Vajra Vidya Institute Anthem – Sarnath, March 2011

The Vajra Vidya Anthem was composed by H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Orgyen Dorje at the request of Khenpo Lobzang Tenzdin on the anniversary of Milarepa’s passing, March 17th 2011.

Midst a retinue of eighty thousand gods and humans,
The protector Shakyamuni discoursed at this place,
Turning the Dharma Wheel of the four truths
At the Deer Park, this blessed and auspicious ground.

Here at this seat of our forefathers, the Kagyu lamas,
Shines the sun of Dharma, sutra and tantra in union.
A thousand lotus petals of learning blossom forth; prayers and activity
For the flourishing of all Buddha’s teachings converge here.

Each and every compassionate intention
Of the lord and lama Rigpe Dorje
Is accomplished at all times, day and night.
May this auspicious glory fill the entire world!




March 21, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

The Gyalwang Karmapa today visited the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, and delivered an address to its students and faculty. During his annual stays in Sarnath, the Gyalwang Karmapa often lectures at the institute, which is the first accredited university in India to offer academic degrees in Tibetan studies.
Vice Chancellor Geshe Ngawang Samten gave a warm speech of welcome, praising the Gyalwang Karmapa for the acute sense of responsibility for preserving Tibetan cultures that he has displayed over the years.
In his own address to the assembly, the Gyalwang Karmapa evoked the era when India was the far-away destination for Tibetan scholars and translators seeking Buddhist training and texts. His Holiness pointed out how many hardships these scholars of old had endured in order to have access to the same knowledge that students in India could now study so easily and comfortably at the institute. His Holiness commented that it would appear from our relatively good conditions would suggest that we have more merit nowadays than did the great Tibetan translators of the past. However, using the example of pretas, or hungry ghosts—who may be surrounded by food and drink yet remain unable to make use of them—the Gyalwang Karmapa encouraged his audience not to take the wonderful conditions for granted, but to recognize their great value and use them well. He further urged the students to take personal responsibility and direct their learning towards the aim of preserving Tibetan culture and religion.
Continuing the theme he explored in his spring teachings, His Holiness noted that it ancient Asian cultures had incorporated a notion that education should first work to form good people, and only later, on that basis, focus on developing particular expertise or areas of knowledge. Using the example of scientists who use their knowledge to develop weapons, the Gyalwang Karmapa observed that knowledge when deployed by unscrupulous persons could be harmful. He therefore stressed that first one should lay the foundation of being a good, principled and happy person, and only then engage in serious study.
His Holiness further encouraged the students to study not with the aim of just gaining knowledge for themselves, but rather with the aim of enriching themselves with knowledge to share with others. In this way, study could become a source of happiness, rather than merely a means of gaining fame or a high position in the world.
The morning’s program was concluded with a speech by the highly respected scholar Geshe Yeshe Thogden, who lauded the Gyalwang Karmapa’s message and urged the students to take his words to heart.

Purification Prayers for Victims of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

4.00pm – 6.00pm, Monday 21st March, 2011
Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath
Against a background of rising numbers of known dead in the Japanese disaster and predictions that the number of dead will exceed 20,000, the Gyalwang Karmapa performed a special purification ritual [jhang chog] for those who had died.
The ritual used was Overturning the Basis of Samsara: A Saddhana from the Condensed Essence of the Guru’s Advice. It is offered to Avalokiteshvara [Tib.Chenresig] the Bodhisattva of Compassion and includes a symbolic burning of the names of the dead.
The Gyalwang Karmapa is seen as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, so the performance of this ritual by him is believed to be particularly powerful in helping purify the negativities of those who have died, and helping them through the intermediate state towards a fortunate rebirth.

2011.3.21 法王噶瑪巴對西藏研究中央大學師生發表演說 Gyalwang Karmapa Addresses Faculty and Students Of Central University for Tibetan Studies



March 20, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

At the request of Khenpo Lobsang Tenzin, Head of Vajra Vidya Institute, Gyalwang Karmapa wrote a short song to be used as the anthem for the Institute, and presented it to Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche during the Lama Choepa on Saturday morning.
At 4.00pm, after the heat of early afternoon had subsided, there was a short celebration in the main shrine room during which the song was performed for the first time by monks of the Vajra Vidya Institute.
Gyalwang Karmapa sat cross-legged and at ease in the golden sun chair he uses for less formal occasions. His senior tutor Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche sat in a comfortable armchair to his left and Khenpo Sogyal, Head of the Kagyu Section at the Central University for Tibetan Studies, sat to the right. The audience was much smaller than in previous days: mainly monks from the monastery, students from the Vajra Vidya Shedra, students from C.U.T.S. , a scattering of Tibetan lay people and a remnant of the international devotees, those who had not needed to leave at the conclusion of His Holiness’ and Thrangu Rinpoche’s teachings.
In contrast to the rigorous seriousness of the previous days of teachings and rituals, the atmosphere was relaxed and informal. His Holiness leant back in his chair, smiling, joking and laughing. Apple juice and Indian sweets were offered to everyone present.
The celebration opened with the Tashi Dargye prayer. A short speech by Khenpo Lobsang followed, in which he praised the qualities of the Karmapas and of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, and thanked His Holiness for blessing the Vajra Vidya Institute with his presence and especially for writing the school song.
Gyalwang Karmapa responded by joking that usually Tibetans look very sober in the shrine room but today everyone was smiling happily and laughing. As it was the Hindu festival of Holi, he wished everyone “Holi Tashi Delegs” and said he considered himself very fortunate to have been able to visit the Institute, and particularly, to have been able to join in the ceremonies commemorating the Kagyu forefathers. Today there would be no pujas but the singing of a song dedicated to Vajra Vidya Institute instead!
His Holiness first reminded everybody of the sacred auspiciousness of Sarnath, the site where the Buddha first turned the wheel of Dharma. He then spoke of the great contribution of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche who had founded the Institute for the benefit of beings and created a place where the Dharma of Sutras and Tantras ‘shines like the sun’, a place where the study of scripture combines with practice. In addition, Vajra Vidya Institute held significance for him personally as the place where he had planned and launched many new projects such as preserving the Kagyu liturgy, planning the Kagyu Monlam, holding the first environmental conference which led to the foundation of Khoryug, and so forth. The Sixteenth Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje had named the monastery, and the newly composed song expressed the hope that the Institute would fulfill his wishes. Monks then sang the song.
Khenpo Sogyal followed with a short, often humorous speech in which he spoke of the Seventeenth Karmapa as one “who makes the impossible possible” , and echoed the commitment of all present: We will follow the Gyalwang Karmapa in this life, and even in the next life. He reflected on how, within a month of the inauguration of Vajra Vidya Institute by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in December 1999, the Gyalwang Karmapa had arrived safely in India. Since then he had blessed the Institute with his presence each year.
The simple ceremony concluded with the aspiration prayer for the well-being of Tibet and dedication prayers.
The School Anthem (English Translation)
Midst a retinue of eighty thousand gods and humans,
The protector Shakyamuni discoursed at this place,
Turning the Dharma Wheel of the four truths
At the Deer Park, this blessed and auspicious ground.

