“What I Give Away is Mine”: the Gyalwang Karmapa’s Advice as the 34th Kagyu Monlam Ends

February 19, 2017
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The last afternoon of the 34th Kagyu Mönlam started slightly earlier than usual with a Medicine Buddha tsok practice according to the Concise Ritual of Offering to the Seven Tathagatas, compiled by the 6th Sharmapa. Tsok, in the form of small bags of fruit, was distributed to each and every participant, sangha and lay followers alike, and money offerings traditionally known in Tibet as 'kunki' were also given to the sangha.

At the end of the afternoon break, His Holiness Karmapa came onto the stage and the session on the Appreciation of the Sponsors opened with the procession for the mandala offering, led by the sponsors who then sat on the stage for the blessings that would follow. Appreciation of the Sponsors is an opportunity to share and dedicate virtue, and His Holiness spoke at some length on the importance of generosity as a means for generating virtue, and on the equal indispensability of the dedication of the virtue generated.

Reprising teachings by Chandrakirti in Entering the Middle Way, he pointed out that wealth and prosperity cannot come about through just any cause, but have their roots precisely in generosity. His Holiness also quoted the Sutra Requested by the Householder Draksulchen on the innumerable benefits of giving: "What I give away is mine, what is left in the house is not. What I give away has meaning, what I keep has no meaning."

That is, when we give things away the virtue generated subsists into the next life, whereas whatever we grasp we must leave behind when we die, he explained. However, virtue accumulated, if not dedicated, may be destroyed through unskillful responses such as anger, wrong views, regret, denigration, and pride and boastfulness about our own generosity. His Holiness used the simile of the drop in the ocean, which remains until the whole ocean dries up, to illustrate that virtue dedicated to bodhichitta is not wasted until enlightenment; and further quotes from Shantideva, Maitreya and the Kriya tantras, to argue that all virtue dedicated, whether ours or others', increases and becomes itself a cause for achieving Buddhahood: "Many rivers flow, each with its own flavour, yet when they reach the ocean, they all taste of ocean."

Recollecting that the scope of generosity depended on the greatness of the recipient, of the thing offered, and of the intention, His Holiness pointed out that the Kagyu Mönlam offered an unexcelled field of offering under all three aspects. Stressing the pure motivation of bodhichitta, he exhorted all Mönlam participants to avoid stains such as the wish for fame, expectations of a return or of riches in the next life, or giving out of envy or prideful conceit. He also said:

The greatest recipients of generosity are the Three Jewels, especially the noble sangha. In generosity to sangha there is virtue in offering and in accepting. Here in the Mönlam there is great virtue, here is gathered the virtue of the three times for us to dedicate.

His Holiness especially commended Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche for his sponsoring of the Mönlam, making it worthy of dedication. And certainly the attendance of Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and Yangsi Bokar Rinpoche in this last afternoon, as in the previous days of the Mönlam, heightened the participants' sense of the auspiciousness of the occasion.

The essential proceedings of the Appreciation of the Sponsors then got under way: in synch with the chanting of the Offering of the Eight Auspicious Substances, the Offering of the Seven Articles of Royalty, and the Offering of the Eight Marks of Auspiciousness, their representations were successively brought to His Holiness to be blessed, and taken round to the sponsors to bless them in turn. In conclusion, extolling once again the virtue of sharing in the benefits of the sponsors, His Holiness offered a statue of the Buddha to each of them, and gifts were also made to the sangha present on stage.

His Holiness, although suffering from a bad cold and lack of sleep, used the platform of his closing address to the 34th Kagyu Mönlam to speak honestly and openly about the situation arisen with Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche's resignation. He explained that he had learned about it shortly after it had happened, a few months before it became public; that himself and others around him and in the Jamgön Labrang who were aware of it tried to do all they could, until Rinpoche announced it himself on Facebook. He shared a particular feeling he'd had when celebrating Rinpoche's birthday:

"I thought that Rinpoche was separated from his parents and brought to India at a very young age—before the age of one. From the time he was very young, he had a lot of difficulties. I thought, 'How dreadful. The poor guy!' I’d never had that thought about him before, but I did last year.

