2007/12/31

His Holiness in Bodhgaya After Monlam (Winter Tour 2007-08)






Bodhgaya to Varanasi, 31st December 2007

Gyalwang Karmapa left Bodhgaya early morning by road and arrived Vajra Vidhya Institute at around 1 pm which is in Saranath, Varanasi (U.P). At the arrival His Holiness was welcomed by Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche and all the monks with serbang. The VVI monks are performing the Tsedup (Long Life) puja for His Holiness. Here His Holiness will stay for 15 days as scheduled.



http://www.kagyuoffice.org/karmapa.currentactivities.2007c.html

2007/12/29

A Logo for the Environment (29th December, 2007)



Transcript: An Explanation of the Kagyu Monlam logo by the Gyalwang Karmapa December 29, 2007

On December 29, 2007, His Holiness talked movingly about protecting the environment in a speech in Bodhgaya:
"There is a new logo for the Monlam this year, and I would like to explain it.

"Throughout my life I have always felt that the outer natural elements and my own mind are close. I have a special connection with the four elements. I am not being superstitious and saying I can talk to the elements, but sometimes it feels that way.
A new logo of the Kagyu Monlam designed by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa





















"Ever since the human race first appeared on this earth, we have used this earth heavily. It is said that ninety-nine percent of the resources and so on in this world come from the natural environment. We are using the earth until she is used up. The earth has given us immeasurable benefit, but what have we done for the earth in return? We always ask for something from the earth, but never give her anything back.

"We never have loving or protective thoughts for the earth. Whenever trees or anything else emerge from the ground, we cut them down. If there is a bit of level earth, we fight over it. To this day we perpetuate a continuous cycle of war and conflict over it. In fact, we have not done much of anything for the earth.

"Now the time has come when the earth is scowling at us; the time has come when the earth is giving up on us. The earth is about to treat us badly and give up on us. If she gives up on us, where can we live? There is talk of going to other planets that could support life, but only a few rich people could go. What would happen to all of us sentient beings who could not go?

"What should we do now that the situation has become so critical? The sentient beings living on the earth and the elements of the natural world need to join their hands together—the earth must not give up on sentient beings, and sentient beings must not give up on the earth. Each needs to grasp the other’s hand. So doesn’t the Monlam logo look like two hands clasping each other?

"Its shape is also similar to the design of the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa’s Dream Flag of peace and serenity, which is used regularly among the Karma Kamtsang. If I were to make up everything myself, I doubt it would have any blessings, but using the previous Karmapa’s design as a model probably gives this blessings.

"This is a symbol of the Kagyu Monlam. We hold the Kagyu Monlam for the benefit of the entire world. We will not give up on the earth! May there be peace on earth! May the earth be sustained for many thousands of years! These are the prayers we make at the Kagyu Monlam, which is why this symbol is the logo of the Kagyu Monlam. I also think this might become a symbol of people having affection for the earth and wanting to protect it.

"Now I will boast a bit. As I mentioned before, I am the one who designed this logo. I have the strong feeling that I am connected to the natural elements. Technological devices do not agree with me. I feel most comfortable using natural things. When I use technological devices, my body feels rather uncomfortable, although I have no choice but to use them.

"Both the body and mind are strongly connected to the unaltered, natural elements. Because I made this logo, I think it could probably provide some protection against dangers from the natural elements of the external world. But do not think that this logo alone will protect you: if you jump into fire or water while wearing it, you will still die. It is first and foremost a symbol that we are not giving up on the earth.

"Thank you"
- reported byTashi Paljor

2007/12/28

GYALWANG KARMAPA’S CONCLUDING SPEECH TO THE KAGYU MONLAM WORK TEAMS


December 28, 2007, report by Karma Palmo, photo by Karma Lekcho





The 25th Monlam Chenmo is completed, not only in this place. I believe it is also completed in everybody’s heart.

It could be said the reason why I am leading the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo’s work is because I am the head of the lineage; I am the person who bears the name of Karmapa. However, it can also be said that it is because I believe that everyone in this work team has been my family for many lifetimes, either my parents, or other relatives. Therefore, with gratitude, I plunge into the task, hoping that I can make everybody even happier.

While working during the Monlam, maybe due to some temporary circumstances, you may sometimes have felt upset or uncomfortable, but from the ultimate perspective I believe Kagyu Monlam Chenmo is the spring of happiness and joy. And this is also my good wish for everyone. I am not at all concerned if I could continue to lead Kagyu Monlam Chenmo in the future. What I am concerned about is whether everyone involved can work together harmoniously with one mind, and make Kagyu Monlam proceed in accordance with Dharma.

Taking myself as an example, as leader of this Monlam, I cannot say that I have not made any mistakes in the process. Even though I have made many mistakes, as long as I am alive, even for one day, I will continue to devote myself to Kagyu Monlam. Why? This is because I hope, I wish to benefit every one of you, and even if I cannot bring real benefits to everyone, as long as my two feet are still planted on this earth, I want to bring you joy and happiness. And this has always been my wish.

This time, there are so many people who have come to attend Monlam from all over the world. They all went back to their own countries full of joy. And this is the sign that Kagyu Monlam has really accomplished something.
So if it is just us, and we say that the monlam was successful, it doesn’t mean much. The real sign that Monlam is completed with satisfaction is to see that every participant’s heart is full of joy and peace, and will bring with them the feeling and the experience of compassion to their own home country. This is the success of Monlam.

Why is it possible for Monlam to bring so many people such joy? I am only the planner; the one who really executed the plan is Lama Chodrak and everyone in this room. Because of your hard work, you made so many people so happy.

If we want to talk about the mistakes we made – there are too many to talk about. It is understandable that we all make mistakes, but this time I really saw that everyone is completely devoted to pure Dharma with their body, speech and mind. So I want to thank everybody again. I want not only to thank you but I want to dedicate the merit of this Monlam to all of you. May you all be happier and happier in this life and in future lives and become closer and closer to perfect happiness. And I pray that everyone may never be separated from Karmapa’s activities, life after life.


I also want to say that compared to the difficulties you encounter working for the monlam, seeing the joy arising in so many people is even more powerful. I believe hundreds if not thousands of people are already eagerly awaiting the next Monlam. They are already asking when it is. I hope that for the sake of those who are waiting for the next Monlam, all of you will work together for it. Even though you may have made some mistakes working for the Monlam, I want to assure you that I will never give up on any of you because of the mistakes you might have made. Kagyu Monlam is not worldly work; you will not be fired because you did not perform well. In common worldly jobs in general people are selected based on their ability and performance, but not Kagyu Monlam. Kagyu Monlam wishes to give more people the opportunity to be involved. As long as you have the wish, as long as you identify with the purpose of Monlam, I welcome you.

While working for the Monlam, you may have felt some afflictive emotions: you might have got angry or felt that somebody is jealous of you, or that some people took advantage of you, but if you decide to quit because of this problem of the afflictive emotions, then you should tell yourself, compared to those who make you angry or get jealous of you or take advantage of you, or abuse you, the one who trusts you is even more important. So you shouldn’t retreat because of those who are jealous of you or want to hurt you, you should march on because of the person who trusts you.

Finally I want to thank all the Chinese workers. You have participated in different teams at the Monlam. You have worked hard and well. I trust you fully and I hope you will continue with your good work and become the pride of all the Chinese around the world.

I would also like to thank all the westerners who worked for the Kagyu Monlam. As the Kagyu Monlam is an international event, I encourage more people from all the western countries to participate.


http://kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20071228.html

Transcript: Kagyu Monlam Chenmo's Concluding Speech from His Holiness on 28th of December.


After the Kagyu Monlam was completed, His Holiness met with many of the organizers and participants to thank them:
"The 25th Monlam Chenmo is completed, not only in this place. I believe it is also completed in everybody’s heart.
"It could be said the reason why I am leading the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo’s work is because I am the head of the lineage; I am the person who bears the name of Karmapa. However, it can also be said that it is because I believe that everyone in this work team has been my family for many lifetimes, either my parents, or other relatives. Therefore, with gratitude, I plunge into the task, hoping that I can make everybody even happier.
"While working during the Monlam, maybe due to some temporary circumstances, you may sometimes have felt upset or uncomfortable, but from the ultimate perspective I believe Kagyu Monlam Chenmo is the spring of happiness and joy. And this is also my good wish for everyone. I am not at all concerned if I could continue to lead Kagyu Monlam Chenmo in the future. What I am concerned about is whether everyone involved can work together harmoniously with one mind, and make Kagyu Monlam proceed in accordance with Dharma.
"Taking myself as an example, as leader of this Monlam, I cannot say that I have not made any mistakes in the process. Even though I have made many mistakes, as long as I am alive, even for one day, I will continue to devote myself to Kagyu Monlam. Why? This is because I hope, I wish to benefit every one of you, and even if I cannot bring real benefits to everyone, as long as my two feet are still planted on this earth, I want to bring you joy and happiness. And this has always been my wish.
"This time, there are so many people who have come to attend Monlam from all over the world. They all went back to their own countries full of joy. And this is the sign that Kagyu Monlam has really accomplished something.

So if it is just us, and we say that the monlam was successful, it doesn’t mean much. The real sign that Monlam is completed with satisfaction is to see that every participant’s heart is full of joy and peace, and will bring with them the feeling and the experience of compassion to their own home country. This is the success of Monlam.
"Why is it possible for Monlam to bring so many people such joy? I am only the planner; the one who really executed the plan is Lama Chodrak and everyone in this room. Because of your hard work, you made so many people so happy.
"If we want to talk about the mistakes we made – there are too many to talk about. It is understandable that we all make mistakes, but this time I really saw that everyone is completely devoted to pure Dharma with their body, speech and mind. So I want to thank everybody again. I want not only to thank you but I want to dedicate the merit of this Monlam to all of you. May you all be happier and happier in this life and in future lives and become closer and closer to perfect happiness. And I pray that everyone may never be separated from Karmapa’s activities, life after life.

I also want to say that compared to the difficulties you encounter working for the monlam, seeing the joy arising in so many people is even more powerful. I believe hundreds if not thousands of people are already eagerly awaiting the next Monlam. They are already asking when it is. I hope that for the sake of those who are waiting for the next Monlam, all of you will work together for it. Even though you may have made some mistakes working for the Monlam, I want to assure you that I will never give up on any of you because of the mistakes you might have made. Kagyu Monlam is not worldly work; you will not be fired because you did not perform well. In common worldly jobs in general people are selected based on their ability and performance, but not Kagyu Monlam. Kagyu Monlam wishes to give more people the opportunity to be involved. As long as you have the wish, as long as you identify with the purpose of Monlam, I welcome you.
" While working for the Monlam, you may have felt some afflictive emotions: you might have got angry or felt that somebody is jealous of you, or that some people took advantage of you, but if you decide to quit because of this problem of the afflictive emotions, then you should tell yourself, compared to those who make you angry or get jealous of you or take advantage of you, or abuse you, the one who trusts you is even more important. So you shouldn’t retreat because of those who are jealous of you or want to hurt you, you should march on because of the person who trusts you.
"Finally I want to thank all the Chinese workers. You have participated in different teams at the Monlam. You have worked hard and well. I trust you fully and I hope you will continue with your good work and become the pride of all the Chinese around the world."
His Holiness also thanked all the westerners who worked for the Kagyu Monlam and encouraged more people from western countries to participate. - reported byTashi Paljor

2007/12/27

More Words on the Environment


         December 27, 2007, 4:30 PM, Translated by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche & Karma Choephel


We concluded everything the other day so that it would not be necessary to say any more today. But some people wanted me to say a bit more on a few topics. In addition to concluding the Monlam, today we have completed the practice and mantra recitation of the Medicine Buddha, so it seems there would be nothing wrong with saying a few words at this point. I am often a bit glib, so if you think it is meaningful, please keep these points in mind. If you do not, you do not have to listen.

The other day, the last day of the Monlam, I spoke on three topics. The second topic was the environment. I thought I would say a bit more now about the environment.

Most of us gathered here today, whether we were born in Tibet or not, have connections to Tibetan Dharma and culture and to the Tibetan language. That is the kind of people we are. Likewise, most of us gathered here live in and come from India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim. These countries are very close to Tibet. For this reason, all of us who live in these countries need to give some thought to protecting the environment of Tibet in order to protect our own environment. This is because most of the water, especially drinking water, in about eight Asian countries, including India, comes from Tibet. Thus, if Tibet’s environment is no longer as clean and pristine as it used to be, this presents the danger of great harm to many Asian countries.

In particular, if the water system in Tibet does not function properly, it will cause many problems such as floods downstream, like the floods along the Yangtse River. When these great rivers burst their banks, it causes tremendous damage. There are floods and many other dangers. For these reasons the Chinese government plans to plant many forests in Tibet. India and other Asian countries are also taking a great interest in the environment of Tibet because it is such a crucial issue.

