14 March, Bodhgaya

I am very happy to be at the Root Institute once again and I am delighted to see everyone come here to listen to the dharma with such faith and devotion. I have come to the Root Institute many times and every time I get a very warm welcome and I would like to thank you all very much for this. I did not make any particular preparations for what I am going to say today, nor am I quite sure what I should say to you, but perhaps I will share my feelings about the Kadampa Lineage.
When we talk about the Kadampa Lineage, we are referring to the lineage of those who are able to engage in the entire thought of the Buddha, and all of the Buddha's speech without leaving anything out and to bring all of that onto the path to enlightenment. And this is a particular feature of the Kadampa lineage. So within their presentation of the Buddha's teachings, their discussion of the three types of individuals, and so forth, what I think is most important for our time is the example they set of being able to practice and understand all the Buddha's teachings, and to be able to take them onto the path. I think this is the most important and impressive thing about the Kadampa Lineage.
It is also a way of practicing where you do not have any bias between the different philosophical schools or between the different vehicles of Buddhism. Sometimes there is some bias between the levels of the Mahayana and the Foundation Vehicle, but the difference between these is actually nothing other than differences in the capacities of our own minds. It is a question of the extent of our resolve, or the amount of responsibility or burden that we are able to take upon ourselves. Even if we belong to the family of the Mahayana, in order to be able to really develop the capacity of our minds, then in the Kadampa tradition, we would start by studying the teachings of the sravakas and the pratyekabuddhas without casting any of it away.
Similarly, in terms of the different philosophical schools, it is well known that there are the four main schools from India. These are philosophical schools that we progress through like going up a staircase. After you understand the manner of explanation of the lower philosophical schools, then you are gradually able to understand the upper vehicles. For this reason then, the practices of the lower philosophical vehicles become companions or helpers to the practices of higher vehicles. And so for the Kadampas there is a way of practicing these without the lower becoming false in terms of the upper vehicles or without them being adversaries to the upper vehicles.
So this is a way that a single individual can practice all the different vehicles or philosophical schools of Buddhism without discriminating against any of them. It is the way to come to the essence of one’s practice within a single human lifetime.
Therefore, we look at the examples of the Kadampa masters and their teachings--the really vast, profound, and very extensive presentations--as a sort of foundation or commonality between all the different lineages that developed in Tibet. I think that all of the masters of the current lineages of Tibetan Buddhism cite the masters of the Kadampa lineage. Of course they have their own particular explanation and instructions but I feel that the basis of all of them is the Kadampa tradition. And this is because the Kadampa tradition contains all the different teachings of the Buddha within one package.
And then there are the old and new Kadampa traditions. After the appearance of Lord Tsongkhapa there emerged what is called the new Kadampa tradition. And we can talk about the difference between the old and new Kadampa but the main point to remember is that the Kadampa tradition is the basis for all of the later Tibetan dharma traditions. Therefore, it seems to me that as long as all of the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism are still extant, then the Kadampa tradition will also be present without weakening. It is as if the essence of the Kadampa tradition has completely permeated all of the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. So these are my basic feelings about the Kadampa tradition.
Does anybody have any questions?
1.) What is enlightenment?
There are many different explanations of what enlightenment is--the state of buddhahood and all of that. If we talk about it in terms of ground, path, and fruition, there are many different presentations of this and there is really no time to describe them all in detail. But actually when we think about the word buddha, in Tibetan it is translated as sangye, which means purified and developed. And the example that is given for this is a lotus that is fully in bloom.
But if we talk about what buddha means in ordinary language, it means understanding, and not just any old understanding, but great understanding. And we can also talk about the difference between consciousness and wisdom. The word for wisdom in Tibetan is yeshe and the word for consciousness in Tibetan is namshe. “Ye” in the word yeshe means primordial or from the very beginning. It is like knowing what the nature of all things has been from the very beginning. Understanding the nature of things and the way that they abide is what we call wisdom or yeshe.
Consciousness or namshe is knowing the outer appearance or the external way things are and then clinging to that. That is what we call consciousness. And so buddha means someone who understands the nature of all things as it has been from the very beginning. As ordinary individuals, when we see phenomena, we see the external appearance and do not understand that this is not their true nature. We cling to this as if it were their nature. Actually all we are seeing is the temporary way that things appear to be and then we grasp at this as if it were the actual nature of how things are.
There is a story about the Buddha that illustrates this. The Buddha was going on his alms round one day and he came to the house of someone who started criticizing him by saying, "You lazy monks are always going around and begging all the time. You should be working for your own food." He was criticizing and using a lot of really harsh and nasty language. The Buddha just stood there and listened to him and finally when he slowed down, the Buddha said, "Have you finished with what you have to say?" And the man said, "Yes I have finished." And then the Buddha said, "If you give someone something that they do not want, what should they do with it? Should they give it back to you and would you take it?” And the man said, "Yes I suppose I would take it." And then the Buddha said, "Well, all of these mean and nasty things that you have just said, and all of your criticism I do not need, so I would like to give it back to you."
What this story illustrates is that the Buddha understands the nature of how things are. He realizes that there is absolutely no point to him getting angry in any way. He realizes that the other person was speaking out of a motivation of hatred or anger but that is not a reason for the Buddha himself to get angry. So normally we would think of this as something we should get angry about. We think of this as something true and we grasp at what appears as being the nature of the actual way things are. Because of that our minds are disturbed. We take things way too seriously because we do not understand the true nature things but instead are mistaken or confused by the appearance of things. I think this is one way to explain the difference.
2.) When I see the suffering of other sentient beings, I take it very seriously. And sometimes I want to try to do something to help but it does not always work out. So is it better to wait until enlightenment to act?
