How to Free Ourselves from Suffering and Achieve Lasting Happiness
Paris, France – June 4, 2016
Gyalwang Karmapa began the afternoon session with a short recap. He explained that the first two truths concern afflicted states, in terms of suffering and its origin. He then began an exploration of the third Noble Truth, that of the cessation of suffering.
He reminded everyone that there are two aspects to the truth of the origin of suffering— karma and the afflictions—and that the basis of all our afflictions is clinging to what we perceive as reality. “So we need to examine whether what we cling to as being true, as being real, is actually real or not” he explained. This is difficult because we are working from “the perspective of clinging to reality itself.” This way of thinking lacks the capacity to examine whether its objects actually exist in the way it thinks they do. For that reason, in order to examine whether what we perceive as reality is actually the way things are, we need to use another way of thinking. Then, after careful analysis, we will realise that ultimately phenomena do not exist in the way we have been perceiving them. Once we have realised this, we can understand that the way we cling to phenomena as being real is not the actual nature of how they are. Consequently, we will be able to “develop the great confidence that we can liberate ourselves from such fixation on reality and the confidence that we can liberate ourselves from the afflictions”.
Because clinging to reality is the root of all the afflictions, once we have overturned our clinging to reality, we are able to see that this clinging to reality is the source of all the afflictions. In addition, when we realise that this view of reality is based on a fiction, then the afflictions which it supports can be naturally overcome and destroyed. As these afflictions are the root of our suffering, by overcoming them we can eliminate our suffering.
When we say “liberation,” primarily what we mean is freeing ourselves from the afflictions by eliminating them. This is called “cessation” because, once we achieve this, suffering ceases. This is the third of the Four Noble Truths. What remains after we have eliminated the afflictions is also known as the “utterly pure aspect of phenomena,” and this is the happiness that we seek to attain.
The fourth Noble Truth, the truth of the path, teaches that it is possible to achieve liberation from suffering and ultimate, lasting happiness. Hence, it is important to practice the truth of the path. Within the truth of the path, there are the different practices of the three paths in the three different vehicles (foundational, mahayana and vajrayana). Primarily, when we speak of practicing the truth of the path, this includes the practices of the 37 factors of enlightenment, which are practiced in stages along the path. For example, at the beginning, on the path of accumulation, we begin with the practices of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the Four Feet of Miracles, and so forth. Each stage of the path has its own particular practices.
The Karmapa warned that before asking ourselves which level or stage of the path we are on, we should begin by asking whether we have even entered the path. The answer depends on which vehicle we ascribe to. In the Hinayana or Foundation Vehicle an individual is said to have entered the path when they have generated an uncontrived desire for liberation. In the Mahayana, however, an individual has not entered the path until they have generated uncontrived bodhichitta within their being.
“In this way, the Four Noble Truths give a complete explanation of how to achieve ultimate happiness, its causes and results,” His Holiness concluded, “and how to liberate ourselves from the suffering we do not want and its causes.”
The session ended once more with questions and answers.
The first question posed the problem of what to do when you feel happy and in control of your life, and find it difficult to see life as suffering. The Karmapa suggested that this was exactly the situation he had described in the morning’s teaching: failing to recognise suffering as suffering. We needed to be very clear about the three different types of suffering; suffering includes not just suffering but pleasant and neutral experiences as well. Things appearing to us as pleasant may still be suffering.
Further, he continued, we should ask ourselves whether we really do exercise control over our lives, because while we are under the power of karma and the afflictions, we do not have control. “If we want to liberate ourselves from the three types of suffering, and from samsara, then we have to liberate ourselves from the pervasive suffering of formation,” he concluded. If we do not want to liberate ourselves, it’s irrelevant.
Two related questions asked how to increase our inner joy and go beyond sadness. His Holiness replied that these were fundamental questions and difficult to answer. However, drawing on his own experience, he suggested that the labels we attach to an experience alter how we see it. By changing our perspective on difficulties we could generate inner happiness. Ultimately, “if we have inner contentment, we will naturally be happy”, he said.
The third question was how to satisfy everybody’s wishes and accomplish the benefit of others when it seemed that helping one person resulted in upsetting others. His Holiness commented that it is extremely difficult to satisfy the wishes of all sentient beings because they have so many diverse capabilities, interests and inclinations. One act or deed would not be able to achieve this.
The work of the bodhisattvas is to bring sentient beings what they want, and bodhisattvas do as much as they can. However, some things can be accomplished but others cannot. Because they have such extraordinary and vast bodhichitta and great courage, when they encounter things that are difficult to accomplish, bodhisattvas make the aspiration to be able to accomplish them in future. Many people asked the Karmapa for help, he said, and sometimes he was able to help, but not always. “I begin to understand why Chenrezik has four arms or a thousand arms,” His Holiness commented, referring to the huge thangka of thousand-armed Chenrezig hanging to the right of his throne. “Each arm represents something he can do to benefit others, and the thousand arms are so he can multi-task”. It is the capability we need in order to be able to satisfy the wishes of all sentient beings.