Whenever we open our mouths, we say that Tibet belongs to the Tibetans, but what are we Tibetans doing for Tibet? Are we protecting Tibet’s environment and keeping it clean, or are we destroying it instead?

Traditionally, Tibetans have held some ancient beliefs. If there was an impressive mountain, we would say it was the residence of some spirit, so it was a revered place that no one should disturb, nor should it be mined or quarried. If there was an impressive forest, or a boulder or cliff with an unusual shape, that was also some spirit’s residence. This belief was quite helpful.

For example, when I was young, we did not dare go out to play on the revered mountains where the local deities lived. Forget about disturbing them—we did not even dare to walk there. We also were not allowed to put our hands in the streams that provided drinking water. This was to keep from polluting them and angering the nagas. If we had to wash our hands or feet, we had to draw some water from the stream and wash elsewhere. We were not allowed to wash, bathe, do laundry, or use any chemicals in the stream itself under any circumstances. There were similar traditions more or less everywhere.

But nowadays everyone considers these traditions to be blind faith. Many people, especially the young, say, “That’s just blind faith. That’s just religious belief.” The protection of the environment these traditional views provided is decreasing drastically. The traditional way of seeing things is gone, but contemporary education and views about protecting the environment are not particularly widespread. The main focus is economic development and getting rich. That is what people are into. They wonder whether it is better to run a factory farm, build huge houses, or buy cars. That is the thinking that is prevalent.

How are houses built in Tibet? They are built out of stone and wood rather than concrete. So nowadays, they use an awful lot of wood to build beautiful, Tibetan-style houses—a lot more wood than they used to. In the old days, only the monasteries would have such carving and decorations; but nowadays many ordinary people’s houses have fancy carved window and door frames and so on. At first glance, it is very lovely, but it wastes a lot of wood and stone. Entire large mountains are flattened. If all the mountains and forests are used up, there is greater danger from earthquakes and floods. There is nothing to hold back or channel floodwaters; there is nothing to contain earthquakes. Destroying everything creates a lot of problems.

There is a lot of factory farming for meat. This did not used to exist in Tibet; it was not necessary. But nowadays factory farming is easy work. There are factory farms for hogs, chickens, ducks, and cattle. They give injections to the thinner sheep or cattle to make them fatter. This is fine, but indirectly through this, they have used a lot of steroids. Factory farms are getting bigger, and the livestock increases. All that livestock produces a lot of manure and methane, which fouls the environment. Air that used to be clean and pristine is now becoming smoggy. We Tibetans have to really think about all this.

Tibet is on the roof of the world, and it is clean and pure. It is our own beautiful country. Even if others cannot protect it, we must keep from ruining it ourselves. If we take good care of it, we Tibetan people will not have wasted our honor and responsibility. We have already lost so much of what we had, and if we destroy more of what have in our hands, there will be nothing left that you can call Tibetan. Even if there were an agreement between Tibet and China, and we could gain freedom for Tibet, what kind of a homeland would we return to? We will have ruined our homeland. If we turn it into a huge, ugly wasteland, gaining freedom will not help us gain happiness.

One reason all this happens—and it is our own fault—is that we do not have much interest in education. The more interest we take in learning about the environment, the more we will cherish and care for the environment. For that reason, the Dharma king Songtsen Gampo said:

In the high, pure mountain land encircled by glaciers,
The pure sounds of Sanskrit could be spoken.
You, the people of the Land of Snow
Who have this precious human birth:
I urge you to devote yourselves to learning.

This says that you must become educated. You have a perfect language, like Sanskrit.

Getting such a good education is like gaining an excellent language, like Sanskrit. Tibet has an excellent environment, encircled by snow mountains so that it is protected from pollution from outside. These protect both the borders and the environment of this land perfectly. So this verse says that all those who have a precious human body there should become educated. Getting an education is very important. It is all of our responsibility that everyone become educated and protect the pure and clean natural environment of Tibet.

As I said earlier, all of us gathered here, whether or not we were born in Tibet, have connections with Tibetan culture and language. Thus we all must protect the environment of the entire world for its future, and in particular Tibet and the Himalayan range. Tibet is probably the most important source of drinking water in the entire world. We really need to consider this.

As I said the other day, we must consider this within each of our monasteries. I think it would be very good for any monastery in India, Nepal, or Tibet to get organized and take an interest in environmental protection. I am not an expert on environmental issues, but there are a few points we should know and follow. I will explain them to you. Please keep them in mind. If you can practice these in your monasteries and provide some education in them to the monastics and householders associated with your monasteries, this will bring benefit to all of us as communities and individuals.

There are several points. The first is sort of like child’s play. It concerns automobiles—trucks and cars. I do not know a lot about this in India, but in Tibet, it often happens that as soon as a lama completes a three-year retreat, he absolutely must buy a truck. If he does not buy a truck and carry around Karma Chakme’s book on Toh rituals, he is not considered a real lama. We had a little monk at Tsurphu who had only been a monk for three or four years, and someone once asked him, “What do you want to do?”
He replied, “I want to become a lama.”
“What will you do when you are a lama?”
“I'm going do a three-year retreat, buy a truck and Chakme's Toh book, and then travel.”

He saw lamas doing this. This is what little children think lamas should do. Every lama buys his own car, and then they have to buy oil and gas for that car. Oil comes from underground, but the oil in the world is being used up, and this creates problems. These days the price of oil is increasing, and this is causing a lot of problems, right? This is why we do not need a separate car for every lama. But now everyone needs the fanciest cars with the most impressive names—German ones like BMWs or, in Tibet especially, Japanese cars like Toyotas—which use the most gasoline. Otherwise they do not feel like they have the status of a lama.

From one perspective, I have to wonder whether this meshes with the lives of earlier masters, who are good examples of having few desires and being satisfied with what one has. Lamas are Dharma practitioners, whether or not they are monastics, which means they should be people with few desires who are content with what they have. They should not chase after the eight worldly dharmas of this life directly, although things might come to them naturally. That is how they should be. These days it is not like that, and that is a problem.

Sometimes when lamas and monks go abroad, their sponsors offer them gifts. Sometimes sponsors buy them mobile phones, and when they do, it has to be the best one. Monks have even been known to throw away cheap phones they do not want. I have heard about this happening. If you pay for it yourself and throw it away, that is one thing. But if someone spends money to offer you something, how could it be OK to throw it away? You have to realize this. If you do not need it, give it to a friend who does.