Of course it is wonderful to have the interest in achieving enlightenment. This interest is primarily in order to bring benefit to sentient beings. But as it says in Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment, those people who do not have clairvoyance should not work for the sake of other beings. The reason it says this is that if we do not have a little bit of clairvoyance, we will not be able to know the minds of other sentient beings. We will not really be able to know their capacities, their inclinations, or their interests. And if we do not know that then we will not be able to teach them the dharma that is in accord with their own level. We will not be able to help them as much. For instance, we would not know if it is appropriate to teach someone emptiness or not. If we do not have clairvoyance, it is not easy to help them. So for that reason it says in the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment that without clairvoyance, you should not teach the dharma.
But also when ordinary individuals try to do things for the benefit of other sentient beings, it is said that most of the things we do enst do not. During the phase when one is a bodhisattva, then most activities we do d up not having much effect or benefit. Of course some of the things we do have benefit but mofor the benefit of others are meaningful, but it is possible of course that there would be some that would not be meaningful. And then when one achieves the state of buddhahood, all of one's activities are meaningful. There are not any that end up being pointless. So for that reason we need to achieve the state of buddhahood. Some people might think it is in order to be able to achieve some high benefit for oneself, but in fact buddhahood is just being able to work for the benefit other sentient beings, and not just a few hundred or a few thousand sentient beings, but to be able to help all those beings who have consciousness by bringing them to the point of buddhahood and omniscience. To bring beings to the state of complete enlightenment is something that only a buddha can do and this is why we need to achieve the state of buddhahood. And so once we achieve the state of buddhahood, our activities for the benefit of others will be effortless.
However, while we are still on the path, there are some small things we can do for the benefit of others even though they may not be as vast as the infinite activity of the Buddha. And we should do as much as we are capable of doing. So this does not mean just thinking to ourselves, "Oh I can't do that." We need to test ourselves. We need to try it out. If we try something out and find we are not able to help, well there is nothing wrong with that. And if we were not able to do anything, then we can make the aspiration, "In the future, may I be able to help sentient beings in this way."
In any case, we should do the things we can actually accomplish now. It is not a question of waiting until we achieve enlightenment. Since the state of buddhahood is working for the benefit of sentient beings, then the path that brings this to fruition is also bringing benefit to sentient beings. The vast activity of the children of the bodhisattvas is the activity of helping other sentient beings and if we do not practice it now then it would be difficult for us to effortlessly bring benefit to sentient beings in the future.
And so we need to train on this path and gradually go through the stages of a bodhisattva in order to achieve the state of buddhahood. And this comes out of working for the benefit of others and out of our resolve and aspiration. And it is through this that we are able to actualize the effortless activity of a buddha.
3.) Why should we aspire to be born in a pure land? Why not aspire to be born again in this realm where the dharma is so desperately needed.
The reason to make aspirations to be born in a pure realm is that there are all the harmonious conditions for practicing the dharma without any impediments. You have everything you need to practice dharma and that is the reason to be born in a pure realm. To speak in business language, there is a profit to being born in a pure land. But this does not mean that you must make prayers to be born there or that you should be born anywhere else. It is up to you what aspiration you want to make. It is your choice.
If we do what we can to be born in the happy states of the gods or humans, if we gather all the causes and conditions for being born with a precious human body, then after death we can take rebirth as someone who can do great things for the benefit of the teachings and for beings. It is possible that we can do this. If you have the resolve to do this, that is wonderful. But it is not necessarily very easy to do so. As humans in this world, we have a lot of experiences and when we try to practice the dharma, it is not easy. There are a lot of things that get in the way. We have to put a lot of effort into our dharma practice. In the pure realms, it is not like this. We do not have to put a lot of effort into it. Whether it is the power of the realm or because of Amitabha’s aspirations, you have everything that you need to practice the dharma. And there are no impediments to the practice, so there is a great profit to being born there. But it depends upon your own interest and courage. If you have the courage to make the aspiration to be born in a degenerate age such as this one, this is extremely praiseworthy. It is like the Bhagavan Buddha who made the aspiration to become a buddha at a time when the lifespan was 100 years, and because of this he was proclaimed as being the greatest of all the white lotuses of the thousand buddhas of this time. So that is also wonderful.
4.) How can we keep the heart open, be mindful, and not follow our disturbing emotions while living an active, ordinary life?
The main thing is that we need to have carefulness, mindfulness, and awareness of what we are doing. We have the habitual tendency to do unvirtuous things and for that reason we need to really apply our mindfulness and awareness. This is something that we need to understand: we have a lot of disturbing emotions and afflictions and because of that we need to be careful and aware and to apply mindfulness. And this is because from innumerable lifetimes since beginningless time we have been habituated to the afflictions and disturbing emotions. We have a very old habit for this. And so we need to replace this old habit with a new habit and we need to use our mindfulness to create this new habit within our mind.
It is similar to when we meditate upon loving kindness as an antidote for hatred. We need to meditate upon it and use it and then we need to be careful and aware in order to make it into a new habit. So we meditate on loving kindness over and over again, and when we meditate upon it, we need to protect it with our mindfulness, awareness, and carefulness. If we do not protect it, we will just lose it. So it is very important for us to protect our new habits and the most important thing is that we have a deep resolve within our hearts and minds.
Sometimes it is as if there are two people within our minds. There is one person on the side of disturbing emotions and one person on the side of virtue. And it is like we are stuck in the middle between the two of them. Sometimes we support one or the other and it is never definite which side we will support. We should take all of the power of our body, speech, and mind and decide which side we are going to support: the virtuous side or the unvirtuous side. We need to contemplate the nature of the disturbing emotions and when we have the experience where we can recognize the problems and faults, from that point onwards we should have the resolve not to be overcome by the enemy of the afflictions.
So this concludes our short session this afternoon. I would like to thank all of the people who keep the Root Institute going, all the lamas and sangha, and all the Indian staff and Bihari people who are here, and even the elephant they have outside. Whenever I come to Bodhgaya, the Root Institute offers me an invitation. I am especially grateful for this opportunity. And I would like to thank you very much for making such wonderful arrangements and preparations out of such pure motivation and I hope that I can come again and again in the future. I would also like to pray from the bottom of my heart that all of you have great auspiciousness, happiness, and wellbeing.


