2016/01/31

The Gyalwang Karmapa Teaches on Developing Confidence in the Power of Confession





January 31, 2016-Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
During the 18th day of teaching at the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, the Gyalwang Karmapa taught on the practice of purifying misdeeds, based on The Ornament of Precious Liberation by Gampopa. In particular, the Karmapa focused today on developing the confidence that it is possible to purify all our misdeeds through the practice of confession.
“Here it’s quite possible that we have a doubt,” the Karmapa said. “The reason is that up until now we have done innumerable misdeeds, so how is it that just one little confession in this life can actually purify all of our misdeeds? If we do not have complete confidence in the antidote of confession, then it has less power to purify our misdeeds.”
In response to this, the Karmapa mentioned a commentary explaining that the Buddha taught about both misdeeds and the possibility of purifying them. So it doesn’t make sense to believe one of these but not the other. “If we believe the words of the Buddha that a misdeed is a fault,” the Karmapa said, “then we also should believe the Buddha that if we apply the antidote we can purify that fault.”
The Karmapa also explained why virtues are stronger than nonvirtues. “Even a minor virtuous action is able to destroy a mountain of misdeeds as large as Mount Meru,” said the Karmapa. “I think the reason for this is that unlike virtues, unvirtuous thoughts, such as those of greed, anger and delusion, are actually erroneous and not in harmony with the way things actually are. They don’t fit with the nature of things, or you could say they are not supported by how things actually are. Virtuous intentions, on the other hand, have the support of the truth—an actual basis, a true support—and for that reason virtue becomes more powerful. These are some of the many reasons why even a minor virtue can destroy a heap of misdeeds.”
Having explained that it is possible to confess our misdeeds, the Karmapa also warned against becoming careless in our actions. He likened misdeeds to tuberculosis—just because there is medicine for it doesn’t mean we should disregard it.
Shifting the topic slightly, the Karmapa also explained what it means to create the karma of rejecting the Dharma, and how to avoid doing so. The karma of rejecting the Dharma occurs if we think that something that is not the Dharma is the Dharma, or if we think that the Dharma is not the Dharma. The Karmapa said starting to have a sectarian bias for one tradition or lineage can become the basis for rejecting the Dharma. “Thinking that foundation vehicle or other traditions are not the Dharma is rejecting the Dharma,” the Karmapa said.
Earlier in the teaching, the Karmapa also briefly discussed the upcoming commemoration for the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa, which will take place on February 14. The Karmapa explained how one of the 16th Karmapa’s greatest activities was reprinting the Dege edition of the Kangyur and distributing it to all the monasteries of the different traditions. In honor of this activity of the 16th Karmapa, the commemoration this year will feature the unveiling of a reprinted edition of the Jang Kangyur, both in paper and online form. The Karmapa explained how the Jang Kangyur was the first edition of the Kangyur to be printed in a Tibetan region, and that most of the original woodblocks are now gone. “This is an important and precious edition,” he said, “and our hope is that in reprinting it the will help to revive teachings in danger of being lost.”
2016.1.31 第三屆讖摩比丘尼辯經法會.《解脫莊嚴寶論》第十一堂課 The Gyalwang Karmapa Teaches on Developing Confidence in the Power of Confession

http://kagyuoffice.org/the-gyalwang-karmapa-teaches-on-developing-confidence-in-the-power-of-confession/

2016/01/30

The Gyalwang Karmapa Discusses the Power of Remorse for Purification





January 30th, 2016 –Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya, Bihar, India

The Sutra Teaching the Four Qualities speaks of the Four Powers in the following way:
    Maitreya! If bodhisattva mahasattvas have found these four things they will overcome evils that have been committed and established. What are these four? They are (1) the power of the thorough application of total remorse, (2) the power of thoroughly applying the remedy, (3) the power of renouncing harmful acts, and (4) the power of the support.
Today, His Holiness the Karmapa continued the teachings from yesterday’s topic on confessing one’s misdeeds, specifically focusing on two of the Four Powers. Reading through the transmission of Gampopa’s Ornament of Precious Liberation, which today covered the first power of remorse and its three divisions, the Karmapa took up the question asked in the text, “How do we stimulate the power of remorse?” In sum there are three ways: by considering the pointlessness of one’s wrongs, by considering fear, and by considering the urgent need for purification. The discussion today focused primarily on these points.
“We need to confess all of our misdeeds from beginningless samsara, not just one or two of them,” the Karmapa said. However, it is important not to be overwhelmed by thinking of all the misdeeds we have done as it will prevent us from taking action. “If you simply become depressed by contemplating your misdeeds, thinking, ‘I am not a worthy person,’ this is not very beneficial.” His Holiness explained, “Actually, from one perspective, [giving rise to these thoughts] is very good.” When one contemplates all, or even one, of the misdeeds one has done in this or previous lives, that recognition becomes the starting point to be able to purify it. We should confess our past wrongs with all Four Powers, he said: “The Four Powers are like the four pillars of a house.” When all four are used, the confession is more potent.
Of the Four Powers, remorse and the resolve not to do it again are the two most important ones. Of these two, “Remorse is even more important,” the Karmapa said, because “the resolve not to do it again is dependent upon feeling remorse.” When one feels remorse for the wrongs they have done, it is easier to have the resolve not to do it again.
Regarding the wrongs that we have done, the main point, the Karmapa said, is to separate the actions from the person that committed them. There is no need to think “I am a bad person.” It is important to recognize it was the action that was harmful, and not to consider a person to be completely bad or evil due to what they have done. There is no need to feel guilty or hopeless. The point of recalling our past wrongs is to “increase our inspiration, to increase our hope.” When we have done something wrong, the Karmapa explained, it is similar to the moon with clouds—it is not that the moon has gone black; rather, it is a temporary condition when the moon has been hidden by clouds. We at times also become obscured by “temporary adventitious conditions;” however, by confessing what we have done and recognizing it as wrong, we can again shine forth.
The term for confession in Tibetan is “shakpa,” the Karmapa explained. “When I hear it, I think that ‘to cut off’ is literally what it means.” So we can think of it as cutting off or removing the misdeed from our mindstreams. He gave an analogy: “It is like a cancerous tumor. When someone has cancer, you do not kill that person, but remove the tumor. You don’t kill the whole person because they have cancer.” If we can remove the bad parts, whether it is a cancer in the body, or a misdeed in the mindstream, “they cannot fester and grow.” the Karmapa explained, “and they will be cut off from maturing in the future.”
“It is important to distinguish between the person and the act,” His Holiness reiterated. “It does not fit with the Dharma to call someone a bad person. [We have to realize] that person was not at fault, but under control of their afflictions.” We ourselves, as well as other individuals, are similar to the moon that has been obscured by clouds. Once the clouds of the afflictions have been cleared away, our brightness is apparent again.
Another piece of helpful advice that the Karmapa gave, was regarding the times when we have doubts about whether we can give up certain misdeeds or not. “We need to make a distinction between the wish to resolve and refrain from something and actually being able to do so.” Making the heartfelt aspiration to stop committing bad deeds, is beneficial, even if at times, one is unable to keep that promise. His Holiness explained: “If the wise commit even a large misdeed, it can be purified or diminished. But for an ignorant person who does not know how [to confess and purify their misdeeds], even a small misdeed will grow larger.” From the Karmapa’s teaching today, we learn the immense value there is in contemplating our past wrongs and misdeeds. Attempting to resolve never to do them again has great power and benefit, even if one is not always successful. Making the effort to resolve is better than not attempting at all.
2016.1.30  第三屆讖摩比丘尼辯經法會.《解脫莊嚴寶論》第十堂課 The Gyalwang Karmapa Discusses the Power of Remorse for Purification
http://kagyuoffice.org/the-gyalwang-karmapa-discusses-the-power-of-remorse-for-purification/

