28TH KAGYU MONLAM: DAY EIGHT
December 22, 2010 - Bodhgaya
Sojong & Long-Life Offering to The Three Senior Lamas
On the last day of the 28th Kagyu Monlam, in the early morning session, three small thrones had been set up facing His Holiness's higher throne, in preparation for the long-life offerings to three of His Holiness’ teachers: Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche, Dorlob Tenga Rinpoche, and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, who even though they are advanced in age, due to the strength of their bodhisattva vow, continue to stay in this world to turn the wheel of Dharma for the benefit of beings.
All three Ripoches who needed help to stand and walk and yet in spite of his physical handicap came to this auspicious event demonstrating their indomitable spirit, teaching to us to persevere no matter what. These three Lamas are from the last generation of Lamas who were raised in Tibet before the communist invasion and whose presence in the world helps to maintain the Buddha‘s teachings.
As usual on the last day of the Kagyu Monlam a row of banners with emblems of the eight auspicious symbols were lined up on either side of the Shrine. A monk's staff and bowl were at His Holiness's throne in preparation for the alms procession later in the morning.
First, Mingyur Rinpoche arrived. Then the young Kyabje Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche and Kyabje Gyaltsap Rinpoche arrived together. Finally all the Rinpoches had arrived and were seated.
Today on the last day of the Monlam, there are three new shining Buddhas on a tiered shrine to the right of His Holiness’s throne. Arrayed in front of the altar’s eight tall tormas are rows of colorful victory banners and victory pendants, along with brocade umbrellas, their red and golden streamers gently moving in the early morning breeze. Facing the Karmapa and set in a line across the central aisle are three brocade thrones with high, yellow backs. They will soon be occupied by the three main elders of the Karmapa’s lineage: Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche, Dorlob Tenga Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. The three senior teachers are being honored and celebrated today by His Holiness, major tulkus in the lineage, teachers, and the thousands who have gathered for the Monlam. The three will receive a long life ceremony bestowed by the Karmapa, an encomium composed by him, and a set of three books, one on each lama, especially and elegantly printed for the occasion. His Holiness has personally overseen all of these special arrangements.
This early morning, the sound of the gyalings comes from the direction of the stupa. It is here, near the Vajra Asana that His Holiness has been waiting with the three lamas. Entering from the door next to the shrine, he sits on his throne to give sojong vows for the last time during this twenty-eighth Kagyu Monlam. For the recitation of the Sanskrit texts, he moves to the lower throne and then back to the higher one as the usual breakfast of tea and bread is offered to everyone.
After His Holiness puts on the traditional semi-circular red hat of the Kagyu lamas, the ritual of the Prostration and Offering to the Sixteen Elders begins. It is an especially appropriate practice for this occasion as the text supplicates:
All you Arhats, the elders who open
The precious vessel of the Buddha’s words,
I invite you in order to spread the genuine Dharma.
Since my offerings are for beings’ benefit, I pray that you come.
Following the beginning stanzas, we find this refrain in the verses praising the sixteen elders:
Grant your blessing that the gurus live long
And that the Dharma flourish.
As the Karmapa has repeatedly pointed out, the flourishing of the Dharma relies greatly on the activities of the teachers: the two are intimately connected.
After this supplication and praise, the music of gyalings escorts the three Rinpoches as they enter from under the spreading branches of the Bodhi Tree and take their places on the three thrones: Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche sits in the middle with Dorlob Tenga Rinpoche on his right and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche on his left. From the practices recited daily, His Holiness leads the section that invites the Buddha with fervent praise and asks him to remain. This theme of supplicating the three lamas to stay in this world for the benefit of living beings and the teachings will be the central focus of the ceremony this morning.
It is Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche who first comes to stand in front of the Karmapa’s throne. Over the loud speakers, we hear the very moving voices of the Karmapa intoning prayers for his well-being and long life and Thrangu Rinpoche repeating after him, “Everything I have done, may it mature into my long life.” These aspirations are followed by a prayer to Amitabha, the deity of longevity. As his mantra is recited, the Karmapa places the black and gold Activity Hat on his head and with a delicately carved long life vase, he gives Thrangu Rinpoche a long blessing that includes the words “May you attain the siddhi of everlasting long life.” Then the Karmapa bends forward to touch foreheads with Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche in the traditional Tibetan greeting of respect and warmth. He is offered a long white kata and red cloth blessing cord, and offers the Karmapa a kata in return.
This same ceremony is repeated for Dorlob Tenga Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. Many of their older students have come from abroad especially for this ceremony to be with their precious teachers who have guided their lives for so many years.
After the long life blessings, the Karmapa speaks of meditation, saying that traditionally we would now rest in a samadhi deep in the ultimate expanse of all phenomena and sustain the intention that everything positive would ripen for the three lamas. Today, however, we will rest for five minutes in meditation on vast loving-kindness. This session ends with symbols, gyalings, and drums.
Then Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche and a monk unroll a long scroll of the Karmapa’s encomium for Thrangu Rinpoche, which is written on cloth and held high by monks as Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche reads:
Thus prayed the Son of the Buddha, the King of Dharma, the Karmapa, while dwelling in the Land of Magadha in the Year of the Tiger:You, great Bearer of the Vajra by the name of Karma Lodro Ringluk Maway Senge, having in your previous and preceding lifetimes gathered the accumulation of merit and made fine aspirations, took birth for the sake of sentient beings and the Shakya’s teachings. Therefore you studied completely the true Dharma and worldly areas of knowledge from a youthful age. By practicing the three trainings, you have brought benefit to creatures of all kinds and caused the essence of the teachings to flourish as well. Through your fine conduct, you have lived to a ripe age. For this, I praise and acclaim you most highly and bestow upon you this proclamation. So too in the future, for the sake of beings, those who stand tall or walk bent over, may your life remain as steadfast as the sun and moon throughout all time. May any wish that arises in your mind be spontaneously accomplished and fulfilled. Thus do I aspire and pray one-pointedly.
While music fills the air, the scroll is rolled up, and with a deep bow, Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche offers it to Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche. This same process will be repeated for the two other elder teachers: Dorlob Tenga Rinpoche, whose long name is Karma Tendzin Trinley Ngedon Chokyi Nyima, and for the great Bearer of the Vajra, Tsultrim Gyamtso.
Kyabje Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche then arises to begin the offering of one of the three glorious buddha statues to each of the individual lamas. As they are presented, each teacher rises to touch their foreheads to the buddha before it is placed on the table before them. During the prayers that follow, His Holiness in a loving gesture offers rice in the direction of the three lamas.
To make an auspicious connection, everyone is offered rice with cashews, raisins, and coconut, scooped into small dishes made of dried leaves. Praises and dedications are chanted and then are read out the names of all the Labrangs (Administrative Offices) who are making offerings to the three elders, beginning with the highest lineage holders: the Karmapa’s Tsurphu Labrang, then from Kyabje Situ Rinpoche’s Palpung Labrang, Kyabje Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche’s Labrang, Kyabje Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche’s Labrang, Pawo Rinpoche’s Labrang, and Treho Rinpoche’s Labrang. These are followed by the Kagyu Monlam Committee, and then students from the Dharma centers and the sponsors of the three lamas. Three representatives from each of the groups all at the same time present to the three venerated elders the symbols of body (a statue), speech (a text), and mind (a stupa). When making offerings for a lama’s long life, these are the traditional ones, which are tied with colorful katas and here, set on trays so that is easy for the three teachers to receive this ocean of blessings. The essence all the blessings, offerings, and prayers that are presented is that the lamas’s lives remain firm as an indestructible vajra.
Finally, a set of three beautifully produced books, one on each of the lama’s lives, are offered to the three precious elders. For Thrangu Rinpoche, the book is covered in red silk and carries his picture on the cover. The book is entitled “Ocean of Philosophy,” and facing the title page is a photograph of him with the Karmapa, all surrounded by monks. The following page has a photograph of Thrangu Rinpoche and the encomium in Tibetan, followed on the next pages by translations into English and Chinese, which are provided for all the words of the book. Three stanzas each, prayers for Thrangu Rinpoche’s long life fill the next pages, beginning with Situ Rinpoche, then Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and Pawo Rinpoche. The layout of the pages is spacious, around the three stanzas of the supplications and also around the accompanying photos of the teacher offering the supplication and of Thrangu Rinpoche with that teacher.
