Gutor Day Two: Incinerating the Hostile

February 22, 2017
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

Almost overnight the Kagyu Monlam Pavilion had transitioned from a cool, elegant space appropriate for sutric-based prayers for world peace into a fiery, dramatic hall dedicated to the wrathful practices of those fierce deities who protect the dharma, and in particular the lineage of the Gyalwang Karmapa. The first day of the Great Encampment Mahakala Main Puja began at 4 am today. And although the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa did not personally attend, esteemed rinpoches, khenpos, monks, and nuns, led by His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, impressed lay devotees with their powerful melodious chanting accompanied by cymbals, horns, drums, and occasional bouts of eerie, rhythmically-timed guttural utterances.

The text being used this year for the main puja is the longest ritual of Mahakala Bernakchan in the Karma Kagyu Lineage and has an interesting history. It is called Incinerating the Hostile ( Tib. sDang ba rnam sreg), and was written by the Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Dönden (1416-1453), at the request of the First Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Paljor Dönden (1427-1489). The monks, however, named it “The Boring Mahakala” because it took so long to chant, and eventually it was replaced by an abridged version composed by the Fifth Shamar, Konchok Yenlak, at the request of his teacher, the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje. These days, this abridged text is known as The Ritual of Mending and Supplication (Tib. bsKang gsol), and it is practiced widely in Kagyu monasteries and centers.

The longer version of the ritual, Incinerating the Hostile by the Sixth Karmapa had fallen out of practice for so many years that it was very difficult to find a copy. The Seventeenth Karmapa had looked everywhere for an original and no one, inside or outside of Tibet, had ever seen or heard of it. But the present Gyaltsap Rinpoche happened to obtain a photocopy of a hand-written version, and he lent it to His Holiness in time to make 500 copies for the grand Mahakala event in Bodhgaya in 2012.

This long Mahakala ritual, Incinerating the Hostile makes an auspicious connection with all that is excellent. It is said that chanting it will cause the Dharma to flourish widely and bring benefit to immeasurable numbers of beings. In addition, Mahakala Bernakchan consumes all that is negative, all adverse conditions, and all those who make obstacles for the Dharma. Everything that is adverse, especially from the previous year, is eliminated.

The actual puja is broken up into six sessions (from 4 am to 9:30 pm), punctuated with several short breaks, with a longer break for lunch.

However, even during the breaks, a small group of young monks sitting off to the side of the main stage must keep up a continuous harmony of mantras, thus their sonorous recital assures that the puja will continue in an unbroken stream throughout the day.

A mysterious, almost otherworldly atmosphere has been created and sustained by a powerful combination of chanting, music, incense, and visual elements strongly reminiscent of the gönkhang(protector shrine rooms) usually hidden away deep in the recesses of most Tibetan monasteries. As master set designer and director, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has distilled the essence and transformed the Monlam Pavilion into a contemporary version of a Tibetan monastic setting perfectly suitable for this traditional Gutor puja.

2017.2.22 Garchen Gutor Main Puja Day 1 2017.2.23 Garchen Gutor Main Puja Day 2 http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1150-gutor-day-two-incinerating-the-hostile

Losar Message and Card from His Holiness Karmapa

February 24, 2017

My warmest greetings to you all at Tibetan New Year. May the Year of the Fire Bird bring you good health, peace and joy, and may all your aspirations be fulfilled.
——17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje


Gutor Day One: Protector Practices to Prepare for the Blossoming of the New Year

February 21, 2017
Monlam Pavilion, Bodh Gaya

For over three hundred years, from the time of the Fourth to Tenth Karmapa, the Karmapas traveled extensively in what was known as the Great Encampment. This allowed them to reach disciples all over Tibet with great flexibility and spontaneity. From the time of the Seventh Karmapa (1454-1506), the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo as well took place wherever the Karmapa happened to be on the date for the event. Following in this tradition, the Monlam Pavilion in Bodh Gaya is a flexible, open space that transforms into whatever is needed at the time.

Its latest reincarnation is as a protector shrine or gönkhang, which can be found at most Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, though they are often off limits to the uninitiated. The Pavilion has been magnificently arranged for the rituals of Gutor—six days of extensive Mahakala practices performed at the end of the Tibetan year. Their purpose is to make vast offering to the protectors and to clear away obstacles for the teachings and all living beings in the year to come.