2016/01/29

The Seven-Branch Prayer Embodies the Essence of Practice; New Emanations of Tseringma




January 29, 2016-Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
[This report has two sections: a briefer account of the morning’s teachings followed by a lightly edited transcript.]
After three days of Karma Pakshi and Tseringma practice, the Gyalwang Karmapa recommenced his teachings on the Ornament of Precious Liberation. He began with a reading transmission from the Seventh Topic, the Ceremony, and within this, the Preparation, which has six parts. Today the Karmapa covered its first part, Making Offerings.
“The key points of all practices is to gather the accumulations and purify misdeeds and obscurations,” he stated. “There is no practice that is not included within these two.” “Gathering the accumulations,” he continued, “means gathering all the favorable conditions for developing the path within our beings. Purifying misdeeds and obscurations means clearing away the conditions that counteract developing the path within.”
If one added prostrations at the beginning, the six parts of the section of Preparation would be the same as the seven parts of the Seven Branch Prayer: [(0) prostrations], (1) making offerings, (2) confessing past wrongs, (3) rejoicing in virtue, 4) requesting the buddhas to teach the Dharma, (5) supplicating the buddhas not to abandon the world, and (6) dedicating the roots of virtue. The Karmapa stated that these the seven branches of the prayer embody all the practices of accumulation and purification.
Turning to the prayer itself, the Karmapa remarked, “It is possible to see all seven branches as offerings. The first two branches, of prostration and making offerings, are physical offerings; the last five are an offering of practice.” He noted that there are many other ways of categorizing the seven branches; for example, there is a way to practice so that in each of the seven branches, accumulation and purification is complete. To illustrate this, he mentioned prostrations, which, as everyone knows, are an accumulation of merit. They are also, he added, an antidote for pride.
The Karmapa continued to explain that prostrations can be understood in three ways: with our body, speech, or mind. The physical prostrations we make with our body everyone knows. Prostrations through our speech, he stated, refer to the verbal praise and tribute we make to celebrate the positive qualities of a teacher. Prostrations with our mind means showing profound respect and feeling great faith in the person to whom we are prostrating. When we make an authentic prostration, our minds are filled with genuine respect.
The Karmapa then talked of how we deviate from these true ways of prostrating. In terms of the body, we could just be following customs without any real feeling. He stated, “This is the biggest danger for religions—a rote following of traditions without any experiential or emotional connection to them. It means that we do not know the nature of what we are doing.” In terms of speech, he said, we should watch to see whether we are praising or faulting others.
Then turning to the mind, the Karmapa emphasized that true prostrations are about transforming our mind and reducing our pride. The other six branches of the prayer also function as antidotes; for example, rejoicing counteracts envy, and requesting the Buddha to teach counteracts delusion or ignorance.
The Karmapa summarized his talk by saying that the Seven-Branch Prayer epitomizes all the practices of gathering the accumulations as well as purifying misdeeds and obscurations. All the major points of practice are present here, so the branches are easy to engage and easily appear in our minds. We should do this practice, he concluded, with great delight and real interest.
At the end of his talk, the Karmapa said that he hoped that in the future when the teachings spread, there would be great beings, who are women with the qualities of being learned, venerable, and good and who would look after the teachings. This is important not just for nuns, but for all living beings. “My hope, my aspiration,” he said, “is that each of the five Tseringma sisters will send an emanation as a nun to support the teachings. Maybe I’m being too bold, but it might just be possible.”
Near the end of the Buddha’s life, the Karmapa related, there was a discussion about the best way to preserve the teachings. On the one hand, they could be entrusted to humans but they are short-lived and the teachings need to last a long time. On the other hand, they could also be entrusted to the gods, who have a long life but are endlessly distracted by the sense pleasures and might not be able to uphold the teachings. The conclusion was to entrust the teachings to both a human, the great regent Kashyapa, and also to the four great kings who lived in the higher realms. The Karmapa stated that Milarepa was thus following the Buddha’s precedent when he similarly appointed the human Gampopa and the goddess Tseringma to uphold his teachings. Asking everyone to keep this in mind, the Karmapa concluded this morning’s teachings.
The Lightly Edited Transcript
After three days of Karma Pakshi and Tseringma practice, the Gyalwang Karmapa recommenced his teachings on the Ornament of Precious Liberation. He began with a reading transmission from the Seventh Topic, the Ceremony, and within this, the Preparation, which has six parts. Today the Karmapa covered its first part, Making Offerings.
“The key points of all practices is to gather the accumulations and purify misdeeds and obscurations,” he stated. “There is no practice that is not included within these two.” “Gathering the accumulations,” he continued, “means gathering all the favorable conditions for developing the path within our beings. Purifying misdeeds and obscurations means clearing away the conditions that counteract developing the path within.” He gave the example of developing bodhichitta: we gather the favorable conditions for it to arise and pacify or eliminate whatever contradicts its development.
If one added prostrations at the beginning, the six parts of the section of Preparation would be the same as the seven parts of the Seven Branch Prayer: [(0) prostrations], (1) making offerings, (2) confessing past wrongs, (3) rejoicing in virtue, 4) requesting the buddhas to teach the Dharma, (5) supplicating the buddhas not to abandon the world, and (6) dedicating the roots of virtue. The Karmapa stated that these the seven branches of the prayer embody all the practices of accumulation and purification.
Since this prayer is chanted so often, we fall into thinking that it is easy and simple, he said, and do not realize its value and importance. He first traced the lineage of the prayer, which comes from the sutra tradition and belongs to the Mahayana, within which is found a sutra called the Gandavyuha. This sutra contains a chapter known as the Aspiration for Excellent Conduct, which gives the clearest presentation of the Seven-Branch Prayer.
To illustrate his point about ignorance of the Seven Branch Prayer, the Karmapa recited a story from the Thirteenth Karmapa’s collected works. It seems that the Karmapa and a former discipline master named Gyaltsen, who was not much educated but loved to give answers, went on pilgrimage to a sacred mountain at the base of the valley where Tsurphu is. This mountain is home to an isolated place where the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje practiced in a cave as did his disciples, eighty of whom became realized masters.
    So the Thirteenth Karmapa said to Gyaltsen, “Since we’ve come to a sacred site, you should chant the Seven Branch Prayer.”
    “What’s that?” Gyaltsen asked.
    “It’s from the beginning of the Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct,” replied the Karmapa and chanted the first lines to remind Gyaltsen: “I prostrate to all the buddhas as many as there are….”
    “Oh, if I start in on that one” answered Gyaltsen, “I’ll just go around in circles and never finish. Isn’t there something shorter?” (The Karmapa surmised that he had not memorized the text.)
    “Well,” said the Thirteenth Karmapa, “you could say the last verse, ‘Whatever little merit I have gathered….’”
These days, the Karmapa remarked, we also are ignorant about the Seven-Branch Prayer, the Karmapa remarked. How many times have we recited the Noble Aspiration for Excellent Conduct and still do not know that the first verses are actually a Seven-Branch Prayer? We seem to be merely repeating the words without knowing the meaning well.
Turning to the prayer itself, the Karmapa remarked, “It is possible to see all seven branches as offerings. The first two branches, of prostration and making offerings, are physical offerings; the last five are an offering of practice.” There are many other ways of categorizing the seven branches, the Karmapa noted. They can be condensed into four aspects: (1) gathering the accumulations, which covers prostrations, offerings, requesting the buddhas to teach, and asking them not to abandon the world; (2) purifying misdeeds and obscurations, which is confession; (3) increasing our virtue, which is rejoicing; and (4) rendering our virtue inexhaustible, which is dedicating. Even more condensed, the Karmapa explained, is a summary into two aspects: (1) purification, which is the confession and (2) the accumulation of merit, which is the remaining six branches.
Further, the Karmapa added that there is a way to practice so that in each of the seven branches, accumulation and purification is complete. For example, prostrations, as everyone knows, are an accumulation of merit. They are also, he added, an antidote for pride. The Karmapa had reflected on this in terms of people who had completed the 100,000 prostrations of the preliminary practices and saw that it was possible that pride did not decrease but increased when people think with some pride, “I’m one who’s done 100,000 prostrations.” So we should look and see if our pride has grown or not.
Actually, the Karmapa noted, pride has two aspects: one is a kind of inflated conceit, where we are all puffed up about ourselves, and the second is distain, when we look down on others. With an attitude like this, we are not accumulating merit but misdeeds.
Instead of focusing on our accomplishments, we should be focusing on the object of our prostration. “Why is it that we prostrate?” the Karmapa asked. “It is to show respect by putting the five main points of our body to the ground,” he replied, “while we are also concentrating on the admirable qualities of the person to whom we are prostrating. Their excellence is so wonderful that it naturally steals away our small mind; we are captivated just thinking of this person and can feel a deep and true respect.” This complete respect is shown, he said, by imagining that we touch our head, the highest part of our body, to the ground, placing it at their feet, the lowest part of the respected person’s body. As we do so, we are also rejoicing in the excellence we see.
The Karmapa continued to explain that prostrations can be understood in three ways: with our body, speech, or mind. The physical prostrations we make with our body everyone knows. There are also variations between countries and times; even the four main traditions in Tibet have slightly different ways of prostrating. Prostrations through our speech, he stated, refer to the verbal praise and tribute we make to celebrate the positive qualities of a teacher. Prostrations with our mind means showing profound respect and feeling great faith in the person to whom we are prostrating. When we make an authentic prostration, our minds are filled with genuine respect.
The Karmapa then talked of how we deviate from these true ways of prostrating. In terms of the body, we could just be following customs, conventions that have been handed down to us, without any real feeling. He stated, “This is the biggest danger for religions—a rote following of traditions without any experiential or emotional connection to them. It means that we do not know the nature of what we are doing.” In terms of speech, he continued, we should look at whether we speak of the qualities of others or their faults. If we talk only of others’ defects, our prostrations have not gone well. They were also not successful if our pride swells, or if seeing others’ qualities does not naturally elicit our respect and rejoicing.
Turning to the mind, the Karmapa emphasized that prostrations are about transforming our mind; they are a means to diminish our pride, so that the Dharma can develop within us. Doing them with doubts or just as an exercise to get fit, he cautioned, is not what is sought in the context of the seven branches. Here, it is all about changing our minds, about developing our bodhichitta. He noted that even in Sanskrit, the word for prostration, namaḥa primarily means “respect,” underlining the understanding of prostrations as showing respect through our body, speech, and mind with the latter being the most important. Since we do prostrations daily, the Karmapa stated counseled that we should do them while aware of their meaning as explained in the teachings.
The Karmapa looked further into the Seven Branch Prayer by saying that the branches function as an antidote for the afflictions. Prostrations are an antidote for pride, and further, he added, rejoicing counteracts envy and requesting the Buddha to teach counteracts delusion (or ignorance). Speaking of these two, he related that the masters of old have said that we are living in degenerate times when favorable conditions are few and obstructing conditions many. Therefore, the Karmapa stated, “When a single person gives rise to just one virtuous thought, we should rejoice and be joyful, considering it to be like a fresh and living jewel of the Dharma.”
We need to learn to think like this, he said. If not, then our taking refuge is just mouthing words. If we lack plentiful virtue in ourselves and cannot rejoice in others’, it would be similar to cutting off access to our own record of wholesome activity. So when we see virtuous actions, it is important to rejoice and be delighted.
Requesting the Buddha to turn the wheel of the dharma, the sixth branch, is a remedy for ignorant delusion. The Karmapa explained, “The Buddha’s turning of the wheel of Dharma eliminates our ignorance of what to do and what not; our blind faith becomes informed.” But supplicating alone is not enough, he advised, for we must also study and practice. If not, the benefit is minimal. “We should know,” he said, “the reason why we are supplicating the Buddha for teachings. It should be that we have a great desire to learn and to connect with them deep within.” It would not be right to ask for the teachings and then just lay them aside, he commented. If we actually practice what the Buddha taught, it will become an antidote for our ignorance.
The Karmapa summarized his talk by saying that the Seven-Branch Prayer epitomizes all the practices of gathering the accumulations as well as purifying misdeeds and obscurations. All the major points of practice are present here, so the branches are easy to engage and easily appear in our minds. We should do this practice, he concluded, with great delight and real interest.
Afterward, as he has often done at the end of his morning talk, the Karmapa spoke about his ideas and plans for supporting women practitioners. First he commented that over the last days, the extensive practice of Tseringma for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama had gone very well. Then he spoke of his plans to create a great nunnery, which he referred to as a densa, the usual term for an important monastic center or a major lama’s main residence. The Karmapa also referred to the nuns as tsunmo, a respectful term meaning “venerable one” rather than using the term ani, meaning “auntie,” which has been prevalent in the past. He noted that the recent practice of Tseringma was the first time that the nuns had engaged all together in a great Dharma practice and he hoped they would continue to do this one of Tseringma each year. The Karmapa reminded everyone that she is a special protector and also a lineage holder of Milarepa’s teachings.
He also let it be known that during the Tseringma practice he had made an aspiration that great beings would come in a female form to be leaders of the nuns. In Tibet, he said, there were many female scholars and masters, though these days we do not know much about them. He hoped that in the future when the teachings spread, there would be great beings, who are women with the qualities of being learned, venerable, and good and who would look after the teachings. This is important not just for nuns, but for all living beings. “My hope, my aspiration,” he said, “is that each of the five Tseringma sisters will send an emanation as a nun to support the teachings. Maybe I’m being too bold, but it might just be possible.”
The Karmapa again encouraged the nuns to hold the extensive practice of Tseringma each year and commented on the importance of Tseringma for the lineage by drawing a parallel between the Buddha and Milarepa. Near the end of the Buddha’s life, the Karmapa related, there was a discussion about the best way to preserve the teachings. On the one hand, they could be entrusted to humans but they are short-lived and the teachings need to last a long time. On the other hand, they could also be entrusted to the gods, who have a long life but are endlessly distracted by the sense pleasures and might not be able to uphold the teachings. The conclusion was to entrust the teachings to both a human, the great regent Kashyapa, and also to the four great kings who lived in the higher realms. The Karmapa stated that Milarepa was thus following the Buddha’s precedent when he similarly appointed the human Gampopa and goddess Tseringma to uphold his teachings. Asking everyone to keep this in mind, the Karmapa concluded this morning’s teachings.
2016.1.27-28
http://kagyuoffice.org/the-seven-branch-prayer-embodies-the-essence-of-practice-new-emanations-of-tseringma/

