Gyalwang Karmapa Grants Teachings, Initiation At Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo’s Nunnery
1 October, 2104 – Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery
On the second day of his visit to Dongyu Gatsal Ling—the nunnery founded by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo—His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, conferred Mahamudra teachings and granted White Tara empowerment. The entire local Drukpa Kagyu community turned out to receive the Gyalwang Karmapa and to take teachings and empowerment from him. The main shrine room was packed as the nunnery’s 92 nuns were joined by the monks of nearby Khampagar Tashi Jong, filling all the available space in the ample hall. Outdoors, the lay community watched the proceedings on a huge screen in the tented courtyard. Yet the offsite audience far exceeded the number of those present, as over 20,000 people connected to the event’s live webcast.
His Holiness opened the morning session by expressing his delight at the level of education and general welfare that the nunnery was providing to its nuns. He especially praised their monastic discipline, and expressed his appreciation to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo for all she had done to make it possible. The nunnery had requested the Gyalwang Karmapa to confer the oral transmission and commentary on the Mahamudra Aspiration Prayer by the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. Rather than limit his presentation to this seminal text from his own Karma Kagyu lineage, the Karmapa gave an extensive teaching focused more broadly on Mahamudra, as the core practice common to Drukpa Kagyu, Karma Kagyu and all other Kagyu lineages.
The Gyalwang Karmapa’s discourse on Mahamudra ranged from historical contextualization to pith practice instructions to a discussion of its scriptural sources. Where different Kagyu lineages had differing interpretations, the Gyalwang Karmapa was careful to note what position on those issues had been taken by the luminaries of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. The philosophical presentation was interspersed with pith advice and anecdotes from the lives of various masters connected to the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, including Gyalwa Götsangpa and Gyalwa Yang-gönpa.
His Holiness the Karmapa related a pith instruction that Lord Gampopa had given to Phagmodrupa, one of his three main disciples and a forefather within the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. Phagmodrupa had studied widely under Kadam masters, and had also received the Lamdre teachings from Jetsun Sakyapa. All the while, he was intent on finding a satisfactory answer to the question of what traps us in samsara. As he traveled around Tibet meeting the great masters of the day, everywhere he posed the question to them. He generally received the standard explanation that it is ignorance that binds us to samsara—an answer that is correct in itself, but too easily left at an intellectual level. However, it was Lord Gampopa who prompted a deep transformation within Phagmodrupa’s mind by replying that it is the consciousness that is present in this very moment—or our present awareness—that binds us to samsara. Phagmodrupa was deeply struck by the teaching that this is what binds us to samsara, but that this is also the basis for our liberation from cyclic existence.
Before turning to the oral transmission of the Mahamudra text by the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, the 17th Karmapa cited Lord Gampopa’s observation that his ability to be of such vast benefit was thanks to the Kadampa teachings. Lord Gampopa himself had immersed himself deeply in the Kadampa teachings before receiving the Mahamudra and Six Yogas of Naropa from Milarepa, two streams of teachings that flow through the Kagyu lineages that run through him. Naropa’s advice is very profound, Gampopa had said. But without the teachings of the Jowo Kadampa that can be applied to all levels of beings, the teachings of Naropa would be of less benefit.
“If you immerse your mind in the awareness of death and impermanence and the law of cause of effect first, for sure your mind will improve,” the Gyalwang Karmapa said, echoing the advice of Lord Gampopa. “But if you engage in a practice like Mahamudra without a prior foundation of contemplation on death and impermanence and karma, it is not at all certain whether you will get worse or better by practicing Mahamudra.”
“Tame your mind well,” the Karmapa urged the audience. “Then practice Mahamudra.”
Following the teachings, the Gyalwang Karmapa granted the oral transmission of the Mahamudra text composed by his predecessor the 3rd Karmapa. The entire assembly then took a break for lunch, and reconvened in the assembly hall and courtyard for an afternoon session at 2pm.
As he began the empowerment during the afternoon session, His Holiness noted that the original plan had called for him to grant a 21-Tara empowerment. However, he said he had decided instead to give a White Tara initiation in honor of the complete retreat he had done on this deity while still in Tibet. This decision had been inspired, he said, by the presence of the female deities depicted throughout the assembly hall. During the empowerment, His Eminence the 8th Dorzong Rinpoche, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the 8th Drugu Chogyal Rinpoche and Nupgon Chogyal Rinpoche each approached the throne to receive the vase empowerment directly from the Gyalwang Karmapa.
After the White Tara empowerment was complete, the Gyalwang Karmapa took the remainder of the session to address the issue of bhikshuni ordination. He spoke at length on the importance of establishing a bhikshuni sangha within Tibetan Buddhism. He said that some people have the misunderstanding that making full ordination available to women is part of an effort to modernize. “Some people have the wrong assumption that because of the talk of gender equality, women are seeking to become more visible and demanding more respect,” he said. “Actually, I think the respect for women was there in the beginning.” He went on to make a strong case in favor of reinstating the opportunity for women to receive the bhikshuni ordination that the Buddha had originally granted them.
