it was a very different picture when the first group debate was held in Tergar Monastery. The nuns remained silent and overwhelmed when the Karmapa sat behind the two responders. A daunting fifteen-minute lapse of time passed and the nuns contesting could not debate nor respond very easily. To ease the pressure, some remember that the Karmapa stood up and left. 

    What has slowly chipped away at that shyness is the experience in debate they are gaining. Nunneries have been active to support them by reinforcing study curriculums with more debate sessions, or in some cases introducing debate for the first time. They have also invited skilled geshes and khenpos to train the shedra nuns and prepare them for their annual Arya Kshema assembly in Bodh Gaya.

    Since the inception of the Arya Kshema gathering, the Karmapa has used various skillful methods to boost the nuns’ confidence and support their burgeoning wisdom. In a formal setting, he imparted teachings on Lord Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation and performed special Dharma rituals with them, such as the three-day ceremonies for Karma Pakshi and Tseringma. At the onset of the debate competition, this year, the Karmapa told the nuns that when studying, there should be an aspect of competition because without it there would be no improvement. 

    In an informal manner, the Karmapa also displayed his support and affection for them. On the eve of the awards ceremony, for example, two groups of young nuns were set to performed their debates. For the first group, the start was difficult but the Karmapa tenderly laughed and the nuns did also. Though he was sitting on the throne, his gesture of covering his mouth with his sen while laughing softened any inhibition and the nuns were able to start their debate, soon enough. The first day the nuns arrived, the Karmapa summoned them to the temple and offered the nuns red monastic jackets he had specially designed for them. Sometimes on a lull day, he would select an animation film about young heroes or heroines coming into their own and announce that a movie would be shown that night at the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion.

    The two-week competition also carried a historical undertone, marked by the presence of three geshema judges who presided over the results, and a fourth one who helped the nuns refine philosophical points. Though nunnery dialectic institutes are quite active throughout the Himalayan region in all mayor linages of Tibetan Buddhism, it is only until recently that nuns have been allowed to act as judges in any monastic debate contest. They needed to first be allowed to take examinations for four years in order to earn the degree of geshema. The first class graduated just months ago.

    The Karmapa’s reasons for inviting a group of them to the competition, was “first, to celebrate them becoming geshemas and the second, to become a role model,” for the nuns, said Khenpo Karma Choephel.

    One of them was Geshema Lobzang Chodron, originally from the Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh and a nun from the Jamyang Choling Institute in Dharamsala. She expressed the importance of debating with different nunneries and not just one’s own.

    “They are both good in logic and confidence,” she said of the nuns’ performance. “To sustain that, it’s important that we have this kind of gathering.”

    Key to sparking and sustaining their confidence, she added, was receiving advice from spiritual masters at critical times.

    “If you consider here, just the very fact that the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over this gathering and offered again and again advice to the nuns, this is very good.

    When it becomes very hard, some nuns might want to give up. So that is why it’s important to receive advice.”

    When asked about the particular significance of studying for a nun, geshema Lobzang Chodron, who studied for 21 years before receiving her degree, encapsulated the Karmapa’s intention that the Kagyu nuns should receive the full opportunity to become appropriate vessels of the three trainings.

    “Right now, for example, we are studying ‘Collected Topics’ and ‘Types of Reasoning’,” she elaborated, “and within these, the extensive meaning of the texts is not fully presented, but this is wisdom. It is the wisdom that distinguishes phenomena, or that which discerns what is good and what is bad, so that you won’t easily believe what you hear.

    However great this wisdom becomes, to that extent ones own discipline becomes stable. Wisdom should help discipline and disciple should help wisdom. 
    If we have a stable discipline, then naturally meditative concentration will also improve. And for the three trainings to become stable, we need to meditate.”

    Many of the nuns vividly remember the last advice they received from the Karmapa the evening of the ceremony awards. 

    Some nunneries could not reach the finals but you don’t need to be discouraged, they recall him saying. We are all human, and it’s natural to have this kind of feeling of discouragement for those who lost and happiness for those who won, but this kind of feeling should help you to move forward. It should not stop you.

