September 23,2011- Dharamsala.
The Gyalwang Karmapa attended the morning session of the second day of the 11th bi-annual conference of religious leaders and representatives of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the Bon religion, held in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala.
In the morning, the Gyalwang Karmapa along with the other delegates gathered at the main Tsuklagkhang temple for a one-hour prayer session led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. All the members of the Central Tibetan Administration also attended the prayer session. Afterwards, the religious leaders, CTA departmental heads, Kalons and the Speaker of the Assembly adjourned to the Surya hotel for the conference, which was attended by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama spoke on several topics, including the importance of religious harmony, the transfer of political authority to elected leaders, and the issue of his own reincarnation.
"I am extremely saddened to hear about the loss of human life and the severe destruction caused by the recent earthquake in Sikkim and other parts of North and East of India, Nepal and Tibet. The people who are affected are in my thoughts. I offer prayers for the deceased and the survivors to be relieved of their pain and suffering soon."
August 21, 2011 - Dharamsala, Gyuto
His Holiness Karmapa led a prayer session for Tsewang Norbu, the 29-year old monk who set himself ablaze protesting China's rule over Tibet Monday last.
Observing the Buddhist ritual of 'Duntsik' (weekly prayers), local Tibetans led by monks and nuns earlier today performed the first Duntsik prayers for Tsewang Norbu at Tsug-la Khang, the main temple. The mass prayer session was organised by 11 Dharamshala based organisations.
The prayer session at Gyuto Monastery was held at the behest of the monks of the monastery.
His Holiness the Karmapa Speaks on Compassion and the Nature of Mind on the Eve of His Departure to India
July 29, 2011 - Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, NYC
His Holiness the Karmapa's last public talk of His second overseas trip was held in Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, New York City, on July 29. The admission tickets were taken up quickly on opening day of the online ticket sale. On the day of the talk, many arrived at the lecture hall two hours early, intending to find a good seat in their designated area. Some arrived without a ticket, hoping to be lucky enough to attend the talk at the last minute. An article in that day's New York Times, "A Young Tibetan Lama Prepares for a Greater Role," no doubt stimulated interest in the talk among the public.
Before 7:00 p.m., the seven hundred seats of the two-story lecture hall were filled completely. There were also about two thousand and five hundred viewers on the live webcast, waiting eagerly for this concluding talk of His Holiness's visit. In the enthusiastic audience were Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Drupon Rinpoche, Tsewang Rinpoche, the president of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra,Tenzin Chonyi, the resident lama of Karma Thegsum Choling – New Jersey, Lama Tsultrim, Lama Tsultrim Allione, and other representatives from various Dharma centers. All were looking forward to this last opportunity of listening to what the Karmapa was about to say on the eve of His departure for India.
The following is His Holiness' speech:
Well, tomorrow I'm off to India once more, and so that makes tonight my last night in New York City, and I am very happy to see you all. It's wonderful that so many of you were able to gather here with such short notice and such little advertising of this event. I'd like to welcome you all and say, " tashi delek."
The current trip is my second visit to the United States. When I first visited this country I was very excited to be here, so much so that I wanted to come back as soon as possible. But it turns out that I had to wait about three years for the second opportunity to come here, and who knows when the third opportunity will arise? Nothing is definite, but still I have the sense that my third visit overseas will again will be to the United States of America.
In both cases of my first and the present visit, I have been very warmly welcomed by both the American government and the American people. I have a feeling of being around old friends when I am in the United States. There is a great feeling of warmth and friendship, and I am very grateful for this connection.
And in both the first visit and the second visit I have met with many people who have a connection with the previous Karmapa: the 16th Karmapa. So there is a feeling within me of reuniting with people with whom I had established a heart connection. There is a sense of continuity between the connections made by the 16th Karmapa and those made by the 17th Karmapa, and what this symbolizes for me, what this conjures for me in my mind, is some type of real confidence that love and friendship are very powerful forces that can remain from lifetime to lifetime. The connections and relationships that we make with other people through love and friendship don't just last for one lifetime alone but can endure from lifetime to lifetime and become evermore deepened. So this is the kind of confidence that meeting with you all has given me.
As Long As Space Endures, May We Too Be There For Beings
In traditional Buddhist practice there are ways of talking about the practice of great compassion and great love for sentient beings in which we use the metaphor of the sky and the planets, the stars, the sun and the moon to illustrate our commitment to be there with a heart full of love and compassion for sentient beings. We aspire that for as long as space endures, for as long as the sun and the moon remain in the sky, may we too be there with the heart of loving kindness and compassion to help sentient beings. May this connection between us and sentient beings remain.
And in my own personal contemplation, I often think of the moon as the keeper of love. So the moon becomes the metaphor or the symbol of the enduring quality of love and the connection between beings of loving kindness and compassion. Even though one may not be physically present with other sentient beings, those beings can look up into the sky and see the moon, and through that connection be able to feel the love that you have for them. We mutually can feel the love that we have for each other regardless of whether we are physically present, regardless of how much time has passed since the last time we saw each other.
So these are the types of aspirations that we make in the Buddhist practices of loving-kindness and great compassion, and I think that if we make this aspiration with a completely pure motivation, then this type of aspiration can really have an effect. It's no longer just a symbolism that you are working with, but it's really true.