2016/01/26

The Nuns Engage in the Practice of Karma Pakshi and the Five Tseringma






January 26, 2016-Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya, Bihar, India
Today the shrine in the main hall at Tergar Monastery was again transformed, this time for three days (January 26–28) of practicing the Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga in the morning and in the afternoon, the offering ritual to the Five Tseringma (Long Life Sisters). In the new setting, which the Karmapa had arranged the night before, two shrines filled the central space of the shrine stage. On the right was a long, embroidered thangka of Karma Pakshi, flanked in brilliant white scarves, which brought alive the rich colors in the image of this Second Karmapa along with his yidam deity and main disciples. Two large tormas (offering sculptures) were set beneath it, and the lower one had a skull cup and butter lamps on either side. The final row held beautifully embossed gold and silver offering bowls, their generous size filled with the traditional substances.
On the left was displayed a lovely thangka of Tseringma, painted in the spacious style of the Karmapa’s Encampment with an unusual, dynamic and flowing line for the images. In front of this tall image was a torma painted in light turquoise with mountains, flowers, and floating clouds to evoke the place where Tseringma stays. On either side of this were skull cups and rows of butter lamps while below, another row of the traditional offerings completed the picture.
In between the two thangkas and set on the main floor was the Karmapa’s golden throne. On the ornately carved table on his right resided a large statue of a radiant Milarepa, his right hand resting on his knee and the left holding a skull cup filled with nectar. Next to him was a tall long life arrow with the ribbons of the five colors of the elements and of the five Tseringma as well.
After the Karmapa took his seat on the throne, the Karma Pakshi Guru Yoga began. The essence of this practice came to Namcho Mingyur Dorje (1645–1667) in a vision of Karma Pakshi and his retinue. The sadhana is widely practiced in the Kagyu tradition and contains profound teachings on the nature of the mind, such as a teaching from one of the female figures in his vison: “Kye Ho! Self-aware wisdom is beyond expression. The world of attachment appears from the radiance of mind itself.” This underlying current of Mahamudra realization surfaces throughout the practice, such as at the end, when practitioners are advised, “In post-meditation, all the diverse appearances of samsara and nirvana / are the great, transparent and unceasing play of creative energy itself.”
The afternoon brought an extensive practice of the Five Tseringma, who are protectors of the Kagyu lineage and Tseringma also functions as a yidam and a lama. They have a special connection with Milarepa, whose dialogues with them are famous. Earlier the Karmapa had explained that during the time of his previous incarnations, this practice of Tseringma was performed extensively at his seat of Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet. The practice was considered as important as other extensive practices (drupchen) of major deities. The Karmapa commented that Tseringma was a protector of all the Kagyu lineages, and she was also closely connected to Milarepa, who said, “In the human realm, my teachings are held by the Teacher from Central Tibet (Gampopa). In the non-human realm, they are held by Tseringma.” Further, as one who holds the teachings of Milarepa, the Karmapa continued, Tseringma was also a lama who gave teachings to previous Kagyu Lamas such as Yang Gonpa (1213–1258/87) and the First Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa (1110–1193).
This year the Tseringma puja will be held for three days and the Karmapa voiced the hope that in the years to come, the nunneries would engage in the extensive practice of Tseringma every year. There is also a rarely performed wealth ritual written by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, he said, which the nuns will begin next year. The practice of Tseringma is also, and especially, a long life practice as well as being an aid for keeping pure discipline. This year, the Karmapa explained, the reason to do the practice is for the long life of H.H. the Dalai Lama, who seems pleased about this, so the Karmapa asked everyone to do it as carefully as they could.

2016.1.26 噶瑪巴希上師相應法和長壽天女法會 The Nuns Engage in the Practice of Karma Pakshi and the Five Tseringma>

http://kagyuoffice.org/the-nuns-engage-in-the-practice-of-karma-pakshi-and-the-five-tseringma/

2016/01/24

The Gyalwang Karmapa Presides over White Tara Puja, “Bestowing all Siddhis”