    2017.3.19 The Nuns Gain Confidence: The Debate Competitions


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    By His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

    How do you relate to this infinite ground of possibility that your life is built on? How can you create a meaningful life within whatever shifting circumstances you find yourself?

    Buddhist thought devotes a great deal of attention to these questions. The view that life holds infinite possibility is explored using the concepts of “interdependence” and “emptiness.” When you first hear the term “emptiness,” you might think this suggests nothingness or a void, but actually “emptiness” here should remind us that nothing exists in a vacuum. Everything is embedded within a context — a complex set of circumstances. Those contexts themselves are endlessly shifting. When we say that things are “empty,” we mean they lack any independent existence outside of those changing contexts. Because everything and everyone is “empty” in this sense, they are capable of endless adaptation. We ourselves have the basic flexibility to adapt to anything, and to become anything.

    Because of this, we should not mistake emptiness for nothingness. On the contrary, emptiness is full of potency. Understood correctly, emptiness inspires optimism, rather than pessimism, because it reminds us of the boundless range of possibilities of who we can become and how we can live.

    jung gif mandalaInterdependence and emptiness show us that there are no fixed starting points. We can start from nothing. Whatever we have, wherever we are — that is the place we can start from. Many people have the idea that they lack what they need in order to start working toward their dreams. They feel they do not have enough power, or they do not have enough money. But they should know that any point is the right starting point. This is the perspective that emptiness opens up. We can start from zero.

    In fact, emptiness can be compared to the concept and function of zero. Zero may seem like nothing, but as we all know, everything starts from it. Without zero, our computers would collapse. Without zero, we could not start counting from one up to infinity. In the same way, from emptiness, anything and everything can manifest itself.

    Anything can come into being because there is no fixed way for things to be. It all depends on the conditions that come together. But this fact that anything is possible does not imply that life is random or haphazard. We can make anything happen, but we can only do so by bringing together the necessary conditions. This is where the concepts of “emptiness” and “interdependence” come together.

    Every person, place, and thing is entirely dependent on others — other people and other things — as a necessary condition for its existence. For example, we are alive right now because we are enjoying the right conditions for our survival. We are alive because of the countless meals we have eaten during our life. Because the sun shines on the earth and the clouds bring rain, crops can grow. Someone tends to the crops and harvests them, someone else brings them to market, and yet another person makes a meal from them that we can eat. Each time this process is repeated, the interdependence of our lives links us with more and more people, and with more and more rays of sun and drops of rain.

    Ultimately, there is nothing and no one with whom we are not connected. The Buddha coined the term “interdependence” to describe this state of profound connectedness. Interdependence is the nature of reality. It is the nature of human life, of all things and of all situations. We are all linked, and we all serve as conditions affecting each other.

    Amid all the conditions that affect us, in fact, the choices we ourselves make and the steps we take are among the most important conditions that affect what arises from our actions. If we act constructively, what comes into being is constructive. If we act destructively, what results is destructive and harmful. Everything is possible, but also everything we do matters, because the effects of our actions reach far beyond ourselves. For that reason, living in a world of interdependence has very specific implications for us. It means our actions affect others. It makes us all responsible for one another.

    Living this Reality

    I realise this presentation might initially seem abstract, but emptiness and interdependence are not abstract principles. They are very practical, and have direct relevance when you are thinking about how to create a meaningful life.

    You can see interdependence at work by looking at how your own life is sustained. Is it only through your own exertions? Do you manufacture all your own resources? Or do they come from others? When you contemplate these questions, you will see very quickly that you are able to exist only because of others. The clothes you wear and the food you eat all come from somewhere else. Consider the books you read, the cars you ride in, the movies you watch, and the tools you use. Not one of us single-handedly makes any of these things for ourselves. We all rely on outside conditions, including the air we breathe. Our continued presence here in the world is an opportunity made possible entirely by others.

    Interdependence means we are continually interacting with the world around us. This interaction works both ways — it is a mutual exchange. We are receiving, but also giving. Just as our presence on this planet is made possible by many factors, our presence here affects others in turn — other individuals, other communities, and the planet itself.

