DHARAMSHALA, February 4: The Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala offered a long life prayer ceremony (Tenshug) to Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Monday.
The tenshug offering was held at the Gyuto monastery near the exile Tibetan headquarters. The 17th Karmapa has lived close to His Holiness the Dalai Lama since his escape from China occupied Tibet at the turn of the new millennium.
Monks of the Gyuto Monastery recited prayers as Kalon Pema Chhinjor made the ceremonial offerings, beseeching Gyalwang Karmapa to continue blessing and guiding the Tibetan people in particular and the all beings in general.
Hundreds of Tibetans and foreigners, along with the two Kagyu Members of Parliament and Secretaries of the Departments of Religion and Culture and Home of CTA also attended the ceremony.
At 27, Gyalwang Karmapa is the most prominent teacher of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the most widely followed and respected Buddhist teachers.
Speaking to reporters following the ceremony, Kalon Chhinjor said the tenshug offering to Gyalwang Karmapa was part of the Department of Religion and Culture's initiative to conduct long life prayer offerings to all prominent lamas of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the ancient Tibetan religion of Bon.
Kalon Chhinjor remarked on the deep and ancient bond that the Tibetan lamas and the Tibetan people share and the important role that religion plays in the life of the Tibetan people.
Sarnath, Feburary 8: The Gyalwang Karmapa was accorded a grand reception today upon his arrival in Sarnath.
Vajra Vidhya monks with their Serbangs, Professor Geshe Ngawang Samten the Vice Chancellor and the students of Central University for Tibetan Studies and international devotees lined up on the streets to welcome the Gyalwang Karmapa.
The Gyalwang Karmapa is scheduled to preside over Mahakala prayers and Losar prayers over next few days. His Holiness will be staying here at the Vajra Vidhya Institute for a month and will give the spring teaching after Losar.
Although the 30th Monlam has ended, the Gyalwang Karmapa is continuing his activities in Bodhgaya.
On the morning of January 3, 2013, he gave an impromptu teaching on the nature of mind to a large group of international students gathered at the Root Institute for Wisdom Culture, Bodhgaya. Teaching in a mixture of Tibetan and English, he began the session by inviting questions from the students gathered. The first question was soon put forward: How do we experience Buddha-nature on a practical level “I thought that if you asked me questions it would make it easier for me,” he joked in English in response to the depth of the question, adding, “But this question makes it more complicated for me!”
As the laughter died down, the Gyalwang Karmapa delivered a profound and reasoned teaching on Buddha-nature and the nature of mind. “All sentient beings are endowed with the potential for complete Buddhahood,” he began.
They are inherently Buddhas, and inherently that Buddha-nature is completely free of any stains – it is stainless, and perfect. Yet, at the level of relative or immediate experience, our experience is not this way. Our experience is that this perfectly pure Buddha-nature is veiled by our confused outlook.
Shifting the teaching to a deeper level, the Gyalwang Karmapa then described the dharmakaya, or the Buddha's enlightened mind. “Lord Gampopa said that the nature of thoughts is dharmakaya,” he explained.
‘Thoughts and dharmakaya are inseparable. We have this dualistic approach of seeing dharmakaya as pure and thoughts as impure, but we need to understand the inseparability of thoughts and dharmakaya.’
The Gyalwang Karmapa spoke directly in English as he continued:
Every moment that we have thought, every moment that thought arises, we have the opportunity to recognize the nature of thought as emptiness or dharmakaya, whatever you want to call it. Thought and the emptiness of its nature are inseparable. We can’t make them separate; there’s no separation. Because thought itself is emptiness that means actually in everyday life we have lots of opportunity to recognize and realize the nature of thought, or nature of emptiness, or dharmakaya. But we just follow the appearances, the illusions – we don’t look deeper.
The Gyalwang Karmapa then responded to several more questions from the audience, teaching briefly on the progressive views of emptiness within Tibetan Buddhism which culminate in the final Madhyamaka view. The final questioner echoed the thoughts of many gathered when she asked the Gyalwang Karmapa how his students could help and support him. “I feel energized and inspired by all the love and the support that I receive from all of you. That really is sufficient. I don’t need anything more than your love and support,” he replied, to resounding applause.
Continuing an annual tradition, the teaching took place at the request of the Root Institute for Wisdom Culture. The Gyalwang Karmapa taught to an overflowing gompa, with hundreds of students spilling out into the surrounding balconies and gardens. In addition to mostly international students, the audience also included local Indian children from the Root Institute’s school.
An overview of the main events surrounding the controversy over the 17th incarnation of GyalwaKarmapa of Tibet (from Nov. 1981 till Dec. 1996)
On Nov. 5, 1981, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu lineageof Tibetan Buddhism, passed away in Zion, USA. Since then, followers of the lineage have waited for Karmapa's next incarnation. Historically, two necessary components were involved in the delicateprocess of recognizing the next Karmapa: the deeds of the young incarnation, and the oral or writtendirections left by the predecessor.
On Dec. 20, 1981, Karmapa's cremation ceremony, attended by Indian dignitaries and severalthousands of his disciples, took place in Rumtek, Karmapa's main seat outside Tibet.
On Dec. 21, 1981
a general Karma Kagyu meeting was held in Rumtek . Mr. Dhamchoe Yongdu, thethen General Secretary to the 16th Karmapa, requested Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, historically secondafter Karmapa in the spiritual hierarchy of the lineage as well as Tai Situ Rinpoche, Jamgon KongtrulRinpoche, and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, close disciples of the 16th Karmapa, to take joint responsibilityfor the affairs of the Karma Kagyu lineage. He also asked them to locate Karmapa's instructionsconcerning his next rebirth and thus bring forward his next incarnation. Although a four-person body incharge of Karmapa's recognition was a historical novelty, the four Rinpoches accepted the task andexpressed their sincere desire to fulfil the wishes of the 16th Karmapa.
On Jan. 21, 1983, at another general Karma Kagyu meeting in Rumtek, it was decided that TopgaYulgyal, who the 16th Karmapa had appointed as Mr. Yongdu's successor, would commence as GeneralSecretary of the Karmapa Charitable Trust . The Trust, founded by the 16th Karmapa in 1961, was toprovide care and management for the Kagyu lineage during the intermediate period after the 16thKarmapa passed away and before the 17th Karmapa attained the age of twenty-one years. Since 1983, rumors about the 16th Karmapa's reincarnation began to emerge. .
On Feb. 9, 1986, in order to put an end to speculation about the different Karmapa candidates, KunzigShamar Rinpoche sent a letter to the Kagyu lamas and monasteries pointing out that the 17th Karmapawould reveal himself in the traditional way .
On Feb. 23, 1986, the four Rinpoches met in Rumtek. After their meeting, they issued a statementdeclaring that two letters by the 16th Karmapa regarding his reincarnation had been found: an "outer" andan "inner" one. They also disclosed that the inner letter was supposed to be opened at an unspecifieddate in the future, after a certain number of religious ceremonies, described in the outer letter, had beenperformed . In fact, as they would later admit, the four Rinpoches had not found any letters of instructionfrom the 16th Karmapa.
On April 18, 1986, Topga Rinpoche, General Secretary of the Karmapa Charitable Trust informed thedharma-centers world-wide of the discovery of the letters of instructions, which he believed to be true .
On May 4, 1988, the Rumtek staff announced that all rituals specified in the outer letter had beenperformed, thus the obstacles to open the final testament had been removed. Over the years, the four Rinpoches assured the followers of the Kagyu lineage that the 16th Karmapa's reincarnation would befound very soon.
