Audience Photos are available online! | Karmapa in Europe 2015

31. August 2015, 10:42

We thank all the people involved in organizing the wonderful audiences in Bonn! All photos of the audiences are available via the following link:

Website: http://audiencephoto.kagyuoffice.org
Password: Karmapa!17@EU


The Akhshobhya Empowerment: Taming the Most Dangerous Species | Karmapa in Europe 2015

Day 4 of the teachings in Bonn | Final Public Talk on Sunday

Bonn, Germany – 30th August, 2015 | 10.00am | The stage of the auditorium had been specially prepared for this morning’s empowerment. On the right-hand side of the stage stood a screened area containing a small altar with offerings placed in front of a thangka of Akshobhya Buddha. In this private space, the Karmapa would perform the preliminary and closing rituals of the empowerment. During the preliminaries, the chant masters led the audience in a deeply felt recitation of the mantra ‘Karmapa Khyenno’, and the steady cadence of the chanting was punctuated at intervals by the ringing of His Holiness’ ritual hand bell from behind the screen. Once the preparations were complete, His Holiness left the stage, to return a few minutes later in procession. Prostrating three times, the Karmapa then took his seat on the throne and the chant masters began the Kagyu Lineage prayer, followed by a mandala offering requesting the teachings. The body, speech and mind offering was led by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, followed by lamas from Kagyu centres in Germany.
Before commencing the central part of the empowerment, His Holiness took time to explain the importance of the Akshobhya practice which is praised as the supreme method for purifying karmic obscurations, the obscurations created by our actions. He described how, because of technological development and the like, the actions of humans in the 21st century exert a much greater impact than ever before. Human activity has had a disastrous effect on the world; it has done great harm to both the ‘container’ which is the outer environment and to the ‘content’, other sentient beings.
“Millions and billions of sentient beings are killed on a monthly basis,” His Holiness commented, “for the purpose of obtaining food… and many sentient beings are subjected to harsh treatment in order for human beings to have food and clothing.”
“I think we have reached a time when human beings have perfected the capacity to destroy the world,” he warned. “For that reason we need to think very clearly about the types of action we want to engage in and develop a sense of responsibility for our choice of action.” He continued: “Now human beings have become a very dangerous species. We usually consider tigers and lions as fierce and terrifying, but if we think about the health of the world and the precarious future of the planet, we will realise that in fact human beings are the most dangerous sentient beings.”
The main cause of negative actions is negative motivation, untamed states of mind which are not peaceful. “When our mind is governed by these types of motivation,” the Karmapa explained, “our outer conduct becomes harmful and coarse.” This effect is very evident nowadays. “The world has been afflicted by violent conflicts and incidents,” he elaborated, “and due to this I think it’s very common that many of us have a feeling of insecurity that is pervasively present in our minds.” He described this as “a continuous feeling of unease and lack of well-being”, and gave travel as an example. It now generated much more anxiety than previously, and in Europe, which was once considered a bastion of peace and stability, violent conflict has become more evident. The root cause is the motivation of human beings whose minds are disturbed by anger and hatred, hence violence occurs.
The purpose of the Akshobhya practice is to offer us a method which prevents our mind being overwhelmed by negative emotions, especially anger and hatred. The empowerment itself, the Karmapa explained, could be understood as making an auspicious connection with Akshobhya and permission to do the practice, or it could be taken as a blessing. “It is only the beginning,” he emphasised. “Now you have to do the practice.” The main point is for all of us to put effort into protecting our own mind streams from aggression and anger.
His Holiness then completed the empowerment, and, after a mandala offering and the concluding rituals returned to stand on the stage to make some final observations. As he began speaking, he spotted a little girl running towards the front of the auditorium. Smiling, he moved forward to the edge of the stage, leaned over and graciously accepted a picture she had drawn for him–two red hearts and a sky full of rainbows. Holding it up, he showed it to the enchanted audience, then resumed thanking everybody for coming and expressed his hope that after his second visit to Germany he would soon be able to visit dharma friends in other countries too.
Finally, the Karmapa detailed the status of the search for the reincarnations of Tenga Rinpoche and Akong Rinpoche, two lamas who had strong connections with many European students. Concerning Tenga Rinpoche, His Holiness said, “I have a great hope and prayer that we will soon meet with the reincarnation of Rinpoche.” “With regards to Akong Rinpoche,” he said, “it may be difficult to find the reincarnation immediately, but, nevertheless, I have had a connection with Akong Rinpoche since I was very young and we have been close, so I will definitely continue reflecting on this topic.” He advised disciples of both lamas to “let your minds be at ease. Continue sustaining the activities and teachings of your teachers, and that will suffice.”
Lunchtime had arrived. His Holiness left the stage to loud applause, with the promise that he would return in the afternoon to deliver his final public talk.