He was given the title of a tulku, and of a high lama in particular, and because of that he probably has the same feelings about the difficulties he faces as I do. It has been many years since I was given the title of Karmapa, and I have experienced many difficulties myself."

His Holiness expressed his great regret that he had not been able to give greater support and advice:

"Often I was unable to show Rinpoche how I cared for him. So I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Rinpoche, the Jamgön Labrang, and all the students who are connected with him."

When the situation first arose, His Holiness acknowledged, he had many different feelings, he was angry and depressed. But he stressed that he had never given up on Rinpoche, nor on his love and care for him. He expressed his certainty that all who had faith in Rinpoche felt the same, and this was something he would like Rinpoche to understand. Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche's resignation was, nonetheless, a great setback for the Kagyu lineage:

The previous Jamgön Kongtrul Rinpoche's passing away at a young age created difficulties, this adds even more difficulties on top of that. I'm sure that the Jamgön Labrang did all they could with pure motivation, so I ask the Labrang and sangha not to get discouraged. I also ask the students, friends and sponsors of the Jamgön Labrang to continue with their support, so that the activity of the various Jamgön Kongtrul incarnations can increase.

Many people might be worried about what would happen in the future, but the important thing to remember for a tulku, His Holiness counselled, was to never give up on the teachings of the Buddha. Wrapping up his address, he reiterated that whether Rinpoche was a monk or not, he should not give up working for sentient beings, and that the same held true for the lamas and tulkus who were in the world, in whatever situation:

That’s about all there is to say. I have done everything I could up to now. I’m not someone who has abandoned all faults and developed all qualities. But no matter what happens, I continue to think I won’t give up on benefitting Buddhism and sentient beings. Please everyone keep that in mind.

After the reading of the Great Aspiration and of the Dedication for the Living and Deceased—and a reminder that it was through the sponsoring of these prayers that the Mönlam was made possible—His Holiness took the time to extensively thank all those whose contribution had ensured a successful 34th Kagyu Mönlam: Lama Chodrak, and all the tulkus who had worked very hard alongside everyone else; Tergar Monastery, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and all the workers there who had offered 100% support; the Kagyu Gunchoe, whose workers had become Mönlam workers too; and the workers from the Tsurphu Labrang who, whether operating in ordinary circumstances or in the whirlwind of the Mönlam, made everything possible for it to go well.

His Holiness also expressly mentioned the representatives of the Tibetan and Indian governments, pointing out that they travelled with him all the time, and that it was appropriate to take this opportunity to thank them. He again thanked the Mönlam Members and the guru sevakas; for the latter, in particular, His Holiness appreciated the hardships they faced making their way to the Mönlam, and how very hard they worked, throughout, once there. He thanked the students from Suja School in Bir who had come to work as the dharmapalas, and the Indian workers who were there every day. And he left some special thanks for last:

Thank you, Gyaltsab Rinpoche, for coming and presiding over ceremonies. Thank you, Mingyur Rinpoche, for your hospitality and your blessings. Thank you, Bokar Rinpoche, for being here, your predecessor was a life force of the Mönlam.
I would like to thank all the tulkus, all the teachers, and all the sangha from our monasteries and nunneries and from other lineages. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Over 50 countries are represented here and I thank you all for coming. We are realising the noble wish of the 7th Karmapa by coming together to pray. Every one of you, I thank you all.

The 34th Kagyu Mönlam ended with images of beauty and unity in aspiration that could not but make a deep and lingering impression in the minds of all present. At every refrain in Lord Marpa's Song of Auspicioness, in the Auspiciousness of the Great Encampment, and in the final Prayers to Accomplish the Truth, Mönlam participants waved their katas in ripples of unison, firstly accompanied by the Karmapa's throwing of rice in blessing, and then led by the unfurling of his own white kata. At a last sustained call of jalings and dungchens, His Holiness left the Mönlam stage, and the curtain fell on the intensity of this unique week.