In 1989- as he would later claim - Situ Rinpoche discovered by accident Karmapa's "prediction letter."Supposedly, he had received the letter shortly before His Holiness passed away in 1981, with no
indication whatsoever as to its momentous content. Wrapped in silk, a package was given to him as aprotector. He didn't even know it contained a letter. When in 1989 Situ Rinpoche decided to exchange theworn out fabric that had protected his talisman, instead of the expected relics he found the "predictionletter".
At the end of 1989 Situ Rinpoche informed the other three regents that he was in possession of „goodnews similar to the joyful cries of peacocks" .
On March 14, 1990, the four Rinpoches met in New Delhi. However, during the meeting, Situ Rinpocheneither mentioned nor presented his "prediction letter" which, according to his own words, he haddiscovered in 1989. Later, in his talk on June 12, 1992, Situ Rinpoche claimed that he did not want toshow the letter at that time because the meeting did not take place in Rumtek but in his hotel in NewDelhi. After their meeting, the four Rinpoches wrote a letter to the Karmapa Charitable Trust saying: "Wemust remain firm in all circumstances, until we arrive at the appropriate time", indicating that everythingwould still take some time.
From Aug. 1990 until Oct. 1990, the "Chushi Gangdrug Committee" and the "Derge Association", twopolitical groups operating from Kathmandu, Nepal , wrote letters to the four Rinpoches and the trustees of The Karmapa Charitable Trust accusing them of neglecting their duty in the search for Karmapa'sreincarnation.
On Nov. 25, 1990 , the four Rinpoches met again in Delhi. In the statement they issued afterwards theyrejected the accusations. During this meeting Situ Rinpoche again did not present his "prediction letter".
In 1991, Situ Rinpoche spent several months in Tibet, performing empowerments at Palpung Monastery,his seat in Eastern Tibet, and recognizing hundreds of tulkus. Lama Amdo Palden, the abbot of KalekMonastery in Tibet where a boy Urgyen Trinley had been accepted as a monk, recounted that at that timeSitu Rinpoche had given refuge to the boy in Palpung. After leaving for Beijing, Rinpoche sent a mala toUrgyen Trinley as a special protector.
On March 5, 1992, the Derge Association sent a letter to the Kagyu dharma centers worldwide. In thisletter Situ Rinpoche was presented as being the only person responsible for finding the Karmapa .The other three Rinpoches as well as the General Secretary of the Karmapa Charitable Trust wereaccused of delaying the procedures.
On March 19, 1992, a meeting of the four Rinpoches took place in Rumtek. Situ Rinpoche presented his"prediction letter" which contained detailed information regarding Karmapa's 17th reincarnation. KunzigShamar Rinpoche and also, to some extent, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche expressed doubts as to theauthenticity of the handwriting and signature in the letter . Shamar Rinpoche wanted the "predictionletter" to be tested forensically. After hours of discussion the four Rinpoches decided to keep their disagreement secret, to solve the problems among themselves and to meet seven weeks later for further consultations. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, whom they all trusted and who was soon to travel to Tibet,was requested to make an initial contact with the child on the basis of the instructions from the letter. Hewas to report his findings to the other three Rinpoches after his return from Tibet.
On March 26, 1992, despite the agreement, Situ Rinpoche sent a letter to various Dharma centers in theEast declaring that the search party for the 17th Karmapa was in place and ready to proceed . Hisletter was followed by a similar message from the Derge Association.
On April 8, 1992, the Tsurphu administration sent a search party for the 17th Karmapa to Kham inEastern Tibet, (Tsurphu is Karmapa's main seat in Tibet). Even though the content of Situ Rinpoche's"prediction letter" was supposed to be kept secret among the four Rinpoches, and despite the fact thatonly Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche had been appointed to contact the child, a Lama Tomo from Tsurphu setout at the head of a party of five to look for the new Karmapa in Kham.
On April 24, 1992, a picture of the boy Urgyen Trinley was taken and a pick-up party was organizedfrom Tsurphu . Everything seemed pre-arranged and had the permission of the Communist Chinese authorities.
On April 26, 1992, shortly before he was to set out for his journey to Tibet, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpochedied in a car accident. During the 49 days that followed his death, rituals were performed at RumtekMonastery.
On May 10 1992, Shamar Rinpoche left Rumtek for a scheduled dharma program abroad. It wasgenerally assumed that out of respect for the late Jamgon Kongtrul no further steps in connection withKarmapa's recognition would be taken during the 49 days of ceremonies.
On May 17, 1992, a week after Shamar Rinpoche's departure, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpochedelivered a public speech in Rumtek. Breaking their March agreement, they announced that they hadsent their own representatives to Tibet to search for the 17th Karmapa . They expressed their regretand concern that Shamarpa wasn't available at this point for discussion, but unable to wait any longer for the main regent's return, they were forced to proceed with their duty. In fact, the search in Tibet was bythen over. The boy had already been "found" by the Tsurphu search party in collaboration with theCommunist Chinese authorities.
On May 20, 1992, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche publicly opened their "prediction letter" inRumtek and, to gain legitimacy, showed it to Sakya Trinzin, leader of the Sakya School of TibetanBuddhism. Most people were unaware that although Sakya Trinzin was a highly learned and widelyrespected lama, he had no role whatsoever in the process of Karmapa's recognition.
On June 6, 1992, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche traveled to Dharamsala to meet H.H. the DalaiLama. Shamar Rinpoche, carrying on his Dharma program in the West, heard rumors that a boy,supposedly the 16th Karmapa's reincarnation, was being brought to Tsurphu.
On June 7, 1992, Shamar Rinpoche, cutting short his stay in the US, returned to Rumtek and learnedthat the other two Rinpoches had left for Dharamsala.
On June 8, 1992 , Shamar Rinpoche gave a talk to the monks of Rumtek Monastery. As the stepsundertaken by Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche had violated their earlier agreements, he publiclydeclared his position and his doubts regarding the authenticity of Situ Rinpoche's "prediction letter". Healso stated that he knew of a close and trustworthy disciple of the 16th Karmapa who was in possessionof direct instructions concerning Karmapa's 17th incarnation
On June 9, 1992 , Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche contacted the Dalai Lama, who was in Brazil,by phone and fax. They told him that all the Kagyu lamas unanimously requested his confirmation of Urgyen Trinley in Tsurphu as being the 17th Karmapa. Consequently an informal confirmation was issuedfrom the Dalai Lama's private office in Dharamsala. Evidently the Dalai Lama had not been informedabout the controversy among the highest Kagyu lamas
On June 11, 1992, Shamar Rinpoche sent a letter to the Karma Kagyu followers, expressing his doubtsabout Situ Rinpoche's "prediction letter".
On June 11, 1992, around 11 p.m., Shamar Rinpoche received a phone call from an Indian ArmyGeneral informing him that a party of soldiers was being dispatched to Rumtek to protect him and themonastery. The army had received information that two buses with Tibetans from Kathmandu were ontheir way to Rumtek to put pressure on Shamar Rinpoche and the monastery. The soldiers arrived in themiddle of the night.
On June 12, 1992, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche returned from Dharamsala. At once theycalled a meeting of the Rumtek monk and lay communities. In their speeches delivered in the monasteryyard, the two presented a "fait accompli": the 17th Karmapa would come to Tsurphu in a few days, andthe Dalai Lama had given his approval. Shamar Rinpoche was informed about the gathering while it wasalready in progress. When Rinpoche went from his house to the monastery to talk to the two lineageholders, he was followed by the soldiers who had orders to protect him. Seeing him enter the monasteryyard at the head of a group of soldiers, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche jumped from their thrones,ran into the main building, locked themselves in and had guards posted in front of the doors .
On June 15, 1992, Urgyen Trinley arrived in Tsurphu in a convoy of about seven vehicles. A car accidenttook place on their way to Tsurphu and two people were killed. Chinese officials took part in thewelcoming ceremony and were among the principal guests. No representatives from Rumtek werepresent .