The chapter on Thrangu Rinpoche’s Life and Liberation begins with a list of his eight previous incarnations and photographs from his life, including him together with the four main Kagyu tulkus whom he taught; at his monasteries in Nepal when they were under construction; with the heads of the other Tibetan traditions; with Pope Jean Paul II; on a great throne giving empowerments; reading a hand-written text, remindful of all the important texts he has published for the monastic colleges; writing calligraphy; with the large group of lamas who meet in 2002 for the Karma Kargyu at Thrangu Rinpoche's Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath; teaching and giving empowerments from his throne; and, of course, his inimitable smile.
The last section is a teaching from Thrangu Rinpoche on the famous Short Supplication to Vajradhara which is always chanted before his teachings, and his prayer to the Sixteenth Karmapa, Calling the Glorious Karmapa Rigpe Dorje Longingly from Afar. The final, full-page photo is of him supplicating with his palms together.
The next volume of white silk with his picture on the cover is about Dorlob Tenga Rinpoche. The format is exactly the same as the previous volume. Facing the title page, underneath the radiant photo of him is the title “Transmission by Seeing.” Following the encomium and long life prayers, the chapter on his Life and Liberation, starts with his previous two incarnations. The photos include his travel to the United States with the Sixteenth Karmapa and together with the Seventeenth in Tibet at Tsurphu; at Gyuto where he is performing a ritual with the Karmapa, remindful of all the years Tenga Rinpoche spent as the Vajra Master at Rumtek; him with the previous and present Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche; another with Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche at Benchen Monastery in Tibet and Benchen in Nepal, which Tenga Rinpoche built for Nyenpa Rinpoche; in full lama dance costume performing the Mahakala lama dance; looking at the Chakrasamvara mandala with Trungpa Rinpoche; photos from his travels to many European centers; and teaching at Rumtek. The final section gives his verses of “A Short Guru Yoga on the Root Lama Karmapa.”
The third volume is bound in deep blue silk and dedicated to Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso. Following the format of the two previous volumes, opposite the title page is a smiling photo of him and the title, “Dance of Great Bliss.” Following the prayers for his long life is the chapter on Life and Liberation. There are early photographs from Buxsar, India where he studied after leaving Tibet; with the Sixteenth Karmapa in Europe; with the previous and present Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche; with Tenga Rinpoche, Thrangu Rinpoche, and the previous Kalu Rinpoche; teaching his students Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and Ponlop Rinpoche in Nepal and also in Sikkim many years ago at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, the shedra at the Karmapa’s monastery in Rumtek. In Bhutan he is pictured at the nunnery he founded with the nuns who escaped with him from Tibet. Another photo shows him teaching in a large cave, the dwelling he prizes most of all, and in another he is encircled by his dancing students, and then he is dancing as well. The final chapter gives his famous Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness in a five-verse form; stanzas on How to Practice During Daily Activities; and finally, The Sky-Dragon’s Profound Roar. The last page has an image of him pointing a camera at the reader.
The long-life ceremony, which has touched the hearts of everyone present, comes to an end with the final stanzas from the Prostrations and Offerings to the Sixteen Elders:
Through the compassion of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the three realms,
You retain the appearance of shravakas and, for as long as samsara lasts,
Will protect the Dharma and benefit beings.
May there be the auspiciousness of the great elders!
With the sound of the traditional instruments, the three lamas depart through the door to the Vajra Asana accompanied by thousands multiplied to myriads of vast and deeply felt wishes for their long lives and the success of their Dharma activity benefitting all living beings.
An Offering to the Gurus: Part I & Alms Procession
At around 10 o'clock the alms procession began. First Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and Khenpo Lodoe Donyo Rinpoche came forward with a monk's staff in hand. Then the gelong lined up behind them. Gyaltsap Rinpoche watch as the alms procession goes by. As each monk approached the steps leading to the exit gate they were handed a large, black metal alms bowl.
A few evenings earlier, His Holiness had conducted a lively rehearsal at Tergar Monastery to ensure that we knew how to receive and hold the bowl. He had called a group of monks forward and each was handed a bowl. At that point, His Holiness handed the microphone over to one of the discipline masters, and then, to the delight of those watching, gave a comic demonstration of how not to do it—holding the bowl lopsided, holding it too high, holding it too close to the body, and so on. Then he demonstrated how to walk, with the monks following him. Suddenly he speeded up and raced round the Dukhang. Laughter filled the hall, but, as always, His Holiness, in choosing comedy, had chosen exactly the correct approach so that we would not forget the correct way to hold the bowl, with the left hand supporting the bowl beneath and the right holding the rim, or the correct pace, steady and dignified, not too slow and not too fast.
