After taking part in the 25th anniversary of Mila's Se-Cham at Dekyiling Tibetan Settlement, Dehradun, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa visited the Drikung Kagyu Institute’s branches Jangchubling Monastery, Songtsen Library, and Samtenling Nunnery.
Mila's Se-Cham is a sacred dance which was first performed celebrating Milarepa’s completion of the task of building the nine-story house called Lhodrak Sekhar Guthok. Traditionally, the Se-Cham is performed from the 12th to the 16th day of the 6th month of the Tibetan calendar in Lhodrak, central Tibet.
On the next day, September 1, 2012, the Gyalwang Karmapa, together with his sister and attendants arrived at Drikung Kagyu Jangchubling Monastery. All the monks,nuns and staff of the respective branches of Drikung Kagyu Institute and the Labrang welcomed him with a big reception. A Mandala was offered in the temple, followed by an offering of tea and auspicious rice.
His Holiness the Karmapa said, “Various schools of Buddhism introduced in Tibet the Dharma teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. The different Kagyu schools are like siblings from one family. It is very important that we study the Dharma, and it is most important that we practice the Dharma well.”
Later in the afternoon, he paid a visit to Songtsen Library. Although His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was not keeping too well, the two Holinesses had tea together. Subsequently the Karmapa visited Drikung Kagyu Samtenling Nunnery, and kindly blessed the surroundings and all the nuns.
Source: Official Website of the Drikung Kagyu
31st August – Dekyiling Tibetan Settlement, Dehradun.
The daylong program commenced after short addresses from the organizers and the settlement head. His Holiness expressed his gratitude to the elders of the community who has preserved this rare form of ritual religious dance (cham) " I'm really grateful to the elders who have manage to keep this tradition of our forefathers alive and be able to pass it on to the younger generation, when Tibet was invaded by Chinese many of Tibetan traditions and cultures were effected and some even lost. I haven't heard about this Mila's Se-Cham until recently and I'm excited to see it. "
More than thousands have thronged to witness the Mila's Se-Cham and to have a glimpse of His Holiness Karmapa.
Mila's Se-Cham – a religious ceremonial dance, which was first, performed on the celebration when Milarepa completed the task of building the nine-story house called Lhodrak Sekhar Guthok. This religious ceremonial dance is performed from 12-16 on 6th month of Tibetan calendar in Lhodrak at central Tibet.
His Holiness arrived at Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun yesterday. He was welcomed by large number of well-wishers representing more then 30 groups of government and non government organizations.
A Feast Song in Lhasa
I salute the guru Jewel.
In the ocean of true essence
arise multitudes of unreal concepts,
like varied patterns in the water.
Therefore I practice the following.
This heroic feast- the culmination of merit
for the profound mother tantra-
was taught to increase the merit of beings.
Thus do I understand its meaning:
Beings of the beginning stage
should visualize their body as a deity
at this stage of imaginative engagement.
Purify food and drink into nectar,
and offer the skandhas to the victorious sages.
This is called the great feast:
heros and heroines equal in number,
who have attained high realizations,
contemplate the essence of void and bliss
amid the abundance of food and drink.
Great is the assembly at the feast!
Since all heros have gathered,
it is called the joyous feast of heros.
The Master knows the way of mantra,
his mindstream is empowered,
he understands the essential precepts;
disciple-hosts of heroines and heros,
together engage in full absorption-
the stages of generation and completion-
immeasurable are the attainments of the feast.
Those who do not possess such virtues,
and wrongly take out of self-importance,
will encounter obstacles; this is foretold.
Though I have not seen the assembled heros,
I have sung the essence of the tantric scriptures;
for this is called the essential instruction.
Be inspired with wondrous admiration.
Join the celebration, partake fully in the feast!
(This poem was sung in Lhasa at the assembly gathered to celebrate a religious feast on the evening of the eighth day of the tenth month of the dragon year)[i]
[i] Taken from Songs of Spiritual Experience, trans. By Thupten Jinpa and Jas Elsner. Shambala, 2000.
Here, in the thick darkness of deluded ignorance,
There shines a vajra chain of awareness, self-arisen with whatever appears.
Within uncontrived vividness, unimpeded through the three times,
May we arrive at the capital of nondual, great bliss.
Think of me, think of me; guru dharmakaya think of me.
In the center of the budding flower in my heart
Glows the self-light of dharmakaya, free of transference and change,
that I have never been separate from.
This is the unfabricated wisdom of clarity-emptiness, the three kayas free of discursiveness.
This is the true heart, the essence, of the dharmakaya, equality.
Through relying on the display of the unfabricated, unceasing, unborn, self-radiance,
May we arrive at the far shore of samsara and nirvana- the great, spontaneous presence.
May we enter the forest of the three solitudes, the capital of the forebears of the practice lineage.
May we seize the fortress of golden rosary of the Kagyu.
O what pleasure, what joy my vajra siblings!
Let us make offerings to dharmakaya, the great equal taste.
Let us go to the great dharmadhatu, alpha purity free from fixation.
They have thoroughly pacified the ocean of millions of thoughts.
They do not move from the extreme-free ocean of basic space.
They posses the forms that perfect all the pure realms into one-
May the auspiciousness of the ocean of the protectors of being be present.