2017.2.19 Offerings to the gurus,Medicine Buddha,Sponsor Appreciation,HHKs Closing Speech http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1123-what-i-give-away-is-mine-the-gyalwang-karmapa-s-advice-as-the-34th-kagyu-monlam-ends


Special Features of the 34th Kagyu Monlam: The Stage

February 13, 2017
Monlam Pavilion

For those who were used to seeing the Buddha flanked by the great tormas, Mount Kailash rising behind, and masses of flowers arranged on all tiers of the stage, this year’s design must have come as something of a surprise.

The stage and its backdrop are a magnificent fusion of classical Chinese elements and the uncluttered clear-cut lines of modern design. The arrangement is a co-production between His Holiness the Karmapa and a professional stage designer from Shanghai, who first met His Holiness at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet in 1999.

In an interview, the stage designer explained how, traditionally, Tibetan settings use rich, strong colours, are very elaborate, very expressive and powerful. They are stunning and have great visual impact. When the Karmapa first suggested that the two of them should collaborate on designing the stage for the 34th Kagyu Monlam, the designer focused on how to capture in a new way the grandeur and solemnity of the pujas offered during the Monlam. He wanted to emphasise those particular aspects, and, so the backdrop was originally designed in very stark black and white. Later it was changed to gold and white.

The backdrop is made of heavy white canvas in order to resonate with the colour of the marble flooring of the stage and its tiers, and is covered in a pattern of highly stylised, auspicious golden clouds, painted according to those found in classical Chinese texts. These clouds symbolise brightness, vastness and unhurriedness, and are intended to reflect the qualities of Lord Buddha. The motif is continued into each corner of the stage, either side of the huge screens, and a Tibetan-style frieze, unifies the whole.

The seed syllables of the five Buddha families hang in front of the backdrop, in accordance with special instructions from His Holiness. The colour red was chosen for them because it creates a focal point for our attention and also uplifts the spirit. [After the Monlam, during the Gutor, the backdrop will be changed into one which is mainly dark indigo with a drawing of the fire mudra which symbolises Mahakala.]

The tormas have been moved down from their previous position where they flanked the Buddha on to the main stage. This clears the area around the Buddha image, creating an additional sense of spaciousness and open-ness, but also brings more focus onto the tormas themselves.
Visual distractions have been reduced and flower displays kept to a minimum.

The tiers on the wings, where the gelong and gelongma sit, have been covered in red carpet and the risers have been painted red; changes intended to create an holistic harmony.

Above the Buddha, suspended from the girders, as if floating in mid-air, is a huge intricately designedchhatra or parasol. An ancient Indian symbol of kingship, it is depicted above the heads of Indian royalty, Hindu deities, Lord Buddha and the bodhisattvas. The chhatra is in an ornate Chinese style and made from gilded copper. Inside, directly above the Buddha’s head, is a mandala of the Mani prayer, Om Mani Padme Hum, the sacred mantra of Avalokiteshvara.

2017.2.20 Backdrop http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1024-special-features-of-the-34th-kagyu-monlam-the-stage

Our Intrinsic Ability to Make Aspirations for the World: 17th Karmapa’s Advice to the Guru Sevakas at the 34th Kagyu Monlam

February 14, 2017 
Tergar Shrine Room, Bodhgaya

In a long, winding queue, over a thousand dedicated, hard-working volunteers slowly entered the Tergar temple. They followed the rows of people with whom they shared their working space, taking their seats in orderly fashion and waited in meditative silence.

Upon arrival the Gyalwang Karmapa expressed his warm greetings to all of the volunteers. Then, he expounded on the meaning of bodhicitta and Monlam.

He talked to them about our innate ability to make aspirations, regardless of whether one has faith in spiritual traditions or not. Ability to make aspirations is universal, he said.