Flower arrangement by HH the 17th Karmapa

Flower arrangement by HH the 17th Karmapa

Special features of the 29th Kagyu International Monlam: at the Monlam Pavilion

The flower arrangements

Spectacular bouquets of large red and yellow roses and huge white chrysanthemums line either side of the central staircase on the Monlam stage. Specially prepared by a group of Taiwanese women, the bouquets are based on an original flower arrangement created by the Gyalwang Karmapa himself.  His Holiness has been a frequent visitor to their backstage work-area, not just watching but enthusiastically joining in with the flower arranging whilst chatting away with them in Chinese.  The flowers themselves, though mainly artificial, are of the highest quality and convincingly lifelike. Arrangements of fresh flowers decorate the tables of His Holiness, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche.

The base of the stage is cloaked by pots of foliage plants – also artificial.


8 March, 2012 Bodhgaya


On March 8, the Gyalwang Karmapa and the sangha gathered to offer a long life ceremony celebrating two of his heart sons, the Twelfth Tai Situ Rinpoche and the Twelfth Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche. As the dawn begins to color the edge of the sky, a huge crowd has filled the Monlam Pavilion and a special excitement runs through the air. Today will be the culmination of the eight days of prayers for peace in the world and in the hearts of all beings. Through the long life ceremony this morning, the merit of this year's gathering is especially dedicated to the long lives of these two great lamas. The Gyalwang Karmapa has explained that what is positive in this life and throughout all our lives comes from our teachers, our spiritual friends. It is of utmost importance that they keep guiding us and awaken us from the sleep of our ignorance. We have protection and guidance now because they are with us, so we must continually ask them to live long and continually pray that their wishes be fulfilled.
Earlier in the week, the Karmapa mentioned that the Dharma is not only conveyed by words, but also visually. This morning's ceremony will be a testament to that statement. Flanking the stage are elegant, carved wooden thrones for the two rinpoches, and in the center on an upper level, is the Karmapa's throne. Around it in the four directions are seated four monks. Long altars line the sides of the stage with magnificent offerings: on the right are two large statues of the Buddha to be offered to the rinpoches; stacked on either side and wrapped in yellow cloth with red and blue brocade squares alternating are copies of the Kangyur (words of the Buddha). The texts are written in actual gold, following a Tibetan tradition of making a most magnificent offering. On the left are four new tormas related to the Kamtshang lineage. Towering above the shrine and topped by golden victory banners, they are radiant yet gentle in color and depict the key figures of the Kagyu lineage, starting with Marpa and ending with the first emanation of Situ Rinpoche, Drogön Rechen, and the first incarnation of Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Paljor Döndrup—another tribute to the two lamas being honored today
In Tibetan, this ritual is known as tenzhuk (gtan bzhugs), where ten means "permanent" or "forever" and zhuk means "remain" or "abide." Its history can be traced back to the sutra tradition and the Seven-Branch Offering, the seventh of which is requesting the buddhas to remain for a long time and not pass into nirvana. In the vajrayana with its emphasis on devotion to the lama, this branch expanded into a separate, full-fledged ritual.
Underlying the rationale for the ceremony is the understanding that, in contrast to ordinary beings, who take rebirth through the force of their karma and afflictions, noble individuals are born as they wish and remain for as long as they can help others. Their life spans are intimately connected with the lives of others, so our making these requests for them to live long is extremely important. We can actually have an effect on how long they remain with us.
The ritual for the long life ceremony was composed by the Karmapa.  It is just one page long, but profound in meaning and vast in extent as it incorporates the two traditions of sutra and tantra. In the sutras, one finds arhants who are blessed with long life, and in the tantras, one finds long life empowerments, in which long life is elicited through the power of the truth of the Three Jewels, the vidyadharas with power over life, and others. The great lamas are also encouraged to make a commitment to live a long life based on their accumulation of merit. Further, the lama's life can be made long through the power of those making the request, which in this case would be His Holiness and the gathered sangha.
The ritual this year is the same as last year, but the way of making the offering is different. Last year, the context was the practice of the sixteen arhants, and this year, it is based on "The Offerings to the Gurus." The change acknowledges the critical role both Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche have played as lineage gurus of the Karmapa. Further, the progression of the ceremony is in harmony with the stages of practice found in this text. For example, after blessing the ground and offerings, it presents an invitation to the gurus to be present; the ceremony today began with escorting the lamas in the "golden procession" of brilliantly colored banners and pendants, accompanied by music and two tall umbrellas, the circle of their colorful pleats swaying above the two. Gyaltsap Rinpoche was there in person and Drön Nyer Tenam, the representative of Situ Rinpoche, carried high a golden parcel, which contained a formal brocade cape (khri ber) worn by lamas when they give empowerments and, in Situ Rinpoche's case, the red hat ceremony. During a lama's absence from his monastery, the cape sits on his throne. In addition, when a lama cannot accept an invitation, he will send his formal cape as a substitute, and today Situ Rinpoche has sent his most precious one.
Prior to the procession, the Karmapa, Situ Rinpoche's representative, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and monks had gathered in the Akshobhya shrine room on top of Tergar Monastery. Here at four-thirty in the morning, His Holiness performed a Vajrapani ceremony for the investiture (mnga' gsol), a special blessing to empower them, and offered traditional gifts of monk's clothes and shoes to both rinpoches. Now, as the procession enters the Monlam Pavilion, His Holiness waits on his throne in the center of the stage. The procession moves slowly down the main aisle between two long rows of white, swooping scarves held by men and women from the East and West. Two nights before, the Karmapa had carefully rehearsed them so that the curves of the white garlands between each person would be exactly the same.
Set below the three thrones on stage were two red lacquer chairs from Japan, covered in brocade. When the text asks the Buddha to "take your seat with ease," Gyaltsap Rinpoche sat here first and the shrine master then offered the two lamas water for drinking and water for bathing. The remaining five of the seven traditional offerings—flowers, incense, lamps, scented water, and food—were made by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. Then everyone was offered tea and saffron rice. The ceremony continued with a section that reflected the sutra tradition. The two rinpoches made offerings to the sangha of robes, which were accepted on behalf of the sangha by the four monks surrounding the Karmapa. The merit of this offering was dedicated to their long lives. For a short while, the Karmapa and Gyaltsap rested in meditation, and this merit, too, is dedicated to long life. The vajrayana tradition was represented by the Karmapa offering the rinpoches long life pills and the nectar of immortality. Drön Nyer Tenam holds the yellow-wrapped formal cape of Situ Rinpoche in front of the Karmapa who touches it with the long life vase. Afterward, Gyaltsap Rinpoche stands in front of the Karmapa and repeats his words, making a commitment to live for a long time. The lines include "May this life find its full and complete fruition." At the end, the Karmapa tossed flowers into the air.
Two long brocade boxes were set next to His Holiness's throne from which he lifted out a long scroll with a proclamation, known as the scroll of great praise (bzings bstod kyi byang bu). The Karmapa reads is a clear, strong voice the proclamation:

In the Year of the Dragon, the son of the Buddha and Lord of the Dharma, the Shr? Mah?karmika, dwelt in Magadha at the pinnacle of the essence of enlightenment.