In the second month of the Wood Hare year (1976), [His Holiness] spoke these verses at Rumtek Monastery, the seat of the Karmapa, during the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the Dharmachakra Center for Practice and Study.
Composed by the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339)
To all of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, I pay homage!1
Having thoroughly relied upon learning and reflecting,
I’ve resided in secluded places in order to apply the methods of meditation. In accord with these means, I’ll now describe my experience to you.
Some people think that the triple world and all living beings arose from itself, from others, from both, or without any cause.
Others say that one’s own self and the world are generated from a creator god such as Cha, Śiva, Brahmā or Viṣṇu, from an external particle, or from a truly existing hidden substance.2
As the sole omniscient one taught, the three worlds are merely the mind.3
They are not derived from themselves, from something else, from both of these, or without a cause—all phenomena arise interdependently.
They are by their own essence empty, devoid of features that are distinct or unique, and
free from features of truth or falsity—like a magical illusion, the moon in water, and so
Knowing this, the Buddha taught to sentient beings.
In this way, from what source does so-called “delusion” and “non-delusion” arise? Having relied upon the nature of interdependent co-origination, I have come to know this like my own image in a mirror, like fire from smoke. Here, I’ll clearly describe to you my realization.
Ordinary conscious awareness of the five sense entrances,4
By having accepted and rejected forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures have generated emotional upset.
So, what are these so-called “sensible objects?”
If the wise were to carefully examine, they would not be able to establish the existence of anything external such as atoms and so forth, as other than one’s own discerning cognitive awareness.5
If the substances of sensible objects were simultaneously different than conscious awareness, then they would not have the same nature.
Because inert material substances do not arise from indivisible immaterial cognition, their arising is not related.
By accepting that sensible objects are different than awareness, it is illogical to think that sensible objects would appear from cognitive awareness.
Because of this, whatever appears is not a sensory object different than awareness.
The occurrence of these objects is similar to the experience of conscious self-reflection.6
In fact, even the appearances of minute indivisible particles and vast openness are mind.
Since their existence cannot be established externally or separately,
The realization is that creators such as Brahmā and other such creator gods do not exist.
Furthermore, the relationship between one’s mental awareness and phenomena are similar to the experience of a dream.7
This is to say, this relationship is consumed by the mind fixating onto referents that have no true reality.
Likewise, the six modes of ordinary perceptual awareness,8 the appearances of exterior referents and living beings, self-importance, cognitive discernment, and whatever manifestations appear,
Are not produced from anything else,
They are not produced from themselves,
They are not produced from both themselves and something else,
And they are not produced from the absence of themselves and something else.
In the same way, the victorious one taught that everything within saṃsāra and nirvāṇa is merely the mind.
Causes, conditions, and dependent co-origination were taught by the Buddha to be the six modes of ordinary perceptual awareness, tainted mental awareness, and the universal ground as ordinary awareness.9
The six modes of ordinary perceptual awareness are reliant upon the objective conditions of the six sensible objects of form and so forth.
The predominant condition is the six sensory faculties. They are lucidity endowed with form.
Both sense faculties and their objects arise from the mind.
The total manifestation of sense faculties and their objects rely upon sense bases that are without an inception.
Although ordinary awareness perceives objective referents,
It is the conceptualizing mental factor that cognizes their distinctive qualities.10
Mental awareness relies upon both immediate and tainted mental awareness.11
Because immediate mental awareness is the condition for the generation and dissipation of the six modes of ordinary perceptual awareness,
This is in congruence and accordance with the frequency of the instantaneous generation and dissipation of the six modes of ordinary perceptual awareness.
This is known by a mind imbued with yoga, and through the teachings of the victor.
Within the mind itself, there is an aspect of this immediate mental awareness that is said to be “mental awareness endowed with tainted emotionality” because, due to the transitory nature of the constituents of embodied experience,
It fixates onto an egocentric attitude, conceitedness, and self-infatuation while infused with ignorance.
Immediate mental awareness dissipates the six modes of ordinary perceptual awareness, and is the source from which consciousness arises.
Tainted mental awareness then becomes the source for emotional upset.
For these reasons, mental awareness has two facets: it possesses the capacity to both create and obscure.
To those with particularly refined intelligence, the Buddha taught the universal ground as ordinary awareness.
This is also referred to as the “foundation for ordinary awareness,” the “source for ordinary awareness” and the “receptacle for ordinary awareness.”
Within it, all of the latent propensities generated by the seven modes of ordinary
awareness are accumulated distinctively and neutrally—like rainwater flowing into the ocean.
This is why it is called, “ripening awareness.”
Because it generates everything, and is the ground from which all seeds emerge, it is referred to as the “causal condition.”
Nevertheless, since it is reversed when the seven modes of ordinary awareness are inverted, it is also known as “conditional ordinary awareness.”
This universal ground as ordinary awareness is the embodiment of everything external and internal, the source of all that is to be relinquished.
So, it is said that it can be subdued through “vajra-like meditative stabilization.”
When the universal ground as ordinary awareness along with its defilements is reversed, there is mirror-like pristine awareness.
Every mode of pristine awareness appears without identifying with a substantial self, they are continuous and utterly without interruption.