2015.8.30 法王噶瑪巴2015年歐洲弘法,不動佛灌頂 The Akhshobhya Empowerment: Taming the Most Dangerous Species

Final Teaching in Bonn: Finding Satisfaction in Simplicity | Karmapa in Europe 2015

Day 4 of the teachings in Bonn | Final Public Talk on Sunday

Bonn, Germany – 30 August, 2015 | For his final public talk during his trip to Europe, His Holiness the Karmapa opened by expressing his hope that the audience felt satisfied with the time that they had shared together. His comment came at the end of four consecutive days of Dharma teachings, public talks, audiences and empowerments, and he pointed out that this was a longer period of time than they had enjoyed together on his previous visit. 
He spent a moment contemplating the title of the talk, and chose the phrase ‘without limit’ to begin his exploration of the nature of satisfaction and happiness, and the mistaken methods we often employ in pursuing them. (Without Limit serves also as the title for his tour.) 
“Due to technological developments and rapid material development and ongoing progress, it’s as if there are limitless choices presenting themselves to us, “he began. In spite of this it seems that most people appear not to experience a sense of satisfaction in life. Advertising constantly signals to us that there is something better than what we have, and bombards us with information seeking to convince us not to rest until we have attained it, he said. The result is a persistent sense that who we are and what we have is not sufficient, which has created a habit of feeling dissatisfied. 
“Material wealth is a kind of artificial happiness,” he commented. “It cannot give us real or authentic happiness.” Reflecting on the foolhardiness of placing our trust in material objects in hopes of finding happiness, he described material power as a highly unstable form of power, subject to great fluctuation and therefore unreliable. Returning to the theme of ‘without limit’, he contrasted limited natural resources from which we produce goods with our greed, which has no limit. This places us in “an impossible situation”, he said. “A limited world cannot fulfill the unlimited desires of beings.” 
While acknowledging that we do have certain physical needs, and therefore cannot reject external goods entirely, the Karmapa emphasized that “we must recognize that external objects cannot satisfy our inner needs. If we look to them as the sole or main way to satisfy our inner needs, we are destined to suffer.” 
His Holiness therefore called for a re-orientation towards developing inner rather than outer wealth. This is the only way to become truly wealthy, he stated, and to feel satisfied with what we have. “There is nothing in the material world for our mind to rest in,” he said. 
In the course of his teaching, the Karmapa outlined various ways in which our mistaken views about the nature of happiness prevent us from encountering the happiness we seek. “From a certain perspective, happiness is quite natural and simple,” he said. “Our problem is that we think of it as being complicated.” 
As a means of finding inner happiness, the Karmapa offered the audience instruction in breathing meditation. Before he did so, he took pains to disavow any real knowledge of meditation. “I am no meditation master,” he said, conceding that he does “have some feeling of appreciation for inner happiness.” 
The Karmapa joked that he does not much care for the question—which he is often asked—as to how many hours he meditates and what daily meditation schedule he follows. He described himself as not following any fixed schedule, but rather meditating when the occasion to do so arises naturally, and generally seeking to sustain mindfulness and awareness throughout the day. 
In his presentation, the Karmapa highlighted two qualities of breathing meditation that make it particularly suitable for his European audience. First of all, he explained, since breathing is a natural and effortless activity, we do not need to take steps or do anything special in order for the focal support for our meditation to be present. “For this reason,” His Holiness said, “when we focus on the breath, we are allowing our mind to return to its natural state. When this happen, naturally the mind relaxes.” 
The Karmapa observed that most people in Europe lead busy and stressful lives, full of ups and downs and unpleasant surprises. When we are under pressure and feel tense, not only does our mind become disturbed, but our breath does too. For this reason, regularizing the breath also helps to settle the mind, he said, and identified this as a second special quality of breathing meditation. 
Linking his instructions to the theme of finding satisfaction and happiness, His Holiness noted that breathing meditation provides a very simple method by which we can “discover the experience of satisfaction”. 
Simply focusing on our own inhalation and exhalation can yield a direct awareness of how amazing it is to just be alive, he said. He pointed out that were we required to purchase all the conditions needed for breathing, we would be unable to do so. Nevertheless, with no effort on our part, all that we need to breathe is available to us effortlessly, not only for a single breath but continually throughout our lives. 
“Through this simple technique of breathing meditation,” he said, “we can gain the insight that we are amazing, wondrous beings.” 
Before bringing the evening to a close, the Karmapa gave practical instructions for those interested in engaging in the meditation practice he had described. He explained that one’s physical posture should be relaxed so that the mind can settle naturally, and that one should breathe naturally and steadily. “We are not practicing Chi Gung!” he joked. “There is no need to take vigorous breaths or to hold the breath at any point. Just breathe as you would ordinarily.” 
Noting that some masters recommend counting the breath, he expressed his view that it is also fine not to do that. “As you exhale, just pay attention to the breath,” he said. “If past problems, present problems or future problems come to mind, do not follow the thoughts. Let them go.” 
His Holiness particularly recommended that meditating 15 to 20 minutes a day would be beneficial for those living in the West. 
In closing, the Karmapa expressed his wish to be able to continue coming to Europe in the future, and not just to Germany which he is now visiting for the second time, but other countries. He acknowledged how much effort was required to bring about his visit, and offered his heartfelt thanks to all those who had supported his visit and worked hard to make it a success. 
As he described his plans for the upcoming year, His Holiness emphasized the annual Kagyu Monlam prayer gathering in Bodhgaya, plans for a special event to commemorate the 16th Karmapa and the Arya Kshema Winter Nuns’ Gathering. The Karmapa spoke of his plan to begin the process leading to full ordination to women in the upcoming year, eliciting a burst of applause. He then expressed his aspiration to return to Europe in May, June or July of the upcoming year, and the applause continued. 
Before closing, he offered words of encouragement to Dharma centers in Europe. He acknowledged that the heads of the Dharma centers have faced special challenges because many Karma Kagyu lamas have been unable to travel with any frequency to Europe. “However,” the Karmapa said, “since your faith and samaya are unchanging and your spirit is resolute and steadfast, you have kept heart, and I hope you will remain undiscouraged by these circumstances.”

2015.8.30 法王噶瑪巴2015年歐洲弘法,慈悲喜捨,無量無際  Final Teaching in Bonn: Finding Satisfaction in Simplicity


Never Forget Tibet: Karmapa Tells Tibetans | Karmapa in Europe 2015

Audience for Tibetans and Himalayan people living in Europe

Bonn, Germany – 29th August, 2015 | 7pm | After a full day of teachings, His Holiness the Karmapa set aside time to meet with Tibetans living in Europe. During a special audience organized by the Association of Tibetans in Germany, the Karmapa reflected on their shared condition as refugees and offered individual blessings to all those who had traveled from across Europe to meet him. As the Karmapa explained to them, he seeks out opportunities to connect with Tibetan as well as Himalayan communities wherever he goes. “I consider this important,” he told them, “and when we are able to meet, I feel I have accomplished an important responsibility and this inspires and encourages me.”
The evening began with a brief introduction to the history and activities of the association by its chairperson, Lobsang Phuntsok. He explained that among the 150 Tibetans and Himalayans in attendance, while many live in Germany, others had come from France, Switzerland, Belgium and other surrounding countries.
When requested to address the Tibetan community, the Karmapa began by acknowledging the experiences faced by refugees today in Europe, a theme he had touched on in several of his talks in recent days. “As we have been seeing,” he said, “the condition of refugees migrating into Europe is at a critical state and this is an added challenge you face living here as refugees at this particular moment in time.”
His Holiness the Karmapa observed that Tibetans are often filled with excitement and optimism when they initially receive their permission to migrate to European countries, but upon arrival find that conditions are far more challenging than they had anticipated. As they seek to make their way forward in exile, the Karmapa called on Tibetans “never to forget” why they left Tibet seeking refuge in the first place.
“The situation that originally sent us into exile continues within Tibet,” he said. “Even though the pace has slowed somewhat in recent years, the flow of people leaving Tibet has continued unabated since 1959.”
The Karmapa reminded them that “had we stayed in Tibet, we would face great difficulties in preserving our culture and religion, and would lack full freedom to fulfill the responsibilities that come along with our identity as Tibetans”.
“Wherever we find ourselves as refugees,” the Karmapa said, “it is very important that we not forget the main reason for going into exile: to have more freedom to preserve and protect the Tibetan culture and religion, and to perform our duties towards the Tibetan people.”
The Karmapa then directed his remarks toward future prospects for the preservation of Tibetan identity and culture in exile, and pointed out two important factors: the quality of their leadership and the commitment of the Tibetan people themselves.
“Among the conditions we need in order to avoid become discouraged is leadership,” he said, “ and especially the exceptional leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who has led us and unified us, and the major spiritual leaders and good-hearted Tibetans cooperating under His Holiness’s guidance.”
As a second important condition, the Karmapa pointed out the key role of the Tibetan people’s own steadfast resolve, singling out the example of Tibetans within Tibet who keep alive their Tibetan identity in the face of great challenges. “They display even greater determination and courage in doing so than those of us living in free countries,” he commented, adding that Tibetans in exile can draw inspiration and learn valuable lessons from their example.
“We must never forget the kindness of our leaders and the commitment of the Tibetan people, especially those inside Tibet,” he told those assembled.
The Karmapa then turned his attention to the local concerns of Tibetan refugees living in Europe. He noted that although the total worldwide population of Tibetans is listed as 6 million, it seems likely that it falls somewhat short of that figure. As such, Tibetans throughout the world generally form a sort of ethnic minority, particularly within Europe where they often live scattered across various countries and regions.
“Even if you are the only family of Tibetans in the area,” he told them, “you should recognize that every family counts.” He urged them to cultivate strong family ties, take efforts to ensure their children receive a good education and seek sound means to earn a living. Joking that he had little ability to aid them in that regard, he said he could and did offer them all his prayers, leaving the rest to them.
Reflecting on the challenges facing the Tibetan community in preserving its identity, the Karmapa observed that some ethnic minorities opt to stick together and isolate themselves from the rest of society. “I am not convinced that this is the optimal way for us,” he said. Rather, the Karmapa urged Tibetans to strike a balance between standing apart and fitting in. He advised seeking out means to preserve their culture in a way that is compatible with the social context and modern times they are living in.
“Be a participant in the wider society you live in,” he told them, “while also being a participant in the Tibetan community.”
Outlining a strategy that avoids those extremes, on the one hand, he called on his audience to know who they are and stand their ground, so as to not lose their balance and become prey to the pull of external factors. On the other hand, he counseled them to reach out to others and communicate. “Stay open to the society you live in,” he said. “Be willing to make connections and to interact.”
As he concluded his remarks and the staff began preparing the space for individual blessings, the Karmapa joked that during his first visit to Germany, he had planned to give individual blessings, but the Tibetans all pressed forward in a huddle and surrounded him, completely filling the mid-sized hall. “That sort of crowding seems natural to us Tibetans and Himalayans, and it feels comfortable,” he said with a smile. “We might feel awkward if we stayed straight in an orderly line, but it made it impractical that time to give individual blessings. This time, the hall is so large that even if you all rush the stage, we still have space!”
On that warm note, His Holiness directed his attention to the long line of Tibetans and Himalayans who had gathered – from the very young to the very old – connecting with each one-by-one and offering all his individual blessing.