On June 16, 1992, signatures were collected from the Lamas and Tulkus attending the final rituals for the late Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche in Rumtek. Two letters were being passed around for signing. In thefirst one, the undersigned declared that they "accepted the unmistaken prediction letter"; in the secondone they expressed their gratitude to the Dalai Lama for his confirmation.
On June 16, 1992, Tulku Urgyen from Nepal, a senior lama and teacher to the Rinpoches, came toRumtek to mediate. After talking to Situ Rinpoche he held a meeting with Shamar Rinpoche. He urgedShamarpa to give his agreement because the Dalai Lama had already given his approval. He alsoreasoned that China had acknowledged the child and would never withdraw from this position.
On June 17, 1992, Shamar Rinpoche and Situ Rinpoche met. Out of respect for the Dalai Lama,Shamar Rinpoche suspended his demand that the letter of prediction be tested forensically.
On June 22, 1992, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche sent a letter to the followers of the lineagedeclaring that the 17th Karmapa had been found, that the Dalai Lama had confirmed him, and that all thedisagreements had been resolved
On June 29, 1992, Beijing officially recognized Urgyen Trinley as the 17th Karmapa, bestowing the titleof "Living Buddha" upon him. A series of reports were published. For example, one official Tibetannewspaper declared that "the 17th Karmapa ... will become an individual loyal to his socialistmotherland...". The fact that the communist government used the installation of a "Living Buddha" for itsown political purposes became more and more apparent.
On June 29, 1992, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche had a personal audience with the Dalai Lamato receive his official approval of Urgyen Trinley as the 17th Karmapa. A few hours later, Shamar Rinpoche also called on the Tibetan leader and presented his position.
On July 3, 1992, the Department of Information and International Relations of the Tibetan Governmentin Exile sent a statement with the official approval of Urgyen Trinley by the Dalai Lama. At this point, itshould be clearly stated that the recognition of the Karmapa does not lie in the hands of the TibetanGovernment, or of the Dalai Lama. The Karmapa's reincarnations date back to the 12th century, whereasthe Dalai Lama's line of reincarnation started 300 years later. The confirmation of a reincarnation is apurely spiritual matter of the respective lineage. However, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche tried tostrengthen their position by gaining the approval of the Dalai Lama. To achieve this, they claimed that aconsensus existed among all Kagyu Lamas.
On Aug. 3, 1992, the General Secretary of the Karmapa Charitable Trust wrote a letter to the Board of Trustees expressing his concern regarding the Karmapa issue and asking the Trustees to secure thewishes of the late 16th Karmapa. During this time, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche madeannouncements in Kathmandu and again asked people to sign various letters to show their agreementthat Urgyen Trinley was the 17th Karmapa . They rectified their previous assurances and explainedthat the boy would not immediately come out of Tibet, but would be first enthroned in Tsurphu and wouldvisit India and Nepal soon after.
On Sept. 27, 1992, the official enthronement of Urgyen Trinley took place in Tsurphu. Even though SituRinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche insisted that all problems had been solved, the members of RumtekMonastery, the members of the Karmapa Charitable Trust, and the representatives of the major Kagyucenters in the West did not approve of this procedure. Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, historically second after the Karmapa in the spiritual hierarchy of the Karma Kagyu lineage, did not take part in the ceremonies.Some weeks after the Tsurphu enthronement a report by Lobsang Gelek Rinpoche revealed that manyinauspicious events occurred at that time.
In October 1992, a book called "The Karmapa Papers" shed light on the background of the ongoingKarmapa issue. The publication presented a chronology of events since Karmapa's death in 1981, thetranslation of a large number of letters exchanged among the four Rinpoches and between theRinpoches and the Karmapa Charitable Trust since 1983, an analysis of Situ Rinpoche's "predictionletter" and the transcription of the speeches given by the Rinpoches in Rumtek, in June 1992 at theoutcome of the crisis.
In the autumn of 1992, Drubpoen Dechen, sent letters to the monks, the administration, and the laycommunity of Rumtek Monastery trying to intimidate them and to persuade them to accept Urgyen Trinleyas the 17th Karmapa.
At the beginning of November 1992, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche and the Rumtek monks held a meetingin Rumtek. As he had already done in his talk in June 1992, Shamar Rinpoche again stated that he knewof a person, a widely respected and trustworthy disciple of the 16th Karmapa, who claimed to be inpossession of the genuine instructions from the previous Karmapa. Rinpoche pointed out that the 16thKarmapa's authentic reincarnation would manifest according to the unique quality of the Karmapas. Healso told the monks and trust members to take full responsibility for the monastery and the NalandaInstitute in Rumtek.
On Nov. 17, 1992, Shamar Rinpoche wrote a letter to the monks of Rumtek Monastery. He stated thathe would not object to the Chinese government's decision, that his agreement with the Dalai Lama'sdecision had only been given out of his respect for the Dalai Lama, and that he would hold firm to thesacred tradition and follow the genuine instructions of the 16th Karmapa. He asked the monks that,following the wishes of the 16th Karmapa, Rumtek Monastery be held jointly by Rumtek's monks and theTrustees of the Karmapa Charitable Trust.
In November 1992, Gyaltsab Rinpoche's people invited representatives from monasteries in Nepal toRumtek, where they were planning a meeting. During this time, people from Nepal informed Rumtek thatSitu Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche were secretly preparing a take-over of Rumtek Monastery.
On Nov. 20, 1992 , the Rumtek monks and Shamar Rinpoche held another gathering. After the meeting,the monks informed the Sikkimese Chief Minister Bandari that together with the Trustees of The KarmapaCharitable Trust, they would take full responsibility for the affairs of Rumtek Monastery, and that it was
the Trust's responsibility to subject Situ Rinpoche's "prediction letter" to a scientific test. They alsodeclared that the administration of Rumtek monastery was solely the responsibility of Rumtek's monksand The Karmapa Charitable Trust, and that they would accept no other spiritual authority. Their letter was followed by a number of similar statements made by the khenpos (head monks), the Rumtekadministration, the Nalanda Institute, and the Rumtek Nunnery. They all declared that they would onlyfollow the decisions made by the Karmapa Charitable Trust, whose Trustees were appointed by the 16thKarmapa himself and that they would not accept any other decisions made by Lamas or political groups.
On Nov. 29, 1992, representatives of the Rumtek Monk Community, the Rumtek administration, theNalanda Institute and the Rumtek Nunnery stated that until a clear agreement among the Rinpoches wasreached they would only follow the decisions of the Karmapa Charitable Trust with Topga Rinpoche asthe General Secretary.
On Nov. 30, 1992 , against the wish of the Rumtek community, a meeting organized by Situ Rinpocheand Gyaltsab Rinpoche took place in Rumtek. It was called the "Kagyu International Assembly" andclaimed to consist of representatives from all Kagyu monasteries and centers from around the world. Infact, there were only Tibetans present. A number of resolutions, such as an oath to never accept anyother Karmapa than Urgyen Trinley, were passed. Topga Rinpoche, the General Secretary of theKarmapa Charitable Trust, was accused of serious offences and strongly condemned. A series of illegaldecisions were taken, such as the dismissal of the General Secretary. The other trustees werethreatened that if they did not support Urgyen Trinley, they would be forced to resign from their posts.The Assembly did not have any legal authority to interfere with the matters of the Karmapa CharitableTrust and its decisions had no legal value. However, the participants went so far as to replace theKarmapa Charitable Trust with a new body. The new trust was formed with Gyaltsab Rinpoche as theofficial administrator and a Drungyig Tenzin as the new General Secretary. The documents to register thetrust in Sikkim were sent to the authorities, but the petition was dismissed. In Jan. 1993, Situ Rinpoche'sand Gyaltsab Rinpoche's party requested the withdrawal of the copies of Registration of Resolutions fromthe Land Revenue Department in Sikkim.
In Dec. 1992, Kagyu centers worldwide sent letters of support to the legal trustees of the KarmapaCharitable Trust. The trustees were encouraged to continue with their responsibility of managingKarmapa's institutions, a task that was personally entrusted to them by the 16th Karmapa.
In the beginning of 1993 , the followers of Urgyen Trinley announced that the 17th Karmapa would soonleave China and travel to the West. A number of petitions and letters, requesting permission for UrgyenTrinley to enter India, were sent to the Indian Government. Today, despite years of intense campaigning,it is evident that the boy will never be allowed to leave occupied Tibet.
In 1993, some Sikkimese followers of the 16th Karmapa filed a petition at the High Court of Sikkim inGangtok. Because of their suspicion of forgery, they demanded a forensic test of Situ Rinpoche's"prediction letter" - the basis upon which Urgyen Trinley was officially acknowledged as the 17thKarmapa.
In Jan. 1993, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche's party published an edition of the Kagyu magazine"The Nectar of Dharma". The "Nectar of Dharma" had first come out in Rumtek in the '80s. The 1993edition reported mainly on the "Kagyu International Assembly" that had taken place in Rumtek betweenNov. 30 and Dec. 3, 1992, hailing its illegal resolutions.
In May 1993, confidential information pertaining to Communist China's political aims in Tibet becamepublicly known. The Chinese authorities decided on a "final solution" to break the Tibetan resistance.They planned to continue "manipulating religious persons in Tibet for propaganda purposes".
In May 1993, Tenzin Choenyi of the Buddhist center KTD-Woodstock, USA, mailed a letter to the KarmaKagyu institutions world-wide in which he announced that Urgyen Trinley would come to KTD-Woodstockin 1994 and that funds, amounting to US-$ 200,000 should be collected for his visit.
On June 17, 1993, at a United Nations Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria, the Chinesedelegates announced "that the Karmapa, the future successor of the Dalai Lama, was preparing for histasks in Tibet".
In July 1993, the legal administration of Rumtek published a "Rumtek Newsletter", where the activities of the Rumtek administration and the events surrounding the Karmapa controversy were presented.
On July 26, 1993, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche left Rumtek for Dharma events scheduled abroad. Shortlyafter his departure Situ Rinpoche arrived at Rumtek.
On Aug. 2, 1993, Rumtek Monastery was illegally and forcibly taken over by Situ Rinpoche and GyaltsabRinpoche's supporters, many of whom were hired criminals disguised as monks. The genuine Rumtekmonks were threatened at gunpoint, harassed, and beaten up. One of the 16th Karmapa's monks, thechanting master Umze Ngedon, who was in possession of the keys to the main hall of the monastery,
was dragged around the monastery yard with his robes tied around his neck. The police present in themonastery did nothing to stop the attack and even supported the intruders. Some of Rumtek's genuinemonks were arrested and later imprisoned in Ranipool. The resident monks had to flee the monastery.They sought shelter in Shamar Rinpoche's residence where they continued their monastic routine incramped conditions. The genuine monks sent a letter to Situ Rinpoche asking him to leave Rumtek, sincehe had caused such disruption at Karmapa's headquarters. There were rumors that Situ Rinpoche's andGyaltsab Rinpoche's party planned to remove Karmapa's Black Crown and other relics from themonastery and take them to China. During the following days, Tai Situ and his party launched a full scalecampaign to portray themselves as the victims of the monks' aggression and the sole defenders of Karmapa's legacy.
On Aug 4, 1993, Shamar Rinpoche gave an interview to the German Karma Kagyu Association aboutthe attack on Rumtek. He expressed his great concern for the monks, who had been intimidated, beatenand forced to leave the monastery, and in general for the situation in the monastery. The same daypeople from Situ Rinpoche's party signed an open letter in Gangtok, Sikkim containing seriousaccusations against Shamar Rinpoche.
On Aug. 13, 1993, a variety of organizations from Gangtok, Sikkim formed „The Action Committee", agroup that would apply pressure on anyone who disputed Situpa's letter and his candidate. A few dayslater the Committee members staged a violent protest in front of the Sikkimese Supreme Court and infront of the home of Mr. Sherab Gyaltsen, a trustee of the Karmapa Charitable Trust.
On Aug. 22, 1993, a letter was mailed from Samye Ling, Akong Rinpoche's center in Scotland,announcing that Urgyen Trinley would come to Europe and America in 1994 and requesting funds asextensive financial resources were needed for Urgyen Trinley's journey.
On Sept. 12, 1993, Shamar Rinpoche sent an open letter to Situ Rinpoche to inform him that hedisapproved of Situ Rinpoche's activities and that he would try to reverse, by legal means, all the latestchanges that Situ Rinpoche had made to the status and peace of Rumtek Monastery.
On Jan. 25, 1994, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche made an announcement in Tibetan and in English that the16th Karmapa's authentic reincarnation had been found. Thereupon, Situ Rinpoche's and GyaltsabRinpoche's party held secret meetings to plan a "confrontation" between the two Karmapas including onein Kathmandu, Nepal with many prominent followers of Situ Rinpoche: Thrangu Rinpoche, Mr. JuchenThubten, Drungyig Tenzin, Jinpa Lodro, and others.
On Feb. 9, 1994, representatives from various monasteries addressed a letter to the Dalai Lama inwhich they referred to Shamar Rinpoche's announcement. They reminded the Dalai Lama of his approvalof Urgyen Trinley, said that there can be only one Karmapa and emphasized that they disagreed withShamar Rinpoche.
On March 17, 1994, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche welcomed Tenzin Chyentse (Trinley Thaye Dorje) as thegenuine reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa at the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI) in NewDelhi. Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje had been living in Tibet until early 1994 when, together with hisfamily, he left for India. After the ceremony, a group of monks and laymen organized by Situ Rinpocheand Gyaltsab Rinpoche's party gathered in front of KIBI and demonstrated against Karmapa TrinleyThaye Dorje. They shouted slogans, threw stones at the Institute, at the monks and the visitors, and triedto storm the premises. Several people, among them Western followers of the Karmapa who had come toattend the welcoming ceremony, were injured and had to be hospitalized. The violent incident waswitnessed by almost 500 people and recorded on videotape. The protesters, accusing Shamar Rinpocheand Topga Rinpoche of presenting a fake Karmapa, shouted that they would never accept their choiceand that the two Rinpoches were going against the Dalai Lama. They also claimed that the boy was amember of Shamar Rinpoche's family, which was not true.
On March 19, 1994, Shamar Rinpoche gave a public talk at KIBI. He stated that he would reveal thedetails about the finding of the 17th Karmapa when the appropriate time came. He said that he didn'tobject to anyone, who accepted the Chinese installed boy, but that he would disagree if someone forcedhim to follow that "Karmapa." He emphasized that he wanted a spiritually, and not a politically, appointedKarmapa and welcomed everybody who wished to follow him. He pointed out that the Karmapa'sreincarnations did not require the acceptance of a government.
On March 31, 1994 , Shamar Rinpoche wrote a letter to the board of trustees of the Karmapa CharitableTrust in which he gave a summary of his activities since 1981. He stated that he would reveal theauthentic instructions of the previous Karmapa at the appropriate time.
In March 1994 , letters of protest were sent from various Kagyu lamas such as Thrangu Tulku, SangyeNyenpa Tulku and Tenga Tulku. They all objected to Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje. At the same time,several Kagyu Rinpoches came secretly to Delhi to meet Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje.
