Q&A Session on the Environment, Wisdom and Finding a Teacher (Podcast Episode #006)

Today we are happy to bring you the sixth episode in the new Podcast series containing selected talks and teachings by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa.
This episode is from the Karmapa’s recent visit to the Root Institute in Bodhgaya. His Holiness has been visiting the center for years to give short teachings, but on this occasion decided to hold a question and answer session instead.
Students asked His Holiness questions about practice, definitions of wisdom, and working with a teacher. It was a lovely event where the Karmapa shared some very practical advice with the students present.
You can get the podcast here on iTunes or simply download the episode right here. Please make sure you subscribe in iTunes to be notified of new episodes.


A Memorandum Submitted to the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh Requested the Return of Karmapa to Sikkim


The Hon'ble MLAs Shri Prem Singh Tamang , Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha and Ven. Sonam Lama has placed a memorandum to Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh seeking justice to the Buddhism followers of Sikkim.
Please note - Sangha MLA Ven. Sonam Lama has raised this issue several times in SLA to bring His Holiness to his devine seat at Rumtek Monastry at East Sikkim.
We are proud to be his followers who doesn't care any barriers to give justice to religious sentiments of Sikkim.


Animal Medical Camp Wrap-Up Completed

Monlam Pavilion,
22nd April, 2016

This month the Animal Medical Camp team concluded their activities.  Even though the main animal camp took place during the last two weeks of December, a small team returned this month to “mop up”, that is to perform surgery on females who were pregnant in December, and puppies who were too young to undergo surgery then.  This follow-up work is very important in order to prevent a new round of dogs becoming pregnant before the camp returns next December.

This year the core camp facilities– operating theatre, recovery room, pharmacy and administration– were relocated to larger premises in new rooms created below the extended Monlam Pavilion stage.

The street dog sterilisation and anti-rabies programme continued. After three years of the programme, its impact is now evident. Nearly all the street dogs in Bodhgaya have been sterilised and treated, and tourists report a big difference in the health of the dogs and a decrease in the dog population. It is no longer common to see sick and hungry puppies struggling to survive by the roadside.

The vets also treated sick animals brought to the outpatient’s clinicmainly livestock and pets, and vaccinated domestic dogs against rabies. Sometimes surgery was necessary. The most demanding case this year required neurosurgery on a blind nanny goat brought to the clinic squealing with pain. She was suffering from a tapeworm cyst on the brain.  After the surgery she made a good recovery, and now has the sight restored in one eye.

The outreach programme of vets and veterinary assistants going out into local communities, treating animals and giving advice on the compassionate care of livestock, continued.

Working from the principle that education is the key to establishing long-term behaviour changes to the attitude, care and welfare of animals in the community, a major expansion and focus this year has been an extended educational initiative. Cindy Powers, a volunteer psychologist from Australia, specially designed a programme with the specific intention of changing behaviour and instilling new attitudes towards both domestic and wild animals and birds. Material used included ten stickers of different animals with animal welfare messages and a colouring book in Hindi, which teaches children about dog behaviour, how to avoid being bitten, and what to do if you are bitten in order to avoid catching rabies. The team visited local schools, orphanages and monasteries.

In their new quarters, there was even a small sitting area where staff could relax and drink a cup of tea or coffee, complete with a throne, which proved to be an essential requirement this year. The Animal Camp was particularly blessed by the visits of three high lamas: His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa came and blessed the Animal Camp, then hosted a five-star lunch at the Royal Residency Hotel for all the staff; Ayang Rinpoche gave a short Dharma talk; and Mingyur Rinpoche led a meditation session on simply relaxing the mind when tension arose while carrying out the daily activities, like having problems catching dogs! Although the Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical Camp officially completed its work on 30th December, the need was so great that the vets continued to operate and treat patients for a further day. Finally, by the evening of 31st December, everything had been cleaned and packed away.  Immediately, the staff began planning for the next camp in December 2016.

His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa requested that monastics become involved in the program. So 10 monastics from Rumtek and Mirik underwent a one-week training course in Gangtok last November with the SARAH team. They learnt basic animal handling, first aid and animal nursing and care. They also learnt important information about the prevention of dog bites and rabies. His Holiness presented each monastery with an animal first aid box, packed full of medicines, bandages and other supplies and they will become custodians of dogs’ health in and around their respective monasteries. Two monks volunteered during the animal camp as vet assistants and were very compassionate and caring nurses to the dogs undergoing surgery and treatment.