Here at this seat of our forefathers, the Kagyu lamas,
Shines the sun of Dharma, sutra and tantra in union.
A thousand lotus petals of learning blossom forth; prayers and activity
For the flourishing of all Buddha’s teachings converge here.

Each and every compassionate intention
Of the lord and lama Rigpe Dorje
Is accomplished at all times, day and night.
May this auspicious glory fill the entire world!
This was written by Karmapa Ogyen Trinley at the request of Khenpo Lobzang Tendzin on the anniversary of Milarepa’s passing, March 17, 2011.

2011.3.20 法王噶瑪巴所撰金剛智慧學院校歌首演 Gyalwang Karmapa’s Anthem for the Vajra Vidya Institute



March 19, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

Once more the shrine room had been re-arranged, and the three images of the glorious Kagyu forefathers, Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa, had been placed centrally below the great golden image of Lord Buddha. They now topped a special shrine decorated with seven white torma offerings and seven bowls of rice and incense sticks.
A day-long celebration of rituals began at 8.00am with the Lama Choepa [Offering to the Lamas] in the main shrine room, and ended in the evening towards 9.00pm. The Gyalwang Karmapa attended every event. During the morning and afternoon sessions in the temple, His Holiness sat on a low throne at a level below the three images of the Kagyu forefathers, his presence adding a sense of completion, great blessing and timelessness to the ritual. During the Lama Choepa, he led everyone in the prayers for taking refuge and generating bodhichitta.
In the afternoon session, from 1.30pm until 6.00pm, the monks completed reading and chanting theRain of Wisdom and His Holiness led the Fulfillment Practice to the Dharma Protectors.

The Lamp Prayer

The day concluded with a special Lamp Prayer for the victims of the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Gyalwang Karmapa sat on the porch of the temple, and several hundred monks, nuns and laypeople bearing lighted candles gathered in the grounds in front of the temple, and hundreds of butter lamps flickered on tables nearby. In the sky above hung a full moon, and beyond the walls of the Vajra Vidya Institute, the night was punctuated by explosions of firecrackers and fireworks, and the air carried a hint of the smoke from festive bonfires, as the local villagers celebrated Holi.
Prayers were offered for the benefit of all sentient beings, and, in particular, the famous Lamp Prayer composed by Jowo Atisha was recited and then sung three times.
As people drifted away at the end of the evening, the full moon was clearly reflected in the small pool on the lawn, reminding everyone of the Mahamudra analogy that appearances are like the reflection of the moon in still water.

2011.3.19 法王噶瑪巴主持吉祥月紀念噶舉祖師圓滿日Marpa Day and the Festival of Miracles



March 18, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

The first month of the Tibetan year is counted as extremely auspicious and contains several memorable festivals and anniversaries for Tibetan Buddhists and for the Kagyu Lineage in particular.

Milarepa Day: 18th March, 2011

Gyalwang Karmapa presided over the first part of the morning celebrations of Milarepa Day. He was accompanied by Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche, his senior tutor, the Vice-Chancellor of CUTS, Professor Ngawang Samten and the Head of the Kagyu Section, Khenpo Sogyal, who was responsible for organising the event. Each year Kagyu members of the Central University for Tibetan Studies celebrate the anniversaries of the founding fathers of the Kagyu Lineage and this year the Kagyu Welfare Society of the Central University for Tibetan Studies, in co-operation with Vajra Vidya Institute, has organised two days of special pujas and the reading of the “Rain of Wisdom” in the main shrine room at Vajra Vidya Institute.
A special shrine, topped by images of Marpa Lotsawa, Jetsun Milarepa, and Gampopa and decorated with butter sculptures, torma and other offerings, has been placed to the right of Gyalwang Karmapa’s throne. The first day’s ceremonies began with a procession of these sacred images around the perimeter of the monastery followed by general prayers and the Milarepa Saddhana “Blazing Wisdom”. The Rain of Wisdom is a text containing the Vajra Songs of the Kagyü Gurus. These songs are the direct personal voices of the lineage holders, sharing their experiences of the path, practice, and realization, assembled in a collection first compiled by Mikyö Dorje, the Eighth Karmapa.

Tea Party in the Garden

Gyalwang Karmapa delighted everybody by attending the afternoon tea party organized by the Kagyu Relief and Protection Committee of the Central University of Tibetan Studies as part of the celebrations. The tea party was held in a specially erected tent on the lawns in front of the Vajra Vidya Monastery.

2011.3.18 法王噶瑪巴出席吉祥月紀念噶舉祖師慶典 Commemoration of the Forefathers of the Kagyu Lineage, Marpa Lotsawa and Jetsun Milarepa



March 17, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

During the teaching, Gyalwang Karmapa explained that three topics had been suggested: the lama- disciple relationship, consciousness and wisdom [to link in with Thrangu Rinpoche’s teachings] or a topic of his own choosing. His Holiness covered all three in nearly two hours of teaching to a packed shrine room!
Gyalwang Karmapa began by reprising a theme consistently highlighted in his teachings: the Dharma has to be brought to bear on every part and moment of our lives.
In the context of the twenty-first century, it seems that from one perspective there have been great advances in science and technology, yet, according to the Buddhist scriptures, the twenty-first century is predicted to be a time of the five degenerations, a time when sentient beings have many coarse afflictions and negativities, and particularly a time when people hold many wrong views. Reflecting on life in the twenty-first century, it seems that, as people become busier and busier, there is increasing danger of their being distracted and not having opportunity to search for happiness within themselves. The students gathered at Vajra Vidya Institute have had the great fortune to attend Thrangu Rinpoche’s teachings. However, having listened to teachings, we need to practice the meaning of the Dharma, and this we do in two ways: first, we make a special time to do our practice; second, at other times, we keep thoughts of the Dharma continuously in mind. Forgetting the Dharma immediately after we finish our practice session is not correct practice.

Moving on to the lama-disciple relationship, Gyalwang Karmapa first considered how to serve the lama. He emphasized that lama and disciple needed to be of the same mind—the ways we serve the lama should always be in harmony with the lama’s intentions. We should do what the lama tells us to do. If we make our own decisions about the best way in which to serve the lama, and they are inconsistent with the lama’s intentions, we are not serving the lama’s purpose.

