The Arya Kshema Winter Gathering for Nuns Begins in Bodhgaya
Shrine Hall, Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
this first day of the 4th Arya Kshema Winter Gathering, the Karmapa welcomed
560 nuns from nine different shedras (scholastic colleges) and their teachers,
along with large groups of nuns from Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and China as well
as a few from the West plus the community of laywomen. From March 6 to 18, the
shedra nuns will be participating in the thirteen days of teachings, debate,
and ritual ceremonies.
Karmapa noted that there are two special aspects to this year’s event. First of
all, the nuns from seven shedras will be competing for the first time. The
judges will be three Geshemas, nuns who have recently passed all the exams
after years of intense study of the major treatises and received the equivalent
of the Geshe degree from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Karmapa remarked that
having these brilliant nuns as judges indicates our respect for them and also
inspires other nuns to attain the highest level of excellence.
after years of research and discussion, the Karmapa related, we will start the
historic path to full ordination for nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
This year Dharmagupta nuns from Nan Lin Nunnery in Lantou on the west coast of
Taiwan will assist in giving the Getsulma (novice) vows which will be held for
one year. Afterward the Gelopma (special vows), which are held for two winters
or two summers, will be given, and finally the full ordination of the Gelongma
vows. The Karmapa emphasized the importance of following a graduated path and
going carefully step-by-step to build a strong foundation.
Karmapa then returned to Gampopa’sOrnament
of Precious Liberationpicking
up where he had stopped last year—the section on the ceremony for taking the
bodhisattva’s vow from the ninth chapter on the “Proper Adoption of
Bodhichitta.” He reminded his listeners that there are two lineages for taking
the vows: one passes from Manjushri through Nagarjuna and the other from
Maitreya through Asanga. The first one is usually associated with the Middle
Way school and the second with the Mind Only school. The Karmapa stated,
however, that this implies a hierarchy with the Middle Way being considered
superior, so it is better to refer to the two as the lineage of the profound
view and the lineage of vast conduct.
ceremony for lineage of the profound view is further divided into two: a
ceremony in the presence of a guru and not. When, as King Amba Manjushri was
taking the vows, he did so in a ceremony without a guru. This is described here
inthe Ornament of Precious
Liberationas it is
in Atisha’sLamp for the Path of
Enlightenment. However, the scriptures on the bodhisattva vehicle
state that it should not be too easy to take these vows. We should exert
ourselves in searching for a guru, and if we are not successful, we can take
the vows in a ceremony without one. Further, we may have found an authentic
teacher, but in order to serve them, there may be a danger to one’s life or
vows of chase conduct. Since this is the same as not finding a guru, in this
situation we can also take the vows without a lama.
again to King Amba, the Karmapa explained that the king had made offerings to
the Buddha called Melody of Thunder for many years. When it came time to
dedicate the merit, the king had wanted to do so for the sake of achieving the
level of a sravaka or pratyekabuddha arhat. Then a voice from the sky
encouraged him, “You must dedicate the merit to achieving buddhahood.”
Following this advice, King Amba gave rise to genuine bodhichitta. The words he
spoke, or the ceremony he performed, are found in the sutra calledEstablishing the Pure Realm
of Manjushri, which is part of the Ratnakutra sutras. This is the
ceremony we can do when not finding a guru.
of whether the ceremony is with or without a lama, we must first train our
minds in aspirational bodhicitta so that it is not mere words, but comes from
the depth of our heart. This is the actual basis for taking the vows. At a
minimum, for one week beforehand, we should train our minds in bodhichitta
through the pith instructions on cause and effect or in the practice of
exchanging ourselves for others or the equality of self and other. Of course,
it would be difficult to generate authentic bodhichitta in one week, but at
least this training will create imprints in our mind. On the other hand, if we
cannot say for sure what bodhichitta is, if it remains some intellectual
fabrication and we merely repeat the words of the ceremony, it would be
difficult to say that we have truly received the vow.
