The Blessings of the Lamas and This Precious Human Life Day 2: Teachings on One Hundred Short Instructions

29 November, 2014 Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya
In Session One, the text had spoken of the four ways in which students can serve the Lama. Today’s section began with examples of disciples who showed great devotion towards their Lamas and the benefits derived from this.
Jetsun Milarepa faced great hardship; he lived like a beggar in an isolated place with no one to share in either his happiness or his sorrows. However, as Dusum Khyenpa said, if you remember the qualities of the Lamas and supplicate them with great fervour, the power of the devotion and strength of the blessings is uninterrupted. For that reason Milarepa was able to stay in a remote place, in spite of all difficulties. “It’s like having an iron-rod of devotion in your heart,” explained the Karmapa.
Gyalwa Gotsangpa was another example of great devotion. He practised extremely hard in a cave in a cliff-face for twelve years, and made the commitment that the cave, the cliff and the person should become one. People could hear the echo of his supplications on the far side of the valley.
It is possible to supplicate the Gurus through physical postures; His Holiness read details of these from the text.
Sometimes, the Karmapa pointed out, people think that they only need to listen to instructions from the Guru once, but actually we need to listen to them over and over again, until they become a part of our being.
Mikyo Dorje’s text warns that without supplicating the Lamas, respecting their wishes, and practising with effort and devotion, our dharma practice will only accomplish the temporary things of this life.
The text now moves on to contemplate the precious human life, which is not merely a human life. In order to practice the Dharma, if we want to practice the entire path which will lead us to liberation and omniscience, the support is the precious human body with the eight leisures and ten resources. This is the definition of a precious human life.
To begin with, we need to appreciate how rare and difficult it is to achieve a precious human life which affords us this opportunity to practice the dharma. There are innumerable births in which it is not possible. It is more difficult to find a precious human life than “a star in the daytime”, or for a blind man to find a pin concealed in a haystack.
The eight leisures signify freedom from the obstacles which prevent us from practising the dharma, whereas the ten resources are all the facilities we need to accomplish our practice. Often we fail to appreciate the amazing opportunity that we have in this life to practise. Though we might find it difficult to think of hell beings or hungry ghosts, we can understand the limited capacity of animals, and also how barbarians and people with wrong views are prevented from practising.
Laying the text aside, His Holiness commented that people often think that outlying lands and barbarian lands are the same. Many presumed Tibet to be a central land, but as it lacks one of the four pillars –fully ordained nuns–Tibet is an outlying land. Consequently, you could end up saying that Tibetans are barbarians!
Across the world today there are many places of conflict or deprivation in the world where people lack the leisures and resources. Living in a war zone, all your energy would go into staying alive, let alone practising Dharma. In some parts of the world, many had to live in great deprivation, not enough food or even water to drink; sometimes the only thing available to drink is the urine from oxen. In such a place, you would be focused on getting the bare necessities to stay alive not on dharma practice.
On one hand, we need to realise what a great opportunity we have and take responsibility to use it properly and make our precious human lives meaningful. On the other, we need to think compassionately of those who do not have such opportunities.
The Karmapa gave an heart-rending, true example: In Iraq there was a young girl, maybe five or six years old. She had no one. Her mother was dead. And so the little girl drew a large picture of her mother in the road outside her school. Placing her shoes outside the picture, she lay down on top of it, as if she were sleeping in her mother’s lap.
We need to understand that we already possess all that we need. If we follow our desires, he warned, they are endless and we will never be able to fulfil them: A wise man said, “Contentment is a jewel which is present naturally within us. It is not something that we buy from outside. If we know how to be content then we are rich. If we do not have contentment, no matter how many billions of dollars we have, inside we will feel like a beggar. We will feel like we never have enough. We will never think, ‘I’ve got what I need. I’ve got all the resources I need.’”
Addressing the monks specifically he compared the resources they had in India with those of a monk at Tsurphu, in Tibet. To begin with, a monk at Tsurphu had to build his own room, either from his own money or his family had to give him the money. Then he had to get his own food, and buy his own clothes. In India monasteries provide food, accommodation and clothing.
Monks in India had the leisures and the resources, so they should not let the opportunity go to waste. The Karmapa gave a final warning from the text:
“Accomplishing something for the purposes of this life is like eating poisoned food.”
History of the Debate Texts and Details of the Gampopa Conference
The final section of the afternoon was directed at the monks. The Gyalwang Karmapa noted that this is the third and final year studying Collected Topics, Types of Evidence, and Types of Mind. The book on Types of Evidence and Types of Mind contains a text by Namgyal Drakpa. The study book for Collected Topics has been published in three separate sections Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced level. It is based on a root text by the Sixth Shamar Choekyi Wangchuk with a commentary written by His Holiness.
His Holiness went on to give details of the final part of the Gunchö, which will take the form of a four-day conference on Gampopa’s The Jewel Ornament of Liberation. Gampopa practised both streams of instruction from the Kadampa and the Mahamudra traditions, and the foundation of these instructions is contained in The Jewel Ornament of Liberation and The Precious Garland of the Supreme Path. The conference will continue for three years, so that the monks have the opportunity to fully appreciate this text which describes the stages of the path of the three different types of individual.
Nine scholars from the monastic colleges spent two months with the Karmapa at Gyuto researching and analysing. In the first instance the focus was on the different editions of the text. Many scholars say that the Yangpachen edition is the best, so this was taken as the basis, and compared with the other seven editions, including Derge and Bhutan. The team also researched the source of various citations, and completed a fair amount of analysis of the text.
As His Holiness explained, “This is a way in which those of us who follow the Dagpo Kagyu can repay the great kindness of Gampopa.”
There will be several papers presented at the conference, and the monks will be able to ask questions.