Because this realizes what can be known with a reference,
And because this is the reason for every type of pristine awareness,
This is referred to as the “ultimate dimension of phenomena.”12
The emotionally tainted mental awareness is totally subjugated by the “meditative
stabilization of courageous movement.”
Disturbing emotions are entirely relinquished through insight and meditative cultivation.
Once upsetting emotions are absent, saṃsāric existence and nirvāṇic quiescence cease. This is the pristine awareness of equanimity.
Immediate mental awareness apprehends by seizing onto the six modes of ordinary perceptual awareness.
Its discursive thinking is produced by conceptualization,
And its perfect discernment subdues through “illusion-like meditative stabilization.”
When great patience is acquired though transforming apprehensions and their objective references, pure realms are revealed.
Ever-pervasive pristine awareness and unimpeded pervasive activities thoroughly transform the source of thoughts into the pristine awareness of discernment.
In this way, these two types of pristine awareness—equanimity & discernment—through
pure meditation, do not abide within saṃsāric existence and nirvāṇic quiescence.
Imbued with tranquility, love, and compassion while encompassed within the surrounds
of retinues and multifarious dimensions of enlightenment, they express the utterances of buddhas.
The melodious maṇḍala of the magnificent teachings resounds within the treasury of every profound meditative absorption and mystical formulation.
This is referred to as the “dimension of complete resplendence.”13
The five sense entrances and mental awareness are a single quality.
Through perfect analysis, there arises the way of the four truths endowed with their differing aspects, the sixteen wisdoms of knowing, acceptance, and so forth.
Sensible objects are perceived directly and their actuality is realized.
The five sense faculties are transformed when there is engagement with all of their corresponding sensible objects, and the qualitative attributes of everything is magnified twelve-hundred-fold through the power of magnetizing.
This is the final accomplishment, all-accomplishing pristine awareness.
That which through innumerable and inconceivable manifestations of every variety, at all times, within every realm of existence, will accomplish benefit for every being is known as the magnificent “emanatory dimension.”14
Mind, mental awareness, and ordinary perceptual awareness are transformed into the three enlightened dimensions imbued with their activities;
Complete within the uncontrived maṇḍala of the ultimate sphere of phenomena.
All things reside without saṃsāra or nirvāṇa or their inceptions—free from singularity of diversity.
This is referred to as the “essential dimension.”15
In other scriptures by the victorious one, this is taught to be the “ultimate dimension.”
The mirror-like pristine awareness is regarded as the embodied dimension of pristine awareness, and the other types of pristine awareness are said to be the two enlightened form dimensions.16
Buddhahood is actualizing the nature of the five types of pristine awareness and the four enlightened dimensions.
What is embellished by the distortions of the mind, mental awareness, and ordinary perceptual awareness is the universal ground as ordinary awareness.
What is free from distortion is described as, “the essence of the victorious ones.”
The Buddha taught that the truth of the spiritual journey is seizing onto the capacity of the discerning wisdom of the exalted ones that arises from sublime conceptualization, and that quells profane conceptualizations.
By not understanding this way of the ultimate,
The delusional stray about within the ocean of saṃsāra.
By not understanding this Mahāyāna vessel, and without transforming yourself, How could you ever cross to the far-off shore?
May everyone realize the meaning of this treatise!
“Ordinary Awareness and Pristine Awareness: A Treatise on the Distinction” was composed on the 1st day of the 10th lunar month of the year of the swine (1323) in the mountain hermitage called, “Dechen Teng” [“The Aperture of Bliss”] by Rangjung Dorje.
Translated by Michael R. Sheehy, Ph.D.
1 This work by the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje is included here in Jonang Foundation’s Digital Library because it reflects a view that has been characterized as ”zhentong” (gzhan stong) by later Tibetan authors, most notably Jamgön Kongtul (1813-99), see Mathes (2004), 288-94. Rangjung Dorje was a contemporary of Dolpopa and they met to discuss such views on at least one occasion, see Stearns (1999), 17.
2 Cha (phyva) literally means “luck” or “fortune.” Here it refers to an ancient pre-Buddhist Bönpo belief about the creator of the world. In this conception, “Cha” is the reason for all eventual prosperity. These are references to the theistic tendency to rely on an external force. For a closer study of this text with Jamgön Kongtul’s commentary, see Sheehy (2005).
3 This is a reference to cittamātra (sems tsam).
4 The five sense entrances (sgo lnga) are: (1) eyes; (2) ears; (3) nose; (4) mouth; (5) body. 5 The term here is: rnam rig shes pa.
6 The term here is: rang rig. This is a term that denotes the capacity of awareness to know itself or be selfaware.
7 The term here is: yid (manas). This is referring to the conceptual or ideational operations of cognitive awareness.
8 The six modes of ordinary perceptual awareness (tshogs drug) are: (1) visual perceptual awareness; (2) auditory perceptual awareness; (3) olfactory perceptual awareness; (4) gustatory perceptual awareness; (5) tactile perceptual awareness.
9 The terms here are: nyon yid ki rnam shes and kun gzhi rnam shes
10 Here it reads, sems byung ‘du byed while an alternative reading is sems byung ‘du shes. See Rang byung (2002), n. 20.
11 The term here is: ma thag dang nyon yid. This refers to the four conditions (rkyen bzhi) that preserve the continuity (rang rgyud) of cognitive awareness through immediate subsequent experiential moments of conscious experience. The term: ‘jig tshogs here refers to a composite of many elements of the skandhas that is destroyed instant by instant. Skandhas are the psychophysical constituents that comprise ordinary embodied experience.