It is important to first see whether or not we can accomplish their wish, the Karmapa advised, and if we are not able to do so, we should make the sincere aspiration to be able to do so in the future.
There were several questions about the pervasive suffering of formation, asking for examples. His Holiness quoted from the Buddhist scriptures: “When you have a hair in your palm you can barely feel it; when it gets in your eye, it is extremely painful.” For ordinary beings, the pervasive suffering of formation is like a hair in the palm of the hand, but for the noble ones it is like a hair that gets in the eye.
There was then a question about the best way to help refugees during the current problem in Europe. The Karmapa referred first to the great European tradition of accepting refugees ever since the Second World War. However, he agreed, now it was particularly difficult because of the great numbers; there had been no time to prepare and make plans, and there were cultural differences, so the future was uncertain. Many of these refugees had come because of the civil wars and conflicts in the Middle East, for which Western countries share some of the responsibility, he observed. The real need, therefore, was to find a way to resolve those conflicts, otherwise refugees would continue to arrive.
His Holiness was then asked to clarify the meaning of renunciation. He explained it as the expression of compassion for one’s self. Using the analogy of the two sides of the same coin, he explained that when we have developed the uncontrived wish to free ourselves from karma and the afflictions, we have developed renunciation. When we have the wish to free other sentient beings, we have developed compassion.
Responding to a question on collective suffering, the Karmapa pointed out that in Buddhist literature there were many examples of this during the time of the Buddha. Many people made the mistake of viewing karma in a very limited way such as connections between individuals. On the contrary, the workings of karma are vast and extend across space and time. “We have been making these connections with sentient beings from beginning less time…across the entire universe,” the Karmapa elaborated, and given this huge inter connecting karmic web, it is imperative that we take responsibility for ourselves and our actions.
The afternoon session finally concluded, and His Holiness left the stage. The audience reluctantly drifted from the hall to cafés, restaurants, or their hotel rooms, and the security staff prepared for the next event. Outside, in the grey afternoon, lines of Tibetans were waiting to come into the conference hall for a special audience organised for Tibetans living in France. The Gyalwang Karmapa’s work for the day was not yet finished.
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 …
Government agencies had for long suspected that the Karmapa was a “Chinese spy”, but a decision was recently taken to review the restrictions on his travel in an attempt to “engage” him.
Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | Published:May 24, 2017 2:26 am
The government is set to lift the travel restrictions imposed on Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. The Home Ministry has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Karmapa be allowed to travel to any part of the country, except Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, without seeking prior permission from New Delhi.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu (Black Hat) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in Tibet and escaped to India through Nepal at the age of 14. He reached McLeod Ganj, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, in 2000. He lives in Dharamshala and is recognised by the Dalai Lama.
Government agencies had for long suspected that the Karmapa was a “Chinese spy”, but a decision was re…
May 24, 2017 – St Catharine’s and King’s College, Cambridge, England
Today His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa left London and travelled north to Cambridge, a city whose name has become almost synonymous with its world-famous university. The Karmapa’s visit to Cambridge was hosted by the International Buddhist Confederation’s Secretary for Environment and Conservation, Dr Barbara Maas.
His Holiness’s day in Cambridge began with an academic seminar on animal sentience and animal welfare science, and their significance for our relationship with and treatment of animals. Veterinarians turned animal welfare scientists, Dr Murray Corke and Peter Fordyce from the University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine, provided His Holiness with background about the complexities of assessing the wellbeing of animals and introduced him to some of the latest research developments that have transformed our understanding of animal awareness and suffering. These include a wide range of behavioural and physio…
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…
DHARAMSHALA, MAY 24: In a positive development for the Tibetan religious figure 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, the Indian government is reportedly set to lift the travel restrictions currently in place.
The Home Ministry has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Karmapa be allowed to travel to any part of the country, except Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, without seeking prior permission from New Delhi. The CCS chaired by PM Modi is a core committee on National Security with the MoD and the MEA among other significant panels, which offer directives on the Karmapa’s security and movement among other things.
The move in question has received a shot in the arm earlier this week when a delegation of monks from various monasteries in Sikkim met with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging permission for the Seventeenth Karmapa to visit Sikkim.
The delegation led by the Sangha MLA Sonam Kelyon Lama, who is the elected poli…
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 …
Karma Kagyu Association of Canada (KKAC) May 25, 2017 11:25 ET
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 25, 2017) - The Karma Kagyu Association of Canada (KKAC) is privileged to officially host the first Canadian tour of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The month long visit will begin with a large welcoming group upon his arrival at Toronto's, Pearson International Airport on May 29, http://www.karmapacanada.org. His Holiness's visit will proceed to Calgary and end in Vancouver while experiencing many of Canada's natural beauties in his travels across the country.
Born in June 1985, Karmapa was born into a nomad family in Lhatok, in the remote highlands of the region of Eastern Tibet. He was given the name, Apo Gaga, meaning "Happy Brother". In the months prior to his birth, his mother had wonderful, spiritual dreams. On the day of his birth, a cuckoo landed on the tent in which he was born, and many people in the area heard a mysterious trum…
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?