How to Free Ourselves from Suffering and Achieve Lasting Happiness
Paris, France – June 4, 2016
Gyalwang Karmapa began the afternoon session with a short recap. He explained that the first two truths concern afflicted states, in terms of suffering and its origin. He then began an exploration of the third Noble Truth, that of the cessation of suffering.
He reminded everyone that there are two aspects to the truth of the origin of suffering— karma and the afflictions—and that the basis of all our afflictions is clinging to what we perceive as reality. “So we need to examine whether what we cling to as being true, as being real, is actually real or not” he explained. This is difficult because we are working from “the perspective of clinging to reality itself.” This way of thinking lacks the capacity to examine whether its objects actually exist in the way it thinks they do. For that reason, in order to examine whether what we perceive as reality is actually the way things are, we need to use another way of thinking. Then, after careful analysis, we will realise that ultimately phenomena do not exist in the way we have been perceiving them. Once we have realised this, we can understand that the way we cling to phenomena as being real is not the actual nature of how they are. Consequently, we will be able to “develop the great confidence that we can liberate ourselves from such fixation on reality and the confidence that we can liberate ourselves from the afflictions”.
Because clinging to reality is the root of all the afflictions, once we have overturned our clinging to reality, we are able to see that this clinging to reality is the source of all the afflictions. In addition, when we realise that this view of reality is based on a fiction, then the afflictions which it supports can be naturally overcome and destroyed. As these afflictions are the root of our suffering, by overcoming them we can eliminate our suffering.
When we say “liberation,” primarily what we mean is freeing ourselves from the afflictions by eliminating them. This is called “cessation” because, once we achieve this, suffering ceases. This is the third of the Four Noble Truths. What remains after we have eliminated the afflictions is also known as the “utterly pure aspect of phenomena,” and this is the happiness that we seek to attain.
The fourth Noble Truth, the truth of the path, teaches that it is possible to achieve liberation from suffering and ultimate, lasting happiness. Hence, it is important to practice the truth of the path. Within the truth of the path, there are the different practices of the three paths in the three different vehicles (foundational, mahayana and vajrayana). Primarily, when we speak of practicing the truth of the path, this includes the practices of the 37 factors of enlightenment, which are practiced in stages along the path. For example, at the beginning, on the path of accumulation, we begin with the practices of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, the Four Feet of Miracles, and so forth. Each stage of the path has its own particular practices.
The Karmapa warned that before asking ourselves which level or stage of the path we are on, we should begin by asking whether we have even entered the path. The answer depends on which vehicle we ascribe to. In the Hinayana or Foundation Vehicle an individual is said to have entered the path when they have generated an uncontrived desire for liberation. In the Mahayana, however, an individual has not entered the path until they have generated uncontrived bodhichitta within their being.
“In this way, the Four Noble Truths give a complete explanation of how to achieve ultimate happiness, its causes and results,” His Holiness concluded, “and how to liberate ourselves from the suffering we do not want and its causes.”
The session ended once more with questions and answers.
The first question posed the problem of what to do when you feel happy and in control of your life, and find it difficult to see life as suffering. The Karmapa suggested that this was exactly the situation he had described in the morning’s teaching: failing to recognise suffering as suffering. We needed to be very clear about the three different types of suffering; suffering includes not just suffering but pleasant and neutral experiences as well. Things appearing to us as pleasant may still be suffering.
Further, he continued, we should ask ourselves whether we really do exercise control over our lives, because while we are under the power of karma and the afflictions, we do not have control. “If we want to liberate ourselves from the three types of suffering, and from samsara, then we have to liberate ourselves from the pervasive suffering of formation,” he concluded. If we do not want to liberate ourselves, it’s irrelevant.
Two related questions asked how to increase our inner joy and go beyond sadness. His Holiness replied that these were fundamental questions and difficult to answer. However, drawing on his own experience, he suggested that the labels we attach to an experience alter how we see it. By changing our perspective on difficulties we could generate inner happiness. Ultimately, “if we have inner contentment, we will naturally be happy”, he said.
The third question was how to satisfy everybody’s wishes and accomplish the benefit of others when it seemed that helping one person resulted in upsetting others. His Holiness commented that it is extremely difficult to satisfy the wishes of all sentient beings because they have so many diverse capabilities, interests and inclinations. One act or deed would not be able to achieve this.
The work of the bodhisattvas is to bring sentient beings what they want, and bodhisattvas do as much as they can. However, some things can be accomplished but others cannot. Because they have such extraordinary and vast bodhichitta and great courage, when they encounter things that are difficult to accomplish, bodhisattvas make the aspiration to be able to accomplish them in future. Many people asked the Karmapa for help, he said, and sometimes he was able to help, but not always. “I begin to understand why Chenrezik has four arms or a thousand arms,” His Holiness commented, referring to the huge thangka of thousand-armed Chenrezig hanging to the right of his throne. “Each arm represents something he can do to benefit others, and the thousand arms are so he can multi-task”. It is the capability we need in order to be able to satisfy the wishes of all sentient beings.
It is important to first see whether or not we can accomplish their wish, the Karmapa advised, and if we are not able to do so, we should make the sincere aspiration to be able to do so in the future.
There were several questions about the pervasive suffering of formation, asking for examples. His Holiness quoted from the Buddhist scriptures: “When you have a hair in your palm you can barely feel it; when it gets in your eye, it is extremely painful.” For ordinary beings, the pervasive suffering of formation is like a hair in the palm of the hand, but for the noble ones it is like a hair that gets in the eye.
There was then a question about the best way to help refugees during the current problem in Europe. The Karmapa referred first to the great European tradition of accepting refugees ever since the Second World War. However, he agreed, now it was particularly difficult because of the great numbers; there had been no time to prepare and make plans, and there were cultural differences, so the future was uncertain. Many of these refugees had come because of the civil wars and conflicts in the Middle East, for which Western countries share some of the responsibility, he observed. The real need, therefore, was to find a way to resolve those conflicts, otherwise refugees would continue to arrive.
His Holiness was then asked to clarify the meaning of renunciation. He explained it as the expression of compassion for one’s self. Using the analogy of the two sides of the same coin, he explained that when we have developed the uncontrived wish to free ourselves from karma and the afflictions, we have developed renunciation. When we have the wish to free other sentient beings, we have developed compassion.
Responding to a question on collective suffering, the Karmapa pointed out that in Buddhist literature there were many examples of this during the time of the Buddha. Many people made the mistake of viewing karma in a very limited way such as connections between individuals. On the contrary, the workings of karma are vast and extend across space and time. “We have been making these connections with sentient beings from beginning less time…across the entire universe,” the Karmapa elaborated, and given this huge inter connecting karmic web, it is imperative that we take responsibility for ourselves and our actions.
The afternoon session finally concluded, and His Holiness left the stage. The audience reluctantly drifted from the hall to cafés, restaurants, or their hotel rooms, and the security staff prepared for the next event. Outside, in the grey afternoon, lines of Tibetans were waiting to come into the conference hall for a special audience organised for Tibetans living in France. The Gyalwang Karmapa’s work for the day was not yet finished.
Dear Dharma Brothers and Sisters,
As all of you know by now, on the 21 of March, 2017, at 9am Indian time His
Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa introduced Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche
Yangsi in the Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya. Rinpoche is a four years old boy but
from time to time I see him as an old man. It is hard to believe he is that
I am very sorry at the moment I am very busy. I will later let you know details
about the search and how we found Yangsi Rinpoche and provide you with photos
and video clips for you to enjoy.
Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche instructed us to wait for His Holiness’ advice
to Yangsi Rinpoche how to further proceed from here.
Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche could not come to this occasion of His
Holiness’ introducing Tenga Rinoche’s Yangsi since he has a schedule in Bhutan
that was arranged long time ago. As you all know Bhutan is a remote area and in
order to join teachings and initiations elderly people have to be ca…
December 28, 2016, in a historic letter sent to his Kagyu nunneries in India,
Nepal, and Bhutan, the Karmapa officially announced that the actual process of
establishing full ordination for nuns in the Karma Kamtsang tradition would
begin. He stated that at the site of the Buddha’s enlightenment in Bodh Gaya,
on the auspicious day of the full moon in the Month of Miracles, (the first
month in the Tibetan calendar, falling on March 12, 2107), the shramaneri (getsulma)
vows would be conferred on those nuns wishing to take full ordination. Following
much deliberation, a path to full ordination was established. It was decided
that the nuns would hold these shramaneri vows for a year, after which they
will take the shikshamana (gelopmaor training) vows from Dharmaguptaka
nuns and keep them for two winters or two summers. Finally, they will receive
the bhikshuni (gelongmaor full ordination) vows with the
participation of nuns from the Dharmaguptaka tra…
Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
many preparations are underway for the Getsulma (novice) ordination to be held
during this 4th Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering. The Karmapa plans to hold
the ordination on the auspicious full moon day of Chötrul Duchen, the historic
day that marks fifteen days after Losar and commemorates the time when the
Buddha performed a different miracle each day to instill devotion. As the
Karmapa mentioned during the first day of the Arya Kshema, this year initiates
the historic path to the process of full ordination, which will occur in stages
over several years. This is a well-thought process that grants nuns the
opportunity to practice the authentic vinaya path. They will take the Getsulma
vows in the tradition of a strictly observant tradition of Mahayana Vinaya
nuns, thus garnering respect for their sangha and demonstrating their life-long
commitment to their vows. Since there is no lineage for fully ordained nuns in
On 21st March at the Tergar Monastery in Bodh Gaya, India, at 9:30am His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa introduced Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche's reincarnation to the world with an introduction ceremony. It was not more than that. Please do not misunderstand this fact. It was not an enthronement nor a hair cutting ceremony. It was simply an introduction of Rinpoche's yangsi (reincarnation). Please don't confuse the differences. There are lots of meanings in the various ceremonies of our tradition.
His Holiness has stated that the hair-cutting ceremony and the enthronement shall only take place after Yangsi Rinpoche is seven years old. The dates of the enthronement and hair-cutting ceremonies will be decided only later by His Holiness and Drubwang Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. It is not certain when the ceremonies will take place. Until then he is going to spend time with his parents playing with the children in the village openly in a clean and …
This text is based on a draft by Michele Martin who conducted interviews with Tempa Yarphel, the search team and others. Thankfully this text was edited by Tempa and Tashi Sautter and may deviate from Martin’s final version that will be published elsewhere.
Ever since he passed away on March 30th, 2012, finding Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche’s reincarnation (yangsi) has been awaited with tremendous hopes and great devotion, especially in the Karma Kamtsang lineage. When traveling in Germany, His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa spoke about him on August 30th, 2015: “While here in Germany, I had the opportunity to meet briefly with many students of Kyabje Tenga Rinpoche and share some remarks with them. It has been a while now since he passed away but during all this time, his students and I myself have been continually remembering Rinpoche. This recollection has caused our faith, devotion, and love for him to continue flourishing.”“
Before Rinpoche passed away, he spoke a few words to m…
SE Report GANGTOK,
March 16: A delegation of monks from various monasteries
of Sikkim staged a sit-in protest outside the BJP national headquarters in New
Delhi today demanding the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to be allowed to visit
and bless the people of Sikkim.
The delegation led by Denjong Lhadey chanted slogans
demanding and also submitted a memorandum with the demand to the Prime Minister’s
Office through senior officials.
The memorandum reiterates the Denjong Lhadey’s
demand to urgently send the Buddhist spiritual leader to Sikkim. The monks on
dharna outside the BJP office were also detained by Delhi police at Mandir Marg
police station and later released, informs a press release.
In November of 2015, during the 6th Khoryug Conference, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa set the aspiration that all Khoryug monasteries and nunneries should develop practical skills and knowledge for disaster preparedness and response. He later explained that “We were all affected greatly by the earthquake in Nepal and wanted to know how we could help so that in the future we are not just taken by fear but prepared to be useful and deal skillfully with the situation.…
Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
the second half of his teachings this morning, the Karmapa shared his research
into the history of nuns and their status. He began by explaining the
background of the name “Arya Kshema,” given to the Winter Dharma Gathering. He
noted that among the disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha, there were his eight
greatest male monastic disciples, known for their prajna (supreme wisdom) or
miracles and so forth. Likewise, there were female master disciples who were
greatest at miracles or known for their prajna and other outstanding qualities.
Arya Kshema is one of these and she is described in theSutra of the Wise and
greatest in wisdom and confidence, so the Winter Dharma Gathering is named
after her. “In
giving this name,” the Karmapa explained, “we are also following the saying,
‘Later disciples should practice the example of past masters.’ Previously,
during the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni, there were woman arhats, bhikshu…
the third year in succession, the Taiwan Health Corps has been working with
Kagyu nuns during the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering. Twenty-one
nuns from eight nunneries—Ralang, Tilokpur and Palpung Yeshe Rabgye Ling in
India, Karma Leksheyling, Tara Abbey, Osel Karma Thekchöling and Samten
Ling in Nepal, and Drubde Palmo Chökyi Dingkhang in Bhutan– have
successfully completed a nine-day training in basic health care. Dr
Jeffrey Chen, CEO of the Taiwanese based NGO Taiwan Health Corps, first
responded to a request from the Gyalwang Karmapa to develop initiatives to
improve the health and healthcare of nuns more than three years ago. This year
he has returned for a third time with a team of six health professionals to
provide basic training for a new batch of nuns. The team comprises Professor
Kuo Su Chen, a specialist in Women’s Health, Dr Chin Min Yi, a doctor of
traditional Chinese medicine, Dr Wei Cheng Chou, urologist and surgeon, Hsin-Yu
For the Gyalwang Karmapa, the Tibetan New Year began in the
first hours of the day, as he met in the Tergar Monastery shrine hall with
tulkus, khenpos, and masters from various monasteries and received their
khatas. In return he gave them his blessing and a traditional bright red cord.
The monks recited prayers for peace in the world and the flourishing of the
teachings as well as the very long life of the Karmapa. Afterward the entire
monastic and lay Sangha gathered at 4:30 am in the Monlam Pavilion for a
special long-life practice based on theThree
Roots Combined, calledA
Life-Force Indestructible like a Vajra. The practice was led by the
Karmapa’s heart son, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, who had bestowed this empowerment the
previous day. In February of 2016 the Karmapa had also given this empowerment,
and at the time commented on its importance for his Kamtsang Kagyu lineage. The
short lineage is traced back to a text based on the pure visions of th…