Freedom is a powerful idea. But I am not sure we are always very clear what we have in mind when we speak of it. Does freedom mean doing whatever we feel like in any given moment? Does it mean having the power and liberty to exercise our will with no obstruction? Does it evoke a state in which we have shed ourselves of all obligations to others?
Many of our notions of freedom are based implicitly on the idea that we are utterly self-sustaining and separate entities. This model leads us to feel that others’ claims on us undercut our freedom. We experience our relationships as ties that bind us and limit our freedom. Based on this, we assume that we cannot all be free, because the freedom of one person comes at the cost of another’s. If we believe that, it is small wonder that people so often seek to dominate and oppress others. This is an idea that slips into discussions of freedom—the idea that freedom is in some fundamental way a limited resource, such that one person exercising his freedom detracts from another person’s ability to be free. But this is not the case. Freedom is not a zero-sum game.
It is possible and realistic for every person to experience real freedom. The reason we have not managed to do so is we lack an understanding of what real freedom is and how it can be achieved. We need the wisdom to distinguish the egocentric pursuit of self- interest from the pursuit of authentic freedom.
When I hear what people say about freedom sometimes, it sounds to me like longing to live out the fantasy of being independent and absolutely autonomous individuals, of being free of consequences and responsibilities—that is to say, exempt from the principle of interdependence. But there is no such thing. We cannot exist out- side causality or outside the connections of interdependence, and so freedom cannot be a matter of escaping from those connections.
Only freedom developed on the basis of a realistic view of who we are and how we relate to others can be authentic—and extended universally to all. If we acknowledge our interdependence, and take into account the vast networks of interconnections in which our lives and actions are embedded, we will find that our own freedom is inseparable from the freedom of all other people. When we truly appreciate this fact, we experience interdependent freedom—a freedom that does not detract from others’ freedom. This is the freedom that we can all enjoy together without conflict.
Freedom’s Inner Conditions
Freedom does not start from the outside. Although external conditions have a part to play, that is not where freedom originates. This might sound backward, but authentic freedom arises initially from inner conditions. Its deepest roots are within us.
Most often when we speak of freedom, what we actually have in mind are freedom’s outer manifestations. This may be the gravest error we make in our understanding of freedom. If we think we will achieve freedom when we can exercise complete control over our immediate environment, we overlook the single most important determinant of authentic freedom: our own minds.
Our mind has unlimited potential. It is not bound to any one position or viewpoint. What we think or feel—our mental state—is not simply determined by outer circumstances. Because of this, no matter how challenging our external conditions might be, we can experience freedom if we cultivate the inner resources that allow us to feel free. The basis for establishing authentic freedom is within us.
If you can access a sense of inner freedom no matter what is going on around you, you are experiencing freedom. As important as outer liberties are, freedom does not consist solely in enjoying physical or verbal liberty, such as freedom of movement or freedom of speech. We may have the liberty to do and say as we wish and yet still be deeply unfree mentally or emotionally. This is why inner freedom is key. When we have freed our minds and hearts from within, our happiness no longer depends on making the rest of the world serve our self-centered goals. Not only that, we gain freedom to work to change the external conditions that have the potential to limit or obstruct our freedom from outside, and we also have what we need to be able to work for the freedom of others.
What are we looking for when we seek freedom? Maybe at the bottom of it all, the freedom we seek is the experience of genuine happiness. Since this is an inner experience, external things cannot be the measure of our happiness or our freedom. We will come back in a moment to the question of what we mean by happiness and how it enables us to experience freedom, but I think if we examine our own experiences, we can see that whether we call it freedom or not, if we feel free, we feel happy, and if we feel happy, we also feel free. The state of mind and the feeling we seek can be called freedom, or it can be called happiness. But whatever name we give it, if we want to experience happiness or freedom, we must cultivate the inner conditions that give rise to those states.
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…
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
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
2017Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya,
welcoming everyone for the second day of the 4th Arya Kshema, the Karmapa
continued with the discussion of the ceremony of the bodhisattva vows from
Gampopa’sOrnament of Precious
Liberation. Having completed the discussion of the tradition of the
profound view, that of Manjushri to Nagarjuna, he elaborated upon the tradition
of vast conduct, the tradition passed down from Maitreya to Asanga and known as
Master Serlingpa’s tradition.
Karmapa delineated the two parts of this tradition: aspiration of the
bodhicitta vow and engagement of the bodhicitta vow. He focused on the actual
ceremony of the aspiration of bodhicitta and explained that before the aspirant
takes the vow, he or she must contemplate whether they are ready to receive the
vow. The Karmapa explained that the bodhisattva is like a hero, though these
days we see movie stars as being heroes. A bodhisattva is similar to a hero
because a bodhisattva is someone who h…