Set in front of the throne this morning is a wide sofa chair covered with brocade. The Karmapa entered the hall from the left side and took his place on the chair, which gave a closer, more intimate connection to the audience that fills the hall wall to wall. The question and answer period went so long yesterday, he commented, there was no time for instruction on meditation, so he proposed beginning with meditation today.
On his last tour in the US, the Karmapa related that he had visited the Google and Facebook campuses, each of which have a room set aside for meditation, a sign that interest in meditation is increasing. He was concerned, however, that meditation might go the way of yoga, losing its traditional context and value, and turning into one more thing to market.
There are many ways to meditate, he began, and they can be condensed into calm abiding (shamatha) and insight (vipashyana), or in other words, resting and analytic meditations. There are many kinds of meditation and many different ways of explaining them, depending on different traditions and lamas. For example, in the vajrayana, some types of insight meditation are resting meditations. But usually, insight is correlated with analytical meditation and calm abiding with resting meditation.
“Calm abiding and insight meditations are related as cause and effect,” the Karmapa stated. “Calm abiding must come first. If not, then insight meditation will be difficult, so I will introduce you to calm abiding first. It means bringing all of our mental energy to focus on one reference point, while simultaneously our mind becomes relaxed.”
The usual way of practicing calm abiding is to go to a solitary place devoid of distractions and noise—even a dog’s bark is said to be detrimental—and spend five to six months in meditation. In our contemporary world, he commented, it is difficult for this to happen, as distractions are everywhere so it is a challenge for us to practice calm abiding, for our mind should not be drawn outside by objects, but collected or turned inward. With the constant presence of smart phones and Internet access everywhere, this is difficult.
“What we call meditation,” the Karmapa explained, “actually means that whatever is happening, whatever situation we might meet, our minds remain settled within themselves; in a simple, unfabricated way they just rest there. If we can do this, then there is no need for us to do meditation as a separate activity.”
He then told a story about someone who came to meet the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje and said he did not want to meditate. Is there a teaching for this? Rangjung Dorje replied, “Yes, but if I told it to you, you would check and try to meditate on it. And with that you would turn it into a fabricated practice, imposing something extra. So even if I gave you this teaching of no meditation, it would not benefit you.”
The Karmapa summarized: “When we practice calm abiding, we relax, do not let our minds wander outside, and rest in awareness no matter what is happening.” However, since we are so used to mental constructs and thinking about things, this kind of practice is difficult for us.
How do we practice meditation that needs no meditation? To illustrate the practice with the example of an affliction being liberated as it arises, the Karmapa selected one of the afflictions, anger. When it is on the verge of arising, just as it is emerging, we look into it, for once an affliction is fully present, it is difficult to work with. To do this practice, we need experience; without it, the thought of anger seems to be simultaneous with its arising fully in our mind. However, if we practice and come to know the situation, we can see that there is a sequence—first this happens and then that.
The Karmapa counseled, “When a thought arises, we look at it and simply rest with it. We are not looking for anything special. As soon as the thought arises, we rest our awareness there. This is all we need to do.” We do not analyze, thinking, “What is this concept? Where did it come from? Where did it go?” It is not that kind of meditation here. In sum, we merely need to open up our wisdom eye and look nakedly, just noticing (or paying bare attention to) how the thought is arising. “There is no need to analyze, make an effort, or think. We are simply looking,” he said.
“When we look like this,” the Karmapa noted, “the anger weakens. The usual, powerful dynamic of anger’s arising will lose some of its compulsive force.” He gave the example of a child who is telling a lie. If we look clearly into their eyes, they will naturally become embarrassed and back down. Similarly, since the afflictions are fictitious, having no real underpinning or basis, they will shrink just like the child telling a fib, when we look into them. With this vivid example, the Karmapa ended his discussion of meditation and turned to the topic for the morning, compassion and happiness.
He began by quoting from the Way of the Bodhisattva, composed by the famous Indian pandita, Shantideva: All the suffering in this world comes from wanting happiness for ourselves; all the happiness in this world comes from wanting happiness for others.
The core of the issue, he explained, is that we want happiness in this world for ourselves because we take our self to be real in the sense of being autonomous and self-generating. We think we are independent, not needing to rely on anything or anyone else. Further, the Karmapa said, on the basis of taking a self to be real, we hold it dear and think it quite special. This unfortunate grasping to things as solid and real is extended from ourselves out to other objects, so we think, “My family, my friends, my things, my body, my house, ad infinitum.” Grasping onto the reality of a self seeps into everything.
The Karmapa added, “In general, however, we do need to care for ourselves; it is not a fault but actually a necessity. The danger is that we do this while taking the self to be real and independent. This way of thinking makes problems and could bring about our ruin.” He followed this with an example: taking the self to be real is like a prison with iron walls. “When we are incarcerated in the prison of the self,” he explained,” we cannot make connections with many other people, for only our parents and close friends are allowed in. The doors do not open to others.”