I touch the crown of my head to the feet of our teacher, who is skillful and compassionate. From the very beginning, you, Pema Döyön Druppa [for Situ Rinpoche], Karma Drakpa Tenpa Yarpel [for Gyaltsap Rinpoche], have been the essence of the utter perfection of the qualities of abandonment and realization. In this Unbearable World Realm, your fine activities of teaching, debate, and composition are as wondrous and amazing as all the qualities and activities of the Victors and their children in the three times coalesced into one.
You are a great friend to wandering beings even though they had not known you before. You rouse all from the sleep of ignorance and liberate them from the ocean of samsaric suffering. You have taken upon yourself to bear the entire burden of upholding, spreading, and protecting the teachings of the essence of the Practice Lineage through accepting hardship day and night.
Now rejoicing in your indefatigable courage, in order to sing your praises and remember your fine deeds and legacy, today on this auspicious day, I proclaim your greatness. I praise you and invest you. You are the master empowered through the crown of your head, prophesied in the scripture called "The Master of Great Maitreya" [for Situ Rinpoche], "Great Upholder of the Secret Treasury" [for Gyaltsap Rinpoche].
I request that in the future you remain as a kinsman to beings and the teachings as long as samsara lasts, and that by striving to perform the deeds of the three wheels unified as one, you spread the teachings of true Dharma everywhere, shining the bright sun of the teachings of practice throughout the three worlds. Thus I seal this.
After each reading, the Karmapa offered the brocade box with its proclamation and a kata to each of the rinpoches. Gyaltsap Rinpoche wore the kata lining the fold of his outer robe and sat powerful and unmoving as the scroll rested on the table in front of his throne.
As the sangha recited a special text on giving a jeweled topknot, a wheel of accomplishment, a conch shell, a drum, a victory banner, and hanging pendant, the appropriate offerings are made on stage a formal choreography of flowing color and precision. Then Khenpo Thupten Karma from Sherab Ling gave an explanation of the mandala. In a language rich in metaphor and a voice that seems to come out of an ancient time, he invoked auspiciousness and good fortune. He praised the rinpoches saying that they have been able to spread light in all the worlds through the power of meditating on the nature of things just are they are. The khenpo spoke especially of the five certainties of place, time, teacher, retinue, and teachings. For example, the place is the vajra seat of enlightenment where 1002 buddhas will attain full awakening.
Next, representatives from the Tsurphu Labrang (administration) and from the Kagyu Monlam offered mandalas to Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and then two representatives each from the five heart sons' labrangs came forward to make their offerings to the two great lamas: the offering of the body was made by Situ Rinpoche's Palpung Labrang, of speech by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche's Labrang, of mind by Gyaltsap Rinpoche's Labrang, of qualities by Nenang Pawo Rinpoche's Labrang, and of activity by Treho Rinpoche's Labrang. This last one included a very special gift. Situ Rinpoche had a seal that was given to one of his previous incarnations by a Chinese emperor.  It had been kept at Situ Rinpoche's seat, Palpung Monastery, for many years, but had disappeared. The Karmapa was able to find it and offer it back to him as part of this ceremony.
On the six screens in the Pavilion, a video of Situ Rinpoche was shown. He began saying that he went to the peerless Lord for refuge and that his teacher who sits above his head has been so kind. He asked that the Karmapa, the play and activity of all the buddhas, grant the siddhis of body, speech, and mind. Situ Rinpoche spoke of the history of the Kagyu Monlam and said its power brings great benefit and happiness to all living beings. With great faith he rejoiced in this and asked the Karmapa to continue the Kagyu Monlam as one of his main activities. He concluded, "If it pleases the guru, may I live to the age of 108." Gyaltsap Rinpoche then read his commitment in the form of a verse:
So that living beings may be benefited
And the teachings of the Buddha flourish,
I will definitely remain stable and live
For more than one hundred years.

These commitments were followed by the Offerings to the Sixteen Elders, with the refrain, "Grant your blessings that the lamas live long and that the Dharma flourish." At end of this ritual, the Karmapa gave each rinpoche a stunning and exquisitely crafted book of their life stories with photographs. (See separate feature :Two Magnificent books: The Life Stories of Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche)
After a break, the ceremony continued with an extensive series of traditional offerings, known as the Feast of Tsaru. This contains the Five Fives, each one presented by a row of five lay and monastic men and women: five grains for a harvest of virtue; five jewels for abundant prosperity; five medicinal herbs for freedom from the illnesses of the three poisons; the five essences for the realization of suchness; and the five perfumes for the purifying water of samadhi.
A lengthy praise of the rinpoches was read by the discipline master while further offerings were made by long rows of disciples from around the world. Then the Karmapa read the classic offerings of the eight auspicious substances, the seven precious articles, and the eight auspicious signs. As he read each one, a sculpted image of the individual offering radiating its gold and silver was first given to the Karmapa and then taken to the two thrones as offerings to Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche. Perhaps the Karmapa was remembering the first time he himself was offered these auspicious objects—during his own enthronement at Tsurphu in 1992 when it was Situ Rinpoche making the offerings to him.
The morning's recitation of prayers concluded with the final part of the Offerings to the Sixteen Elders:
Grant your blessing that the Dharma remain a long time.
May the ocean of merit become complete,
The ocean of pristine wisdom become pure,
And the ocean of qualities become perfect.
May we transcend all that is mundane.
As the golden procession reformed, the Karmapa stood surrounded by the four monks and watched as it moved slowly down the main aisle, the umbrellas of great lamas, gently swaying above.  