Webcast Announcement - Teaching on "The 100 Short Instructions" of the 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje


100 Short Instuctions of Mikyo DorjeIndian Time
Nov 28 - Dec 11Teaching Session                15:30 - 16:30 IST

Live translation in English and Chinese.

Webcast Link:

The Gyalwang Karmapa Commences Kagyu Gunchö Teachings

28 November, 2014, Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya.
The Gyalwang Karmapa entered the shrine room of Tergar Monastery, preceded by incense bearers and monks playing gyalins. Hundreds of monks from Karma Kagyu shedras were waiting with great anticipation for the first session of his teachings during this the 18th Gunchö. Joining them were many international lay students who sat to the back and sides of the hall.
Once the Karmapa was seated, the Venerable Choje Lama Phuntsok, founder of the Gunchö in 1997, made the mandala offering to request the teachings. This year’s winter debate session has been organised by his shedra, Karma Lekshey Ling, in Nepal. A few minutes later, the Gyalwang Karmapa, in his opening remarks, thanked Lama Phuntsok warmly for his hard work and commended his devotion to the teachings.
The Karmapa also mentioned the inter-shedra debate competition judges, who represent four different traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Inviting them was a symbol of the respect and importance he and the Karma Kagyu hold for all lineages, he said. Any seeming differences between the lineages and traditions in Tibetan Buddhism, such as in terminology, were minor. Because all lineages and traditions accept the Buddha and the Dharma as sources of refuge, in actuality, there is no difference. All qualify as Buddhist teachings. Harmony between them was crucial as the only basis on which the teachings could flourish.
For the third year in succession, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued his oral transmission and commentary on the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje’s text: One Hundred Short Instructions; a somewhat misleading title as this classic text of advice on Buddhist practice comprises two volumes and 687 pages in the Vajra Vidya edition which most people use, and 500 pages in the traditional loose-leaved pecha.
Turning to the text, His Holiness began at the final chapter in the first volume: Vast and Profound Light: Instructions on the Two Types of Bodhichitta. The chapter opens with a series of visualisations, and the Karmapa highlighted two elements: supplicating the lamas, who hold the lineage of the Bodhisattva Vows and the Stages of the Path, and considering the suffering of countless, myriad sentient beings.
“In order to increase our bodhichitta, we visualise the buddhas and bodhisattvas and supplicate them. Day and night we need to hold this unbearable compassion for all sentient beings.”
In order to have bodhichitta, we need to develop great compassion, he explained, which is not the same as limitless compassion. The latter refers to compassion for all sentient beings, whereas great compassion means unreserved compassion for all sentient beings without any being excluded. When we recite from the Four Immeasurables ‘may all sentient beings be free of suffering’ we need more than a mere mental aspiration. An aspiration alone will not free them from suffering. We need the determination and motivation to take upon ourselves the task of freeing all those sentient beings from their suffering. We need to think, “I myself am going to take responsibility to do this.”
So how should we develop this ‘unbearable compassion’ which encompasses all sentient beings? To begin, we need to understand the different types of suffering which sentient beings experience: the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and the all-pervasive suffering of conditioned existence. Then, as Jetsun Milarepa said, when uncontrived great compassion arises it is as if we are in a pit of fire. Such a circumstance would be unbearable; we would immediately try to escape. So it is immensely difficult to develop such compassion. Whenever we recite, “May all sentient beings be happy…may they be free from suffering and the causes of suffering,” we need to check our minds to see the quality of our compassion, and then put effort into developing it further, with fervent devotion to the lamas.
