A Message from the Gyalwang Karmapa
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Kagyu Monlam at the Buddhist holy site of Bodhgaya. This is a small milestone in the Kagyu lineage’s activities for the benefit of sentient beings, but a big step forward for world peace and well-being. So, first of all, I would like to thank all staff members, participants, and those who have supported and been involved in the Monlam over the last 25 years. Because of the power of your aspirations and long-standing support and diligence, I sincerely hope that the Kagyu Monlam will not remain static but will flourish until peace and well-being permeate every corner of the world.
Looking back over the last century, we can see that wars and violence have plagued the world everywhere, causing many kinds of suffering. As a consequence, the Buddha dharma has diminished in many places. However, at the same time, it has spread, and begun to germinate and take root in different places. When we consider the trials and tribulations of our times, it becomes all the more evident that the essence of buddhist loving kindness and pure motivation cannot be shaken by either suffering or happiness. Life devoid of love and compassion is like a chariot without wheels, or an airplane without engines: neither has any real value, nor can be of true benefit. The purpose of the Kagyu Monlam is to spread the seeds of loving kindness and pure motivation, to activate their power, and hence bring about genuine peace, love, happiness and well-being in the world.
We can say that the name “Kagyu Monlam” came from a gradual development within the tradition. Some five hundred years ago in Tibet, the Seventh Karmapa initiated Monlam Chenmo every year, in the months commemorating Buddha activities, in order to tighten the Vinaya discipline after it had become lax. The purpose was to promote a correct sense of joy and appropriate esteem towards the Buddha, the qualities of Buddha’s teaching and towards their own qualities. Many thousands of monks gathered together to participate in the Monlam Chenmo by reciting the text that the Seventh Karmapa had compiled, the Twenty-Branch Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, and he presided over a ceremony to pray for the removal of obstacles and the accumulation of merit for all beings. The aspiration was to create a harmonious world free of suffering. From then on, in general, the Monlam continued without interruption.
In 1983, in Bodhgaya, Kalu Rinpoche organised a one hundred thousand repetition recitation of the Samantabhadra Aspiration Prayer, thus planting the seed of the Kagyu Monlam in India. Over the past 25 years, it has undergone a series of changes to become the world gathering we know today. Every year now, practitioners and dharma friends from all over the world gather in Bodhgaya. Regardless of differences in tradition and lineage, they pray with one-pointed sincerity and devotion, perceiving the suffering and happiness of all sentient beings as if it were their own. Each drop of their merit comes together to form an ocean, sending a powerful current of well-being into the world.
In the Buddhist year 2548, 2004 C.E., I assumed responsibility for the Kagyu Monlam. Following the example of the dharma activities of the great beings who have gone before us, I began to restructure the event and to compile a new prayer text, reflecting the splendour of this timeless tradition, making the Monlam ever more glorious, meeting the needs of today's international Buddhist community as much as possible, and benefitting an even greater number of people.
It is my sincere, continuous aspiration that the blessings from Lord Buddha and his uninterrupted lineage spread to fill infinite space. May all sentient beings, while enjoying peace and harmony, enter the perfect celestial palace of enlightenment.
Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje