Strengthening Ties to Tibetan Youth, Karmapa Presides over School Event

(18 October, 2014 – Gopalpur) His Holiness the Karmapa spent the day as chief guest of the Tibetan SOS Children’s Village in Gopalpur, northern India, during its 16th Annual Sport’s Day. Along with officially inaugurating the daylong event, the Gyalwang Karmapa was requested by the organizers to deliver an address to the students as part of the event’s opening ceremony.
His Holiness the Karmapa recalled that he had already visited the Gopalpur TCV school several times in the past, and expressed his contentment at the current opportunity to continue cultivating his connection to the school. He described the athletic day as a joyful event and added, “sports may appear to be a matter of idle play, but actually it can have significance on many levels.” The inclusion of athletics in the educational curriculum of TCV schools offers an opportunity for students to enhance their physical fitness while engaging in play. This helps ensure that the school experience is enjoyable for students, he observed. Not only within a school or among schools, but “even among nations,” he said, “sporting events serve as a means to come together and enhance relationships.” In this way, the Karmapa noted, sports can even contribute in some measure to world peace.
Wryly noting that lecturing them when they were waiting to engage in playful games was not the most opportune moment for him to speak at any length, the Gyalwang Karmapa observed that His Holiness the Dalai Lama himself had previously visited the school and given many encouraging words of advice, which the Karmapa urged them to keep alive in their minds and put into practice in their daily lives. He encouraged them to make the most of their time at school, and to intensify their courage and determination to achieve their aims in life.
The remainder of the day was filled with the performance of school songs and good-natured exertion in each of the various sports. After a break for lunch, the games continued through the afternoon until the sun began dropping towards the horizon and the time had come for the awarding of trophies to the members of the winning teams. Before he departed for the drive back to Gyuto, His Holiness the Karmapa himself handed the trophies to the tired but exhilarated boys and girls, and the day was declared a success all round.



A Long-Life Prayer (Shapten) for Akong Rinpoché by HH the 16th Karmapa(1977)

Spreading everywhere the sublime activity of the lineage that transmits realisation of absolute truth, and wearing the armour of pure intention rooted in bodhicitta, you care for beings and look after them. You clearly manifest the teachings of the realisation tradition, fully matured within you. May the truth of your aspirations endure forever.

Holding and upholding the teaching of the practice lineage of the four transmissions and following the profound example of the extraordinary lives of the great masters of our tradition, you nurture beings. Through the power of the truth of your former good deeds, aspirations and prayers, may forever shine this sun whose lights illuminate the teachings of the Victorious One.

Working with inexhaustible clarity of intelligence in an infinity of places, you manifest all sorts of extraordinary skills and qualities in order to conquer the thick darkness of ignorance which obscures the essential nature of beings. We pray that this buddha-emanation which gives us certainty of our own buddha-nature may live long among us. 

~Translated by Khenpo Tsultrim

This prayer was slightly modified in 2013 by the Tai Situpa to become a “swift return” prayer for his next incarnation to appear soon. 