His Holiness then read the next meditation, which visualises a charnel ground and the eight worldly concerns, in the presence of Sangye Nyenpa, whom we request to grant us the supreme and ultimate siddhis. By using this context to contemplate the eight worldly preoccupations–happiness and suffering, praise and blame, fame and infamy, gain and loss – we can develop revulsion for samsara and hence true renunciation, and then offer everything to the lama.
The First Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche served as Mikyo Dorje’s tutor and root lama for only three years, but had a profound effect on the Eighth Karmapa, who showed great devotion towards him, which is why most of Mikyo Dorje’s works begin, “I prostrate to the Mahasiddha Sangye Nyenpa”.
Essentially, this section is a Guru Yoga, in which we offer everything- body, possessions and virtue- to the Lama and think that it is for the benefit of all sentient beings that they may achieve liberation and omniscience. Finally, the merit we have generated is also dedicated for the benefit of all sentient beings. However, the Karmapa pointed out, in actuality, even though we say that we wish to use our being for the benefit of all sentient beings, even though we give our body and possessions, because we are unable to free ourselves from fixation on and attachment to this life and the eight worldly concerns, our intentions never turn out as we expect.
Serving the lama can take four different forms: offerings, respect, service and practice. Materially, we can make offerings and provide food, drink, clothes and daily necessities for the lama. Serving with respect refers to prostrating before him, being humble in his presence, speaking softly and politely, and so forth. Serving with service includes such things as giving medicine, massage, or washing and anointing the lama’s feet. Serving the lama with practice can be differentiated between actual practice, when we follow the lama’s practice instructions exactly, and approximate practice, when we fulfil the lama’s wishes and commands.
Summing up, His Holiness said, at the heart of the matter is the precious teaching of the Buddha, and the Gunchö is a way of preserving it. The monks should regard this as the purpose of their gathering together to study and debate. By studying the teachings of scripture and practising the teachings of realisation, the teachings of the Buddha could be preserved.
Why should the Buddha’s teachings be preserved? Because they are the source of happiness and well-being. The teachings explain how we can develop the roots of virtue which are the ultimate source of well-being and happiness. They tell us what should be adopted and what should be abandoned. However, in order to achieve our aim for the Buddha’s teachings to spread to bring happiness and well-being to all sentient beings, we need a vast, long-term vision and motivation which transcends any concerns we might have for our individual monasteries, lineages and traditions. Now that all the Gunchö facilities for the monks were in place, the Karmapa concluded, it was their responsibility to use the opportunity well, holding the correct view and motivation at all times.
“If our aspirations and hopes are wrong, though we might think that things are going well at the start, in the end it will never work out well.”



Torma - The Ancient Art of Tibetan Butter Sculpture

Produced under the guidance of 
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Format: DVD 60 min.
Publication Date: Dec. 2014

Tormas are a unique form of Tibetan art using butter to create rich and radiant forms, beautiful in themselves and spiritually significant. Sculpted by initiated practitioners with absolute devotion, tormas are a link between the human and spiritual realms. The colorful intricate designs, born from mystical revelations, represent symbolic forms of enlightenment.

