Newsletter No3 - Berlin News! Spread the word!

Dear friends, sponsors and interested parties

News from Berlin!

Event location in Berlin

The event location in Berlin is the Estrel Hotel!

People who come for H.H. Karmapa’s teachings to Berlin will get a special prize for accommodation in this hotel . To make use of this offer please request the code via this email hotel-karmapa-berlin@bodhicharya.de.

Adress of event venue:

Estrel Berlin Hotel
Sonnenallee 225
12057 Berlin / Germany

Travel information you can find here: www.estrel.com/de/lage-anfahrt.html

Informations-Office Bodhicharya / Berlin

For information and answers concerning the events in Berlin, you can contact us:

By Email

By phone

Our office hours are set soon. For urgent questions, please feel free to call us:

Landline:  030 21239755
Mobile: 017690927009        
Mobile: 017690988482      

Translation in Berlin

There will be translation into the following languages
  • English
  • Chinese (by Ven. Khenpo Tengye)
  • Vietnamese (by Ven. Ehrw. Thich Hanh Tan)
If other languages will be offered for translation, we will update the info on our website.

Monks and Nuns in Berlin

Accommodation for ordained

If you are a monk or nun in search for free accommodation, please write to: ordained-karmapa-berlin-2014@bodhicharya.de

Provide accommodation for ordained

If you want to provide an accommodation for ordained monks and nuns from 4th till 9th of April, please write to: ordained-karmapa-berlin-2014@bodhicharya.de

We will contact you as soon as possible. Thank you!


 Just a little more patience  The Final preparations are happening right now! Thank you for your patience!

 Info follow soon via this newsletter!  


Newsletter No2 - Online Donation now possible!

Dear friends, sponsors and interested parties

This is the second edition of our official newsletter for Karmapa 2014 in Europe. We have some news:

Content of this newsletter:

Online Donations are now possible on our website

Donate online now - for the visit of H.H. Karmapa in Europe 2014

>> Online Donations via PayPal
Comfortably from your computer or smart phone.


The costs for this upcoming event cannot be covered by ticket sales alone. Organizing such a big event is a big challenge. The organizers are not working profit-oriented, but rather to cover the costs. Therefore we are dependent on donations.

Your donations help...

  • to keep the tickets at a moderate price level
  • to cover the costs for travel, transport, accommodation and board of H.H. Karmapa and his attendants.
  • to cover the costs for security, ticketing, technology and administration of the event.
In this way you help H.H. Karmapa and support his activities, teachings and talks in Europe. Please donate today for this historic first visit of H.H. Karmapa in Europe.

Any amount is gratefully received.


Torma: The Ancient Art of Tibetan Butter Sculpture

Executive Producer and Director: 
The 17TH Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje


"TORMA" written in calligraphy by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa


Among Tibet exiles, a new "living Buddha" emerges(Reuters)

DHARAMSALA, India Mon Mar 2, 2009 10:38am EST

Karmapa Lama, the third highest ranking Lama, speaks during an interview with Reuters in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala March 2, 2009. The Karmapa is a "living Buddha" with an iPod, a 23-year-old possible successor to the Dalai Lama who may bridge the gap between Tibet's elder leaders and both an alienated Tibetan youth and a suspicious China.     REUTERS/Abhishek Madhukar