Gyalwang Karmapa drew on the life of Milarepa to illustrate his point, and Marpa’s refusal to instruct Milarepa in the Dharma. However, this is understandable if we reflect on the nature of the secret Mantravajrayana which contains profound instructions and empowerments that should not be given to people who lack the capability or merit. For the lama it can be difficult to refuse when a student requests an empowerment or instructions. Perhaps this is why lamas in the past set their students difficult tasks such as acquiring gold. Accomplishing the task proved that the student was wholeheartedly committed to Dharma practice. In addition, the student has to be ready, and the instructions or empowerments have to be given in a way in which it can be received. Milarepa, for example, devoted his whole life to practice of the Dharma, and in this way he was able to genuinely serve his lama and accomplish the lama’s words.
Serving the lama does not mean being at their side all the time. Rather it includes thinking about their words and intentions, and serving them in that way. Student need to prepare themselves for serving the lama by developing excellent intentions and activities. It is never certain how or if the lama will give instructions. Naropa spent many years with Tilopa without receiving any formal instructions, but received many teachings in a practical way. Whenever the lama teaches us something it has to be at the level and intentions of our own thoughts and we have to be able to put it into practice. As to the relationship between lama and student, you have to feel it within your own being.

Thrangu Rinpoche’s recent teachings were based on the Third Karmapa’s Distinguishing Consciousness from Wisdom , so the Gyalwang Karmapa next shared some thoughts on consciousness [namshe] and wisdom [yeshe].

In Vasubandhu’s Treasury of Abhidharma it says in the root verses that mind, consciousness and cognition are the same meaning. In the Vaibashika [Exposition] School and in the Sutra School it is said that mind, consciousness and cognition are all the same.
Then there is the sixth mental consciousness which is not divided into the subtle and coarse aspects of the seventh and eighth consciousnesses.

In the Mahayana scriptures, especially those of the Vijñ?ptiv?da [Mind-Only School], there is a differentiation between mind, cognition and consciousness. Mind is the ground consciousness. Cognition is the afflicted mind. Consciousness refers to the six consciousnesses [five sense consciousnesses and the mental consciousness]. Thus there is a division into coarse and subtle aspects. Of course, the ground consciousness is a consciousness but with respect to differentiation between mind, cognition and consciousness it is termed ‘mind’; it is a subtle differentiation.
The five senses and the sixth mental consciousness are not stable, they’re transient, so they cannot collect the imprints. Similarly, the seventh consciousness, the afflicted mind, is not always present—there are three situations when it is absent—so it also cannot collect imprints.
The alaya or ground consciousness is the most stable; it is continuously present from the beginning of sentience through to awakening as Buddha, and hence is called the ground of imprints. In terms of karma, cause and effect, previous lives create imprints which are carried forward from one life to the next. There are different positions on this. According to the Summary of the Mahayana, the ground consciousness is the basis which goes from life-to-life, and the imprints awake and ripen.

The ground consciousness is said to have many different features. Asanga’s Summary of the Mahayanaposits that when the ground consciousness is transformed at the point of enlightenment, it ripens, and thus refers to it as the ripening consciousness. Whereas Abidharma / Abhidharma-samuccaya says that the ground consciousness is present until awakening. It is also said that at the point of enlightenment it transforms into the mirror-like wisdom.

An Indian scholar Yandag Tonpa, posited a ninth consciousness – stainless wisdom–and said that this is the mirror-like wisdom, arguing that if the mirror-like wisdom is a consciousness it has to be different from the other eight.

The explanation of the Mind-Only or Vijñ?ptiv?din school is that the ground consciousness is the ground where all aspects of consciousness can happen.

Higher philosophical schools such as the Yogacarya Middle Way Schools also describe how conventional appearances occur in terms that fit the Mind-Only presentation. They use the words ‘ground consciousness’ but with a different meaning. Similarly, the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje mentions the ground consciousness [alaya] in his Profound Inner Meaning but uses the term to mean the Buddha nature or the luminous wisdom that is present.
So we need to be aware that the meaning of the term ‘ground consciousness’ can change.

Basically, within our mind there exists the aspect of clear-awareness. The seventh afflicted mind also has the aspect of clear-awareness. It is as if it has two parts – the aspect of clear-awareness and the part mixed with the afflictions. We gradually purify the part mixed with the afflictions and then the mere clear-awareness remains.

Clear-awareness is mentioned in texts on the different classifications of mind. It is also compared to the wisdom of the dharmadhatu, the luminous wisdom of suchness, and so forth. Thus, there are two parts, the part that needs to be eliminated and the clear wisdom part. You can think of them in terms of the part that is to be eliminated and the part that eliminates, or as impure and pure. When the impure part is eliminated the pure part becomes manifest, so in this way we have consciousness and wisdom.

The seventh afflicted mind has this pure part - the clear, knowing part. This is the aspect of clear awareness present from the beginning of sentience until Buddhahood. As we go through the progression of removing and cleansing, that pure aspect of our minds is gradually revealed.
In Mahamudra we say that thought is dharmakaya. That’s a little strange because it seems that if it’s true, there is no need to awaken to Buddhahood. What it actually means is that the essence of the two is indivisible; In one mind or cognition there are both pure and impure aspects, and the essence of these two cannot be separated. It is not as if there are two different substances. It’s not a question of getting rid of the impure substance and then you get the pure substance, but rather that as you eliminate the impure, the pure is naturally revealed.
The ground consciousness is the store of imprints, which are accumulated by the thousands each day, both virtuous and non-virtuous. It is impossible to identify all of these imprints, so it is impossible to rid ourselves of the negative imprints one by one. However, the afflicted mind has the four different afflictions which form the root of the afflicted mind: craving, view, pride and ignorance. And of these, the root affliction of the afflicted mind is the view – the view of a self. If this can be eliminated, we will have eliminated the root of all the others. The antidotes used to uproot this clinging to a self are therefore the most important because they are the antidotes to all other afflictions. If you cut down a tree at the base of the trunk, all the branches are naturally cut down too. We have collected imprints since beginningless time so it would be very difficult to remove each one-by-one.

The Exposition School and the Sutra School say that there are external objects, which are the objective condition. The Sutra School maintains that they are the aspects and images that occur because of the imprints arising in our mind, but they say this can only happen if the external condition of the object exists. An appearance is based on both external and internal conditions. In contrast, the Mind-Only School says that appearances are based on the awakening of the imprints. For example, a single blue flower; if ten people look at it, there will be ten different perceptions, its colour, its shape,its aesthetics, and so forth, because each has their own different imprints. There are virtuous and non-virtuous imprints in the continuum of our mind. Whenever we do something virtuous, the imprint is stored and we become habituated to that action, so through Dharma practice we try to make good imprints. For example if we practice generosity in this life, it makes a good strong imprint in our mind-stream and in the next life we will have food, clothing and so forth.
Imprints govern our perception of the world. If two people meet Mr Tashi, each will have different perceptions of Mr Tashi because of the appearance which arises due to the ripening of their own imprints. There are not two separate Mr Tashis.

Likewise, when we perceive things, it seems as if there is a solid object, separate from our mind, proven and truly existent out there, but when we think about how it really is, we have many misconceptions about this object, how it is or isn’t, and these are appearances dependent on the imprints in our mind. This leads to many difficulties in our lives.

We should consider these differences in philosophical views and presentations as a progression, with each Buddhist philosophical school looking inside themselves, and gaining more and more profound understandings of how our minds are. Yet, they all share the aim of providing the path through which we can tame our own minds. They should be integrated into our practice. When we study treatises, this should be our aim too, linking philosophy with practice, turning our attention inwards, helping us explore the nature of ourselves, and then it becomes the establishing the view of Buddhism. Otherwise, if philosophy remains outside ourselves, it will be difficult to fully understand or realize the view. We have to look deeply into ourselves, and turn our intention inwards so that we can experience the nature of our minds. Referring to the recent Japanese earthquake and explosion at the nuclear reactors, the world financial crisis and weakening economy, people were paying a lot of attention to external things. At a time like this it is important to know where to look for happiness. Gyalwang Karmapa emphasized once more that we should not base our happiness on external circumstances; happiness is internal, we can find it within ourselves, within our own minds.

What do the words ‘wisdom’ and ‘consciousness’ mean? In Tibetan the word yeshe- means primordial wisdom, that is, knowing the nature of all things from the very beginning, and the word namshe means consciousness, knowing the outer aspect, the appearance, and there are so many confused, fictitious appearances. Gyalwang Karmapa then told a story from the life of the Lord Buddha to illustrate the difference.

Once, when Lord Buddha was on his alms round, he arrived at the house of a particularly disagreeable householder who became very angry when he saw him.
“You monks are always a nuisance, coming round asking for food," the householder ranted, and stood berating the Lord Buddha for a considerable time. Lord Buddha waited patiently, not saying anything, until finally the householder stopped.
Then the Buddha asked, "Have you finished?”
“Yes,” the householder replied.
“You have said many angry and harsh things. Now I have a question for you,” said the Buddha.
“If someone gave you something you don’t want, what would you do with it?"
“Give it back,” said the householder.
“Fine,” replied the Buddha. “I don’t want all these harsh words, so I’m giving them back to you!”
Consciousness looks at the outer aspect. We are fooled by how things appear on the outside, the householder is in the wrong, and so feel we need to respond, so in this situation, we might become angry. That’s the work of the consciousness, based on external appearances, but in fact the incident is a collection of transient conditions and circumstances.
The Buddha does not respond angrily. He just says, “Take them back.”

So remember, in situations when you might get angry, don’t be overcome. Concepts such as ego-lessness are taught to help us, but some people get even more egoistic when they study these philosophical topics! Likewise the teachings on the ground consciousness are taught in order to show us how karma, cause and effect, are not dissipated over time. Instead, they go with us from lifetime to lifetime to lifetime.
If you forget that all these philosophical ideas are there to help us tame our own minds, you can become very skilled in philosophical debate, but you will have missed the point.

2011.3.17 法王噶瑪巴於鹿野苑開示 “Consciousness and Wisdom" A teaching by the Gyalwang Karmapa



March 13, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

An audience of 600 devotees crowded into the main shrine room at Vajra Vidya Institute to receive the 1000-armed 1000-eyed Chenrezig empowerment from Gyalwang Karmapa.
The empowerment was broadcast worldwide by live webcast over the Internet and there were more than 4,000 ‘hits’. [It’s not possible to estimate the actual numbers watching the webcast as many of these ‘hits’ would have been from dharma centres where students of His Holiness had gathered together to watch.] Students of the Gyalwang Karmapa from 42 different countries filled the hall, including two groups of students from local schools and a senior delegation from the All India Buddhist Organization. His Holiness taught in Tibetan, while translators provided translation into 8 languages: English, Hindi, German, French, Spanish, Polish, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Gyalwang Karmapa was assisted by his senior tutor Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche, Dzoghen Ponlop Rinpoche, Bogangkar Rinpoche and Gyatso Rinpoche. The Rinpoches represented the assembly during the initiation.
Of the many extant traditions of the Chenrezig practice, His Holiness chose to use the one begun by Bhikshuni Srimati, known in Tibetan as Gelongma Palmo, an ordained Buddhist nun who founded the Avalokitesvara "Nyun-gne" tradition. Bhikshuni Srimati was born into a royal family in India but wanted to become ordained and practice the Dharma, so she refused to get married, left her family and became a Bhikshuni. Then she contracted leprosy, a feared disease in those days, so the religious community expelled her and she became an outcaste, forced to live in the forest. The great Mahasiddha Indrabodhi came across her and instructed her in devotion to Avalokitesvara. Through meditation and prayer, her leprosy disappeared and she was entirely cured. Subsequently, she attained enlightenment and gained many followers.
In addition to conferring the empowerment, Gyalwang Karmapa gave a short teaching. Having previously discussed the nature of genuine happiness and reasons for developing kind-heartedness, during his four-day teaching on how to become a good person by bringing benefit to beings, Gyalwang Karmapa now explored the profound philosophy which underpins the Middle Way School of Tibetan Buddhism–the concepts of dependent origination and emptiness.
He explained how important it is to understand that all conditioned phenomena are mere appearances, dependent on and inseparable from each other. Because of our confused perception, we mistake these appearances for reality; we grasp at the idea of an independently existing self and fail to see our own interconnectedness. It’s similar to when we watch a film and become involved with the characters, developing attachment to some and aversion to others, forgetting that it is only a film.
Because of this root ignorance, we are beset by the three poisons and the afflictions. Dharma practice is the antidote to these.
Our failure to understand our interdependence leads to problems at all levels. For example, individuals drop litter in the street, and countries fail to consider the effect of their actions on neighbouring countries.
Our self-clinging locks us into a box of I, me and mine, which excludes most people and leads to a narrow perspective on the world.
The true aim of Dharma practice is to be able to see things as they are and that means ultimately understanding profound emptiness. He emphasized that this was not a mere intellectual understanding of emptiness as an abstract philosophical position, a topic to be studied and debated, but applying the view of emptiness to everyday life, as the key to seeing things as they really are.
His Holiness concluded by describing how, since he was a child and was first recognized as the Karmapa, he has felt himself propelled by the force of karma. He expressed his deep love and affection for everyone and his aspiration that all beings should be happy.
“There are so many natural disasters,” he said, perhaps reflecting on the terrible earthquake and tsunami which had struck Japan during the teachings. “We do not know what the future holds, but we shouldn’t worry. It is my heartfelt wish that all of you are able to find happiness.”
His Holiness took this opportunity to express his deep gratitude to his teacher, Khenchen Yongzin Thrangu Rinpoche, the organizers of the teachings, the two translators and all those who had gathered from all over the world. He said, “I feel such a strong sense of gratitude that I feel that I should thank the earth and sky as well.”
[We hope to provide a full translation of Gyalwang Karmapa’s teaching on appearances, dependent arising and emptiness in due course.]

