Q&A Session on the Environment, Wisdom and Finding a Teacher (Podcast Episode #006)

Today we are happy to bring you the sixth episode in the new Podcast series containing selected talks and teachings by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa.
This episode is from the Karmapa’s recent visit to the Root Institute in Bodhgaya. His Holiness has been visiting the center for years to give short teachings, but on this occasion decided to hold a question and answer session instead.
Students asked His Holiness questions about practice, definitions of wisdom, and working with a teacher. It was a lovely event where the Karmapa shared some very practical advice with the students present.
You can get the podcast here on iTunes or simply download the episode right here. Please make sure you subscribe in iTunes to be notified of new episodes.


A Memorandum Submitted to the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh Requested the Return of Karmapa to Sikkim


The Hon'ble MLAs Shri Prem Singh Tamang , Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha and Ven. Sonam Lama has placed a memorandum to Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh seeking justice to the Buddhism followers of Sikkim.
Please note - Sangha MLA Ven. Sonam Lama has raised this issue several times in SLA to bring His Holiness to his devine seat at Rumtek Monastry at East Sikkim.
We are proud to be his followers who doesn't care any barriers to give justice to religious sentiments of Sikkim.



Morgan Freeman's interview with the Karmapa in The Story Of God

Morgan Freeman's interview with the Karmapa in The Story Of God
大寶法王噶瑪巴與摩根·弗里曼在《摩根.費里曼之神的萬物論》中的訪談 (內容由噶舉祈願辦事處擇錄)

Morgan Freeman (摩根): You look kinda young for this station. 身居這樣的地位,您看上去太年輕了。

H.H. Karmapa (法王): yes. 是的。

MorganFreeman (摩根): So what is it like? I mean is it alright? 怎麼樣?還可以嗎?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): One way it's meaningful, one way it's a little bit heavy. People have a lot of expectations. 很有意義,同時也有些沈重。人們總是有很多期望。

Morgan Freeman (narration): The expectation is heavy for a thirty-year old man, the Karmapa must teach how to find enlightenment whilst still working to find it for himself. 

Morgan Freeman (摩根):Enlightenment,how does one even begin to form that trial to attain it? 那麼如何開始證悟之路呢?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): wow 哇

Morgan Freeman (摩根): Big question isn't it? 有點大的題目是嗎?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): The first part is maybe you need to recognise yourself, like where are you from and why am I here? 首先你或許應該先認識你自己,比如你從哪裡來?我為什麼會在這裡?

Morgan Freeman (摩根): So I would like to get some instruction about enlightenment please.那麼請您教我一些證悟方法好嗎?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): I will try. 我試試

Morgan Freeman (narration): The Karmapa tells me meditation is the key to enlightenment, if the apocalypse is the revelation of the true will of God, meditation aims to reveal the true will of me.

H.H. Karmapa (法王): There are lots of different ways to meditate but the simple one is to focus on your breathing.有很多禪修的方法,簡單的是專注於自己的呼吸。

Morgan Freeman (摩根): Just the one I know.我剛好知道這種。

H.H. Karmapa (法王): Relax your mind and don't think about the future, at the moment just focus on your breathing and that is all.放輕鬆,不要思考未來,此刻,只是專注於你的呼吸。

(Meditation begins with the Karmapa's chant of The Refuge) 
伴隨法王唱誦皈依文, 法王帶領弗雷曼開始禪修。

(Meditation ends) 禪修結束

Morgan Freeman (摩根): It's beautiful! Can I ask you a philosophical question? 很美妙!我可以請教您一個哲學問題嗎?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): Philosophical? I will try.哲學嗎?試試吧。

Morgan Freeman (摩根): It's about the westerners idea of the apocalypse, the end of time in being. Is there such a thing in Buddhism? When everything stops and the world comes to an end, and mankind is judged. 是西方關於世界末日,人類終結的觀點。佛教有這樣的看法嗎?一切都將停止,世界末日來臨,人類會被審判。

H.H. Karmapa (法王): We believe that everyday, somewhere one universe is ending and another one is beginning, but it's not like there is a judgement day, it's a little bit different.佛教認為每一天,宇宙的某個地方都有結束也有新的開始,而不是認為有一個審判日,有一些不同。

Morgan Freeman (摩根): So actually what your saying is what I think is that there is no end only change, one thing ends another begins.所以我想您在說沒有結束只有改變,一個結束是另一個的開始。

H.H. Karmapa (法王): Yes, maybe there is no absolute ending. 是,沒有一個絕對的結束。

Morgan Freeman (ending narration): When you meet someone like His Holiness Kamarpa, I guess the thing that stands out the most is his humility, the Kamarpa doesn't give you the impression that, he thinks of himself as greater than you, higher than you or better in any way than you. He's here like the rest of us on this quest trying to understand why we're here, seeking to unveil the truth, seeking enlightenment. 



