The Conference Hall of the Marriott Rive-Gauche has been transformed a shrine hall. In the center of the stage is a radiant throne topped by cluster of golden flaming jewels. Behind a long thangka of the Buddha is flanked by a 1000-armed Avalokiteshvara and, emphasizing the nonsectarian approach to Dharma, a thangka of the Eight Great Charioteers or the Lineages of Transmission in Tibet (nyingma, kadampa, sakya, Marpa kagyu, shangpa kagyu, shije and chö , kalachakra or jordrug, and Orgyen nyengyu). To stage right is a pagoda with two floating roofs. Inside the upper shrine is a statue of the Buddha and below this is enshrined a lovely four-armed Avalokiteshvara.
With a capacity of 1600, the hall is filled to overflowing. Above, the ceiling lights are set in waves of crystal, recalling the waves of blessing a buddha brings. And it was only recently discovered that this hall is quite special: in 1975 the Sixteenth Karmapa had taught in this very same room. At the time it had another name, PLN Saint-Jacques, so the organizers were unaware of the connection when they made their choice of venue.
After his initial prayers, the Gyalwang Karmapa began his teaching by extending his warm welcome to everyone and saying that this was his first chance to come to France and its capital, Paris. He recalled that the great Sixteenth Karmapa was one of the first major Tibetan lamas to come to Europe and that he visited numerous countries to create Dharma connections with many people. Afterward, his heart sons came to Europe and continued his activity.
The Karmapa mentioned that he, too, wished to visit many countries—it was one of the reasons for his leaving Tibet—and finally he has been able to visit the United States, Germany, and Switzerland. He joked that with precognition, he would have come to France first and afterward, Switzerland, thus avoiding all the rain and the strikes in France. Since he has not yet had the chance to appreciate the famous beauty of Paris, he surmised that he would have to return.
Turning to the subject of his talk, the Karmapa mentioned that the Four Noble Truths are profound and vast; they embody the essence of the Buddha’s teachings and relate more to practice and experience than philosophy. We know the Buddha turned the wheel of Dharma three times, but it is difficult to connect them to a particular time, so they are differentiated through their subject matter. Given to the Buddha’s five original disciples in Sarnath, the Four Noble Truths belong to the first turning and marked the beginning of the Buddha’s long teaching career.
All living beings wish to be free of suffering and to know happiness, the Karmapa stated, and the Four Noble Truths condense all aspects of this basic situation of our lives. The first two truths of suffering and its origin deal with the cause and result of the suffering we do not want and the last two truths deal with the cause and result of the happiness we seek.
“First we have to ask ourselves, however, what we really need and what we should avoid,” he said. If we take the Four Noble Truths as the basis of our discussion and look at them in terms of cause and effect, we can discover how to avoid what we do not want and attain what we do want. But we cannot have we want just through wanting, and we cannot avoid what we do not want by simply not wanting; we must understand how cause and effect work. The Buddha taught the two sets of cause and effect that make up the Four Noble Truths on the basis of what we should leave aside and take up.
The First Noble Truth is that of suffering, and in general, we understand suffering to mean “pain” or “the sensation of suffering.” But suffering does not just refer to a headache or stomach cramps. There are many different kinds of suffering, which can be condensed into three types: the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and all-pervasive suffering. Most sentient beings recognize the first type of suffering, which is the pain we experience and try to escape in various ways.
We perceive things based on the data our sense faculties send via the nervous system to our brain. Through this signaling, we experience most of the suffering we know. “If we do not directly experience something, however, then even though it exists and is fearsome or dangerous, we do not perceive it,” the Karmapa explained. “If we look at the dangerous environmental problems that exist, for example, we do not take them so seriously because we do not see them,” he noted. We need physical experience, he said, and the ensuing brain activity to know something is dangerous. Without this, then one day, when we finally learn that these problems pose a great danger and will bring untold suffering, it is usually too late.
“So it is important to understand,” he remarked, “that suffering does not just depend on the signals from our sense faculties that arrive in our brain. We need to capacity to think from the perspective of the object that is causing the suffering and come to know its actual nature.”
The Karmapa then spoke of the second type of suffering, the suffering of change. “The Buddha taught that the feeling of happiness or contentment is the suffering of change, so ‘suffering’ does not necessarily mean the sensation of suffering,” the Karmapa remarked. “We need to distinguish between suffering and the feeling of suffering.”
It could be said that all feelings of happiness come down to suffering. A classic example is carrying a heavy load on one of our shoulders. If we do this for a long time, it will become uncomfortable, so we shift the load to the other shoulder and feel relieved. But after a while, it too will be come uncomfortable. This illustrates the suffering of change: at first we do not experience something as suffering, but then it comes later. Sometimes we can also experience a decrease in tremendous suffering as happiness.
The Karmapa next gave an example from his homeland, where in the beginning they did not have many things, but then motorbikes, cars, and new houses came along and traditional ways felt more difficult. This new lifestyle also brought competition and feeling that one had to keep up with the neighbors. “The more things people had, the more problems they experienced. So at first these new things brought a feeling of pleasure and then they brought more problems,” he remarked. Sometimes people in underdeveloped countries are happier. Now in my homeland, people are not as content as they were before because they are preoccupied with things and experiencing the suffering of change.
