27 December 2014
After lunch the Gyalwang Karmapa returns to the stage for the final teaching session—which is also the final pre-Monlam activity. Six huge bouquets of flowers adorn the edges, in deep crimson and gold, the colours perfectly complementing the sea of monastic robes permeating the vast hall.
In this final session the Gyalwang Karmapa gives clear and direct instructions on the completion of the Vajrasattva practice, the nature of mind, and how easy meditation actually is.
He first completes the reading transmission of the instructions on the 100-syllable mantra and Vajrasattva visualisation, reaching the end of Chapter 2 (p. 56) (The Torch of True Meaning by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, translated by David Karma Choephel, KTD Publications and Kagyu Monlam, 2014)
He then continues describing the visualisation, first repeating and expanding the descriptions he gave in the previous sessions, and then focusing on the supplication to purify our misdeeds and obscurations.
We begin by visualising ourselves surrounded by our parents, friends, enemies, and all sentient beings. We then prostrate with our body, speech, and mind to Vajrasattva, who is the essence of all the buddhas. The Gyalwang Karmapa explains,
In particular here you recite the supplication where you regret your past misdeeds as intensely as if you had drunk poison. If you swallow poison you regret it really intensely, and so you have the resolve that even at the risk of your own life, you’ll never do such misdeeds again.
We imagine that we lead all sentient beings in reciting the supplication to purify misdeeds. Wisdom nectar begins to flow from Vajrasattva’s body and enters us through the crown of our head, completely filling our body. As it fills our body, we visualise that all our misdeeds, obscurations, and illnesses are carried out of our body in the form of soot, sludge, pus, blood, and parasites. There’s a big flood of them leaving our body, exiting through our pores and lower orifices and then dissolving into the powerful golden earth below. We visualise that we’ve been fully cleansed and purified.
The Gyalwang Karmapa’s complete and detailed Vajrasattva visualisation instructions are available on YouTube [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_gsa8ux8Uo] for those wishing to learn the visualisation in more detail.
Next the Gyalwang Karmapa offers profound and clear teachings on the nature of mind, describing the essential sameness of buddhas and sentient beings.
There is no distinction in terms of good and bad, or high and low, between the natures of the body, speech, and mind of a buddha and the natures of the body, speech, and mind of sentient beings. The pure nature of the Buddha is just the same as the pure nature of our own body, speech, and mind.We visualise that they mix like pouring water into water, knowing that this is the nature.
He explains the uncontrived, ‘ordinary’ nature of mind:
In the Kagyu tradition we have our own particular terminology. We say ‘the ordinary mind’, and if we don’t know how to understand that properly it can sound like a very strange term. Usually we might think that all the coarse thoughts and cognitions we have in our mind are ordinary mind, but that’s not what we mean here.
Here the ordinary mind means that you don’t alter the mind, you don’t change or adulterate it in any way. It is the unadulterated nature of the mind, not the coarse thoughts and cognitions. What it means is that we rest without changing it, without adulterating or contriving it in any way. We try to get as close to this as we can. And then we rest within this for a short while. If you do this, I think it becomes a practice of emptiness – this is good.
The reason we don’t know how to meditate, His Holiness explains next, is not because it’s too difficult. Actually, it’s because meditation is far too easy… if only we know how to relax.
We ordinary beings do too much in our minds. We contrive too many things in our minds. For that reason, when we don’t know how to meditate is this because meditation is too difficult? Or is it because meditation is too easy?
It’s not because meditation is too difficult. The great masters of the past have said it’s because meditation is far too easy. And yet we ordinary sentient beings contrive too many things—we try to change and alter things in our minds. We are always exaggerating or denying things. When we’re told to just sit and be loose, we’re not able to do it.
Someone says to us, ‘relax’. Then we immediately get tighter. When we’re about to have an injection, the doctor will say, “Just relax.” And then what happens? We immediately become more tense. It’s like that.
After sharing his profound wisdom on the nature of mind, next the Gyalwang Karmapa leads the huge gathering through their final, powerful group practice session.
A perceptible sense of stillness and peace pervades the Monlam Pavilion as 12,000 people unite in body, speech, and mind in the presence of the Gyalwang Karmapa, and together do the practice and recitation of Vajrasattva. Many of those present recite the mantra quietly, while others settle into spontaneous meditation, sitting in tranquil stillness amidst the huge crowd.
The meditation and recitation session lasts for over half an hour, the Gyalwang Karmapa himself reciting the Vajrasattva mantra while seated on his throne, with eyes partially closed, back straight, a look of deep peace pervading his features, in perfect but relaxed meditation posture.
Thousands of voices murmuring the 100-syllable Vajrasattva mantra mingle and merge into a single focused intent. The potency of the mantra of purification is greatly magnified when recited by so many people simultaneously, and in the presence of great masters.
This is an incredibly precious and rare opportunity to meditate for an extended period of time together with Gyalwang Karmapa, supreme head of the practice lineage. Many of those present experience a profound quietening in their minds, and a natural deepening in their practice.
He ends the session, and the teachings, by urging us to love, respect, and care for one another. The love within our hearts is like a moon, the Karmapa says, but now it’s only a partial, crescent moon. “In this sacred place I’m encouraging you all to make efforts together, and try to make the love within our hearts into a perfect, complete, round, and full moon.”ttp://www.kagyumonlam.org/English/News/Report/Report_20141227_1.html