On April 3, 1994, Shamar Rinpoche wrote an account of the discovery of the 17th Karmapa. Herecounted how, beginning in 1986, he had received reports of the special qualities of a boy Trinley ThayeDorje. He described how he had sent emissaries to Tibet to contact and check the child and how theKarmapa had revealed himself as the genuine reincarnation. In 1988, the person who claimed to havereceived the genuine instructions from the 16th Karmapa had contacted Kunzig Shamarpa.
On April 6, 1994, some Indian newspapers reported the news of Bhandari's prosecution by theSikkimese Supreme Court on corruption charges. Bhandari, the Chief Minister of Sikkim, had supportedSitu Rinpoche in his activities regarding the Karmapa reincarnation.
On April 23, 1994, a meeting between the Dalai Lama's administration and the legal Rumtekadministration took place. Shamar Rinpoche's position, as well as the position of Rumtek's genuinemonks was clarified.
On May 16, 1994, the Tibetan Radio in Tibet broadcast the "prediction letter" presented by SituRinpoche. A written version was published as well. The wording was quite different from the originalversion shown by Situ Rinpoche in 1992. Awkward and grammatically incorrect passages had beenrewritten.
On June 14, 1994, the Sikkimese Monks' Union passed a resolution in which they declared that theyonly wanted a genuine Karmapa based on authentic instructions. They also complained about the badtreatment they had received from the Sikkimese government.
On July 12, 1994, Rumtek's genuine monks addressed a letter to the Chief Secretary in Sikkim. Theycomplained of the illegal removal of numerous precious articles of religious worship from RumtekMonastery. They listed the missing items, and expressed their concern that Karmapa's Black Hat andSitu Rinpoche's "prediction letter" might have been also removed.
On Aug. 2, 1994 , the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India, declared that Situ Rinpochewas officially banned from entering India due to his anti-India activities. On Sept. 18, 1994, the WorldTibet Network reported Situ Rinpoche's ban from India.
On Sept. 22, 1994, the World Tibet Network broadcast a report about Urgyen Trinley, the ten-year-old"Living Buddha", The report stated that the boy had set out on a pilgrimage to Beijing. This was followedby a series of articles on Urgyen Trinley's visit to his Chinese "Motherland".
In Nov. 1994, having been banned from India, Situ Rinpoche set out on a lecture tour in Europe.Enclosed in the promotion for Rinpoche's talks was a fundraising letter that emphasized Situ Rinpoche'sgreat need for money.
In 1994, an ugly incident took place in Rumtek: Benza Guru, a 51-year-old housekeeper of the late 16thKarmapa was murdered by individuals illegally occupying Rumtek Monastery. He had refused to leavethe monastery and had been repeatedly threatened by the occupants. Even though his murder wasreported to the local police, no one has been arrested to this day.
In Dec. 1994, elections were held in Sikkim. The ruling party suffered a severe defeat. This marked theend of Chief Minister Bhandhari's rule. While in power, he had actively supported Situ Rinpoche andGyaltsab Rinpoche. Police under his command had harassed the Rumtek monks as well as all of Shamar Rinpoche's supporters in Rumtek.
On Feb. 17, 1995, members of the Rumtek monks' community, such as Nendo Rinpoche, Chultrimpaand others, addressed a letter to the new Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Kumar Chamling. They statedthat people associated with Situ Rinpoche continued his anti-national activities, that the original monks inRumtek were still heavily suppressed, that the monastery was still in the hands of Situ Rinpoche's andGyaltsab Rinpoche's side, and that the police still supported the illegal occupation. The Chief Minister was requested to take action so that law and order would be restored in Rumtek.
In the spring of 1995, there were many reports distributed by official Chinese news agencies aboutUrgyen Trinley in Tsurphu,. The reports disclosed, for example, that the boy promised "always to followthe Communist Party of China".
In April 1995 , after the change of government in Sikkim, Topga Yulgal, the legal General Secretary of the Karmapan Charitable Trust, was able to return to Sikkim in order to assume his functions. His entryhad been blocked by the former government.
On May 8, 1995 , Lurnyuk, a local Sikkimese newspaper, published an article about Topga Rinpoche, theGeneral Secretary of the Karmapa Charitable Trust, and his strong support in Sikkim.
In May 1995, the Panchen Lama issue was discussed worldwide on the Internet and in the news media.The course of events clearly showed how Communist China continued to use the so-called "LivingBuddhas" for her own political aims.
On August 8, 1995, Topga Rinpoche and the Karmapa's original monks peacefully - with flowers in their hands - marched to Rumtek monastery in order to return to their rightful home and place of worship.
However, they were brutally stopped and denied access to their temple by the illegal occupants of thecloister. The monks started then an indefinite hunger strike in front of the gates to their monastery asprotest against the continuing, illegal occupation of Rumtek. In addition to the monks, the nuns, and laypeople from Rumtek, as well as the Sikkimese people joined in the hunger strike.
On Aug. 8, 1995, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche's side issued articles on the Internet in whichthe Rumtek monks were accused of having violently attacked the monastery.
On Aug. 9, 1995, a press release by the monk community of Rumtek Monastery and eyewitnesses'reports presented the monks' version of their march on Rumtek and subsequent hunger strike.
At the end of September 1995, after nearly two months, the 16th Karmapa's monks had to abandontheir hunger strike. Rumtek Monastery, Karmapa's main seat outside Tibet, is today still in the hands of intruders.
During March 1996 an International Karma Kagyu Conference took place in KIBI, New Delhi, India. Theconference was convened at the request of the original monastic community of Rumtek Monastery.Representatives from Karma Kagyu Monasteries and Dharma Centers in the Himalayan region as well asfrom Dharma Centers from twenty-four countries from around the world attended. Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche presented the background of his recognition of Karmapa Thaye Dorje as the 17th incarnationof Gyalwa Karmapa. The Karmapa resident monks reported on the course of events at RumtekMonastery related to the Karmapa issue.
In Dec. 1996, the 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje presided over the Monlam Chenmo, great aspirationprayers, in Bodh Gaya, India, and the place of Buddha's enlightenment. Also, for the first time in history aKarmapa had his hair cut in Bodh Gaya - a ceremony that officially initiated his activity in the world. Over 6.000 monks and nuns as well as a large number of Rinpoches and lamas from the Himalayan regionattended the event.
In september 1997 Togba Rinpoche dies from liver cancer
Situpa's banishment from India is rescinded
On Dec. 28, 1999 Orgyen Trinley leaves secretly Tsurphu monastery in Tibet
On Jan 5, 2000 around 10:30 A.M., Orgyen Trinley arrrives safe and sound in Dharamsala, India
On 21 February 2013 the Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje's main teachers, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, commenced an elaborate Tsedrup (long-life puja) dedicated to the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. Lasting for five consecutive days, the extensive prayers are being conducted at Vajra Vidya Institute by tulkus and monks from Thrangu Rinpoche's monasteries, including many who have travelled especially from Nepal.
With the chanting lasting from morning until night, the puja will culminate in a grand long-life Tenshug offering to the Gyalwang Karmapa on the auspicious day of 25 February, which is known as Chotrul Duchen or the Day of Miracles. The 14 days leading up to Chotrul Duchen are considered to be a very auspicious time in the Tibetan calendar, with positive deeds performed at this time being especially potent. In this context, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's offering serves as a particularly powerful cause for the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, as well as for the flourishing of his enlightened activities and those of the entire lineage.
The Ninth Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, one of the senior most Rinpoche and foremost elders of the present Kagyu lineage, is the Abbot of Vajra Vidya Institute and has also been the Gyalwang Karmapa's personal tutor appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama since the Gyalwang Karmapa's arrival in India. As a mark of the importance of his role in the Kagyu lineage, in 2010 at the 28th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo in Bodhgaya the Gyalwang Karmapa performed a special long-life ceremony for Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and two other senior Kagyu masters, in the presence of the entire sangha under the Bodhi Tree.