Beginning with stage center, first comes the torma of Marpa Lotsawa, who brought back from India the thirteen main tantras of the Kagyu lineage and the mahamudra teachings. To his right is his consort, Dagmema, and to his left, is his son, Darma Dode. At the top of this torma is Amitayus, the Buddha of Long life in his sambhogakaya form; he is one of the three main deities of long life. Beneath Marpa is an offering of a torma and fruits, and below this is Mahakala, the principal protector of the Kamtsang lineage.
The next torma features Marpa's main disciple, Milarepa, famous throughout Tibet for his songs of realization and intense practice. On Milarepa's right is his moon-like disciple, Rechen Dorje Drak, and on his left is Ngen Dzong Tenpa, one of his three main disciples. Above Milarepa is Namgyalma (the Lady of Complete Victory), another of the deities of long life, and just below him are life-like offerings of the pleasurable objects of the five senses—a mirror for form, small cymbals for sound, scented water for smell, luscious fruits for taste, and soft cloth for tangible objects. Beneath these is Tseringma, a goddess of the Himalayas who became a student of Milarepa and protectress of the Kamtsang. 
In the center of the third torma is Gampopa, the sun-like disciple of Milarepa. To his right is his nephew, Gomtsul Tsultrim Nyingpo, who carried on the lineage of Gampopa's main seat, and to Gampopa's left is Pakmodrupa, whose disciples were the progenitors of the eight younger lineages. Above Gampopa is Drölkar (White Tara), the third of the deities of long life and the personal yidam deity of Gampopa. Marpa and Milarepa were lay practioners, but Gampopa was a monk, so below him are the thirteen requisites of a monk, the articles they need for daily living, such as a sieve for filtering water. Below these is Damcan Garwa, the blacksmith who holds samaya. A form of Dorje Lekpa, he is a protector of the lineage and often depicted with Mahakala and Mahakali.
The final torma presents the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, whose 900th anniversary has been celebrated throughout the past year. To his right is Drogön Rechung, considered the first manifestation of Tai Situ Rinpoche, and to the Karmapa's left is Paljor Döndrup, the first Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche. Above Dusum Khyenpa is Padmajungne, (the Lotus Born), one of the many names of Guru Rinpoche, of whom Dusum Khyenpa is an emanation. Below Dusum Khyenpa is the offering of the eight auspicious signs, and below them, the female protector, Palden Lhamo.


Following the long-life offerings to H.E. Kenting Tai Situpa and H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche, there was a special buffet lunch in the shrine room at Tergar Monastery for invited guests only.
Gyalwang Karmapa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche headed the lunch; at their table, a   chair and place were set symbolically for Situ Rinpoche.
Other guests included  rinpoches, three year retreat lamas, khenpos,  chötrimpas, and  umzes from the Kagyu monasteries at the Monlam, as well as representative from each of the nunneries, the labrangs of Tai Situpa and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and lay sponsors. The buffet was prepared by the same team who had been cooking for the sangha, and entertainment was  provided by students from TCV Suja, who performed  traditional Tibetan songs and dance with youthful vigour.
The highlight of the function was the presentation of a facsimile of a rare text to all Kagyu monasteries and nunneries.  No one had known about the existence of this text, a commentary on the Six Yogas of Naropa by the Fourth Gyaltsap Rinpoche,Dragpa Dundrub (1550-1617), until a handwritten copy from Mongolia was offered to the Seventeenth  Gyalwang Karmapa.  Thought to be the only surviving copy, His Holiness  then presented  it to Gyaltsap Rinpoche. Finally, the monasteries and nunneries grouped together for photos with His Holiness.


Gyalwang Karmapa began the talk by thanking the sponsors. His Holiness said that the Kagyu Monlam prayer festival is made possible by the causes and conditions of the sponsors and because of their devotion and generosity. His Holiness said accumulation of merit creates more positive conditions.
Gyalwang Karmapa explained the benefits of giving and accumulating merit. He said positive causes bring positive results and that there are two types of conditions: the outer and the inner condition.
His Holiness said sponsorship fulfills the outer condition. While outer conditions are important, if there is no inner condition, then it is unlikely to produce true peace of mind. He said, for instance, Sangha members should have more positive inner conditions, so that they can share their positive inner conditions with others attending the prayer ceremony.
He then said that he would like to thank all the sponsors big and small. His Holiness especially thanked Mr. N. Dorjee, member secretary of the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee. As a token of appreciation and gratitude, he also offered scarves and a souvenir medallion of Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa to each of the sponsors.  