This 60-minute documentary illuminates Vajrayana Buddhism through the lens of tormas. Documenting weeks of preparation for the Kagyu Prayer Festival in Bodhgaya, as well as a Mahakala ritual in Nepal involving tormas and sacred dance, the film features interviews with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa and other Kagyu Lineage Masters.

Bonus Features:
Includes 2 hours of additional interview material on tormas with the Karma Kagyu Lineage Masters:

  • The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
  • His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche
  • Kyabje Tenga Rinppoche
  • Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche
  • Very Venerable Yongey Mingyur Rinppoche


Cherish the Earth environment calendar 2015

Cherish the Earth environment calendar 2015, with introduction and quotations by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. All the profits from this carbon neutral calendar will be donated to environmental charities chosen by His Holiness. Please support this project by sharing with your friends - thank you! Available to order online from: www.simonfraserphoto.com

The Cherish the Earth environment calendar 2015 is now selling in the UK, Europe, USA and India, with online sales across the world. You can order this carbon neutral calendar online from this website and it makes a beautiful and inspirational Christmas present for friends and family. All proceeds to environmental charities selected by His Holiness the Karmapa, who has written the introduction and quotations. If you would like to support this project, please pass on the details to your friends, families and colleagues. Thank you!http://www.simonfraserphoto.co.uk/cherish-the-earth-environment-calendar-2015/


Faramita / Nirvana

Title:  Faramita / Nirvana
Artist: 17th Gyalwang Karmapa
Language: Chinese

A New Translation of The Torch of True Meaning

This famous text by the great master and scholar Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye provides an explanation of the preliminary practices for mahamudra meditation. It provides clear descriptions of the three main sections: the four common preliminary practices (the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind); the four special preliminary practices (the four sets prostrations, Vajrasattva practice, mandala offering, and Guru Yoga); and the main practice of Mahamudra.  Each section contains instructions on what to do and then how to bring the practice into your experience from your whole being.

This is the text that the Gyalwang Karmapa has been teaching for the last years at Kagyu Monlam and will continue to teach in the future. This year he will explain the instructions on Vajrasattva practice. This new translation is special in that His Holiness has gone over the English and made many suggestions which were incorporated into this version. The book will be available for a donation at the Monlam this year.



2011 Himachal currency haul: ED gives clean chit to Karmapa(Zeenews)

Sunday, November 23, 2014 

New Delhi: ED has given a clean chit and dropped charges of forex violations against Tibetan religious leader Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, four years after the Karmapa and his associates were charged with keeping illegal foreign and domestic currency worth about Rs 6 crore.

Enforcement Directorate (ED) has, however, ordered confiscation of the foreign currency haul which totals at over Rs 5.97 crore and includes a horde of foreign currency.

The agency had taken over the case a few months after Himachal Pradesh Police intercepted a vehicle in January, 2011, and seized suspected cash from the Karmapa's associates and later from his monastery.
ED, which has been probing the currency haul under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), based its findings on the investigation that the Karmapa and two of the trusts that were under scanner for suspected Hawala transactions have "no role in the collection or management of donations" from global devotees, including the seized currency.
The state police had dropped the name of the spiritual leader from its chargesheet in this case in 2012.
A latest order by ED's Adjudicating Authority (a Special Director-rank officer of the agency) in the case, which was accessed by PTI, relied upon the Karmapa's statement made to it that "he has never been involved in any day-to-day transactions and working of the office... That he is an incarnated monk and has inherited the title (Gyalwang Karmapa) and the property of the 16th Karmapa".
He also told ED that he "does not open or handle any of the gifts/offerings and the same is managed by the Tsurphu Labrang (administrative office)".
His associates in the Gyuto monastery in Himachal Pradesh, who were co-accused in the case, recorded similar statements with the agency saying the Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage and "offerings are never touched by his Holiness and they are immediately taken charge of by the Labrang".
The Karmapas's Director (Finance), who kept records for the said cash, Thupten Sherab, has, however, been held guilty under Section 4 of FEMA (holding of foreign exchange) and all the cash has been seized. 