On the 11th day of the 1st month of the Year of the Water Snake, in the holy land of Sarnath, very close to the exact site where the Buddha Shakyamuni taught his first five disciples more than 2500 years ago and thereby set into motion the entire Buddhist teaching tradition, the Gyalwang Karmapa once again turned the wheel of dharma.
Coinciding with an annual dharma seminar at Vajra Vidya Institute being led by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, the Gyalwang Karmapa commenced a week-long series of teachings on a text which has been one of his personal favorites since a young age, called 'Tri Thung Gyatsa' or 'One Hundred Short Instructions.'
The text, composed by the glorious 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje, comprises a treasury of pith instructions spanning the entire path to enlightenment. Each instruction is skillfully crafted so that the reader can enter the text at any point to find a gem of the 8th Karmapa's heart advice and enlightened wisdom. "From time to time I myself take a look through these 100 short instructions, and I really feel that they are very beneficial for me," the Gyalwang Karmapa said. "All of these instructions are given for serious practitioners," he continued, "and sometimes they are extremely forthright. They go straight to the heart of the matter."
Deciding that it would be beneficial to focus on one or two of the instructions contained within the collection, the Gyalwang Karmapa chose to begin the teachings with an instruction on 'Rules for Karma Kamtsang Meditators'. From this somewhat abstract title, he then began by emphasizing the need to contemplate death and impermanence in order to generate a sense of renunciation from worldly concerns, as a necessary precondition to genuine dharma practice. The Gyalwang Karmapa urged those gathered to use their own intelligence in understanding and practicing the essence of Buddhism, rather than just blindly following traditions or customs.
"The essence of Buddhism is being able to distinguish what it is that we need to do from what it is that we need to give up. It is taking up virtue and giving up non-virtue. We need to identify what it is that will bring benefit to ourselves and others, and then we need to do that. We also need to identify what it is that will harm ourselves and others, and then we need to give that up. So you can condense it all into doing what is beneficial and giving up what is harmful. We need to know what the essence of dharma is, and then bring it into our lives."
He stressed the importance of not delaying the practice of the dharma, but rather taking the teachings on death and impermanence to heart and allowing them to motivate our practice in the present moment.
"If we are going to practice the dharma, this is what it means and we need do this now in our lives. We might think that we have our whole lives to do it, but we need to start doing it from today. This is not something that we should think, 'Oh I can start tomorrow, or I can start the next day, or I can do this when I'm older.' We need to do dharma practice now. We cannot postpone this. We need to start it right now."
As thousands of the Gyalwang Karmapa's students around the world logged onto the live webcast of the teachings simultaneously from all corners of the globe, this served as a timely reminder that the vast enlightened activity of the Gyalwang Karmapa cannot be limited by time and space. The Gyalwang Karmapa's skillful use of modern technology enables him to directly reach and teach in accordance with the needs of those both near and far. "There are many people who are not able to come to these teachings in person," he commented, "so it seems that the best way to bring benefit to those people is to have a live webcast. This is very beneficial for them." Live translations were offered in seven languages, including: English, Hindi, Chinese, Spanish, Polish, German, and French.
The Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings continue daily until 28 February 2013, with the exception of 25 February (Chotrul Duchen) when other activities are scheduled to take place.
Beginning several hours before the scheduled teaching time, hundreds of people began to gather at the Vajra Vidya Institute gompa for the second day of the Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings. With Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche once again in attendance, together with Tulkus and Khenpos, monks and nuns, and international and local devotees, the gompa was quickly filled to capacity. A large group of students from the nearby Central University of Tibetan Studies gathered, while a growing webcast audience also tuned in live from across the world, all eager to absorb the Gyalwang Karmapa's vast and profound wisdom.
As the rain of dharma continued for a second day, the Gyalwang Karmapa opened the teaching by once again reiterating the urgency to practice the dharma right now, in this very moment.
"We need to practice the dharma from now. We need to do it on this very seat, in this very session. It's right now that we need to begin the dharma. If we postpone it, if we think to ourselves I'm going to do it tomorrow or the next day, then we will not be able to really practice the dharma well. It's important to understand this."
From this urgent call to practice, the Gyalwang Karmapa then turned his attention to making sure that we do it properly. He observed that there are many people who wish to practice the dharma, but don't truly know how. By focusing mainly on the external appearances of our practice without carefully checking our mind, we can easily fall into the trap of spiritual materialism.
"Sometimes when we practice dharma we think that we need to show some sort of external or physical sign of it. We pay a lot of attention to the rituals and these actions of our body and speech. This is practicing dharma when we're focusing outside. But instead what we need to do is turn our attention inwards. We need to see whether what we're doing is functioning as an antidote to the afflictions or not. We need to see whether we are taming our mind or not. We need to see whether our mind is improving, getting kinder, or not. If we don't look at it in this way then there's no benefit to doing these actions – we think that we are trying to do the dharma, but actually we are just making a show with our body and speech. We are putting on appearances, and that's all we really take an interest in. And the moment that happens, this becomes spiritual materialism."
Expanding his focus to the wider twenty-first century world we inhabit, the Gyalwang Karmapa touched on both the ways it shapes us as people and the ways that we as individuals in turn can shape it. Observing the growing trend towards materialism in the modern world, he encouraged the audience to look beyond the idea that happiness can be found outwards in external things.
"These days in the 21st century it's a very materialistic time. Most of the time, we don't really know what true happiness is. Many people have the idea that external things and external conditions will bring them happiness, and will lead them to the real meaning. But when we think about material things, the more we have of these things the more disturbances we have. The more difficulties we have. Things get more and more problematic. We have more and more busyness, and what happens then is that we lose ourselves. We lose our nature, what really is there."
Continuing his exploration of our place in the modern world, the Gyalwang Karmapa skillfully reminded each person of the important role they play in shaping an increasingly interconnected and ever-more deeply interdependent world.
"In this Information Age people are developing closer and closer connections with each other. All the people in the world are seeing that they have greater mutual connections. It has become very clear to us that these are deeper and stronger connections. When we think about our own good acts and wrong acts, we can see more clearly how they have an effect on the world. We can see that the individual things that we do are connected to the benefit or the harm of the world. They are deeply connected to the happiness and suffering that is in the world. The good and bad acts of one person are becoming the good and bad of the world. When we examine the good and bad that we do, we can see that it is becoming even more profound and even more vast. It's the good and the bad that people do that determine on a fundamental level if there is peace or happiness in the world. It's very tightly connected."
Recordings of the Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings are available on YouTube in English and Chinese, and are also available for download the day following each teaching session. The live webcast steam can now also be accessed on all mobile devices, including iPad, iPhone, Android, etc.
There is an older one who comes to me, he is not often seen here, and he only comes to my place occasionally. When he's here, I just finished arranging the room. There is one red envelop together with a pile of things inside my room, I do not know whether it is Australian dollars or pounds, Beside the red envelope, there is a commemorative album published by "Remembering the Activities of All Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche's" entitled "Calling Lama from Afar".
I picked up these two things, a red envelop in one hand and a booklet "Calling Lama from Afar" in another hand. I told that person who came to me said: "You want money or you want this book?" I did not expect him to be shocked after hearing what I said and step back, he folded his palm together and thought for a moment, and finally, he said that he wants both.
In Tibetan, to pronounce the sound of "money" should toot up his mouth. I can see he already toot up his mouth and almost speak out, but his mind reminds him that he should not be like this, how can he think about money? But he swallowed back his word. After repeatedly thinking, he had no choice but give answer of wanting both.
I went on and say: "Cannot be like this, you cannot take both." And follow with a question said: "Tell me honestly, when you are facing with these choices, what come first into your mind?" He replied honestly: "Money Ah!"