    Over the past century, we humans have developed very dangerous capabilities. We have created machines endowed with tremendous power. With the technology available now, we could cut down all the trees on the planet. But if we did so, we could not expect life to go on as before, except without trees. Because of our fundamental interdependence, we would all experience the consequences of such actions very quickly. Without any trees, there would not be enough oxygen in our atmosphere to sustain human life.

    You may wonder what this has to do with the choices we make and how we live our life. That is simple: We all need to take interdependence into account because it influences our life directly and profoundly. In order to have a happy life, we must take an active interest in the sources of our happiness.

    Our environment and the people we share it with are the main sources of our sustenance and well-being. In order to ensure our own happiness, we have to respect and care about the happiness of others. We can see this in something as simple as the way we treat the people who prepare our food. When we treat them well and look after their needs, only then can we reasonably expect them to take pains to prepare something healthy and tasty for us to eat.

    When we have respect for others and take an interest in their flourishing, we ourselves flourish. This can be seen in business as well. When customers have more money to spend, businesses do better. If we wish to flourish individually and together as a society, it is not enough for us to simply acknowledge the obvious interdependence of the world we live in. We must consider its implications, and reflect on the conditions for our own welfare. Where do our oxygen and food and material goods come from, and how are they produced? Are these sources sustainable?

    Relating to Reality

    Looking at your experience from the perspectives of emptiness and interdependence might entail a significant shift in how you understand your life. My hope is that this shift can benefit you in practical terms. Gaining a new understanding of the forces at work in your life can be a first step toward relating positively to them.

    My purpose in raising these issues is certainly not to terrify you by confronting you with harsh reality. For example, I have noticed that some people are uncomfortable when they are told that change is a fundamental part of life, or that nothing lasts forever. Yet impermanence is just a basic fact of our existence — it is neither good nor bad in itself. There is certainly nothing to gain by denying it. In fact, when we face impermanence wisely, we have an opportunity to cultivate a more constructive way of relating to that reality. If we do so, we can actually learn to feel at ease in the face of unexpected change, and work comfortably with whatever new situations might occur. We can become more skillful in how we relate to the reality of change.

    The same is true of interdependence. Seeing life from this perspective can help us develop skills to relate more constructively to reality — but just knowing that we are interdependent does not guarantee that we will feel good about being so. Some people may initially find it uncomfortable to reflect that they depend on others.

    They might think this means they are helpless or trapped, as if they were boxed in by those dependencies. Yet when we think about being interdependent, we do not need to feel it is like being stuck in a job working for a boss that we did not choose but have to deal with, like it or not. That is not helpful. We should not feel reluctant or pressured by the reality of our interdependence. Such an attitude prevents us from having a sense of contentment and well-being within our own life. It does not give us a basis for positive relationships.

    Interdependence is our reality, whether we accept it or not. In order to live productively within such a reality, it is better to acknowledge and work with interdependence, wholeheartedly and without resistance. This is where love and compassion come in. It is love that leads us to embrace our connectedness to others, and to participate willingly in the relations created by our interdependence. Love can melt away our defenses and our painful sense of separation. The warmth of friendship and love makes it easy for us to accept that our happiness is intimately linked to that of others. The more widely we are able to love others, the happier and more content we can feel within the relations of interdependence that are a natural part of our life.

    An Excerpt From The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out


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    This text is based on a draft by Michele Martin who conducted interviews with Tempa Yarphel, the search team and others. Thankfully this text was edited by Tempa and Tashi Sautter and may deviate from Martin’s final version that will be published elsewhere.

    The second time that His Holiness gave them information about the yangsi was during this ceremony at the Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath. The Karmapa had arrived here on March 20, 2016 from Bodh Gaya, and on March 21st, 2016, he began three days of pujas in the radiant shrine hall of the Institute.

    Two special altars had been arranged: one for the Guru Yoga of Karma Pakshi, which took place in the morning, and another for the practice of the Five Tseringma sisters in the afternoon. Said to reside in the Himalayas, the five sisters are protectors of the Kagyu lineage, and the main Tseringma is also a lineage holder of Milarepa’s Dharma teachings. In particular, Tseringma is considered the special spirit that has dominion over the area of Nubri. These two practices of Karma Pakshi and Tseringma are the same ones that the Karmapa led in Bodh Gaya during the annual nuns’ gathering. At Vajra Vidya, the rituals were augmented with copious offerings and continued for three days, finishing on the auspicious full moon of the second Tibetan month.