January 24th 2016-Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya, Bihar
Today His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa presided over a White Tara puja in the main shrine hall of Tergar Monastery. The hall was decorated with garlands of marigolds, strings of their yellow and orange flowers hung from the door of the main entrance and on each of the sixteen pillars of the traditional Tibetan style monastery. Bouquets of white lilies and red roses lined the front of the stage. The Karmapa took his seat on the high, golden throne, this time on the main stage, where space was also made for a three dimensional mandala. On its top tier was a gold statue of White Tara, the Goddess of Long Life. A miniature parasol, one of the eight auspicious symbols, floated above the statue. To the left of Tara was a torma sculpture created to represent her, and to the right of the gold statue, was another torma dedicated to the 21 Taras. Gold and silver mandalas were set in the four directions and in between them were offering bowls filled with saffron water and rice, representing the eight auspicious, peaceful offerings of two the kinds of water, flowers, incense, light, food, perfume and beautiful sounds. All of the beautiful Dharma objects on the shrine came from the Karmapa’s personal collection.
The second tier of the mandala held offering bowls filled with rice, incense sticks, and flowers, a precious offering known in Tibetan as metok tsampaka. The final base tier of the mandala held long rows of tormas. With the stage so beautifully set and incense filling the hall, His Holiness led the nuns in making offerings, praises, and requests to the deity through the recitation of the sadhana (liturgical) text entitled, A Ritual Practice of White Tara Called “Bestowing All Siddhis.” The nuns chanted verse after verse of praise in unison with periodic clashing of cymbals, the pounding of drums and ringing of bells.
The particular benefit of this sadhana is that it brings a long and stable life to those who hold the teachings and for others it vanquishes fear, and continued engaging in virtuous actions keeps fear away. The text was composed by the 5th Shamar, Konchok Yenlak, and written based on sadhanas composed by previous lamas. The sadhana was later expanded upon by the 14th Karmapa, Thekchok Dorje, according to the wishes of the 9th Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje.
The sadhana practice continued into the afternoon, and in the final session the nuns, who filled the shrine hall to its edges, chanted long life prayers for great lamas and for the Gyalwang Karmapa, thereby dedicating to others the meritorious results of their practice of White Tara, Goddess of Long Life.

2016.1.24 法王噶瑪巴主持白度母法會The Gyalwang Karmapa Presides over White Tara Puja, “Bestowing all Siddhis”
http://kagyuoffice.org/the-gyalwang-karmapa-presides-over-white-tara-puja-bestowing-all-siddhis/

2016/01/22

The Gyalwang Karmapa Discusses Nuns’ Ordination; Teaches on Bodhisattva Vow





January 22, 2016-Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India


During the eighth day of teaching at the Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering, the Gyalwang Karmapa discussed questions related to giving bhikshuni ordination to nuns. He also continued his teaching on rousing bodhichitta through taking the bodhisattva vow, based on chapter nine of the Ornament of Precious Liberation by Gampopa.
The Karmapa began by congratulating the nuns in attendance for the confidence and enthusiasm they have developed since the first Arya Kshema Gathering. “As I look out, I see that you’ve all gained confidence and self-esteem, knowing that you are capable of doing things and taking action,” the Karmapa said. “I see this in your expressions and I am very happy…. No matter what we are doing, if we first of all do not have confidence in ourselves, it is difficult to get anything done no matter what it might be, whether in the Dharma or in worldly activities.” The Karmapa added, “I think it is important to recognize how difficult it is to find such confidence and to know how much value it has.”
The Karmapa also spoke about the many impediments nuns face when they seek to increase their confidence and enthusiasm. In particular, he said, there are those who say that the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha would be decreased by 500 years if women are ordained. The Karmapa stated that it is difficult to find a clear textual basis for this assertion.
Based on the Karmapa’s own research, he said that over the past year he has found strong textual evidence that calls into question the notion that the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha would be decreased if nuns were given full ordination. Specifically, the Karmapa found a reference to this issue in a text called The Treatise of the Great Exposition, which comes from the Exposition School, a branch of the Sarvastivada School—one of the 18 original schools of Buddhism. This text was not translated into Tibetan until the mid-20th century, but there were historically three different translations into Chinese.
In this text, the authors raise a number of doubts and try to clarify points that are not clear in the sutras. One of the questions asked is: “The Buddha prophesized that the teachings would only remain 1,000 years, and that they would be diminished by 500 years if women were ordained. Since women were indeed ordained, that would mean the teachings should only remain 500 years. However, the teachings still remain. [This text was written 600 years after Shakyamuni Buddha passed away.] Why is that?”
The text offers two different responses to this question. First, it says that when the sutras discuss the teachings being decreased by 500 years if women ordain, what was meant is “the period of liberation” would be decreased—not the teachings in general. The period of liberation is the phase after Buddha’s enlightenment when students would achieve arhathood, or individual liberation.
The second response in the text is that when women were originally ordained by the Buddha, they needed to accept eight “heavy rules” in order to keep the teachings from being decreased by 500 years. The Treatise of the Great Exposition says that because the nuns accepted these eight rules, the duration of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings has not decreased. The Karmapa said this authentic and authoritative scriptural reference should help to eliminate any doubts about giving full ordination to nuns.
The Karmapa continued discussing his own views regarding why the Buddha did not initially allow women to ordain and why the eight rules were instituted. Specifically, the Karmapa said that during the time of the Buddha, women had a much lower standing in society than men—far lower than today. The fact that the Buddha gave women the ability to take full ordination was something “unprecedented and astonishing in his society,” the Karmapa said.
“So when we see that the Buddha did not immediately allow women to become ordained, I think the reason is because of the societal situation of that time and place,” the Karmapa explained. “But in any case, the Buddha, seeing the reasons and the benefits, allowed women to go forth and ordain. The eight rules are based on the societal conditions of that era. This becomes very clear when we look at the vinaya.”
The Karmapa continued, “The fact that in the 21st century we’re not able to do everything the Buddha taught 2,500 years ago, such as to give the bhikshuni vows, is really an astonishing situation. But it comes down to the point that from this day on, we should not worry about things that are unnecessary and unimportant. Instead we should increase our enthusiasm and our inspiration to bring benefit to the teachings and sentient beings by upholding, spreading, and propagating the teachings. If we do this I think it will work out well.”
After the tea break, the Karmapa returned to teaching on the Ornament of Precious Liberation by Gampopa, in particular on the ritual of taking the bodhisattva vow. The first point the Karmapa explained was why rousing bodhichitta through meditation and through ritual are both important. The Karmapa said that according to the great master Atisha, it is important to first train our minds in relative bodhichitta through the meditation of mind training, or lojong, in order to make the ritual of taking the bodhisattva vow meaningful.
“Rousing bodhichitta comes from training the mind, but there is still a reason to adopt it through ritual,” the Karmapa said. “The ritual will stabilize your earlier bodhichitta and will make you more aware of the benefits of having bodhichitta and the defects of not having bodhichitta, and so forth. So there is a reason to do it.”
Next, the Karmapa explained the qualities of someone from whom we can take the Bodhisattva Vow. Such a person must be skilled, venerable and capable. Being skilled means being able give advice on how to develop bodhichitta, being able to perform the ritual, and knowing how to uphold the precepts. Being venerable means having taken the Bodhisattva Vow and upholding the precepts. Finally, being capable means being able to make the student understand what they are doing. Specifically, the Karmapa said it is important that the vows be explained in a language the student speaks. “The student needs to be able to understand what they are doing while taking the vow,” the Karmapa said.
The third point the Karmapa discussed was the physical and mental supports that one needs in order to newly develop bodhichitta. In terms of the body, the Karmapa said one can develop bodhichitta in any of the six realms—as a god, deva, human, animal, hungry ghost, or hell being. “There is no realm where you can’t develop bodhichitta,” he said.
In terms of the mental support one needs for developing bodhichitta newly, the Karmapa quoted the Kadampa masters, who say it is essential that you have gone for refuge to the Three Jewels—the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The Karmapa said it is also necessary to have longing and enthusiasm to take the vow, and also the body, speech and mind capable of accomplishing it.
The Karmapa also discussed whether it is necessary to have taken the vows of individual liberation in order to take the vows of aspirational bodhichitta. He explained how the great masters have differing views, and yet Gampopa’s position on this has been unclear. The Karmapa said that the monks have been researching Gampopa’s view and it will be discussed during their Winter Gathering.
The Karmapa continued his explanation, mentioning that the Kadampa masters, who were of the opinion that the vows of individual liberation were necessary. He explained that at the time of the Kadampa masters in Tibet, there were false views about the Dharma and questionable conduct, which were likely some of the reasons the Tibetan masters invited Atisha to Tibet—to correct the teachings. The Karmapa stated that because of the false views propagating at the time, the Kadampa masters had to be strict in their practice to counteract misunderstanding and poor ethics.
The Karmapa said that while many Kadampa masters did engage in serious tantric practice, they did so in private. Their main concern seems to have been presenting a strict framework for Dharma practice to counteract the decline they saw. It was a skillful means for that period in the history of Tibet.
The Karmapa also observed that there are signs that not all Kadampa practitioners were particularly fond of yogis (ngakpas). To illustrate this, the Karmapa told a story about Rechungpa—one of Milarepa’s two main disciples— getting kicked out of a Kadampa monastery because of his white robes. He also spoke about of Milarepa’s other main disciple, Gampopa, being told by his Kadampa friends that his dreams of a white clad yogi (Milarepa) were a bad omen.
With these stories illustrating the situation in Tibet many centuries ago, the Karmapa closed his teaching. The Arya Kshema will continue with a long White Tara puja on January 24.

