KARMAPA PAST ACTIVITIES: April-june, 2011
Karmapa Inaugurates Tsang Menthang Exhibition
June 27, 2011. Dharamshala
His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa inaugurate an exhibition of traditional Tibetan Thangka painting at the Tsuglakkhang complex. He commended the artists for their work and encouraged them to spread the tradition of their unique Tibetan Traditional Art of Tsang Menthang, highlighting the importance of many reincarnations of His Holiness Penchen Rinpoche’s role in keeping this lineage unbroken.
"In our traditional Thanka painting, we only paint Buddha and other deities. I usually feel that it is important to paint the life story of Tibetan people, in that way we can explore more areas of our tradition and culture. We can keep our culture in this manner" said His Holiness.
His Holiness was accompanied by the minister of Religion and culture; Tsering Phuntsok. The Thangka teacher, Buchung Nugbya, introduced the ancient lineage of Tsang Menthang, of Tibetan Traditional Arts.
Later Gyalwang Karmapa visited His Holiness Dalai lama at his residence, followed by a short visit to Tibetan Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.
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Activities undertaken on the occasion of the 26th Birthday Celebrations of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa
June 26, 2011 - Gyuto Dharamsala.
This year in accordance with the wishes of His Holiness The Gyalwang Karmapa, a set of special practices was announced for the recollection of the kindness of the two Heart sons Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche and prayers were offered as well for their well being and long life.
Tsurphu Labrang has performed 5 of the practices on the occasion of His Holiness’ 26th birthday celebration. A weeklong prayer of Dorje Drolo and Tsedup was performed for the long life of His Holiness Dalai Lama, the Gyalwang Karmapa, and especially for the two heart sons. http://longlifeaccumulations.com/
In the morning of 26th June, members of the Tsurphu Labrang (Karmapa’s Office of Administration) offered birthday wishes and long life prayers to His Holiness. Creating further auspicious conditions to that end, the Karmae Garchen Trust and the Tsurphu Labrang jointly organized a free eye camp here at Gyuto Monastery, the temporary residence of His Holiness the Karmapa.
Senior ophthalmologist and a team from S M Kangra Eye Hospital examined around 600 people during the eye camp and from which around 50 patients were screened for micro surgery for cataracts. The eye camp also provided free medicines to the people suffering from eye ailments, and people suffering from vision deficiency were provided with eyeglasses .
On this occasion Tsurphu Labrang also distributed gifts and school stationeries to more than 500 children from 11 schools within and around Siddhibari, lower Dharamsala.
Further commemorating His Holiness’ birthday, the Office of Administration published a new edition of Layjang, a quarterly Tibetan-language bulletin containing teachings, poetry and other compositions by His Holiness.
In Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim the main seat of His Holiness, the 26th Birthday celebration according to western calendar was celebrated on a grand scale by all the Monks and lay community of Dharma Chakra Centre. The birthday celebration commenced from 6 am with Sang-sol and hosting of prayers flags. Later at 9:00 am mandala offerings and prayers for His Holiness’es Long Life were made which included prayers for the gratitude of beloved mother (Ma Dri-lan Shak-do by 3rd Karmapa) .
Ven Dropon Dechen Rinpoche inaugurated Tso-Jey Medicial Clinic at the Dharma Chakra Center in the presence of Chief Guest Phetuk Tsering Bhutia Sangha MLA (Member of Legislative Assemblyfor Ecclesiastical Affairs ) Govt of Sikkim. The Tso Jey Clinic has been established as a special charitable activity to provide free medical care and needs for the community at the Dharma Chakra Center and for the people of nearby villages.
Rumtek Monastery also organized a free medical check up and free distribution of medicines in both Western and Tibetan tradition and also gave donation to Bal Niketan School at Tadong which provides care and welfare for orphaned children. Finally the Cake cutting and cultural shows highlighted the celebration.
Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche visited Gyalwang Karmapa at later’s residence to wish birthday and had lunch together.
The Vajra Vidya Institute in Sarnath, Varanasi celebrated His Holiness’ 26th birthday by releasing 70,000 fishes in the Ganga River in Varanasi.
In Nepal, Tsurphu Labrang organized a program for white washing the great Stupas of Boudhanath, Swayambu and Namo Buddha on the occasion of His Holiness’ birthday and as part of long life accumulation.