    The Karmapa had remarked about these special pujas, “At this time perhaps I will see the yangsi more clearly.” On the third day, March 23rd, 2016, after the puja on his way out His Holiness gave Tempa a paper. When he opened it, he found the drawing of a house with a large boulder and an indication of the direction in which the door faced. Written at the top was “Year of the Horse.” In the evening of that day the search team asked His Holiness for further clarification and advice during an audience. The Karmapa told them that they did not know how to search in Samdo. “It could be that the mother went as a bride to another village or that the father went as a groom elsewhere. They will probably have a child. Look for them.” 

    So the search team returned to Samdo, Nubri, and this time Khenpo Garwang requested the head of the village and resident lama, Lama Urgyen, to call for a big meeting with the local villagers. All of them gathered and Khenpo Garwang asked for family members who moved to other places and had children. The villagers were very cooperative and even called abroad to relatives in Europe, America, and Australia to see if they had such a child but they only found a young girl born in the Year of the Horse, not a young boy.

    Three days passed by, and then late in the day around 5:30, Tempa felt like having some coffee, so he walked over to a small shop where a woman was selling tea, coffee, and some snacks. He bought a cup of coffee and while he was drinking it, as is the custom in remote mountain areas, the owner, whose name he found out to be Sithar and who is the sister of Lama Urgyen, struck up a conversation, “Well, did you find the child?”
    “No,” Tempa sighed, “We’ve looked everywhere and could not find him.” 
    She asked him, “Did you know that my older sister’s daughter has a boy born in the Year of the Horse?” 
    “Where is she?” Tempa immediately asked. 
    “My sister moved to Rö as a bride.“
        “Where is this place?” 
    “Oh, you walk down the mountain about three or four hours and you’ll get there.”

    Tempa was as surprised as he was elated. He paid for his coffee, leaving it half finished, and went as quickly as he could to find the search team in their guesthouse. Khenpo Garwang remarked, “That’s quite strange. We had so many meetings and no one mentioned this child. Let’s go tomorrow as early as possible in the morning. Since Lama Urgyen is a respected person and the relative of the boy, it would be good to take him along.”

    As they found out later the shopkeeper’s oldest sister and yangsi’s maternal grandmother was called Ngakwang Dolma. As Lama Urgyen was staying close by, the search team went right away to see him and Khenpo Garwang asked, “Did your sister’s daughter go as a bride to Rö?”
        “Yes, but she did already pass away quite some time ago,” he replied.
        “Her daughter has a boy. Isn’t it?”
    “Could it be that he was born in the Year of the Horse?” 
    “Well, it is possible. I will call her.”

    Lama Urgyen made a phone call to the yangsi’s mother and he found out that, indeed, the boy was born in the Horse Year. He even was the one who made the astrological chart for the boy after his birth when he had given him the name Nyima Döndrub. Happily he agreed to join the search team on their trip to Rö.

    With joy and anticipation, the search team traveled on the following day with Lama Urgyen to meet his sister’s grandson (this uncle’s grand nephew). After their trek down the mountain, the search team at last came to the house, which was known as the New House in Rö of Nubri (Nub ri ros khang gsar). When Tempa saw the yangsi, he thought, “This child’s eyes have a special brilliance.” The parent’s names turned out to be just as the prediction letter had indicated: the father was named Tsering Wangdu, (though he was usually called Wangdu), and he was known as Urgyen Pasang Wangpo when he was a monk for four years at Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s Monastery in Swyambhunath which is now under Mingyur Rinpoche‘s guidance and called Tergar Özel Ling. It also has turned out that the mother of both Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Mingyur Rinpoche came from Rö. The yangsi’s mother was called Dawa Potri, and when she was a nun at Penor Rinpoche’s nunnery in southern India, she was known as Tsultrim Chödrön. She has two older sisters and three younger brothers.

    Nyima Döndrub, who was usually just called Nyima, was born on the 23rd day of the tenth Tibetan month in the Year of the Wooden Horse (December 14th, 2014) at 11:30pm. The previous Tenga Rinpoche had passed away in the early hours of March 30th, 2012, so he did not wait long to take rebirth, just as the Karmapa had predicted. By Tibetan counting, the yangsi is four years old since he was born in the tenth month, and whenever Losar (the New Year) comes around, everyone is considered a year older no matter when they were born. So when the Yangsi was two months old, he was already considered to be a one-year old. Then two years passed, making him three, and this year Losar just happened on February 27th, so he turned four. However, in western terms he is only two years and some three months old.

    When the search team first came, the young boy was about a year and three months old. He got up and went toward the door to see who was there. When he saw Khenpo Garwang, he said, “Tashi Delek La,” a polite way to say in Tibetan, “Welcome.” What was unusual is that the child did not know Tibetan and had never spoken these words before. When the team came inside, the young boy grabbed his mother‘s chuba several times saying something to her in the local Nubri dialect. When Tempa asked Khenpo Ösung for a translation, it came out to be a traditional gesture of welcome, “Pour them some tea.”

    The search team took many photos of the yangsi, his family, and his home. There were four members in the family: the two parents, the yangsi, and his sister, Kelsang Chökyi who was two years older. When asked about it the mother said that her periods were regular. So she was not pregnant at that time which did not match the prediction. Tempa further asked the parents about the boulder that was in the Karmapa’s drawing. They replied that their old house had a boulder that formed the corner of the first floor but they had taken it down and broken up the boulder to use in building a new home in an L-shape with several extra rooms, thinking that they might open a guest house. It was in this new house that the yangsi was born. 

    While remaining in Rö Khenpo Garwang reported to His Holiness. Even though there was half a family member missing Khenpo gave a full account of all details. After three days His Holiness answered and requested Khenpo Garwang to return to India and the others to Kathmandu. Once back in India, Khenpo Garwang briefed His Holiness with all the details and showed him the photographs but at this point, the Karmapa did not say whether or not the young boy was the reincarnation.

    -- to be continued --


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    April 9, 2017 – Tashi Jong, Himachal Pradesh, India

    At the request of the Lhatok Gyalyong Association(LGA), the Gyalwang Karmapa traveled from his temporary residence to Khampagar Monastery in Tashi Jong.
    His Holiness was welcomed by the Gyalwa Dokhampa (the Ninth Khamtrul Rinpoche), Drugu Chogyal Rinpoche, the Togdens (advanced yogic practitioners), Members of Parliament (CTA),  and ordained and lay people from the Tashi Jong community.
    Upon arrival, the Gyalwang Karmapa took his seat on the throne in the  main shrine hall, and Gyalwa Dokhampa Rinpoche offered him a mandala and the representations of body, speech, and mind. The lamas, tulkus and all who had gathered were granted an audience and received blessings from His Holiness. This was followed by  special prayers for his long life, led by the Gyalwa Dokhampa Rinpoche, Ngedon Shedrup Nyima Palsangpo and the Vajralopon of the LGA, and further  extensive mandala offerings.
    On behalf of all those living in Lhatok, the LGA offered the Karmapa the merits of life release and saving animals that were to be killed. They planted trees and vowed their determination to protect the environment, nurture its animals and vegetation, and become vegetarian. They also committed to upholding nonviolence and harmonious relationships.
    Those  gathered for this precious long life offering ceremony comprised the LGA, representing all the people of Lhatok; ordained practitioners from Khampagar monastery;  lay people of Tashi Jong settlement; nuns from Dongyu Gatsal Ling; and monks from Dordzong Monastery Changchup Ling.
    After the ceremonies, the Karmapa and the Gyalwa Dokhampa enjoyed a long leisurely lunch together, sharing their thoughts in a relaxed atmosphere. Before leaving Tashi Jong, the Gyalwang Karmapa stopped to consecrate the new Khampagar Shedra  (monastic college) which is currently under construction.

    2017.4.9 大寶法王噶瑪巴蒞臨札西炯康巴噶寺 Karmapa visits Khampagar Monastery Tashi Jong

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    Editors note: This text was done by Michele Martin who conducted interviews with Tempa Yarphel, the search team and others. Mrs. Michele Martin allowed us to use it for our website. We are very happy about her generous offer and like to express our deep gratitude. Thanks a lot!