This example primarily is to tell us that those are often given by the guru and what disciples need must be matched to be helpful. Like the oral instruction given by guru is what disciple wants, he will accept it naturally; if both can not meet their agreement, no matter how profound, how excellent the teaching is, it won't do any help to this disciple, it will only be wasted.
-- His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa's Teaching in spring dated February 23, 2013
On the third day of his Spring Teachings the Gyalwang Karmapa began by reflecting on the sacredness of the teaching space, and it's preciousness to him personally. Arising out of the vast vision of its Abbot, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Vajra Vidya Institute is nestled at the edge of Sarnath's Deer Park, the sacred place where the Buddha Shakyamuni first turned the wheel of dharma. The towering Dhamek Stupa, constructed over a millennia ago to venerate the Buddha's monumental act of teaching the dharma, is only a short walk away from where the Gyalwang Karmapa's own teachings are taking place, in Vajra Vidya Institute's temple. "When I come to this temple it's like I have a special feeling that arises here," he said. "Since the time I came to India, for the few small things that I have done in my life they've all started here, in this monastery's temple. It's like this place has been the starting point for everything that I have done."
Returning once again to the theme of the previous day, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his guidance on how to practice the dharma correctly, until we eventually reach a point where the dharma and our life have merged.
"To really practice the dharma we have to understand the reasons for the dharma, and we have to have full dedication and interest in the dharma. When we have that, only at that point are our dharma practice and the individual who is practicing the dharma no longer separate from each other. That is when the dharma, and the individual who is practicing it, become the same in flavor. That is the point when our dharma practice and this life become part of each other and they share the same nature."
Moreover, as dharma practitioners we also need to truly understand and accept impermanence. We need to develop our ability to be relaxed and open to changes as they naturally occur, accepting situations as they arise around us. Likening the process of change to the natural and beautiful play of the four seasons, the Gyalwang Karmapa reminded those gathered that when things change they can be even better.
"When, because of external or internal circumstances there comes some sort of a change, we need to be able to go along with that change. So whatever happens, we go with the flow of events. If we are able to do this, then in our own mind we can be more relaxed. We can be more expansive. When we go along with that we can be comfortable, relaxed and spacious in our minds. If we are able to do this then we are able to be happy, and to have a comfortable and content life."
The Gyalwang Karmapa then urged his students to uncomplicate their worlds, by keeping a simple outlook on life. Delivering profound guidance with skillful simplicity, he emphasized the importance of living grounded in the present moment, and of seeing the good that is already right in front of our eyes.
"The best thing is to be in the present. It's better if we don't have too high hopes for the past or the future situations. It's better just to stay in the present. Whatever is right in front of our eyes, we need to be able to see the good in it. If we can see the good in it, then good things will be able to occur from that. I really feel that it helps to try to just have a simple outlook on life."
The Gyalwang Karmapa ended the session by sharing one of his own personal strategies for dealing with problems when they arise. "When I have difficulties," he said, "I feel like sometimes it's good to just close the door, relax a little bit, let my mind be a little bit looser and more spacious. I feel that this is helpful, and this is probably something that will be helpful for you as well."
On the 14th day of the Tibetan calendar, the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over a day of activities commemorating the founding luminaries of the Kagyu lineage. Organized by the Kagyu Relief and Protection Committee from the Central University of Tibetan Studies as well as the Vajra Vidya Institute, the day was an opportunity to venerate the realized masters who together form the great wellspring of the whispered lineage.
This year marks the 1000th birth anniversary of the glorious Marpa Lotsawa, the great translator who made the arduous journey to India four times in order to receive the sacred instructions and thereby plant the seeds of the practice lineage within Tibet. At the same time, today marks the commemoration of the Mahaparinirvana of Marpa himself and his heart-son Milarepa, the exalted yogi-saint whose remarkable life has inspired countless practitioners for generations. With this combination of lineage milestones, it was a particularly auspicious moment to conduct a day of lineage commemorations in the presence of the Gyalwang Karmapa.
The day's activities began by invoking the blessings of the lineage with a procession of the sacred statues of Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa, who together comprise the 'Mar Mi Dag Sum', or the three great Tibetan founding forefathers of the Kagyu lineage. Devotees lined the pathway leading to the gompa, many bearing sweet incense and white khatas to welcome the procession. The statues were escorted on one slow circumambulation of the gompa, led by Tulkus and Khenpos from Vajra Vidya Institute, with the rest of the sangha and lay devotees falling into procession behind.
The statues were then led into the gompa and installed on a dais to the left of the Gyalwang Karmapa's throne, overlooking the assembly. At around 8.30am the Gyalwang Karmpa arrived in the gompa to preside as Dorje Lopon or Vajra Master over an extensive puja. Lasting for 3 hours, the elaborate prayers included praises to Marpa Lotsawa, the sadhana of the Guru Yoga of Milarepa, as well as recitations of some of Milarepa's Gur (famous songs of realization), written spontaneously during his lifetime of intense meditation practice and retreat. At the end of the puja a grand Ganachakra feast offering was made.
Later in the afternoon the Gyalwang Karmapa was Guest of Honor at a tea party organized by the Kagyu Relief and Protection Committee and the Vajra Vidya Institute. Inside a large white marquee on the front lawns of Vajra Vidya, tea and cake were offered to the sangha and lay devotees. Special guests at the tea party included Dr Pema Dorje, Visiting Professor at the Central University of Tibetan Studies as well as personal physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in addition to many other Professors and faculty members from the University.
Afterwards, in the shrineroom above the Vajra Vidya gompa, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche personally offered the Gyalwang Karmapa the sacred long-life blessing nectar, which was continuously consecrated throughout the previous 4 days of the Long Life Tsedrup puja, endowing them with especially potent blessings dedicated to the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.
At the end of the day of lineage commemoration activities, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his Spring Teaching series, delivering the fourth day teaching.
On the fourth day of the Spring Teachings the Gyalwang Karmapa turned the focus firmly inwards: if we look inside our own minds, a wishfulfilling jewel is already waiting. No matter how long we may search elsewhere for it, in the end we come back to what was already present within ourselves from the very beginning.
"Within our beings, all of us, there are these uncontrived, natural roots of virtue, these instinctive seeds of innate goodness. We still look for something outside ourselves, not knowing how priceless and how important what we already have is. We need to look at these seeds of virtue in our mind as if they were as rare as a Buddha."
By first being able to see the innate treasure already present in our own minds, we can then work to develop it further and further. "We need to take those virtuous seeds within ourselves and increase them," he said. "We need to elicit the power that is naturally there and work with that until we achieve the ultimate state of awakening."
From exploring the innermost essence of our mind, the Gyalwang Karmapa then shifted the focus back outwards again, by reminding those gathered that sometimes we need to look from the perspective of others to see the full value of our lives. Using the metaphor of a net, in which each individual life is completely connected and completely interdependent with others, we must also be able to see how others find our lives meaningful.
"When we are trying to figure out what the essence or the meaning of life really is, then it's not just a question of looking inside oneself. Sometimes we have to look outwards to see the meaning we hold for others. We have to look in all different directions to be able to see what is good about our life."
Leaving the audience with this beautiful perspective on interdependence, the Gyalwang Karmapa told those gathered that he would continue the next teaching session with a different instruction from the 'Tri Thung Gyatsa' text, on devotion.
The Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings continue until February 28. In addition to the seven languages already offered, live translation is now also available in Russian.
In the culmination of weeklong activities dedicated to the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, which was organized by Tsurphu Labrang, today Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche offered a grand long-life Tenshug ceremony to the Gyalwang Karmapa, on behalf of the Tsurphu Labrang.
Today is Chotrul Duchen or the Day of Miracles, an exceptionally auspicious day in the Tibetan calendar. The day celebrates the Buddha's great act of displaying miracles in order to subdue his opponents from rival philosophical schools. On this auspicious day the positive results of good actions are traditionally considered to be multiplied million times, making the vast offerings for the long life of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa especially powerful.