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His Holiness the Karmapa Blesses Celebration of the 50-Year Anniversary of Founding of the Tibetan Institute of Medicine and Astrology
June 2, Mentseekhang - Dharamsala.
(His Holiness composed a short poem for the 50th anniversary)
In addressing those gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibetan Institute of Medicine and Astrology in Dharamsala, the Gyalwang Karmapa said that Tibetan astrology must go hand in hand with medicine, as the two are inseparable. The number of astrologers is far smaller as compared to doctors, and His Holiness said he felt that astronomy and astrology are also significant areas of scientific learning that are interrelated with medicine and Buddhism.
“On this 50th anniversary I pledge to study Tibetan medicine and astrology and hope it will be my contribution to the preservation of Tibetan medicine and astrology,” said the Gyalwang Karmapa.
Lauding the premiere Tibetan medical institute in exile for its achievements thus far, His Holiness said it should nevertheless continue to exert effort to secure greater goals in the traditional field of ancient Tibetan healing. “The complacent attitude over our achievements is the main obstacle to future progress. From the Buddhist point of view, the thought of having achieved so much and being contented with our achievements prevents our further progress,” said the Gyalwang Karmapa.
The ceremony commenced with a long-life offering of the three jewels to His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa by the Director, Dr. Tsewang Tamdin. The Principal of the College offered a welcome address, and presented a progress report.
Also participating in the event were Prime Minister Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, CTA Chief Justice, Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, ministers of the Tibetan cabinet, governing body members, CCTM chairman, Doctor of Delek Hospital, Dr. Yeshi Dhonden.
His Holiness inaugurated a photo exhibition depicting the traditional Tibetan medicine and astrology. Also on display were scroll paintings of Tibetan medical practices, herbal medicines, astrological presentations and patient testimonials.
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The Gyalwang Karmapa praises the contribution of Prime Minister Professor Samdhong Rinpoche.
May 25, Tsuglakhang, Mcleodganj
In a short speech, which both surprised and delighted the huge crowd gathered in the courtyard of the main temple, Gyalwang Karmapa balanced wit and humour with a respectful seriousness when considering Samdhong Rinpoche’s great achievements during his tenure as Kalon Tripa. At one point, even the usually austere face of Samdhong Rinpoche broke into a wide smile, when His Holiness referred to him as “the Dharma police” and expressed concern that Samdhong Rinpoche might scold him if he were to misbehave in any way.
Speaking from personal knowledge gleaned in conversations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Gyalwang Karmapa praised Samdhong Rinpoche as “a person who has the complete trust of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and who fulfills the Dalai Lama’s wishes”, the supreme accolade.
The function, organised by the Tibetan Association of Belgium, was held to bestow an honorary award on Samdhong Rinpoche, the out-going Kalon Tripa [Prime Minister], for his outstanding leadership of the Tibetan government-in-exile. The Gyalwang Karmapa attended as chief guest and presented the award − a statue of Buddha, an honorary citation and a set of monk’s robes − on behalf of everyone.
Speaker of the Tibetan government-in exile’s elected assembly, Penpa Tsering, acted as master of ceremonies. Other guests included Kalon Tripa-elect Dr. Lobsang Senge, former and senior functionaries of the Tibetan administration, Special Envoy Gyari Lodoe Gyaltsen, Indian dignitaries and participants of the Tibetan National General Meeting, which is currently meeting to discuss the transfer of powers and responsibilities following the retirement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
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Gyalwang Karmapa Teaches American Students as Part of College Course on Sustainable Compassion
May 3-22, 2011. Gyuto
His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa yesterday concluded a three-week series of teachings to a group of students from the University of Redlands in California, USA. The 16 students had travelled to India to study with His Holiness as part of a unique college course called: Sustainable Compassion: Conversations with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. The aim of the course was to allow the American students, nearly all non-Buddhists, to hear from His Holiness "what Buddhism can offer the global community," according to the teacher leading the group, Professor Karen Derris, PhD (Harvard University).
Over the course of several months prior to their arrival in India for the classes with His Holiness, the students worked with their professor and a group facilitator to develop a list of ten topics that reflected their concerns for the world and for their own lives. Though coming from a wide variety of academic disciplines, the 16 students all study in the university's Johnston Program and all share a general hope to dedicate their careers to working to relieve suffering in the world. The topics they selected to discuss with His Holiness were:
- Sustainable Compassion
- Crafting a Meaningful Livelihood
- Social Justice
- Environmental Protection
- Healthy Relationships
- Integrating Spirituality
- Food Justice
- Consumerism and Greed
- Conflict Resolution
- Gender Issues
From May 3 through May 22, His Holiness met with the students in his personal library at Gyuto Monastery in Dharamsala. Each session was devoted to a single topic. The sessions began with presentations by the students articulating their personal concerns on each issue, followed by a teaching by His Holiness and an extended question-and-answer section. His Holiness taught partly in English and partly in Tibetan, with translation into English provided by Ngodup Tsering Burkhar, his longtime translator.
During their first meeting, His Holiness noted that since he and the students were born around the same year, they had been sharing this planet all along, but had only now had the opportunity to meet one another. A majority of the students are graduating seniors, and as they looked ahead, the Gyalwang Karmapa encouraged them not to think of the lives they would live as simply what they did and experienced based on their own limited body, but rather to envision that their lives could extend far beyond themselves and touch many others in limitless ways.
In the 12 meetings that followed, His Holiness offered the young students guidelines for doing just that, and for dealing with the obstacles they were likely to face as they sought to forge lives that were meaningful for themselves and beneficial to others. Throughout the course, the Gyalwang Karmapa presented Buddhist teachings with virtually no Buddhist terminology, and offered tools that did not assume or require that the students would accept Buddhist theories or adopt Buddhist practices. As a result, the students left with universal wisdom already suited for them to apply to their lives as non-Buddhists.
On their final day in Dharamsala, the students held a concluding dinner with His Holiness, where they expressed their gratitude and offered the Gyalwang Karmapa several songs, including an original song they composed based on one of His Holiness' teachings and a jazz rendition of His Holiness' Ah, World tune. One student and a group facilitator also read a prayer they had composed together in His Holiness' honor. The group further presented His Holiness with a bag featuring a logo they had designed to commemorate their time with him.
As the course drew to a close, several students expressed how moving it was for them to encounter a spiritual leader who appeared to be their peer in age but who was so clearly beyond them in wisdom. Deeply inspired by their interactions with His Holiness, the students described the three weeks with him as "utterly life changing." The group has created a blog called karmapaconversations.blogspot.com where they will share their experiences and impressions of what they learned.
This series of meetings between His Holiness and the University of Redlands students will be published as a book aimed at young adults in the West.
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His Holiness Karmapa visits Nagpur and Mumbai
May 13, 2011. Nagpur
His Holiness gave teachings on “Harmony, Ethics and Power” to the Buddhist devotees of Nagpur who has specially gathered here for this occasion. People’s Democratic Movement of Nagpur organized the teaching. His Holiness inaugurated Dr. Ambedkar’s statue before arriving at the teaching venue.
Department of Pali, University of Mumbai has requested His Holiness to inaugurate the celebration of the 2600th Enlightenment year of the Buddha.
His Holiness spoke about the “Buddha’s Theory of compassion and global peace” at the function and inaugurated photo exhibition at University of Mumbai.
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His Holiness Karmapa visits Ladakh
April 24, 2011. Leh, Ladakh
DAY 1, 24TH APRIL
Upon arrival in Leh, Ladakh, His Holiness was welcomed with a traditional Buddhist reception. He was greeted by thousands of cheering people who had gathered in the airport and along the road all the way to the Jhokhang, the main temple of Leh city which houses the statue of Jho Rinpoche. Auspicious mandala offerings were made to him there and refreshments were served to everyone gathered. After a brief prayer session, His Holiness then visited a photograph exhibit detailing the flood catastrophe of August 6, 2010, where hundreds of lives were lost.
In the afternoon, he had a private meeting with the Vice President of the Ladakh Gompa Association, President of the Ladakh Buddhist Association, and the Ladakh Buddhist Association Youth Wing. They reported to him the source, event and aftermath of the floods and the details of how the community has gradually recovered since then. His Holiness expressed his deep sympathies for the losses. He commented that he had had a strong wish to come immediately after the disaster to be with the Ladakhi people, adding that due to circumstances out of his own control, he was unable to. He expressed his deep affection and appreciation for the love and support that the Ladakhi people have for him. He said that it was most important to remember those who have passed away during this catastrophe and pray for their next lives. He praised the efforts made by the Indian Government, the State Government of Jammu & Kashmir, various NGOs, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and eminent masters such as Gyalwang Drukchen Rinpoche, for all the rebuilding that has taken place since.
DAY 2, 25TH APRIL
Accompanied by many Ladakhi followers, including prominent members of the Ladakh Gompa Association, Ladakh Buddhist Association, and Ladakh Women's Association, His Holiness visited several flood affected sites during the second day of his visit to Ladakh. His Holiness was greeted by devotees on the side of the road throughout the journey. On many occasions, he spontaneously performed blessing ceremonies for the people gathered there.
This first site His Holiness visited was Gangles Gonpa, where he was offered a mandala by the main monks of the monastery. Following this, he went on to Manetsalding, the main town area which was one of the worst-affected areas during the flood. His Holiness made heart-felt prayers in front of over 3,000 people who had gathered, for the future benefit of the people who had passed away during the tragedy. He advised those who had survived to focus on being kind to one another and to practice shinay (calm abiding) as a means of maintaining equilibrium. Since so many people have lost a dear one, he said, healing from this grief would come if everyone could extend their love for their near ones to those un-related to them. He concluded by appreciating the mutual love and care that the Ladakhi people have for him and that he feels for them, and said that he would do whatever he can in his capacity as a lama to help those who were affected during this tragedy.
His Holiness next visited Saboo, where the sorrow and heartache of the people was palpable and men and women both cried openly when His Holiness spoke to them. He said that people should make deep aspirations for those who passed away, praying that their next lives would be better and free of pain. He said that he himself was continually making this prayer and had done so since the tragedy.
His Holiness then went to Tashi Gatsal, where the devastation was particularly acute. After the mandala offerings, he spoke to the audience gathered, gently reminding them of the healing powers of Dharma practice and asking them not to lose faith.
In the afternoon, His Holiness visited Phyang and went up to the mountain area, which is reportedly where the cloudburst water started accumulating. He preformed rabney blessing for the area and then visited Phyang Monastery, a well-known Drikung Kagyu monastery. The final visit was to Taru, to Bakula Rinpoche's monastery.
DAY 3, 26TH APRIL
On the morning of the 26th, His Holiness gave a teaching to the general public at Jive Tsal, Choglamsar. Over 25,000 devotees were gathered at the Jive Tsal ground, having come from as far as Kargil, Nubra, and Changtang, dressed in their finest clothes for the occasion. The ground was ringed with shining white mountains under a cloudless blue sky, enhancing the festive and joyful atmosphere.
His Holiness began the teaching by asking everyone to participate in a minute of silence dedicated for the people who passed away during the flood in July. Following this dedication, he first apologized for not having been able to come to Ladakh immediately after the devastating floods in July last year, to share the grief and pain of the Ladakhi people. He praised the strong support and rehabilitation efforts of the Indian Government, the State Government of Jammu & Kashmir, and the many NGOs that stepped in to help Ladakh in its time of need. In particular, the visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who came and shared his loving advice with everyone, as well as the caring and concern of Gyalwang Drukchen Rinpoche and other eminent masters, would have sustained especially those who suffered from grave personal losses, he said.
His Holiness expressed his confidence that Ladakh would overcome this disaster. “In India,” His Holiness said, “a great democracy with freedom of religion, and equal opportunities available for education and self-betterment, the Ladakhi people can rightfully strive for a great future. This is not true in the case of Tibet.” The Gyalwang Karmapa referred specifically to a young monk who self-immolated at Kirti Monastery in eastern Tibet as an act of protest in March this year. His Holiness had been greatly saddened to hear this news and to know that freedom of religious practice continues to be restricted and that the Tibetan people's human rights are so greatly repressed. He said, "The situation is very intense for Tibetan people with no room for them to express any freedom and communicate with each other and the outside world without barriers." He added his support to the concerns expressed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kriti Rinpoche and others who have appealed to the Chinese authorities for a restrained reaction to this recent situation.