A “Very Buddhist” take on The Story of God: Apocalypse - Patheos

April 6, 2016 by  

I have been fascinated by religion and its associated mythologies, philosophies, and practices for well over half of my life now. I was raised Catholic, but a very liberal Catholic, and when – around the age of 12 or 13 – I was given the choice of going to Church or not, I chose not. Fast forward a few years, and I created a very small community of non-believers, dubbed the “Helena Heretics.” I think I still have an unused email address at yahoo with that name. Then I expanded out to “Montana Freethinkers,” which attracted a few more people. Keep in mind that Montana even now has only around one million people and is geographically larger than Germany.
Then I found philosophy. Can I get an amen? Then the study of religions, including Buddhism. Hallelujah.
That’s where I am today, a firm believer in the salvific power of education with all of its contemplation, discussion, debate and so on. Whatever we choose to believe at the end of the day, we’re all immeasurably better off if we understand the history of those beliefs, the people who originated and promulgated them, the way that wars, disease, ecology and invention shaped them, and how they fit in to the world we live in today. And so, when I was invited to join fellow Patheos writers in screening forthcoming episodes of “The Story of God” and sharing thoughts each week, I was delighted.
For those unacquainted with the show, it is produced by the National Geographic Channel and features Morgan Freeman who has–appropriately perhaps–played God in two feature films: Bruce Almighty (2003) and Evan Almighty (2007).
The “Story of God” series premiered on Sunday with “Beyond Death” and follows up with “Apocalypse,” airing April 10. It is the second of these, on the apocalypse, that I viewed (though I tracked down “Beyond Death” and will dive into that shortly…
In this episode Freeman takes us through Jerusalem (for Judaism), Rome (for Christianity), and a Mosque in New York City to talk with a formerly radicalized Muslim who spent time in an Egyptian prison and left a changed, newly liberal, man. The footage is information-dense and cinematically beautiful. Each of these religions shares a common idea of an end time, though the details vary in interesting ways.
We are taken next to a psychology lab in Chicago, where an experiment called “shock at any time” is used to measure startle responses on subjects who either know about and anticipate a coming electrical shock or do not. Those who can anticipate the coming shock are startled much less, suggesting that anticipating any kind of negative life-experiences might help us cope with them better. Extrapolating out a bit from anticipated pain to anticipating the end of the world might suggest that apocalyptic stories are a common human coping mechanism.
Next, we visit a Mayan temple where one of those famous calendars is examined and we find out that December 21, 2012 is just the end of one particular epoch or age, a time which, had the Mayans still been around, would have been celebrated with one giant party, and maybe a human sacrifice or two.
And finally -almost- we get to the best part, imho: India.

Morgan Freeman and the Karmapa (courtesy National Geographic, see the trailer here)

There we are introduced to Hinduism and Buddhism, but the majority of the discussion is around Buddhism and the time Freeman spends with the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. As an instructor in Buddhist Philosophy for theAntioch Education Abroad in India program in 2010 and 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Karmapa each year with students in Bodhgaya.
Born in 1985, he is still a young man and was barely older than our students in 2010. Yet, as Freeman notes in the episode, he is a remarkably humble man, tasked as the recognized reincarnation of the previous Karmapa, with leading millions of followers in their spiritual journeys. The Karmapa also has a great sense of humor, and when Freeman asks if he can ask “a philosophical question” the Karmapa’s face distorts this way and that before replying, “I’ll try.” That question is about the idea of “the end” and the Karmapa quite wisely responds that in a sense every day is an end, but there is no concept in Buddhism of a “final end,” that we live instead in a perpetual cycle in which every ending is a new beginning.
However, as I wrote in this 2012 post, Buddhism does have a story about an end-time:
Buddhism has always held that all phenomena are transitory, including both the teaching of Buddhism as we know it and the world itself. While the Dharma -speaking of the Truth [the Buddha] came to understand – is universal, eternal, and uninfluenced by particular human circumstances, thesāsana, or lineage of teachings handed down for the last 2400+ years, will come to an end.
Likewise, Buddhism inherited the cosmology of Proto-Hinduism (Brahmanism), which held that humans today are living in an age of decline. Part of this sense of decline is the belief in growing immorality and warfare. Conversely, the level of emphasis this belief has taken on in Buddhist cultures often reflects a world around them engulfed in war or simply persecution. The belief exists in all schools of Buddhism, though it took on heightened urgency in China. There the idea that the decline would have a phase of “final dharma” (mofa), starting in 552 C.E. was established, and in Japan the same belief, termed mappō was transmitted with the updated start-date of 1052 C.E.
So there is sort of  a vision of apocalypse in Buddhism, and it was taken very seriously in some Buddhist cultures at certain times. The idea seems out of favor now though and, as the Karmapa instructs Freeman, the important thing for many Buddhists is meditation as a process of “personal revelation” or enlightenment.
The final scenes of the show take us to New Orleans where a couple has established their own church in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. When one of them tells Freeman that he thanks God for the storm because without it, they wouldn’t have started the church or met the people around them now, Freeman responds with a smile, “you know, that’s very Buddhist.”
The episode airs Sunday; you can see the trailer here and as they say, “check your local listings.”