A team guided by the Karmapa has been working long hours to transform the Pavilion. Over night the background of the white and gold wall behind the main Buddha has shifted to a dark black sky filled with golden flames of wisdom, curling into the night’s space. These dynamic images are repeated in the brocade for a new set of thangka paintings, made in Dharamsala, depicting the protectors of the ten directions. They have been hung behind the Buddha, above the entrance gate and in two pairs at either end of the rows of paintings lining the central aisle. Black brocade with spirited red and gold flames forms four long pendants hanging from the lower end of these images. This unusual touch gives the impression that the fires are rising from below and encompassing the central figures traced in gold on black.

In the middle of these two sets of four are other paintings. Six in black and gold on either side were created in Nepal and represent some of the protector practices performed during the pujas, such as Tseringma, Shingkyong, Namthöse, Singön, and Dorje Lekpa. The remaining three in full color on either side are yidams important to the Kagyu lineage, including Vajra Varahi, Chakrasamvara, Gyalwa Gyatso, Hevajra, and Mahamaya. These paintings were also displayed during the Kagyu Monlam. Also new this year and recalling the gönkhang of old Tibet is a frieze of animal pelts set next to each other in lively, natural colors. Running above all the images on both sides, the figures are so vigorous and powerful in their dynamic flow that they still seem alive.

Moving down this central aisle to look again at the stage, we can see things familiar from previous years and also splendid additions. Below the central Buddha is a statue of the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, sitting on a brocade throne. In front of him is small shrine with an upswept roof, which shelters an ornately carved silver pavilion holding a powerful statue of Bernakchen, the main deity for the Gutor practices. In front of him is the Karmapa’s black and gold throne. To the Karmapa’s right is a golden folding screen with white cranes, forming the background for an impressive black and gold set of ancient armor. Below on either side are new sets of weaponry, including fierce blades of all shapes plus a bow with an elegant quiver of arrows.

Just behind the folding screen rises a three-meter tall statue of Bernakchen, his face veiled by khatas of five colors so that only his flaming hair is visible. Also covered in silks are Mahakali riding her blue mule to Bernakchen’s right and to his left is Dorje Lekpa. These three statues were newly created by Gyaltsap Rinpoche as he consulted texts and his experience while working closely with a sculptor.

To the right of the Karmapa is a special altar for the Gutor torma (sculpted offerings). They are over a meter tall and made in the Karmapa’s encampment style, which means that the shading of the flower ornaments is subtle and the colors are not bright but pastels. A new touch for the tormas this year are small pieces of gold leaf placed randomly on the petals to catch the light of the sun. The main torma in the center of the top layer is called nyingzuk (literally, “form of the heart/mind”), which represents the central deity, Bernakchen. Just like a statue, the torma is filled with mantra and precious substances. On either side of this main torma are two smaller ones: the kangwa or fulfillment torma for repairing broken samaya and replenishing any deficits, and the solkha or supplication torma for making requests. Many smaller tormas fill the layers of this impressive altar.

To the right of the torma altar is the elaborate thread palace for Bernakchen, which shelters an awe-inspiring torma likeness of his head, known as the Mouth Opened-Wide with Ha (Ha zhal). It belongs to the general category of a torma offered to the fire (rgyag gtor). The torma is surmounted by two tiers of intricately interwoven thread-crosses in the shape of umbrellas, which are known as the palace of Bernakchen. Underneath everything are one visualizes mandalas of the elements.

As noted earlier, the purpose of the Gutor practice is to benefit living beings and the teachings, so Bernakchen consumes all that is negative, all adverse conditions, all who make obstacles for the Dharma or for those practicing a true path. Everything that is adverse is eliminated. The Hazhal torma will be offered to a bonfire on the last day of the practice.

The first practice of this year’s Gutor began in the afternoon of February 21 with the Grand Seating Ceremony. The head monk gave a long speech (by memory) in a very formal style accenting every two or three syllables with his powerful voice and turning slowly to the right and left. He spoke of the purpose of these next days of practice, which are for peace in the world, for the spreading and preservation of the teachings, and for developing our bodhichitta. He then read out the names of each monk and nun participating in the Gutor practice and they filed in through the opening between the two great drums in their new gold and black pavilions.

When everyone was seated, the nine disciplinarians left to escort the Karmapa into the shrine hall. He entered in a formal procession of jalings and incense bearers, and after three deep bows, took his place in the very center of the stage, wearing his Black Hat and a beautiful brocade cape (dagam). Thus began the Gutor rituals with short practice of Mahakala in a spectacular setting, worthy of the highest aspirations.