His Holiness made clear that it doesn’t matter who makes the aspirations as long as prayers for the world are being made, and cautioned about being tempted to attach labels to our aspirations. For example: Nyingma Monlam or Kagyu Monlam. It might be making matters worse to judge the situation as our Monlam vs. their Monlam. That kind of attitude leads to a conflict in the mind which can interfere with our aspirations.

His Holiness suggested that regardless of being a part of a ceremony or not, you always have the ability to make aspirations. Most importantly, we have the ability to take responsibility. He elucidated this point by saying that from the moment we experience pain and the need to be happy, we have the capacity to extend compassion to all beings endowed with consciousness because they are all predisposed to having those same feelings. In its essence, that wish for the happiness of all beings is bodhicitta. All we need to do is shift our focus from ourselves to others. This is not hard to understand conceptually, but in actual application, somehow it becomes difficult for us.

Then he delineated how to develop bodhicitta and the relevance of Monlam in that regard. In our being we are endowed with that noble outlook, the seed of bodhicitta, he said. Monlam is held to bring about the necessary elements which will mature that seed. It is difficult to say if it will mature or not. Its growth depends on elements unique to each one’s personality.

He noted in sympathy that, in addition to travelling far from their homes and the harsh conditions they must endure, the guru sevaka also have to work, and that is not easy. Many people support in different capacities, he continued. While it is easy to evaluate the material offerings, it is much harder to measure the level of service, and so expressed his full appreciation of each and every action they offer.

The Karmapa closed the meeting by graciously offering everyone a token of his gratitude. As the long line of people gradually moved through the temple, he personally signed and handed to each of them a copy of his artwork: a calligraphy in red and gold which read: “Be joyful forever”.

2014.2.14 法王噶瑪巴接見發心菩薩 Guru sevakas have audience with the 17th Karmapa http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1116-our-intrinsic-ability-to-make-aspirations-for-the-world-17th-karmapa-s-advice-to-the-guru-sevakas-at-the-34th-kagyu-monlam

17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s Words of Thanks to Friends of Kagyu Monlam Members

February 15, 2017 
Tergar Monastery Shrine Room

Members of the Friends of the Kagyu Monlam started congregating on the lawn of Tergar Monastery early in the afternoon of the third day, in eager anticipation of their group audience with His Holiness the Karmapa. Very soon after, they were ushered into the shrine room and lined up in rows to await his arrival. With between 1,200 and 1,400 Members to fit in, that took some time and skill to arrange - testament to the effort and patience of the guru sevakas who had that responsibility, and who kept the atmosphere light with their good humour both in English and in Chinese.

There was hardly a buzz of nervous chatter amongst the waiting Members, their whispered exchanges softer even than the twittering of the Tergar shrine room's resident birds. Some took out their malas, some closed their eyes in meditation, all preparing as best they could for this longed-for moment. As had happened earlier in the day amongst the Mönlam Members waiting at lunchtime in the Mahayana Hotel, spontaneous chanting of Karmapa Khyenno rapidly spread through the rows and was sustained until, with none of the usual security to-ing and fro-ing, His Holiness walked in.

The Karmapa started by extending his warm greetings to the Members, commenting that in the years since the inception of the Kagyu Mönlam the number of participants had increased manifold. He shared his memories of the early days:
When I joined the Mönlam and started giving teachings, it was in a basement hall in the Mahayana Hotel, dark and windowless. It seemed a big venue at the time, as the Mönlam was only for foreigners. But that basement soon became too small, and we moved to the shrine room of Shechen Monastery. It was still only attended by students from abroad, but as more of them came they spilled out onto the veranda, they were opening windows and letting the mosquitos in. The Mönlam was extended to India-based participants with teachings in the Taiwan Temple, then Tergar was built.
The Karmapa observed how tight a fit the Members were in the Tergar shrine room, demonstrating the obvious need for the bigger Pavilion, and how even that was barely enough for the 10,000 people and more now taking part. He stressed, though, that drawing in a bigger and bigger crowd was not the most significant aspect of the Mönlam:
What is really important is the intended purpose which brings us together. This year, people from 50 different countries are here, united in aspiration and intent. That is what makes this gathering significant and important. We have this united purpose for peace in the world and for the well-being of all, without exception, so this is a sacred and precious gathering.
The Karmapa added that this kind of auspicious event had a tradition in the noble wishes and aspirations of previous Karmapas. He mentioned, especially, the 7th Karmapa, Chödrak Gyamtso, pointing out that prayers that were made during his time are done in the last day of the Kagyu Mönlam, and quoting an inspiring exhortation of his: "May we gather different languages and nationalities in joyous celebration. Let this happen again and again."

Continuing, the Karmapa said that when we gather together and make prayers for the benefit of all beings, we focus our attention and our attitude towards the flourishing of the profound teachings of the Buddha, and towards universal peace and harmony. He then related a recent personal experience that had made him appreciate how precious truly heartfelt aspirations can be:
A number of fellow Tibetans came to see me. Most were elderly, and told me that they had held their hopes within their minds for so long, and they now wanted to express them. They were wishing for these things, for peace and happiness for all the world, for the spread of the Dharma, and asking me to pray for them to come about, with tears in their eyes. It was more than mere words. Sometimes when things are memorised we don't experience them in depth, but this was from the core of their hearts, it was feeling articulated in words. This is not common, it is rare, so all the more precious. When people can make this kind of wholehearted aspiration, I think there is still hope for the world and for sentient beings.
The Karmapa then reminded everyone that as far as they were concerned, as Members, they couldn't be any closer to the Mönlam than they were already. That meant that they must have dreams in their life that were not limited to themselves, but were universal and global in their outlook, encompassing all sentient beings; this was a noble aspiration that they must embrace.

The Karmapa concluded the meeting by expressing his appreciation for the many ways in which Members supported the Kagyu Mönlam, and as a token of that appreciation, by handing out personally to each Member a calligraphy made by himself with the Tibetan words Nam Yang De - 'completely happy'.

2014.2.15 第34屆噶舉大祈願法會.法王接見噶舉之友 Audience with Kagyu Monlam Members http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1117-17th-gyalwang-karmapa-s-words-of-thanks-to-friends-of-kagyu-monlam-members

Special Features of the 34th Monlam: The Yongle Karmapa Scroll

February 17, 2017 
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

In 1407, the 5th Karmapa Dezhin Shekpa (1384–1415), arrived in the Imperial Chinese capital of Nanjing at the invitation of the Yongle Emperor Cheng Zu, who ruled from 1402 -1424 CE.  The Emperor required religious ceremonies to be performed for his deceased parents, and to this end, he requested the 5th Karmapa to offer the Ritual of Universal Salvation, at Linggu Monastery.

In return for performing ceremonies for the Emperor's family, the Emperor gifted the Karmapa with 700 measures of silver objects, gave him the title 'Precious Religious King, Great Loving One of the West, Mighty Buddha of Peace', and presented him with a material representation of the famous 'Vajra Crown‘. This was the crown which Dusum Khyenpa received from the dakinis, woven from their hair.  It is said to be invisible to all except those pure in spirit. The Emperor’s version of the crown was woven in black brocade and studded with jewels and is one of the Karmapa lineage treasures still in existence.

The Karmapa Scroll was commissioned by the Emperor and records the events that occurred during Dezhin Shekpa’s visit.  50 metres long and painted on silk, the scroll depicts scenes of miraculous signs that took place over twenty-two days during the performance of the ritual. These are described in Chinese, Arabic, Uighur, Tibetan and Mongolian.

Unfortunately, the Emperor had ulterior motives.  Having usurped power from his nephew the Jianwen Emperor, he intended the scroll as evidence of the legitimacy of his claim to be Emperor. In addition, he hoped to establish a Ming-Tibetan alliance in a similar fashion to that established between the Yuan Emperors and the Sakyas. The Fifth Karmapa, however, rejected the Yongle Emperor’s overtures and returned to Tibet.

