The Gyalwang Karmapa Opens the Third Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering
January 14, 2016 -Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar India
On a warm and sunny day, unusual for this time of year, the Third Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering began with the Gyalwang Karmapa entering the main shrine hall at Tergar Monastery and offering three prostrations to its golden Buddha and to the life-like statue of the Sixteenth Karmapa resting on a throne on front. The hall itself was filled with over 410 nuns attending from nine nunneries in Nepal, India, and Bhutan. The sides of the hall were lined with observers including many nuns and lay women from all over the world. The webcast in English, Chinese, and Spanish made this morning’s session available to more than two thousand listeners.
The participants have come to hear the Karmapa teach every morning for fourteen days on Gampopa’s Ornament of Precious Liberation; they are seeking to improve their debating skills through daily teachings and practice; and, on top of daily observances, they will participate in four days of sadhana and ritual practices: White Tara Who Bestows All Siddhis; Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga; Offerings to the Five Long Life Sisters (Tseringma), and the extensive Chӧ Ritual, A Garland of Jewels, composed by the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje. On the last day, February 3, the nuns will engage in a closing formal debate. Further, on an astrologically auspicious day, they will perform a special puja for the flourishing of the nuns’ Dharma.
This full program of study, practice, and debate embodies the Karmapa’s wish that the nuns engage and become skilled in the three trainings of discipline, meditation, and wisdom. As he has said in the past, “I think it’s important for me to do everything I can to support the nuns’ teachings and practice, to help them develop their listening, contemplation, and meditation. So from the bottom of my heart, I want to put as much effort into this as I can. This is appropriate for me to do from now until the end of this lifetime as it fits well with the activities of the previous Karmapas, and it’s also clearly necessary in our contemporary society.”
Today, the nuns’ chanting began appropriately with the Heart Sutra and its praise of the Great Mother:
The Perfection of Wisdom beyond speech, thought, and expression, The very essence of space unborn and unceasing, The realm of experience for wisdom aware of its nature To the mother of the buddhas in all three times, I bow.
Following an extensive mandala offering to His Holiness and his personal prayers, he began with thanks to everyone who had come from near and far and also expressed his appreciation to those who had made the gathering possible. He praised the nuns for their rapid improvement in the short time of two years and expressed his gratitude to them and their teachers for their interest and enthusiasm. The Karmapa began today’s teaching on The Ornament of Precious Liberation with Chapter Nine, The Proper Adoption of Bodhicitta. He gave a reading transmission for its first pages on the essential nature of bodhicitta, and following a tea break, he began his explanations.
The reasons for studying this text are quite clear, he stated: we are followers of the Dakpo Kagyu, Gampopa’s own lineage (he is also known as Dakpo Lhaje, the Physician from Dakpo). Further, as he was about to pass away, Gampopa said to his disciples, “You all might be thinking, ‘People in the future will not be able to meet him.’ However, I have written texts, such as The Ornament of Precious Liberation and The Precious Garland of the Supreme Path. Studying them is no different from meeting me.”
The Karmapa continued to explain that the Dakpo Kagyu lineage is known as the confluence of the Kadampa tradition and Milarepa’s Mahamudra lineage; these two do not contradict each other and Gampopa taught them free of error. “These days, however,” the Karmapa added, “we do not pay much attention to the Kadampa side of the tradition and tend to forget their teaching on the three types of individuals. Yet Gampopa stated that his ability to benefit living beings was due to the kindness of the Kadampa.” If we skip over these preliminaries or the common path, the Karmapa cautioned, and jump into advanced teachings like mahamudra, it will be quite difficult for our mind to be benefitted by them. “So we begin with the training in the three types of individuals,” he counseled, “and gradually work with our mind, improving ourselves to the point that we are well prepared to enter Mahamudra practice.” This way, he noted, the Dharma will function as Dharma (the second of Gampopa’s Four Dharmas).
The Karmapa then turned to Chapter Nine, The Proper Adoption of Bodhicitta, explaining that bodhicitta is the gateway to the mahayana: “Whether or not we have entered the mahayana depends on whether or not we have generated bodhicitta, which is indispensable. In the very beginning, we must have it and with it we can do everything.” He continued, “We should develop full certainty, unshakeable belief, that this is true by studying the scriptures, engaging in the logic, and thinking about the analogies.”
The Karmapa then spoke of the scriptures and first gave the condensed meaning of two important sutras. In The Purity of Maitreya Sutra, it is said that bodhicitta resembles a diamond: it does not change and, even if it were broken into fragments, they would be more brilliant than other jewels. The sutra also states that when bodhicitta has arisen within, without doing other practices, it can become a cause for full awakening. In the Gandavyuha Sutra, it is said that bodhicitta is the seed of all the Buddha’s qualities.
As for the treatises, the Karmapa explained that in Maitreya’s famed Ornament of Realization, the point about bodhicitta is the very first of all the seventy points that make up the text. Chandragomin speaks of bodhicitta as the path to happiness and the basis of the Mahayana in his Letter to Disciples. The great Tibetan masters from the past taught in their key instructions that if we have the wish for emancipation and bodhicitta that are stable and developed within our being, all our virtuous actions will become a cause for omniscience. Some masters add that bodhicitta is not only the gateway to the mahayana but also the entrance to the tantra of the mahayana as well. The Karmapa stated that in reflecting on these citations from the Buddha’s sutras, Indian masters’ treatises, and the writings of the Tibetan realized lamas, we can become certain that we could not do without bodhicitta.