When I was asked to give a talk here tonight, I told the organizers to simply select whatever topic they wanted me to speak about, and then I would then speak about that. And I was doing this with the thought in mind that they would go easy on me and select an easy topic. But the topic that they selected was "compassion and the true nature of mind," which is a very difficult topic. So I thought they would take it easy on me but they gave me a hard topic instead. I really should be looking around the room at the organizers so that I could give them a dirty look right now, but in any case I will do the best I can to say whatever comes to mind about this.
Emptiness Is An Opportunity, A Gap, Or A Space In Which Anything Can Occur
From the time I was young onwards, I have always had certain admiration for the way that Americans approach life. I've always regarded the United States as a place where in a very unique way relative to other countries and regions in the world one can really chose one's future path, that one has a great amount of choice over what one will do in the future and a great amount of permission to do whatever one is inspired to do with oneself and one's future path. There is a great sense of self-determination and discernment and intelligence in this American approach to choosing one's future.
And I think that this is really harmonious with the Buddhist views in general of emptiness and dependent origination or dependent arising. When Buddhism talks about emptiness, it is not talking about a type of non-existence whatsoever, but rather the teachings on emptiness point to the notion of possibility, that anything can happen. The teachings on emptiness are about a fundamental sense of opportunity that is a part of reality, a fundamental presence of a gap or a space in which anything can occur. So this is the basic notion behind the Buddhist teachings on emptiness and dependent arising. And these teachings on dependent arising are present in all of the different vehicles in Buddhism, both the greater vehicle and the foundational vehicle.
Appreciate Sentient Beings, And Be Concerned About Their Happiness
At the same time none of us can live our lives independently without depending on others at all. None of us have complete control over what will happen in our lives, because everything is interdependent upon everything else. So all the phenomena in our lives are dependent upon other things and are interconnected with other things, whether we are thinking about our own happiness versus our own suffering or whether we are thinking about becoming famous or gaining more freedom and control over our lives. All of this is dependent upon other phenomena.
So at each stage of relationship that we enter into with other things in our lives, there is an opportunity for us to establish a positive connection in that relationship. Since all of the things that we relate to are mutually dependent, then it's very important for us to try and establish positive connections, harmonious connections that will bring about improvement towards the good.
And because these interdependent connections exist between ourselves and all sentient beings, in particular it's very important for us to try to develop the heart of love and compassion in relationship with others. In our relationships with others, there is both benefit and harm. We could concentrate on the harm that has been done to us by other sentient beings, but there's really not much profit that we can gain from that if we focus exclusively on the harmful relationships that we have or the ways in which others have harmed us.
Conversely, if we focus on the beneficial connections between us and other sentient beings, then that's something that can really bring a profit or benefit to us. It can help us increase our appreciation in our heart, increase our loving kindness and compassion. So, I think it's very important for us to focus on our interdependent relationship with others from a positive angle, appreciating the benefit that other sentient beings provide us and also paying attention to the happiness of other sentient beings.
Respond In A Positive Way With The Motivation Of Love And Compassion
One example that we can look at is to see how interdependence can play out in a relationship. The exchanges that happen between partners——maybe there is one partner who has a particularly strong habit of getting angry, and they may get angry very frequently and express this anger to their partner. Due to that, their partner may develop a habit of becoming angry at their partner's anger. And then they return anger to the anger that is expressed to them, and as a result the anger just increases and increases and increases and things get more unpleasant.
So what we should try to do in moments like that is to shift our response and try to transform our response so that it becomes a response that is more intentional and more directed in a positive way with the motivation of love and compassion. We can try to look at things from a different angle in order to do this.
Actually, your partner who is showing this anger to you is not in a situation of being in full control of themselves; they are controlled by their own disturbing emotions. They are in a certain kind of situation, they come from a certain kind of background that has led them to this point of responding in this way emotionally. So there are various reasons why they come to express anger towards us, and they are not in full control of themselves when they do. That's an important point we can keep in mind. This can help us do something different in our response to that.
If someone were to hit us over the head with a stick, we wouldn't get angry at the stick, we'd get angry at the person who hit us. And in the same way if our partner expresses anger towards us, we shouldn't get angry at our partner because they are under the sway of disturbing emotions and ignorance towards the true nature of things——that is the root of that anger. So thinking in this way, we can gear our response in a fresh way from a more positive angle and see these moments of anger as opportunities to teach our partner something new, as opportunities to shift the trajectory of the relationship in a more positive way. If we can do that, respond in new ways like that, then I think we can really stand a chance of transforming our relationship in a positive way.
Seeing how the other person really is powerless, really is in a state of having no freedom and no control, we can become more concerned about their welfare than our own temporary comfort, and we can be in the moment with that.
So becoming more concerned about the other person's welfare is very simple, it's not complicated, it's simply reflecting on how this other person who is behaving in an aggressive way is actually powerless, they are actually under the power of something else. If they were doing this completely of their own free will and being in complete control of themselves, then maybe we could blame them. But that's really not the case.
When we see this, we can come to value the welfare of others more and more. This is very important for us to try to invest a lot of energy into looking at things in this way and into seeing relationships in this way, and it's also very important to be relaxed when we do so. If we can relax and take a calm look at the background that's making the person behave in this way, then this is very important and can help us to transform our response.
In sum, the heart of compassion is when we give rise to a desire or a state of mind that wants to free sentient beings, to extract sentient beings from a state of suffering, and at the same time, compassion is a readiness to expand upon whatever happiness sentient beings already have, so that they can enjoy more and deeper forms of happiness.