A Brief History of Protector Practice in General and the Kamtsang Kagyu Tradition in Particular

[With thanks to Khenpo Garwang for his teachings] 

Protectors of the genuine Dharma can be found in the sutras; for example, in the Samadhiraja Sutra(the King of Samadhis Sutra), taught at Rajgriha on the Mountain Resembling a Flock of Vultures. At that time, the Buddha asked, “Who will protect this sutra so that its lineage remains?” On the human level, Chandraprabhava (a previous incarnation of Gampopa) said he would do so. On the non-human level, numerous deities who were present also vowed to protect it. Speaking in general about protectors, the Kadampa Geshe Sharawa (Yönten Drak, 1070-1141) said that those who protect the teachings are the dharmapalas and the sangha. We do not need to supplicate them as this is their responsibility, and in turn, it is our responsibility to offer them tormas or gifts that sustain them.

In a few places, the sutras also mention making offerings to protectors, and with the vajrayana these practices became extensive including numerous Dharma protectors and many kinds of tormas. Such rituals composed long ago by Nagarjuna were found in China; however these practices, which originated in India, spread much more extensively in Tibet, so we find numerous, fierce black deities, such as the Black-Cloaked One (Bernakchen, the Two-Armed Mahakala), the Four-Armed Mahakala, and many others. Their lineages of practice remain alive to this present day. Through Marpa the Translator came the lineage that is practiced in the Karma Kamtsang tradition, which preserves special key instructions, known as the Practice of the Body and Mind Inseparable from the Protector.

Originally the practice of Bernakchen was so secret that only a few close disciples knew that it even existed. Drogön Rechen, a disciple of the First Karmapa, taught it to a few; then the Second Karmapa taught it to a greater number of disciples; the Second Shamar, Khachö Wangpo, (1358-1405) spread it more widely, and finally the Sixth Karmapa, Thongwa Donden (1416-1453), made it extensively available. The first statue of Bernakchen was created by the Seventh Karmapa. From his time, this tradition of practice has expanded and continued to the present day.

If we turn to the history of the ritual itself, the first one was composed by the Second Shamar, and then the Sixth Karmapa expanded the practice, making it so long that it was known as the Boring Mahakala, though its actual name is Burning Up Hostility (sDang ba rnam sreg). (This practice was revived by the Karmapa in 2012 and another new edition was printed for this year’s Gutor.) The Eighth Karmapa (1507-1554) asked the Fifth Shamar, Könchok Yenlak (1526-1583), to condense the text, so he created a shorter practice, called the Abridged Burning Up Hostility (sDang ba rnam sreg las btus pa), which is known these days as the Ritual of Mending and Supplication (bsKang gsol), practiced widely in Kagyu monasteries and centers. This text is also called the Golden One because the first words to be chanted of the parts from Burning Up Hostility were marked in gold.

Finally there is a short version of Burning Up Hostility, known as the Tsalma (mTshal ma), which means the Cinnabar Text, since in this case the first parts to be chanted that were selected from the longer text are marked in vivid red. All three lengths of the ritual will be chanted during Gutor this year: the first and last days are for the short practice; the second and third day, for the long version; and the fourth and fifth days for the middle length text. On the fourth day the practice will begin at 2 am in the morning.

To give the complete picture, there is still another version of the Mahakala practice, written by the Fifteenth Karmapa, who felt that it was inauspicious to have such a short practice, so he composed one that was even more extensive than the text of Burning Up Hostility by the Sixth Karmapa.

2017.2.21 第34屆噶舉大祈願法會.後善活動.嘠千瑪哈嘠拉大法會 Short Mahakala Puja http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1147-gutor-day-one-protector-practices-to-prepare-for-the-blossoming-of-the-new-year