2015.8.29 法王噶瑪巴呼籲歐洲藏人:勿忘西藏 Never Forget Tibet: Karmapa Tells Tibetans


Akshobhya the Undisturbed: Paradigm of Patience | Karmapa in Europe 2015

Day 3 of the teachings in Bonn | Teachings on Akshobhya

Bonn, Germany – 29th August, 2015 | Before bestowing the empowerment, the 17th Karmapa gave a two-part introduction to the Buddha Akshobhya, detailing the story, his importance in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and the connection between Akshobhya and the Karmapa lineage.
His Holiness began by clarifying the meaning of the name Akshobhya, explaining that in Tibetan Akshobhya is known as Mitrugpa. It means someone who is undisturbed by aggression and anger, he said, someone who remains unperturbed. The translation into English as ‘immoveable’ did not accurately convey this. Later in the teaching, he explained that within the tantric tradition, a second name Migyurpa was used, and this carried the meaning ‘unmoving’ or ‘undisturbed’.
According to the tradition, Akshobhya was originally a devout practitioner, a fully-ordained monk who asked the Buddha Big-Eyes which practice or quality was indispensable for the path to enlightenment. The Buddha replied unequivocally that the most important quality was unassailable patience, the capacity to remain undisturbed by negative emotions such as anger and aggression. Without hesitation, in the presence of the Buddha and in front of the sangha, the monk immediately vowed, “From today onwards, until I attain buddhahood, I will not hold any intention of anger or aggression towards any sentient being, no matter who they are.” Those present felt a great sense of awe and appreciation of the steadfastness of this bodhisattva, and even the Buddha Big-Eyes praised him, declaring, “You have a very stable mind…and from this time onwards you shall be known as Akshobhya. From now until you attain buddhahood your commitment not to express aggression towards any sentient being will not decline…and after you attain buddhahood, you will also be Akshobhya.”
His Holiness then examined the role Akshobhya plays within the Vajrayana tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. There are references to such states of fruition as the ground of Akshobhya, otherwise known as the undisturbed ground, and the Buddha Akshobhya appears in the presentation of the five Buddha families. Within the four classes of tantra, which reflect increasingly subtler levels of relating to the true nature of reality, Akshobhya features in the highest tantra, the anuttarayoga, where he is invoked as representing the non-dual wisdom of the enlightened mind of Buddhahood. This is where the link between Akshobhya and the Karmapa lineage lies.
The Buddha Akshobhya is particularly connected to the Black Crown ceremony, His Holiness explained. This ceremony had been performed in many different countries by the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje and witnessed by some of the older members of the audience present today. Akshobhya symbolizes the enlightened mind of the Buddhas, unchanging dharmata, which is the changeless, true nature of reality.” In Tibet, the sky is often used as a symbol for the quality of changelessness, and by association its colour came to be used to represent the unchanging nature. “The Black Crown isn’t really black”, the Karmapa continued, “but rather a dark blue, the colour of the Tibetan sky.” Thus, “In terms of the Black Crown Ceremony,” the Karmapa explained, “the Black Crown itself is a symbol representing the changeless enlightened mind, the wisdom of changeless true reality.” If they have the merit, those who witness the Black Crown ceremony “through the play of outer and inner interdependence and the interdependent relationship between symbol and that symbolized” can come to recognise the true nature of their own mind, the wisdom of changeless true reality.
Following an extended break during which His Holiness gave audiences to groups and individuals, the teaching resumed mid-afternoon. Having completed the background information in the morning, the Karmapa now shared his own personal reflections on the Buddha Akshobhya and the Akshobhya practice.
He described how his involvement with the Kagyu Monlam, during which the full Akshobhya ritual has been performed for the last ten years, had led him to research the Akshobhya tradition, examining sutras which feature Akshobhya, including those which are only extant in Chinese not Tibetan. In this way, he learned more about Akshobhya and developed a more profound connection with him and the practice. He recounted how the story of Akshobhya had impressed him deeply. “I feel very inspired personally by the motivation that Akshobhya gave rise to,” His Holiness said, “and the pledge he made not to engage in any anger toward any sentient beings from now until he attained full enlightenment.” He explained how he felt that studying these sutras had planted some beneficial habitual seeds in his mind stream. He feels deep respect for Akshobhya, especially given that Akshobhya committed to keep his vow until he reached enlightenment, a process which might take up to 30 countless aeons. Personally, the Karmapa said, he found the best instructions come from studying living examples of the past masters, of the Buddhas and followers of the Buddhas. Written instructions could be good, but in the end, they were just letters, he concluded.
Akshobhya’s achievement may be far removed from what we ourselves are capable of at this point in time. However, the Karmapa advocated that we should consider our own aspirations in the light of Akshobhya’s aspiration. “What about making the commitment to refrain from aggression from now until we die?” he suggested. “Even that is quite difficult to be decisive about. What about working with one week as our time frame? Could we commit to not engaging in any aggression or harbouring any anger towards other sentient beings for a week? What about for just one day? I’m not going to engage in any aggression from now until the evening.” Just thinking about it was not enough, he warned. We have to challenge ourselves and put in the effort to see what we are capable of.
In dealing with negative states of mind such as aggression, there seemed to be two common mistakes people made, he observed. Some people think we have to suppress these emotions: “I’m a Buddhist, I shouldn’t get angry.” His Holiness quoted a Tibetan proverb: If there’s a fire burning in your belly, smoke will come out of your mouth. Trying to suppress our emotions, he counselled, is not a healthy way to deal with them.
Another mistaken approach is to apply antidotes from time to time when we feel strongest and try to escape from mental afflictions when they become intense, but we never address their root cause. The best approach, he advised, is to relate to our emotions honestly, developing a sense of enthusiasm or joy in doing so, in order that we voluntarily take on the responsibility of transforming them. Otherwise the situation will be forced, and that could never succeed.
“The intention to refrain from aggression towards sentient beings is very important,” the Karmapa emphasised, “and it’s important because it is the antithesis of the mind of love towards sentient beings. The mind of love wishes for sentient beings to possess happiness, whereas the mind of aggression is the mind that wishes harm on them.” His Holiness then suggested a technique which we could use: when a situation arises, we need to control our instinct to react by creating a little distance mentally between ourselves and the situation. By being heedful, attentive and aware, and noticing immediately if we have slipped into a reactive mode we can avoid the unconscious reactions which increase our negative emotions. Mindfulness is the key.
He identified two types of disaster in the world which generate fear. The first type includes war, epidemics and natural disasters and occurs outside ourselves. The second type of disaster arises “from inside, within our own mind. That is the absence of love, the failure to cultivate love in our minds, and to ensure the presence of love in our mind.” It’s very important for us to rely on heedfulness, mindfulness and attentiveness. Such a situation provides the opportunity for anger to arise, and that is the true disaster. If we do not guard our mindfulness, we can become participants in the creation of this disaster in direct and indirect ways.”
As the afternoon session drew to a close, the Karmapa expressed the hope that they had been of some benefit to everyone and that they might in some way contribute to their processes of mental transformation.
“Sometimes we feel we’ve received blessings through gurus, or received their enlightened compassion, which causes us to feel faith and inspiration, “ he said. “ or at other times we may feel we have received the kindness of mother and father sentient beings. The effect is that some kind of mental shift occurs. It’s my wish and belief that maybe through this programme of teachings and the empowerment, you yourselves will be able to find some inspiration and basis for finding encouragement within yourselves that will be the beginning of making a positive change.”
The audience drifted slowly out of the auditorium, and many seemed reluctant to leave this space where they had received a day of blessings.