We particularly appreciate the continuing support of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, who were generous sponsors of the programme once again this year. Volunteers came from the SARAH Division, Sikkim Department of Animal Husbandry; Department of Livestock, Bhutan; Tibet Charity, Dharamsala; Department of Animal Husbandry, Bodhgaya, Bihar; Rumtek Monastery; Mirik Monastery; Australia, England and Germany – a combined effort to improve animal and community health in Bodhgaya.  (Statistics)

2016.4.22 Animal Medical Camp Wrap-Up Completed


Morgan Freeman's interview with the Karmapa in The Story Of God

Morgan Freeman's interview with the Karmapa in The Story Of God
大寶法王噶瑪巴與摩根·弗里曼在《摩根.費里曼之神的萬物論》中的訪談 (內容由噶舉祈願辦事處擇錄)

Morgan Freeman (摩根): You look kinda young for this station. 身居這樣的地位,您看上去太年輕了。

H.H. Karmapa (法王): yes. 是的。

MorganFreeman (摩根): So what is it like? I mean is it alright? 怎麼樣?還可以嗎?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): One way it's meaningful, one way it's a little bit heavy. People have a lot of expectations. 很有意義,同時也有些沈重。人們總是有很多期望。

Morgan Freeman (narration): The expectation is heavy for a thirty-year old man, the Karmapa must teach how to find enlightenment whilst still working to find it for himself. 

Morgan Freeman (摩根):Enlightenment,how does one even begin to form that trial to attain it? 那麼如何開始證悟之路呢?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): wow 哇

Morgan Freeman (摩根): Big question isn't it? 有點大的題目是嗎?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): The first part is maybe you need to recognise yourself, like where are you from and why am I here? 首先你或許應該先認識你自己,比如你從哪裡來?我為什麼會在這裡?

Morgan Freeman (摩根): So I would like to get some instruction about enlightenment please.那麼請您教我一些證悟方法好嗎?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): I will try. 我試試

Morgan Freeman (narration): The Karmapa tells me meditation is the key to enlightenment, if the apocalypse is the revelation of the true will of God, meditation aims to reveal the true will of me.

H.H. Karmapa (法王): There are lots of different ways to meditate but the simple one is to focus on your breathing.有很多禪修的方法,簡單的是專注於自己的呼吸。

Morgan Freeman (摩根): Just the one I know.我剛好知道這種。

H.H. Karmapa (法王): Relax your mind and don't think about the future, at the moment just focus on your breathing and that is all.放輕鬆,不要思考未來,此刻,只是專注於你的呼吸。

(Meditation begins with the Karmapa's chant of The Refuge) 
伴隨法王唱誦皈依文, 法王帶領弗雷曼開始禪修。

(Meditation ends) 禪修結束

Morgan Freeman (摩根): It's beautiful! Can I ask you a philosophical question? 很美妙!我可以請教您一個哲學問題嗎?

H.H. Karmapa (法王): Philosophical? I will try.哲學嗎?試試吧。

Morgan Freeman (摩根): It's about the westerners idea of the apocalypse, the end of time in being. Is there such a thing in Buddhism? When everything stops and the world comes to an end, and mankind is judged. 是西方關於世界末日,人類終結的觀點。佛教有這樣的看法嗎?一切都將停止,世界末日來臨,人類會被審判。

H.H. Karmapa (法王): We believe that everyday, somewhere one universe is ending and another one is beginning, but it's not like there is a judgement day, it's a little bit different.佛教認為每一天,宇宙的某個地方都有結束也有新的開始,而不是認為有一個審判日,有一些不同。

Morgan Freeman (摩根): So actually what your saying is what I think is that there is no end only change, one thing ends another begins.所以我想您在說沒有結束只有改變,一個結束是另一個的開始。

H.H. Karmapa (法王): Yes, maybe there is no absolute ending. 是,沒有一個絕對的結束。

Morgan Freeman (ending narration): When you meet someone like His Holiness Kamarpa, I guess the thing that stands out the most is his humility, the Kamarpa doesn't give you the impression that, he thinks of himself as greater than you, higher than you or better in any way than you. He's here like the rest of us on this quest trying to understand why we're here, seeking to unveil the truth, seeking enlightenment. 