2015.11.5 摩根費里曼在瓦拉納西拍攝紀錄片Morgan Freeman reaches Varanasi to meet Karampa


Day Four of the 7th Khoryug Conference

7th Khoryug Conference, Day Four
24th March, 2016
Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath 

The fourth and final day of the 7th Khoryug Conference concluded by synthesizing the past three days into disaster management plans. These plans will provide monastics with a reference and model to use as they return to their monasteries and nunneries and begin designing specific initiatives to implement over the coming year.
Before this synthesis could begin participants were introduced to the final piece of disaster management –  recovery. Mr. Rajesh Kumar Singh from the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) presented a framework for approaching short term and long term recovery that encompasses the effects of disaster on both humans and valuable monastic texts and relics. Dekila Chungyalpa, advisor to Khoryug, then led the participants through a concise review of disaster management in which she recalled the main pillars in disaster management: risk mitigation and reduction, response and recovery.
Delegates spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon finalizing their plans and presentations on the topics of immediate response (including search and rescue and first aid), water and sanitation, food and nutrition, shelter and health. In addressing these topics they considered all three stages of disaster management as well as the diversity of disasters in which these issues must be addressed.
In the presentations that followed, groups examined both general disaster management strategies as well as specific ideas for mitigation, response and recovery. For instance, one group representing an imaginary “Karma Disaster Proof Monastery” explained their detailed plan for establishing first aid, search and rescue, and evacuation teams and how they would deploy those teams during a disaster. Their report combined particular lessons from their first aid training with their newfound organizational knowledge of disaster management planning. Another group shared illustrations of their hypothetical monastery to demonstrate how an extensive organic garden could provide fresh produce during a disaster when other food sources may be limited.
Upon hearing these carefully designed plans, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, addressed the conference. He thanked the delegates for their invested participation and NIDM for their affirming support and expertise. He noted that monasteries and nunneries have a responsibility to serve their communities, particularly during a disaster, and the best way to do so would be to guide actions that protect them well before any disaster should strike. He asked delegates to use the strategies provided in these workshops along with the lessons learned by the Nepal monasteries and nunneries during the 2015 earthquake.
Lama Thinley of Bokar Ngedon Chokhor Ling Monastery, the Khoryug Country Coordinator for India, spoke on behalf of the delegates. In his expression of gratitude he emphasized his appreciation that their attitude towards the topic of disaster had changed from being a superstitious and fearful aversion to a determined and resolved focus on finding solutions. Dekila Chungyalpa presented future plans for delivering more in-depth training to monasteries through localized workshops on each of these topics over the next year.
Mr. Rajesh Kumar Singh of NIDM and Lhakpa Tsering of Kun Kyong Trust offered final thanks to delegates for their diligent participant and to His Holiness for his skillful guidance and direction.  After gathering for a group photo in the bright spring sun outside Vajra Vidya Institute, the 7th Khoryug Conference on Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction ended with smiling delegates and a clear motivation to further pursue the training and planning that began during these four days.

2016.3.24 第七屆環境保護會議第四天 Day Four of the 7th Khoryug Conference


Karmapa demands free entry to Sarnath for pilgrims in winter - Hindustan Times

Varanasi, March 23 -- The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje wants the union government to make entry to the key Sarnath sites free for all Buddhist pilgrims in winter.

In an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times at Vajra Vidya Sansthan, the Karmapa, who heads one of the four major schools of Buddhism, said, "Sarnath is a holy place. This is a sacred place for all Buddhist pilgrims. They come here to offer prayers. They don't feel good when they have to pay for visiting certain places here. The centre should make Sarnath ticket-free for the Buddhist pilgrims." At present, tickets have to be bought at nominal rates to visit the Dhamek Stupa, mini zoo and museum at Sarnath.

