The 17th Karmapa Consecrates Land for Stupa at Site of 16th Karmapa’s Passing

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Consecrates Land for Stupa at Site of 16th Gyalwang Karmapa’s Parinirvana
Posted by Phuntsok Samkhang on 2015年5月10日

(May 3 & 4, 2015 – Zion, Illinois) His Holiness the 17th Karmapa traveled to northern Illinois, where his predecessor the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa had departed his mortal body in 1981. On the first day of his stay in Zion, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa toured the cancer treatment facility in Zion where the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa passed away. The next day, he conducted a groundbreaking ceremony on land nearby where a commemorative stupa will be erected to honor the life of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.

As His Holiness mentioned later in the day, although this was his third trip to the United States, it was the first time he had had the opportunity to visit Zion, a site that occupies an important place in the biography of his previous reincarnation. Within Tibetan Buddhism, the location that a great spiritual master chooses to display the deed of passing into parinirvana is considered of great significance and is sanctified by their having passed away there. As such, Zion has become a pilgrimage place with a particular importance for the Karma Kagyu lineage. As its name itself hints, the town Zion also occupies a special place within the Judeo-Christian history of North America, as it was founded as a religious utopia at the end of the 19th century.
The morning of the consecration ceremony dawned bright over the site where a stupa will honor the life of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. As is appropriate for a visit by the 17th Karmapa to the site of the passing away of the 16th, the site was surrounded by fields full of the signs of new life. The branches of trees were brushed with green buds, heralding the arrival of spring after the temporary hiatus of winter. As is also appropriate given the 16th Karmapa’s powerful connection to birds, large numbers of feathered friends sang out, as if in celebration. As birds of various breeds flitted from branch to branch high overhead, a single white bird, looking very much like a crane, made its graceful way through the sky.
On the day of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa’s arrival, a first rainbow appeared above the site. On the second day, shortly before His Holiness the Karmapa made his way along the path to the site marked for the commemorative stupa, a second, circular rainbow clearly ringed the sun, reminiscent of a circular rainbow that had appeared during the cremation of the 16th Karmapa in Rumtek in 1981. Brightly colored flags, echoing the colors of the rainbow, marked the spots where the portal, a “do ring” commemorative stele and other key elements of the stupa site are to be erected.
Using a text composed by the 15th Gyalwang Karmapa, Khakhyab Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa performed a “sa long” ritual, in which permission is requested of the local spirits to allow the use of the land. As part of the ritual, supplications and prayers were made to Guru Rinpoche, and to the 16 successive Karmapa reincarnations. His Holiness further led a “serkyem” tea offering practice and “sang” offering practice.
Throughout, His Holiness himself played the cymbals and led the chant, accompanied by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and other eminent lamas, monks, nuns and lay supporters. Among those also present for the ceremony were people from the local village, hospital staff who had cared for the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa at the nearby hospital several decades ago and well-wishers from around the world.
For the final phase of the ritual to solicit the permission and support of the local deities and spirits, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa marked the land first with a phurpa and then with a fork hoe, and consecrated a young sapling. With this, the auspicious beginning was complete for the creation of this site to commemorate the life of his predecessor, the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.

Photography by Lama Sam.


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