Women’s Empowerment NGO Sends Delegation to Meet Karmapa

(15 October, 2014 – Dharamsala)
An international delegation of women’s rights activists met today with His Holiness the Karmapa as part of their global campaign for women’s empowerment. The group came seeking spiritual advice to sustain them in their work as gender activists,and requested the Gyalwang Karmapa’s blessing for their activities on behalf of women. The non-profit organization, We for WE, is active in 16 countries. Its delegation visiting the Karmapa included women’s rights advisers, ambassadors and activists from Canada, Ecuador, Malta, India, Rumania, Serbia and Venezuela.
The NGO’s founder and president, Sarbjit Singh, asked His Holiness to describe his own work, and to give a message to all those committed to working for women’s empowerment. In response, the Karmapa said: “In my view, women’s empowerment, or women’s rights, are human rights. Each human being has the basic wish to be happy and to avoid suffering, and has the right to act to pursue this wish. This is not just a right, but is something that each of us should have and deserves to have. Therefore I do not think of working for women’s rights as a fight for power, but as a question of making available to women something that all human beings should have.
“When I am working for women, I have in mind that every being with the capacity to experience pain or happiness deserves to have the same opportunities to seek happiness and avoid suffering. In my case, I have put special efforts into working for women who have given up lay life and become nuns, and particularly toward making a complete education available for them. I have been trying to create full opportunities for them. But in the future, I hope to be able to do something to benefit not just nuns and not just Tibetans and Himalayans, but all women. Therefore I fully support you and all those who are working for women’s empowerment. I hope you will take heart at the progress that has been made already, and keep going. I am sure this work can have great results.”
The Ecuadorian member of the delegation spoke of the heartache of listening to the pains and problems faced by those she is seeking to benefit, and asked His Holiness for advice. “What does happen sometimes when we have a strong wish to help others,” His Holiness told her, “is that as they tell us of their suffering, we start to feel that we do not have the capacity to help them. It is as if we can feel our battery running out. In these cases, the main thing is to shore up our own inner capacity. We need to strengthen our own mind. First we strengthen and guard our hope, our courage, our loving compassion and our happiness. Then we can give to others. This mental strength we have given ourselves becomes the resource we draw on in working for others.”
The Serbian delegate asked His Holiness’ advice on working in contexts where there is violence, prompting a short teaching on the nature of violence. “Sometimes we treat violence as if it were something physical,” the Karmapa observed, connecting his comments to the state of affairs in Iraq today. “But actually violence comes from inside, from a state of mind and heart that is not peaceful. If we want to control or address violence, we need to apply measures that are not just physical. Hatred and jealousy are the most common causes of violence, and they are both mental. Therefore any solution to reduce or end violence must also address these causes.”
In response to a question about not being affected personally by violent surroundings, the Gyalwang Karmapa noted that our own fear can harm us and limit our ability to respond wisely and make positive contributions to a situation. “We need to cultivate strong positive qualities within us so that we do not have those fears,” he said, speaking in English. “We need more love. We need more compassion. The more of these positive feelings you have, the better you will be able to face difficult situations.”
A woman from Rumania asked whether we can really create our own future or whether our life is determined by circumstances. “Of course, we can create our own future,” he replied. “But our lives are interconnected. They are interdependent, and so there are some environmental and cultural conditions that affect us. Those conditions might already be set, but this does not mean you cannot create a new future for yourself. But first you need to recognize the effect of those conditions, and then you create your future, taking those conditions into account.”
A Venezuelan delegate asked His Holiness what he considered to be his life’s purpose. He responded by explaining how he was given the name Karmapa at the age of seven, and went on to add that he does not feel that his life has any special purpose unique to him. Rather, he continued, we all share similar responsibilities for others, and therefore our lives all have a similar purpose. “I would be content if my existence gives hope and encouragement to others,” he said.
One of the questions the group posed to the Gyalwang Karmapa was whether he believed it was truly possible to empower women and bring about gender parity. “I definitely think it is possible,” the Karmapa replied. “If you compare the situation today with some decades or centuries back, we can see that great progress has been made. But it is not enough. There is a great deal of work still to be done. However, we can take heart by looking at how things do change. I strongly believe, and also have a feeling, that it will happen.”
Later this week, the senior nuns of the Tilokpur Karma Kagyu nunnery will be undergoing a three-day workshop in leadership, team-building and communication skills arranged for them by Kunzang Kyong Trust on the advice of His Holiness the Karmapa. The training will be provided by Jagori, a highly-respected local organization committed to women’s empowerment, and forms part of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s broader initiative to provide the training, resources and educational opportunities needed for the nuns to flourish individually and as a sangha.


Karmapa Speaks to University Students On Environment, Art, Conflict Resolution

(Dharamsala, 13 October 2014) – The Gyalwang Karmapa today received a group of 30 North American university students, for a lively question-and-answer session. The students’ questions covered far-ranging terrain, exploring topics such as environmental protection, arts and music as part of spiritual practice, conflict resolution, animal rights and his work to bring about full ordination for nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The students are visiting India and Nepal as part of the semester-long SIT Study Abroad program, and will spend just over a week in Dharamsala.
In response to their first question, regarding his experience as a leader on environmental issues, His Holiness the Karmapa described his childhood as a nomad in a remote corner of Eastern Tibet. Speaking entirely in English throughout the session, he told them of the natural beauty of his surroundings and the way he and his family lived in close dependence on nature, and identified this period of his life as an important source of inspiration for his environmental activism. “When I talk about protecting the natural environment, it is not a matter of knowledge or information. It is something that I speak of from the bottom of my heart or mind. I have some feeling. There are emotions when I ask people to protect the environment and describe how necessary it is for all beings.”
He drew attention to the Tibetan and Himalayan environment as a matter of global and regional concern. “The Tibetan plateau is often called the Third Pole, and the water source of Asia,” he said. “If you want to protect the Tibetan environment, you need to protect the Tibetan way of life and Tibetan culture, because the Tibetan culture and way of life are very friendly with the natural environment.”
The students inquired as to whether any progress has been made towards full ordination for nuns in Tibetan Buddhism, noting that this was an issue that His Holiness had been supporting in words as well as deeds. Echoing comments made in the press conference held upon arriving in Europe in June, the Gyalwang Karmapa said that he is optimistic that within a few years, “it will happen.” He said that although some nuns already recognize the value of holding the bhikshuni vows, an important step is for Tibetan nuns more widely to appreciate the importance of receiving full ordination, so that when the opportunity does arise, they should not have any sense of being pressured, but rather themselves eagerly seek to take the opportunity.
Replying to a question about conflict resolution, the Gyalwang Karmapa stated that, “the 21st century should be an era for sharing. Previously we divided ourselves and saw ourselves as separate nations, but now we need to understand how close we truly are to one another. We need more awareness of the interdependence of countries as well as individuals.”
The students then asked His Holiness about his activities as an artist. “People think I am an artist, but I do not think of myself as an artist,” he said. “But I am interested in art.” He described his painting as part of a spiritual practice, in which the mind calms down, becomes free of conceptual thought, and comes to rest in single-pointed focus on the action of painting itself.
He went on to discuss music, saying, “Music is a kind of communication – a universal communication. We have many different languages in this world, but music is a language that everybody can understand. To bring harmony to the world, I think music also plays a very important role in bringing people together, to understand that we are actually the same.”