2016.1.22 第三屆讖摩比丘尼辯經法會.《解脫莊嚴寶論》第八堂課 The Gyalwang Karmapa Discusses Nuns’ Ordination; Teaches on Bodhisattva Vow
http://kagyuoffice.org/the-gyalwang-karmapa-discusses-nuns-ordination-teaches-on-bodhisattva-vow/

2016/01/21

The Gyalwang Karmapa Teaches on Two Traditions of Taking Bodhisattva Vows and How We Actually Receive Them





January 21, 2016- Tergar Monastery, Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India
[The Gyalwang Karmapa’s recent talks have been detailed and extensively researched, so it was decided to make a version available that resembles a lightly edited transcript for those who wish to read the longer report, which follows this summary for those who prefer brevity.]
The Gyalwang Karmapa continued his explanation of the rituals for rousing bodhichitta in the two lineages, one stemming from Manjushri and the other from Maitreya. Some scholars, the Karmapa noted, say that the traditions differ not only in their rituals but also in actuality, because they understand Manjushri’s lineage to belong to the Middle Way school and Maitreya’s to the Mind Only school. Other scholars do not agree with these attributions.
After a long discussion of the pros and cons, the Karmapa summarized the view of his Karma Kamtsang tradition that the ritual for generating bodhichitta. There is a danger, he cautioned, in labelling the two traditions as “Middle Way” and “Mind Only,” because the Middle Way view is usually considered superior to the Mind Only view, so automatically, the ritual of the Middle Way would become superior to the Mind Only ritual. Further, this labelling would also disparage Asanga by putting him into the lower level of the Mind Only school. Therefore, instead of these two terms, the Karmapa explained, we speak of the lineages of the profound view (Nagarjuna) and the vast action (Asanga).
The Karmapa then turned to the question of what an authentic ritual is. He quoted Drukpa Kunlek who said that ultimate bodhichitta arises from the very essence of the ritual. What is it? The blessing of the lama. The Karmapa added that a real ritual is a means to understand the profound meaning.
Though there is a debate about whether ultimate bodhichitta can come about through a ritual, the Karmapa advised that what is more important for us is the question of whether relative bodhichitta arises or not. If we do not make efforts and train our minds with skillful means and wisdom, even relative bodhichitta will not arise.
The Karmapa then made a surprising statement. Actually, he said, it is more important to generate compassion for oneself than it is to generate it for others. Usually our compassion is turned outward s, but we should have the courage to turn inward and investigate how we ourselves suffer. The pain we personally experience, he explained, is the basis for developing real compassion, which then extends from ourselves out to others and enables us to truly understand their situation: “They suffer as I do. How great it would be if they were released from it.” In sum, just as we see our suffering and have compassion for ourselves, so we develop it for others, based on our own experience. This way of generating compassion is very important.

The Extensive Version of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s Discussion of Relative and Ultimate Bodhichitta