An original of the scroll has been preserved in the Tibet Museum, Norbulingka Palace, and Lhasa.

Based on photographs of this scroll, an elderly Taiwanese monk, who tutored the 17th Karmapa in classical Chinese drawing and painting, was able to reproduce the original in collaboration with His Holiness.  His Holiness himself painstakingly completed the Tibetan calligraphy on each panel. The reproduction does not include other languages in the original. This recreation of the scroll was then put on display in the Monlam Pavilion, but people commented that it was difficult to see the details. His Holiness responded by commissioning a high-quality photographic enlargement.  It was made in Taiwan and is on display at the Kagyu Monlam this year.

《噶瑪巴為明太祖薦福圖》 http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1122-special-features-of-the-34th-monlam-the-yongle-karmapa-scroll


From Bhutan With Joy: Young Volunteers Enliven Kagyu Mönlam for Second Year

February 18, 2017 
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

The lime green tabards of the Bhutanese Young Volunteers in Action (Y-VIA) are back in the Pavilion and grounds for the 34th Kagyu Mönlam. For the second year running, the Bhutan Youth Development Fund (YDF), an NGO under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother of Bhutan, has brought a group of teenagers and young adults to the Mönlam as part of a programme designed to broaden their experience and develop their citizenship skills.

In this second year, the group has grown from 20 to 27 young volunteers. The youngest is just 15, and the oldest are in their early twenties, and studying for a university degree. All take pride in being representatives of their respective schools and colleges in this programme, and all of them are newbies to the Mönlam; in their own words, they are "a new batch." They are accompanied by two teachers and by the Director of the Y-VIA programme, Karma Phuntsho Wangmo.

The new responsibilities have generated extra work and even the director has been very much ‘hands on’ this year.

Their activities have expanded, too. As last year, they have been tirelessly active in the tea breaks at every session, serving lay practitioners; helping out whenever and wherever else needed, for instance, providing a cordon for the Procession of the Sixteen Arhats alongside the Dharmapalas. They have been remarkable throughout for their unfailing kindness and sweetness, and for how well they all look in their traditional Bhutanese dress. This time they are also operating a small stall opposite Tergar Monastery, selling bags, prayer wraps and other handicrafts in typical Bhutanese patterns and textiles. These are produced through yet another YDF programme, “Empowerment for Employment”, which works with unemployed youth and disadvantaged women in Bhutan. The sale of their products generates income for the programme. With such demanding responsibilities, one might expect the young people to make the most of any chance for a rest. Yet, although they can be seen sitting quietly on the sidelines in between sessions, a closer look reveals that they are in fact intently studying their Kagyu Mönlam books, or softly reciting prayers from bespoke texts. They do so because they readily acknowledge the unique opportunity that the Mönlam provides. As Sönam Chengjur, a young man of 18, explained:

"It is a privilege to be in the presence of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa. We feel we are very lucky to be here."

His companions in the group of young Bhutanese - amongst them Karma Trinley, also 18; Sönam Dorje, 20; and Tsering Tashi, 16, one of the youngest present - all concurred. The journey from Bhutan was a long one, they said, yet it was nice all the same. Arriving here, they found that it could be a problem communicating with participants from so many different countries, but they took it up as a challenge:

"Helping people is the best part. We have to learn other languages, and when that doesn't work, we have to get other people who can speak the language to find out what they need, and that's a good experience. It means we are now better prepared to go anywhere else."

One cannot doubt that such committed young people will, indeed, be a positive force wherever they go.


Awards Ceremony for the 20th Kagyu Gunchoe and the Examination of Monastic Forms

February 19, 2017
Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya

Awards for the 20th Kagyu Gunchoe

A lively demonstration by monks from the 20th Kagyu Gunchoe of their debating skills on the topicTurning the Wheel of Dharma preceded the awards for the Gunchoe debate competition. This was followed by a long dedication monologue delivered by Lhagpa Yeshe, a monk from Benchen Shedra. This composition containing sections in both verse and prose is the traditional way to finish a debate and is known as the Noble Words [Tib.Tsig Zang].

