Set in front of the throne this morning is a wide sofa chair covered with brocade. The Karmapa entered the hall from the left side and took his place on the chair, which gave a closer, more intimate connection to the audience that fills the hall wall to wall. The question and answer period went so long yesterday, he commented, there was no time for instruction on meditation, so he proposed beginning with meditation today.
On his last tour in the US, the Karmapa related that he had visited the Google and Facebook campuses, each of which have a room set aside for meditation, a sign that interest in meditation is increasing. He was concerned, however, that meditation might go the way of yoga, losing its traditional context and value, and turning into one more thing to market.
There are many ways to meditate, he began, and they can be condensed into calm abiding (shamatha) and insight (vipashyana), or in other words, resting and analytic meditations. There are many kinds of meditation and many different ways of explaining them, depending on different traditions and lamas. For example, in the vajrayana, some types of insight meditation are resting meditations. But usually, insight is correlated with analytical meditation and calm abiding with resting meditation.
“Calm abiding and insight meditations are related as cause and effect,” the Karmapa stated. “Calm abiding must come first. If not, then insight meditation will be difficult, so I will introduce you to calm abiding first. It means bringing all of our mental energy to focus on one reference point, while simultaneously our mind becomes relaxed.”
The usual way of practicing calm abiding is to go to a solitary place devoid of distractions and noise—even a dog’s bark is said to be detrimental—and spend five to six months in meditation. In our contemporary world, he commented, it is difficult for this to happen, as distractions are everywhere so it is a challenge for us to practice calm abiding, for our mind should not be drawn outside by objects, but collected or turned inward. With the constant presence of smart phones and Internet access everywhere, this is difficult.
“What we call meditation,” the Karmapa explained, “actually means that whatever is happening, whatever situation we might meet, our minds remain settled within themselves; in a simple, unfabricated way they just rest there. If we can do this, then there is no need for us to do meditation as a separate activity.”
He then told a story about someone who came to meet the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje and said he did not want to meditate. Is there a teaching for this? Rangjung Dorje replied, “Yes, but if I told it to you, you would check and try to meditate on it. And with that you would turn it into a fabricated practice, imposing something extra. So even if I gave you this teaching of no meditation, it would not benefit you.”
The Karmapa summarized: “When we practice calm abiding, we relax, do not let our minds wander outside, and rest in awareness no matter what is happening.” However, since we are so used to mental constructs and thinking about things, this kind of practice is difficult for us.
How do we practice meditation that needs no meditation? To illustrate the practice with the example of an affliction being liberated as it arises, the Karmapa selected one of the afflictions, anger. When it is on the verge of arising, just as it is emerging, we look into it, for once an affliction is fully present, it is difficult to work with. To do this practice, we need experience; without it, the thought of anger seems to be simultaneous with its arising fully in our mind. However, if we practice and come to know the situation, we can see that there is a sequence—first this happens and then that.
The Karmapa counseled, “When a thought arises, we look at it and simply rest with it. We are not looking for anything special. As soon as the thought arises, we rest our awareness there. This is all we need to do.” We do not analyze, thinking, “What is this concept? Where did it come from? Where did it go?” It is not that kind of meditation here. In sum, we merely need to open up our wisdom eye and look nakedly, just noticing (or paying bare attention to) how the thought is arising. “There is no need to analyze, make an effort, or think. We are simply looking,” he said.
“When we look like this,” the Karmapa noted, “the anger weakens. The usual, powerful dynamic of anger’s arising will lose some of its compulsive force.” He gave the example of a child who is telling a lie. If we look clearly into their eyes, they will naturally become embarrassed and back down. Similarly, since the afflictions are fictitious, having no real underpinning or basis, they will shrink just like the child telling a fib, when we look into them. With this vivid example, the Karmapa ended his discussion of meditation and turned to the topic for the morning, compassion and happiness.
He began by quoting from the Way of the Bodhisattva, composed by the famous Indian pandita, Shantideva: All the suffering in this world comes from wanting happiness for ourselves; all the happiness in this world comes from wanting happiness for others.
The core of the issue, he explained, is that we want happiness in this world for ourselves because we take our self to be real in the sense of being autonomous and self-generating. We think we are independent, not needing to rely on anything or anyone else. Further, the Karmapa said, on the basis of taking a self to be real, we hold it dear and think it quite special. This unfortunate grasping to things as solid and real is extended from ourselves out to other objects, so we think, “My family, my friends, my things, my body, my house, ad infinitum.” Grasping onto the reality of a self seeps into everything.
The Karmapa added, “In general, however, we do need to care for ourselves; it is not a fault but actually a necessity. The danger is that we do this while taking the self to be real and independent. This way of thinking makes problems and could bring about our ruin.” He followed this with an example: taking the self to be real is like a prison with iron walls. “When we are incarcerated in the prison of the self,” he explained,” we cannot make connections with many other people, for only our parents and close friends are allowed in. The doors do not open to others.”
As a consequence of being stuck in the prison of the self, when our loved ones must go to the hospital, we are unable to help them. On a larger scale, he continued, while in this jail we are at a distance from all others, from all the living beings who have been our parents. Thinking about this can be quite dispiriting. So what we need to do, the Karmapa advised, is to take the hammer of a powerful compassion and break down the prison walls.
The Karmapa then turned to the subject of the Buddhist teaching on no self. “If we take the term literally,” he said,” we could think that it means there is no self at all. And people challenge this idea saying ‘If there is no self, then how can you talk about karma, cause and effect?’” But the Buddhism understanding of no self does not mean that the self is a blank or a void. Rather, the negation applies to the self that we think exists as independent and self-existent, as some kind of solid entity. This is the self that does not exist.
“The actual self is like a vast and endless web,” he elaborated, “that connects all possible phenomena. So we have to expand the way we think the self exists so that it can pervade the whole, immense universe and make untold numbers of connections.” “Self and other arise in dependence upon one another and,” he continued, “if we can make our relationships with others based on this understanding, then all living beings will be connected through a vast innernet” (playing off the word Internet). We can connect with everyone and everything through compassion, he said.
If we consider how things really are, then we will come to see that there is no difference between others and ourselves. We are a part of them and they are a part of us, and consequently, their happiness and suffering is ours and visa versa. It also follows that we must be concerned about and take responsibility for others. Most of the clothes we wear, for example, are not made here in Europe but elsewhere; however, we do not know names of the people who made them nor would we recognize them. Yet they have helped us by fashioning our clothes, and do so while receiving low wages and living close to poverty. Their difficulties have created something beneficial for us and so we must take responsibility for them.
Knowing that we depend on each other, we know that we must care for each other. If we do not care for others, then one day when we ourselves need assistance, it will be difficult to find. When we seek happiness, it should not be just for ourselves alone. The self that wishes only for its own happiness is mistaken; actually, from the point of view of how things truly are, that solitary self does not even exist. The central point here is that happiness in this world actually comes from wishing for others’ happiness. Therefore we should do all we can to develop our love and compassion. He concluded by saying that for him with all the difficulties he has known, what gives him real happiness is being able to help others.
A short session of question and answers followed.
Do all sentient beings have a connection with the Karmapa? He replied that one could view the incarnations of the Karmapas in two ways: that he is one individual taking rebirth many times or seventeen different people. In general all living beings have a connection with the Karmapa but there is a difference in being close or distant, which comes not from the side of the Karmapa but is based on the individual’s feeling.
How do we maintain awareness at the time of death? The Karmapa responded that we should train now. If we do not learn to focus our awareness now, it will be difficult to do when death comes. To school ourselves, we can think of one day as a whole life: in the morning we are born from the womb and we die when we go to sleep at night. If we learn to think like this, it will be helpful.
When your Holiness teaches in the West do you use the same terms or adapt the teachings for the audience? There is a slight difference, he said. When speaking to Tibetans, I do not need a translator, and when teaching others, he joked, I do not use a lot of quotes because they give translators a hard time. But actually there is not much difference.
December 28, 2016, in a historic letter sent to his Kagyu nunneries in India,
Nepal, and Bhutan, the Karmapa officially announced that the actual process of
establishing full ordination for nuns in the Karma Kamtsang tradition would
begin. He stated that at the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment in Bodh Gaya,
on the auspicious day of the full moon in the Month of Miracles, (the first
month in the Tibetan calendar, falling on March 12, 2107), the shramaneri (getsulma)
vows would be conferred on those nuns wishing to take full ordination. Following
much deliberation, a path to full ordination was established. It was decided
that the nuns would hold these shramaneri vows for a year, after which they
will take the shikshamana (gelopmaor training) vows from Dharmaguptaka
nuns and keep them for two winters or two summers. Finally, they will receive
the bhikshuni (gelongmaor full ordination) vows with the
participation of nuns from the Dharmaguptaka tra…
Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
many preparations are underway for the Getsulma (novice) ordination to be held
during this 4th Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering. The Karmapa plans to hold
the ordination on the auspicious full moon day of Chötrul Duchen, the historic
day that marks fifteen days after Losar and commemorates the time when the
Buddha performed a different miracle each day to instill devotion. As the
Karmapa mentioned during the first day of the Arya Kshema, this year initiates
the historic path to the process of full ordination, which will occur in stages
over several years. This is a well-thought process that grants nuns the
opportunity to practice the authentic vinaya path. They will take the Getsulma
vows in the tradition of a strictly observant tradition of Mahayana Vinaya
nuns, thus garnering respect for their sangha and demonstrating their life-long
commitment to their vows. Since there is no lineage for fully ordained nuns in
Dear Dharma Brothers and Sisters,
As all of you know by now, on the 21 of March, 2017, at 9am Indian time His
Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa introduced Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche
Yangsi in the Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya. Rinpoche is a four years old boy but
from time to time I see him as an old man. It is hard to believe he is that
I am very sorry at the moment I am very busy. I will later let you know details
about the search and how we found Yangsi Rinpoche and provide you with photos
and video clips for you to enjoy.
Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche instructed us to wait for His Holiness’ advice
to Yangsi Rinpoche how to further proceed from here.
Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche could not come to this occasion of His
Holiness’ introducing Tenga Rinoche’s Yangsi since he has a schedule in Bhutan
that was arranged long time ago. As you all know Bhutan is a remote area and in
order to join teachings and initiations elderly people have to be ca…
SE Report GANGTOK,
March 16: A delegation of monks from various monasteries
of Sikkim staged a sit-in protest outside the BJP national headquarters in New
Delhi today demanding the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to be allowed to visit
and bless the people of Sikkim.
The delegation led by Denjong Lhadey chanted slogans
demanding and also submitted a memorandum with the demand to the Prime Minister’s
Office through senior officials.
The memorandum reiterates the Denjong Lhadey’s
demand to urgently send the Buddhist spiritual leader to Sikkim. The monks on
dharna outside the BJP office were also detained by Delhi police at Mandir Marg
police station and later released, informs a press release.
In November of 2015, during the 6th Khoryug Conference, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa set the aspiration that all Khoryug monasteries and nunneries should develop practical skills and knowledge for disaster preparedness and response. He later explained that “We were all affected greatly by the earthquake in Nepal and wanted to know how we could help so that in the future we are not just taken by fear but prepared to be useful and deal skillfully with the situation.…
Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
the second half of his teachings this morning, the Karmapa shared his research
into the history of nuns and their status. He began by explaining the
background of the name “Arya Kshema,” given to the Winter Dharma Gathering. He
noted that among the disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, there were his eight
greatest male monastic disciples, known for their prajna (supreme wisdom) or
miracles and so forth. Likewise, there were female master disciples who were
greatest at miracles or known for their prajna and other outstanding qualities.
Arya Kshema is one of these and she is described in theSutra of the Wise and
greatest in wisdom and confidence, so the Winter Dharma Gathering is named
after her. “In
giving this name,” the Karmapa explained, “we are also following the saying,
‘Later disciples should practice the example of past masters.’ Previously,
during the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni, there were woman arhats, bhikshu…
the third year in succession, the Taiwan Health Corps has been working with
Kagyu nuns during the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering. Twenty-one
nuns from eight nunneries—Ralang, Tilokpur and Palpung Yeshe Rabgye Ling in
India, Karma Leksheyling, Tara Abbey, Osel Karma Thekchöling and Samten
Ling in Nepal, and Drubde Palmo Chökyi Dingkhang in Bhutan– have
successfully completed a nine-day training in basic health care. Dr
Jeffrey Chen, CEO of the Taiwanese based NGO Taiwan Health Corps, first
responded to a request from the Gyalwang Karmapa to develop initiatives to
improve the health and healthcare of nuns more than three years ago. This year
he has returned for a third time with a team of six health professionals to
provide basic training for a new batch of nuns. The team comprises Professor
Kuo Su Chen, a specialist in Women’s Health, Dr Chin Min Yi, a doctor of
traditional Chinese medicine, Dr Wei Cheng Chou, urologist and surgeon, Hsin-Yu
For the Gyalwang Karmapa, the Tibetan New Year began in the
first hours of the day, as he met in the Tergar Monastery shrine hall with
tulkus, khenpos, and masters from various monasteries and received their
khatas. In return he gave them his blessing and a traditional bright red cord.
The monks recited prayers for peace in the world and the flourishing of the
teachings as well as the very long life of the Karmapa. Afterward the entire
monastic and lay Sangha gathered at 4:30 am in the Monlam Pavilion for a
special long-life practice based on theThree
Roots Combined, calledA
Life-Force Indestructible like a Vajra. The practice was led by the
Karmapa’s heart son, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, who had bestowed this empowerment the
previous day. In February of 2016 the Karmapa had also given this empowerment,
and at the time commented on its importance for his Kamtsang Kagyu lineage. The
short lineage is traced back to a text based on the pure visions of th…
Pavilion — Bodh Gaya, Bihar
break, after the smoke offering Massing Clouds of Amrita had
ended on Sunday morning, the stage needed to be cleared and rearranged in order
for Gyaltsab Rinpoche to bestow the Red Crown ceremony and the Long
Life Empowerment of the Three Roots Combined. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
personally took charge of arranging Gyaltsab Rinpoche’s throne with great
respect and care; he had received the Empowerment of the Three Roots
Combined from Gyaltsab Rinpoche when he bestowed the Treasury
of Precious Terma, or Rinchen Terdzo empowerments some
throne was placed directly in front of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s high throne. To
the right, on an elegant golden table covered with brocade, sat a delicately
wrought silver pavilion.
At last the
stage was set, the gyalings blew, and the sangha returned from the break to
take their seats. After several minutes, the Gyalwang Karmapa led an elderly