(Reuters) - He is a "living Buddha" with an iPod, the 23-year-old possible successor to the Dalai Lama who may bridge the gap between Tibet's elder leaders and both an alienated Tibetan youth and a suspicious China.
For the Karmapa Lama, who fled Tibet nine years ago to Indiaand is now the third highest ranking Lama, it is time for Tibetans to modernize to survive.
"Tibet ... has developed over many generations its own way of thinking, a way of living which is pretty much outdated," the Karmapa told Reuters in a rare interview at his home in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, the base of Tibetan exiles.
"There is a gap between the old Tibetan mentality and the youth of today ... that is a huge problem," he said through a translator. "I definitely feel I can be the bridge between the two."
This year, as the 73-year-old Dalai Lama marks the 50th anniversary of his flight from Chinese rule into exile, there is speculation he could pave the way for a successor.
It is the Karmapa, mixing youth, intellect and charisma, who is most talked about. Despite his classical Tibetan education, he stands out from his elders. He says he has an iPod, a play station and he enjoys "Indiana Jones" movies.
The Karmapa is also recognized by both Tibetans and Beijing, in contrast to the Dalai Lama who China criticizes as fomenting violent revolt.
"He's worked with the Chinese. The Chinese are not foreign to him," said Jeremy Russell, the Karmapa's English-language teacher. "He's not burning with resentment. He sees them as part of the landscape."
Monks searching for signs of a Lama rebirth chose this son of nomads as the 17th reincarnation of the Kagyu sect when he was seven. Many Tibetans see him as a living deity who passes on wisdom and teachings through generations.
His daring escape from a Tibetan monastery to cross the Himalayas by foot and horseback to India has also earned him the respect of exiles, including some radicals frustrated at the Dalai Lama's failure to win Tibetan autonomy.
"(He) chose to give up the privileges he would have enjoyed under the Chinese. His flight from Tibet made him a hero to the Tibetans and is seen as a deliberate act of opposition to the Chinese," said Tsering Shakya, a leading Tibetan scholar.
His followers say he is forbidden from talking about politics by the Indian government. But the Karmapa sees a growing role as an advocate for Tibetan rights.
"We are under a huge power, under the suppression of a huge power and the suppression is so extreme that sometimes we have no right, liberty to breathe in and out," the Karmapa said, referring to China.
During the interview, he occasionally rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders when the translator tried to direct talk away from politics, a sign perhaps of a young rebel under his maroon-colored robes.
Before he dies, the Dalai Lama traditionally will inform monks of his reincarnation and they will seek the child Lama. But Tibetans fear China will elbow in their own successor, as they did in the 1990s with the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking Lama.
The Dalai Lama has suggested the idea of a regent, a spiritual leader who could take his place while a new Lama was groomed.
But the Karmapa -- again in a hint of rebelliousness -- said he might not want the job.
"Tibetan society today is a democracy, so each individual has rights and reasons to say what he feels and thinks. It is not compulsory for someone to follow what someone has said."
The Karmapa's upbringing -- he speaks fluent Chinese and writes Chinese calligraphy -- may allow him to mend bridges with Beijing.
"These learnings can help in creating a cordial understanding, relationship and providing a sort of situation for peaceful coexistence," said the Karmapa.
(Additional reporting by Bappa Majumdar in New Delhi; Editing by Dean Yates)



Photo by HH the 17th Karmapa

In order to adequately care for the complex needs we humans have, ultimately what is needed is to be able to see into their inner dispositions and aptitudes. For this, nothing short of omniscience is required.

However, His Holiness cautioned that we ought not to think that omniscience implies achieving a lofty birds-eye view of the world, or the ability to determine the exact number of insects on the planet at any given moment. Rather, omniscience is directly related to benefiting others.

As such, the Gyalwang Karmapa suggested that we can aspire to attain a sort of omniscience within this life—an omniscience in which we come to know all the necessary topics, or know all that is directly needed to serve the purposes at hand.

(Photo by HH the 17th Karmapa)

The Practice of a Bodhisattva

Shambhala Sun | January 2010

The bodhisattva’s commitment to the benefit of others manifests in the practice of the six perfections. But as the 17th Karmapa explains, even the ultimate virtues have a dark side we must be wary of.

The classic text The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva belongs to the Mahayana (the Great Vehicle) tradition of Buddhism and is based on the Madhyamaka (the Middle Way) school of philosophy, which advocates the use of analysis to attain clear understanding and omniscient wisdom. It encourages the practice of the sixparamitas, or perfections: generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, meditative concentration, and deeper knowing or superior intelligence. But when misunderstood, these perfections can have a darker side, which is metaphorically called a “demon.”