We need to rethink whether we should buy so many cars, especially big cars that use a lot of gas. I do not know whether this happens in India as well, but if it does, we should practice restraint, because this is not good, especially from the local people’s point of view. Most of us here in India are refugees. If the refugees are all driving the fanciest cars, the local people will hardly think of us as refugees; instead they’ll be jealous that we drive fancier cars than they do. It does not look good. It is unnecessary. So the first point is that we need to think about cars.

The second point is that in the remote areas of Tibet, they are using a lot of solar and wind-powered electricity. This is good. It is very expensive to generate electricity, and if we use it without caring for the environment, it is very destructive to the environment. Oil-powered generation is especially expensive.

At Tsurphu monastery, there did not used to be any electricity, but then they installed solar panels. Solar panels are still quite expensive, which makes them a bit difficult to install. It can be very expensive to provide the amount of power that can cover a large area. But solar and wind power do not have operating costs, and they do not harm the environment. They can be quite beneficial.

In Tibet, the sun shines quite well—it is the roof of the world—so many people there use solar electricity. In some areas of North India and Nepal, particularly around Darjeeling and Mirik, it is always foggy, so you never see the sun shining, which makes for a few small difficulties. However, in our monasteries, we are big groups of people, and we have large electricity expenses. Since we are already paying for it, we should think about how to conserve electricity. Do not just pointlessly leave lights on all the time when the sun is shining and the weather is bright. I think it would be good for us to conserve electricity. That is the second point to keep in mind.

The third point is growing trees, which I mentioned the other day. We bhikshus are not allowed to cut down trees or any other plant that has roots and bears fruit. This is the vast intent of the Lord Buddha. But not only bhikshus; all of us must keep this in mind. Most of the oxygen for all the living creatures in this world comes from trees and plants. So if we can plant even one tree, it will probably help a great number of creatures survive. Sometimes I even think it would be better to plant a single tree than to perform a life-release for many beings.

Last year I talked about performing life-releases, giving up eating meat, and becoming vegetarian for the long lives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, myself, and many of our lineage lamas who have become elderly, so that they might continue to be with us for a long time. This year I think it would be good for each of our monasteries to plant a thousand trees, if not more. When I say plant, this does not mean that it absolutely has to be done right near the monastery. You can make connections with groups that plant forests or help someone who is planting trees. This is for monasteries that have the resources to do this. If you don’t have the resources, that is another matter. There are, however, monasteries that have some wealth and want to do something for their lama’s long life. My particular recommendation for this year is that it would be good for each monastery to plant at least one or two thousand trees. If monasteries cannot, the monks can plant the trees themselves. Sponsors would also be most welcome. Most monks don’t say they have much money, and I don’t know where they spend what money they do have. It would probably be quite good if we could make a beautiful green forest for the benefit of all living creatures, especially in Tibet.

Tibet covers a huge area, so we could plant as many trees as we want. If monasteries have to cut trees, then it would be good for them to plant a greater number than they cut. Cutting trees without replanting is the one thing that would anger the local deities and nagas, if anything would. That is another point.

The fourth point is one that is not our responsibility as monks. Monks do not farm, right? But when farmers grow crops, they use various kinds of chemical fertilizers to make the crops grow quickly. When they do this, the first crop grows extremely well, but after it has grown, the soil loses fertility and becomes like sand, I have heard. The chemical fertilizers exhaust the soil. This is how it happens.

There are many farms in Tibet. When we plant our crops, we should not think that this is our own field and we can do whatever we like. That is one thing to think about. The other is that the use of chemical fertilizers is exhausting the fertility of large areas of cropland. Monks do not need to work in the fields themselves, but they have many friends and relatives who do. Unless we use our overall, collective effort, it will be difficult to protect the environment.

There are several other points, but we do not need to go through them.

In brief, for the human race, there are two conditions in this world that can make us advance. The first condition is to go forward out of fear. All beings, including animals, will advance out of fear. They sense a danger to their existence, feel fear and terror, and find a way to remedy their situation. But I think moving forward because you see a benefit or profit is probably something that mainly we humans do. We humans are beings with brains and intelligence. But while we have these brains and intelligence, if we just hang out without doing anything meaningful, then there will be another mouth to feed, another person using up space, another body crowding the world. There will be no benefit at all.

While living in the world, we need to demonstrate intelligence and define our vision for the future. I think that only then will our existence in the world be meaningful. We will no longer just be taking up space. We will be able to benefit the other creatures who live with us on this earth.

That is more or less it for the topic of the environment. If I say too much, the mosquitoes will have a feast. We have to protect environment . . . but we should think about whether we need to protect the mosquitoes.

Protecting the earth’s environment is a big issue in the world now. But that is not why I am shivering on this throne talking about it.

The Lord Buddha and many of the earlier learned and realized masters who followed him made prophecies a long time ago about how the times would become degenerate: the environment would degenerate, and beings living in it would also degenerate. These are things the earlier masters said, but we do not pay attention to them. People just talk about how it said this here and that there.

I want to tell you a story. During the upheavals in Tibet in the 1950s, the previous incarnation of Pawo Rinpoche was looking through the prophecies of Guru Rinpoche, and thought, “This probably is going to happen.” He showed them to his steward and said, “This is going to happen. These are the prophecies of Guru Rinpoche. We need to flee into exile; we cannot stay here.” Whenever he showed these to his steward, the steward would say, “So it is! I go for refuge!” The steward would then touch them to his forehead and put them aside.

Later the situation got worse, and even the Karmapa went to India. When Pawo Rinpoche heard about that, he said, “The prophecies predicted this! Even the Karmapa has gone. We had better go, or what will happen to us?” The steward replied, “How can that be? There are the three great monasteries of Sera, Drepung, and Ganden, and the Tibetan government palace of the Potala. It is not easy to leave. If you prepare to go, you will ruin any chance of staying.” He absolutely refused to do anything about leaving. Either he was not educated or he was complacent because he had never faced such difficult circumstances. In the end, the steward was unable to come to India and suffered terribly. He was sent to reeducation camps where he was tortured, beaten, and eventually died.

It is similar with us. The Lord Buddha and earlier masters said a great deal about how we need to protect the environment, the forests, and the trees. But when we hear this, we just touch the text to our foreheads and say, “I go for refuge!” The eloquent and beautiful words, “May it be so! May there be benefit for all! May it happen! May this be for all sentient beings throughout space! May that be!” often pass our lips, but we do not practice them in a meaningful way. We are still wandering in the oceans of samsaric suffering because our wishes and our actions are going in opposite directions. If we continue in this way, we will remain in samsara forever. There’s no other benefit. So please keep this in mind.