12 The term here is: dharmakāya, chos sku.
13 The term here is: sambhogakāya, longs spyod rdzogs sku. 14 The term here is: nirmāṇakāya, sprul sku.
15 The term here is: svabhāvakāya, ngo bo nyid sku
16 This is a reference to: nirmāṇakāya and sambhogakāya.
Kong sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas, ‘Jam mgon. Rnam par shes pa dang ye shes ‘byed pa’i
bstan bcos kyi tshig don go gsal du ‘grel pa rang byung dgongs pa’i rgyan ces bya ba. Sikkim: Rum btegs, 1972.
Mkha’ khyab Rdo rje, The 15th Karmapa. Rnam par shes pa dang ye shes ‘byed pa’i
bstan bcos kyi mchan ‘grel rje btsun ‘jam pa’i dbyangs ki zhal lung nor bu ke ta ka dri ma med pa’i ‘od. In Three Important Verse Treatises on Aspects of Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhism: By H.H. the 3rd Karma-pa Ran-byung-rdo-rje, with Annotations Expanding the Text (mchan) by H.H. the 15th Karma-pa Mkha-khyab-rdo-rje. New Delhi: Delhi Karmapae Chodhey Gyalwae Sungrab Partun Khang, 1976.
Rang byung Rdo rje, The 3rd Karmapa. Rnam shes ye shes ‘byed pa’i bstan bcos. Sikkim:
Rum btegs, 1972.
__________. Rnam shes ye shes ‘byed pa dang de bzhin gshegs pa’i snying po bstan pai
bstan bcos zhes bya ba. Kathmandu, Boudha: Dharma Kara Publications, 2002.
Mathes, Klaus-Dieter. “Tāranātha’s ‘Twenty-one Differences with Regard to the
Profound Meaning’—Comparing the Views of the Two Gźan stoṅ Masters Dol po pa and Śākya Mchog ldan.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 27, 2, 285-328, 2004.
Sheehy, Michael R. “Rangjung Dorje’s Variegations of Mind: Ordinary Awareness and
Pristine Awareness in Tibetan Buddhist Literature.” In D.K. Nauriyal (ed.).
Routeledge Curzon’s Critical Series in Buddhism. Buddhist Thought & Applied
Psychological Research. London: Routledge Curzon Press, 2005.
Stearns, Cyrus R. The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the
Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsan. New York: State University of New
York Press, 1999.
© 2007 Michael R Sheehy.
Courtesy of the Ngedon Thartuk Translation Initiative
Available at Jonang Foundation’s Digital Library (www.jonangfoundation.org/library)
“Birth and dying are part of the way things are. When we understand that dying is just a part of the way things are, we will not be afraid of death… ‘Death’ is what we call the mere cessation of the present grouping of our five skandhas. Actually, however, it is the stream of consciousness that we may call the ‘I’ or ‘self.’ The stream of consciousness does not cease at the time of death; it continues. Therefore, from this perspective, we may say to ourselves, ‘I will not die.’”
~ His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
Original calligraphy painted by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
copyright ©2006, karma triyana dharmachakra. all rights reserved.
|His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa empowers the Vajradhara thankga with a goldleaf handprint. The monk standing to the Karmapa's right is His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. Photograph by Joyce Peterson, Copyright 2008 Joyce Peterson|
|His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa empowers the Vajradhara thankga with a goldleaf handprint. The monk standing to the Karmapa's right is His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. Photograph by Joyce Peterson, Copyright 2008 Joyce Peterson|
His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje as told by Venerable Chöje Lama Phuntsok Rinpoche
I want to greet you kindly and wish to speak about the Lineage of the Karmapas, especially seeing that it’s very important to know that any practice one does depends upon the blessings of one’s Lama, which, in turn, depends upon oneself. “Lama” is a general term, but when we speak about Lama, we mean His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa.
The Lineage of the Victorious Karmapas was founded by Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa, the First Gyalwa Karmapa (1110–1193 CE). The name of the Sixteenth in succession of the Karmapas was Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. Many people living today met the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa and say that they never experienced another Lama who was as realized as he. The Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa knew the three times, because nothing impeded his clear vision. All Karmapas know the three times (the past, present, and future), although this name was only given to the First Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa, which means “Knower of the three times.”
When His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa was seventeen years old, he was residing at Palpung Chökhor Ling Monastery in Tibet together with the Eleventh Situ Rinpoche, Pema Wangchuk (1886-1952), the former incarnation of the present Twelfth Situ Rinpoche. At that time, the Karmapa prophesied the future in the form of a song by using many words.
The Song of His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa
“This song is ala thala thala.
Ala is the way it arose. Thala is the way it is expressed in words.
In a pure land, rich with turquoise leaves,
On a throne of brilliant, white shell is the deity of long life, the mother Lady Tara.
I pray to her from the depths of my heart.
May there be no obstacles to long life.
If you do not recognize this place, it is the Retreat House of Palpung.
If you do not recognize a person like me,
There is the upper valley of delight Shukra
And the lower valley of delight Shukra; in the place between the two Shukras
Is a child who descends from Tshazhang Denma.