The Karmapa then turned to indicating through logic that bodhicitta is the gateway to the Mahayana and gave several reasons. First, from the moment we generate bodhicitta, no matter what other qualities we might have, we have become a Mahayana practitioner, he said, and we are counted among the ranks of the bodhisattvas even if we do not engage in the conduct of a bodhisattva. Second, if we lose our bodhicitta, he cautioned, no matter what other qualities we might have, such as an understanding of emptiness, we descend to the level of the foundational vehicle, so the moment we are separated from bodhicitta, we have lost the mahayana path.
“What these reasons show us,” he said, “is that it is not enough for the Dharma to be the mahayana Dharma. It is important that individuals themselves enter the Mahayana.” With a mere understanding of bodhicitta, he noted, we will remain in a mere understanding of the mahayana. With authentic bodhicitta, our practice will be authentic Mahayana practice. “True bodhicitta,” he stated, “is the touchstone that determines whether or not we are real mahayana practitioners.
The major philosophical texts give long explanations of bodhicitta, the Karmapa noted, and there is much to understand from them, but for the sake of practice, an abbreviated definition is probably more useful. As he defined it, “Bodhicitta relates to our individual capacity, our mental strength or willingness, to take on responsibility for the sake of others.” We can say that we are Mahayana practitioners, he continued, but that does not really make us so. What does, he said, is our enthusiasm and ability to bear the responsibility of helping others. We should look to see if we have this or not. If we do, he explained, only then do we belong to the Mahayana.
The “maha” of mahayana means “great” or “big,” the Karmapa explained, but usually our bodhicitta is too small. To work for all living beings is not easy, he said, for it is hard to help one being to say nothing of all of them. “‘All living beings’ may sound impressive when we say it,” he cautioned, “but our minds cannot encompass the idea.” We may think to ourselves that we are doing quite well, but actually, he noted, we are not as great as we think. Forget about offering the ultimate benefit, it is even difficult to help on a relative level, he said.
What we can do, he advised, is train our minds to become strong so they can take on increasingly greater responsibility. This is the purpose of the well-known practices of mind training (lojong) and the graduated path. The Karmapa compared this training to that of developing physical strength. We start out lifting three, four, or five pounds, then eighteen and so on, gradually building our strength so that we can finally press a hundred. Similarly, there are the mental stages of daily practice that develop our bodhicitta and increase our ability to help others.
The Karmapa then told a story about a Tibetan who had a doubt about the practice of Sarvavid Vairocana (Kunrik in Tibetan). In old Tibet, he related, this was a popular text for purifying the lower realms so when a ritual was requested for the deceased, it was usually the Sarvavid so almost everyone had the text. The questioner asked the lama whether this practice belonged to the foundational vehicle (hinayana) or to the great vehicle (mahayana).
The lama replied, “In general the text, of course, belongs to the mahayana since it is a practice of the secret mantrayana.” However, the lama was clever and looking carefully at his questioner, he said, “But for the two of us the practice belongs neither to the great vehicle nor even to the foundational one.” The Karmapa explained, “Whether the Dharma we are practicing is the mahayana Dharma or not depends on whether the individual is really practicing the mahayana. So it is not just a question of the Dharma itself, but it depends on the individual practicing it.”
Then the Karmapa shifted the question: “If we asked that lama about the Dharma we have been practicing up to now, what would he say?” If the lama replied, “It’s not the greater or the foundational Dharma,” that would not be too bad, the Karmapa remarked, but if he said, “It’s not Dharma at all,” that would be problematic. So we must ask ourselves, the Karmapa said, “Is the Dharma I’ve been practicing up to now, the actual, true Dharma? Has the Dharma become the Dharma?” It’s not easy to answer this, the Karmapa said: “We should not be satisfied with the mere appearance of the Dharma, with a practice that reflects local customs, or one that is a fake in some other way. We have to look at ourselves and see if we can engage in actual practice, in the real thing, in what’s authentic.” With this probing question, the Karmapa ended the teachings on this first day.
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 …
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 …
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…
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 …
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. …
Thursday, 01 June 2017 16:04Lavania Saraf, Tibet Post International
London, UK — "Free from concretizing the eight worldly concerns, we train our mind in the illusion-like outlook that sees things as not real," the 17th Karmapa said during his first trip to the UK, Through training our mind, "our compassion and patience increase and our minds open up."
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was received with anticipation and delight on his first visit to the United Kingdom on May 17th, 2017. His arrival in central London was received by numeral devotees and included a special reception with traditional English afternoon tea.
The visit had been highly anticipated by Karmapa himself, especially due to the strong dharmic connection between the United Kingdom and the Karmapa lineage, believed to be established earlier by the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. On May 18th, Karmapa visited the British Museum where some of the most crucial documents and artifacts in the his…