2015.5.29 法王噶瑪巴2015年歐洲弘法,不動佛:安忍致太平 Akshobhya the Undisturbed: Paradigm of Patience



Controversy courts the Karmapa - The Statesman

Vepa Rao| 28 August, 2015

Three white cranes offered a bowl of yoghurt to his mother in a dream. Birds sang. A rainbow appeared on the family tent and sounds from conch shells rippled across the valley along with those from various musical instruments. These “auspicious omens” in Lhatok of East Tibet on 26 June 1985 marked the birth of an extraordinary boy initially called “Apo Gaga” (happy brother). At the age of seven, he was recognized as Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa and the head of the powerful Karma Kagyu School, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

He eventually escaped to India through Nepal at the age of 14 in dramatic and mysterious circumstances and now at the age of 30 lives in Gyuto monastery near Dharamshala, worshipped by scores of followers all over the world.

Ever since the 16th Karmapa died in 1981, a controversy arose about who the 17th Karmapa should be. The claimants are Ogyen Dorje, Trenley Thaye Dorje (who lives near Kalingpong in West Bengal) and Dava Sangpo Dorjee (in Nepal). Earlier, one member of the search team looking for the 17th Karmapa had identified Ogyen and another member Dava Dorje as the real successor. This caused a split and controversy in the Kagyu Sect.

The Dalai Lama who belongs to the “Gelug” (“Yellow Hats”) had been the temporal as well as spiritual head of the Tibetan exiles till four years ago when he devolved his political powers to the elected members. When the institution of the Dalai Lama seizes to continue (as often hinted by the present Dalai Lama), the Karmapa may become the next religious head of the Tibetans - since the 11th Panchen Lama is allegedly in the detention of China and replaced by Gyaincain Norbu who is not accepted by most Tibetans.

Ogyen Trenley Dorje living near Dharamshala is constantly under the watchful eye of Indian intelligence agencies. His movements are also restricted. However, in 2011, the Himachal police raided the office of Karma Garchen Trust backed by him and seized unaccounted money estimated over Rs. 6 crore in currencies of 25 countries including Chinese Yuan. This was preceded by an earlier seizure of Rs. 1 crore from a Jeep by Una police; the money was allegedly meant for purchase of land by the Karmapa’s trust.

The Karmapa’s office explained that the foreign currency was “offerings from his Holiness’s devotees” and the accounts of the trust were operated by its employees where as he was only a chairman and had no knowledge of these details. The Judicial Magistrate (First Class) of Una accepted this prayer and allowed the assistant public prosecutor to withdraw Karmapa’s name from the prosecution list. This gave him a temporary relief at that time.

However, last month responding to a petition filed by a Sikkim-based organization, the Himachal Pradesh High Court quashed and set aside the lower court’s orders (passed in 2012) to drop criminal prosecution against the Karmapa and ordered the state government to proceed against him in accordance with the law. “The entire episode reeks of money laundering”, the High Court observed.

The land was reportedly being bought without seeking permission under section 118 of H P Tenancy and Land Reforms Act - mandatory for non-agriculturists in the state. “The prime position of the Karmapa occupying the chairmanship of the Trust cannot absolve him from the attribution of an inculpatory role merely on the ground that he was neither a signatory to the relevant documents nor the receiver of the tainted money….The fact that he had a discreet role gains legal foothold not by direct evidence but by indirect evidence”.

However, on appeal, the Supreme Court has a few days ago passed an order staying the High Court order – giving major relief to the Karmapa at least for the time being.

The controversy on who the real Karmapa is seems to be unending. Even the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had reportedly written to the Himachal Chief Secretary asking the state government not to address Ogyen Trenley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa stating that the Indian government had not recognised him as such. It also fuelled the controversy about his succeeding the Dalai Lama as “they are two separate institutions and the Karmapa is not a successor to the Dalai Lama”.

The recent High Court order was seen at that time as a great setback to the Karmapa and one that would hurt his image. However, support for him has been pouring in from various quarters. Ardent followers of the 30-year old “spiritual guru” feel he would “come out clean” and the Indian government should take “the initiative to resolve the issue to avoid alienating the Buddhists residing in the strategic border areas”.