At the beginning of the alms procession there were so many gelong it was a while before the seven gelongma finally joined the line and received their bowls. Gelong and gelongma of the Taiwanese, Korean and other traditions also joined the line for the alms procession. Getsul and getsulma [novice monks and nuns] do not join the alms procession so they remained seated and the umze led them in chanting The King of Aspiration Prayers during the procession.
As the gelong and gelongma made their way along the outer circumambulation path towards the main gate, a few lay devotees standing along the circumambulation path put candies, etc into the bowls. Once we reached the main exit there were crowds of people waiting to put offerings of candy, fruit, nuts, rice, etc into the bowls.
The discipline masters and Dharmapalas were at hand for crowd control. There was a cord set up along with signs indicating to people where to stand making ample room for the gelong and gelongma to walk. On the other side of the line, there were also volunteers holding large bags; whenever the bowls became full the gelong and gelongma poured the contents of their bowls into these bags.
The purpose of the alms procession is to recall the tradition of monks and nuns begging for alms during the time of the Buddha. As Tibetan Buddhism developed monasteries developed that were sustained by the laity thus it was no longer necessary to go out for alms.
The gelong and gelongma do not keep these offerings. They are collected and distributed to different monasteries and some of the offerings are given to the poor.
At the end of the alms procession all the gelong and gelongma went to the rose garden, a beautiful park which is right next to the Mahabodhi temple and is usually not open to the public, for the final Monlam lunch.
At the end of the alms procession all the gelong and gelongma went to the rose garden, a beautiful park which is right next to the Mahabodhi temple and is usually not open to the public, for the final Monlam lunch.
His Holiness was seated at the very front within a white tent-like structure which had a canopy with all four sides open. There were flowers in each of the four corners and on the floor. His Holiness sat on his beautifully carved wooden chair which had been brought for the occasion. There was a bowl on the table before him.
Outside of the canopy on the right side of His Holiness sat Kyabje Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche. On the left side of His Holiness was Kyabje Gyaltsap Rinpoche and Mingyur Rinpoche. All were seated on chairs with a table before them on which the bowl was set. Their attendants were standing beside their chairs.
Finally when everyone had entered and was seated, the umze began the lunch prayers. Then there was the clap of the wooden blocks, an indication to the monks and nuns that they could take up their bowls and begin their meal.
HIs Holiness who had been leaning against the back of his chair when we came in, sat up very straight, took up his bowl and began the meal and then all followed. His Holiness maintained this very straight posture for the whole meal.
At the end he said a few words in Tibetan and then in Chinese, reminding the monks and nuns of the kindness of the donors and volunteers and to dedicate their merit to them. Then he thanked the sponsors and volunteers for their meritorious work which made all of this possible.
The final prayers for the hungry spirits were said. Then His Holiness arose and left with the Rinpoches, after which all the monks and nuns got up, removed their chogus and exited the warm, sunny park.
An Offering to the Gurus: Part II
The Offering to the Gurus continued preceded by opening remarks by His Holiness.
The Lama Leads Along the Path
While the morning ceremony to honor the three elder lamas of the lineage is fresh in our minds, the Karmapa gave a short talk at the beginning of the afternoon’s session of Offering to the Gurus. He began by stating that the root of the path is the lama, the spiritual friend. We should follow a true spiritual master properly and never give up. The introduction to this practice of Offerings to the Gurus affirms:
The first of all instructions
Is not to abandon the exalted friend,
Who is the source and treasury of
All qualities, such as faith and bodhicitta.
It is difficult to recognize the nature of the mind, and without faith it will not happen. The secret mantra is based on the blessing of the lama and the lineage. To receive it, we need devotion and faith.
What is called” accomplishing the lama” does not just mean making an offering, reciting a ritual or doing a practice: it means serving the teacher with our body, speech, and mind. If we do not follow a teacher properly, we can be with hundreds of lamas without any benefit. We should follow a good lama in this life, and not just because the lama has a high status or big reputation. There are two types of lamas: one is a lama who is a learned scholar who gives us teachings, and another is a lama who instructs us on how to practice. Of the two, it is this second type on whom we should rely with great respect. A stanza or even a word from them can free us.