Kadampa spiritual friend Potowa explained the stages of the practice. First we
meditate to recognize that all living beings are our mothers and then feel
gratitude to them for their kindness. This can bring about great love, and from
this, comes great compassion. Then we can find the extraordinary intention that
leads to the generation of bodhichitta.
Kadampa master Netsulpa said the only way to bring perfect benefit to others
and ourselves is to achieve buddhahood. As long as we remain in samsara, we
cannot even accomplish our own aims to say nothing of benefitting others.
Shravakas and pratyekabuddhas are able to partially accomplish their own aims,
but they are unable to benefit others. Achieving full awakening, which comes
about due to bodhichitta, is the only way that we can spontaneously benefit
both self and others.
causal chain leading to bodhichitta travels back through compassion to loving
kindness, to gratitude for others’ kindness and to recognizing that they have
been our mothers. This, in turn, depends on entering the view of the transitory
collections, meaning that one has the view of a self (that longs to benefit
others). This is said to be the tathagatas’ love. Geshe Sharwa’s explanation is
basically the same as this sequence of causes, though he phrased it
rousing bodhichitta comes out of various causes and conditions, not just a
single cause, and it is important to train our mind in these and develop
bodhichitta in stages. Whether we are discussing Nagarjuna’s tradition of the
profound view or Asanga’s tradition of vast conduct, the necessity of first
training our mind remains the same.
Karmapa then gave a reading transmission up to the third point, Taking the
Special Form of Refuge. Afterward, he turned to speak about issues related directly
to the nun’s gathering. It is said that our greatly compassionate teacher,
Shakyamuni Buddha sacrificed one third of his lifespan so that the teachings
would flourish and remain a long time. Some 2,600 years have gone by since he
passed away, and until now, the teachings have remained continuous in the
world, bringing great benefit and happiness to many beings. Included in the
third of his lifespan that the Buddha sacrificed for the teachings are the
teachings for the nuns, or those with a female body, so they could practice the
three trainings or the three vows.
we know this is based on theDharma
BlazeAspiration,which is actually from a sutra taught
by the Buddha called,the
Sutra of the Essence of the Moon. This was not translated into
Tibetan, but Atisha quoted from it in hisCompendium
of the Sutrasand his
citation included theDharma
Blaze Aspiration. At the end of this aspiration, there are two
lines: “May my retinue flourish” and “May my retinue be respected.” The
Tibetan, however, simply says, “My retinue,” and it is not clear what this
Sutra of the Essence of the Moonwas
fully translated into Chinese during the sixth century.
this version, we findthe
Dharma Blaze Aspirationand
also an explanation of “my retinue” as indicating the four types of retinue (bdag
‘khor rnam bzhi). The aspiration states, “May my retinue be
respected through the power of bringing into the proper view those who had
previously held the wrong views of the extremists.”Retinuehere refers to the four types of
retinue: the fully ordained monks and nuns as well as the laymen and laywomen.
In brief, there are two groups of monastics and two groups of householders. The
Buddha was making the aspiration that by the power of his declaring words of
truth, may his four types of retinue flourish. This alone shows us clearly that
the Buddha had the aspiration or hope that the community of fully ordained nuns
is sometimes said in Tibetan groups or in Buddhist centers that if women become
nuns, it will harm the teachings. The same thing is also said about instituting
the gelongma vows. However, if these steps would really harm the Dharma, the
Buddha would not have wished for the nuns to flourish. If we think about these
matters, we have to consider them in a spacious and broad-minded way.
Karmapa closed out the morning with advice to the nuns on how to compete in
debate without falling prey to worldly aversion and attachment. He suggested
they remember that debate is for blending the Dharma with their mind. It is
also good to relax a little bit to make their minds peaceful. The Karmapa
offered his hopes and prayers that the Arya Kshema Winter Gathering would be
virtuous in the beginning, the middle, and the end. The assembly then recited
the Third Karmapa’sAspiration
of Mahamudra, a profound text on the nature of mind, which, in its
focus on the ultimate nature, parallelsthe
at the beginning of the teachings. Both texts describe and celebrate the
perfection of wisdom embodied by women.
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2 Apr 2017ChandigarhNaresh K Thakur n email@example.com
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