The Gyalwang Karmapa’s Vision for the International Kagyu Monlam
11th December 2007, Tergar Manastery
At a meeting with the Kagyu Monlam Committee members, the Gyalwang Karmapa shared his clear and moving vision of how the Kagyu Monlam should be.
He clarified the origins of the reasons and conditions for Monlam, explaining that Monlam means aspirations, giving as an example Shakyamuni Buddha. When the Buddha made the aspiration to attain the mind of enlightenment, he offered a simple bowl of soup – a small thing, but offered with pure motivation for the ultimate aspiration. So, although it was such a small thing, its blessings pervaded the whole of space and benefitted all beings.
Similarly, the power and blessings generated by Kagyu Monlam depend on the pure motivation and aspirations of each individual involved. This may seem easy but in fact it’s not. A pure motivation means putting aside individual concerns and working solely for the benefit of all sentient beings as limitless as space.
We need to have established this mindset before the Monlam starts. In order to do this, we need a firm, stable foundation and strong motivation otherwise, when we are confronted with difficulties and stress, we will find ourselves prey to the afflictive emotions such as anger and pride or ego-grasping, and then it will become extremely difficult to maintain both our motivation and aspirations, and we will have lost the whole purpose of the Monlam gathering.
Pure, strong motivation has to extend from the very beginning to the very end, so that all can be good in the beginning, good in the middle and good at the end.
The purpose and fundamental root of the Kagyu Monlam is to remember the kindness of our Teacher, Buddha Shakyamuni, and to pray for the peace and happiness of all beings with whom we share this world. We are continuing and preserving a pure lineage which we must not blemish. These are fine words but a great challenge to put into practice. We need to integrate them into our mindstream - develop loving kindness and compassion. In the end it all comes down to our own individual intention, whether it is vast and deep or shallow.
Respect and co-operation are also essential so that we can become friends and develop harmony and peace, which can then extend throughout the world. If we become annoyed or angry or speak harshly or walk around with black expressions, we defeat the object of Monlam. Transforming the mind is difficult for beginners,; it is easier to modify our speech and behaviour. If we are able to do this, the purpose of Monlam is achieved.
I began working for the Kagyu Monlam - after Bokar Rinpoche had passed away – in 2004. At that time there was a question whether it would continue or not, but I had already been preparing myself for the Monlam. Even though I hadn’t had any organizational experience, by virtue of my close relationship with Bokar Rinpoche, and because I have so much support, without regard for my lack of experience, I took up the challenge. When I look back over the past Kagyu Monlams, I feel we still have a lot to accomplish and a long way to go.
It would be disappointing if yet another year of our lives were to go by without bearing fruit.
So, while remembering the kindness of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha, and holding the benefit of all sentient beings firmly in our minds, let us dedicate ourselves to the root cause of the Monlam gathering ─ world peace, harmony and happiness for all.