    An Amazing Story: Finding the Reincarnation of Tenga Rinpoche Part 3

    by Michele Martin, Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India, March 21, 2017.

    Picture source:  Sylvester Lohninger

    Meanwhile in Kathmandu, the General Secretary spoke with Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche to let him know that he was going to Bodh Gaya to spend Gutor (days of Mahakala practice before the New Year) and Losar (New Year) of 2017 at Tergar Monastery with His Holiness. “What shall I say to His Holiness about the yangsi?” he asked. Nyenpa Rinpoche replied, “Don’t say anything at all about the yangsi. It’s best to keep quiet. His Holiness knows who you are. If he wishes to say something, he will. If not, then come back.”

    So the General Secretary followed his plans and went to Bodh Gaya for Gutor and Losar. Afterward, on March 2, the morning of the Marme Monlam and the last day of the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, he and some friends had the opportunity to have an audience with His Holiness and took photos with him. After the friends left, the Karmapa told the General Secretary to come inside his quarters and gave him the following instructions: “There are many monks from Benchen here for the Kagyu Monlam and they should all return home. The search team should come here during the Nuns’ Winter Gathering at the time of the Tseringma practice.” 

    Picture source:  Sylvester Lohninger

    Following this advice, the Benchen monks returned to Nepal, and four members of the team came back to Bodh Gaya for the three days of Tseringma practice. On March 11, the third day of the pujas, His Holiness was writing down something during the chanting. At the end, he called the General Secretary up to the throne. Giving him the paper enveloped in a khata, the Karmapa said, “This was not written following my own thoughts. I wrote it directly as it clearly appeared. After the puja finishes, tell the search team to come to see me and I’ll give you an explanation.” When they met with him, the Karmapa told them that the paper held his new verses for them to chant as they went on their way to find the yangsi. His Holiness then urged them, “Go right away to Nepal and look for a child born in the Year of the Horse at the Boudhanath Stupa. You’ll find him there.”

    They sped back to Nepal and spent days around the revered stupa looking for the young boy. Though there were crowds of people from Nubri and many children were born in the Year of the Horse, the parent’s names and the number of children in the family did not match. Nevertheless, all of these names were reported back to His Holiness. Then as the search team watched the webcast from Bodh Gaya on March 14, they heard the Karmapa conclude the day’s teachings on Gampopa with amazing news: "You might remember, it was a year or two ago during the Nuns’ Winter Dharma Gathering, that we started looking for the reincarnation of Bokar Rinpoche. We searched for, found, and brought him here during the Nuns’ Winter Dharma Gathering. And so now if all the external and internal conditions work out properly, if there are the proper signs and so forth, it’s quite possible, we do have the hope that we will be able to look for and recognize the reincarnation of the Lord of Refuge Tenga Rinpoche, and bring him here to this fourth Nuns’ Winter Dharma Gathering. It is not certain that this will happen. Nothing is definite, yet it is quite possible that it might occur. In case it does, we may well have to extend this gathering for about two days.” Many other people heard this webcast as well and began calling the General Secretary, “Did you find him?” they asked. “No” was the reply. “You have to use all the skillful means you can muster,” they worried. “We need a reincarnation right away!”

    On March 17, His Holiness sent a message to Khenpo Garwang stating that the Benchen Monastery should perform Tara puja throughout the night in order to remove obstacles.

    Finally, on March 19th at 9pm in the evening, Khenpo Garwang received a sudden message from the Karmapa: “Bring this child from Rö quickly to Bodh Gaya by the evening of March 20 or the morning of March 21.” The search team had been on an edge trying to find the yangsi in Boudha, and now they had to turn around and somehow bring the Yangsi all the way from the northern mountains of Nepal to Bodh Gaya in the south of India’s Bihar State in 24 to 36 hours if not sooner.

