Great Kagyu Monlam Aspiration, 20-21, December


Mahabodhi Temple: Gyalwang Karmapa arrived at 6.00am and conferred the Sojong vows.
Before beginning the morning prayers, he spoke to the assembly. He began with a short description of the history of Kagyu Monlam and explained that the Kagyu Monlam was able to happen because of the coming together of causes and conditions including merit; even being fortunate enough to attend the Monlam was rare, a testimony to the merit every one there had accumulated. He told everyone how fortunate they were to have attained a precious human life, to have heard the Dharma, and now to have the opportunity to visit a holy site. He talked about the value of attending Kagyu Monlam at Bodhgaya, the great opportunity it offered to all practitioners because of the sacredness of Bodhgaya itself.
Further, as Monlam coincided with the year drawing to its close, it provided an ideal opportunity to carefully examine and reflect on positive actions and wrong-doing committed over the year. Because of the sacredness of Bodhgaya, powerful purification was possible if faults were confessed sincerely.
By the same token, the power of merit accumulated at Bodhgaya was amplified and it was an ideal place and time to accumulate merit from different activities. For example, the great gathering of the Sangha made it possible to make offerings, the number of beggars and poor people made it possible to practise generosity, and it was important to dedicate that merit for the well being of all sentient beings.
He told the Sangha specifically to reflect on why they were there and to always remember the teachings of the Buddha and the lineage masters and make the aspiration to follow their teachings to the best of their ability .He reminded them that the purpose of the Codes of Conduct was not mere observance, but to feel their importance and internalize the attitudes that the behaviour was designed to cultivate.
He reminded everyone that advanced knowledge of Dharma was of little value without the development of loving kindness and compassion.
He then gave a short overview of The Heart Sutra before leading the first session of the Monlam prayers.
In the second session, Gyalwang Karmapa continued the transmission of The Life of Milarepa and gave a commentary on the Green Tara practice before leading the chanting of The Twenty One Praises to Tara to a melody he himself composed.
After lunch he led the Akshobhya Ritual, and then returned to Tergar Monastery for a hectic schedule of private audiences.
Medical Camp: The medical camp was held in the village of Vinobapuri, forty minutes from Bodhgaya. More than seven hundred people came. Several of those treated were suffering from serious illnesses, but, once more, the majority of patients who presented themselves were suffering from diseases linked with poverty and malnutrition.
Evening Teaching at Tergar Monastery: The 25ht was the third and final evening of Gyalwang Karmapa’s teaching on The Fivefold Mahumudra. Verse four reads:
If, in the vast sky of the nature of mind,
The clouds of concepts do not disperse,
The stars of the two wisdoms will not brightly shine.
So, earnestly focus on cultivating this non-conceptuality.
Gyalwang Karmapa explained the metaphor. . . . (For a continuation of this extended summary of the Wednesday teachings, go to His Holiness's Teachings at the 25th Great Kagyu Monlam)
After the teaching on the fifth and final verse, the Gyalwang Karmapa first gave the transmission in Tibetan of the Ngondro he himself had written, explaining that, as the compiler of the text, he was the only one who could give this particular transmission.
He then gave the transmission of the Mahamudra Aspiration Prayer, composed by the Third Karmapa, followed by the transmission of several mantras.
Finally he gave the transmission of The Fivefold Mahamudra in Tibetan, English, Chinese and Korean. The audience really appreciated his efforts in doing this and each transmission was applauded enthusiastically.
In conclusion he thanked everyone for coming, and apologized that pressure of time had meant only three days were available for the teaching. He explained how happy he had been every night to see so many people with joy on their faces and smiling eyes; it was a sight he would never forget. He rose, stepped gracefully down from the throne, and left the hall, smiling shyly and blessing everyone as he went.
[A full transcript of this teaching should be available early in 2008.]

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