Reviving the Tradition of the Cotton-Clad Yogis

February 19, 2017
Monlam Pavilion, Bodh Gaya

The source for all practices and traditions that are followed at the Kagyu Monlam is the Seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso (1454-1506). In a letter to Minyak Gang Monastery in Kham, Chödrak Gyatso described how to combine the practices of the Six Yogas with the Monlam they were practicing. The letter detailed what to do, which texts to chant, and the practice of wearing the white cloth (ras bud byed pa). Usually the term cotton-clad (ras pa) refers to the followers of Milarepa (Mi la ras pa) who were mountain yogis and yoginis clad in white cloth. The other Kagyu tradition of Gampopa is for ordained monks who wear burgundy robes.
Evoking the tradition of Milarepa, a particular practice of wearing white cloth occurs at the end of a three-year retreat, and also in some monasteries on special days, such as the combined death anniversary of Marpa (the fourteenth of the first Tibetan month) and Milarepa (the fifteenth of that month). During the traditional three-year retreat, meditators practice tummo—one of the Six Yogas of Naropa and a special practice of Milarepa. It involves generating body heat to overcome the experience of cold. When they end their three-year retreat, the retreatants wear a wet, white cotton cloth, which they should dry with their body heat to demonstrate their success in tummo.
Up until now, this element had been lacking in the Kagyu Monlam performed in Bodh Gaya, so the Karmapa decided that it should be revived this year and continue as a part of the yearly gathering. Prior to tummo practice, the retreatants must engage in vigorous yogic exercises, usually for a month but there was not enough time in the program this year, so they practiced for a week from February 12 to 19 in the main shrine hall of Tergar Monastery. These yogic practices are always done in secret, because spectators could disturb the meditators, leading to broken bones, and for those who look, obstacles could come. All the windows of the hall, therefore, were covered with thick cloth, and sentries were posted around it.
Inside the hall, thick mats, a meter and a half square, were laid out in a spacious formality for the 110 meditators. There were many candidates for the practice, and to make it easy, this year it was decided that it would be for monks who had completed a three-year retreat in the tradition of the Six Yogas of Naropa. They should also be under sixty years old, since above that, the yogas do not turn out so well. To teach and remind the older retreatants of the practices, the retreat masters also participated.
In his letter to Minyak Gang Monastery, the Seventh Karmapa had also noted: “Even though there is no difference in the wearing of the white cotton cloth as it is practiced in the traditions of Naropa or Niguma, we should follow Naropa’s tradition since it has special qualities.” The Six Yogas of Niguma is practiced in the Shangpa Kagyu tradition, and since the Karmapa wished to include these yogis in the Monlam, a special area for them was curtained off in the shrine hall, because the practitioners of these two traditions should not see each other’s yogic exercises.
Having stayed up the whole night practicing, on February 19 in the early morning of the last day of the Monlam, the lamas wore a long white cloth wrapped around their bodies, the red Kagyu hat, a yoga belt, and short pants when they exited the main shrine hall of Tergar Monastery. With their arms on their hips and slowly turning side to side, they walked to the Monlam Pavilion between long rows of disciples with khatas to honor their efforts in practice. The lamas came down the central aisle and sat on the stage to the Karmapa’s left while the ordained monks sat on his right. As part of the Offerings to the Guru, the retreatants sang Milarepa’s song, the Essence of Dependent Arising, and received a specially blessed gift from the Karmapa. It was an auspicious beginning to the revival of another key element in the Kamtsang Kagyu lineage, famous for being a lineage of great practitioners.

2017.2.19 Cotton-clad Procession&Awards given to the cotton-clad lamas http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1118-reviving-the-tradition-of-the-cotton-clad-yogis

Celebrating the Life of the Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche: A Ritual of Offerings to the Gurus

February 19, 2017
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The extensive Ritual of Offerings to the Gurus, always performed on the last day of the Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, was composed in 2005 by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. It is a compilation drawn from many famous Buddhist texts.  The puja often serves as a memorial to a particular Lama who has passed away, and this year a large portrait photograph of the Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was placed centrally below the shrine.
The stage had been rearranged following the Sixteen Arhat and Alms Procession the previous day. Four of the victory banners from that procession remained on the top tier of the stage, and the others were arrayed in the wings. Below them, three tiers of heavily laden offering tables stood to left and right of the pagoda shrine containing the infant Buddha.  The bottom tier was replete with pyramids of fruit— black and green grapes, oranges, melons, and different types of apple. The middle tier held the seven symbols of royalty and the eight symbols of auspiciousness, and the top tier held the eight auspicious substances. These were to be used in the afternoon.
As the Lama Choepa began, in a symmetry of action, the Gyalwang Karmapa assumed the role of ritual master. Standing in front of the shrine to the infant Buddha, he made the offerings on behalf of everyone, as he had on the first morning. In an innovative ceremony, the reception of the Cotton-Clad monks was incorporated into this part of the ritual. (See report: Reviving the Tradition of the Cotton-Clad Yogis.)
Having completed making the offerings, His Holiness lit candles in front of the photo of Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche and sat in meditation for a while.
The Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche established the Dorzong Monastic Institute Jangchub Jong at Gopalpur H.P., and also maintained Dorzong Monastery in Tibet. Dorzong Rinpoche, a devoted student of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa Rigpe Dorje, had  been very supportive and shown great kindness to the 17th Karmapa  and his sister after they came to India. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama inaugurated the Dzongsar Monastic Institute in September 2010, Rinpoche invited the 17th Karmapa as the guest of honour. Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was the tutor of the Ninth Khamtrul Rinpoche and both attended the two-month- long transmission of the Kangyur given by HE Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche in the Karmapa’s private quarters in Autumn 2011.  Further, in October 2012, when the Karmapa gave a Chöd empowerment and teaching, it was hosted by Rinpoche at the Dorzong Monastic Institute. At that time, Rinpoche declared:
“Along with the previous and present Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche of Tashi Jong, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa was one of my outstanding root gurus. I am extremely pleased to be able to host His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who is also my root guru.”
Dorzong Rinpoche had been ill with cancer for some time. At first, it had seemed he was recovering but in October 2016 his condition began to deteriorate and steadily worsened. At the end of January, the Karmapa spoke with Rinpoche in Delhi and arranged for his medical evacuation to a famous hospital in Taiwan, where he was treated with both Chinese and allopathic medicine. Once more his health began to improve, but on 15th February 2017, when further complications arose, Rinpoche asked to be transferred to the local Thrangu Dharma Centre, where, on 16th February, to the chanting of the Mahamudra Prayer, he assumed the bodhisattva posture and entered the meditative state of thugdam. On February 19th, while his great contribution to the Dharma and to the benefit of sentient beings was being commemorated at the Kagyu Monlam, he was still in thugdam.
His Holiness slipped away during the morning session to visit the Mahabodhi Temple in order to make further offerings for auspiciousness on the final day of the Monlam. He returned later to conclude the session.
In the afternoon, during the closing session of the Monlam, everyone joined in chanting three times a special prayer which the Karmapa had written and dedicated to Dorzong Rinpoche.
“Dorzong Rinpoche passed away,“ he said. “I have tried to compose a prayer. Perhaps it is not so beautiful but the words have come from my heart.”