He explains, "During summer, when the number of Buddhist pilgrims decreases, the government may continue with the ticket system. In winter, there should be no ticket at all because a large number of Buddhist tourists visit the holy place. "

Asked if the centre should declare Sarnath a holy place, he says, "May be, that is well. Everyone visiting this place should recognise it as sacred."

Answering a query on what steps can be taken to check the environmental imbalance, the Karmapa says, "It is a very important issue. Glaciers provide water to millions of people. Environmental imbalance has affected them. To check any further damage, we have taken some very important initiatives."

"Training for monks and nuns is in progress so that they can come to know what step they need to take to stop this environment imbalance. The monks, in turn will tell the locals about the importance of trees and greenery, " the Karmapa said.

"They have to motivate the people to plant trees. I think joint efforts with locals will help in checking the environmental imbalance," the Karmapa added.

Simultaneously, locals in Himalayan regions are needed to motivate for heavy plantation. Monasteries are involved. They themselves plant tree and involve locals in their drive. Same steps are required to be followed in plains. Together efforts are needed to be made.

Representatives of over 55 monasteries from different part of the country and Nepal are attending a conference on ‘Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction’ at Vajra Vidya Sansthan.

The Gyalwang Karmapa Leads Three Days of Puja in Sarnath

23 March 2016—Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath, India
From March 21, the day after the Gyalwang Karmapa arrived in Sarnath from Bodh Gaya, he began pujas in the radiant shrine hall of Vajra Vidya Institute. Also in attendance was its abbot and great scholar, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. Two hundred monks and nuns participated and among their ranks were the vajra, chant, and discipline masters from the Karmapa’s Rumtek Monastery, Thrangu Rinpoche’s Tashi Choling monastery and Tara Abbey nunnery.
In the main temple, two special shrines had been arranged for the Guru Yoga of Karma Pakshi, which took place in the morning, and the practice of the Five Tseringma in the afternoon. These are the same pujas that the Karmapa led in Bodh Gaya during the annual nuns’ gathering. The essence of the Karma Pakshi practice came to Yongey Mingyur Dorje (1628/1641–1708) in a vision of Karma Pakshi and his retinue. The Five Tseringma sisters are protectors of the Kagyu lineage and also holders of Milarepa’s Dharma teachings. The pujas continued for three days, finishing today on the auspicious full moon of the second Tibetan month.
On the early morning of March 24, the practice of a fire puja known as Billowing Clouds of Nectar by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche will take place. It will be followed by a long life practice for Thrangu Rinpoche known as the Three Roots Combined, which the Karmapa has called exceptionally profound. The short lineage, he said, can be traced back to a text based on the pure visions of the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339). The Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje (1507–1554) also practiced the Three Roots Combined and stated that through it, “especially pure visions and dreams appeared in my experiential awareness.” The Karmapa has mentioned that he, too, feels a special connection with this practice, so it is most appropriate to offer it for the long life of Thrangu Rinpoche, one of his main teachers.

2016.3.23 法王噶瑪巴於鹿野苑主持三天法會 The Gyalwang Karmapa Leads Three Days of Puja in Sarnath
2016.3.24 法王噶瑪巴為創古仁波切舉行〈三根總修〉長壽法會 Gyalwang Karma performs Long Life Offering to Kenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

Third Day of 7th Khoryug Conference

7th Khoryug Conference, Day Three
23rd March, 2016
Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath 

It is dangerously easy to think of disasters as vague and potential threats until one actually strikes. The third day of the Khoryug conference centered on bringing the threat of disaster into reality through experiential hands-on training and disaster scenario planning.
Much of the day was dedicated to first aid training led by Jeff Wagner, a first aid instructor from the well respected and US-based organization National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Jeff  taught monastics a variety of topics in first aid, including assessing and addressing immediate threats to life and caring for stable but injured patients.

Through a combination of presentations, demonstrations and partner exercises, participants were introduced to new skills such as opening an airway with the Heimlich maneuver, taking and monitoring vital signs, making a physical examination, lifting a patient with a spinal injury and caring for wounds and burns. The training provided a condensed overview of wilderness first aid and gave monastics a taste of the more extensive education that Khoryug hopes to organize in monasteries and nunneries during the coming months.
Conference participants spent the final sessions of the day beginning to form disaster management plans. Delegates were divided into groups and then worked together to create and draw an imaginary monastery and design a plan to protect that monastery in the case of an earthquake or flood. The groups were guided to brainstorm around specific emergency needs, broken into the categories of immediate response, water and sanitation, food and nutrition, shelter and health.