The Gyalwang Karmapa has been teaching about two traditions or lineages for the bodhisattva vow. In The Ornament of Precious Liberation, Gampopa describes one lineage as stemming from noble Manjushri and passing down through Master Nagarjuna and Master Shantideva, and the other lineage as coming from noble Maitreya and descending through Master Asanga and Master Serlingpa. The Karmapa said that he will take these two traditions as his starting point.
In his commentary on Entering the Way of the Bodhisattva, Pawo Tsuglak Trengwa (1504–1566) writes about the differences in the two traditions concerning how the vows are taken. The Karmapa first explained the tradition of Shantideva, which entails six stages of preparation: (1) making offerings, (2) confessing, (3) rejoicing in virtue, (4) requesting the buddhas to teach, (5) requesting them not to pass into nirvana, and (6) dedication. The actual ceremony has two parts: generating the resolve and taking the vow. The concluding ritual has two parts: celebrating oneself and praising others, or in other words, rejoicing for oneself and rejoicing for others.
In the ritual from Maitreya’s lineage, the Karmapa explained, the preparation has three aspects: supplicating, gathering the accumulation of merit, and going for refuge. The actual taking of the vows has a single aspect, rousing bodhicitta, and the conclusion has two parts, rejoicing and the commitment to uphold the vows. These explanations of the rituals in the two traditions pertain to aspirational bodhicitta.
The ritual for engaged bodhicitta, he continued, has different preparations, seven in all, which include supplication, asking about common and uncommon obstacles, and so forth. The actual ceremony has only one part, rousing engaged bodhicitta. The concluding ritual has five aspects, including the benefits of the vow, the precepts, and so forth. With this, the Karmapa concluded his discussion of the order, or framework, for taking the bodhisattva vow in Maitreya’s tradition.
The Karmapa noted that there are some slight differences in the two rituals, and he has taken the commentary of Pawo Tsuglak Trengwa as the basis for his discussion.
Now there are some scholars, the Karmapa continued, who claim that the two traditions are different, not only in ritual but also in actuality, because they say that the tradition of Manjushri belongs to the Middle Way school and the tradition of Asanga belongs to the Mind Only school. Other scholars, however, state that the two traditions are not separate. The prime promoter of the view of separate traditions is Sakya Pandita (1182–1251), who states in his Differentiating the Three Vows: “There are two ways to generate bodhichitta in the Mahayana—according to the Middle Way (Madhyamika) or according to the Mind Only (Chittamatra). Their views are different and so are their rituals.” Other scholars do not agree with him and state the rituals are not different.
The second Karma Trinleypa wrote a text known as The Chariot of the Karmapa, which is a general explanation of the sutra and tantra. Here he mentioned a text, composed by Parkhang Lotsawa, which stated clearly that the Middle Way and the Mind Only schools have different traditions; they are separate and the former is superior to the latter. There are differences in who takes and who gives the vow, the ritual and the precepts. Since the view of the Middle Way is more profound and open, and the skill in means is also different, its ritual is more spacious. In relation to the Middle Way, the view of the Mind Only is traditionally considered somewhat lower, so the ritual is a little more narrow or restricted. This stance resembles Sakya Pandita’s: since the Middle Way view is slightly better than the Mind Only, there is also a difference in their skill in means, and so the rituals also diverge.
Contrary to these positions, Atisha Dipankara has written that the two traditions of Manjushri and Maitreya are not separate, but accord one with the other. He saw that the intentions, or ways of thought, belonging to Nagarjuna and Asanga (lineages that Atisha had received) were in harmony—they are all Buddhist rituals. Atisha himself composed a ritual for generating bodhicitta that encompassed both traditions.
In The Path to Enlightenment, Je Tsongkhapa writes that between Asanga and Nagarjuna’s traditions, there is a difference in the words of the ritual for generating aspirational bodhichitta, but not in the meaning. Those who say that these two traditions correspond to the Middle Way and the Mind Only schools and, therefore, have different recipients, rituals, precepts and so forth, have simply not analyzed well.
Again referring to Pawo Tsuglak Trengwa’s commentary on Entering the Way of the Bodhisattva, the Karmapa explained that the view of this text resembled that of Je Tsongkhapa in that both masters say there is no difference in the actual meaning of the two rituals. Pawo Tsuglak Trengwa wrote that the two rituals are based on two types of disciples: one type prefers things short and simple so Nagarjuna’s ritual is for them; others like elaborate rituals—with stages of preparation, the main part, and various concluding practices—so the tradition from Asanga’s Bodhisattva Levels is for them. But the essence of the two is the same; they do not contradict each other in any way.
The Karmapa then summarized the Karma Kamtsang view on the ritual for generating bodhichitta. There are two problems with the terms Middle Way and Mind Only. First of all, labelling the two traditions as “Middle Way” and “Mind Only” and then claiming that they are separate is quite open to refutation, he said. The danger is that the Middle Way view is usually considered superior to the Mind Only view, so automatically, the ritual of the Middle Way would become superior to the Mind Only ritual. Further, this labelling would also disparage Asanga by putting him into the lower level of the Mind Only school. It is better then not to use the terms Middle Way and Mind Only.
In brief, within the Kagyu tradition, and especially within the Karma Kamtsang tradition, we do no use these two terms are not used; rather, the tradition speaks of the lineages of the profound view (Nagarjuna) and the vast action (Asanga). The Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje’s collected writings contain a ritual for generating bodhichitta, in which he writes, “Talking of the Middle Way and Mind Only traditions is popular these days.” So he described the terms as being in vogue, the Karmapa noted, but he himself did not use them, preferring to call the two traditions “the profound view” and “the vast action.” This approach minimizes the contradictions that could arise through using terminology that distorts the actual situation.
The Karmapa then turned to some difficult or debatable points. The earliest translation of the Buddha’s words into Tibetan was a text known in Tibetan as Phangthung Chagyapa. Two traditions tell of how it arrived: one speaks of a text falling from the sky during the reign of King Lha Thothori Nyantsen (fifth cen., 28th king of Tibet), and the other relates that it was brought to Tibet by an Indian scholar. Whatever the case may be, the Seven-Branch Offering Prayer taken from this text was used by the early Tibetan kings when they were building temples. Further, the exact words of this prayer can also be found in volumes from the Dunhuang caves, indicating that the text was highly valued in those times. This early text, the Karmapa continued, talks of both relative and ultimate bodhichitta.
Further, the One Hundred Short Dharma Teachings, Collected by Jowo Atisha, contains a ritual for generating bodhichitta, which speaks of ultimate bodhicitta. Then turning to the mediations in the lower tantras, the Karmapa mentioned the well-known creation phase meditation, in which a practitioner focuses on a full moon disk as embodying relative bodhicitta and on the vajra standing in its middle as ultimate bodhichitta.
In considering whether or not ultimate bodhicitta can arise based on a ritual, the problem comes with the sutra tradition. Some say this is possible and others, not. Those who deny the possibility are Sakya Pandita and his follows, for he writes in his Exposition of the Three Vows: “Ultimate bodhicitta only comes about through meditation; it does not arise through a ritual.” On the other hand, the great Nyingma scholar Ngari Panchen Pema Wangyal (1487–1542) wrote in his Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the Three Vows (the most important Nyingma text on the topic) that in the Secret Mantrayana, ultimate bodhichitta can arise through ritual. In the sutra tradition, however, one only makes the commitment to generate it, and then later engages in practice to bring it about.
Turning to the traditions of those who say it is possible to generate ultimate bodhichitta through a ritual, the Karmapa spoke of a statement Gampopa made in his collected works, affirming that there are rituals in connection with aspirational, engaged, and ultimate bodhicitta. This implies that ultimate bodhichitta can arise through a ritual. In his long treatment of the three vows, Kunkhyen Pema Karpo (1527–1592) writes that in Nagarjuna’s ritual for generating bodhichitta, one finds both relative and ultimate bodhichitta and also that these vows should be taken successively.