2017.2.19 Offerings to the Gurus; Dorzong Rinpoche http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1119-celebrating-the-life-of-the-eighth-kyabje-dorzong-rinpoche-a-ritual-of-offerings-to-the-gurus

Memorial Service for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the late King of Thailand

February 18, 2017
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

“This is probably a very rare opportunity for us from the Tibetan tradition to invite so many Bikkhus and I think that it is historically significant”
With those words the Gyalwang Karmapa marked the day of the memorial service for His Majesty the late King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Prior to this unique event, meant to embody the unity of the sanghas, His Holiness had, as a true protector of beings would, with great diligence and kindness, personally tended to every detail. In efforts to accommodate the proper customs of Thailand, he collaborated with the Thai sangha and created the elegant setting: on the stage, at the far end of the corridor between the monks’ benches and below the pyramidal tiers of the stage, gold and silver ritual implements were placed in front of a translucent jade statue of the Buddha and a  painted portrait of His Majesty.
In perfect serenity typical of Thai monastic and forest traditions, monks from the Thai Temple accompanied by Thai devotees arrived.
They sat on the left of the stage. Facing them, the Gyalwang Karmapa, rinpoches and tulkus were seated on the right. It was a sign of respect which would bring joy to the heart of any Buddhist.
Radiant shades of red, yellow and orange robes pervaded the front of the Pavilion in vivid portrayal of the subtleties and nuanced nature of the Buddha’s teachings.  Their varied appearances showed the vastness of Buddhism—encompassing all types of mind and inclination, where everyone can find a place on the path to liberation.
“The King of Thailand was not only a great protector and patron of the Thai people, he was also respected all over the world and, I think, he was one of the great figures of Buddhism in general” said the Karmapa.
He spoke of the four great kings in the ancient past, who helped spread the Buddha-dharma. Similarly, the King of Thailand had not only helped the prosperity of the land of Thailand and served his people but helped greatly in spreading all traditions of the dharma. The Karmapa invited everyone to draw from this event the confidence and the courage to continue the activities that came from the power of the King’s loving-kindness, compassion and wisdom. He ended by expressing his gratitude and appreciation for this rare opportunity to invite so many Bikkhus and noted its historical significance.
In the first part of the service, the Thai monks offered their prayers in Pali invoking an atmosphere of clarity and calm. When their chanting subsided, His Holiness, rinpoches and tulkus led everyone in the prayers to Akshobhya. The assembly composed of thousands of people from more than 50 countries and the elders from different sanghas on the stage seemed to mirror each other’s sentiments of interconnectedness.