If you call him by name, it is Thubten Gelek.
Not now but on a distant tomorrow it will be decided.
Both the vulture and I know where to go. The vulture soars into the expanse of the sky;
Our people do not stay, but go to India.
In the springtime, a cuckoo comes as a guest.
In the fall when the harvest ripens, it knows where to go. Its only thought is travel to east of India.
In the lofty land of Tibet, the inhabitants, high and low,
And in particular, you, Tai Situ, the Lord and Protector Maitreya,
Who remains above the crown of our head, may your activities, like the sun and moon set in space,
Be continuous, stable, and without hindrance.
I pray that we meet again and again. May the three roots – the Lama, yidams, and dakinis –
protect him from negative conditions and obstacles.
Keep the precise meaning recorded here in the depth of your heart.”
The metaphor in The Song, “the vulture soars into the expanse of the sky,” points to the fact that Situ Pema Wangchuk would die soon. His Holiness furthermore prophesied that he and his people - all monks, nuns, and lay practitioners – would be robbed of their freedom in Tibet, would have to leave their homeland and flee the only possible way, which would be to East India and Sikkim. The prophecy came true. Tibet was robbed of its independence in 1959 and His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Karmapa, and many, many Tibetan Lamas were forced to flee from their own country. They were generously offered asylum in India as well as in the adjoining Himalayan Kingdoms.
His Holiness the Karmapa’s rigs-bdag, “Lord of the family” (which actually means “Root Guru”), is Tai Situ Rinpoche, and in The Song the Karmapa prayed always to be together with him. This doesn’t mean to say that he wanted to be together with him every day of the year, rather he prayed that they always meet in future lives. After the Paranirvana of the Sixteenth Karmapa, he reincarnated as the Seventeenth and again met his Root Guru. And so we see
that the entire prophecy that the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa made in The Song came true.
The Gyalwa Karmapa appears for the welfare and benefit of all living beings and manifests his wondrous activities according to each individual’s needs and capacities. There were no Buddhist centres in the West little to more than thirty years ago. A few Lamas travelled abroad, but devotees were very preoccupied with daily obligations and therefore didn’t have much time. The Sixteenth Karmapa set out on his first world tour in 1974. He took a second tour in 1977 and coined the new Tibetan word phyir-tshogs, which means “Dharma centre abroad” when he founded the first centres in the West. And now there are thousands of Dharma centres in Europe, America, and East Asia. The great number of Dharma centres in the world, the many people who have become Buddhists and practice the Dharma by training their minds and realizing its nature are due to the immeasurable activities of the Gyalwa Karmapa. Just thinking about the deep and vast activities of the Glorious Karmapa, the fact that there are many Dharma centres, that people living in all nations receive and are able to practice the precious teachings is truly wonderful and marvellous.
People in the East are benefiting immensely ever since Buddhism has been established in the West and is becoming more central and decisive in the lives of very many westerners. In the past, it was a bit embarrassing to be seen on the streets in India and Nepal counting mantras on one’s mala – people looked at us as though we were quaint and old-fashioned when we recited mantras in public. Not any more, seeing westerners are practicing the Dharma and are also reciting mantras freely and openly. Indians and Nepalis notice this and are starting to practice too. In the meantime, many western and Tibetan Buddhists have become scholars or very knowledgeable and as a result help spread the Buddhadharma. Whose inspiration and influence is this? The Gyalwa Karmapa’s. Taking the wondrous activities of the Gyalwa Karmapa to mind, unwavering trust and devotion arise in us.
After the first Tibetan refugees arrived in India and Nepal in the 50’s and 60’s, a few Geshes were able to flee to the West in 1963 or 64. They had to work for their living, were able to do a lot by integrating in the respective societies they lived in, for example, by marrying and having children. You know how many Dharma centres there are in Germany now and are informed about what is available to you. The Karmapa has done this for us.
Who do we turn to now that the Sixteenth Karmapa is not among us anymore? He has returned as the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa. His name is Ogyen Trinley Dorje, but in truth he is the Karmapa. The life-story of the Karmapa, who is still very young, is already more than amazing.
When reciting the sacred mantra of His Holiness - “Karmapa Khyenno” - it will be very beneficial to imagine him in his first manifestation as Düsum Khyenpa, “Knower of the three times,” to visualize all incarnations, until he appeared as the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, and now to visualize him as the Seventeenth Karmapa. Making the wishing-prayers to see him, to meet him, and to have the chance to speak with him is already an immense blessing.
The name of His Holiness, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was not given to him randomly by a Lama, rather his name was prophesied by Guru Rinpoche in a gter-ma, a treasure-text. Chögyur Dechen Lingpa, also known as Shikpo Lingpa (1829-1870 CE), was a treasure-revealer, a gter-stön, who was together with the Karmapa until his fourteenth incarnation and who brought the treasure-text that reveals the name of the Seventeenth Karmapa to light. The title gling-pa is that of a Tertön and literally means “sanctuary of peace and happiness.” Tertön Chögyur Lingpa only perceived pure visions and directly received Guru Rinpoche’s prophecy concerning the Fifteenth Karmapa, Khakhyab Dorje (1871-1922), the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981), and the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who was born in 1985.