If those aspiring to enlightenment give even their body away,
What need is there to mention outer objects?
Therefore, without hope of return or a good result,
To be generous is the practice of a bodhisattva.

The first of the six perfections is generosity. Many religions and spiritual paths agree on the importance of giving, because we can all see that this benefits others directly. For Buddhism, in particular, being generous is important because it directly counteracts our attachments.

When we help others, we should do so with an intelligence that is able to analyze the situation. True generosity requires some wisdom—a clear understanding of ourselves who are giving, what we are giving, and to whom we are giving. If we give using our intelligence, then generosity benefits both ourselves and others. We should not give just for the sake of giving or from an old habit. Further, in the process of giving, we should not become distracted, for losing our focus diminishes the scope and effect of our activity. When we are generous and wise, our giving benefits others and also helps us to deepen our practice as we move along the path.


If lacking discipline, we can't even help ourselves,
Wishing to benefit others is just a joke.
Therefore, to maintain a discipline
Free of desire for samsara is the practice of a bodhisattva.

The downside of the perfection of discipline is called "the demon of austerity"—taking on discipline as a hardship and making it into a struggle. Done right, discipline is taken on joyfully and with a clear understanding of why engaging in it is good. For example, many people nowadays have given up eating meat. Why would we do that? We should not become vegetarian just because someone says we should, or because the Buddha taught that we should not eat meat, or because it is the custom where we live, or because giving up meat would give us a good reputation. If we give up eating meat for these reasons, it might be better not to do it at all, because our decision is not sincerely motivated.

In the beginning, we have a certain feeling about not eating meat. Then we can ask ourselves questions, such as what are the real benefits? After careful consideration, we become certain that this is the right thing to do. Our answer has to come from within, inspired by real conviction, so that when we do give up eating meat, it does not become a hardship or a struggle but something we do with joy and intelligence. It is the same with any discipline in spiritual practice. Whatever we give up or whatever we do, we should first feel a connection to the practice and then be very clear why we are doing this and not something else. When we act this way, our discipline becomes very inspiring.


For bodhisattvas aspiring to a wealth of virtue,
Anything that harms is a treasury of jewels.
Therefore, never turning aggressive or angry,
To be patient is the practice of a bodhisattva.

The third perfection is patience, which also has an obstacle, called "the demon of too much struggling" or "too much forbearance." Patience, like generosity and discipline, should not be too extreme, but should arise freely through our understanding. When we have love and compassion, we naturally understand why the afflictions occur and do not struggle to be patient.

For example, when sick, some people keep on struggling with the illness and refuse to take any treatment. That is excessive forbearance. In general, we should not put up with everything or do everything that anyone asks us to do. Enduring too much has the drawback of giving others the opportunity to do negative things. We could also be too patient with our own afflictions. Excessive forbearance is also a problem because we must clearly know the reasons for what we are doing and not just blindly continue without reflection, especially if it concerns something we find objectionable. Otherwise, if without reason a person told us to eat something obnoxious, we would do it without thinking. It might not be easy for us, but we can immediately say, "I will not do that." This is not a problem but the proper way of practicing patience. It must be a response that comes from deep within.


If Hearers and Solitary Realizers for their benefit alone
Practice diligence as if their heads were on fire,
To develop diligence, the wellspring of all qualities
That benefit every being, is the practice of a bodhisattva.

The demon of diligence is struggling or pushing too hard. This is a problem, for true diligence means taking joy in doing positive things. Whatever practices we do should be done in a spontaneous and natural way. Essentially, meditation practice is about entering into the nature of suchness. It is not about beating ourselves up and forcing ourselves to do something. There is no need to strain and think, "I don't want to do this, but I have to." It should be a natural reaction, as if a fire were burning on our head. (This example in the verse refers to practitioners from the Foundational Vehicle, who are thought to have the more limited aim of freeing only themselves from samsara.) If our hair catches fire, we do not say, "I should probably get rid of this fire, but I don't want to." Nor do we turn it over in our minds, consult our teachers, conduct research, or send off a stream of letters. Without thinking, we immediately jump up and extinguish the fire effortlessly. True diligence happens with a lively interest and joyful spontaneity. We do something because we see clearly that it is important and essential.