As he spoke, His Holiness the Karmapa used the Tibetan term “tsunma” (meaning “venerable”) to refer to nuns. He expressed his preference for “tsunma” as opposed to “ani” (meaning “auntie”) the colloquial term commonly used for nuns in Tibetan, saying it was not the best choice and commented that he himself did not know where the use of the term “ani” had originated. He reminisced that in the area of Kham where he was born, people used the term “jomo” to refer to nuns. Jomo was a high term of respect, reserved in ancient times for queens.
Continuing his explanation of the need for a bhikshuni sangha, the Karmapa explained that the ideal basis for practicing the Dharma is provided by the precious human rebirth, meaning a human body that is endowed with ten conducive conditions and free from eight adverse conditions. As is made clear in the sutras and shastra commentarial treatises, the Karmapa stated, this entails being born in a land where the Buddhadharma is fully available, which requires the presence of the four-fold circle of disciples—bhikshu sangha, bhikshuni sangha, upasakas (male lay followers) and upasikas (female lay followers). His Holiness joked that whereas democracy is built around the three pillars of executive, judicial and legislative branches, the Buddhadharma requires four cardinal pillars to be able to stand firm. In Tibetan Buddhism, because of the absence of one pillar, he said, the building is in a more shaky state.
He pointed out that women comprise more than half the world’s population, and among those practicing the Dharma the proportion is even higher. Although both women and men are needed as upholders of the teachings, only those with a male body currently have access to all the conditions needed to fully uphold the teachings. This needs to change so that women too have the full opportunity to become complete holders of the teachings.
In conclusion, he expressed his aspiration that the nunnery Dongyu Gatsal Ling become a place that produces important upholders of the Buddhadharma, and serve as a place where the Dharma is maintained fully.
As the Karmapa’s words of encouragement resounded in the hearts of all those present in the nunnery, they were echoed in the dozens of countries around the world where people connected to the live transmission. Along with the many people watching across Asia, students tuned in everywhere from Estonia to Zimbabwe and from Argentina to Morocco. Among the countries with a growing number of viewers were 1,000 connected from Germany, which His Holiness had recently visited on his first European tour earlier this year, closely followed by Mexico with over 800 computers connected.
Aldershot, Hampshire, England – Morning, May 27, 2017
Early on this day of the Karmapa’s visit to the Nepali community in Aldershot, the double arch of a luminous rainbow filled the sky. It recalled his first visit to the US when rainbows followed him everywhere on the East Coast. The Karmapa was invited by the Buddhist Community Centre UK to this beautiful area of England, famous for its military garrisons and home to a sizeable population of Gurkha soldiers who have served in the British army. In 2006 they were allowed to live in England and in 2007, the Buddhist Community Centre UK was founded by Mr. Kaji Sherpa. He had the vision of establishing a Buddhist monastery to serve the growing Buddhist Community in this southeast region of the UK.
His daughter explained that about half of the Gurkha population in Nepal is Buddhist, and that her father felt a need for Buddhist guidance in this community, so a committee of Nepalis purchased a social club and completely transformed it into a …
During his first visit to the UK from May 17 to 28, 2017, the Karmapa, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist leader, joined former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams together with scientists, scholars and cultural figures for a dialogue on the environment hosted by the International Campaign for Tibet and Inspire Dialogue Foundation.
The round table discussion, held on May 24, 2017, was intended to bring together perspectives “between disciplines and generations” as the beginning of an ongoing exchange, according to Lord Williams, Master of Magdalen College and a noted poet and theologian. It involved figures from the arts and sciences, including Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre in London; James Thornton, the founding CEO of ClientEarth; Dame Fiona Reynolds, former Director-General of the National Trust; Dr Bhaskar Vira, Director, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute; Tracey Seaward, film producer …
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, made his first visit to the United Kingdom this month.
At 31 years old, Ogyen Trinley Dorje is head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, a reincarnation lineage that dates back more than 900 years. His Holiness was born in eastern Tibet but fled to India in 2000, where he now resides at the Gyuto Monastery near Dharamshala. He is the only reincarnate Lama to have been recognised by both His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese communist government.
The Karmapa’s 11-day visit began on May 17 and the first public event was held on May 20 in London’s Battersea Park.
“I would like to express my great delight at this opportunity that has come to pass for me to visit London, the capital of the United Kingdom, for the first time. Especially, I would like to extend my warmest greetings to all you friends who are gathered here. I have been waiting for a long time to visit the United King…
May 29, 2017 - The 17th Karmapa, one of Tibet’s leading Buddhist figures arrived in Toronto yesterday on his first visit to Canada. Known for his concerns about current global issues as well as for his spiritual leadership, the 31-year-old Karmapa will engage in a wide range of religious activities and will speak on environmental and social responsibility at various universities.