Before passing into Paranirvana, the Sixteenth Karmapa prophesied that he would take birth north of India, which only points to Tibet. He wrote down in which area of Tibet he would take birth, namely in the east, described the environment clearly, and also wrote down the name of his father and mother. He wrapped the letter of recognition in a srung-ma, a protective amulet, gave it to his Eminence Situ Rinpoche, and told him that he would need the amulet in the future. The Seventeenth Karmapa was found in reliance upon this letter of recognition.
In a vision, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama also saw that the Karmapa would take birth in East Tibet and recognized the incarnation as that of the Sixteenth Karmapa. His Holinesss the Karmapa was brought to Tsurphu Monastery. In accordance with the prophecy made by Guru Rinpoche, he was given the name Ogyen Trinley Dorje by His Eminences Tai Situ and Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche.
The Chinese government officially recognized the incarnation of the Karmapa and sent a representative to Tsurphu Monastery to confirm this in a written statement, which is really amazing. The Chinese are communists, don’t have a spiritual belief, and don’t like spiritual people, so it’s really exceptional that they documented their recognition of a reincarnate Lama. This was the only point His Holiness and the Chinese government agreed on, otherwise they never got along and couldn’t come to agreements on any other matter except this one, which again shows how majestic the Karmapa is. Just think of the Panchen Lama: The Chinese reject and deny the incarnation of the Panchen Lama found by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and hold him captured and keep him in strictest custody. So we again see that the Glorious Karmapa doesn’t only carry a title, but manifests incredible activities.
When His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa was twelve years old, the Chinese government invited him to Peking. He accepted the invitation and went. When he met with Jiangtse-Min, former president of China (who calls himself “Chairman of the People's Republic of China”), Jiantse-Min told him, “If ever you need anything, I will help you.” His Holiness replied, “Thank you very much. I don’t need anything for myself. But ever since 1959 our universities, monasteries, and libraries are destroyed and most of our books were burned. I know that many of our sacred texts are now being kept in Peking, at Norbu Lingka, and elsewhere. Please help me get hold of them, especially those of the Kagyu School, otherwise I need no help.” Imagine how skilled His Holiness was when, at such a young age, he said this to the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China. No other twelve-year old boy would even think about things like this - they only seem to have motorcycles or airplanes in their heads. Jiantse-Min even gave a written statement to His Holiness that he would make photocopies of the sacred texts and give them to him, which he did. So His Holiness has many copies of texts that are 500 or 600 years old. This is certainly an amazing and wonderful feat.
There was quite a vast collection of literature in the Kagyu School on Sutras, Tantras, and yogic practices during the times of the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Karmapas (between 1400 and 1600 CE). They became scattered during the times of the Tenth Karmapa. His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa has expressed his wish to have these texts again.
His Holiness decided to flee to India when he was thirteen and managed to do so when he was fourteen. Around 60 or 70 Chinese police were constantly guarding the Karmapa at Tsurphu, so he could never go outside the monastery without a guard trailing him. But on December 28 th, 1999, at 11 o’clock at night, he left Tsurphu unnoticed and fled from Tibet via Nepal to Dharamsala in India. Nobody even noticed him while he was on the way, not even the military posts. He arrived in India five days later, on January 3, 2000. It’s almost inconceivable, seeing he had no passport and visa, isn’t it? And now he has been in India for seven years. When one thinks about the activities that His Holiness has manifested, then it is extraordinary. You will see how he is for yourself when he comes to the West in a few years.
Many Christians, Hindus, and Moslems living in India seek advice from the Gyalwa Karmapa and he always teaches them with earnest respect for their beliefs. He has accepted invitations to speak to the Moslem, Hindu, and Sikh communities in India. It doesn’t matter which religion someone belongs to, he takes everyone seriously and always helps him and her. This is another skilful method to pacify conflicts, seeing most wars arise due to differing religious beliefs. Tension between leaders and representatives from various religions diminishes if one enters and cultivates a dialogue with one another. Everyone perceives and experiences outer appearances differently, but they do share similar outer impressions. So this has been a short description of the outer life of the Glorious Karmapa until now. Many wondrous miracles have arisen in the inner life of His Holiness, too.
Only two people knew that His Holiness would leave Tsurphu at 11 o’clock in the night of December 28, 1999. People are usually very nervous and cannot eat or sleep before undertaking something as decisive and dangerous as that, but nobody noticed any change in his demeanour. At 10 o’clock in the night of January 3, 2000, he left his car behind and walked across the border to Nepal. There aren’t police or military posts, no villages or houses either; only a few tradesmen spend the night in their cars there. Even though there was no moonlight, His Holiness the Karmapa noticed that the sky was very clear due to the bright light of the stars. It was a very auspicious night, because the tradesmen felt so much peace, without knowing that the Karmapa was near them. He was able to ease them, because he had no fear. If someone like us were trying to escape, we would be very scared and would tremble with fright, scaring those who are near us. The district in Nepal across the border from Tibet is called Mustang, and His Holiness spent his first night in a village called Nethang.