That is it. Say the auspicious prayers. It's getting late. 





2007/12/26

Medicine Buddha teaching at the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, December 26, 2007


HH Gyalwang Karmapa spent one session teaching on the Medicine Buddha sadhana, ‘A Sadhana of Menlha, Compiled from the Clear Expanse of Mind, A Mind Treasure Found Within the Sky of Dharma Texts called, “A Stream of Vaidurya”.’
He began by emphasizing that bodhicitta is the most important factor in one’s practice. Only through bodhicitta can one attain enlightenment, and whether one’s practice is a Mahayana practice or not is determined by one’s motivation of bodhicitta. Everything is connected with bodhicitta; there is nothing that is not. May the bodhicitta arise in those where it does not exist, and may it increase more and more in those where it does exist.
Then, Gyalwang Karmapa talked about the origins and history of the Medicine Buddha Sutra. Lord Buddha taught the Medicine Buddha Sutra in Vaishali to a gathering of 80,000 monks, 36,000 bodhisattvas, Chenrezig, Vajrapani, Manjushri, devas, humans and non-humans, and his teachings were good in the beginning, middle and end. It was Manjushri who stood up in the assembly and requested Shakyamuni Buddha to teach the Medicine Buddha practice to those beings who have inner and outer sufferings, and who live in the midst of degenerate times.
Gyalwang Karmapa went on to discuss Tibetan Buddhist history from the time of the first king, Nyatri Tsenpo, when the Bon religion existed in Tibet, and how Buddhism came to Tibet from India at the time of the great King Songtsen Gampo, and the pre-eminent translator Thonmi Sambhota, who began to render texts into Tibetan at that time.
Gyalwang Karmapa described the time of King Trisong Deutsen and the construction of Tibet’s first monastery of Samye. There was no monastic sangha in Tibet at that time, but Shantarakshita who came from Eastern India brought the Sarvastivadin lineage to Tibet and began to ordain a small number of virtuous people into the monastic tradition. He did so as a test to see whether they could uphold monastic discipline.
It was also Shantarakshita who first promulgated and practised Medicine Buddha in Tibet, to help the King. He offered the King the short, middle and long practices, and the King chose the middle length practice. After Shantarakshita, Atisha DIpankara, who founded the Kadampa tradition, spread the Medicine Buddha practice, and it was through him that the practices of the 16 Arhats and Medicine Buddha spread throughout Tibet and became very important.
Gyalwang Karmapa explained that generally such practices as Medicine Buddha belong to the Kriya Yoga class of Tantra, but some Kriya Yoga practices are related to Anuttarayoga Tantra. This Gong-ter or Mind Treasure Medicine Buddha sadhana, although based on Kriya Yoga, is an Anuttarayoga Tantra practice and more specifically belongs to the class of Ati Yoga practices. For this reason, an empowerment and transmission are needed to practice it.
Next, Gyalwang Karmapa discussed the benefits of the practice. He said that faith and trust in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is the seed of enlightenment or liberation, but he cautioned against blind faith and the faith that just prays for and expects desired results without having proper cause. Faith develops gradually, like making a clay image which begins as a rough shape only. It is important to understand the reasons why faith and trust can develop and become genuine.
Atisha made strong prayers that whomsoever would hear the name of Medicine Buddha would be rid of the sufferings of the lower realms. The name of Medicine Buddha is so powerful that it has the capacity to clear the sufferings of beings, especially in this degenerate age. The Medicine Buddha Sutra states that in the time when deadly new diseases appear and are hard to cure, the power of Medicine Buddha will become even stronger. It is said that the practice may even have the power to revive people who have already died. Although other mantras may lose their power in degenerate times, the Medicine Buddha mantra becomes more powerful, and it is especially important to recite it during these times.
Some diseases can benefit from medicine, but some cannot. In some places there are hundreds of sick beings and very few doctors, so there can be little treatment. In these cases, Medicine Buddha practice can be dedicated to those suffering beings.
Gyalwang Karmapa said that the Medicine Buddha practice can be included in either Sutra or Tantra, but Shantarakshita based the practice in the Sutra tradition. Many sadhanas are based in Tantra, and many Medicine Buddha practices are included in Kriya Yoga Tantra, so it is also not out of place if it is included in the Tantra. Gyalwang Karmapa also explained that, since the practice comes from the Nyingma tradition, recitation of the words and meditation upon the meaning should be done concurrently; meditation should not follow the recitation.
Then, Gyalwang Karmapa briefly went through the sadhana itself and described the sections beginning with refuge and the receiving of blessings. He explained that the self visualization and front visualization should be performed at the same time, but that as the practice is primarily included in the Sutra tradition, visualization does not need to be as precise and clear as in the Vajrayana. Then followed the invitation, bestowing of offerings and praise sections. During the mantra recitation, Gyalwang Karmapa said to focus the mind on the mantra rosary in the hearts of the self and front visualizations radiating light, and then to recite the mantra with good concentration.
Finally he gave the lung for the practice.

His Holiness at the Great Kagyu Monlam Aspiration (Winter Tour 2007-08)


On this page, a detailed summary of His Holiness's activities is provided. At this website, we are also providing extensive reports on the activity of HIs Holiness at The 25th Great Kagyu Monlam on other pages:

2007/12/24

Gyalwang Karmapa’s Advice on Protecting the Environment

         December 24, 2007, Translated by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche & Karma Choephel

Now I would like to speak on the subject of the environment. 

These days, the temperatures around the world have drastically changed, which has created a great danger for the world itself. This is the situation, and they are always talking about this in the news and on the TV. So we need to think about this. In olden times, we Kagyupas would stay only in remote mountain retreats in caves or stone huts—pleasant retreats—and there was no need to do such work as excavating the ground, cutting a lot of trees, or quarrying. But later, whether it was their increasing activity to benefit beings and the teachings, or whether it was because, as the saying goes, “The more you meditate on mahamudra, the more active you become,” and mahamudra meditators got too busy, those who were supposed to be doing the practices of the Practice Lineage in the high, rocky, snowy places could not manage to do that. They all came down into the valleys, and it became necessary to build many monasteries. I am not talking about our time; this happened in the past.

And now these days, in many Kagyu monasteries we say, “We’re building a new monastery,” and without any compunction we cut down all the trees, the lovely forests, that naturally grew around the monasteries. This can create great harm for the environment. Some monasteries are even selling the timber from the forests behind the monasteries. When we do that, we don’t know what harm we are creating now, but it creates problems for the world environment a few years later. When the so-called essence of the earth, the essence of the place, is harmed, this causes great harm to the world environment, and then we think, “Oh, no! What did we do?” But if we only think about it later, it’s too late. It takes twenty or thirty years to grow a single tree; they don’t grow up immediately upon planting. 

For that reason, we need to understand clearly in all our monasteries in India and Nepal, and likewise in all the monasteries in Tibet, that if we are unable to conceive of all sentient beings throughout limitless space, never mind that. But we live on this earth, and everyone can see it. If our earth is destroyed by changes in the climate, there won’t be any of us Kagyupas left. There won’t be any Karma Kamtsang. We’ll all be lost. It’s not like we have Dharma protectors and Mahakala Bernakchen will save us, so that the rest of the world will be destroyed and only we will be left. That won’t happen. For that reason we need to protect the environment. We should provide some education in the monasteries about how to protect the environment. I think that would be very good.

We should not just always dig and build, but also do something to protect the environment. The sutras and tantras say that keeping the monasteries and sacred places clean has immeasurable benefits. It is the same with the earth: the earth is in great danger and it needs our care, so we should try to help protect the environment for all the beings in the world. Even if we can’t do anything else, it is not too difficult to explain the basic things we need to do to protect the world. You should educate people about this and say, “This is how it is.” So whether we are members of the sangha or lay people, if we take some interest in protecting the environment every single day, it will be very good.

That was the second point, the environment.


Gyalwang Karmapa’s Advice on Dress Codes for Sangha




December 24, 2007, Translated by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche & Karma Choephel



I also have something to say about clothing, bearing, and demeanor. I thought about saying something last year, but it’s not easy to talk about this. But this year, if I embolden myself and say something about it, it will probably be OK. I said something about this in either 2003 or 2001. In the Buddhist tradition, there are two types of practitioners: monastics and householders. The monastics are monks and nuns, and the householders have households, and they have different garb and different demeanors. Otherwise, if the monastics get confused with the householders, or the householders get mixed up with the monastics, it will become very difficult for other people develop faith. It will be difficult to identify who is what. We won’t be able to identify whether someone is a monastic or a tantric practitioner. We won’t be able to tell people apart.

Even among our rinpoches, there are householders. I’m not at all saying that this is not good. Really. For example, Marpa and Milarepa, for whom we have the greatest devotion, were also householders. They did not wear the three Dharma robes. That’s how it is. This is not a question of more or less important. Even if you are a householder, you can have qualities of purity and realization that are superior to a monastic’s, and a monastic can have qualities of purity and realization that are superior to a householder’s. This is not a question of more or less important, but householders should wear the clothing of householders, and monastics should wear the clothing of monks and nuns. Otherwise, it will get all mixed up.

Those of us who know and understand might think this is OK as it is, but those who don’t know probably think that everyone who wears red robes is the same. If they see one person wearing red robes and the Dharma robe acting like a householder with a spouse and children, they will probably think that everyone who wears the robes is like that. They’ll think that everyone who wears red is the same. For that reason, you should really think about this. Think about what you should do. I don’t have any specific suggestions here. We should all cherish the Dharma and figure out what is the best way to act on this. I ask you all to consider this and then take some appropriate actions.

I’ve talked about three topics. First, I discussed giving up meat; second, the environment; and third, clothing. Up to now I’ve primarily been focusing on the monastic sangha’s clothing and demeanor during the Kagyu Monlam. If I can do something about the motivation and demeanor of the householders—when I have the opportunity or it is the right time—I will do it. But right now I am asking you to think this over and do what you think is best. I don’t have anything else to say. If I say too much, it will get too dark.

Many respectable lamas and tulkus of the Karma Kamtsang lineage have come here, with Jamgon Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche foremost, as well as Kyabje Garwang Rinpoche from the Surmang Kagyu branch of the Karma Kagyu, and also lamas and tulkus from the Drikung and Drukpa Kagyu. I would like to thank you all for “turning your steeds in this direction,” as it’s said. These days we don’t ride horses, so I thank you for turning your steering wheels in this direction.

Many members of the sangha have also come here. Some of the things I have said have been pleasant; some have been harsh. For whatever wrong I have done to the Sangha, “I admit this. I confess this. I do not conceal this. Henceforth I shall not do this again.” Because of the positive power of our pure motivations, may we be able to turn the world in the direction of peace and happiness, and in particular, since we currently are staying here in the Noble Land of India, may this country of India have the good fortune of a happy country, happy people, and prosperity. In particular, in Tibet, the Land of Snow, which has been a great source of the Buddhist teachings, the root of the teachings of sutra and tantra, may the sun of peace and happiness dawn soon. May His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the great teachers of all traditions soon be able to set foot upon the soil of Tibet. The people of Tibet wait for them just as the cuckoo waits for the rain. I dedicate this so that all their wishes may be fulfilled, and ask you all to keep this in your minds and pray.