Day Two - Lojong Teachings at Dalai Lama’s Foundation in Delhi

23 November,2014 – New Delhi
On this second day of teachings at the Foundation for Universal Responsibility, founded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa continued his exposition of the practice of mind training based on the “Eight Verses of Mind Training” by the Kadam Geshe Langri Tangpa. As 400 people received the teachings directly in the auditorium, another 5,000 people watched live from offsite, via webcasts that extended access with translation into Spanish, Chinese, French, German and Polish. Remarkably, the number of people listening to the Spanish translation was twice the number of people listening to the English translation.
His Holiness the Karmapa began by observing that practices to generate bodhichitta can be divided into three major types: 1) meditation on the equality of self and others, 2) the exchanging of self and others, and 3) the sevenfold cultivation of bodhichitta. Originally the instructions for the practice of exchanging self and others were kept secret by the Kadam tradition, but later began to be taught openly and are now widely practiced. He then turned to the text itself, continuing where he had left off the previous day.
When others, out of envy
Treat me wrongly with abuse, slander, and scorn,
May I take the defeat upon myself
And give the victory to others.
This verse describes what our practice looks like when the intensity of our concern for others reaches the point that we no longer care whether we have to experience discomfort or difficulty for others’ sake. In particular, it outlines an enlightened approach to responding to others’ envy of us, giving us an option of responding very differently to their treatment of us.
These instructions urge us to move beyond a mere theoretical understanding of the Dharma, His Holiness said. When we see others overwhelmed with envy, we apply our understanding of how the kleshas work. If our understanding of the effect of kleshas is complete and authentic, this should lead us to treat those who harm us as people who are visibly suffering, the Gyalwang Karmapa said.
Our study of the Dharma makes us well familiar with the idea that the kleshas can control us, and that this causes us suffering. Yet this awareness too often stays on the intellectual level. We may not feel this in our heart and therefore put it fully into practice. If we could truly integrate this awareness into our emotional experience, we would readily be able to give rise to compassion, understanding and love when we see others struggling and behaving unwisely because they have fallen into the grip of a strong afflictive emotion. We would see that it was completely inappropriate to respond to their harm with aggression or aversion, the Karmapa observed.
To describe a way that would be appropriate to respond, His Holiness used the example of people who file lawsuits against us out of envy. In that context, he drew a careful distinction between our response to the lawsuit as contrasted with our response to the envious person themselves. We would not generate great compassion toward the lawsuit itself and welcome it lovingly, but rather should make a proper legal defense against it. However, it would be wholly wrong to act out against the people filing the lawsuit, harboring a grudge against them and seeking ways to harm them personally. This would further disturb our own mind, causing us added unhappiness and distress on top of the harm the lawsuit itself was producing. Instead if we let our mind rest naturally while we are being sued, we will be able think about it rationally and make a wise and correct response.
Before we reach this point of truly recognizing how others are controlled by the presence of afflictive emotions, and what it means for their wellbeing, the Gyalwang Karmapa underscored that we first need to recognize this dynamic at work in our own mind and heart. He then outlined how to undertake the important task of clearly recognizing the disadvantages of the kleshas.
The different afflictions vary in terms of how difficult they are to recognize as problematic for us when they arise, he observed. The easiest is anger, whose faults we can readily observe and identify. Next is desire, followed by ignorance or delusion. There are also differences in terms of the strength with which any given klesha arises in the mind of each individual. In other words, there is a range of how many opportunities a particular practitioner has to see the harm done by the presence of those kleshas in their mind.
When questioned as to what the faults of anger or desire are, if we answer by reciting the list of disadvantages we read in the texts, this is not a good sign, the Gyalwang Karmapa said. That shows we have an understanding born of study, not of experience. In order to truly respond with compassion to others who harm us, we need more than superficial knowledge gleaned from reading books or from hearing our teacher speak against kleshas. Rather, we need to draw on direct and personal experience of the afflictions in our own minds, and also to vividly recognize their presence as painful and disruptive.