His Holiness stayed in the home of villagers in Nethang. These people have great faith and devotion in the Karmapa, but they did not know that he spent the night in their little home. He was not wearing robes, but was dressed in simple street clothes, was wearing a fancy gold ring, and had a pack of cigarettes visible in his shirt pocket so that nobody would have the slightest notion that the Karmapa was in their presence. The Karmapa was accompanied by five or six Lamas and monks, and, in order to conceal their identity, the older monk sat down on the thrown and acted as though he was guiding the group, while the Karmapa pretended to be his servant. The humble villagers asked him if he was also a Lama, but he answered, “No, no. I am only a student and am going to my teacher in India.” He asked the host for a blanket and lay down on the floor near what serves as an outhouse inside the cottage. Nevertheless, there were villagers who thought to themselves that he was a Lama, even though he was wearing a gold ring and had cigarettes in his pocket for everyone to see; they suspected that he was a Lama who was protecting himself. The next morning the group left, and the family still did not know that they had given the Karmapa a place to sleep that night.
The group continued walking across the Thorwa Pass to Manang. In winter Manang Valley is covered with thick snow and villagers usually descend to the lowlands to avoid the cold. Few people remain to look after their houses and livestock. The group of refugees spent the next night in a little lodge in Manang. The next morning a helicopter was flown in from Kathmandu and took the Karmapa and the little group to Nagakot near Kathmandu. The Karmapa spent that night in a hotel at Nagakot. His Eminence Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche was also staying there with a group of students. His Holiness saw His Eminence having a meal in the restaurant, but His Eminence did not recognize him.
The morning after having crossed the border to Nepal, the Gyalwa Karmapa and the group were taken to the Indian border. He crossed into India on January 3, 2000 and immediately went to a hotel in Dharamsala. An employee from the hotel phoned the Office of the Tibetan Government in Exile and told the person who answered the phone that the Karmapa was in town. A representative of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama came to the hotel, was extremely perplexed, and didn’t hesitate to phone His Holiness the Dalai Lama right away. They rushed the Karmapa to the residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, without even having time to offer kathaks or make prostrations, that’s how excited and happy they were – as though a mother had found her lost child. On January 5, BBC broadcast the news worldwide that His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa had arrived in India.
Chinese representatives from the consulate in Kathmandu had searched for the Karmapa all over Kathmandu since he had left Tsurphu and then heard that he was in India in the news. Before they heard the news, they came to all monasteries and asked thousands of questions again and again, causing us lots of problems for an entire month. Of course, we were not worried, because we didn’t know anything, but they did pester us. Even representatives from the Indian consulate asked monks living at Lekshey Ling Institute whether they had helped His Holiness with a helpicopter, but, like all others, we only heard the news over the radio. Of course, had we known, we would have helped as best as we could. Thinking about it - that a fourteen-year old boy fled Tibet and reached India within five days without the Chinese, Nepali, or Indian officials knowing what was up - is kind of strange when it comes to outer circumstances. But the inner life-story is another manifestation of His Holiness’ miraculous abilities.
And now, the Gyalwa Karmapa regularly supervises the Great Disputations, called Guncho, that are carried out for an entire month between scholars and monks during their examinations. He also organizes and presides over the Great Kagyu Mönlam that takes place every year at Bodhgaya.
The Great Kagyu Mönlam was founded by Khyabje Kalu Rinpoche and, after he passed into Paranirvana, was organized by Venerable Bokar Rinpoche. Lama Tashi Döndrub, who was resident Lama at Kamalashila Institute for ten years and is now living in Canada, sponsored the Great Kagyu Mönlam in the winter of 2007. His Holiness offered many Dharma teachings on that occasion. Last year he spoke about not eating meat, that it’s not proper for Buddhists to eat meat, and asked us not to. Now, many people have the habit of eating meat three times a day, so he asked them to reduce the amount they consume, should it not be possible to give it up completely. For those who have meat three times a day, he said it would be good to only have it once a day. If one manages for a while, then one can reduce this habit by only having meat every third day, for example. Others may commit themselves not to eat meat for a year or for a certain period of time. In any case, he said it would be good to abandon this habit. If you think you are disciples of the Gyalwa Karmapa, then please follow his instructions. What use is there thinking that one is his disciple as long as one doesn’t listen to him? More than 10,000 monks, nuns, and lay practitioners attended the last Kagyu Mönlam. Many of them took the vow not to eat meat anymore; others took the vow to only have meat once a day. I used to relish on meat and couldn’t stay in a place where meat was not available. My doctors and friends even told me not to eat so much meat. I didn’t listen to them and nothing could stop me. For example, my doctor told me that if I didn’t stop, I could get cancer and die. My doctor’s words of warning did not move me, and I wasn’t scared of getting cancer. My greatest attachment in this life is to meat. When the Karmapa told us to reduce or stop this habit, I agreed right away. The Karmapa was able to control the strongest attachment I had in this life, and this is due to his greatness. If he hadn’t made these regulations, I’d never have changed and as a result 5, 6, or 7 animals would still be killed every day in order to feed the 300 or 400 monks living at Lekshey Ling Institute.
Bodhisattva Manjushri holds the sword in his hand to cut off attachments. Of course, he does not threaten anyone with his sword, but the Karmapa told us to give up our attachment to meat and he cut my attachment as well as that of thousands of others in no time, like Manjushri. Just thinking about this is evidence of his immeasurable knowledge, strength, and activities, or? And ever since then, meat is not cooked in the kitchens of Kagyu monasteries - maybe it is still cooked in private kitchens. So we do see his immense influence and our trust and devotion in him grow. If we then recite his mantra - “Karmapa Khyenno” - it will be very beneficial. Reciting his mantra without knowing why would be like moving around in a dark room – one would only bump into things and hurt oneself, or?