He observed that Ladakh had the great good fortune of favorable outer and inner conditions for dharma practice and added that if one were able to harness inner resolve and perseverance, one could own the dharma. He said that if we are born into a Buddhist family, we can cultivate the habits of mantra recitation and prostrations without really understanding why we are doing this. Therefore, it is very important to ask why one is a Buddhist and what one's own practice actually means. Being a Buddhist is not all-important, he added. Ladakh has many different religions that exist alongside each other and all people should give respect and caring to one another, regardless of such differences, especially since everyone has suffered together so greatly. He went on to stress the importance of a good heart and said that happiness can be achieved only when it is shared with others and this communal sharing is what will heal the Ladakhi people.
He concluded with lungs (reading transmissions) for several practices including Chenrezig and Tara, which he hoped would help alleviate the grief.
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Karmapa Teaches on “The Middling Stages of Meditation”
April 22-23, 2011. India Habitat Centre, New Delhi
The event was hosted by The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, a not for profit, non-sectarian, non-denominational organization established with the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to His Holiness in 1989. Gyalwang Karmapa taught for three sessions exploring themes from Acharya Kamalashila’s text “The Middling Stages of Meditation”, and answering general questions from the audience.
There are certain fundamental themes in Buddhism, stated Gyalwang Karmapa, in his general introduction. These include the view of cause and effect and dependent origination, which form the basis of the Buddhist teachings; samsara, the cycle of existence, which is the cause of suffering, and the path of cessation by which one can achieve the causes for liberation or nirvana. Common to all sentient beings is the desire for happiness and the wish to avoid suffering, but in order to fulfill these, they need to understand and subsequently abandon the causes of suffering. Human beings are particularly fortunate because they possess human intellect which should be used first to investigate the causes of happiness and then to establish happiness.
Gyalwang Karmapa suggested that it is failure to apply human intelligence coupled with lack of compassion which has led to many of the problems the world is experiencing today. Often actions were fuelled by the opposite of compassion−malicious intent−reflecting not only a basic lack of moral ethics, but also a failure to understand the true sources of happiness. We do not perceive our essential interconnectedness. Even ethical behaviour is often prompted by self-interest, or else narrow-minded in scope, limited to friends or family, not encompassing all sentient beings. It is as if we are trapped in an iron cage, a prison of our own making; this is essentially the cage of grasping at a truly existent self. First we are attached to the “I“ and then to “my” − my possessions, my family, my friends, and so forth. We shut the door on those outside, and we are trapped inside. A prisoner only has access to a very few people, and, in the same way, trapped inside this iron cage, we do not know how to connect to others, and we dismiss their importance. It’s our responsibility to destroy this prison, this iron cage of self-grasping, yet, unfortunatley, we are content in the present, and fail to comprehend how this cage is limiting our freedom. The method to liberate ourselves from this cage requires the combination of wisdom with love and compassion.
Focusing specifically on the text, Gyalwang Karmapa then talked about meditation on the Four Immeasureable Thoughts:
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes.
May they be free from suffering and its causes.
May they never be parted from the sublime bliss free from suffering.
May they dwell in great equanimity, free from attachment and aversion to those near and far.
The desire to benefit others is rooted in our sense of loving kindness, and the Four Immeasurable Thoughts begin with the wish for the happiness of all beings, which is the expression of loving kindness. The text suggests that we should use our mother as the example, because, usually, this view is first developed towards people close to us, and she has shown us great kindness. We should, however, also reflect on how all sentient beings have been like mothers to us −without them we would have neither food nor clothing, underlining the essential interdependence and interconnectedness which is fundamental to life! This is an essential contemplation for Dharma practitioners, because it is the basis from which we can understand the intrinsic value and importance of all sentient beings. In addition, we need to recognise the commonality of all sentient beings in wanting to attain happiness and avoid suffering.
The second immeasurable thought is the wish that all beings be free from suffering, which is the view of compassion. Referring to his own experience, Gyalwang Karmapa illustrated how this freedom from suffering is an actual benefit in our power to give others. “When I was a child,” he said, “ I used to eat meat, but a few years ago I saw a documentary about the suffering of animals when they are slaughtered, and after that I had no choice but to become a vegetarian.” How long would it take to realise the suffering of other sentient beings? Did people have to wait until the Pacific Ocean turned red with blood or animals could speak in their own defence? Nor was developing a sense of compassion contingent on disasters; there was no need to wait for 2012, and the world to be destroyed, quipped His Holiness. Compassion has to be voluntary and developed in a natural, almost instinctive way.