Further, in his Treasury of Knowledge, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye states that one cannot say categorically that ultimate bodhichitta does not arise through a ritual. Lodro Thaye gives a logical argument for why it could happen by referring to the fourth or word empowerment in the Secret Mantrayana. Here, wisdom arises through the power of words, and since this is true, one cannot say that ultimate bodhichitta could not also arise through the words of a ritual. If we accept that the word empowerment can generate wisdom, we have to also accept the power of the ritual to generate ultimate bodhichitta.
In sum, the Karmapa said that in terms of ultimate bodhichitta being generated through a ritual, there are the two scriptural proofs—the earliest text translated into Tibetan and Nagarjuna’s ritual for generating bodhichitta—and also the logical proof established by Jamgon Kongtrul.
The Karmapa then paused to relate a story from Tibetan history concerning a meeting of the Seventh Karmapa Chodrak Gyatso (1454–1506) and the famous yogi Drukpa Kunlek (1455–1529). Drukpa Kunlek had traveled to Kongpo, a region in southern Tibet, to meet with the Seventh Karmapa Chodrak Gyatso. The Karmapa gave him commentary on two texts, The Profound Inner Meaning and The Indivisibility of the Winds and Mind, as well as bestowing Dharma articles so they had made a good connection.
One time, the Karmapa was discussing the Dharma and asked the scholars around him, “Can a ritual give rise to ultimate bodhichitta?” The scholar Powo (his region of Tibet) Kachuwa (meaning that he had mastered ten major texts) replied, “The Sakya tradition states that you cannot but for we teachers and students, it doesn’t make any different. Whichever way is fine.”
At this time, Drukpa Kunlek was sitting off to the side as he was not considered a scholar. He offered, however, the comment that ultimate bodhichitta has to be generated from a ritual and actually arises from the very essence of a ritual. Otherwise, it would be difficult for ultimate bodhichitta to appear. What is this essence of the ritual? It is the blessing of the lama—from this ultimate bodhichitta arises. If this blessing is not present, Drukpa Kunlek said, the ritual cannot be considered a real one. To support his position, he cited a verse from the Hevajra Tantra, which he had fully memorized. The verse stated that co-emergent wisdom, beyond expression, does not arise from anywhere else but the instruction of the lama, their skill in timing and means, and the merit of the disciple.
Drukpa Kunlek commented that a ritual is not the ding! ding! of a bell nor the dung! dung! of a drum. A ritual is the means to understand the profound meaning. If a ritual is just the words and music, it loses its very basis and thus could not be found anywhere. The day afterward this discussion, people looked at Drukpa Kunlek in a different light, seeing him as one who knew texts.
The Karmapa commented that there’s a lot to be understood here. We have no choice but to speak of two types of rituals: the meaning, or true ritual, and the verbal ritual. We have seen that many say ultimate bodhichitta does not just come from a ritual. What about relative bodhichitta? Can it arise from a ritual? Usually we assume it can, but just reciting the words that were memorized and saying “This is the method,” will not make it happen. What is said about ultimate bodhichitta could also be said about relative bodhichitta: It does not come from a ritual, but from meditation. We need to cultivate relative bodhichitta by training in the key instructions of the tantras, by meditating on the equality of self and other, and so forth. Mere words are not enough.
Especially these days, the Karmapa noted, we recite the texts at great speed, but often do not know what we are saying or understand that words that pass from our lips. It would be difficult for even relative bodhichitta to arise this way. The texts say, “Imagine you have realized this,” but how is that possible without a real connection?
The Karmapa related a story about the great Kadampa master Potowa (1027–1105), who took monastic vows with an abbot, but stated that it was only later that he actually felt he had received them when he was in the presence of the lay master Dromtonpa Gyalwai Jungne (1004/5 to 1164). Potowa related, “I was attending a Dharma talk by this old layman from Reting Monastery (Dromtonpa), and at that time I could give rise to true renunciation so the actual vows arose within.” The Karmapa noted that this is similar to what Drukpa Kunlek said—actual experience has to be at the basis of the vows or rituals.
Here, Potowa is explaining that without real renunciation it is not possible to have the discipline of the vows. Just because the lama recites, “This is the method,” does not mean that the discipline of renunciation has arisen. We need to train, to analyze and make efforts to give rise to authentic renunciation. (The Karmapa mentioned in passing that true renunciation can also arise on the basis of a key instruction.) Therefore, when we develop the real wish for liberation, this is what should be known as the actual ritual of taking the vow.
The Karmapa advised that though there is a debate about whether ultimate bodhichitta can come about through a ritual, what is more important for us is the question of relative bodhichitta. If we do not make efforts and train our minds with skillful means and wisdom, even relative bodhichitta will not arise.
Actual relative bodhichitta does not come from words passing through us and slipping out. We should reflect that giving rise to bodhichitta is difficult even for the arhats of the Listeners and Solitary Realizers who belong to the Foundational Vehicle and have the five special type of vision and five types of precognition. How could it be easy for us who are at a much lower level and lack their abilities? When the lama repeats “This is the method,” it is not really a method for us because bodhichitta does not arise. So we must intensively train our minds and accumulate an immense amount of merit.
There is also the story of Shariputra, the Karmapa continued, who was the Buddha’s main disciple and foremost in wisdom. He had a hard time developing relative bodhichitta, so how could it not be difficult for us? We should not be lulled into thinking that everything is all right, that things are going well. We must analyze and see if we actually have true bodhichitta or not.
Someone might ask us, “Are you a Buddhist?” and we reply, “Of course.” And to the questions of being a follower of the Mahayana or the Secret Mantrayana, we give the same glib reply. But what about this question: “Are you a good person?” This will give us pause. Sometimes we are and at others, well, not exactly. Is there not a contradiction here? How could we be a Buddhist, to say nothing of belonging to the Mahayana, without being a good or moral person in worldly terms? We are caught in this lazy assumption and do not reflect on the actual situation.
If we really look at things as they are, it is not easy, for example, to embody the Four Immeasurables, love, compassion, and so forth. We might observe that someone was crying when they saw another person’s suffering, and just think, “Well, even non-Buddhists can have compassion.” But to have true compassion is not easy. This kind of thinking shows that we do not really understand ourselves, that we have not deeply investigated our mind. It is extremely important to delve into our mindstream and understand what is happening.
Actually, the Karmapa said, it is more important to generate compassion for oneself than it is to generate it for others. Usually our compassion is turned outward and expressed toward others but we need to know how we ourselves suffer. In the teachings, it is said that turning to look outward at others, we generate compassion for them, and turning inward to look at ourselves, we generate renunciation, wishing to be liberated from samsara. We should be courageous in knowing the nature of our own suffering, and develop compassion based on that experience.
So first we turn inward to understand how we suffer and develop compassion through the pain we personally know. As the texts say, “Take your own body as an example.” We start from our experience and extend our knowing from there to other people, thinking, “They suffer as I do. How great it would be if they were released from it.” We can recall that other beings are in our same situation: they do not want to suffer and wish to be happy. Just as we see our suffering and have compassion for ourselves, so we develop it for others, based on our own experience. This way of generating compassion is very important.
2016.1.21 第三屆讖摩比丘尼辯經法會.《解脫莊嚴寶論》第七堂課 The Gyalwang Karmapa Teaches on Two Traditions of Taking Bodhisattva Vows and How We Actually Receive Them
http://kagyuoffice.org/the-gyalwang-karmapa-teaches-on-two-traditions-of-taking-bodhisattva-vows-and-how-we-actually-receive-them/