    Fortunately, Tashi Öser had a good connection with an important person in Nepal who helped him reserve a helicopter for the next day at 8am. Since the helicopter could not carry many people, they sent Khenpo Garwang, Tashi Öser, and the mother’s younger brother, Yönten Namgyal (known by his nickname Babu), who was a monk at the Benchen monastic college. In this way, during the hurried trip to India, there would be someone familiar to a young boy who had never been far out of his village, and everyone could be more at ease. 

    When the helicopter landed in Kathmandu, a jeep was waiting at the airport to take everyone straight away to India. They drove all night and arrived at 5am on the morning of March 21. When the General Secretary, accompanied by Sherab Wangchuk and Jimba Lodro, arrived at Tergar around 8:30am, they looked quite tired yet joyous at the same time. After meeting the family at the airport, they had also learned that Dawa Putri was five months pregnant, thus fulfilling the Karmapa’s prediction that the family would have four and a half members.

    No one at Tergar Monastery was giving any definite information about the yangsi, yet the main shrine hall was filled with a quiet excitement and people were dressed up in their best clothes. To the right of Karmapa’s throne was a smaller one covered in golden and red brocade with two chairs set next to it. Ayang Rinpoche had also come and was seated to the Karmapa’s left. The Karmapa had overseen all the details of the ceremony from the text to be chanted to the order of the procession with the yangsi. At 9:30am His Holiness entered and took his seat to preside over the practice, the main one being the Supplication to the Sixteen Arhats, who are dedicated to preserving the teachings.

    When it came to the section of inviting the arhats to be present, the puja was paused and through the main vermillion doors of the shrine hall came a procession led by the General Secretary carrying a long incense holder, followed by the Junior Secretary Tashi Öser, Khenpo Garwang, the yangsi in a golden chupa with his parents and Yönten Namgyal. They were accompanied by Gyaltsen Sonam from the Tsurphu Administration. The parents placed their child on the rug in front of the Karmapa, who was wearing his black crown, and after they had bowed deeply, the yangsi was brought up next to the Karmapa and looked directly into his eyes for a long time. The young boy was then placed on his throne while the parents sat next to him and he continued to turn and gaze at the Karmapa.

    For his long and fruitful life, many offerings were made to the yangsi of the representations of body, speech, and mind. All the while the yangsi, just over two years old, sat calmly on his throne, looking with great simplicity and clarity at what was happening and the numerous people who came before him with their gifts and long white scarves. Many people remarked on how unusual this was for a very young child from a remote region, who was now the focus of a grand ceremony and crowds of people. His presence filled the hearts of everyone, as it will continue to do during his many years to come.


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    Please note: Overseas visits will be finalised and confirmed only after obtaining all the necessary clearances.

    Visit to the United Kingdom in May

     Public Teachings & Empowerment on Saturday 20th of May – Sunday 21st of May

    On Saturday, His Holiness will teach on the 8 Verses of Training the Mind across two session in the morning and one session in the evening. On Sunday, His Holiness will continue his teachings on the 8 Verses of Training the Mind in the morning, and then in the evening he will bestow the Chenrezig Empowerment.

    Tickets: http://karmapavisituk.com/home/
    Location: London Hilton Hotel 22 Park Lane London W1K 1BE

    Visit to the Tibetan Peace Garden – Monday 22nd of May

    On Monday morning, His Holiness will visit the Tibetan Peace Garden in London.

    Visit to Parliament – Tuesday 23rd of May

    On Tuesday evening, His Holiness will give an Address to British Parliamentarians as chaired by Tim Loughton, M.P. and hosted by Tibet Society.

    Seminars on the 24th of May

    On Wednesday morning, His Holiness will give a seminar on animal welfare at the Cambridge Veterinary School, followed by an evening seminar on the environment at Cambridge University.

    BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Visit on the 25th of May

    On Thursday morning, His Holiness will visit BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London
    Location: 105-119 Brentfield Rd, London NW10 8LD

    Welcome Ceremony and Empowerment on Saturday the 27th of May

    On Saturday morning, His Holiness with attend a Welcome Ceremony at the BCC UK, Aldershot, and then in the evening he will grant a Long Life Empowerment at the Lakeside County Club in Surrey.

    All the ticket purchase information will be available soon @ http://www.bccuk.co.uk/

    Source: http://kagyuoffice.org/schedule/

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