The next two immeasurable thoughts are the wishes for all beings to possess immeasurable happiness and immeasurable equanimity. The first of these is the antidote to envy and jealousy. It was very important for practitioners to develop the capacity to take delight in others’ happiness, to rejoice in their qualities and achievements and not feel antagonism in the face of others’ success.
First, though, he recommended, we should meditate on immeasurable equanimity, the fourth immeasurable. Most people do not have actual enemies but there are people who might be termed “false enemies”, those who have harmed us in some way, real or imagined, towards whom we feel anger or resentment. This is the point at which we need to develop loving kindness towards them.
Gyalwang Karmapa emphasised that Dharma practice is neither a therapy session nor a kind of spiritual massage, but should rather be compared to an extensive training programmme, such as soldiers undergo, which has to be practised in all aspects of our lives, not just when we are sitting on the meditation seat in the shrine room. There is a danger of inconsistencies arising when we develop loving kindness and compassion; for example, some might develop love and compassion towards others, but not towards close family members. It was also just as important to meditate on love and compassion towards neutral people, those for whom we had no particularly strong feelings, neither negative nor positive. Ultimately, our loving kindess and compassion should embrace all sentient beings. If we wanted to lead meaningful lives, we had to break out of the iron cage, transcend ourselves, and live as part of everything.
In the second session, His Holiness considered the importance of bodhicitta and mindfulness.
He began by acknowledging how most ancient Asian spriritual traditions have profound instructions. But having the teachings is not enough, he commented, they have to be practised, and the way of practising depends on the capacity of the practitioner.
Comparing the other Buddhist vehicles and the Great Vehicle [Mahayana], His Holiness explained that, rather than seeking personal liberation from samsara, the unique contribution of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition is its commitment to transporting all sentient beings to liberation. All great beings shared this wish.
Beings could be divided into three capacities or levels, and different practices existed for each of these levels of attainment. It was foolish to try to attempt to practise beyond our appropriate level; one should train in the basics first as it is impossible to bring benefit to all sentient beings until we have tamed our own minds. For the Mahayana practitioner, however, the root of the path is bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment - the fundamental cause and condition of the Mahayana vehicle. Thus it is crucial that we understand the reasons for developing bodhicitta. An example, often given in this context, is that of a family asleep when their house catches fire. A member of the family makes his escape to safety, but on the threshold, with one foot in the house and one foot outside, he remembers the rest of the family, and goes back inside to save them. Hence bodhicitta has two aspects: liberating others and liberating one’s self. To think only of the benefit of others would be to fall into the extremes.
Bodhicitta strives for complete enlightenment. Why? If we compare a fully-enlightened person, a Buddha, and someone who is still training on the path, there is a difference in capacity. The Buddha has perfected his capacity. As you cannot benefit every being by a single method, the Buddha needs to be omniscient in terms of knowing all phenomena. This omniscience does not mean knowing how many different insects there are, rather it means knowing all the methods which can lead to the liberation of sentient beings. This all-knowing mind, knowing all phenomena, starts by placing attention on each phenomenon.
There are many different paths and methods for bringing sentient beings to happiness and freeing them from suffering. Some originate in spiritual traditions and others do not. Yet, it is important that we respect and understand them all, because each of them reveals a path for a person of a certain outlook or disposition.
However, there is often confusion over the nature of happiness. The things we view as happiness− the happiness of everyday experience−is contaminated happiness, affected by the suffering of change, and similar to the relief we feel when we put down a heavy load. Only nirvana or Buddhahood is true happiness. Some people look for happiness in external things but this is not lasting happiness. For example we buy a new car and experience a sense of happiness and pleasure for a few days, and then the feeling fades. Thus, we confuse a temporary feeling of pleasure with ultimate happiness. Or we throw a party or go fishing or hiking. Again, the sense of happiness is temporary because it is dependent on external conditions. We should, instead, use our intelligence to analyse what leads to true happiness, and then we will realise that in order to be happy, in order to develop natural, effortless happiness, we need to look inside ourselves. For example, when we meditate we feel peaceful, because it’s like coming home; our mind is relaxed, not worrying about the past or the future, but focussed on the present moment. This state is not dependent on external conditions. However, because it is not possible to spend the day in meditative concentration − we are busy people − we need a method which we can use in our daily lives. In essence, we need to remain mindful, whatever we are doing, and use the analytical part of our mind to observe whatever arises, and then, at the end of each day, we should ask ourselves, “What have I done today?”.