The followers have also blamed a rival group linked to another claimant to the title for trying to involve Ogyen in the issue. There is overwhelming support from the Buddhist communities of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladhak region of Jammu and Kashmir etc. They all have reverential tones and expect the government to help the spiritual guru. Many interesting and debatable developments seem to be in the offing.

The writer is The Statesman's correspondent in Shimla.

Read more at http://www.thestatesman.com/news/opinion/controversy-courts-the-karmapa/85723.html#fyDLJy2Wky66bh67.99

Public Talk: Compassion in Action Environmentalism for the 21st Century | Karmapa in Europe 2015

Day 2 of the teachings in Bonn | Public Talk on Environmentalism

Bonn, Germany – 28th August, 2015 | In the first public talk of his second visit to Europe, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa began by reiterating his hope that next time he might be able to visit more countries in Europe. He admitted to growing very fond of Germany, and joked with his audience about the sound of the German language and the German breakfast which is like lunch. On a more serious note, he commented on the lusciousness of the German countryside and rejoiced in the effort Germans put into protecting the environment at all levels. However, he felt that there was a lot more that could still be done, and this would be the main topic for his discourse.
His own passion for helping the environment, he explained, stems from his early childhood experiences in Tibet. In that vast and ancient landscape, with a small population, the Tibetan people were able to fully enjoy the natural environment around them, and they regarded the elements of that environment– the lakes, mountains, rivers, meadows and so forth– as a living system, inhabited by gods and elemental spirit and endowed with a vibrant natural energy. Consequently, they held the natural environment in awe and treated it with deep respect. “This is the type of environment I grew up in,” His Holiness said,”And the habitual seeds are still strongly with me.” However, many people living in cities never have the opportunity to experience or enjoy nature directly. “When we are that distant from nature it becomes more difficult to have an appreciation of the natural beauty of nature and of how precious the natural environment is,” he reflected.
He then went on to consider the connection between Buddhism and the environment. The 21st century is the age of information and discussion of environmental issues takes place across the spectrum of society: “Political parties express concern about the environment in response to available information, social activists do awareness raising, companies have taken note of environmental challenges, a lot of different people and different groups in the world are talking about the importance of the environment.” The challenge, however, is to translate talk into pragmatic action, and for this there needs to be a process in our mind-heart connection whereby the information we have in our brain brings about a change of heart which becomes the stepping stone for action. This is where the various spiritual traditions of the world have a part to play in protecting the environment. “Especially there is a role for Buddhism to be of benefit in protecting the environment and in trying to sustain the health of the environment. “
Throughout the life of Buddha himself, there is a strong environmental connection. His mother gave birth to him in a grove beside a tree; he achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi tree; he gave his first teaching in the deer park forest at Varanasi; and, according to the tradition, he attained parinirvana between two sal trees. Indeed, it was the natural environment which supported him in his attainment of enlightenment. To us the setting of his enlightenment may seem too mundane and unspectacular, “but because of that ordinariness he could connect with the universe, with all sentient beings”. We might feel that this is rather disappointing; no applause, nothing grand or ostentatious marked this great achievement. “From the Buddha’s perspective the situation of his enlightenment was perfect. Our minds on the other hand are so disturbed by material desire that when it comes to dharma we’re pushed along by our usual habits and come to expect the dharma to be exciting for us. That leads us to have an attitude of spiritual materialism.”
The Buddha taught that all sentient beings are bound together in a mutually dependent connection, the Karmapa explained. In traditional Buddhist language, the outer environment in which all sentient beings exist is referred to as the ‘container’, and living beings are the content. “This metaphor from the Buddha’s teachings is a wonderful illustration that clearly highlights the mutually dependent relationship that sentient beings have with the world and each other,” he commented. In addition, the container is not seen as simply a material object but rather as a living entity that we must protect because if this outer container is damaged, what it contains will also be damaged or even lost.
Protecting the environment is not easy, but, in the final section of his talk, His Holiness detailed steps we can take ourselves in our own lives in order to protect it.
The first priority is to work on our own motivation and determination. We need to transform our own relationship with the environment and change our life-style, because that is where the problem lies. If we examine our habits closely, we may find we need to change them, and that can be painful and difficult. “We have a lot of information but information alone is not enough. We need to actually transform our motivation process so as to really genuinely transform our relationship with the environment; it’s important to work on our motivation.”
Next, we should challenge the culture of greed and in particular our own greed.
“It comes down to controlling our own greed,” he commented. “If we look at what’s coming at us from the media, television, and advertising and so forth, it is designed to increase our greed. If we want to control or reduce our greed we need to take on the responsibility for ourselves – others won’t do it for us. We need to look into the distinction between what we really need and what we simply want. “
But this too depends on being motivated and determined: “We need great strength of heart, great resolve. Without that, we won’t be able to be decisive, and if we’re not decisive we won’t be able to make changes.”
Recognising the danger of ‘saying too much and doing too little’, His Holiness brought his teaching to an end with a final word of advice on how we as individuals can protect the environment. We can begin by making small changes, he suggested, on a day-to-day basis, according to what we are able to do. Then, over time, “our actions will accumulate like drops of water, drop after drop, and we’ll definitely contribute to a positive change.”

2015.8.28 法王噶瑪巴2015年歐洲弘法,慈悲行:21世紀的環保主義 Public Talk: Compassion in Action Environmentalism for the 21st Century


Increasing our Compassion: A Meditation Instruction and Transmission of All Pervading Benefit of Beings | Karmapa in Europe 2015

Day 2 in Bonn – Chenrezig Empowerment

28 August 2015

Bonn, Germany – 28th August, 2015 | Morning Session | A major theme during His Holiness’ second visit to Europe is how spirituality can be integrated into our everyday lives. Yesterday, when speaking of the need to develop empathy and compassion, he used the refugee crisis in Europe as a real-life example. He developed this further this morning when he referred to two recent events: the discovery of the bodies of 71 migrants abandoned in a truck in Austria, and the hundreds of migrants feared drowned when two boats capsized off the coast of Libya. “It is not sufficient to just say, ‘Oh those poor people’, and have sympathy,” he commented. “We should give rise to genuine compassion… genuine involvement, and more action.” 
His Holiness acknowledged that, given our relatively comfortable existence, we often find it difficult to fully empathise with the suffering of others, but if we wish to practice genuine compassion there should be no sense of separation between ourselves and the object of compassion. If we can use our imagination skillfully to truly identify with the sentient beings who are suffering, we can generate true compassion which “goes beyond dualistic concepts, beyond perceiver and perceived, and beyond separation between the generator of compassion and the object of compassion,” he advised. Taking refugees as an example, he described how. “We should use our imagination to identify ourselves as refugees. In that way we will be able to make a more intimate connection with their suffering and experience… to actually feel that suffering and undergo the experiences the refugees are undergoing.” 
The refugee crisis also clearly demonstrates the nature of the interconnectedness which transcends man-made borders. Europe is experiencing the results of instability in the Middle East, he said. 
To carry a sense of personal responsibility when witnessing such suffering can be very daunting. It can feel like a heavy burden to bear. However, if we operate from the basis of true compassion, such situations can become a source of strength and courage and inspiration. 
On Thursday His Holiness had explained that he intended to give a specialgomlung [meditation instructions and transmission] rather than the empowerment of Four-Armed Chenrezig originally scheduled. This gomlung of the Chenrezig liturgy All Pervading Benefit of Beings: The Meditation and Recitation of the Great Compassionate One belongs to the lineage of the siddha Thangtong Gyalpo, who was renowned in Tibet for many things: he lived an extraordinarily long life, dying in his 125th year; he recognised and taught the first Dorje Phagmo; and he is also venerated as the originator of the Tibetan operatic tradition, lhamo. 
During his teachings, His Holiness has been emphasising that compassion is active not passive, and Thangtong Gyalpo is a great example of active compassion. Out of his concern for the people, who had no easy way to cross the great rivers in Tibet and Bhutan, he organised an extensive programme of iron chain bridge and ferry building across the region. For this reason, he was nicknamed Iron Bridge Builder [Tib. chakzampo], and the lineage he founded is known as the Iron Bridge tradition of the Shangpa Kagyu. 
There followed a short Refuge Vow ceremony, which His Holiness prefaced with a short explanation of the nature of the refuge vow as “mainly promises we make to ourselves, agreements we make with ourselves”. The refuge vow precepts are supports for maintaining our promise in a continuous way. “Some people worry that they shouldn’t take the refuge vow,” he commented, “because they feel they won’t be able to continuously keep the precepts. They don’t need to worry because the desire to make a promise or agreement is up to oneself… If you have a natural inclination or sense of enthusiasm towards maintaining the commitments of the refuge vow, then the precepts will come naturally to you.” 
The Karmapa then began guiding his audience through a practice session of the shorter version of the Chenrezig liturgy from the Iron Bridge tradition. He explained the visualisation of Chenrezig for each stage, and the audience was asked to focus on the visualisation as he read that portion of the sadhana. During this transmission, he raised two topics of general importance to practitioners.
Firstly, he explained that in visualisation, “the most important point is the meaning of the visualisation, not the appearances of the visualisations themselves”. In this particular practice, Chenrezig radiates love and compassion, so if we focus on this meaning, it can bring about a shift in our hearts and minds. 
“Visualising Chenrezig from within this state of being moved,” His Holiness said, “our practice will definitely be one of living compassion. That is the best way of doing this practice rather than focusing on the visual details.” We should understand that the form of the deity is not like a sculpture but “a living being and living compassion”. 
Secondly he spoke about the 6-syllable mantra of Chenrezig: Om Mani Padme Hung.
“When we recite the 6-syllable mantra, each of the 6 syllables of the mantra corresponds with liberating one particular realm from among the 6 realms of samsara. Each of the 6 syllables performs the function of liberating all the beings of one specific realm of the 6 realms of samsara.” 
Finally, His Holiness concluded the practice session by dedicating the merit so that all sentient beings might benefit. In the evening he would return to the theme of compassion once more, this time exploring its role in protecting the environment.

2015.8.28 法王噶瑪巴2015年歐洲弘法,觀音菩薩成就法觀修口傳 Increasing our Compassion: A Meditation Instruction and Transmission of All Pervading Benefit of Beings



The Power of Compassion: Karmapa Begins His Second European Teaching Tour | Karmapa in Europe 2015