MILAREPA - GREAT YOGI AND POET - An introduction to the Milarepa’s Songs of Awakening By H.H the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa

Sahitya Akademi and International Buddhist Confederation

Cordially invite you to the Talk on 


An introduction to the Milarepa’s Songs of Awakening 

By H.H the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa

Monday 27, Octuber, 2014
Timing 10 am – 6 pm 

An invitation to experience the journey to the extraordinary life of Jetsun Milarepa; a life of sincere effort, tireless dedication, and amazing austerity culminating in supremely enlightened wisdom and all-embracing compassion through the most celebrated elements of Milarepa’ songs as spontaneous expression of meditative experience and realization that served as one of Milarepa's principal methods of instructions.

This is the second in the series of Milarepa: Great Yogi and Mystic of talks by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje on the essence of teachings of Jetsun Milarepa’s : songs of awakening .

Project coordinator: Chokyi Palmo


Gyalwang Karmapa Grants Teachings, Initiation At Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s Nunnery

1 October, 2104 – Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery

On the second day of his visit to Dongyu Gatsal Ling—the nunnery founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo—His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, conferred Mahamudra teachings and granted White Tara empowerment. The entire local Drukpa Kagyu community turned out to receive the Gyalwang Karmapa and to take teachings and empowerment from him. The main shrine room was packed as the nunnery’s 92 nuns were joined by the monks of nearby Khampagar Tashi Jong, filling all the available space in the ample hall. Outdoors, the lay community watched the proceedings on a huge screen in the tented courtyard. Yet the offsite audience far exceeded the number of those present, as over 20,000 people connected to the event’s live webcast.
His Holiness opened the morning session by expressing his delight at the level of education and general welfare that the nunnery was providing to its nuns. He especially praised their monastic discipline, and expressed his appreciation to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo for all she had done to make it possible. The nunnery had requested the Gyalwang Karmapa to confer the oral transmission and commentary on the Mahamudra Aspiration Prayer by the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. Rather than limit his presentation to this seminal text from his own Karma Kagyu lineage, the Karmapa gave an extensive teaching focused more broadly on Mahamudra, as the core practice common to Drukpa Kagyu, Karma Kagyu and all other Kagyu lineages.
The Gyalwang Karmapa’s discourse on Mahamudra ranged from historical contextualization to pith practice instructions to a discussion of its scriptural sources. Where different Kagyu lineages had differing interpretations, the Gyalwang Karmapa was careful to note what position on those issues had been taken by the luminaries of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. The philosophical presentation was interspersed with pith advice and anecdotes from the lives of various masters connected to the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, including Gyalwa Götsangpa and Gyalwa Yang-gönpa.
His Holiness the Karmapa related a pith instruction that Lord Gampopa had given to Phagmodrupa, one of his three main disciples and a forefather within the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. Phagmodrupa had studied widely under Kadam masters, and had also received the Lamdre teachings from Jetsun Sakyapa. All the while, he was intent on finding a satisfactory answer to the question of what traps us in samsara. As he traveled around Tibet meeting the great masters of the day, everywhere he posed the question to them. He generally received the standard explanation that it is ignorance that binds us to samsara—an answer that is correct in itself, but too easily left at an intellectual level. However, it was Lord Gampopa who prompted a deep transformation within Phagmodrupa’s mind by replying that it is the consciousness that is present in this very moment—or our present awareness—that binds us to samsara. Phagmodrupa was deeply struck by the teaching that this is what binds us to samsara, but that this is also the basis for our liberation from cyclic existence.
Before turning to the oral transmission of the Mahamudra text by the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, the 17th Karmapa cited Lord Gampopa’s observation that his ability to be of such vast benefit was thanks to the Kadampa teachings. Lord Gampopa himself had immersed himself deeply in the Kadampa teachings before receiving the Mahamudra and Six Yogas of Naropa from Milarepa, two streams of teachings that flow through the Kagyu lineages that run through him. Naropa’s advice is very profound, Gampopa had said. But without the teachings of the Jowo Kadampa that can be applied to all levels of beings, the teachings of Naropa would be of less benefit.