2011.3.13 法王噶瑪巴賜予千手千眼觀音灌頂 Gyalwang Karmapa Confers 1000-Armed Chenrezig Empowerment



March 12, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

How to be Truly Happy

The session began with questions and answers.

If we have been educated in the West we have a spirit of competition, as it is considered a virtue there. When we deeply wish to practise Dharma properly, we have to work on this competitiveness and also on our jealousy. Could Your Holiness please tell us how to recognise these negative aspects in our mind, how to deal with them, and how to work with others’ projections of jealousy onto us. Is this competitiveness and jealousy connected with low self-esteem or pride?

Gyalwang Karmapa: In general, the Buddhist teachings classify laziness into three types, one of which is the laziness of self-deprecation. It’s the worst type of laziness. It is important to have confidence, but we must not confuse confidence with pride. In the West there is often a strong sense of individuality, a sense of personal identity and the idea that we ourselves are important, which in one way can be a good thing. For instance, in the West small children never seem daunted when they meet great people, whereas Tibetan children are very self-conscious, look at the ground and don’t have the confidence to ask questions. On the other hand, sometimes in the West people get too confident; they become proud and disregard other people. If we are confident, we can recognise our own good qualities such as intelligence and our confidence can be a source of courage, but, at the same time, it’s important not to treat others with disrespect and to remember that there are people who have greater qualities than we have, and not to be jealous of them in any way.
A little competitiveness can be useful. There are stories of great lamas who thought of the achievements of realised practitioners such as Marpa or Milarepa and determined to follow suit. This is a form of competitiveness but it is based on confidence connected with faith and devotion.
Rather than being jealous, we should take delight in the qualities of others, and have the confidence that in future we too will become like them, so that our minds remain calm and undisturbed.

In many Dharma Centres abroad it seems that Western Buddhists behave worse than non-Buddhists in terms of being kind or supportive. How can we deal with this? How can we have more peace and harmony in Western Dharma Centres?

Gyalwang Karmapa: This is a very big question! [His Holiness commented in English]. If I had the answer, I would have solved all the problems of the centres.
Firstly, when Lamas give us profound instructions we need to put them into practice. At Dharma centres we have the opportunity to receive instructions on practising the Dharma but we may feel contrary and choose to ignore them. Or we may put them into practice but not whole-heartedly. We may be irritated by what seems like a long list of rules and commitments or we may pay lip-service to the Dharma– all words but no action! Buddhism offers us the methods to become a good person by developing loving kindness and compassion but we have to put the teachings into practice.
So why don’t people put the teachings into practice? Perhaps the problem lies with the Dharma centres themselves. Perhaps the administration and organisation are not good enough. If well-organised, teachings will be structured in such a way that students are able to understand clearly the stages of the Buddhist path, how they need to progress, and how to achieve that goal.
Perhaps we Tibetans set a bad example to the Westerners, as we often don’t put the Dharma into practise ourselves! You can talk about the paramita of generosity for a hundred years but it’s pointless if you can’t show generosity. Similarly, with transcendent patience, we don’t always practice it. There’s a story about a lama who went to visit another lama, who asked him what he was doing those days. The first lama replied that he was teaching in his monastery, teaching Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva. “That’s good,” replied the second lama. They continued to talk and the first lama recounted how someone had caused problems for him so he had taken out a lawsuit against the man and won. “Oh,” observed the second lama, “You haven’t taught the chapter on Patience in the Way of the Bodhisattva, yet, then?” “Oh, no,” countered the first lama.”I taught it very well.”
That’s what is meant by paying lip-service to the Dharma. We need to practise in order to tame our mind-stream, and if all we’re doing is talking about it, that is not a genuine Dharma practice.
A further problem might be that Dharma centres are not stressing the basics of Buddhism. From the very beginning, students need to be aware of the essential teachings and the aims of practice so that it can be incorporated into their experience. We fail to teach them about refuge, loving kindness and compassion. We wrongly emphasise a partisan view instead. We should be explaining clearly the reasons for practising the Dharma and instructing them on how to become a good person through working with their mind.

Instructions on meditation say that we should keep our gaze stable and in front of us. I have been meditating for a long time with my eyes closed. When I meditate with them open, I can’t sit for a long time and I can’t keep my mind calm. What should I do?

Gyalwang Karmapa: Sometimes it is said that you should look into the space in front of you, but actually there are many different instructions on ways of focussing the eyes in meditation, in both Dzogchen and Mahamudra. In calm-abiding meditation [shamatha] we are often told to look into the space in front of our noses. In many sutras it says that we shouldn’t look to right or left, but should let our eyes relax, without staring. However, if you meditate with your eyes closed, there is the danger, especially for beginners, that you will become lethargic, and this will be an obstacle to your meditation. For this reason, you shouldn’t close your eyes, but neither should you open your eyes wide. When you become accustomed to it, meditating with the eyes open is comfortable.
It’s better to go and ask a lama who has all the instructions.

How do we practice deity yoga and looking at the mind together, both during a meditation session and afterwards?

Gyalwang Karmapa: These are really profound questions connected with Mahamudra, and I’m not sure whether I can answer them very well. However, generally when we talk about meditating on ourselves in the form of the deity, we do not meditate on this flesh-and-blood body as being the deity. Rather it’s that our own innate wisdom appears in the form of the deity. In terms of the highest yoga tantra, we refer to ‘the wisdom of great bliss’ which appears in the form of the deity. We need to understand emptiness and how this form appears.
When we meditate on Mahamudra or Dzogchen, this is not analytic meditation, but primarily it’s resting meditation. We practise resting without altering the mind in any way, as a way to allow the wisdom of the luminosity which is present within us to manifest. When we meditate on ourselves as the deity, the essence is the innate luminous wisdom, but the aspect is the deity. It is the essence of our mind, the innate luminous wisdom, which takes the form of the deity. We take imagination as the path.
The main point is that there is profound emptiness and then the vast way in which things appear. Emptiness is not the same as nothingness, but neither should we see appearances as real, solid things. Rather it’s that while things appear they are empty, and while they are empty they appear.
Actually, I’m meant to be talking about becoming a good person and this is not really in that scope, so “Keep going”.

During the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi was good to the people and protected them, but he also raised armies and fought wars where many people died. If he wanted to attain buddhahood, would it be necessary for him or someone like him to purify his karma in the same way as Milarepa?