A while ago, the BBC broadcast a program about birth, old age, sickness, and death. Watching it, I saw many people who were suffering and thought how much they could be helped by dharma if they really understood it. When I see millions of people suffering, I feel completely energized to do something about it. It is not a struggle or a matter of coercing myself to do something I don't want to. Diligence is really about our motivation: we feel totally absorbed and joyful in wanting to do something.

Meditative Concentration

Knowing that deep insight fully endowed with calm abiding
Completely conquers all afflictions,
To cultivate a concentration that transcends
The four formless states is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Meditation, the fifth perfection, has a demon called "attachment to experience." It is not easy to fully understand meditative experience. The verse refers to formless states of meditation, which are categorized as follows: limitless space, limitless consciousness, nothing whatsoever, and neither existence nor nonexistence. Much has been written about these, but they lie outside the main point here. What we need to know is that when we meditate, all sorts of experiences will come, both good and not so good. These experiences, however, are not important. Here, the key is the extent to which our meditation serves as an antidote to our afflictions. How many obscurations and how many afflictions have been subdued or cleared away? This is the true test of meditation, not what wonderful or special experiences we might have. In fact, if we become attached to these experiences, that is a problem.


Without wisdom the five perfections
Cannot bring forth full awakening.
To cultivate wisdom endowed with skillful means
And free of concepts in the three domains is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Wisdom is the sixth perfection and its demon is the obstacle called "the demon of increasing poison." This obstacle is very serious, even monstrous, like an immense beast with nine heads. It comes up after studying, reflecting, and analyzing, when we reach a certain conceptual understanding and our afflictions are not too active. We find something our conceptualizing mind can seize upon and take pride in. One way our mind does this is through "concepts in the three domains," which relate to the three aspects of any activity: a subject, an object, and an action. When our mind conceptualizes like this in a very solid and concrete manner, our view becomes extreme. We are convinced that we have found the "right" way and we are proud of it.

This process resembles how the rigid views of people caught in the mundane world are developed. Nowadays, these stubborn positions are a great problem. And they also contradict progress as it is understood in the dharma: As we move along the path, inferior views are gradually surpassed by superior ones, until finally there is no view at all, nothing to be seized upon. Therefore, we should not go to an extreme and cling to one position as the truth. Our view of how things are is not something to grasp with a tight fist.

We might think, "I'm a Buddhist, and my Buddhism is the best. I can look down on others." When our intelligence takes this form, instead of reducing aversion and attachment, it increases them. We should not relate to others in such a way that we put them down and raise ourselves up; rather, we focus on developing our wisdom through listening, reflecting, and meditating. If it causes our afflictions to increase, wisdom turns into a demon. When our view or practice harms others, they run contrary to Buddhist teachings, for their very basis is to cherish all living beings in our heart. Developing wisdom through listening, reflecting, and meditating is central to Buddhism, but more important are living beings.

From Traveling the Path of Compassion: A Commentary on the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva by His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa (KTD, 2009), translated by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Michele Martin. Reprinted with permission from Karma Triyana Dharmachakra and Michele Martin.


It Starts from Zero

Shambhala Sun | May 2013

Emptiness and interdependence—they’re more than concepts; they’re key to realizing real-world benefits in our lives. HIS HOLINESS THE KARMAPA helps us put our wisdom into practice.

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.

Interdependence 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 every- thing 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 realize 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 comfort- ably 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.

From The Heart is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out, by the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, © 2013 by Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc.
In 1999, at the age of fourteen, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, made a dramatic escape from Chinese-controlled Tibet. As leader of the Kagyu school of Vajrayana Buddhism, he is unafraid to talk about the environment, vegetarianism, and the role of women—and how Buddhist institutions can align themselves more with the modern world on these issues. Since his escape, the Karmapa has made two trips to the West. Gyuto Tantric University in Dharamsala, India, is his home base.