The Karmapa then gives refuge and bodhisattva vows as they are found in the text. He continues to say that the tendrils of myriad numbers of causes and conditions have joined together to make the pattern of our gathering. Since we are here at this essential place of practice where the Buddha became fully awakened, we should engage in the practice of genuine Dharma so that our reserve of virtue does not diminish or disappear. Beginning now and throughout our lives, we aspire to make our minds workable, to maintain our discipline, and to benefit not just ourselves but also engage in what helps others as well. If we can do this, it is wonderful. At least, we should make ourselves into a kind person.
We cannot say we are Buddhists and then avoid the practice of changing our mind. It is important to become kind and considerate people, to work on ourselves so that our conduct becomes peaceful and positive. All we do is not just for ourselves, but for all living beings. So we should make a vow to help as much as we can, and then we will not leave this life with our hands empty. Making a stash of money is of little ultimate benefit; what is truly valuable is transforming our mind and behavior.
Appreciation Of The Sponsors, And Special Address
Appreciation Of The Sponsors
As the assembly gathered for the fourth session of the day, a space was cleared between the front rows where the highest lamas were seated. Fewer than a dozen cushions were set out, and monks slowly began escorting forward a small number of people whose generosity had played a crucial role in making the 28th Kagyu MonlamChenmo possible. When all had been seated facing His Holiness, with Lama Chodrak in the front row, the special appreciation of sponsors commenced.
After expressing his gratitude for their support, His Holiness conducted a special ceremony in which each sponsor personally, and the entire assembly, were blessed one by one, for auspiciousness, by the eight auspicious substances and symbols.
Special Address: Environmental Protection, Modern Education For Monastics, And Health And Hygiene
His Holiness prefaced his special address with the disclaimer that he had already spoken so much during the three days of teachings, and the previous eight days of Kagyu Monlam that there was little left to say. His treasure chest of Dharma was in fact not inexhaustible, he stated, and was in fact now running out. Nevertheless, as usual His Holiness did indeed have apparently endless reserves of Dharma wisdom to draw on, and went on to outline three major topics.
First, elaborating on an issue that has long been of great concern to him, the Gyalwang Karmapa spoke on the urgent need to act to protect the natural environment. Global warming has had a particularly strong impact on the Himayalan region, he noted, urging monasteries in the region to take the lead, and to make a strong impact on the issue through their own environmental protection activities. His Holiness noted that the Karma Kagyu monasteries and nunneries have made inroads in that direction, holding conferences to raise awareness and taking concrete measure in environmental protections. Tens of thousands of trees have been planted, and the Gyalwang Karmapa warmly commended that fact, but cautioned that environmental action should not be limited to the monastery. To do it in a way that the broader community is included and involved would be very good, His Holiness added. This is not something to be done by working out a philosophical position on the issue, or making prayers and offering tormas. Rather, urging his followers to take practical steps to protect the environment, His Holiness said that what is necessary is direct action.
The Gyalwang Karmapa’s second major point related to the education of young monks and nuns. Generally, each monastery runs its own affairs, and maintains its practice, ritual and educational programs, he commented. This is worthy of praise and a cause of rejoicing, yet,he added, until we are enlightened, there will always be room for improvement in our activities. Monasteries are home to large numbers of young monks and nuns, and, as they now do, it is important that they continue to develop skills in the areas of ritual practice and monastic study. Yet there is also a need for them to receive a modern education. When they grow older, if they remain in the monasteries they will require such an education in order to uphold the Dharma in a way suited to modern society. In the event that they they later choose not to continue their lives as monastics, they will need skills that allow them to function within society and earn a livelihood. The monastery has a responsibility to provide such an education, and could not content itself with caring for their physical needs, as if they were just so many horses kept in a corral. Along with a Dharma education, monks and nuns should receive a basic grounding in science and other basic subjects. Otherwise, they run the risk of being left behind by the world, he said. His Holiness commented that he himself took a personal interest in studying such subjects. The Gyalwang Karmapa said he had no specific programs to suggest, but would like to ask the lamas, leaders of the monasteries and nunneries and others to begin consulting on how to achieve these aims.