2017.2.18 Memorial Service for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej,the late King of Thailand http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1135-memorial-service-for-his-majesty-king-bhumibol-adulyadej-the-late-king-of-thailand

The Procession of the Sixteen Arhats

February 18, 2017 
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The Kagyu Mönlam is an auspicious gathering that generates immense devotion in its participants, and amongst its events, none does it more than the Procession of the Sixteen Arhats, which took place in the morning on the sixth day. Anticipation began the evening before, with the announcement that Mönlam Members were to line up to frame the procession, and that all participants would have the opportunity to make an offering.
In the morning, Mönlam participants arrived to find the Pavilion transformed. The central aisle had become a beautifully elaborate carpet of flowers, leading up to a giant golden bowl overflowing with piled fruits. Precious seats for the Sixteen Arhats were laid out on the main stage, where a black pagoda shrine occupied the centre ground.
More transformation was in store. In the short space of time for Sojong vows and the first morning prayers, a red carpet walkway strewn with orange and yellow petals had appeared outside. Mönlam Members lining up along it, some still finishing their breakfast, all with their katas at the ready, quickly filled the short stretch from Tergar Monastery to the Pavilion.
With the sun rising out of the early morning haze, the opening prayers from the Prostrations and Offerings to the Sixteen Elders were heard from the Pavilion, and simultaneously the sound of jalings rang out from Tergar. Victory banners and parasols emerged, signalling the start of the procession, which slowly came into view. Under each parasol was one of the Sixteen Arhats in a mask and costume, faithfully represented with the attributes described in the Prostrations and Offerings to the Sixteen Elders. Each arhat was accompanied by an attendant, similarly in character, carrying the parasol. Behind the Arhats came groups of monks with alms bowls. The head of the procession entered the Pavilion to the sound of music succeeding the prayers inside, their soft measured steps barely disturbing the carpet of flowers as their solemn progress neared the stage, where His Holiness Karmapa waited.
With self-possessed precision the Sixteen Arhats, their attendants and the accompanying monks proceeded up onto the stage and fell into position. Closing the procession, a spectacular golden statue of the Buddha was wheeled in and placed inside the pagoda shrine, flanked by two more masked and costumed Elders with ringing staff and bowl, representing the Buddha's main disciples, Shariputra and Maudgalyayana. The final group of monks escorting the statue and taking their places on the tiered seats either side of the stage could well be described as 'innumerable', and must have given Mönlam participants a small taste of what the Buddha's wanderings with his company of bhikshus over these very lands may have been like.
The Twenty-Branch Monlam prayers resumed, and the stage was made ready for the offerings. A laden basket was placed at the feet of each of the Sixteen Arhats, and katas were draped around the giant golden bowl. When the prayers ended, the Arhats under their parasols and the Elders exited the stage, and their places were taken by their monk attendants.

The last and longest part of the event, which lasted the remainder of the morning session, began: monks and nuns and lay followers, Tibetan and foreign, came up with their individual offerings in a long but orderly line which ran the length of the Pavilion. The mantra changed back and forth fromNamo Shakyamunaye to Karmapa Khyenno. Bags of fruits, tubs of sweets, cartons of biscuits filled sack after sack and, most importantly, the generousness of the offerings swelled the hearts of all those who shared this moment.

2017.2.18 第34屆噶舉大祈願法會.正行相關活動.托缽暨供養十六羅漢 Alms Procession and offering to the 16 Arhats http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1136-the-procession-of-the-sixteen-arhats

“What I Give Away is Mine”: the Gyalwang Karmapa’s Advice as the 34th Kagyu Monlam Ends

February 19, 2017
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The last afternoon of the 34th Kagyu Mönlam started slightly earlier than usual with a Medicine Buddha tsok practice according to the Concise Ritual of Offering to the Seven Tathagatas, compiled by the 6th Sharmapa. Tsok, in the form of small bags of fruit, was distributed to each and every participant, sangha and lay followers alike, and money offerings traditionally known in Tibet as 'kunki' were also given to the sangha.

At the end of the afternoon break, His Holiness Karmapa came onto the stage and the session on the Appreciation of the Sponsors opened with the procession for the mandala offering, led by the sponsors who then sat on the stage for the blessings that would follow. Appreciation of the Sponsors is an opportunity to share and dedicate virtue, and His Holiness spoke at some length on the importance of generosity as a means for generating virtue, and on the equal indispensability of the dedication of the virtue generated.

Reprising teachings by Chandrakirti in Entering the Middle Way, he pointed out that wealth and prosperity cannot come about through just any cause, but have their roots precisely in generosity. His Holiness also quoted the Sutra Requested by the Householder Draksulchen on the innumerable benefits of giving: "What I give away is mine, what is left in the house is not. What I give away has meaning, what I keep has no meaning."

That is, when we give things away the virtue generated subsists into the next life, whereas whatever we grasp we must leave behind when we die, he explained. However, virtue accumulated, if not dedicated, may be destroyed through unskillful responses such as anger, wrong views, regret, denigration, and pride and boastfulness about our own generosity. His Holiness used the simile of the drop in the ocean, which remains until the whole ocean dries up, to illustrate that virtue dedicated to bodhichitta is not wasted until enlightenment; and further quotes from Shantideva, Maitreya and the Kriya tantras, to argue that all virtue dedicated, whether ours or others', increases and becomes itself a cause for achieving Buddhahood: "Many rivers flow, each with its own flavour, yet when they reach the ocean, they all taste of ocean."

