His Holiness Re-envisions Kagyu Monlam (December 11, 2007)
11 December, 2007:.At one of the last meetings with the Kagyu Monlam Committee members before the 25th Annual Monlam ceremony commenced, the Gyalwang Karmapa shared a clear and moving vision of how to realize the Kagyu Monlam most effectively:
HH Karmapa began his talk by clarifying the origins of the reasons and conditions for Monlam, explaining that Monlam means "aspirations", giving as an example Shakyamuni Buddha. When the Buddha made the aspiration to attain the mind of enlightenment, he offered a simple bowl of soup. A bowl of soup seems a small thing, but he offered it with pure motivation of the ultimate aspiration for enlightenment. So, although small, its blessings pervaded the whole of space and benefited all beings.
Similarly, the power and blessings generated by the Kagyu Monlam depend on the pure motivation and aspirations of each individual participant involved. This may seem easy but in fact is not. Pure motivation requires one to put aside individual concerns and work solely for the benefit of all sentient beings, whose numbers are as limitless as space. Participants need to firmly establish this mindset before the Monlam starts. In order to accomplish this, we need a firm, stable foundation and strong motivation. Without this, when we are confronted with difficulties and stress, we will find ourselves prey to the afflictive emotions such as anger, pride or ego-grasping. Without this, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain both our motivation and aspirations, and without that, we will have lost the whole purpose of the Monlam gathering.
If pure, strong motivation extends from the very beginning to the very end, so all will be good in the beginning, good in the middle and good at the end. The purpose and fundamental root of the Kagyu Monlam is to remember the kindness of our Teacher, Buddha Shakyamuni, and to pray for the peace and happiness of all beings with whom we share this world. We are continuing and preserving a pure lineage which we must not blemish.
His Holiness warned that taking his remarks simply as "fine words" is not enough, and asked the Monlam participants to accept the great challenge to put the pure aspiration into practice. We need to integrate these words into our mind stream - developing loving kindness and compassion. In the end it all comes down to our own individual intention, whether it is vast and deep or shallow. Respect and co-operation are also essential so that we can become friends and develop harmony and peace, which can then extend throughout the world. If we become annoyed or angry or speak harshly or walk around with black expressions, we defeat the object of Monlam. Transforming the mind is difficult for beginners; it is easier to modify our speech and behavior. But if we are able to do just this, the purpose of Monlam will be achieved.
His Holiness recalled that he began working for the Kagyu Monlam after Bokar Rinpoche had passed away in 2004, stating: "At that time there was a question whether the Monlam would continue or not. I had already been preparing myself for the Monlam. Even though I had no organizational experience, I took up the challenge, out of a feeling that I had a close relationship with Bokar Rinpoche, and because I have so much support. When I look back over the past few Kagyu Monlams in which I participated, I feel we still have a lot to accomplish and a long way to go. It would be disappointing if yet another year of our lives were to go by without bearing fruit. So, while remembering the kindness of Lord Shakyamuni Buddha, and holding the benefit of all sentient beings firmly in our minds, let us dedicate ourselves to the root cause of the Monlam gathering for world peace, harmony and happiness for all." - Tashi Paljor