Even if we can only develop mindfulness for some part of each day or some activities, it will make our lives meaningful.
In the final session, Gyalwang Karmapa discussed the two forms of meditation − insight meditation and calm-abiding− and the meaning of emptiness.
Short-temperedness, he commented, seems to be on the rise in the 21st century – there are so many situations in which we begin to feel irritated and even lose our tempers, for example when queueing in the hospital or the post office. Meditation is a way to overcome this tendency.
There are two methods of training in calm-abiding meditation or samatha. One is in formal practice in a quiet place where we adopt the vajra position, and focus our mind. The second way, however, is to develop mindfulness whatever daily activity we are engaged in – being present in that moment− whether we are eating or working, driving, and so forth. We need to practise both methods in order to calm our minds. Sometimes, if we go out into the countryside or into the mountains, places where there are few distractions, we can relax and rest from our daily life, and let our minds be at ease. Similarly, daily meditation practice can become a way to rest our minds.
In our busy lives, we do not always have opportunity to go on retreat, and it is often difficult to find time for a formal daily meditation practice in our daily lives; for this reason we need to consider how we can bring meditation into our daily activities. Of course it is good to have a daily morning and evening formal practice of prayers and meditation − like the soldiers mentioned in the first session who are prepared for battle through extensive training exercises. When we undertake an exercise regime we are advised that the warm-up phase is most important. Daily meditation practise functions as both the warm-up phase and also as the recharging of our batteries. Being mindful throughout the day in all situations ensures that we use our time meaningfully, not wasting it.
What then is meditation? The word in Tibetan means cultivating the habit or becoming accustomed to something. Once we have become used to it, it becomes effortless. There are many approaches to meditation, and Gyalwang Karmapa said he was not familiar with all of them himself, but key to meditation practice is that when a situation jolts or disturbs us emotionally, such as making us angry, being able to be mindful at that point, being able to stand back and observe the play of the mental afflictions, will have the effect of diminishing the degree of disturbance. Rather like our experience of dealing with physical pain; when we focus our awareness on it, the pain diminishes. Thus it is important to nurture this practice of minfulness in our daily lives.
Special insight or analytical meditation, vipassana, focusses on emptiness, the understanding of the fundamental nature of reality which can root out the ignorance which is the basis of cyclic existence, namely the clinging to the mistaken idea of an inherently-existent self. Some people may think that emptiness is the negation of everything, so nothing exists, and selflessness means no self, so how can we accumulate karma and so on. This is the extreme of nihilism and is not the meaning of emptiness or selflessness. To say that something does not exist is not profound, whereas the meaning of emptiness is profound. It is not the same as non-existence. For example, when we analyse a vase, we cannot find the imputed object. What is this not-finding? Is it the not-finding of something that exists or the not-finding of something that does not exist? We are searching for something that does exist and not finding it. What does this mean? We are not saying that the vase does not exist, but rather, that we have misunderstood how it exists. It appears to us as if it exists from its own side, so when we search, we cannot find it. It does exist but not in that way. Similarly, to think that emptiness means non-existence is wrong.
When we watch an actor in a film, he appears to us as if he really exists, but we know that he doesn’t. There is the mere appearance of the actor, which exists in dependence on various causes and conditions such as the reel of film, the film projector, the screen and so on. Therefore, this appearance is a dependent origination, produced by many causes and conditions. The appearance exists but the actor does not exist as he appears. It seems to have a true existence, that is how it appears to the mind, but it is a mere appearance.
In the same way all composite phenomena do not exist in the way in which we impute them to exist. They appear to us as if they are non-dependent. The “I” ,for example, appears to us as independent and autonomous, occupying the centre of our world, not depending on any causes or conditions. In actuality, though the “I” exists, it does not exist in the way it appears to us. It exists in dependence on many causes and conditions.
Essentialy, emptiness means an opportunity or opening. As Nagarjuna said:
For whatever emptiness is possible, for that everything is possible.