Gyalwang Karmapa: We have to consider the dynastic history, and during the Xing Dynasty Kangxi was one of the most famous emperors and, of course, because he was the emperor he had to wage war occasionally. He practised Tibetan Buddhism and invited lamas from Tibet, particularly Gelukpa lamas, to advise him on his religious practice. It is said that when he took empowerments he was very humble.
Usually, when we think about practising the Dharma it has to be in accordance with a person’s capacities. Not everyone can be like Milarepa, enduring hardship in order to attain Buddhahood in one lifetime.

His Holiness said before that to practise guru yoga with the lama in nirmanakaya form brings blessings more quickly. Would this or yidam deity practice be faster in eliminating samsara?

Gyalwang Karmapa: “I can’t remember saying that!” Generally, when we talk about emptying samsara, whatever practice we are engaged in, has to be taken as an antidote for the afflictions, especially as the antidote to ignorance and clinging to a self, because the root of samsara is clinging to a self. This is what we need to meditate on, whether it is in the form of the lama or the yidam deity.
Gyalwang Karmapa then resumed his discourse on the main theme of the teachings by exploring the meaning of true happiness.
When we talk about happiness, there are conditions which can bring about a sensation of pleasure, but that is not happiness. Genuine happiness is internal and comes from a virtuous mind. Similarly when we speak about suffering, it’s not external things which cause us most suffering, but the afflictions which disturb our minds and make us unhappy, the non-virtues. Thus, in order to make ourselves happy, we need to nurture the seeds of virtue in our lives and decrease the power of the afflictions, the unwholesome things in our mind, which are the sources of suffering.
People are confused about the sources of true happiness. For example, everyone is familiar with film stars and heroes. In India, film stars are very famous. When they enter a room people start clapping. Would you prefer to be that film star or one of the people applauding? Many people believe that if they could become an important person, a hero or film star, someone rich and famous, someone who stands out from the crowd, they would be happy. They think that happiness is something out there that they haven’t got, so they need to get it. Often this translates into the idea that we can become happy by acquiring something new to replace the old–a new partner, a new car, a new house. That’s how we try to make ourselves happy.
It’s not always how it seems. When that film star appears and everyone starts applauding, do you think they are happy or not? We can’t be sure whether the film star is happy or not, but the people standing clapping their hands are definitely happy and enjoying themselves.
In fact, happiness is very simple. It means living in the present and appreciating the experiences we are having right now. As I said yesterday, it really isn’t a question of what we have or don’t have, but more a question of what we are or what we are not. There are poor people who are extremely happy and rich people who are consumed by worry and have lots of difficulties. Every day we take hundreds of thousands of breaths. Consider how each breath we take is incredibly amazing and precious. If we were unable to breathe, we would be unable to live. Each breath is priceless. These days we have to pay for everything – food, electricity and so on – so perhaps they will find a way to charge us for the air we breathe! But for the moment breathing is free and incredibly amazing. If we can take delight in this, we have happiness here and now.
Gyalwang Karmapa concluded the teaching by saying that he hoped it had been an opportunity ‘to make connections and develop a bond of love and affection’ and that through this teaching everyone would find happiness, a happiness that would flourish and grow stronger.

2011.3.12  法王噶瑪巴2011春季課程第四天 Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings 2011: Session Four



March 11, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

“How to become a good person through the wish to benefit others.”

During this session, after brief introductory remarks, the Gyalwang Karmapa first answered questions posed by members of the audience. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche assisted by translating the questions into Tibetan for Tibetan-speakers in the audience.

How do we practise equanimity when it seems everyone tells lies and makes life difficult for those of us who are good?

Gyalwang Karmapa: This is a question that we all have to consider in terms of how great or small our own capabilities are. As it says in Shantideva’s Way of the Bodhisattva:
If you can do something about a situation, there’s no reason to be upset.
If there’s nothing you can do about the situation, there’s no reason to be upset.
Having assessed how much control you have over the situation and how much you can change it, there may be some way you can help the other person to see the true situation, explain or give advice. But, if there is nothing you can do, you should bring the situation your practice. If you have an authentic practice of mind-training, you can apply the practice of transforming obstacles into the path of enlightenment. This is a way to purify misdeeds and an opportunity to transform difficult conditions and obstacles into the path.

When we are in a situation with few favourable circumstances, many difficulties and problems, we can often feel overwhelmed, and sometimes there are no external factors that can help us, and we have to rely on internal factors. We can reflect that at least we have some degree of virtue in our minds, at least we are a little kind-hearted, we have truth on our side, and this can bring us a degree of comfort and happiness. There may be nothing we can do about external conditions but at the very least we can comfort ourselves. We may think that we need an external source to comfort us, but, actually, what we need is to allow our minds to be more expansive, open and relaxed.

Traditionally, Buddhism teaches the equal nature of all phenomena, and this includes the equality of men and women. However, in Buddhist cultures women, including nuns, are considered inferior. Would His Holiness please comment?

Gyalwang Karmapa: Sometimes there seems to be a discontinuity or contradiction between what the Buddha taught and the situation in Buddhist countries or societies. However, because the Buddha Dharma exists in many different societies and environments, indigenous cultures can exert an influence over it. Thus, there may be Buddhist countries in which inequality between men and women appears to be a problem. However, it is not true to say that there is no equality between men and women in Buddhist countries, either.
Essentially it seems to me to be a human rights issue. The word we use in Tibetan for ‘rights’ is related to the word for ‘inheritance’ or ‘birthright’. In the world today, women face many difficulties which I do not need to enumerate. Yet, all human beings, including women, have the right to seek happiness and rid themselves of suffering. This is a natural right shared by all sentient beings. It’s not a question of apportioning the inheritance–I’ll have this, and you can have that–but one of respecting the natural right of women to work for their own happiness.
The Buddhist teachings apply not just to humans but to all sentient beings–all sentient beings share this wish to be happy and avoid suffering. It is important to respect this basic equality of all sentient beings.
As to the Buddhist tradition, in the stories of the Sravakas, there are many references to women who have become arhats. In the Mahayana, we remember how all sentient beings are like mothers to us, and in the secret Mantrayana women are respected even more highly. It is important to remember this and support women in being equal.

How should we as Buddhists take care of animals that are ill or dying? If there is no prospect that they will recover and if they are suffering, is it better to put them to sleep so that they are no longer in pain?

Gyalwang Karmapa: The Vinaya discusses this point with reference to an individual who had become very ill and had no hope of recovery. The question posed is whether it is wrong to kill somebody who is suffering in order to release them from their suffering. The answer is that it is still wrong to take life because the action includes the intent to kill. Because of the intent to kill it is a non-virtuous action and not permissible.
Further, when we decide to put our dog or cat to sleep, whose choice is that? It’s not their choice. In the case of humans, if I am terminally ill, are you going to put me to sleep too? We should treat all sentient beings equally, so we need to think carefully. If animals are in pain we can administer painkillers. It’s not necessary to kill them. “Putting to sleep” actually means killing them, and that’s very difficult from a Buddhist perspective.
However, there is one possible exception: a great bodhisattva, whose mind is not disturbed by the afflictions, and whose only concern is the benefit of sentient beings, might see a good purpose in such an action.