Therefore, we need to work to develop an understanding that arises from our own personal experience of just how dark the thickness of ignorance can be within us, and how intensely the heat of anger can burn. In this regard, mindfulness has a key role in allowing us to identify and observe our experiences, rather than just mindlessly undergoing them without learning anything from them. Similarly, we do need to exert ourselves, and make active efforts on a consistent basis, in the process of self-observation, watching our own kleshas in different situations and from different angles. If we have the capacity to view them carefully, it even gives us a way to transform the presence of those kleshas—and the mistakes we have made when acting under their sway—into a tool for our spiritual growth. In fact, the Karmapa reflected, if we think that observing the kleshas is one thing and observing their faults is another, this is another sign that we have not yet arrived at a true understanding, he said, for the nature of the kleshas itself is faulty. When we see the faults, we are seeing the kleshas, he stated, and when we see the kleshas, we are seeing the faults.
There is no fixed timeframe for coming to truly recognize the faulty nature of any given affliction. Sometimes it might take five or ten years just to arrive at a real awareness of their faulty nature. But in reality, the recognition itself can happen in a brief instant, His Holiness said. It takes different people different lengths of time to come to that moment of real recognition. Some are quite quick, he observed.
The Gyalwang Karmapa pointed out that it is not the case that holy beings were born with that awareness. Rather, holy beings are those who manage to rise above their mistakes and their own faults. This can be done by observing those faults bravely and turning them into a condition for our own improvement.
Those who have confidence in the existence of past lives will be aware that we have endless lifetimes of faults that we have committed—a mountain the size of Mount Meru that we are carrying with us, he said. Rather than let that awareness discourage us, we should let it motivate us to use each fresh experience of our faults as a foothold that aids us to climb higher. Great beings are great because they have overcome their great problems and great faults. If they were just born that way, there would be nothing particularly amazing in that.
When someone whom I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes,
Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways,
May I regard him still as my precious teacher.
When the people we have treated kindly and worked hard to help then turn around and harm us, this is more discouraging and upsetting than if we receive harm from someone we already regarded as an enemy. For this reason, it is an even greater challenge. Because it is harder to do, we gain more from our work to face that sort of unanticipated harm with equanimity and compassion. Therefore we can regard those people as our most precious teachers.
It is important for practitioners to recognize that training in the Dharma is demanding and very often uncomfortable. Many practitioners live in urban environments and have lots of pressures, the Gyalwang Karmapa pointed out. The weekdays are full of frenetic activity and stress, and on the weekends we need to go somewhere to unwind, so we head to a retreat center as if it were a kind of resort where we can relax and be pampered with meditation and yoga, as if they were mental massages. This leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to return to our busy weekday schedules. Sometimes, we treat our Dharma practice like this—as something that keeps us comfortable enough to continue with our normal life. This is not the point, he said. It is like looking for a temporary pain relief rather than taking medicine that can actually cure us. The medicine to treat the kind of illnesses that we suffer from is not a gentle and luxurious treatment. It is an intensive course of treatment that is not comfortable or easy and takes serious effort and hard work.
Practicing in the face of harm from people to whom we have done great service is an instance of this sort of demanding practice, the Karmapa said. We can easily appreciate that such people are great teachers offering us serious and powerful training in the Dharma.
In brief, may I offer benefit and joy
To all my mothers, both directly and indirectly,
May I secretly take upon myself
All hurts and pains of my mothers.
This verse describes the practice of tonglen – giving and taking. The word “secretly” underscores the fact that we do not engage in this practice to make a display of our Dharma practice, for this would become one of the eight worldly Dharmas.
It is very difficult, His Holiness noted, to actually remove others’ suffering just by doing this practice. Rather, the aim is to strengthen our motivation and our resolve so that we are fully ready to act whenever we do have the opportunity.
The Gyalwang Karmapa explained that quite a few people have come to see him saying that they have a great wish to be of extensive benefit to others, and therefore they need to accumulate great material wealth. This makes him suspicious, he said, and he often asks them why they think they need money to help others. Others seek influence and power in order to be of more benefit to others. This is a mistake, he said, as it is not necessary to be rich or powerful to be of great benefit to others.