His Holiness said since he had already said a lot over the past few days, all he wanted to do was to express his gratitude and say thank you. He said he felt grateful to all the monks, incarnate lamas and retreat masters, amongst others who had gathered in Bodhgaya. He also declared the 29th Kagyu Monlam a success.
However, Gyalwang Karmapa said, Tibetan Buddhism is going through a difficult time. In this degenerate age, Gyalwang Karmapa said, we need to have a long term view. We should not just think about the short-term benefits of Buddhism but about how the teachings of the Lord Buddha can survive for a long time.
He said that everyone present should consider how they could contribute to the preservation of the Dharma, and how the Dharma could benefit the maximum number of sentient beings. He said we have to think along those lines if we want to ensure the survival of the dharma.
In previous Monlams, he said, he had talked a little bit about vegetarianism and environmentalism.  However, it seemed that now everybody was doing quite well and that he had nothing specific to say about them.  He qualified this by saying that the situation was not yet perfect, and there was still need for improvement. Indeed, there is always room for improvement as long as we have not reached enlightenment.  His Holiness then talked about the debt of gratitude the Karma Kagyu lineage owes to the First Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa. He also said a little about the request for the long life performed for H.E. Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche and H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche.  The teachings and guidance of great masters are extremely important as they awaken us from the slumber of ignorance. Therefore, we need them to live long and for all of their wishes to be accomplished, he explained.
He expressed his gratitude to H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche for actively participating in the Monlams and asked us to pray that his activities flourish; to Khenpo Lodro Donyo Rinpoche from Bokar Ngedon Choling Monastery; and to all the other khenpos, vajra masters, chant masters and retreat masters who had come to attend the Kagyu Monlam.
His Holiness explained the reason he had taken responsibility for the Kagyu Monlam over the past few years was his wish to continue the work started by Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche and Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche. He said he hoped that Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche's reincarnation would come soon and that his activities would flourish.
Kagyu Monlam has become an international prayer festival with many people from around the world. Although it is difficult for the Gyalwang Karmapa to travel abroad, they have come to see him. Such a gathering fulfills the aspiration of the founders to have people from many countries speaking different languages getting together for the peace ,happiness and well-being of all sentient beings.
  Nearly a thousand people had been working to support the 29th Kagyu Monlam. Without them it would be impossible, especially those who looked after the environment at the different sites, keeping everywhere clean. He also thanked the members of the working team for their assistance and hard work.
Before the final section of the Monlam prayers began, the dedication prayers and prayers for auspiciousness, the Gyalwang Karmapa talked about the dedication of the merit accumulated during the prayer festival. His Holiness said that he would like the merit to be dedicated to the happiness and welfare of all sentient beings and hoped that they could live in peace and stability.
He also particularly remembered those deceased in the previous year and recited the names of those he knew personally.
He said finally he would like to thank those who had come to the Monlam and also expressed his gratefulness to the country of India (particularly, the state of Bihar) from where we received the lineage teachings. Since Tibet is also a source of dharma, His Holiness wished that all the people and divine beings residing in Tibet might be freed from all negative conditions.  He also prayed that the aspirations of the heads of the Tibetan Buddhist schools and all great masters be fulfilled,  and that their activities flourish.  Gyalwang Karmapa particularly prayed that the activities of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama continue to flourish and that he might live a long and healthy life.


As happens each year, the afternoon's final session went from strength to strength as rousing dedications and aspirations followed fast. Most people had brought khatags to wave for auspiciousness, and as the aspirations continued, the khatag waving increased until the Monlam Pavilion appeared as an ocean of maroon, gold and white.
The prayers concluded with aspirations written by the forefathers and masters of the Kagyu lineage,
 Mila's Aspiration,
 Lord Marpa's Song of Auspiciousness,
Gyalwa Drikungpa's With excellence, like a mountain of gold
Jowo Atisha's The Dharma Blaze Aspiration
Seventh Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso's  Auspiciousness of the Great Encampment
And finally,
Prayers to Accomplish the Truth written by the Seventh Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso and the Eighth Karmapa  Mikyo Dorje.

Thus ended the 29th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. People smiled serenely as they picked up their maroon bags of tsok and made their way out of the pavilion. There was no pushing or shoving as is usual in great crowds, no short-temperedness, no harsh words, as approximately 8000 monks, nuns and laypeople waited patiently for their turn to pass through the gates on to the road. It seemed as if, for one moment, in dusty, fly-blown Bodhgaya,  Dewachen had been realized.

2012.3.8 第29屆噶舉大祈願法會第八天 29th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day 8



This year, for the first time, the ceremony was not held at the Mahabodhi stupa but transferred to Tergar Monastery and the Monlam Pavilion. It was also brought forward to six o'clock in the morning. The procession replicates the alms round from the time of Lord Buddha, a tradition which survives still today in some countries.  Buddhist monks and nuns set out each morning with their bowls to collect whatever food is given them by the villagers or townspeople.
By 5.15am the first laypeople had already begun lining up along the route, guided by Kagyu Monlam volunteers, easily recognized by their emerald green volunteer vests. The alms round is conducted in silence so people were encouraged to chant the refuge prayer.  After Mahayana sojong at the Monlam Pavilion, the monks and nuns gathered in the shrine room at Tergar Monastery and the round could begin.  A monk bearing incense headed the procession. He was followed by H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Khenpo Dönyö and Ringu Tulku bearing metal staffs topped with rings that jingled: traditionally the noise warns animals away. Behind them came thegelong in order of seniority, and finally the gelongma.
The procession wound its way round Tergar Monastery, out through the gates, along the road and into the Monlam Pavilion, where the monks and nuns resumed their seat and continued the morning session's Twenty Branch Monlam prayers. The Gyalwang Karmapa did not take part, but watched from the terraced roof of his quarters.
2012.3.7 The Alms Procession 第29屆噶舉大祈願法會:托缽行腳 首次在德噶寺舉行


7 March, 2012 Bodhgaya


5.30am and at the Monlam Pavilion, H.E.Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was giving the Mahayana sojong vows. Meanwhile, at Tergar Monastery 500 metres away,  there was noisy bustle as laypeople arrived with their food offerings to find a good place on the circuit for the alms procession.



After the alms procession, and the Twenty Branch Monlam, the  main focus of the day's prayers at  the Monlam Pavilion was the Akshobhya Ritual.
Usually only ordained sangha  are involved in these prayers, although laypeople  attend the sessions.  Monks and nuns  performed  the  Akshobhya Self-Visualization,  the  Akshobhya Mandala Ritual, and the Reading the Akshobhya Sutra.
The theme of purification concluded with the recitation of the Dharani Sutra.


This year, the Akshobhya retreatants have returned to offer the Akshobhya Purification Ritual every evening during the final six days of Monlam, before offering the final purification ritual and fire puja on the evening of the 7th day, which is March 7, 2012.
Before and during the Monlam, the organizers have been collecting donations to make prayers for the deceased and those living who are in great difficulty. The Akshobhya fire ceremony is seen as having a special power to help those who had died and are in the intermediate state of bardo.
His Holiness the 17th Karmapa performed the Akshobhya fire ceremony on the evening of the March 7, the penultimate evening of the Kagyu Monlam. Also present were the Akshobhya retreatants.


From 4.00pm onwards, a group of monks began preparing the hearth in front of Tergar Monastery. This year has seen a change in the arrangements for this ritual.  Previously the first part of the ritual was conducted within the shrine room itself.  No one was allowed inside and devotees had to glimpse what they could through the windows.