When we practice Guru Yoga, our Lama is the Gyalwa Karmapa. Lacking trust and devotion in the Karmapa, our practice of Guru Yoga would only entail mistrust and doubt and wouldn’t be good. This practice is very important when we meditate Mahamudra. The Gyalwa Karmapa has appeared from the First Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa, until the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, so even though he has different names, he is always the same Karmapa. If we understand this well, then Gampopa, Milarepa, Marpa, Naropa, Tilopa, and Vajradhara will be very near to us - in fact, we can be close to our Lineage-holders as fast as a rocket soars into space. We cannot meet our Lineage-holders personally, but we can meet and experience Ogyen Trinley Dorje and, according to the custom in the West, shake hands with him.
If one is a Karma Kagyu follower, then His Holiness the Karmapa is the Lama one visualizes while engaging in Guru Yoga practice. If one meditates His Holiness as one’s Lama while practicing Guru Yoga, then it will be very easy for us to accomplish the results. We would have to look at a thanka if we meditated a Karmapa who lived in the past, and then he would be flat, which would make the visualization difficult.
I have spoken about His Holiness to you according to my own experiences and did not say anything that I read in books or that someone told me. Thank you very much.
Explanation of a few photos:
- His Holiness the XVIIth Karmapa together with Venerable Chöje Lama Phuntsok in 2006.
- H.H. the XVIth Karmapa together with Situ Pema Wangchuk and high ranking Lamas at Palpung Monastery in Kham, Tibet, approximately 1940.
- H.H. the YVIIth Karmapa together with the H.E. Twelfth Tai Situ Rinpoche in Tibet.
- H.H. the XVIth Karmapa together with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in India in 1974.
- The hill station at Nagakot in Nepal.
- H.H. presiding over the Karma Guncho debates at Tergar Monastery in India, 2007.- H.H. the XVIIth Karmapa receiving offering from H.E. Gyaltsap Rinpoche at the Great Kagyu Mönlam in Bodhgaya, India, Dec. 2007. - H.H. together with H.E. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche the Fourth at the recent Kagyu Mönlam.
- Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and Venerable Tenga Rinpoche.
- The Great Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya.
Through this goodness, may omniscience be attained
And thereby may every enemy (mental defilement) be overcome.
May beings be liberated from the ocean of samsara
That is troubled by waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death.
May the life of the Glorious Lama remain steadfast and firm.
May peace and happiness fully arise for beings as limitless (in number) as space (is vast in its extent).
Having accumulated merit and purified negativities, may I and all living beings without exception swiftly establish the levels and grounds of Buddhahood.
Supplication for the Long Life of His Holiness Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
Nirmanakaya of the Sixth Guide of this fortunate kalpa and of the Mahasiddha Saraha,
Seventeenth body of Düsum Khyenpa –
May Your lotus feet be stable and Your activity flourish.
You see, just as it is, the suchness of things to be known.
You kindly protect all beings.
Your energy is victorious over mara.
Karmapa, may Your lotus feet be stable and Your activity flourish.
The light of Your activity arising from the full mandala of the two accumulations
Illuminates the kunda grove of the Victor’s Doctrine.
You are the moon of sacred Dharmic proclamation.
May Your lotus feet be stable and Your activity flourish.
You are the preceptor of hundreds of thousands of renunciates, the father of millions of Bodhisattvas, and the Great Master of innumerable Vidyadharas.
May Your lotus feet be stable and Your activity flourish.
You raise the Doctrine’s Victory Banner in Jambudvipa.
The Banners of Your fame flutter everywhere.
Karmapa, Master of the Victors’ activity,
May Your lotus feet be stable and Your activity flourish.
Spreading the Lord of Sages’ Doctrine,
The Protector of beings in degenerate times is the manifestation of Lokeshvara.
Karmapa, may Your lotus feet be stable and Your activity flourish.
Through the intentions of the sacred Guru who is the Supreme Guide,
The truth of the undeceiving Three Jewels, and the interdependence of our pure, excellent wish,
May this aspiration be accomplished.
In accordance with the wishes of the Lord Protectors, the supreme Tai Situ Rinpoche and the supreme Gyaltsap Rinpoche, this aspiration was made by Ngawang Kunga of Drolma Podrang, the Throne Holder of the Glorious Sakyas, as an alternation of a previous composition. May this aspiration be accomplished!
The Song of His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa was translated under the guidance of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche by Michele Martin in April 1994; in: Website of Nalandabodhi in Seattle. The instructions by Venerable Chöje Lama Phuntsok were presented at Theksum Tashi Chöling in Hamburg in 2006. With sincere gratitude to Khenpo Karma Namgyal for many invaluable photos and for his immense help. Translated into English in reliance on the German rendering kindly offered by Dr. Klaus-Dieter Mathes by Gaby Hollmann, responsible for all mistakes. And special thanks to all members of the Dharma Centre in Hamburg for all they are doing. Copyright Karma Lekshey Ling Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Theksum Tashi Chöling, 2008.