During his month long trip to Canada, the Karmapa will travel to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. In doing so, he is following in the footsteps of his predecessor the 16th Karmapa, who travelled extensively throughout the country and was instrumental in introducing Canadians to Buddhism in the 1970s.
Head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the 17th holder of a 900-year old lineage. Born in a nomadic family in eastern Tibet, he made headline news in 2000 with his dramatic escape to India, where he now lives near the Dalai Lama. The 17th …
This morning the Karmapa traveled to a northwest suburb of London to visit the impressive BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, the largest Hindu temple in Europe. Marble and limestone have been brought alive by Indian artists, who carved every inch with intricate design. The founder of this Hindu bhakti tradition was guru Swaminarayan (1781-1830), famous for his support of the poor and encouraging women’s education. He was also known for his vegetarianism and opposition to animal sacrifice, positions that the Karmapa also supports.
At the temple, the Karmapa was met by Pujya Yogvivekdas Swami and offered the traditional greeting of a garland of flowers, a tika (the red mark of blessing) and a blessed cord. The Karmapa was then guided through the temple to see an exhibition on understanding Hinduism. Always curious, he asked many question of the guide. He then participated in prayers with the swami and other priests in two of the shrine rooms, both of white m…
Worshipped as a living god, will the 17th Karmapa Lama also inherit the Dalai Lama’s imagery of divinity and celebrity? By MARTIN REGG COHNOntario Politics Columnist Tues., May 30, 2017
It is not his destiny to be the next Dalai Lama. For he is already reincarnated as the 17th Karmapa Lama.
Yet he may one day succeed his 81-year-old teacher and protector.
Revered since age 7 as spiritual leader of a 1,000-year-old branch of Tibetan Buddhism, Ogyen Trinley Dorje is making his first trip to Canada this week at the age of 31.
Meeting Ontario politicians Tuesday before sitting down for an interview, the Karmapa padded around Queen’s Park in a pair of brown hiking shoes peeking out from under his simple maroon robes. A picture of youthful wisdom with his direct gaze, towering above other monks at six feet tall, he may yet emerge as the public face of Tibetan Buddhism
Worshipped as a living god and the Buddha of Compassion, will he also inherit the Dalai Lama’s imagery of divinity and celebrity?
May 27, 2017 – Lakeside International Hotel, Frimley Green, England
In the concluding public event of the 17th Karmapa’s first visit to the United Kingdom, nearly 2,000 people gathered at Lakeside International Hotel near Frimley Green in Surrey to receive an Amitayus Long Life empowerment. The Nepalese and Gurkha community turned out in force to welcome the 17th Karmapa and were joined by devotees from the UK, Europe, America, and other countries worldwide. This was the second part of a one-day program organised by the Buddhist Community Centre UK.
Monks from various Kagyu European centres and the Karmapa’s ritual master and attendants had worked hard to prepare the stage for the empowerment. The golden pagoda used during the Chenresik empowerment earlier in the visit now enshrined an image of Amitayus and a smaller image of Guru Rinpoche. To the left of the images, a large bowl contained long-life pills made from roasted barley and butter and to the right four bowls contained long-lif…
Transforming Disturbing Emotions: Dialogue of the Three Major Traditions of Buddhism Date: Thursday, June 1st, 9:30AM – 12:00PM Place: University of Toronto, Convocation Hall (MAP) Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp9TaET_SNw
How to Apply Ancient Wisdom in Modern Times In these two sessions, His Holiness will discuss the basic nature of mind and the methods of obtaining happiness through listening to and contemplating the teachings of the Buddha, and then meditating according to the teachings. Date: Friday, June 2nd, 9:30-11:30AM, 2:00-4:30PM Place:The Enercare Centre, Hall D (MAP) Video: How to Apply Ancient Wisdom in Modern Times 1…
May 31, 2017– In the morning after his arrival, at 9:00AM, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje arrived at Karma Sonam Dargye Ling– a Tibetan Buddhist centre under the direction of Lama Tenzin Dakpa. This was a visit of great significance, as the centre was first established in 1976 by the venerable Lama Namsel Rinpoche under the request of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.
Upon arrival, His Holiness was ushered into the main shrine hall and seated on the highest throne, on which he proceeded to receive a body-speech-mind offering from the sangha. The yellow rice and tea ceremony followed in sequence for the welcome ceremony. Shortly after tea was served, the current resident teacher of Karma Sonam Dargye Ling, Lama Tenzin Dakpa, rose to speak.
Lama Tenzin referenced the founder of this centre, Lama Namsel Rinpoche, as one of the first Canadian resident lamas to request for His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa to visit Canada. …