The actual prayer ceremony started at 6.00 pm when His Holiness  arrived and sat on the portico in front of the main entrance to Tergar Monastery shrine hall, flanked by the Akshobhya retreatants. A painting of Akshobhya had been hung in front of the His Holiness' throne. A table held rituals and tormas (ritual cakes) necessary for the ceremony.
Gyalwang Karmapa sat there facing the image of Akshobhya.
The 21 monks, nuns and laypeople who had been participating in the Akshobhya retreat were seated on the porch around the Gyalwang Karmapa.
Monks were helping with the fire ceremony. Two boxes were placed near the fire: one contained the names of the deceased and the other contained those of the living.
As His Holiness and the retreatants said the prayers, the attendants put the papers with the names of the deceased and the living in the fire. Monks worked the fire by pouring melted ghee over it, (clarified butter), and also ensured that the papers were burned. More sticks were fetched to the keep the fire going.
Hundreds of devotees and Monlam guests from around the world took part and witnessed the esoteric ceremony. Guards sat on the stairs leading up to the temple, ensuring that prayers were  conducted smoothly. No one was allowed to enter the porch.
Often the flames reached high, lighting up the faces of those witnessing the puja, clearly moved by the power of this ritual.
Ranged along two sides of the temple, members of the audience watched the ceremony and listened to the reassuring and calming sound of His Holiness' voice. A scattering of people from around the world and of all colors sat on the lawns in front of the temple and filled the drive to the main gate.
At one point the electricity went off, in the ensuing darkness, the glow of the fire lit up the evening sky.
Finally, His Holiness led everyone in the recitation of the six-syllable mantra, Om Mani Padme Hung, with melody, creating a touching spectacle and a fitting finale to an elaborate puja which had lasted for more than a month.
Where words fail to communicate, rituals succeed, it seems.  


From Tergar Monastery, the sound of vigorous drumming could be heard, punctuated by the voice of the Gyalwang Karmapa broadcast over the sound system.  Another rehearsal was under way. His Holiness was checking personally that everything was in place for the long life offerings to H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche and H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche the following morning, and supervising the rehearsal for the Marme Monlam the following evening.

2012.3.7 - 29th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo Day 7  第29屆噶舉大祈願法會第七天



For five days this year's Monlam had been held at the Monlam Pavilion, two kilometers from Bodhgaya, so it felt strange on the sixth day to be in Bodhgaya, standing at the entrance to the Mahabodhi stupa grounds at five o'clock in the morning once more.  Strange, but also very comfortable, like coming home. This ancient site radiates a pervasive feeling of sacredness, as if the broken stones themselves are a repository for two thousand years of devotion, hope, and trust in the way of the Buddha. Sitting under the bodhi tree, waiting for the Gyalwang Karmapa to arrive, people commented that they missed being at the stupa. However, for once, laypeople were able to sit where the novice monks and nuns would have been sitting, closer to the shrine, His Holiness and the bodhi tree, rather than crowded into the margins, hidden behind monuments, or perched precariously on the grass banks.  Perhaps they had forgotten the advantages of the pavilion, where everyone is included and can have a clear view of what is happening, albeit from a distance.

Most of the ordained sangha were at the Monlam Pavilion where Khenpo Donyo was giving sojong and then leading a  Medicine Buddha puja. Only the 103 fully ordained monks and nuns  taking part in the procession had come to the stupa. For once the assembly was composed mainly of laypeople.
Apart from the garlands of marigolds, varying in colour from bright citrus yellow to a rich deep orange, strewn carelessly over the palisades, there were no decorations. The great offerings of torma, fruit and sweets were arrayed on the stage at the Monlam Pavilion.
H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche and H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche arrived shortly before 5.30am, followed, a few minutes later by the Gyalwang Karmapa and his entourage. Sitting on a low seat in front of the small shrine under the bodhi tree, His Holiness gave the Mahayana sojong vows, after the  repetition of the refuge prayers in Sanskrit. . A momentary  power failure meant that only those with torches could see to read the prayer,and then, the sky lightened gradually, and the golden capping of the Mahabodhi temple gleamed as it caught the first rays of light; the sounds of the sojong mantra were drowned by the bickering chatter of the mynah birds and the screech of parakeets.
His Holiness gave a short talk emphasizing the importance of Monlam and the good fortune of all those who had gathered there under the bodhi tree that morning. The crucial thing, he reminded us, was to make the commitment to work for the benefit of all sentient beings. We all had to work to make the Monlam meaningful, with pure motivations and the aspiration to benefit all sentient beings, that they might become enlightened, and enjoy peace, happiness and prosperity in all four corners of the world.  We should also pray for the long life of great beings such as the Dalai Lama and the great masters of other traditions too, and remember all the neighbouring countries where there had been great suffering because of natural disasters or other troubles: India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim.
As His Holiness talked, his voice still wracked by a cold and cough, the sounds of the muezzin from the mosque close by the stupa, threatened to drown his.
  In conclusion, His Holiness pointed out, all four pillars of the Buddhist sangha were at that moment present under the bodhi tree, gelong, gelongma, male lay practitioners and female lay practitioners. This made everything we did particularly powerful.  Now it was up to us to develop compassion and loving kindness and transform our minds.
His Holiness turned round to face the shrine, and the chanting master led everyone in the Sanskrit prayers of refuge, generation of bodhichitta, and the heart sutra, finishing with the two four line verses which encapsulate Lord Buddha's teachings, set to a traditional bhajan-style melody.
Do not do anything that is wrong.
Conduct yourself with utmost virtue.
Completely tame your mind.
This is the teaching of the Buddha.
By now it was light. The laypeople were sent off to line up on the left-hand side along the procession route to offer flowers and khatags but no incense. Meanwhile, thegelong milled around under the bodhi tree. Finally, when the laity were in place, thegelong and gelongma formed a line and filed through the open archway in the palisade which surrounds the main temple,  collected their copy of the kangyur, and began the serbang (ritual procession). First they walked along the right side of the Mahabodhi stupa, then walked up  the central steps to the large outer circuit.
At the head of the procession came one of the disciplinarians, bearing incense, followed by two monks playing gyalin and two monks blowing white conches. Next, surrounded by bodyguards and monks, came Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, and the Gyalwang Karmapa, all three holding incense not texts.  Behind them came the Kangyur- bearing gelong and gelongma, led by Ringu Trulku. Slowly the procession wound its way round the outer circuit, before finally  returning down the steps and making a full circuit of the Mahabodhi stupa. At this point the Gyalwang Karmapa went into the temple to offer more golden silk robes, flowers and fruit to the Buddha.
The procession and crowds dispersed.  Buses were waiting to take the monks and nuns back to Tergar Monastery, and for the laypeople there were tuk-tuks and cycle rickshaws eager for the first custom of the day.
When everyone arrived at Tergar Monastery there was chance for a quick breakfast before the next part of the Kangyur ceremony began in the Monlam Pavilion at 8.00am with a talk by the Gyalwang Karmapa on the history and vital importance of the Kangyur.