Recollecting that the scope of generosity depended on the greatness of the recipient, of the thing offered, and of the intention, His Holiness pointed out that the Kagyu Mönlam offered an unexcelled field of offering under all three aspects. Stressing the pure motivation of bodhichitta, he exhorted all Mönlam participants to avoid stains such as the wish for fame, expectations of a return or of riches in the next life, or giving out of envy or prideful conceit. He also said:

The greatest recipients of generosity are the Three Jewels, especially the noble sangha. In generosity to sangha there is virtue in offering and in accepting. Here in the Mönlam there is great virtue, here is gathered the virtue of the three times for us to dedicate.

His Holiness especially commended Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche for his sponsoring of the Mönlam, making it worthy of dedication. And certainly the attendance of Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Yangsi Bokar Rinpoche in this last afternoon, as in the previous days of the Mönlam, heightened the participants' sense of the auspiciousness of the occasion.

The essential proceedings of the Appreciation of the Sponsors then got under way: in synch with the chanting of the Offering of the Eight Auspicious Substances, the Offering of the Seven Articles of Royalty, and the Offering of the Eight Marks of Auspiciousness, their representations were successively brought to His Holiness to be blessed, and taken round to the sponsors to bless them in turn. In conclusion, extolling once again the virtue of sharing in the benefits of the sponsors, His Holiness offered a statue of the Buddha to each of them, and gifts were also made to the sangha present on stage.

His Holiness, although suffering from a bad cold and lack of sleep, used the platform of his closing address to the 34th Kagyu Mönlam to speak honestly and openly about the situation arisen with Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche's resignation. He explained that he had learned about it shortly after it had happened, a few months before it became public; that himself and others around him and in the Jamgön Labrang who were aware of it tried to do all they could, until Rinpoche announced it himself on Facebook. He shared a particular feeling he'd had when celebrating Rinpoche's birthday:

"I thought that Rinpoche was separated from his parents and brought to India at a very young age—before the age of one. From the time he was very young, he had a lot of difficulties. I thought, 'How dreadful. The poor guy!' I’d never had that thought about him before, but I did last year.

He was given the title of a tulku, and of a high lama in particular, and because of that he probably has the same feelings about the difficulties he faces as I do. It has been many years since I was given the title of Karmapa, and I have experienced many difficulties myself."

His Holiness expressed his great regret that he had not been able to give greater support and advice:

"Often I was unable to show Rinpoche how I cared for him. So I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Rinpoche, the Jamgön Labrang, and all the students who are connected with him."

When the situation first arose, His Holiness acknowledged, he had many different feelings, he was angry and depressed. But he stressed that he had never given up on Rinpoche, nor on his love and care for him. He expressed his certainty that all who had faith in Rinpoche felt the same, and this was something he would like Rinpoche to understand. Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche's resignation was, nonetheless, a great setback for the Kagyu lineage:

The previous Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche's passing away at a young age created difficulties, this adds even more difficulties on top of that. I'm sure that the Jamgön Labrang did all they could with pure motivation, so I ask the Labrang and sangha not to get discouraged. I also ask the students, friends and sponsors of the Jamgön Labrang to continue with their support, so that the activity of the various Jamgön Kongtrul incarnations can increase.

Many people might be worried about what would happen in the future, but the important thing to remember for a tulku, His Holiness counselled, was to never give up on the teachings of the Buddha. Wrapping up his address, he reiterated that whether Rinpoche was a monk or not, he should not give up working for sentient beings, and that the same held true for the lamas and tulkus who were in the world, in whatever situation:

That’s about all there is to say. I have done everything I could up to now. I’m not someone who has abandoned all faults and developed all qualities. But no matter what happens, I continue to think I won’t give up on benefitting Buddhism and sentient beings. Please everyone keep that in mind.

After the reading of the Great Aspiration and of the Dedication for the Living and Deceased—and a reminder that it was through the sponsoring of these prayers that the Mönlam was made possible—His Holiness took the time to extensively thank all those whose contribution had ensured a successful 34th Kagyu Mönlam: Lama Chodrak, and all the tulkus who had worked very hard alongside everyone else; Tergar Monastery, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and all the workers there who had offered 100% support; the Kagyu Gunchoe, whose workers had become Mönlam workers too; and the workers from the Tsurphu Labrang who, whether operating in ordinary circumstances or in the whirlwind of the Mönlam, made everything possible for it to go well.