Since things are empty, there are limitless opportunities for everything and anything to arise.
We think of ourselves as self-sufficient and independent, but through meditation on emptiness our minds are opened to the understanding that we are part of everything, and intrinsically interconnected. When we view ourselves as independent we have a blinkered, narrow perspective, but through an understanding of emptiness our minds are opened up, becoming vast, extensive and at ease. Whenever we feel under pressure, the feeling is so concrete. Yet, thinking of emptiness, that feeling dissipates completely. The view of emptiness is far more than a topic for research or discussion between university professors; such things can be pointless. Emptiness is an idea that has a practical application to our daily lives, something which brings benefit.
Gyalwang Karmapa joked how once, when he took an examination, he only came second, so his tutor fudged the result to make the number two look like a one [easier to do in Tibetan script]. People often seem to have a negative view of zero. However, without zero, first and second do not exist. Perhaps we should approach emptiness in the same way, as the source of all possibilities.
The teaching session concluded with questions from the audience.
Finally, at the end of the third session, there was a special presentation to all members of the audience of the second edition of the commemorative book written for the yearlong celebration of the 900th anniversary of the birth of the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa.
These beautifully produced books were signed on the spot by the Gyalwang Karmapa and presented personally to each individual.
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Himachal Drukpa Kagyu Organise Special Long Life Offering for Gyalwang Karmapa
Saturday 9th April, 2011 - Gyuto
On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of Gyalwang Karmapa’s followers from the Drukpa Kagyu tradition travelled especially from different parts of Himachal Pradesh to join together in offering a Drukpa Kagyu Tenshug for His Holiness in the main shrine room of Gyuto Ramoche Monastery.
Many travelled for hours in order to reach Gyuto; some, from the remote regions of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti, had even travelled for days. From early in the morning, the courtyard below the temple began to fill with their cars, jeeps, motorcycles and hired buses.
His Eminence Khamtrul Rinpoche from Khampa Gar Monastery, Tashi Jong Tibetan refugee settlement, led this special Drukpa Kagyu Tenshug. Many other leading Rinpoches and community leaders from the Himalayan region supported him. Those who attended included His Eminence Chogon Rinpoche, His Eminence Dorzong Rinpoche, Chogyal Rinpoche, Nupgon Chogya Rinpoche, Poppa Rinpoche, Somang Rinpoche, Tulku Ngawang Gelek and Jetsunma Ani Tenzin Palmo.
In addition to Khampa Gar, monks and nuns also represented Dechen Chokhor Monastery in Kulu, Jangchup Zong Monastery in Gopalpur, and Donghud Gatsaling Nunnery. They were accompanied by several hundred laypeople came from Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Kulu Districts.
The numbers attending the long-life offering swelled to more than a thousand as hundreds more people, who had come for the weekly Saturday afternoon audience, crammed in to the shrine room, or gathered two and three deep outside on the veranda, peering through the windows and doors.
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Gyalwang Karmapa Visits TCV Suja School
April 5-7, 2011
The Gyalwang Karmapa spent two –and- a- half days in Tibetan Children’s Village School (TCV) near Bir Tibetan settlement, Himachal Pradesh, at the invitation of TCV Suja School, who requested him to be Chief Guest at their 25th Anniversary celebrations.
He was welcomed warmly with serbangs to TCV School by community leaders and the senior monks of local monasteries, before proceeding to TCV Suja School where staff and students gathered eagerly outside to greet him.
25th Anniversary Celebrations at TCV Suja School
On April 6th, His Holiness presided over the 25th anniversary ceremony, during which he gave a talk to the students.
Mr. Thubten Lungrik, Education Kalon [cabinet minister] in the Tibetan government-in-exile and Mr. Tsewang Yeshi, President of TCV also spoke. Students and staff gave a performance of traditional Tibetan songs and dances.
Later His Holiness visited the school exhibition, displaying the pupils’ work on Tibetan culture, Science, and Recycling and Environmental Protection.
In the evening there were two competitions: Tibetan elocution and a quiz on the life of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
On April 7th His Holiness gave the Manjushri empowerment. In addition to staff and students at the school, thousands of people, especially many senior citizens, came from Bir and other local settlements. His Holiness blessed everyone individually which took more than two hours.
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