Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Highlights from Introduction to Lives of the Karmapas
Gyalwa Karmapa is the root guru and the lineage guru. He is lord of the ocean of yidams. He is the essence of the 84 Mahasiddhas and such as Saraha.
His influence is pervasive and effective. Also, he is all dakas and dakinis.
He is "Holder of the White Lotus" and the author of the text says, in this Introduction which is also a a supplication, "With great respect, I go for refuge to you. Please protect me with Your great compassion and blessing!"
He is the Dharmakaya Guru -- the dharmakaya of two-fold purity. He exists primordially; he removes obscurations from us. He manifests in the experience of others in two ways: In the Akanishtha that is unlimited in the display of Sambhogakaya.
He emanates as Nirmanakaya not only as beings but as articles that benefit, and in such ways as are suitable to every realm. For example, in the animal realm, he can manifest as a lion or a deer, or as a tame animal. His activity is like a wheel that never stops -- through eons of time. Therefore, to discuss his life [or lives] is a concession to our view.
His activity is pervasive and permanent. He teaches whatever is necessary to lead to the attainment of ultimate freedom.
In every pore of his body, he gathers all pure and impure realms. We cannot conceive of this.
The "Introduction" then gives the reason for the writing of the text:
"All beings who hear or read this, lead them with the hook of Karmapa's compassion."
Karmapa embodies all Buddhas and therefore, is the teacher of all bodhisattvas. "The drumbeat of his name is renowned throughout all samsara and nirvana." By hearing his name or his supplication (Karmapa chenno) he causes the beginning of that which brings beings to liberation.
He is the Dharma King of the 3 Realms, therefore Karmapa is Buddha. According to the Causal Vehicle as expressed in the Sutras, In the beginning, he is the product of the two accumulations, wisdom and merit.
For the Vajrayanaist, having fully recognized his own nature as Vajradhara, he entered these mandalas spontaneoulsy, having accumulated three accumulations -- of morality, stability in meditation, and wisdom. (All aspects bound as one.) He conquered the 3 obscurations and the channels, winds and drops were purified and dissolved.
He is a Buddha having the 7 features of a buddha. Even bodhisattvas cannot understand his state, since they still have the cognitive obscuration.
As a Buddha, he displays form for the sake of others. In every existence as such, his life contains the 12 Deeds.
For example, as the 6th Buddha, or again as Senge Namdrel (Lion's Display [or, Roar].)
Now he is active as Buddha Amitabha in Sukhavati, but also as Chenrezi.
He was Guru Padmasambhava, Saraha, and Acharya Nagarjuna, Padampa Sangye, and also the Kadmapa Geshe, the Shakya Pandit. And he also appears as great kings, such as Songtsen Gampo [of Tibet,] and the Ming emperor, Yunglo. He will appear in whatever way to benefit beings, in different forms to suit different beings, and we cannot understand how this is possible.
When the 16th Karmapa came to the US he was asked, "Are there other bodhisattvas in the world?" and he answered, "They are all over but they will not necessarily look like me."
Guru Rinpoche gave predictions of the Black Hat and the names of the 21 Karmapas, and said there would be other emanations in other realms.
We have merit just to be able to hear this. There is also liberation by seeing, and by recollection of him and his deeds. And there is liberation by contact, for example, when Karmapa gives his blessing by means of touch.
[At this point in the 1999 video, the 76-year old Khenpo was visibly moved to tears. No doubt by memories of the 16th Karmapa but also perhaps by intimations of the impending peril.]
He continued: Anyone who has had these 4 types of contact (and especially, with faith) could reach liberation in this lifetime.
This outcome is not limited by "teaching." Consider, Tilopa's "abuse" of Naropa. Certainly Marpa's treatment of Milarepa can be considered "abuse." People are often moved to tears when they hear of the hardship he suffered.
His Holiness gave instructions for us to build this monastery and also, a residence. But KTD is not a distraction; it is the essence of the aspiration and it is like a container.
The 17th Karmapa's birth in Tibet was the beginning of the dispelling of the misery of the the Tibetan people.
The Karmapa particularly tames beings of the most degenerate age, and his lives are to bring beings into contact with his qualities. His "inner" and "secret" aspects are inconceivable to humans. Even his outer qualities are like the drop of a boundless ocean that is only the surface of his deeds.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: The abbot of KTD in Woodstock, NY, which is the seat of the Karmapa in the Americas, gave a moving commentary on the "Introduction" from Lives of the Karmapa, which is the namthar or sacred biography. Great trans. by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso. Available on video, US$30.
Gyalwa: Tibetan word meaning "lord who is like the ocean in his power and profundity." The Mongol word Dalai has a similar connotation.
directions: this is a convention meaning "omnipresent;" the 10 directions; that is, the 8 points of the compass plus up and down.
The moon is cooling: Tradition partly attributes the lessening of the day's heat to the appearance of the moon.