Then came the awards themselves. The winners received a trophy, a certificate and a cheque to be spent by their shedra.

First prize for Collected Topics (Dudra) was awarded to Lava Shedra. They received a trophy depicting a pecha atop a lotus and stem, and a cheque for 100,000 Indian rupees.

Second Prize for Collected Topics went to Benchen Shedra. They received a trophy of Manjushri’s Sword of Wisdom and a check for 50,000 Indian rupees.

First Prize for Validity [Tib. Tsema] was awarded to Bokar Shedra. They received a trophy and a cheque for 100,000 Indian rupees.

Second Prize for Validity went to Sherabling Shedra. They received a trophy and a cheque for 50,000 Indian rupees.

First Prize Overall was won by Bokar Shedra, which received a Manjushri Sword of Wisdom trophy and 100,000 Indian rupees.

The ceremony continued with prizes for individual monks. With great humour, His Holiness pretended not to be able to read the names of those who had won the individual prizes, and let the tension mount, but eventually he announced

Best Presenter: Tsering Dorje, Sherabling Shedra.

Best Responder: Jamyang Sengye, Bokar Shedra

Best for Diligence: Lobsang Tsering, Sherabling Shedra

Each monk received a certificate and a personal prize of electronic equipment.

Awards for The Examination of Monastic Forms

The examination was conducted over two nights last week before the Monlam began. Twenty- four monasteries and nunneries competed against each other. The competition is organised into two categories : gelong [fully ordained] and getsul/getsulmas [novice].

At the moment there are no fully ordained nuns, so the prizes in the first category all went to monasteries. However, in the ultimate development of the trend seen last year, when nunneries won two of the three prizes, all the prizes in the novice category were won by nunneries this year. Karma Drubdey Nunnery from Thimpu in Bhutan won first prize for the second year in succession.

Category One: Gelong

1. Thrangu Tashi Choeling
2.  Rumtek Monastery
3. Lava Monastery

Category Two: Getsul and Getsulma

1. Karma Drubdey Nunnery
2. Palpung Yeshe Rabgye Ling Nunnery
3. Thrangu Tara Abbey

2017.2.19 Prizes from the Gunchoe, Prizes from Examination of Monastic Forms http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1073-awards-ceremony-for-the-20th-kagyu-gunchoe-and-the-examination-of-monastic-forms

Honoring the Words of the Buddha: The Kangyur Procession

Friday, 17 February 2017

In the Monlam Pavilion the night before the procession, the Gyalwang Karmapa, a consummate director who pays attention to the smallest detail, rehearsed the monks and nuns who would be carrying the Kangyur texts the next day. As they sat on the floor before him, he spoke to them about the significance of this event. “These texts hold the precious words of the Buddha, and you will carry them as you circumambulate the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment. This will make an auspicious connection for his teachings to flourish and spread throughout the world.” The sangha members then practiced walking with a paced dignity, passing out into the cool evening and coming back in the Pavilion as the Karmapa watched.

He advised them, ''Those in the procession should recite the mantra (Namo Shakyamunaye, “Homage to Shakyamuni Buddha”) and visualize that the Dharma is pervading the whole universe. You should carry yourselves in a way that inspires respect in those who see you.''

Early in the morning of the 17th, disciples holding pink lotuses, garlands of marigolds, and tall gladiolas lined the outer circumambulation path and the steps from the main gate, down the cental path, and into to the inner sanctum of the stupa. A sign on a slope says, “Karmapa Khyenno. Kagyu Sangha Monlam Chenmo. Prayers for World Peace.” Soon after 8am, the Karmapa and his entourage arrive and pass through the crowds into the main temple with its famous state of a radiant Buddha. After offering him robes, fruit, and prayers, the Karmapa emerged and walked around to the Bodhi Tree on the backside of the stupa where the four main rinpoches don their Gampopa hats, and the 103 volumes of the Kangyur are distrubuted among the sangha.