Finally the Karmapa explained all-pervasive suffering. “We have seen,” he summarized, “that what is pleasant and unpleasant both create suffering. And it is also true that suffering is created by what is neutral as well–the defiled aggregates (form, feeling, discernment, mental formations, and consciousness), which arise from the afflictions. It is this third, all-pervasive suffering that serves as a basis for the first two types of suffering.
Some of the suffering we seek to avoid we are able to recognize and some not. This is a danger we face because not identifying clearly what suffering is makes it difficult for us to find happiness. The Karmapa added that the situation is compounded by the fact that we take suffering to be happiness.
The Karmapa has noticed that in wealthier countries, some Dharma practitioners feel there is not much meaning in the pleasures and luxuries available to them. They have a neutral kind of feeling resembling boredom, but this does not mean that they have recognized the meaning or nature of suffering. Usually what makes us wish to be free of samsara is the first type of obvious suffering, but to truly liberate ourselves from samsara, we need to be free of this third type of all-pervasive suffering, which is more subtle.
As we saw, the first Noble Truth is the result of the second one. “And in terms of the result,” he stated, “we have some choice, but we usually do not understand the causes, which relate to what we should leave aside and what we should take up.” Since these are more difficult to deal with, this second Truth of the Origin of suffering is important.” “What is the actual cause of suffering?” he asked. Karma and afflictions. Since karma is too vast a subject, the Karmapa focused on the afflictions of ignorance, excessive desire, hatred, pride, and jealousy, and described the root of the afflictions as the ignorance that takes things to be concrete and real. This reification functions as the basis for all the other afflictions; for example, thinking that the object of our hatred is truly existent.
“We project, or superimpose, a reality onto an object that it does not have and our clinging to this can be quite strong,” he noted. For example, in a crowd of people, there is someone named Tashi. Another person calls out this name and says negative things about him, and a person named Tashi thinks he is being attacked and gets angry. But the name is just a label, which we understand to be the case, and still take to be true or real. The usage of the word “true” here is not the opposite of “false” but a clinging to something as if it were real.
If we understood the real situation, the Karmapa remarked, we could see that the “I” to which we cling is not real nor is the object of this “I.” First we cling to a self, understood to be independent and self-existent, and then to the other, which automatically arises since self and other are established in dependence on each other. “There is nothing in this world that does not exist through relying on something else,” he stated. We do not need philosophy, however, to understand this; we can look at our lives and see how our food, clothing, and so forth, all depend on others. The Karmapa summarized, “We need to reverse this clinging to things as real and find true freedom and a spacious mind.
Questions and answers followed.
One questioner asked how to become free of additions like sugar, caffeine, and alcohol even when we know they are harmful. The Karmapa replied that it is not easy to face the afflictions; however, we should look for the solution inside ourselves as Buddhism primarily teaches how to tame our mindstream. We could devote our whole lives to this process and only be partially successful because our habits are rigid and ancient. The afflictions are difficult to identify; difficult to see as faults; and difficult to see as something we should oppose. It is difficult to develop the courage to work against them, and difficult to make the decision to do so. Therefore, we have to deal with them step by step: first identifying them, then understanding how harmful they are, and so forth.
The next question asked “What prayers should we say before we eat?” and the Karmapa expanded it to talk about our attitude toward food in general. “We should see food as medicine,” he explained, “taking it in the proper amount and at certain times.” Food is the main way we sustain our body, so like medicine we need to take it properly. In Buddhism we make an offering of the food we eat and this is especially important for the ordained Sangha because what they eat is offered by faithful disciples and should not go to waste. When we eat it with care and mindfulness, it becomes meaningful. At the beginning of the meal, we make an offering to the three jewels, and at the end we dedicate the merit. In this way, eating food becomes an important practice. With this advice, the morning session came to an end.
One of the most important Tibetan Buddhist leaders worries about the growing Chinese influence and diminishing numbers of the community in exile
Sanjay Kapoor Delhi
In the year 2000, a 14-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorji or Karmapa Lama, head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of Tibetan Buddhists, escaped from Tibet and walked across the mighty Himalayas to India. His daring escape was viewed with suspicion by some who thought that it was part of a Chinese conspiracy to disrupt Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist Exile community in India. Karmapa, who was selected through a complicated process that combined prophecy and rigorous interviews by Buddhist monks in Tibet, through the force of his charismatic personality has been seeking to assuage the misgivings and controversies that plague the exile community. Karmapa lives in Dharamshala, where Tibet’s capital in exile is located. He enjoys an excellent relationship with Dalai Lama and many see in him as the spiritual lea…
United Kingdom Tour - 2017 (London Time)
May 2011:00 - 12:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break15:00 - 16:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind
May 2111:00 - 12:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break15:00 - 17:00• Chenrezik Empowerment
May 2714:00 - 18:00• Long Life Empowerment
United Kingdom Tour - 2017 (Indian Time)
May 2015:30 - 17:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break19:30 - 21:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind
May 2115:30 - 17:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break19:30 - 21:30• Chenrezik Empowerment
May 2718:30 - 22:30• Long Life Empowerment
Gangtok, May 20 (PTI) A delegation of monks of various monasteries of Sikkim met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging early permission for Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit the state.