The groups returned with elaborate designs that allowed them to visualize the specific risks in their monasteries and nunneries as well as the particular measures they could take to prepare for disaster. For example, one group recognized the lack of evacuation areas currently in their monasteries and nunneries and consequently included in their drawing a designated safe area for monastics and community members to use in a disaster.

By sharing their extensive brainstorming the groups prepared to narrow their focus tomorrow, when each group will develop an extensive preparedness, response and recovery plan for one of the emergency need categories.


Karmapa offers prayers, discusses green imbalance - Hindustan Times

Varanasi, March 22 -- The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje and other Buddhist spiritual leaders discussed the issue of ecological imbalance in the Himalayan region and other parts of the country at a conference in Sarnath on Monday.

'Disaster preparedness and risk reduction' was the theme of the seventh Khoryug Conference for Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries.

The meet began at Vajra Vidya Sansthan, an institute for Buddhist studies.

Before the conference, Karmapa, who heads one of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, performed special worship at the Sansthan for human welfare and world peace.

Several Buddhist spiritual leaders accompanied him during the worship.

Twelve followers of Buddhism from China, Nepal, Taiwan, Tibet, France and Italy also participated in the special prayers which were completed in two rounds. Starting at 9am, the first round concluded at noon. The second round took place between 2pm and 5pm.

Buddhist Monk Karma, a representative of the Sansthan, said, “The Karmapa was welcomed with chanting of mantras before the worship. Triratana puja and several rituals were performed. An Idol of Lord Buddha was offered rice, kesar mixed water and Tibetan Torma.”

In the afternoon, Buddhist spiritual leaders discussed the issue of environmental imbalance. The conference is being held in partnership with the National Institute of Disaster Management.

Fifty monastic representatives from over 25 monasteries and nunneries are attending the conference. According to an authorized spokesperson, the Karmapa is acting on his resolve to prepare monasteries and nunneries for potential disasters and to train monks and nuns to become first responders and risk reduction educators for local communities.

After his arrival on Sunday, the Karmapa was given a special welcome. He would leave for Delhi on March 25.

Day Two of 7th Khoryug Conference

7th Khoryug Conference, Day Two
March 22, 2016
Vajra Vidya Institute

The first step in disaster management is understanding your hazards and identifying your risks. During the second day of the Khoryug conference, participants consequently focused on deepening their knowledge of the hazards they face and learning how to identify the vulnerabilities that put them at risk for disaster.
To achieve this aim delegates spent the morning learning about the science of natural disasters from Dekila Chungyalpa, the Khoryug adviser, who explained how phenomena like plate tectonics, forestation, and  the water and carbon cycle shape and spur disastrous events like earthquakes, floods and landslides. She further explained how climate change is resulting from human development and in turn exacerbating the severity and frequency of natural disasters, particularly in the Himalayan region.
Professor Bandyopadhyay from the National Institute of Disaster Management  then led the conference in both a presentation and group activity on risk assessment in monasteries and nunneries. After offering the conceptual framework for assessing risk, Professor Bandyopadhyay organized delegates into a scavenger hunt to search for vulnerabilities and risks present in various locations around Vajra Vidya Institute. The activity allowed participants to identify typical disaster risks that are found in most monasteries and nunneries ranging from exposed wiring and poor ventilation in a butter lamp house to the lack of emergency exits and training on how to use a fire extinguisher in a hostel.
In the afternoon delegates worked with Lhakpa Tsering and Damaris Miller to brainstorm the particular disaster risks in their area and to imagine an actual disaster scenario. Delegates were presented with two educational guides that Khoryug has produced on disaster management, including a poster with short tips and guidelines for management of earthquakes, floods and fires as well as a booklet with more extensive information. Both materials are available in English and Tibetan and delegates drew on their own experience to provide feedback for improving the documents for wider distribution. 

Dekila Chungyalpa and Mr. Rakesh Singh closed out the day by transitioning the group into developing action plans. Dekila shared a presentation on mitigation measures that monasteries and nunneries can take to reduce their vulnerability in the case of a disaster. She demonstrated how many of the environmental projects monasteries and nunneries have already undertaken double as mitigation measures, such as solar energy, organic gardening and rainwater collection and lauded monasteries that are adopting green design strategies into new constructions.
Mr. Rakesh Kumar finished the session by clearly laying out a framework for creating a disaster management plan that encompasses crucial elements like mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and capacity building. Participants will spend the next two days receiving hands-on training and creating their own disaster management plans. Reflecting on the conference thus far one delegate noted, “We used to feel helpless when we thought about natural disasters but knowing now that there are things we can do to protect ourselves makes me feel more confident.”