As a consequence of being stuck in the prison of the self, when our loved ones must go to the hospital, we are unable to help them. On a larger scale, he continued, while in this jail we are at a distance from all others, from all the living beings who have been our parents. Thinking about this can be quite dispiriting. So what we need to do, the Karmapa advised, is to take the hammer of a powerful compassion and break down the prison walls.
The Karmapa then turned to the subject of the Buddhist teaching on no self. “If we take the term literally,” he said,” we could think that it means there is no self at all. And people challenge this idea saying ‘If there is no self, then how can you talk about karma, cause and effect?’” But the Buddhism understanding of no self does not mean that the self is a blank or a void. Rather, the negation applies to the self that we think exists as independent and self-existent, as some kind of solid entity. This is the self that does not exist.
“The actual self is like a vast and endless web,” he elaborated, “that connects all possible phenomena. So we have to expand the way we think the self exists so that it can pervade the whole, immense universe and make untold numbers of connections.” “Self and other arise in dependence upon one another and,” he continued, “if we can make our relationships with others based on this understanding, then all living beings will be connected through a vast innernet” (playing off the word Internet). We can connect with everyone and everything through compassion, he said.
If we consider how things really are, then we will come to see that there is no difference between others and ourselves. We are a part of them and they are a part of us, and consequently, their happiness and suffering is ours and visa versa. It also follows that we must be concerned about and take responsibility for others. Most of the clothes we wear, for example, are not made here in Europe but elsewhere; however, we do not know names of the people who made them nor would we recognize them. Yet they have helped us by fashioning our clothes, and do so while receiving low wages and living close to poverty. Their difficulties have created something beneficial for us and so we must take responsibility for them.
Knowing that we depend on each other, we know that we must care for each other. If we do not care for others, then one day when we ourselves need assistance, it will be difficult to find. When we seek happiness, it should not be just for ourselves alone. The self that wishes only for its own happiness is mistaken; actually, from the point of view of how things truly are, that solitary self does not even exist. The central point here is that happiness in this world actually comes from wishing for others’ happiness. Therefore we should do all we can to develop our love and compassion. He concluded by saying that for him with all the difficulties he has known, what gives him real happiness is being able to help others.
A short session of question and answers followed.
Do all sentient beings have a connection with the Karmapa? He replied that one could view the incarnations of the Karmapas in two ways: that he is one individual taking rebirth many times or seventeen different people. In general all living beings have a connection with the Karmapa but there is a difference in being close or distant, which comes not from the side of the Karmapa but is based on the individual’s feeling.
How do we maintain awareness at the time of death? The Karmapa responded that we should train now. If we do not learn to focus our awareness now, it will be difficult to do when death comes. To school ourselves, we can think of one day as a whole life: in the morning we are born from the womb and we die when we go to sleep at night. If we learn to think like this, it will be helpful.
When your Holiness teaches in the West do you use the same terms or adapt the teachings for the audience? There is a slight difference, he said. When speaking to Tibetans, I do not need a translator, and when teaching others, he joked, I do not use a lot of quotes because they give translators a hard time. But actually there is not much difference.
Government agencies had for long suspected that the Karmapa was a “Chinese spy”, but a decision was recently taken to review the restrictions on his travel in an attempt to “engage” him.
Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | Published:May 24, 2017 2:26 am
The government is set to lift the travel restrictions imposed on Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. The Home Ministry has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Karmapa be allowed to travel to any part of the country, except Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, without seeking prior permission from New Delhi.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu (Black Hat) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in Tibet and escaped to India through Nepal at the age of 14. He reached McLeod Ganj, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, in 2000. He lives in Dharamshala and is recognised by the Dalai Lama.
Government agencies had for long suspected that the Karmapa was a “Chinese spy”, but a decision was re…
One of the most important Tibetan Buddhist leaders worries about the growing Chinese influence and diminishing numbers of the community in exile
Sanjay Kapoor Delhi
In the year 2000, a 14-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorji or Karmapa Lama, head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of Tibetan Buddhists, escaped from Tibet and walked across the mighty Himalayas to India. His daring escape was viewed with suspicion by some who thought that it was part of a Chinese conspiracy to disrupt Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist Exile community in India. Karmapa, who was selected through a complicated process that combined prophecy and rigorous interviews by Buddhist monks in Tibet, through the force of his charismatic personality has been seeking to assuage the misgivings and controversies that plague the exile community. Karmapa lives in Dharamshala, where Tibet’s capital in exile is located. He enjoys an excellent relationship with Dalai Lama and many see in him as the spiritual lea…
United Kingdom Tour - 2017 (London Time)
May 2011:00 - 12:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break15:00 - 16:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind
May 2111:00 - 12:30• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break15:00 - 17:00• Chenrezik Empowerment
May 2714:00 - 18:00• Long Life Empowerment
United Kingdom Tour - 2017 (Indian Time)
May 2015:30 - 17:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break19:30 - 21:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind
May 2115:30 - 17:00• Public teaching: 8 Verses of Training the Mind• Lunch Break19:30 - 21:30• Chenrezik Empowerment
May 2718:30 - 22:30• Long Life Empowerment
Gangtok, May 20 (PTI) A delegation of monks of various monasteries of Sikkim met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging early permission for Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit the state.
The monks called on Singh, who is on a two-day visit here, at the Raj Bhavan last evening, officials said.
They submitted the resolution taken after a peace rally here on May 18 which urged the Government of India to grant one of the "most important demand and aspiration" of the Buddhists of Sikkim seeking early permission for the Karmapa to visit Sikkim.
The delegation was led by the Sangha MLA Sonam Kelyon Lama, who is the elected political representative of the monks in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, the officials added.
A central government order bans entry of all the three Karmapa claimants to the title of Karmapa at Rumtek monastery in East Sikkim since 1994.
The Sikkimese Buddhists who follow the Khagyu sect recognize the 31-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorj…
DHARAMSHALA: Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok, Department of Religion and Culture, Central Tibetan Administration, attended the convocation ceremony of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectic, Dharamsala and the college of higher Tibetan studies, Sarah, this morning. The event was held at Sarah college of Tibetan Higher Studies.
His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Thinlay Dorjee graced the inauguration of the convocation as the chief guest. The function began with recitation of prayers by the students followed by serving sweet rice and butter tea to the guests, staff and students.
Ven. Kalsang Damdul, the director of IBD and CHTS gave welcome speech and briefly introduced the college and courses provided by the institution. Mr. Passang Tsering, Principal of CHTS read out the report of the college. The function was attended by Mr. Topgyal Tsering, secretary of Kashag secretariat, CTA, Mrs. Nangsa Choedon and Mr. Karma Senge, Secretary and Acting Secretary of Department of Education, representives of…
Centre may allow him to visit any place, except Sikkim, without seeking its nod
Urgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, may be allowed to visit any place in the country, except Sikkim, without seeking the government’s permission. The Home Ministry has moved the proposal before the Cabinet Committee on Security, a senior government official said here on Tuesday.
The move assumes significance in the wake of China’s repeated warnings over the recent Northeast visit of the Dalai Lama, who Beijing describes as a “separatist” for spearheading the Tibetan freedom movement.
Though the Dalai Lama has endorsed Urgyen Trinley Dorje as the 17th Karmapa, it does not necessarily mean that the latter succeeds him, said Amitabh Mathur, Adviser to the Home Ministry on Northeast subjects, including Tibetan affairs.
“But that doesn’t mean he is seen as his successor. That will depend on how Tibetans see him and whether they will look up to him for s…
May 24, 2017 – St Catharine’s and King’s College, Cambridge, England
Today His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa left London and travelled north to Cambridge, a city whose name has become almost synonymous with its world-famous university. The Karmapa’s visit to Cambridge was hosted by the International Buddhist Confederation’s Secretary for Environment and Conservation, Dr Barbara Maas.
His Holiness’s day in Cambridge began with an academic seminar on animal sentience and animal welfare science, and their significance for our relationship with and treatment of animals. Veterinarians turned animal welfare scientists, Dr Murray Corke and Peter Fordyce from the University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine, provided His Holiness with background about the complexities of assessing the wellbeing of animals and introduced him to some of the latest research developments that have transformed our understanding of animal awareness and suffering. These include a wide range of behavioural and physio…
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, arrived in central London this afternoon on his first ever visit to the United Kingdom. A long line of devotees offering katas greeted him on his arrival at his hotel. He was then officially welcomed at a special reception in the form of a traditional English afternoon tea.
DHARAMSALA, May 19: Scores of people took to the streets in Gangtok for a march over a pending demand to allow the 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim.
A day ahead of the Union Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Sing’s visit to the state capital, hundreds of monks and followers rallied in Gangtok yesterday demanding that the Karmapa be allowed to visit the state, reports The Sikkim Express.
The Union Home Affairs Minister will be in Gangtok today to attend a meeting of Chief Ministers of five states neighbouring China. Following the procession, the third rally organized by the Denjong Lhadey this year, the state government had assured 15 members from the group to meet with the minister to apprise him of their demand, the report added.
The followers of the Karmapa, head of Tibetan Buddhism’s Kagyue lineage, are said to have rallied round Gangtok. The opposition leaders and members of various organizations took part in the mass rally.
DHARAMSHALA, MAY 24: In a positive development for the Tibetan religious figure 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, the Indian government is reportedly set to lift the travel restrictions currently in place.
The Home Ministry has proposed to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the Karmapa be allowed to travel to any part of the country, except Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, without seeking prior permission from New Delhi. The CCS chaired by PM Modi is a core committee on National Security with the MoD and the MEA among other significant panels, which offer directives on the Karmapa’s security and movement among other things.
The move in question has received a shot in the arm earlier this week when a delegation of monks from various monasteries in Sikkim met with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging permission for the Seventeenth Karmapa to visit Sikkim.
The delegation led by the Sangha MLA Sonam Kelyon Lama, who is the elected poli…