Anyone who truly works for the benefit of other beings is a bodhisattva, His Holiness commented. Until we reach the state of a bodhisattva level ourselves, we cannot say with certainty who is and who is not a bodhisattva. Even a dog in the street could be a bodhisattva. Since we do not recognize them as they work in our midst, we do not appreciate and feel gratitude to the bodhisattvas for their presence and for their activities. His Holiness commented that this is one benefit of the system of recognizing reincarnated tulkus. Due to this system, there are always people we recognize as bodhisattvas and whose activities we appreciate. The Gyalwang Karmapa quipped that some tulkus surely are bodhisattvas, but one might fairly doubt whether they all are.
We need to benefit others through our physical actions, through our speech and through our minds. These are the capabilities we need to cultivate. If we have these qualities and on top of that we happen also to have wealth or influence in society, then we use that to benefit sentient beings. But if we are not rich or powerful, we can certainly still help others. A beggar with no wealth or influence whatsoever is perfectly capable of benefiting others with his or her body, speech and mind. In any case, he said, without having stabilized an authentic motivation of bodhichitta, by the time we have managed to amass the profit or power that we imagine using to help others, we will likely have lost interest. We see this with election promises, His Holiness joked. During their campaign, candidates describe all the wonderful work they will do for the voters, but then when they reach office, it is as if they have already achieved Buddhahood! Even if you started with a sincere motivation in wanting to earn money to benefit others, by the time you have undergone all the activity needed to gain that wealth, you most likely will have been changed in the process. This is why it is so important for us to practice fully now to develop a profound and unshakable motivation of bodhichitta.
May all this remain undefiled
By the stains of the eight worldly concerns;
And may I, recognizing all things as illusion,
Devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.
If our goal is solely to benefit others’ worldly or short-term aims, there is a great deal we can accomplish that does not require Dharma practice, His Holiness commented. However, if we wish to bring about lasting, long-term benefit not only in this life but in future lives as well, then we do need the Dharma and its longer-term reach. We might not believe in future lives, in which case we might not see the point in working toward aims we might never see. Using the category of the three scopes of beings in the context of lam rim teachings, the Gyalwang Karmapa noted that generally the lowest of the three is defined as someone who wishes to be free of suffering in future lives. Yet the texts also describe a second type of practitioner who also falls into this first of the three categories: people who are only interested in the aims of this life. His Holiness said he felt that nowadays it is important to include this second type of person within the scope of Dharma teachings.
A present-day version of being deceived by the allure of the eight worldly concerns would be the consumerist lifestyle that has become so pervasive. It is very difficult for our lives to become meaningful if this is what motivates and inspires us in our daily lives. Some of the advertising seeking to stimulate our desire is quite subtle, but some of it is blatant fantasy. Citing the example that he had already mentioned in his book The Heart Is Noble, the Gyalwang Karmapa described an ad that showed a motorcycle taking off and flying through the air. As absurd as it is, if seen enough times, the allure takes hold and we too wish to ride on such a cool vehicle. With a laugh, His Holiness noted that even he could find his imagination captured and envision himself wearing dark sunglasses and lifting up into the air atop that motorcycle. This sort of fixation and attachment to worldly goods and comforts gives us a clear idea of the danger of the eight worldly concerns, and shows how easily they can distract us from the truly important aims in life and in our spiritual path.
With that, the Gyalwang Karmapa brought his commentary on the Eight Verses of Mind Training to a close. He then announced that he would be conferring the oral transmission of the Chenrezig sadhana and mantra, as well as the Medicine Buddha mantra, instead of the previously scheduled Medicine Buddha empowerment. He then lengthened the morning session an additional 45 minutes, and then, as he put it, left people free to enjoy their afternoons. Following a long period for questions and answers, the Gyalwang Karmapa asked the audience’s forgiveness for any mistakes he had made over the course of the two days, thanked the translators both on and offstage, and slowly left the hall. Before exiting to receive the mani pills he had left each of them as gifts, the audience lingered long in the hall, apparently reluctant to dispel the wonder of the two days spent sharing the warmth of the Dharma in the Karmapa’s presence.