Cultivation of Compassion Involves Practices in Stages
And we work on these mental attitudes in stages, so that they can increase further and further. We start by reflecting on how in terms of our own desires, we only desire to be free from suffering and enjoy our own happiness. And just starting with that simple acknowledgement, we can expand the circle of that awareness further and further, in stages.
The first step is to acknowledge to yourself that your own parents and family and immediate friends also have the same desires to be free from suffering and to enjoy happiness; that is their most fundamental desire. And then in stages you can expand the circle of your attention beyond that to recognize how everyone connected with your family and friends also wants only to be happy and free of suffering, and eventually you can become aware of all sentient beings having this same desire.
In this way, your contemplation and your level of attention can become very vast in relation to sentient beings and can give rise to a strength of heart that wishes to free sentient beings from suffering and nurture the levels of happiness that sentient beings can enjoy.
It's Situation By Situation In Developing Further The Readiness To Help
We may set too high of a bar for ourselves when we contemplate Buddhist teachings about working for the benefit of all sentient beings. I don't think it's really possible to arrive at a time when you'll be able to say to yourself that you are now accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings. It's more a matter of dealing with what's directly in front of you in terms of the experiences of happiness and suffering that you——and the sentient beings you are connected with——are going through.
I think you can meet situations of suffering with an open heart and a readiness to do whatever you can to reduce the suffering of sentient beings, to free sentient beings from suffering. Or in the same way, be ready to do anything you can to further the happiness of any given sentient being that you meet and to engage in this kind of conduct with a heart of joyfulness, cheerfulness and delight. This is really the meaning of accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings.
So it's basically situation by situation and developing further the readiness to help, developing further this heart of wanting sentient beings to be free of suffering and to enjoy happiness in whatever situation they are in at the present. I think that's what 'accomplishing the benefit of all sentient beings' really means. I don't think that phrase means we are going to accomplish the benefit of every single sentient being at the same time.
True Compassion Is Always On The Move, Always In A State Of Readiness
Therefore compassion is actually a moving thing. True compassion is something that is always on the move, and something is always in a state of readiness. We usually think of compassion as something that sometimes moves, sometimes is responsive, and sometimes is dormant. We might see a very serious situation of a sentient being suffering, then we think that our compassion rises to the occasion and performs some tasks. And then, after that situation has passed, our compassion goes back to a dormant state.
But true compassion isn't really like that. Of course compassion is not a physical thing, but I think it's appropriate to say that compassion is always on the move, it's always ready for action or ready to accomplish the mission, if you will. Compassion is there in any occurrence of happiness or suffering that might be before us, whether it's directly before our eyes or whether it's simply in our heart and in our mind. If we can stay with this type of ever moving, ever active compassion at all times, then I think that's what the meaning of true compassion is.
We Don't Recognize The True Nature of Mind Because It's So Simple
Then in terms of the nature of mind, the true nature of mind, I don't know what I could say about that. It's just there. Usually we think of the true nature of mind as something really high, and although I haven't done a lot of practice in relation to the true nature of mind, if I speak from my own experience of this, I could say that eventually we will return to what we were bored with in the beginning and discover that was it.
So we start off by thinking that what we have right now is too simple, too ordinary. The true nature of mind must be something special, something high, something prettier than what we have now. And what we have now doesn't really satisfy our desires, it's not very attractive to us, but if you put some serious effort into your practice, then eventually I think that recognizing the true nature of mind means returning to that place where you started with——your boring unattractive, not new, not high, mental state——and actually recognize that it has been what you're looking for.
Recognizing the true nature of mind isn't a case of getting something new, it's a case of recognizing what is old in some ways, what has been with you this whole time and recognizing that it is nothing other than that. So it's not like getting some new possession. Maybe there has been a past model of the iPhone, and we wait for the next model to come out. There has been iPhone 3, now there is iPhone 4, and we are all waiting for Iphone 5 to come. We are all waiting with great hope for the iPhone 5, but I think the practice of working with the true nature of mind is one of recognizing what our current iPhone can do, appreciating the iPhone that we have now.
Not only that, but learning how to use the iPhone that we have now. Sometimes we don't take the time to learn how to use the iPhone, and then because of our lack of knowledge of how to use it, we think that it is boring, we think that it is unattractive, and we wait for the next iPhone to come out. We think that would be much better. So if we approach the nature of mind with an attitude that thinks it has to be something new, it has to be something high, it has to be something that's prettier than what's going on now, then maybe, just maybe, that's a mistake.
When we talk about the true nature of mind, when we say "nature," it means the actual state, the actual situation that the mind is in. It's simply a matter of recognizing what is there, what is actually there. So sometimes what is tricky for us to understand is that the reason we have not recognized the true nature of our mind is not because it is too profound, or too difficult. It is because it is too simple or too easy. The masters of meditation of the past say that we fail to recognize the true nature of mind because it is so simple that we fail to trust it.
So the true nature of mind is simply what we are right now, it is our uncontrived natural state. Since we are in such a habit of living our lives in contrived states, and states where we are always adding concepts onto things, it's difficult for us to return to the way we naturally are.
For example in the animal kingdom, human beings have this unique ability to smile and laugh. This seems to be a unique trait of human beings that they can smile and laugh. Other animals don't really have that capacity, they can wail and cry, but they can't really smile, laugh. So this our natural ability, we possess this ability to smile. But sometimes when we try to force ourselves to smile, when we take group photos for example, then it doesn't work. (People usually tell me that I'm serious ——do you think I am serious? ——and when taking photos, people tell me to smile. But I can't smile on demand in that moment because I'm not someone who smiles frequently.)
It's Really Essential To Give Ourselves Time To Just Be Who We Are
All of us have a lot to do in our lives, we are very busy, we have to allocate our time in order to do various things in order to assume various roles. We have to perhaps give ourselves time to be a doctor, we have to give ourselves time to be an assistant to someone, we have to give ourselves time to be all kinds of different things, take on all kinds of different roles, but what we often forget is to give ourselves time to be just ourselves. And that's what meditation is.
Meditation is giving yourself time to just be yourself. There is nothing to it other than that, it's nothing really special, just allowing yourself to relax and be yourself without worrying about what has happened in the past, or without worrying about what's going to happen in the future. Just to simply relax and rest in your own natural state is all that you need to do, giving yourself the opportunity to do that. When you give yourself that opportunity, you'll find that presence extends to the other parts of your life as well. You don't lose your own true nature as you go about all of your other activities, even if your day-to-day life is busy.
What sometimes happens in our day-to-day lives when we get so busy is that we spend the whole day doing various things, completely caught up in the tasks before us, but when we get to the nighttime, we look back on the day and we can't even remember what we did. So we remember we did something but we just can't remember what it was.
And the reason that this happens is that when we get caught up in that busyness, our mind is only following after the things on the outside. It has lost its appreciation for who we ourselves are. So it's lost the mindfulness and awareness of itself and has engaged in activities only focusing on things on the outside. In that way we come to lose ourselves in the midst of all our activities, and therefore I think it's really essential and important to give ourselves time to just be ourselves.
To Know Who We Are In A Completely Perfect Way Is The Recognition Of The True Nature of Mind
In America especially we invest a lot of importance in the notion of identity. The concept of identity is very important to us. We often peg our identity on the type of work we do. If someone asks a doctor "who are you?" they'll say, a doctor. So there is a very strong sense of identity related to the type of work that we do. The identity is based on the outer world and not on what's happening inside, on oneself becoming a basis for one's identity.
When that orientation becomes too fixed in the outside world, then serious hardships can arise. Maybe we lose our job, maybe we lose an opportunity to work as a professional in the way that we have been trained, and our response can become so extreme that we might feel compelled to take our own lives.
This kind of thing happens to people sometimes. I think this illustrates the importance and the really essential need for us to turn our attention to the inside and be able to form some sense of identity on the basis on just who we are, not on the basis of what we do, externally.
So when it comes to the true nature of mind, this isn't something that we get from a spiritual tradition or religion. It's not something that we need to seek from a guru or that we need to find by going to a sacred place, but it's a matter of recognizing who we are, whatever that it is. When we see this completely clearly, when who we actually are becomes completely evident and obvious to us, and we recognize it and appreciate it in a completely perfect way, then that I think is what is called recognizing the true nature of mind. Then we fully make this a reality for ourselves.
His Holiness Answers Questions From the Audience
You have sat here through this talk, and it's passed nine o'clock. I don't think it would make much sense for me to continue my lecture, but perhaps if you have any questions, and if the questions are easy, I can answer them. And then if the questions are difficult, then I can say we have run out of time. Maybe we can have five questions.
Question 1: The level of our study and the level of our practice may be different from our experience. Until our experience catches up to our understanding, how do we work with the gap between our intellectual understanding and the evolution of our experience?
HHK: I don't know, simple answer. This is the answer. I don't know what the answer is. If I were just another person I could say, "I don't know," but since I am the Karmapa, I should say, "I know, but I don't want to say." (I'm joking.)
This is a difficulty that we all experience trying to make our experience achieve the same level as our intellectual understanding. So I think what's most important is to recognize that practice is about relating with where we are right now, relating with our current situation and the truth of our current situation, and it's not good to let too many ideas get in the way of that.
If we let too many ideas get in the way of our current situation, then what happens is that in traditional language, we would say that the dharma and the person have become separate things. Whereas we want the dharma and the person to be one thing; we don't want there to be a gap between the dharma and the person.
So that's why the dharma has different stages. There are different stages in the practice of dharma because there are different levels in our experience as people. If there weren't different levels in our experience as people, then all dharma already would be the most profound dharma. But the dharma is not what needs to attain enlightenment; it's the person that needs to attain enlightenment. That's why your practice should match the level of your current experience. That's very important.
And then of course from the side of study or hearing and contemplation, it's fine for us to study all kinds of presentations of various philosophies like the view of emptiness, the journey through the paths and bhumis, and so on. But we need to stay mindful that this is study, we need to recognize philosophy as philosophy and have that be in its proper place in our understanding. It's fine for us to study the view of emptiness, but we should also be mindful if our experience hasn't reached that level. And if we can't make that distinction then there is the danger of falling into the extreme of pride.
For example, some people who have heard some teachings about Dzogchen or the Great Perfection might adopt an identity of being a practitioner of the Great Perfection, even though their experience hasn't reached that level. So if someone asks them, "who are you?" and they say, "I'm a practitioner of the Great Perfection." They think they are most perfect being, excellent being. They think that actually the most perfect thing is themselves, so they fancy themselves as being a great piece of perfection. When they talk about themselves and their practice, their voice deepens, and they take on very handsome physical demeanor, but it's very dangerous if their experience hasn't reached that level. Then they are just left in a state of confused pride.
Question 2: Are you personally aware of the connection that we actually have from moment to moment, or is it just your aspiration? Is your awareness of sentient beings present in every moment of your experience?
In my experience, my awareness comes and goes, but is your connection with us always present? Is it that all I have to do to connect with you is tune in to your continuous awareness of me? HHK: I don't purport to be continually aware of all the connections that I have with all sentient beings, not like speaking to each telepathically on the telephone. Maybe when someone thinks of me, it does change of the way I feel, but I might not be aware that is the case.
Your question seems to be mostly framed around connection and relationship as an action that takes place, but I think that the way I was talking about the contemplation of the moon as a metaphor for love was more pointing to the natural state of relationship that already exists between beings, between us and between all sentient beings. I am not always directly aware of the connections I have with sentient beings, and sometimes connections are strange and hard to understand. Sometimes people tell me that I show up in their dreams even though they have never met me before or have never even met a Tibetan lama. So connections in this way are strange, and I don't perfectly understand the phenomena of connections.
What I was saying is that there is a natural connection of love and compassion, and I always have a consistent aspiration to have this connection of love and compassion with sentient beings from lifetime to lifetime, for the long haul. It's not just a temporary presence of loving kindness and compassion between us but a continual presence of loving kindness and compassion. I wasn't trying to imply some sense of clairvoyance or higher cognitive powers but that the presence of loving kindness and compassion is stable and sincere, and it is always in a state of readiness.
Question 3: I want to ask about a method we can use to directly dissolve the perception of the self and others as different and separate.
HHK: From a certain perspective, we can say that others and ourselves are separate entities, but on a more fundamental level, as I mentioned earlier, we all equally desire to be happy and we all equally desire to be free from suffering. That's really the fundamental reality that makes us equal, that makes self and others equal. I think that's the fundamental reality that is important for us to reflect upon and remember.
What is out of touch with reality is the thought that others don't want to be happy as much as I do, or others don't happiness at all. That's a really distorted view. So I think that in order to get to the point of your question, the advice would be to practice meditation on self and others.
Question 4: In light of what you said about not be able to benefit all beings simultaneously at all times, is it then unrealistic for us to take on the Bodhisattva vows, which ask us to make such aspirations? Will there ever be a time when all sentient beings achieve liberation?
HHK: Well actually, sentient beings are limitless, are truly infinite in number; the number of sentient beings has no end, so there actually will not come a day when there are no more sentient beings. The other side of this is that the Bodhisattva aspirations are infinite and limitless, and there will never come a day when the Bodhisattvas' aspirations end.
So there is never a time when the Bodhisattvas will say "bye-bye, it's the end of the world. I'm out of here," because sentient beings are endless, and the Bodhisattvas' aspirations are endless, and furthermore, Bodhisattvas are unafraid of the fact that sentient beings are limitless. They don't lose heart. In fact, that makes their strength of heart grow even stronger, their desire to benefit others and practice the conduct of Bodhisattvas becomes even stronger, and this is actually a good thing.
If we ran out of sentient beings, that means the Bodhisattvas would lose their jobs. And that wouldn't be good, and so it's not really a bad situation that there is no end to sentient beings. The important thing is how we approach the endeavor of wanting to accomplish the benefit of sentient beings. (Ironically, it's approaching the time for me to say "bye-bye" for the night.
Question 5: Can His Holiness please give us a practical method that will enable us to return right to the spot of the present moment and realize our true nature in the very midst of being in the middle of busy activities?
HHK: Well, in general as I mentioned before, it's very important to remember basically who you are and not be overwhelmed by whatever situation is taking place currently. Usually we do the opposite, and we allow the situation to overwhelm us, but we can situate ourselves so that our mindfulness and awareness are actually hovering above whatever situation we are in, so that we are not completely overwhelmed with or drawn into the situation itself.
I think it's very important to have that sense of space or gap between ourselves and the content of the situation we find ourselves in. For example, someone who knows how to swim found themselves tossed into a pool of water all of a sudden. If they didn't keep their calm, then they wouldn't be able to bring forth the ability to swim. They would instead splash around in the water in a state of panic, But if they were able to relax on the spot, then that situation would become like an ornament or an adornment to them. So having some sense of spacious gap in any situation is very important.
The teaching is finished. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
In closing, I'd just like to say that I am very grateful to you all for taking the time to come here tonight. I extend my prayers of auspiciousness to you, and I hope that we can meet again and again in the future. In particular, I hope that I can come to the United States again and again to see you, and that may entail some difficulty, but I am going to try.
"A Young Tibetan Lama Prepares for a Greater Role"
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Published: July 28, 2011
July 20, 2011 - Mount Laurel-New Jersey KTC
His Holiness the Karmapa departed his North American seat in Woodstock, NY, for a visit to another Dharma center under his spiritual guidance—Karma Thegchen Choling center of New Jersey (KTC-NJ). Arriving at midday in this rural setting in southern New Jersey, the Gyalwang Karmapa soon proceeded to offer the Dharma to a large gathering of disciples.
On the afternoon's schedule was a Thousand-armed Chenrezig initiation. At the start of the session, His Holiness commented that he had just been cautioning the audience at KTD that it was unwise to offer initiations too easily, yet here he was giving initiation the very next day. However, because the KTC-NJ regularly performs Nyungne, a fasting practice connected with Thousand-armed Chenrezig, the Gyalwang Karmapa said he felt it would be unseemly to refuse their request.
In preparation for conferring the initiation, His Holiness gave a brief but powerful discourse on compassion. Defining compassion as the wish to eliminate suffering, the Gyalwang Karmapa noted that this wish could either be applied to oneself or to others. The wish to free others from suffering is what we ordinarily call 'compassion,' whereas the same wish, when directed towards ourselves, is described by the term 'renunciation.' Renunciation and compassion are thus two sides of the same coin. Renunciation entails acknowledging our own suffering, and determining to confront and eliminate it. This is a necessary first step towards generating compassion for others, because our recognition of our own suffering forms the basis for empathizing with others' suffering, His Holiness said. Once we see that we share this basic experience of pain and suffering with all other sentient beings, we can broaden our awareness of their constant longing to be free of suffering.
We are commonly so steeped in self-cherishing, and so occupied with our own private interests that we do not even notice our own egotism, the Gyalwang Karmapa observed. If we do notice it, we generally do not recognize that it is causing us pain and problems. The move from noticing the fact that we are suffering, to confronting the basic causes of our suffering, is a crucial step in eliminating suffering and creating happiness, the Gyalwang Karmapa stressed. His Holiness went on to speculate that this shift in focus from our experience of suffering to the causes of that suffering may be a defining feature of spiritual practice.
After the completion of the initiation, the Gyalwang Karmapa thanked the organizers, led by Lama Tsultrim of KTC-NJ. He continued to comment that the United States is a place where people from all over the world come and live together peacefully in harmony. Because of America's position of great influence in the world, Americans bear a special responsibility to work not only for peace and harmony in their own country, but also to work sincerely and selflessly to bring about peace and harmony throughout the world.
His Holiness taught in Tibetan with translation into English by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso over the speaker system. In addition, Chinese translation was broadcast over FM radio, and Spanish and Chinese translations were also available via webcast.
Following the Dharma transmission, KTC-NJ held a banquet in His Holiness' honor. A group of three Tibetan singers provided the evening's entertainment. At the close of the event, one of the volunteers was handed the microphone, and asked if she could say a few words on behalf of all the many volunteers who had toiled to make the day's activities possible. "We have done so little, and been given so much," she said. "I feel there is nothing we could ever do that would match the kindness that the buddhas and the spiritual masters show us." Her voice choked with tears as she expressed a sentiment that was surely shared by many present. On that heartfelt note, the event concluded and the crowd dispersed slowly into the balmy July night, buoyed by their long-awaited encounter with this supremely kind spiritual master.
July 19, 2011 - NY Woodstock KTD
Disciples from afar gathered again today at KTD in New York, for a second full day of Dharma nectar dispensed by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. Continuing his historic second visit to the United States, His Holiness the Karmapa began the morning session by announcing that rather than the previously announced Thousand Buddha initiation, he would confer Buddha Shakyamuni meditation transmission. Explaining the change in plans, His Holiness first commented that the Thousand Buddha initiation is an elaborate initiation involving considerable time to prepare. He added that authentic tantric initiations are precious and of great value, and therefore it might be best not to confer them too readily. With this stance, His Holiness continued a theme he had touched on the previous day, when he observed that nowadays there is a tendency for people to feel that they have already accomplished something simply by having received an initiation, and thus do not go on to actually practice. Rather than making tantric initiations easily available, perhaps it is better, the Gyalwang Karmapa suggested, for people to continue fervently requesting an initiation, heightening their aspiration to receive it and their resolve to practice it intensely once they have been granted the initiation.
His Holiness opted instead to give refuge vows and confer a Buddha Shakyamuni meditation transmission that would empower those who receive it to do Buddha Shakyamuni meditation and mantra recitation. The meditation transmission had been transmitted by Lord Atisha, and formed part of the Kadam tradition. In preparation for conferring that transmission and refuge vows in the afternoon, His Holiness the Karmapa dedicated much of the morning session to the topic of refuge. In that context, the Gyalwang Karmapa raised the question of what we are receiving protection from and who is protecting us when we have taken refuge. He distinguished between direct and indirect protectors, and stressed that we ourselves bear the responsibility to serve as our own direct protectors, while Buddha and the sangha can indirectly protect us, by showing us the path and accompanying us in our journey along it, respectively.
Following a lunch break, His Holiness granted the refuge vows and meditation transmission in the afternoon. As the gathering drew to a reluctant close, His Holiness observed that his first trip abroad had been to the United States, and as it turned out so had his second trip overseas. He reminded the audience that the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa had visited the United State multiple times, and had also made it the place where he passed into parinirvana. these were clear indications, His Holiness said, that the Gyalwang Karmapa lineage and the people of the United States are joined together through wholesome karmic connections. If the trend continues, it looked like America might end up being the destination for his third trip overseas as well, His Holiness jested, and the tent filled with wave after wave of deafening applause.
In conclusion, His Holiness turned to Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and expressed his gratitude for all that Rinpoche had done over the past three and a half decades. His Holiness stated, “Khenpo Rinpoche has fulfilled all the wishes that the Gyalwang Karmapa had for him.” For a disciple with such deep devotion in the Karmapa as Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, there could surely be no more treasured praise. Even the unflappable Yeshe Gyamtso’s voice wavered with emotion as he translated these words of thanks. In this way, many hearts filled with joy and eyes filled with tears, as the two-day Dharma reunion was concluded.
July 18, 2011 - NY Woodstock KTD
Early in the morning, shuttle buses discharged a steady stream of people, arriving from all directions to receive teachings from the Gyalwang Karmapa at his North American seat. By 10 am, an estimated 800 people were joyfully awaiting His Holiness' arrival under a vast white tent that filled the space between KTD's shrine hall and its residential wing.