Great Kagyu Monlam Aspiration, 24th December


Mahabodhi Temple: The final day of the 25th International Kagyu Monlam began at 6.00am as the mist cleared and the sky lightened. Gyaltsab Rinpoche conferred the Sojong vows, and was the presiding lama for the morning prayers. As with every previous day, the western and southern sides of the Stupa and surrounding the Bodhi Tree were crowded with monks and nuns cloaked in their maroon and orange dagams, Sangha members of other Buddhist traditions, and laypeople wrapped in shawls and warm clothing against the north Indian morning chill.
Gyalwang Karmapa joined the assembly for the short second session during which the Heart Sutra and Prostrations and Offerings to the Sixteen Elders, among other brief prayers were chanted. The main event of the morning was the Alms Procession. The gelongs and gelongmas, wearing chogos and namjars, began assembling under the Bodhi Tree at 10am in their monastic order. Gyaltsab Rinpoche led the procession followed by Mingyur Rinpoche, Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku and other senior Rinpoches and lamas. The first hundred or so gelongs carried in their right hands the traditional monk's staff, which they tapped on the ground as they walked, making the metal rings sound. Behind the gelongs came the gelongmas, the first one of which also carried the traditional staff. A group of Korean bhikshunis followed. Each monk and nun also carried a large grey metal begging bowl in their left hands.
The procession made its way slowly around the outer circuit to the main entrance gate where the alms round began. From the gate, across the plaza and down the main road, the route was lined with people from different regions and countries, standing on the right-hand side, each offering fruit, nuts, biscuits, packs of namkeen and other edible food. Some people touched their malas and bunches of protection cords to the bowls in order to receive the blessings of the Sangha, as they made their way down to the Rose Park. The begging bowls had to be emptied every few meters because the donors were so generous and enthusiastic. All the food was collected and distributed in large bags to the Sangha after the noon meal. On the grass in the Rose Park the monks and nuns sat in silent ordered lines, overseen by the Gyalwang Karmapa, and were served by Chinese Buddhist volunteers.
For the ordained Sangha, the experience of making the alms round is very humbling. Gyalwang Karmapa's revival of this ancient Buddhist tradition into the Kagyu lineage is historic, and a significant move for the continuation of the Sangha and the time-honored relationship between ordained and lay disciples.
In the afternoon's final session, the assembly chanted the Lama Choepa ritual composed by Pal Gyalwang Karmapa in 2005. There was a tsog offering, with elaborate tormas offered to His Holiness and the Rinpoches, and hundreds of bags of food offerings handed out to every member of the assembly.
A special ceremony followed, to thank the sponsors who were placed in front of Gyalwang Karmapa's throne, during which He expressed His gratitude and appreciation for their sponsorship and offered His blessings for their well-being in this and future lives. His Holiness then gave a brief talk on three topics: vegetarianism, protecting the environment, and dress codes for sangha and laypeople, especially emphasizing that the dress of monastic and non-monastic should be distinguishable from each other so that it should be clear who belongs to which group.
Finally, to the rousing chant of many tashi auspicious prayers, His Holiness Karmapa waved a white khata and the assembly returned the gesture waving thousands of white khatas in the air. His Holiness changed this tradition in 2004 so that participants no longer throw their khatas towards the throne, but hold onto them and wave them in the air. The reason for this is to keep the environment clean, and show proper respect.
Marme Monlam: After a short break, everyone returned to the Stupa at 7.00pm for the Lamp Offering ceremony, Marme Monlam, the closing session of the International Kagyu Monlam. Battery-operated candles were distributed to the lay people, while the gelongs and gelongmas carried small lotus lights. Gyalwang Karmapa, flanked by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche sat facing the Bodhi Tree.
The prayers began with The All Pervading Benefit of Beings, followed by the same Sanskrit prayers that have been chanted each morning by the assembly. The Korean bhiksuni choir then sonorously chanted The Five Fragrances and Seven Prostrations, and a group of Chinese bhiksus and bhiksunis chanted The Ten Direction Prayer. Everyone then joined together with a choir of western disciples to chant Ah World, a song composed by Gyalwang Karmapa in appreciation of the world and as a plea to those of us who inhabit the world to engender peace and happiness everywhere, and to treat the world carefully so she will not be destroyed.
The Aspiration for The Well-Being of Tibet, composed by Gyalwang Karmapa, was chanted next, led by Umze Ozer Rabten, to a beautiful melody, also composed by His Holiness.
Three sounds on the gong heralded the simultaneous switching on of the lotus lamps by gelongs and gelongmas who had been taught by His Holiness how to switch them on in unison the evening before. This was joined by a burst of candles. The Stupa Mandala resembled a Pure Land beneath the full moon. There was a great camaraderie and happiness between all the participants, and a swell of emotion rose.
As the lotus lamps changed colours, fading from red through blue, green, yellow and pink, His Holiness transmitted the Marme Monlam first in Tibetan, then in Chinese and finally in English, and the assembly joined in chanting the prayer in the three languages to an enchanting and uplifting orchestral arrangement, again composed by His Holiness Karmapa.
Closing prayers concluded the ceremony, and Gyalwang Karmapa, Jamgon Kongtrul and Gyaltsab Rinpoche left, followed by the Sangha members and lay disciples carrying their lights and candles high in the air. All participants circumambulated the Stupa chanting Karmapa Khyeno in rousing tones and the 25th International Kagyu Monlam came to a successful end.
Distribution of free food and blankets: Kagyu Monlam participants from Samye Ling Buddhist Centre in Scotland organized a distribution of bags of lentils for the poor and destitute. Women and children thronged noisily around the Mahayana Hotel from 6.00am in the morning waiting for the hand-out.
Canadian members from Toronto, accompanying Lama Tashi Dhondrup, one of the main sponsors of this year's Monlam, organised an impromptu distribution of free blankets at the same time.
After a hard day working at the camp, the volunteers came to Tergar Monastery to have a group photo taken with Gyalwang Karmapa in the Great Hall. There was some confusion and much laughter when they were ordered to say "cheese" by one of the photographers.
Medical camp: This was the final day of the medical camp organized by Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps. - Tashi Paljor

2007/12/23

Great Kagyu Monlam Aspiration, 23rd December


Mahabodhi Temple: Procession of the Kangyur
Just before dawn broke, Gyalwang Karmapa conferred the Sojong vows and gave a short teaching.
The main event of the morning was the Procession of the Kangyur; all 108 volumes of the Sutra and Vinaya were carried by monks in procession around the outer and inner circuits of the Mahabodhi temple. The procession began from the bodhi tree at 7.30am. At its head came the incense-bearing, yellow-hatted chostenpas, the discipline masters, behind them a solitary monk blew a large white conch, which represents the sound of the Noble Dharma. After that came two monks blowing gyalings. Master Hai Tao, a Taiwanese lama, in the ochre robes of the Chinese Mahayana tradition, and the Venerable Hye Neung, Tibet House, Korea, in the long grey robes of a Korean monk, led the next section. They were followed by Mingyur Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and the Gyalwang Karmapa, in that order, wearing their red tsesha which signify high Rinpoches in the Kagyu tradition, and carrying posna (traditional Tibetan incense holders). They were followed by 104 gelongs and the 4 most senior gelongmas, each bearing a volume of the Kangyur, suspended between left shoulder and left palm. Slowly, gracefully, step-by-step, placing stockinged or bare feet mindfully on the stone pavement, the Sangha processed along the side of the Mahabodhi Stupa itself, up the steps and onto the outer circuit. There, thousands of people lined either side of the path, offering katags (Tibetan white ceremonial scarves), incense and flowers, particularly the long stemmed pink lotuses which can be bought from the urchins crowding round the entrance to the Mahabodhi site. In the background, from the area near the bodhi tree, came the sound of the chant master leading a slow chant of the refuge prayer in Sanskrit.
The morning sun shone down brightly on the processing monks and on the crowd, as the procession wound its way the complete length of the outer circuit before returning down the steps to the Mahabodhi temple itself and back to the bodhi tree.
The volumes of the Kangyur were then distributed to the different monasteries and sections of each volume, approximately ten pages, were allocated to individual monks, and the reading of the Kangyur began.
Gyalwang Karmapa visits the Nyingma Monastery: A fter the morning session at the Mahabodhi Temple, the Gyalwang Karmapa visited the Nyingma Monastery which is hosting getsuls and getsulmas (novice monks and nuns) for the midday meal. Gyalwang Karmapa watched as the monks and nuns formed orderly lines as they queued for their lunch. He inspected that day's meal ¨C rice and lentils. He also visited the small clinic, offering Tibetan and allopathic medicine, and talked with the staff. The clinic is being run by Kagyu Monlam medical team: Dr Subatom from Nepal, and a Tibetan doctor Amchi Drubgyu Tendar from Rumtek, Sikkim.
Gyalwang Karmapa eats lunch with the gelongs and gelongmas: During Kagyu Monlam the gelongs and gelongmas have been keeping the Sojong vows, so they do not eat after midday; lunch, their main meal, is served at Tergar Monastery. After the morning session at the Mahabodhi temple, buses transfer the nuns and monks to Tergar Monastery where they gather in the Main Hall, sit in long rows, and observe the new codes of conduct for sitting and eating. A team of Chinese Buddhist volunteers prepares cooks and serves the food each day as an offering and service to the sangha. Today Gyalwang Karmapa joined them for lunch: rice, vegetable tempura, mixed vegetables, French fries, paneer, yoghurt and fruit.
After a hard day working at the camp, the volunteers came to Tergar Monastery to have a group photo taken with Gyalwang Karmapa in the Great Hall. There was some confusion and much laughter when they were ordered to say "cheese" by one of the photographers.
Medical camp: Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps moved back to Birla Mandir in Bodhgaya to conduct a further two days of free treatment.
Akshobhya Fire Puja: This was the conclusion of a week of the Akshobhya Ritual, a powerful purification practice, which Gyalwang Karmapa had been leading each afternoon at the Mahabodhi Temple.
The final ritual ¨C the fire puja ¨C was held in the main hall at Tergar Monastery shortly after 9.00pm, and did not end until 12.30am. Gyalwang Karmapa was Vajra Master. As part of the ritual, the names of the deceased, written on paper, were burnt in a ritual fire. Only a few lamas were allowed to participate in the ceremony, those who had completed the retreat and kept Sojong; other monks and the general public gathered outside and watched through the windows.

2007/12/22

Great Kagyu Monlam Aspiration, 22nd December


Mahabodhi Temple: Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche gave the Sojong Vows. Gyalwang Karmapa attended the sessions before and immediately after lunch.

Press Conference: At 11.30am Gyalwang Karmapa held a press conference on the 25th International Kagyu Monlam at Tergar Monastery. Twenty eight reporters, photographers and film crew, representing fourteen different agencies and seven countries, attended the conference. They received a pack of information about the Kagyu Monlam in either English or Chinese. Gyalwang Karmapa welcomed them and extended prayers and good wishes to all on behalf of Kagyu Monlam.
Medical Camp: This was the second day that the free camp staffed by Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps was held in the village of Vinobapuri. The camp was set up in a local private school. On the first day 731 patients arrived. On the second day there were 826, and when the clinic finally closed in the evening, there were still about two hundred patients who had not been seen. Most of the patients were women and children; there were very few old people. Many of the children were suffering from conditions such as clubfoot and hernia which could easily be corrected by surgery. Many had distended bellies and bleached hair, both signs of malnutrition. Coughs, colds, earache and worms were the most common complaints, and there were probable cases of tuberculosis. Sadly, several of the children had been severely disabled by polio. India has a major nationwide polio immunization drive each year, but it hasn't yet reached Vinobapuri.
After a hard day working at the camp, the volunteers came to Tergar Monastery to have a group photo taken with Gyalwang Karmapa in the Great Hall. There was some confusion and much laughter when they were ordered to say "cheese" by one of the photographers!
Rehearsals for the Marme Monlam: This year's Marme Monlam will be even more elaborate than before. Candles have been replaced by electric lights, and the sangha will be issued with special lotus- shaped lights which change through pink, blue, green. The driving force behind these changes is Gyalwang Karmapa, and at 8.00pm he came down to the Main Hall of Tergar Monastery, where the gelongs and gelongmas had assembled, and personally conducted a rehearsal. First, the new lotus lamp lights were distributed and everyone had to practise a synchronized switching on and off. Then groups representing the different languages - Tibetan, English, Chinese and Korean - performed their set pieces, which they will sing during the Marme Monlam on Monday. Finally, everyone practised the Marme Monlam Prayer to a new melody composed by His Holiness.

2007/12/20

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.]

Great Kagyu Monlam Aspiration, Thursday 20th December


Mahabodhi Temple: Before dawn broke, Choje Gyaltsab Rinpoche conferred the Sojong vows at the Mahabodhi Temple and led the first session of the Monlam from 6.00am until 9.00am.
Gyalwang Karmapa joined the assembly at 9.30 am, resuming his transmission of The Life of Milarepa. He then gave a commentary on the Prayer of Samantabhadra: The King of Aspiration Prayers before leading the chanting of it. After lunch, he returned to the Mahabodhi Temple to lead the Akshobhya Ritual in the third session.
Medical Camp: More than a thousand people arrived for medical treatment at the camp. Staff reported that the majority of local patients were suffering from diseases associated with poverty; the result of sub-standard living conditions, lack of clean water, and especially malnutrition. Indeed, most of the patients were malnourished; the children especially were underweight and undersized for their age.

Evening Teaching at Tergar Monastery: In the second part of a three-part series, Gyalwang Karmapa continued his exposition of Kyobpa’s The Fivefold Mahamudra. He concentrated on verses two and three:
If your body, the king of the enlightened form,
Does not hold the throne of the unchanging basis,
Mother dakinis, the citizens, will not appear,
So, earnestly focus on seeing your body as the yidam deity.

If, on the snow mountain, the lama of the four kayas,
The sun of devotion does not shine,
Streams of blessing will not flow.
So, earnestly focus on cultivating this devotion.
Gyalwang Karmapa referred to the Tibetan idea that if something helps it’s of use. . . . (For a continuation of this extended summary of the Thursday teachings, go to His Holiness's Teachings at the 25th Great Kagyu Monlam)
The evening concluded with Gyalwang Karmapa conferring the Bodhisattva Vows. - Tashi Paljor