The procession is led by an incense bearer, followed by jalings (a Tibetan oboe), conch shells (symbolizing the spreading of the Dharma), and two more incense bearers. In the front of the procession in ascending order of hierarchy, is Shiwalha Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Zurmang Garwang Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and finally His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa. They are followed by the precious teachers of the Dharma, the Kagyu khenpos, then the fully ordained monks, and selected nuns and other monks. Moving at a stately pace, they move up the stairs and circumambulate the stupa on its widest path. When the procession returns to the Bodhi Tree, the texts that have been carried in procession are covered in a bright layer of flower offerings.

For the entire morning at the Pavilion itself, the rest of the monks, nuns, and lay members of the sangha who know Tibetan have been engaged in another traditional practice related to texts—reading the Kangyur aloud. Pages have been distributed throughout the crowd, and it is wonderful to see how many people in addition to the ordained sangha know Tibetan—from the older generation of gray-haired Tibetans to the teenage Tibetan Dharmapalas helping to guard the place of practice plus western and eastern disciples of all ages. It is a clear visual reminder of what the Karmapa and the Dalai Lama have often said about the sangha. It is made up of four pillars—the ordained monks and nuns and the male and female lay practitioners. In the lambent sun of this peaceful morning, all of them have performed two traditional practices with the deep wish that the Dharma continue to flourish and bring its benefits to the modern world and beyond.

2017.2.17 Kangyur Procession&Kangyur Reading http://www.kagyumonlam.org/index.php/en/kmc-news/news-2017/1022-honoring-the-words-of-the-buddha-the-kangyur-procession


We will now take our demand directly to PM: Sangha MLA - Sikkim Express


GANGTOK, February 16: Monks under The Denjong Lhadey on Thursday afternoon concluded their two-day foot rally from Rangpo to Gangtok covering a distance around 41 Km. The rally ended at BL House, Tibet Road here at around 4.30 pm.

The rally was undertaken to highlight the pending demand that the 17th Karmapa is allowed by the Union government to visit and bless Skiikm. The monks under The Denjong Lhadey are already on an indefinite realy hunger strike at BL House since August 6, 2016.

Addressing the gathering, Sangha MLA Sonam Lama said criticism of his involvement in the Karmapa demand is irrelevant considering the religious importance of the cause.

There are sections of people who criticise my involvement in the Karmapa demand but dharma stands as the most important aspect for us monks,” said Lama.

Lama said the monks would now take the demand directly to the Prime Minister. We believe that the state government is not giving us the right response, he said.

The monk had halted at Sangkhola yesterday night and resumed their march today morning.

Some of the elderly monks collapsed due to tiredness and weakness at Samdur, 7th Mile enroute to Gangtok. Traffic movement was disrupted for around 40 minutes till the monks were rushed to the STNM hospital in ambulances. It is informed that some of the monks were discharged from the hospital by evening.

The Sangha MLA, in his address, claimed that Chief Minister Pawan Chamling did not stop at the national highway to enquire about the monks while he was on his way to Gangtok. The monks were marching along the highway near 32 Number area.

Our hope on the State government died yesterday when the Chief Minister chose to ignore the marching monks, said lama. We understand that as our Chief Minister, his schedules are tight but sparing a mere three minutes with the marching monks on the way is not a big deal either, he said.

We were positive that the Chief Minister would make a brief stopover and give his advice on our dharma demand, said The Denjong Lhadey in a press statement. However, the marching monks were ignored, it said.

Meanwhile, SKM president P.S. Golay met the monks in the morning hours at Sangkhola. Former SDF minister Ran Bahadur Subba also met them at 5th Mile, Tadong.

According to a SKM release, Golay said it is a serious matter that monks have to come out on the streets to highlight their demand. He reiterated the support of SKM to the monks and their demand.

The State and Union governments should take proper steps to fulfill this long pending demand, he said.