His Holiness also expressly mentioned the representatives of the Tibetan and Indian governments, pointing out that they travelled with him all the time, and that it was appropriate to take this opportunity to thank them. He again thanked the Mönlam Members and the guru sevakas; for the latter, in particular, His Holiness appreciated the hardships they faced making their way to the Mönlam, and how very hard they worked, throughout, once there. He thanked the students from Suja School in Bir who had come to work as the dharmapalas, and the Indian workers who were there every day. And he left some special thanks for last:

Thank you, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, for coming and presiding over ceremonies. Thank you, Mingyur Rinpoche, for your hospitality and your blessings. Thank you, Bokar Rinpoche, for being here, your predecessor was a life force of the Mönlam.
I would like to thank all the tulkus, all the teachers, and all the sangha from our monasteries and nunneries and from other lineages. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Over 50 countries are represented here and I thank you all for coming. We are realising the noble wish of the 7th Karmapa by coming together to pray. Every one of you, I thank you all.

The 34th Kagyu Mönlam ended with images of beauty and unity in aspiration that could not but make a deep and lingering impression in the minds of all present. At every refrain in Lord Marpa's Song of Auspicioness, in the Auspiciousness of the Great Encampment, and in the final Prayers to Accomplish the Truth, Mönlam participants waved their katas in ripples of unison, firstly accompanied by the Karmapa's throwing of rice in blessing, and then led by the unfurling of his own white kata. At a last sustained call of jalings and dungchens, His Holiness left the Mönlam stage, and the curtain fell on the intensity of this unique week.

2017.2.19 Offerings to the gurus,Medicine Buddha,Sponsor Appreciation,HHKs Closing Speech http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1123-what-i-give-away-is-mine-the-gyalwang-karmapa-s-advice-as-the-34th-kagyu-monlam-ends


Special Features of the 34th Kagyu Monlam: The Stage

February 13, 2017
Monlam Pavilion

For those who were used to seeing the Buddha flanked by the great tormas, Mount Kailash rising behind, and masses of flowers arranged on all tiers of the stage, this year’s design must have come as something of a surprise.

The stage and its backdrop are a magnificent fusion of classical Chinese elements and the uncluttered clear-cut lines of modern design. The arrangement is a co-production between His Holiness the Karmapa and a professional stage designer from Shanghai, who first met His Holiness at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet in 1999.

In an interview, the stage designer explained how, traditionally, Tibetan settings use rich, strong colours, are very elaborate, very expressive and powerful. They are stunning and have great visual impact. When the Karmapa first suggested that the two of them should collaborate on designing the stage for the 34th Kagyu Monlam, the designer focused on how to capture in a new way the grandeur and solemnity of the pujas offered during the Monlam. He wanted to emphasise those particular aspects, and, so the backdrop was originally designed in very stark black and white. Later it was changed to gold and white.

The backdrop is made of heavy white canvas in order to resonate with the colour of the marble flooring of the stage and its tiers, and is covered in a pattern of highly stylised, auspicious golden clouds, painted according to those found in classical Chinese texts. These clouds symbolise brightness, vastness and unhurriedness, and are intended to reflect the qualities of Lord Buddha. The motif is continued into each corner of the stage, either side of the huge screens, and a Tibetan-style frieze, unifies the whole.

The seed syllables of the five Buddha families hang in front of the backdrop, in accordance with special instructions from His Holiness. The colour red was chosen for them because it creates a focal point for our attention and also uplifts the spirit. [After the Monlam, during the Gutor, the backdrop will be changed into one which is mainly dark indigo with a drawing of the fire mudra which symbolises Mahakala.]

The tormas have been moved down from their previous position where they flanked the Buddha on to the main stage. This clears the area around the Buddha image, creating an additional sense of spaciousness and open-ness, but also brings more focus onto the tormas themselves.
Visual distractions have been reduced and flower displays kept to a minimum.

The tiers on the wings, where the gelong and gelongma sit, have been covered in red carpet and the risers have been painted red; changes intended to create an holistic harmony.

Above the Buddha, suspended from the girders, as if floating in mid-air, is a huge intricately designedchhatra or parasol. An ancient Indian symbol of kingship, it is depicted above the heads of Indian royalty, Hindu deities, Lord Buddha and the bodhisattvas. The chhatra is in an ornate Chinese style and made from gilded copper. Inside, directly above the Buddha’s head, is a mandala of the Mani prayer, Om Mani Padme Hum, the sacred mantra of Avalokiteshvara.

2017.2.20 Backdrop http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1024-special-features-of-the-34th-kagyu-monlam-the-stage