Great Kagyu Monlam Aspiration, Wednesday 19th December
Mahabodhi Temple: Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche gave the Sojong Vows and led the first part of the Monlam prayers. There was a change in the schedule and Pal Gyalwang Karmapa arrived at 7.00am for the conclusion of a special Tsedrub Ritual for him, sponsored by The Kagyu Monlam Working Team. The Tsedrub began at Tergar Monastery on December 13th and concluded at the Mahabodhi Temple this morning, with the offering of a Tenshug (usually referred to as a ‘Long Life Prayer’). Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche was the Vajra Master.
Medical Camp: On the second day of the medical camp, the staff worked through from 8.30am until 5.00pm in order to meet a growing need. Word had spread through the community and more than 900 patients arrived, including many of the local children who were very eager to collect free pencil cases and lollipops but rather reluctant to take their medicine!
Evening Teaching at Tergar Monastery: In the evening Gyalwang Karmapa began a special three day teaching for foreign students. In all, nearly 2000 people were there to listen to His Holiness teach on the text The Fivefold Mahamudra by Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon.
The teaching was scheduled to begin at 7.00pm but by 5.00pm queues had begun to form, and by 6.15pm the great hall at Tergar Monastery was chock-a-block; those arriving later were forced to sit outside on the veranda in the chilly night air.
It was clear that the teaching had been carefully planned to reflect the needs of an international audience. As people arrived, they received a free copy of The Fivefold Mahamudra containing the text in Chinese, Korean, Tibetan and English, and a leaflet of the opening prayers, which were recited in Sanskrit, English and Chinese. The teaching itself was translated into Chinese, English, Korean and Russian.
Five minutes before Gyalwang Karmapa appeared; the chant master came and began to lead the Karmapa Khyenno (Karmapa, think of me). Everyone joined in and the sound of the mantra rose to fill the vast space. His Holiness arrived promptly, walked briskly across the dais, prostrated gracefully three times, and greeted the audience warmly with folded palms before mounting the throne.
The first verse of The Fivefold Mahamudra reads:
If the stallion of love and compassion
Does not win the race of altruism
He will not earn the praise of the crowd of gods and humans,
So, earnestly focus your mind on this preliminary practice.
Gyalwang Karmapa explained that this was a metaphor based on a Tibetan-style horse race, linking it with a Tibetan saying which tells people to study and practice Dharma with such speed that a hundred dogs will be unable to catch them. . . . (For a continuation of this extended summary of the Wednesday teachings, go to His Holiness's Teachings at the 25th Great Kagyu Monlam)
Gyalwang Karmapa concluded the evening by conferring the Refuge Vows, emphasising that in future no one should take refuge in worldly things. True refuge is in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. He emphasised that, having taken refuge, the important thing was to do no harm, but work for the benefit of all sentient beings.
As he left the platform, the congregation applauded loudly. He acknowledged this with a shy smile and a blessing, before disappearing into the wings and back upstairs to his private quarters on the roof. - Tashi Paljor