Day 2 of the teachings in Bonn | Chenrezig Empowerment

Day 1 in Bonn – Chenrezig Teachings Part 1 and Part 2

Bonn, Germany – 27th August, 2015
Just over a year since His Holiness the 17th Karmapa’s first visit to Europe, students gathered from across the continent to join him in Bonn on his second visit. The venue chosen for this year’s teachings was the Maritim Hotel’s grand theatre-like auditorium which lent itself well to the atmosphere of a second-year reunion. As Dzogchen Pönlop Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Chime Rinpoche, Tanpai Gyaltsen Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, Lama Gyurme and other dignitaries took their seats in the front row, the ample space filled with the joyful buzz of the 1,300 people eager to hear this first teaching of the tour.
The theme for this, the Karmapa’s second visit to Germany, is “Love, Compassion, Rejoicing and Equanimity: Without Limit.” Inaugurating the teaching series, the Gyalwang Karmapa offered two sessions today devoted to the practice of Chenrezig, as part of the cultivation of the four immeasurable thoughts mentioned in the theme. 
He immediately drew his audience into the topic by referring to a matter of great concern and controversy across Europe at the moment which challenges our ability to empathise and act compassionately —the influx of refugees from Africa and the Middle East.  He pointed out that he himself could be called a refugee. Many Tibetans have fled to India and other countries in order to practice and preserve their religion, language and culture. There are others who seek refuge for economic reasons, he added. Noting that armed conflicts have driven many people from their home countries, His Holiness described the need of those displaced by war as “more urgent and important” because their very lives depend on their receiving refuge in other countries.  “Should we think of what is best for such people, or should we think only of the welfare and security of our own country and citizens? The time has come to give this issue our careful consideration,” he said. 
With the real-world suffering of refugees as the context for his remarks on compassion, His Holiness the Karmapa addressed the cultivation of compassion through the practice of Four-Armed Chenrezig. As he did, he gave the topic his characteristic emphasis on implementing compassion in action. 
The Karmapa explained that Chenrezig is considered to condense all the energy of compassion of all the buddhas, embodied in this case as a deity with four arms. Engaging in Four-Armed Chenrezig practice is a means of tapping into “a source of limitless power: the power of compassion.” 
His Holiness explained that the four arms of Chenrezig symbolize the four immeasurable thoughts of love, compassion, joy and equanimity. However, he stressed that he sees these four as not merely qualities, but especially as the activities associated with each of the qualities. 
Reflecting on the significance of depicting compassion in a form that has four arms and one head, rather than four heads, His Holiness stated, “I personally think that the fact that Chenrezig has just one head and four arms sends us a clear message: Stop thinking so much and start doing more to benefit beings. Think less and act more.” 
Before concluding the first teaching session, His Holiness expressed his concern that the information era tends to overload us with a great deal of information that we do not know how to respond to or process. “Information alone is not enough,” he said. “The key practice in this information age is to learn how to allow the information to transform our heart.” 
After an hour-long break, when the audience stretched their legs and refreshed themselves with tea and coffee, His Holiness resumed his exploration of the four immeasurable thoughts. He noted that people with no previous exposure to the practice are free to follow their own sense and start with whichever quality best suits them. However, in terms of the order in which they are traditionally cultivated, he said that equanimity comes first and forms the basis for the remaining three.
The Karmapa devoted much of the session to equanimity. He began by acknowledging that while perfect equanimity is possible in principle, for most people a more realistic aim would be to begin by simply seeking to reduce their indifference or hostility towards those they dislike. 
His Holiness made an appeal to our shared sense of humanity and the principle of equality as a foundation for the cultivation of such equanimity. Equanimity comes down to recognizing and respecting the most basic level on which we are all the same in terms of wanting happiness and wishing to be free from suffering, the Karmapa argued. “It is important to cultivate a deeper acknowledgement of the fact that all sentient beings have the freedom and the right to be free of suffering.” 
Among the many different religions, different races and traditions that share this world, he said, there often seems to be remarkably little sense of unity. “It has been my experience that we could eliminate a great deal of unnecessary fears and doubts of others,” he said, “if we could just remember the basic reality of our fundamental human equality.” 
Evoking his comments in the morning regarding the plight of refugees, His Holiness observed that we frequently fail to connect with the suffering of others unless their problems impact on us. In this regard, he said, a greater awareness of the principle of interdependence can help, as can our training in the conscious cultivation of loving-kindness and compassion. 
Directing his comments to personal practice, His Holiness cautioned against embarking on a spiritual path in the expectation that one will feel comfortable and happy as one develops one’s compassion. “Training in love and compassion is not always happy and cheerful,” he warned. “If we expect to feel comfortable as we train, we are in danger of becoming discouraged when we face adverse conditions”. He described the expectation that our practice will be comfortable as the main reason we become stuck and fail to progress. Instead, His Holiness said, we should actually hope for adverse conditions so that we can learn to overcome them and truly strengthen our love and compassion. 
He pointed out that bodhisattvas are considered to be heroic precisely because they do not shy away from the challenges presented by adverse conditions on the path. “Anyone can be heroic and brave when things are pleasant,” he said. “It takes a true hero to be brave in the face of difficulties”. 
The Karmapa reflected that a key quality of bodhisattvas is that they are able to encourage themselves and sustain their own determination. He went on to note that the practice of Chenrezig is a method that allows us to learn how to similarly encourage ourselves. When we visualize ourselves as Chenrezig, he said, we are effectively uplifting ourselves as we contemplate that we are the expression of the power of compassion of all the buddhas. “This serves as a method for giving yourself a superpower or supercharge of compassion”, he said. 
As he closed the first day’s teachings, His Holiness announced that rather than give an empowerment which many of the audience had already received possibly several times,  tomorrow morning he would lead a meditation session while simultaneously conferring the reading transmission of the Chenrezig practice. 
Heartfelt applause broke out across the auditorium; His Holiness rose from his throne and left the stage with a farewell wave of acknowledgement. Slowly the audience rose and dispersed, as if reluctant to leave the hall. Their faces beamed as they talked excitedly about the teaching which had just finished and the prospect of more tomorrow. 

2015.8.27 法王噶瑪巴2015年歐洲弘法,觀世音:慈眼觀世間 The Power of Compassion: Karmapa Begins His Second European Teaching Tour