A “Very Buddhist” take on The Story of God: Apocalypse - Patheos

April 6, 2016 by  

I have been fascinated by religion and its associated mythologies, philosophies, and practices for well over half of my life now. I was raised Catholic, but a very liberal Catholic, and when – around the age of 12 or 13 – I was given the choice of going to Church or not, I chose not. Fast forward a few years, and I created a very small community of non-believers, dubbed the “Helena Heretics.” I think I still have an unused email address at yahoo with that name. Then I expanded out to “Montana Freethinkers,” which attracted a few more people. Keep in mind that Montana even now has only around one million people and is geographically larger than Germany.
Then I found philosophy. Can I get an amen? Then the study of religions, including Buddhism. Hallelujah.
That’s where I am today, a firm believer in the salvific power of education with all of its contemplation, discussion, debate and so on. Whatever we choose to believe at the end of the day, we’re all immeasurably better off if we understand the history of those beliefs, the people who originated and promulgated them, the way that wars, disease, ecology and invention shaped them, and how they fit in to the world we live in today. And so, when I was invited to join fellow Patheos writers in screening forthcoming episodes of “The Story of God” and sharing thoughts each week, I was delighted.
For those unacquainted with the show, it is produced by the National Geographic Channel and features Morgan Freeman who has–appropriately perhaps–played God in two feature films: Bruce Almighty (2003) and Evan Almighty (2007).
The “Story of God” series premiered on Sunday with “Beyond Death” and follows up with “Apocalypse,” airing April 10. It is the second of these, on the apocalypse, that I viewed (though I tracked down “Beyond Death” and will dive into that shortly…
In this episode Freeman takes us through Jerusalem (for Judaism), Rome (for Christianity), and a Mosque in New York City to talk with a formerly radicalized Muslim who spent time in an Egyptian prison and left a changed, newly liberal, man. The footage is information-dense and cinematically beautiful. Each of these religions shares a common idea of an end time, though the details vary in interesting ways.
We are taken next to a psychology lab in Chicago, where an experiment called “shock at any time” is used to measure startle responses on subjects who either know about and anticipate a coming electrical shock or do not. Those who can anticipate the coming shock are startled much less, suggesting that anticipating any kind of negative life-experiences might help us cope with them better. Extrapolating out a bit from anticipated pain to anticipating the end of the world might suggest that apocalyptic stories are a common human coping mechanism.
Next, we visit a Mayan temple where one of those famous calendars is examined and we find out that December 21, 2012 is just the end of one particular epoch or age, a time which, had the Mayans still been around, would have been celebrated with one giant party, and maybe a human sacrifice or two.
And finally -almost- we get to the best part, imho: India.

Morgan Freeman and the Karmapa (courtesy National Geographic, see the trailer here)

There we are introduced to Hinduism and Buddhism, but the majority of the discussion is around Buddhism and the time Freeman spends with the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. As an instructor in Buddhist Philosophy for theAntioch Education Abroad in India program in 2010 and 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Karmapa each year with students in Bodhgaya.
Born in 1985, he is still a young man and was barely older than our students in 2010. Yet, as Freeman notes in the episode, he is a remarkably humble man, tasked as the recognized reincarnation of the previous Karmapa, with leading millions of followers in their spiritual journeys. The Karmapa also has a great sense of humor, and when Freeman asks if he can ask “a philosophical question” the Karmapa’s face distorts this way and that before replying, “I’ll try.” That question is about the idea of “the end” and the Karmapa quite wisely responds that in a sense every day is an end, but there is no concept in Buddhism of a “final end,” that we live instead in a perpetual cycle in which every ending is a new beginning.
However, as I wrote in this 2012 post, Buddhism does have a story about an end-time:
Buddhism has always held that all phenomena are transitory, including both the teaching of Buddhism as we know it and the world itself. While the Dharma -speaking of the Truth [the Buddha] came to understand – is universal, eternal, and uninfluenced by particular human circumstances, thesāsana, or lineage of teachings handed down for the last 2400+ years, will come to an end.
Likewise, Buddhism inherited the cosmology of Proto-Hinduism (Brahmanism), which held that humans today are living in an age of decline. Part of this sense of decline is the belief in growing immorality and warfare. Conversely, the level of emphasis this belief has taken on in Buddhist cultures often reflects a world around them engulfed in war or simply persecution. The belief exists in all schools of Buddhism, though it took on heightened urgency in China. There the idea that the decline would have a phase of “final dharma” (mofa), starting in 552 C.E. was established, and in Japan the same belief, termed mappō was transmitted with the updated start-date of 1052 C.E.
So there is sort of  a vision of apocalypse in Buddhism, and it was taken very seriously in some Buddhist cultures at certain times. The idea seems out of favor now though and, as the Karmapa instructs Freeman, the important thing for many Buddhists is meditation as a process of “personal revelation” or enlightenment.
The final scenes of the show take us to New Orleans where a couple has established their own church in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. When one of them tells Freeman that he thanks God for the storm because without it, they wouldn’t have started the church or met the people around them now, Freeman responds with a smile, “you know, that’s very Buddhist.”
The episode airs Sunday; you can see the trailer here and as they say, “check your local listings.”

2015.11.5 摩根費里曼在瓦拉納西拍攝紀錄片Morgan Freeman reaches Varanasi to meet Karampa