If we give some rupees to a beggar, who uses them to buy alcohol, has an accident and dies, are we involved in the negative karma of this, even if we had a good intention?

When we talk in terms of non-virtues and non-virtuous actions and so forth, an action that leads to someone’s death is not necessarily one of the ten non-virtuous actions. With the non-virtuous action of killing, for example, you have to have the particular intent to kill. In fact, not all non-virtuous actions are included in the ten – there are several different presentations of the different virtuous and non-virtuous actions. If we do something which contributes to the circumstances of someone else’s death, it is difficult to classify it necessarily as a misdeed. When you give money to a beggar you are motivated by the wish to help, but if that help is unhelpful, you should try to give in ways which are actually beneficial to the person, otherwise your wish to help does not bring much benefit. It may be better to give beggars food or other necessities instead of money. In Bodhgaya, for instance, the government has forbidden people to give money to the beggars – you have to give food.
In general, you need to assess the situation and decide what action is most beneficial and least dangerous.

I am a teacher in a school with a thousand students. Every day the students have problems and need my help. If I set a limit on how much time I spend with them so that I can practise, some children will not get the help they need. Please advise me on how I can find a balance.

Gyalwang Karmapa: Get up early in the morning!
When you are doing things to help others is the time when you need to be practising, and a good time to assess your practice. The idea that practice is a time set aside to sit down and do formal practice is one thing, but our practice is actually something that needs to be put into practice in the way we conduct our lives. Those times when we are making connections with other people and other sentient beings are the times when we need to observe our own minds, when we should try to improve our minds, so that we have good motivation, the thought to benefit others, and good thoughts. This will be very beneficial and advance our practice. Otherwise, if we restrict our practice to meditation in the shrine room, we may feel peace and well-being at that time, but then when we go to work and are overcome by the afflictions or are minds become disturbed, we may feel that our practice is not helping us.
We need to link our meditation and post-meditation state, so that the former carries over into the latter, and they become inseparable. For a Buddha, meditative equipoise and post-meditation are indivisible. This is the culmination of a gradual process, which is why we should try from the very beginning to link them. It is very important that we create imprints during our formal practice sessions and then try to bring them fully into our lives in the post-meditation phase.
His Holiness concluded the session by returning to his thoughts being a good and happy person.

How can we create a meaningful human life, he asked. How can we become a good and happy person?
First we need to identify what really constitutes happiness. When people think of the things which will lead to happiness they have lots of different hopes and expectations: getting a new car, getting a new house, relaxing in a hot bath. But there is some doubt that external circumstances can bring us happiness. Will a house bring us happiness? Is happiness dependent on such things? If we have the idea that happiness depends on external circumstances, if we don’t have them, we become despondent. We need to know how to create our own happiness, irrespective of our circumstances.
Ordinary people look at wealthy people and think that they must be very contented, and so want to imitate their lifestyles. However, if we reflect, we will see that it is self-evident that wealth does not necessarily bring happiness. Tibetans call money “the source of all joys”, so we should investigate to see if that’s true.
Once upon a time, there was a wealthy man who lived in a beautiful house. Next door to him was a beggar living in a make-shift shack. Every night the rich man would sit and worry away the evening, counting his money, checking the profits, and planning his strategy for the following day. The beggar, on the other hand, sat in his hovel singing songs. When he heard the beggar, the rich man began to question why the beggar who had nothing could sing happily every night when he who was wealthy had nothing but worries. One day he had an idea and decided to carry out an experiment. When the beggar went out, the wealthy man crept into the hovel and left a gold bar there. The beggar returned, spotted the gold bar and immediately began to worry what to do. How did the gold get there? Should he return it to someone? How could he locate the owner? Or perhaps it was the blessing of the Three Jewels and he should sell it? All night the beggar worried about what to do, and forgot to sing!
Watching this, the wealthy man realised that his wealth was the root of his problem, preventing him from being happy, so he gave it all away, and became much happier.

This human life of ours seems to be a succession of difficult situations full of worries. First we need to set up house, then our children need schooling, perhaps we are unhappy at work, and so on. It may even seem that life is pointless. But if we think carefully we will discover that we are often creating the difficulties ourselves.

The secret of happiness is very simple: it lies within ourselves. If we can just be contented with what we have, that is the greatest wealth. Happiness depends on our having goodness and a virtuous mind, not on external circumstances. Something as simple as breathing can be a source of happiness. When we consider the air we breathe, the oxygen dependent on so many other causes and conditions, which keeps us alive, we should feel amazed and happy.
Being a good person and leading a good human life is very simple. There are many problems in life in samsara but if we keep our minds open and expansiveness, we will be happy. Conversely, if we continue to be attached to external things it will be very difficult to be happy.
Human history demonstrates the confusion over what can bring happiness. People have gone to war in order to bring peace, and brought more suffering. We have looked to economic development, but this has created more difficulties, problems and suffering. It is as if we have sacrificed our freedom.
Everyone should think more deeply about the true source of happiness.

2011.3.11  法王噶瑪巴2011春季課程第三天 Gyalwang Karmapa's Spring Teachings 2011: Session Three


March 11, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

On hearing of the natural disaster which had struck Japan and threatened islands in the Pacific Ocean, Gyalwang Karmapa  called everyone together for special evening prayers in the main shrine room at Vajra Vidya Institute.  Several hundred monks, nuns and laypeople gathered at 7.30pm.  Relating the special prayers to his current Spring Teachings, Gyalwang Karmapa commented that his teachings had focused on how we could be of benefit to sentient beings. To join together in prayers for those who had suffered in this natural disaster was one way of benefitting beings.



March 10, 2011 - Vajra Vidya Institute, Sarnath

There were people from forty-two nations gathered in the main shrine room at Vajra Vidya Institute to hear the second day of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s Spring Teachings, and a further 1400 were logged on to watch the webcast.

“How to become a good person through the wish to benefit others.”