India is the source of Buddhism in Tibet and most of the teachings were translated from Sanskrit and other Indian languages into Tibetan. So in order to honor that, at the beginning of every Tibetan Buddhist text, the title is first written in Sanskrit, followed by Tibetan. This is done in order to recollect where the dharma comes from and to appreciate that. At the time the texts were translated, there was usually a great pandit from India and a Tibetan translator working on them together. During the first period of translation, all the texts were translated in this way and edited by great masters. They took a tremendous amount of care in producing the texts. And during the later period, they also took a lot of care with translation by traveling to India and doing a lot of editing and correction.
  The Kangyur was not published at first. The teacher of Chim Jampel Yang (Tib.mchims 'jam-dpal dbyangs) made the first collection of the Kangyur and it was handwritten. Because it was kept in a shrine room called the Jam Lhakhang at Narthang Monastery, this edition later became famous as the Lhakang Kangyur (sometimes known as the Old Narthang Kangyur.). After some time in Tibet, the Kangyur Rinpoche was produced by xylograph or woodcarving in Jang, sponsored by the King of Jang. The main editor of the Jang Kangyur was the Sixth Shamarpa. Later on it was called the Lithang Kangyur, because the xylograph was stored in Lithang. The Jang Kangyur was the first Tibetan Kangyur published in Tibet and this occurred during the time of Emperor Yung Lo of the Ming Dynasty. Perhaps that was the first Tibetan Kangyur to be edited by some of the great masters of the Karma Kamtsang. The publication of the Kangyur has had a great deal of contribution from the great masters of the Karma Kamtsang.  
As we said before, when we request the buddhas and bodhisattvas to turn the wheel of Dharma, if we have not taken care with the teachings they have already given, then to keep on requesting teachings from them is rather strange. If we do not practice what they have already taught and what they have not yet taught we ask them to teach, that is a little bit excessive. And generally, in regards to the Kangyur and Tengyur, we just put them between two end  boards, tie them up very well, and put them up in the shrine and lock it. Sometimes we act as if we do not have to read them, but only need to preserve them in the shrine as objects of worship. If that becomes the norm, then there is a danger that the dharma will be lost.  
In Tibet early on, there was a tradition of teaching the sutras, but later on, the shastras, the commentaries by the great masters, were studied much more. And then the Tibetan masters wrote and taught commentaries and those became the principle textbooks that were studied. And thereby, gradually, the direct teachings of the Buddha were studied less and less. Of course the commentaries by the Tibetan masters are perhaps clearer and easier to understand, but the [works of the] Indian masters, and especially the direct teachings of the Buddha, are the main source so therefore they must be studied. It is good to delve into the commentaries and understand them, but if we do not study the Kangyur at all, it is very strange. So the shedras and monasteries must read, study, and become familiar with the direct teachings of the Buddha as a primary source. If they never even look at the direct teachings of the Buddha, it is not possible that they will understand them very well.
As it was said by the great Drikungpa, "If the teachings are not based on the Kangyur, then it is the work of Mara." If the teachings are based merely on our teachers' experiences, it is possible in these degenerate times that some lamas might give teachings that are not really according to the teachings of the Buddha or the Kangyur, but are their own made-up instructions. It is quite possible for that to happen. If we could compare the teachings of our lamas with the direct teachings of the Buddha, then we would be able to understand whether their teachings are genuine or not. We would be able to authenticate them based on the Kangyur.
So the Buddha said, "During the time of degeneration, I will appear as the letters (texts)." So all of these teachings are an emanation of the Buddha and we have to see them as objects of refuge. Since we have not experienced the truth of the path or the truth of nirvana, at this moment the teachings are the real guide or lamp that dispels the darkness.
Thus we have a great opportunity to read [the Kangyur] now and in the future also. As far as the shedras are concerned, they should facilitate Kangyur study, examination, and research. For instance, when we talk about the Vinaya and are discussing the myriad Vinaya principles, such as whether the Gelongma ordination should be there or not, if we actually were to read the thirteen volumes of the Vinaya, then many of the things that are confusing to us would become very clear. What we don't understand will become clear, and that is what I want you all to keep in your heart. In essence, the Kangyur is the root of our dharma, the source of our teachings, and the true guide of what to do and what not to do. With this understanding, please recite the Kangyur.


After the procession and Gyalwang Karmapa's teaching the final part of the celebration of the Kangyur was the reading session, during which the whole Kangyur was read once. This activity generates tremendous merit.
The 103 novice monks who had been assigned the task of distributing sheets of the Kangyur  busily wove their way between the rows of monks, nuns and laypeople, offering pages to anyone in the congregation who could read Tibetan. The pages came with strict instructions to remember the letter on the monk's orange badge so that pages could be returned to the correct person. This system has been devised to prevent the problems of earlier years when, following the reading,  texts were found to be missing pages, or pages turned up in the wrong texts.
The Monlam Pavillion filled with the sound of people reading their pages of text in Tibetan chanting style. Within ninety minutes, the task was finished and the monks had collected the texts back in. Let's hope that this year no pages went missing or were misplaced!
2012.3.6 - 29th Kagyu Monlam: Recognising the importance of the Kangyur  第29屆噶舉大祈願法會:《大藏經》抬經繞行暨念誦