During this historic second visit to KTD, His Holiness began by expressing his delight at being able to visit and meet with the larger KTD community once again. He noted the tremendous progress that had been made in recent years towards fulfilling the vast vision that His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa had had in founding the monastic seat. Since he bears the name of the 17th Karmapa, His Holiness said he would like to offer his heartfelt thanks and rejoice in the efforts of all involved.
The Gyalwang Karmapa cautioned that he had made no preparations for the teachings, but would simply draw on his own experience and share whatever thoughts might come to his mind. His Holiness began by noting that Americans enjoy freedom to choose from a wide range of religions, and are also free to choose not to adopt any religion at all. After distinguishing between spirituality and religion, His Holiness went on to comment that whichever choice of path one makes, the foundation is the same: to know ourselves, beginning from a basic recognition of the value of the human life that we each have. For the remainder of the day's teachings, His Holiness built on that foundation, exploring such topics as ways to counteract anger, the importance of eradicating aggression from our minds and not just suppressing it in our outer actions, and our mistaken tendency to identify ourselves with our material possessions.
The tent filled with frequent laughter throughout the day. At one point, His Holiness noted that even our electronic devices reflect our egotistic fixation on 'I' and 'mine'—with Apple offering us iphones and ipads, and Microsoft jumping in with its My Documents and My Computer icons. The Gyalwang Karmapa also joked with the translator, Lama Yeshe Gyamtso, at times resorting to the use of his fingers to make sure his points came through clearly.
With the joy and the laughter of the day came rain. The auspicious rains were followed by a sudden wind that swept through the tent, sending ripples along the white canvas--lest anyone forget just how extraordinary an event it was for His Holiness to turn the wheel of Dharma again at KTD.
The morning and afternoon sessions were both transmitted live via Internet, with translation in English, Chinese and Spanish. Those watching online more than doubled the number of people who were able to receive His Holiness the Karmapa's teachings.
For further details of the day's teachings, see KTD's blog.
July 17, 2011 - NY Woodstock KTD
On the road that leads through the upstate New York town of Woodstock, a huge quilted sign hangs high, proclaiming: Welcome Home! His Holiness the 17th Karmapa was indeed welcomed back to his North American seat this afternoon, for a joyful second visit. (His Holiness first visited Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD), located in Woodstock, during his trip to America in 2008.
With the sun high overhead on this bright summer day, a long line of retreat lamas, monks and nuns formed a golden procession to welcome His Holiness back to his home in North America. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche led members of the KTD and KTC communities to offer His Holiness a ceremonial welcome with tea and rice, as well as mandala offering and extensive prayers.
On behalf of the entire KTD community, KTD Executive Director Mark Rothe made a brief speech warmly greeting the Gyalwang Karmapa. Mark Rothe noted that although His Holiness has many homes all around the world, he hoped that his home at KTD would be a place where His Holiness could enjoy himself and extend his activities, in the knowledge that KTD is a place where people care deeply for the Dharma and care deeply for His Holiness.
When the ceremony concluded, His Holiness left the shrine room, but the rest of the gathering lingered enjoying the long-anticipated reunion, before returning with renewed enthusiasm to the task of preparing for tomorrow’s events under the tent.
July 16, 2011 - Washington DC
On the last day of the Kalchakra event in Washington DC, His Holiness the Karmapa attended the morning session which began at 7 am with prayers led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who then proceeded to give the White Tara long life empowerment to all those gathered in the hall. Following this, a long life prayer was held for His Holiness the Dalai Lama by the organizers of the teachings and recited by Katri Samdhong Rinpoche. In turn, the North America Tibetan Association presented a special award to Katri Samdhong Rinpoche before the Kalachakra event drew to a close.
During his last afternoon in Washington DC, His Holiness gave private audiences with several groups including Daniel and Tara Goleman, well known best-selling authors of several books on science and behavior. Daniel Goleman is also a board member for the Mind and Life Institute, established by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to foster dialogue between scientists and Buddhists.
On the eve of his departure to New York, His Holiness visited some memorials in Washington DC and also gave a large public audience mainly to the Tibetan community gathered in Washington DC from all over the world.
July 14, 2011 - Washington DC
His Holiness the Karmapa gave two interviews this morning at Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. He spoke very eloquently about the issues dearest to his heart at Radio Free Asia, including the need for environmental protection of the Tibetan Plateau. He said that the Tibet issue is not simply a political one but something that transcends politics since it is the third pole and the source for freshwater for the rest of mainland Asia. Whatever happens in Tibet therefore will greatly affect India and the other downstream countries. Picking up this same theme, he reminded Tibetans in Tibet to follow what His Holiness the Dalai Lama had said regarding the use of wildlife products and the need to conserve nature and develop compassion for all living beings including endangered species.
Following the second half of Kalachakra empowerment given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Karmapa attended an in house reception in his honor at the International Campaign for Tibet office, where he spent time with Loday Gyari Rinpoche and Richard Gere.
July 13, 2011 - Washington DC
His Holiness the Karmapa gave early morning public audience to over 150 people so that devotees who were unable to see him yesterday could do so this morning. He attended the Kalachakra prayers and the Kalachakra empowerment led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the afternoon. The Empowerment session began with a personal greeting to His Holiness the Dalai Lama from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington DC.
July 12, 2011 - Washington DC
For several years now, His Holiness the Karmapa has been very interested and active in environmental protection and ecology. Today he had opportunity to meet with senior scientists and environmental leaders at the World Wildlife Fund headquarters in Washington DC. He toured the WWF building, which features the third largest green roof in Washington DC and has received LEED Platinum Energy Star certification, which means that the building is truly sustainable. His Holiness was briefed on the latest science and solutions by senior WWF staff on issues such as climate change, wildlife trade, market transformation, and disaster recovery and he engaged in a conversation with the scientists on how best to reach out to people and change their hearts. Referred to as the Green Buddha by the Senior Vice President of WWF, which is the largest environmental organization in the world, His Holiness spoke to the staff, reminding them that the most important thing is that we are all inter-connected and that we must make everyone part of the solution. He praised the important work that WWF does and said that it gave him hope as he continues to do his part in the Himalayas and that he does not feel so alone as he strives to solve environmental problems there. He concluded by reciting a prayer to bless the staff, many of whom were visibly moved.
In the afternoon, His Holiness attended the Kalachakra teachings, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama conveyed the preliminary initiation for students gathered.
Following a public audience which was attended by over 750 people, His Holiness the Karmapa visited some well known Washington DC memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam memorial.
July 11, 2011 - Washington DC
Maria Otero having conversation with Gyalwang Karmapa
His Holiness the Karmapa attended a reception hosted by the Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Loday Gyari Rinpoche, and attended by Professor Venerable Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa-elect Lobsang Sangay, and board members of the International Campaign for Tibet, including Richard Gere. The reception, hosted in honor of Samdhong Rinpoche, was well attended. Gyari Rinpoche toasted him and lauded his achievements and his deep dedication towards the Tibetan people and, in particular, thanked him for his commitment to leading the Tibetan community towards democracy.
Loday Gyari Rinpoche introducing His Holiness Karmapa
Gyari Rinpoche also welcomed His Holiness the Karmapa, saying that he believed His Holiness would be a powerful representative for Tibetan cultural identity and that his mere presence sent a signal that Tibetan culture and religion is alive and vibrant today, and that the younger generation would protect this legacy. He went on to say that the overwhelming sense among Tibetans towards His Holiness the Karmapa is one of trust and approval as he has gradually grown up at the side of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and taken on the mantle of leadership in the Kagyu tradition and in the Tibetan community. His Holiness the Karmapa was seated between the Special Coordinator for Tibet, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero, and the previous Special Coordinator, Paula Dobriansky.
July 9, 2011- Washington DC
His Holiness the Karmapa attended the third day of Kalachakra preliminary teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Verizon Center today. His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave profound instructions on Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo's 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva and Kamalashila's The Middling States of Meditation. His Holiness interspersed the teachings with personal anecdotes and exhortations that we should always find a reason to practice and meditate. He also took the time to demonstrate the Six Exercises of Naropa (Trul Khor), providing clear explanation for proper breathing and visualization during the exercises. The audience joyfully followed His Holiness' directions as well as the tulkus and lamas on stage, including His Holiness the Karmapa.
Saturday morning, before a World Peace talk took place on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, stood silently on the stage, waiting to greet the 14th Dalai Lama. This was the Karmapa’s first public appearance since arriving in the nation’s capitol the night before. While thousands of people had come to hear the Dalai Lama’s talk on the importance of cultivating inner and outer peace, fewer seemed cognizant of the young Karmapa, waiting quietly in the wings. When the Dalai Lama made his entrance, the Karmapa walked forward, and the two bowed gently towards each other in a Tibetan gesture of mutual respect and affection, two great Tibetan spiritual leaders on a world stage, with the Washington Monument behind them and the U.S. Capitol in front.
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa is in Washington D.C. to attend the Kalachakra teachings and empowerments that the Dalai Lama is giving at the Verizon Center through July 16th. On Wednesday, Kalden Lodoe, the President of the Capital Area Tibetan Association remarked: “This is the first time that His Holiness Dalai Lama is giving the Kalachakra in Washington, D.C. There are attendees from 41 countries and five continents.”
After the Kalachakra empowerment is over, the Karmapa will visit his centers in New York and New Jersey before returning to India towards the end of July. While the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje travelled widely in North America in the 1970s, this is only the second time that the 17th Karmapa has visited the United States since escaping from Tibet to India in 2000.
July 8, 2011. Delhi
His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, departed yesterday for a two-week religious tour of the United States. During his stay abroad, His Holiness will engage in a variety of religious activities. From July 9-16, the Gyalwang Karmapa will receive the Kalachakra initiation from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington, DC. The Gyalwang Karmapa will then visit Dharma centers under his spiritual guidance in the New York area. At his North American seat of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Center in Woodstock, NY., he will offer empowerments and teachings to his disciples.
This trip to the United States marks His Holiness' second international tour since fleeing from Chinese-occupied Tibet in 2000. In 2008, he conducted a religious tour to the United States, offering Dharma teachings and more broadly fulfilling his duties as a spiritual leader to millions of followers worldwide.
HH Gyalwa Karmapa
Detailed biographical information about His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is available from the drop down menus above. The materials are divided into:
17th Karmapa (His Holiness's current activities and schedule)
Background (Kagyu history regarding predictions about the 17th Karmapa)
In Tibet (His Holiness's early years, enthronement in Tibet and activity at Tsurphu Monastery)
In India (The Karmapa's escape to India and activities in India)
Reference (Official releases from the Kagyu Office and historical background documents referenced in other sections)
When not traveling, His Holiness holds regular public audiences at his temporary camp at the Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University in Dharamsala, HP, India
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