Creating a meaningful life

To begin His Holiness greeted everyone warmly before resuming his discourse on how one becomes a good person. He began by emphasising that human beings are inherently wholesome, innately noble and virtuous, yet because of certain causes and conditions, this innate goodness becomes hidden and is no longer expressed. We have to recognise our true nature and reclaim it. As the Buddha taught, our inherent nature is pristine, like the sun veiled by the clouds. The sun is there but is obscured by the clouds. It is not a case of being brainwashed or conditioned into somebody new, but rather of recognising our inherent nature as it is.
It is obvious that all people wish to have happiness and avoid suffering, and a sense of warmth towards others, a desire for harmony and intimacy with others is the norm. Yet, because we are influenced and conditioned by our upbringing and circumstances, outlooks and viewpoints vary, creating differences between people. Within Tibetan society, for instance, we are all Tibetans but people raised in the Kagyupa tradition feel affinity for that tradition and distance from other religious traditions, simply because of the environment in which they have been raised. This might seem trivial or insignificant but such differences can have a major impact on and consequences for society, resulting in total disregard for other people. We no longer consider their happiness and well-being as important, and, in extreme circumstances, they may be persecuted, tortured and so on. Or, if one belongs to a particular political view, one might be so influenced that one becomes a fanatic. Consequently, it is very important for us to be on our guard and be cognisant of the influences and conditionings in our environment.
However, although we have been subjected to various influences, good and bad, in our upbringing and environment, there are many possible outcomes to any situation, and we still have choice. If someone is given five apples, he can eat all five apples himself, and limit himself to the experience of tasting apples! On the other hand he could choose to eat one, and, because it was delicious, choose to eat a second one, but then give away the other three: one to A, one to B and one to C. Later, when A has grapes, he will share them with him. When B has oranges, she will share them with him. When C has mangoes, he will give him one. Simply by choosing to share his apples he now has the opportunity to taste different fruit. Similarly, we have the potential to make our lives more flavourful. If, on the other hand, we are wrapped up in self-interest, we’ll eat all the apples! If we want a more meaningful life we have to reach out to other people, in which case having five apples at our disposal becomes a source for increasing happiness. The essential difference lies in our own attitude.
His Holiness then told a true story about a well-known investigative journalist who went to a village to write about their way of life. On the way he met a little shepherd boy, five or six years old.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m looking after the sheep.”
“What for?”
“To be able to earn some money.”
“Why do you want to make money?”
“So that I can get a wife.”
“Why do you want a wife?
“To have a child.”
“Why do you want a child?”
“So he can look after the sheep.”
This story circulated and became a joke. Some dismissively said, “That’s how simple villagers lead their lives.” But others who were more reflective thought, “These uneducated villagers have plans for the future, so we who many more opportunities should also have a plan!”

If we can think beyond ourselves, our lives can become more meaningful. For example, someone whose goal is to make money has a choice: if they make a nine rupee profit they can choose to keep it to themselves or choose to share it with nine other people. In the latter case, they have created some benefit for others.
The Buddhist tradition generally and the Mahayana in particular expresses the view that our life is limited but, with the correct attitude, it is possible to use our lives to bring unlimited benefit to an innumerable number of beings. Given that our lives are brief, characterised by impermanence and uncertainty, every second which passes becomes precious: it is important to make every second count. Buddhist teachings state clearly that desiring happiness for one’s self , the habit of self-cherishing, is the root of unhappiness, whereas the cherishing of others leads to lasting happiness. So, in order to make our lives significant and meaningful we need to work for the benefit of others.
In this world generally, whether it is between nations or within communities, everyone seems interested in achieving their own selfish aims while neglecting the interests of others. Yet, in terms of both suffering and well-being, we have to share this planet. We depend on other people for the food we eat, for the clothes we wear. Indeed, we depend on other sentient beings for our very existence, so, even from a selfish viewpoint, we should be concerned for their well-being, otherwise we ourselves won’t be able to survive. Even the air we breathe is dependent on other phenomena. Everything we require to stay alive is dependent on the existence and well-being of others. This is the way things are – everything that exists occurs interdependently. If we can realise this, we have a starting point from which to begin to benefit others.
More often than not, until a disaster happens, we are unprepared to put preventive measures in place. So much deforestation has taken place, and nobody protested. We tend to have the attitude- it doesn’t concern me. I’m not a tree, it doesn’t concern me! So forests continue to be cut down. Toxic waste goes into the water and the water becomes polluted, and then we are surprised that so many fish have died unexpectedly, but no one takes a stand. We don’t see a connection between toxic waste, polluted water, and the water we drink, so, as we are not directly affected, we are not concerned. But, in the end, pollution spreads, and it is our drinking water which is being polluted.
The loss of forests has led to reduced rainfall so there is less drinking water available, but when the trees were being cut, we weren’t worried. Now it has become critical. We don’t speak out, we are uninterested, until something serious happens which directly affects us.
If we want to help others, the first step is to transform ourselves rather than to change others. It might even be dangerous to try to change some people! First we have to tame our own minds, become a good person, and that in itself is a big step–to have created one good person in the world. Sometimes, we are eager to give advice to others, but this could be inappropriate interfering. We have to mind our own business because, first, we have to work on ourselves, develop a degree of experience and stability and then, possibly, at a later stage, we can advise others.
There’s a story about minding your own business that might make you laugh.
Once upon a time in Tibet there was a man who always warned his neighbours to keep their noses out of his affairs, so he was given the nickname Mr Mind-Your-Own-Business.
One day Mr Mind-Your-Own-Business was carrying a sack of grain home from the market. Unbeknown to him, there was a hole in the sack, and the grain slowly dribbled out through the hole, which got bigger and bigger. A neighbour spotted what was happening, but because of Mr Mind-Your-Own-Business’ reputation, the neighbour was too intimidated to tell him, but he wanted to help. Finally, he decided he could check whether there were an exception to Mr Mind-Your-Own-Business’ rule.
“Tell me,” he asked, “You always tell us never to interfere. What if it’s of benefit to the other person, should you interfere then?,
“No, you should mind your own business,” Mr Mind-Your-Own-Business replied.
Of course, by the time he got home, the bag was empty. So he accosted his neighbour,
“You saw what was happening. Why didn’t you tell me?”
The neighbour said, “I’m supposed to mind my own business.”

That’s reminiscent of the attitude mentioned earlier: ignoring things which don’t affect you directly.
It is, however, not possible to benefit all beings through our body, yet we can use the potential of our mind by reflecting on the causes and conditions which make our existence possible, then we will realise that it is because of others that we are alive. It is then possible to have a genuine sense of gratitude towards others and feelings of closeness, kindness and affection, a very important step in benefitting others.

Though I cannot fulfil the benefit of others according to the noble wishes of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and can do very little to benefit others through my body and speech, concluded His Holiness, yet, through my mind I generate a strong feeling of affection for others and feelings of caring for others. All of you, who have education, skills and the opportunity to interact with others, should be able to achieve a great deal of benefit for others.

Evening Puja to Remember the Anniversary of March 10th Uprising

Gyalwang Karmapa led special prayers for the well-being of Tibet, followed by a Mahakala Puja, on the 52nd anniversary of the Lhasa Uprising.

The prayers were attended by several hundred monks and nuns, Tibetan lay people and international students.

2011.3.10 法王噶瑪巴2011春季課程第二天 Gyalwang Karmapa’s Spring Teachings 2011: Session Two