The monks called on Singh, who is on a two-day visit here, at the Raj Bhavan last evening, officials said.
They submitted the resolution taken after a peace rally here on May 18 which urged the Government of India to grant one of the "most important demand and aspiration" of the Buddhists of Sikkim seeking early permission for the Karmapa to visit Sikkim.
The delegation was led by the Sangha MLA Sonam Kelyon Lama, who is the elected political representative of the monks in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, the officials added.
A central government order bans entry of all the three Karmapa claimants to the title of Karmapa at Rumtek monastery in East Sikkim since 1994.
The Sikkimese Buddhists who follow the Khagyu sect recognize the 31-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorj…
DHARAMSHALA: Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok, Department of Religion and Culture, Central Tibetan Administration, attended the convocation ceremony of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectic, Dharamsala and the college of higher Tibetan studies, Sarah, this morning. The event was held at Sarah college of Tibetan Higher Studies.
His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Thinlay Dorjee graced the inauguration of the convocation as the chief guest. The function began with recitation of prayers by the students followed by serving sweet rice and butter tea to the guests, staff and students.
Ven. Kalsang Damdul, the director of IBD and CHTS gave welcome speech and briefly introduced the college and courses provided by the institution. Mr. Passang Tsering, Principal of CHTS read out the report of the college. The function was attended by Mr. Topgyal Tsering, secretary of Kashag secretariat, CTA, Mrs. Nangsa Choedon and Mr. Karma Senge, Secretary and Acting Secretary of Department of Education, representives of…
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, arrived in central London this afternoon on his first ever visit to the United Kingdom. A long line of devotees offering katas greeted him on his arrival at his hotel. He was then officially welcomed at a special reception in the form of a traditional English afternoon tea.
April 30, 2017 – Sarah College of Higher Tibetan Studies, Dharamshala, Kangra, HP, India
The Gyalwang Karmapa’s car passed by ordained and lay students who stood along the tree-lined road leading to Sarah College. After a brief visit to the college office, he was invited into the main hall where he was offered a mandala and the three representations of body, speech, and mind. As the Chief Guest, the Karmapa had come to confer, along with Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok, certificates to the Lobpon graduating students, the Uma Rabjampa and the Parchin Rabjampa students from Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, which shared this convocation ceremony with Sarah College.
Welcoming everyone, the Karmapa noted that he’d had quite a bit of experience attending functions at universities, both in India and abroad, yet he felt a special connection with Sarah College that made him especially happy to participate in this ceremony. For special greetings, the Karmapa singled out the students who had studied the…
GANGTOK, May 18: pending demand for allowing 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim saw scores of monks and followers taking out a robust rally in Gangtok on Thursday, a day before Union Home Affairs minister Rajnath Singh comes visiting the Sikkim capital.
Their well-timed persistence extracted an assurance from the State government that a 15-member delegation from their side would be allowed to visit Rajnath Singh on Friday to place the Karmapa visit demand.
Another strategic objective of the rally was to attract the attention of intelligence agencies based in Gangtok for sending a message to the visiting Union Minister that the Karmapa followers in Sikkim have reached exasperation level.
A meeting of Chief Ministers of five States who share borders with China is taking place at Gangtok on Saturday for which Rajnath Singh is arriving.
“We want the IB and RAW officials listening and taking note of our rally to take the…
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, will begin his first Canadian tour at the end of May 2017. This visit, to last nearly a month, will begin in Toronto, proceeding to Calgary and reach Vancouver as its final Canadian destination in mid-June. Activities planned during His Holiness’ visit in Vancouver include: a Chenrezig empowerment, Akshobhya teachings and empowerment, and a panel discussion on our environment and social inequality.
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa is the spiritual leader of the Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The Karmapa lineage dates back 900 years; it is the oldest and foremost lineage to commence a tradition of reincarnate teachers in Tibetan Buddhism. The current Karmapa has taken birth in 1985, unto a nomadic family in eastern Tibet. He was recognized as the 17th lineage holder at an age of seven, and journeyed from Tibet to India at the age of 14. Ever since, the Gyalwang Karmapa has assumed the role of a spiritual leader. He has traveled the wor…
What we need to do now to improve our lifestyles and create a sustainable world, is to simply connect, says the Karmapa, OGYEN TRINLEY DORJE, to NARAYANI GANESH...
The ancients have always spoken of the web of life. In your book, ‘Interconnected’, are you presenting a different perspective?
■ In terms of the actual meaning there is no difference but this is a way of expressing an experiential perspective for today, to feel it experientially. So in actuality, there is no difference. We have been and will always be interconnected and so are interdependent.
You are saying, ‘See the connection, feel the connection and live the connection’. Sounds easy. What are the challenges in adopting this path?
■ We are not separate but we have the concept of the self or mind as ‘I’or ‘me’. Because of the idea of being an independent self, we feel a sense of separation and this is the biggest impediment — of there being an independent self.