The third point that His Holiness addressed was health and hygiene. His Holiness pointed out that he has not had the opportunity to slip into all the monasteries’ kitchens to see for himself how much sugar was being consumed and what the level of cleanliness was. Yet, he joked, he would be delighted to be able to make inspection tours to determine how salty the food was. In any case, His Holiness stressed the importance of keeping the utensils and cookware very clean. Tibetans and other people around the Himalayan region tend to use a great deal of salt, butter and sugar, and can hardly eat their food if it has no chili. But because monasteries are feeding large numbers of people they have a serious responsibility to work to improve health and hygiene in their kitchens. The point is not simply to make the food better tasting, but to ensure that it nourishes the body.
As he often does, the Gyalwang Karmapa articulated a vision wherein such care about health and hygiene should begin in the monasteries and nunneries, but then spread to the surrounding society.
His Holiness concluded his special address with Dharma advice, stressing the importance of taming one’s own mind, and becoming a good person who accepts responsibility for making positive contributions to the world.
Our parents cared for us and did not cast us aside, His Holiness said, and this value that they saw in us is something for us to live up to. It is up to us to make this life we have received from them meaningful. The Gyalwang Karmapa spoke of his childhood in a nomad community in Tibet. The soft green grass served as a couch and a bed, and this closeness to the natural environment brought with it a respect for that environment. In the modern world, and particularly in urban environments, His Holiness noted, we have become increasingly alienated from nature.
In offering a final message of thanks, His Holiness reported that nearly a thousand people had joined together to work to make the Kagyu Monlam possible. He singled out the contributions of Lama Chodrak, who had been serving the Kagyu Monlam for several decades. The Gyalwang Karmapa next thanked the sponsors, and stressed the importance of making vast dedications that are free of pride.
Reserving his final remarks to the kindness of all in attendance, His Holiness expressed his appreciation to the many lamas there for blessing the Monlam with their presence. He praised the sangha for their steadfast contribution, and then pointed out the tremendous efforts made by international attendees, the hardship and sacrifice they had to undergo to join the great mandala of the Kagyu Monlam. It was this vast assembly of people from around the world who made the Kagyu Monlam possible, and he thanked everyone warmly, before the final reading of the Great Dedication of this 28th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo.
Closing Dedication Prayers
For eight days the assembly of Rinpoches, monks, nuns and laypeople had gathered under the Bodhi tree in the presence of His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa and Rinpoches of the Kagyu lineage in order to offer prayers for the well-being of the world and all sentient beings.
Throughout the Monlam His Holiness had stressed our connection from beginningless time with all sentient beings, our dependence on them, and the need for all Dharma practice to arise from a basis of bodhicitta, always bearing the welfare of others in mind. He had emphasised the wide reach and inclusiveness of the Dharma, and warned of the danger of being partisan: the mistaken mindset which thinks only of ‘our lineage’, ‘our monastery’, ’our teachers’ to the exclusion of others. Even criticising another faith, he had admonished us, might be construed as abandoning the Dharma. When he gave the Akshobhya empowerment and instructed us in the practices associated with it, he repeatedly reminded us that it should be not only for our own sake but for the benefit of all sentient beings.
So it is fitting that each year the Monlam concludes with the great prayers for dedication of merit and declarations of auspiciousness including The Great Aspiration and Dedications; Mila’s Aspiration and the Aspiration for the Well-Being of Tibet; Marpa’s Song of Auspiciousness; The Dharma Blaze Aspiration.
During the The Auspiciousness of the Great Encampment, the assembly chants the memorable lines:
May people from different lands with different languages,
And of different races,
Frequently assemble here in joy and ease.
May that auspiciousness prevail.
And looking across what remains of the stone foundations and ancient relics in the Mahabodhi grounds at the joyful faces of more than 7000 people —Tibetans, other Himalayan peoples, Chinese, Europeans, Malaysians, Koreans, Vietnamese, Americans, a score of other nationalities—it seems that this aspiration has already been fulfilled under the leadership of the Gyalwang Karmapa.
Finally, there is a vigorous waving of khatags [white silk scarves] as the 28th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo concludes with Prayers to Accomplish the Truth and the words: