Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 Summer Teaching Videos are Now Online

The video recordings of the His Holiness the Karmapa's 2010 teachings on Gampopa's Precious Garland are now available for online viewing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Live webcast on Gampopa's Precious Garland

Summer Teaching of H.H. The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa

On the following pages you can be with us in these precious teachings. or
Dhagpo Rinpoche’s (Gampopa) Lam-chog Rinchen Trengwa or Precious Garland of the Supreme Path.

Gyuto University Monastery, Dharamsala, India

June 18th, 2010 – June 20th, 2010

Morning Session:
India Time (IST): 6/18-6/20, 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Taipei / Beijing: 6/18-6/20, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Pacific Time (PDT): 6/17-6/19, 9:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Eastern Time (EST): 6/18-6/20, 12:30 am – 2:00 am
Central European Summer Time: 6/18-6/20, 6:30 am - 8.00 am
GMT: 6/18-6/20, 4:30 am – 6:00 am

Afternoon Session:

India time (IST): 6/18-6/20, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Taipei / Beijing: 6/18-6/20, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Pacific Time (PDT): 6/18-6/20, 3:30 am – 5:00 am
Eastern Time: 6/18-6/20, 6:30 am – 8:00 am
Central European Summer Time: 6/18-6/20, 12:30 - 2.00 pm
GMT: 6/18-6/20, 10:30am – 12:00 pm

Live translation in English and Chinese only.

We sincerely hope you'll be able to virtually attend this precious teaching from His Holiness.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More teachings from the source

Last weekend His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa taught during his usual public audience in Gyuto. His teaching itself was very far from usual, and since it struck each one of us powerfully. we'd like to share a brief summary here. The talk was delivered mainly in Tibetan, with English translation provided by Chag Ngodrup Tsering, while His Holiness partially addressed the gathering directly in English at times as well.

Speaking to a large group of Tibetan and international students, His Holiness began by noting that whether in our Dharma practice or while working at our ordinary activities, there are certain stages through which we progress and levels at which we need to operate. Similarly the Dharma offers various vehicles that accord with practitioner’s predispositions and capacities. At times we do not keep a clear understanding of the meaning of the notion of vehicle (Tibetan: theg pa; Sanskrit: yana) in Buddhism. Actually, the Tibetan term theg pa is derived from the verb teg pa, meaning to lift up. In this sense, Buddhist vehicles correspond to how much weight a person is able to lift, or how great a burden of responsibility they are able to shoulder at any given moment.

Often we hear that the various vehicles were taught to correspond to the levels of disciples’ capacities, and people may feel that it is demeaning to think that they are of lower ability and thus are practicing a lower vehicle. Yet just as it is inappropriate to expect to enter graduate school before we have completed kindergarten, there are stages through which we must pass in our spiritual development as well. It is important, His Holiness said, to be able to acknowledge one’s current stage and to train at that level. In order to be able to carry the responsibility for the happiness and wellbeing of limitless others, we need to be grounded ourselves. Thus planting our own feet firmly on the ground and anchoring ourselves is a crucial step in becoming able to benefit others.

A major issue in this process is our self-grasping, and the attachment and anger that are rooted in it. We often look at our food, clothes and even our own body and think that they are entirely and naturally ours, and do not depend on the presence of anyone else. This is completely mistaken, as there is nothing we have, including our own body, that can exist even for one instant without relying on others.
His Holiness clarified the distinction between working to cut our attachment versus becoming detached. Detachment implies cutting ourselves off from others, keeping them at a distance, and can even refer to a mental illness in which people are pathologically unable to empathize with the suffering of others. As such, detachment reflect a lack of awareness of the interdependence that connects us intimately to all others.

Failing to recognize our interdependence and based on our mistaken self-grasping, we often behave as if we were living in a prison, a prison created by this very self-grasping. Just as only close family members and a very few friends have the right to visit prisoners in jail, so we often give access only to a small circle, and effectively lock the door and shut the rest of the world out. If we are able to let in only a small number of our dear ones, it will be extremely difficult to sincerely generate the vast mind of great compassion and lovingkindness, that is able to encompass all sentient beings equaling space.

Hoping we may be able to provide you details of how to hear teachings 'live' over the net in the new few days...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Dharma Nectar Poured through the Web?

This is to let you all know that His Holiness the Karmapa is expected to teach for three days on a beautiful Kadampa-style text by Gampopa, called Precious Garland for the Supreme Path, here in Dharamsala, on June 18, 19 and 20, from 10-11:30am and 4-5:30 pm, Indian tims. There is a sincere wish to webcast it live, and technology permitting, we'll post the link here shortly before the teachings begin. Check back then if you are able to join those teachings remotely!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spirit's Physical Base

Why do monks and nuns need to have big monasteries and libraries and assembly halls? This is a question raised by some Westerners first encountering Tibetan Buddhism and it is a valid one. Why do people wanting to devote their lives to the life of the spirit waste their time on material concerns? As is made clear in the following letter, written by Thrangu Rinpoche after his home monastery in Tibet was reduced to rubble, the large Buddhist monasteries of Tibet do much more than simply host the bodies of people wishing to dedicate their lives to spiritual practice. They ensure that the insight and wisdom cultivated by exceptional practitioners can be passed from generation to generation. The care for the physical environment of the monastic institution thus forms a part of our caring for others - for the generations to come after us, and is far from distinct from the main aim of Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practice: to develop our own capacities for the purpose of being able to fully and perfectly support others as they develop their own.

Letter fronm Thrangu Rinpoche

Jyekundo in Tibet is a small and sparsely populated area, but it is a place where there are many Tibetan people, and there are also many monasteries. At Thrangu Monastery in Jyekundo, many of the lamas and monks—both those abroad and those on site—have put in tremendous efforts for many years. These efforts have not just been in terms of external things; they have also put effort into spiritual practice. In terms of study and contemplation, a monastic college for the study of texts and philosophy was founded. It gradually grew and there formed a body of students and scholars, who are the foundation of the teachings. A primary school to provide basic education for young students had also been built.

In terms of meditation, a retreat center for the practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa was built where monks engaged in practice. Another retreat center for the practice of the deities who purify the lower realms, Sarvavid Vairochana and Protector Akshobhya, had been restored and retreatants were doing the practices of those deities. A Mahakala retreat center was built during the time of Karmapa Thekchok Dorje (1798-1868) and contained a statue of Mahakala. Here, daily practices had been held for many generations. In addition, there was a large new temple where daily services were held.

Now there has been the terrible earthquake in Jyekundo, Qinghai, and these structures have all been ruined. Additionally, many monks have passed away in the earthquake. This is a great tragedy and a great obstacle. Please think of this and make good prayers on the behalf of all those who passed away. If you gather merit by helping with the relief and restoration, it will be helpful for the world in general and in particular prevent the Dharma from disappearing. It is important that the lineage of teaching and practice not wane: Without a lineage of teaching and practice, the Dharma would perish.

Sometimes people might think that temples and monasteries are not all that important. However, there are both transient sentient beings and the lasting external environment. With sentient beings, there might be many for a while, including great scholars and meditators. Great lamas might appear. There may be many members of the Sangha, but just as water flows downstream, fifty, sixty, seventy, or eighty years later they will all pass away and a new generation will come. When this happens, even if there were a strong lineage of Dharma in the previous generation, we do not really know whether that lineage would continue in the next.

The way that the lineage can continue from generation to generation is to have a good, stable outer environment. When there is the external environment of a monastery with a shrine, retreat center, and monastic college, then due to that place, the Sangha, great lamas, and great meditators might pass away but the continuity of their activity will remain present there.

This is why restoring monasteries is crucial. If the monasteries fall into ruins, the environment declines as well and the inhabitants gradually disappear. Buddhism would not be able to remain long in this world. But if a monastery continues to exist, the great lamas and masters can perform vast activity for the Dharma during their entire lives. A group of students will gather; the lamas will teach the students; and they will practice. Thus gradually the students will spend the first part of their lives studying and practicing the Dharma and the latter part upholding, protecting, and spreading Buddhism. When that generation comes to its end, a new generation can continue that work, upholding, protecting, and spreading the teachings, which can thus remain. This is why temples and the Sangha are so very important.

If sponsors can make contributions and help in either large or small ways, that would be wonderful. We spend this life gathering wealth and possessions, and sometimes this can be meaningful, but sometimes there is the danger that this might become the grounds for conflict and dispute. For that reason, I ask all the faithful benefactors to help in any way you can.

—Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Reaching out with Voice and Mind

We alerted you to the planned live broadcast of teachings by His Holiness the Karmapa, and now would like to share some of the details of what finally did transpire. On May 28, despite some initial snags, thousands of disciples worldwide were able to receive Dharma teachings from His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa live via Internet. The teachings were transmitted directly from His Holiness’ quarters at his temporary residence in Gyuto Monastery, in Dharamsala. According to the Tsurphu astrological system, the teachings took place on Sagadawa Duchen, or Vesak, the most important Buddhist holiday of the year, marking Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and mahaparnivana. In other words, in what one can only hope is a parallel to His Holiness’ trip to Europe, though the webcast did not take place as originally planned, it did happen soon after, allowing the Gyalwang Karmapa to connect with the thousands of students who were so eagerly awaiting his arrival in their midst.

Here's how it happened: By the evening of May 27, the technical team supporting the broadcast had all the network facilities up and running. A full team of translators was on hand to ensure that His Holiness’ teachings would be fully accessible to speakers of English, German, French, Spanish, Polish, Russian and Chinese. The tech team was anticipating only a few thousand separate viewers to be watching at any moment, given the fact that many students in Europe were gathering in their local Dharma centers to view together. However, well before the time the teachings were scheduled to go live, massive numbers of viewers were already attempting to connect with the site, and the overwhelming demand brought the server down. As the scheduled broadcast time drew closer, greater and greater numbers of viewers seeking to connect placed an increasing burden on the servers.

In the end, despite the technical team’s exhaustive efforts, it proved impossible to host all those who wished to view on May 27. As it became clear that the transmission would need to be rescheduled, His Holiness made the decision to postpone until the following day. As he did so, Gyalwang Karmapa pointed out with a smile that, in fact, according to the Tsurphu system of astrological calculation, the Sagadawa holiday fell on May 28 and not May 27. After a quick check on the NASA website, His Holiness confirmed for all present that the exact moment of the full moon would indeed occur on May 28. He thus urged all to look forward to the transmission on the new date with joyful anticipation.

By the following day, May 28, provisions were in place for the greater numbers of viewers. However, heavy rains throughout the evening combined with violent wind, thunder and lightning in Dharamsala cast doubt on the viability of the local network in India. For some time, the local network went down completely. At a certain point, His Holiness left the room and one of the translators commented that perhaps he was going to do puja. The comment rapidly ceased to be a joke when the winds suddenly calmed, the rain ceased entirely and the thunder and lightning also came to an end. As the air outside became still once more, the network came back up, and His Holiness quietly returned to the room.

With some further delays due to other technical issues, all the immense challenges of transmitting teachings live from a monastery in a north Indian village were overcome, and His Holiness began offering the Dharma directly to his students around the world.
Ringu Tulku Rinpoche provided translation into English on the main page, and separate pages were set aside for each of the other 6 languages. In the end, many thousands of people tuned in to receive the Dharma live from His Holiness.

After warmly greeting his listeners, His Holiness noted that he was firmly convinced that all major world religions are making contributions to the wellbeing of the world. A central focus of Buddhism was its teaching on interdependence, which along with compassion are its key points.

His Holiness gave advice for using an understanding of interdependence to find joy in every breath we take. He touched on the moral systems that human beings deploy to accomplish their aims, and noted that when these systems are limited by our self-cherishing, our actions can have harmful effects on others and on the environment. Gyalwang Karmapa spoke of the implications of our intimate connectedness to others, stressing the responsibility this gives us to work to bring about others' happiness and remove their suffering.

Speaking of ways to work with our own suffering, His Holiness urged us to think of experiences of suffering not as something final that we are stuck with, but rather as posing a sort of question to which we have the option of responding in various ways.

His Holiness ended his talk by thanking everyone for exercising such patience in awaiting the transmission. He noted that according to his earlier plan to visit Europe, he would already have been there on that day. Although this did not happen, and his body had not been able to arrive in Europe, Gyalwang Karmapa said he was nevertheless extremely happy that his voice and mind had been able to arrive to join them there.

"Just as the light of this full moon in the sky above is available for all the world to use and enjoy," he said, pointing out to the moon visible in the night sky over Gyuto Monastery, "I trust that the love and affection that we have in our hearts can be used and enjoyed mutually by all of us."

Friday, June 4, 2010

in the face of total disaster - equanimity and wisdom

We share with you the following letter sent to the monks who survived the earthquake that virtually leveled the monastery in Tibet that they had spent so many years rebuilding after its destruction during the Chinese cultural revolution. In this message, its author Thrangu Rinpoche, the abbot of that monastery, which indeed bears his name - Thrangu Monastery - and senior tutor to His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, offers us a model of wisdom and equanimity in the face of devastating loss.

We have been struck by an earthquake in our homeland and in particular at our Thrangu Monastery. The monastic college, retreat center, temple, and dormitories have all been destroyed. Many monks were killed. Many others have been injured and faced with great hardship. Despite this, when we comfort ourselves, we must remember that no one did anything to harm us, nor did we do anything wrong. Instead this is just the way the world is—it is a natural disaster. You are all sad and upset, but instead of wallowing in grief, pray to the Three Jewels. Make good aspiration prayers. Dedicate your virtue to those who have passed to nirvana or died. Doing this will be very good.

When I first heard the news yesterday, I immediately informed the Gyalwang Karmapa and Tai Situ Rinpoche. Both of them developed bodhichitta, recited prayers, and performed purification rituals. His Eminence Situ Rinpoche also performed the Thousand Offerings and many other virtuous rituals. They recited many prayers of aspiration and offering refuge, and so we have received their words of blessing.

A terrible thing has of course happened to those who passed away, but if they had died in another place, it would have been difficult to get such great masters like the Gyalwang Karmapa and Situ Rinpoche to recite prayers on their behalf. In this great disaster, not only did these masters recite prayers, they also regard them with their eyes of wisdom. This is a great fortune, and so all of you please think of this from a broader perspective.

This is of course a terrible event for us, but as the Bhagavan Buddha taught in the True Dharma, the characteristic of this samsaric world is that the end of birth is death, the end of meeting is parting, the end of gathering is using up, and the end of building is falling down. There is nothing that will not meet one of these four ends, he said. This is just the way this world of ours naturally is. This is nothing that anyone else has done to cause us problems, nor is there anything that someone has done wrong to cause this. It just happened naturally. Thus the most important thing is to go for refuge and make aspiration and dedication prayers; it is important to think about this from a wider perspective and do positive acts.

Although I would like to come there, it is a long way and I am old, so I am not able to come immediately. However, I will do as many prayers and aspirations as I can. The monastery has been destroyed, but in general, sometimes things wax, and sometimes they wane. Since this is just the characteristic of samsara, if we do not let ourselves get discouraged, it is not necessarily bad. We and others just need to do the best we can.

I have told the lamas at my overseas centers that they absolutely must go to see the situation, help recite prayers and aspirations for the deceased, and help care for the sick and injured. I have also asked them to examine the damaged monastery buildings and to do their best to work together with you until the monastery has been rebuilt. This is important, so I would like to ask all of you to cooperate with them in looking at the buildings, meeting with them, and accompanying them. Please make a connection with them. My own thought is that we will do whatever is best for the future. I cannot blame you for being sad and grieving now, but I do ask you to please look from a wider perspective and give yourselves courage.

----- Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

If you would like to help rebuild, here's how.