“If you immerse your mind in the awareness of death and impermanence and the law of cause of effect first, for sure your mind will improve,” the Gyalwang Karmapa said, echoing the advice of Lord Gampopa. “But if you engage in a practice like Mahamudra without a prior foundation of contemplation on death and impermanence and karma, it is not at all certain whether you will get worse or better by practicing Mahamudra.”
“Tame your mind well,” the Karmapa urged the audience. “Then practice Mahamudra.”
Following the teachings, the Gyalwang Karmapa granted the oral transmission of the Mahamudra text composed by his predecessor the 3rd Karmapa. The entire assembly then took a break for lunch, and reconvened in the assembly hall and courtyard for an afternoon session at 2pm.
As he began the empowerment during the afternoon session, His Holiness noted that the original plan had called for him to grant a 21-Tara empowerment. However, he said he had decided instead to give a White Tara initiation in honor of the complete retreat he had done on this deity while still in Tibet. This decision had been inspired, he said, by the presence of the female deities depicted throughout the assembly hall. During the empowerment, His Eminence the 8th Dorzong Rinpoche, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the 8th Drugu Chogyal Rinpoche and Nupgon Chogyal Rinpoche each approached the throne to receive the vase empowerment directly from the Gyalwang Karmapa.
After the White Tara empowerment was complete, the Gyalwang Karmapa took the remainder of the session to address the issue of bhikshuni ordination. He spoke at length on the importance of establishing a bhikshuni sangha within Tibetan Buddhism. He said that some people have the misunderstanding that making full ordination available to women is part of an effort to modernize. “Some people have the wrong assumption that because of the talk of gender equality, women are seeking to become more visible and demanding more respect,” he said. “Actually, I think the respect for women was there in the beginning.” He went on to make a strong case in favor of reinstating the opportunity for women to receive the bhikshuni ordination that the Buddha had originally granted them.
As he spoke, His Holiness the Karmapa used the Tibetan term “tsunma” (meaning “venerable”) to refer to nuns. He expressed his preference for “tsunma” as opposed to “ani” (meaning “auntie”) the colloquial term commonly used for nuns in Tibetan, saying it was not the best choice and commented that he himself did not know where the use of the term “ani” had originated. He reminisced that in the area of Kham where he was born, people used the term “jomo” to refer to nuns. Jomo was a high term of respect, reserved in ancient times for queens.
Continuing his explanation of the need for a bhikshuni sangha, the Karmapa explained that the ideal basis for practicing the Dharma is provided by the precious human rebirth, meaning a human body that is endowed with ten conducive conditions and free from eight adverse conditions. As is made clear in the sutras and shastra commentarial treatises, the Karmapa stated, this entails being born in a land where the Buddhadharma is fully available, which requires the presence of the four-fold circle of disciples—bhikshu sangha, bhikshuni sangha, upasakas (male lay followers) and upasikas (female lay followers). His Holiness joked that whereas democracy is built around the three pillars of executive, judicial and legislative branches, the Buddhadharma requires four cardinal pillars to be able to stand firm. In Tibetan Buddhism, because of the absence of one pillar, he said, the building is in a more shaky state.
He pointed out that women comprise more than half the world’s population, and among those practicing the Dharma the proportion is even higher. Although both women and men are needed as upholders of the teachings, only those with a male body currently have access to all the conditions needed to fully uphold the teachings. This needs to change so that women too have the full opportunity to become complete holders of the teachings.
In conclusion, he expressed his aspiration that the nunnery Dongyu Gatsal Ling become a place that produces important upholders of the Buddhadharma, and serve as a place where the Dharma is maintained fully.
As the Karmapa’s words of encouragement resounded in the hearts of all those present in the nunnery, they were echoed in the dozens of countries around the world where people connected to the live transmission. Along with the many people watching across Asia, students tuned in everywhere from Estonia to Zimbabwe and from Argentina to Morocco. Among the countries with a growing number of viewers were 1,000 connected from Germany, which His Holiness had recently visited on his first European tour earlier this year, closely followed by Mexico with over 800 computers connected.


21 Praises to Tara - Chanted by the 17th Karmapa