The highlight of the morning's activities was an invocation of wisdom-dakinis, which represents the five elements, through a sacred Five-Dakini dance. The dancers began by weaving around the Gyalwang Karmapa's throne, before unfurling five silk scarves stretching outwards from the throne in the colors of the five wisdoms. As the dancers paused in meditation at the ends of the scarves, their movements symbolized the sacred connections between the wisdom dakinis and the guru, whose minds are one. Having thus invoked their samaya bonds, the wisdom dakinis then danced at the feet of the Gyalwang Karmapa, their flowing movements an effortless expression of meditation in motion.
During the morning's puja Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche stood before the Gyalwang Karmapa's throne, supported by his attendants, adorned in a red hat, to personally recite the liturgies. His voice rang throughout the gompa as he offered praises to the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, reminding those present of the deep bonds shared by these two masters over many lifetimes.
As the puja progressed, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and his General Secretary Pasang Trinley approached the throne to make offerings of body, speech and mind. Ashang Drub-Ngak, representing the Tsurphu Labrang, then offered mandala to both the Gyalwang Karmapa and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Long-life Tenshug was next offered by the Kagyu Association from the Central University of Tibetan Studies, who represent a unity of all eight kagyu lineages, followed by an offering from a group of sponsors.
After lunch, the Gyalwang Karmapa returned once more to the gompa to preside over the afternoon's puja as Umze (Chantmaster), leading the entire sangha in an extended Mahakala puja. With the protector Mahakala holding special significance for the Kagyu lineage, performing an extended version of the puja on this auspicious day generates powerful blessings for the entire lineage.
As the Spring Teachings entered their fifth day, the Gyalwang Karmapa began to explore the role of devotion in our practice. Teaching from a new instruction within the 'Tri Thung Gyatsa' text, he began by explaining that devotion is critical for our dharma practice, particularly within the Kagyu tradition. And yet, it isn't all that easy to correctly develop devotion.
First we need to understand what devotion means. Drawing a clear distinction between faith and devotion, the Gyalwang Karmapa said, "When we think about faith, then faith is like a feeling we have in our minds. But devotion isn't just a feeling. It's not just an emotion. It's something that we put into practice with our body and speech."
To illustrate his point, the Gyalwang Karmapa then explained the meaning inherent within the Tibetan term for devotion, mo-gü. The first syllable of the word means to have great longing, he explained, while the second syllable means actually doing things with our body and speech. Only by bringing these two elements together can we fully understand the active nature of devotion, which is more than a mere emotion or feeling. Rather, devotion means an act that we do with all three spheres of our being – our body, speech, and mind.
The Gyalwang Karmapa then touched on the vital role played by the qualified teacher. When correct understanding from the side of the student meets with great compassion from the side of the teacher, we must open the door of our devotion in order to receive their blessings.
"The student needs to have faith and longing, and if this faith and longing come together then I don't think that sort of a student will have any difficulty finding a genuine, authentic Lama. The reason is that all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are ready at all six times of day and night to do things to benefit sentient beings. They're all ready and waiting. If you have both faith and longing then they'll all come rushing towards you to help you. You just have to open that door of faith and devotion."
During the session the Gyalwang Karmapa also returned once more to a core theme which he has emphasized throughout the Spring Teachings – how to practice the dharma with our whole being.
"When we say practice, it's not all that helpful for us just to hear the dharma, or listen to the dharma. It's not all that helpful for us to develop some kind of understanding about the dharma. What we really need to do is join the dharma with our own being, and then we need to practice that over and over again. Joining our being with the dharma, so that we can become habituated and familiarized with it – this is what is most important."
On the sixth day of his Spring Teachings the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, cut straight to the core of an issue that is vital not only for the sustainability of our contemporary world, but also within our individual lives as Buddhist practitioners. Exploring the topic from many different angles, the Gyalwang Karmapa discussed his views on whether Buddhist practitioners should eat meat or not, and if so, when and how it may be acceptable to do so.
"A few years ago at one of the Kagyu Monlams I spoke about the topic of vegetarianism, giving up eating meat. You could say it was an announcement, but it was really like making a suggestion. Since then many years have passed, and over the years I've heard people say various things. Some people have even said, 'Oh, Ogyen Trinley Dorje says that if you don't give up eating meat then you're not a Kagyupa.' Now, it actually wasn't me who said that. It was the 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje who said that. So it wasn't my idea, and it's not like I said you better give up meat or else you're not a Kagyupa."
In fact, there are different ways we can interpret the 8th Karmapa's advice, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa continued. If we take a looser interpretation of Mikyo Dorje's words, then by eating meat you can say that you're not a truly pure Kagyu practitioner. "There are many great Kagyu masters who have eaten meat, so it is very difficult to merely say that eating meat means that you have faults. But eating meat is something that all of us who practice the dharma need to think about very carefully."
The Gyalwang Karmapa, himself a pure vegetarian, then turned to his own life as an example. "When I spoke about this, I was primarily thinking about the way I lead my own life. I can't really do anything about how other people lead their lives, but in terms of thinking about myself there are some reasons for this." He then explained two key reasons that he personally does not eat meat. The first reason is the intense suffering that the animals who are killed go through. Every single day millions of animals are killed to feed us, and many are subjected to terrible conditions to provide us with food. Just a few days previously the Gyalwang Karmapa had shared a story of how, as a child in Tibet, when animals were killed for his family's food he felt unbearable, pure compassion for them.
The second reason he doesn't eat meat, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, is because of his Mahayana training in seeing all sentient beings as his mothers. "We say I am going to do everything I can to free sentient beings from suffering. We say I am going to do this. We make the commitment. We take the vow. Once we have taken this vow, if then, without thinking anything about it, we just go ahead and eat meat, then that is not okay. It is something that we need to think about very carefully."
The Gyalwang Karmapa then acknowledged that there are some circumstances in which eating meat is allowed, or even necessary. He explained that within the Buddhist Vinaya, or rules for monks and nuns, eating meat is allowed mainly when one is ill, but only if three conditions are met: we must not have seen, heard, or thought that the animal was killed particularly for us to eat it. Meat is allowed when a person is sick, the Gyalwang Karmapa clarified, or for those people who need more nourishment and have great difficulty nourishing themselves without it.
"But when you eat meat in these situations you should not just eat it in an ordinary sort of way," he continued. "You first need to meditate on compassion for one session—compassion for all sentient beings in general, but especially for this particular animal whose flesh is in front of you. Then you should recite the mantras of the Buddha's name, as well as mantras that can help purify misdeeds. Only then should you start eating the meat."
Yet his guidance did not stop there. Returning to the Mahayana training of seeing all sentient beings as mothers, the Gyalwang Karmapa explained further. "When you start eating the meat you have to think about it in a particular way. You should think of it as being the meat of your mother or your father or your child. You should think of eating it in that way, and so it's when you think of it as being your mother's or your child's meat, then that is when you can eat it."
We must also have a pure motivation when we eat the meat, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued. "We should not eat the meat in order to enjoy it, because it is delicious. We should not eat it because we want to enjoy the great flavor and savor what we are eating. Instead we should eat the meat only in order to keep ourselves alive."
To avoid any misunderstanding, the Gyalwang Karmapa repeated the need for each individual to reflect deeply on the issue: "Now, I did not say that we need to immediately give up eating meat. I understand that it's difficult to give up eating meat. But I did say that we need to think about it carefully. When we eat meat, if we are someone who has entered the path of the Mahayana, someone who has begun to think of all sentient beings as their father, their mother, or their child, in terms of someone who practices in this way it's really something that we need to consider very carefully."