click here for details and a review of teachings at Tergar Monastery
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
click here for details and a review of teachings at Tergar Monastery
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Before the start of this year's 27th Monlam (Wishing Prayers) at Bodhgaya, India, His Holiness Karmapa will be presenting teachings for Westerners at Tergar Monastery. The subject is Nagarjuna's 'Letter to a Friend' and the teachings will be broadcast live as a webcast.
Teaching dates will be December 20th - 22nd, 2009.
Time: 9:00-11:00 AM & 3:00-5:00 PM Indian Standard Time (GMT + 5 1/2 hrs)
For more details see http://www.kagyumonlam.tv/
For those who can attend the Monlam, Ringu Tulku will again be there, translating into English, and sends us all a message for Christmas.
"I would like to give my heartfelt greetings to all of you for a Merry Christmas and a very very Happy New Year too. May the coming year be healthy, happy, successful, meaningful and may you be beneficial to many people. I will keep all of you my dear friends in my mind when I pray under the Bodhi tree along with 10,000 other monks, nuns and many more Dharma brothers and sisters. May all your good wishes be fulfilled.
Your Friend, Ringu Tulku"
Friday, 27 November 2009
We are happy to bring you more good news about Rigul Trust's projects in the field
Ringu Tulku is very appreciative of all the kindnesses and generosity that abounds amongst so many
Wishing you all good things and please let us know if you have any tips, suggestions, advice or can offer help in any way
Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you may think would be interested
click here for newsletter
Sunday, 15 November 2009
The retreatants will come to the end of their long term retreat in the spring. Irish retreat master Donal Creedan is travelling to Sikkim next week, to spend the next few months with them as they complete the last stages of the retreat and begin to re integrate into the outside world after more than three years of intensive practise.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Bodhicharya member Eileen Stevens has been helping to bring the 'Relics Tour' back to Dublin. The collection of relics includes ringsel of many great practitioners, and part of a letter said to have been written by Yeshe Tsogyal, who recorded the teachings of the 8th century Tibetan Saint, Guru Rinpoche [Padmasambhava].
Maitreya Project Relic Tour
RARE BUDDHIST RELICS ONPUBLIC DISPLAY IN DUBLIN
30th, 31st October and 1st November
Times Friday: 5pm: Opening Ceremony ,Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 7pm each day
Venue “Number 11”, no.11 North Great George's Street, Dublin 1
Contact Eileen Stephens, firstname.lastname@example.org 085 7382954
No entrance charge, donations welcome
A precious collection of sacred relics of the Buddha and many other Buddhist masters is currently touring the world. click here for more information. See also: www.maitrayaproject.org
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Here's an update on Severn from Wikipedia:
Cullis-Suzuki graduated from Yale University in 2002 with a B.Sc. in ecology and evolutionary biology. After Yale, Cullis-Suzuki spent two years traveling. Cullis-Suzuki co-hosted Suzuki's Nature Quest, a children's television series that aired on the Discovery Channel in 2002. In early 2002, she helped launch an Internet-based think tank called The Skyfish Project. Kofi Annan's Special Advisory Panel, she and members of the Skyfish Project brought their first project, a pledge called the "Recognition of Responsibility", to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in August 2002
On another note - just to remind you to send in any poems or writing you would like to be considered for the HHK publication to Margaret Ford, ( see below) by the end of this week.
Calcutta Telegraph, 14th Sept 2009:
"Cabinet approves recognition of ancient Sowa-Rigpa medical system
New Delhi, Sep 10 (ANI): The Union Cabinet today approved the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2009 for amending the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970.
"Sowa-Rigpa" commonly known as ‘Amchi’ is one of the oldest surviving system of medicine in the world, popular in the Himalayan region of India. In India this system is practiced in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling (West Bengal), Lahoul and Spiti (Himachal Pradesh) and Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
The theory and practices of "Sowa-Rigpa" are similar to Ayurveda, and also include few principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The fundamental text book rgyud-bzi of "Sowa-Rigpa" is believed to have been taught by Buddha himself and is closely linked with Buddhist philosophy. he Government of India has received representations from various quarters to grant recognition to the System of "Sowa-Rigpa" to enable it get a legal status.
To confer legal status to "Sowa-Rigpa" amendments to section 2,3,8,9 and 17 of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970, need to be carried out.
The proposed amendments shall give effect to the inclusion of "Sowa-Rigpa" under sections 2,3,8,9 and 17 of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 thereby recognizing this system legally.
It is expected that the legal recognition of "Sowa-Rigpa" will lead to the protection and preservation of this ancient system of medicine and will help in its propagation and development. This will also open new vistas leading to collaborative research and scientific validation of the "Sowa-Rigpa" system, besides conservation and protection of the medicinal plants/minerals used in the system.
The recognition of "Sowa-Rigpa" will also lead to the setting up of a mechanism to regulate the education and practice of "Sowa-Rigpa". (ANI)" end.
However in the UK and accross Europe a new law is in the pipeline, the 'Codex Alimentarius' restricting the use of herbal supplements, vitamins and mineral food supplements to 'prescription only', using guidelines from the WHO and UN, and thus rendering them inaccessible without the approval of a GP.
Click to see
See also Rahima's article below on the Sowa Rigpa project in Sikkim.
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
If you have anything you would like to contribute for selection please email up to 5 suitable poems, aspirational songs, prayers, or short written pieces and images to Margaret Ford at email@example.com
If you are a non native English speaker and prefer to write in your mother tongue, please make or have made, an initial translation of your poetry into English. This may also be further edited in english by an editing team, in conjunction with and permission of the author. Poems will then be published in the original language as well as in English. Closing date for submissions is 30th September 2009.
Friday, 28 August 2009
"The Shedra of Rigul has now started. There was a big inauguration with Dulmo Choje Rinpoche as the Chief Guest. Over 800 monks and nuns attended the opening ceremony including high Rinpoches, Khenpos and Lamas. Thousands of people came for the teachings and blessings. The shedra buildings are complete with a hall which can accomodate around 1500 people. The old Temple is also fully renovated and both were inuagurated and blessed.
photo, Khenpo Dulmo Chöje Rinpoche who visited Samye Ling and Holy Island in 2006 and led the Guru Rinpoche Drupchen.
'Khenpo Zopa will be the main Khenpo, he is a learned Geshe from Kirti Monastery. The Shedra has started with 54 students. They have constituted a Shedra Committee with 15 monks. There will be a common kitchen and all students will be offered free food, lodging and education. They have started a shop to help finance the Shedra.
'This is fulfilling one of my dreams for a long time. We will soon receive some photos from Karsing and Lama Desing. Lama Desing is an old monk of Rigul Monastery who lives in Dehradun and Karsing is my uncle who has been visiting Rigul during this time.
We hope they will return safely".
Rinpoche adds: "The school and Clinic are both running very well. 14 students from the school joined the Shedra. Of 54 students, 32 are from Rigul Monastery and the rest are from nearby monasteries including the Sakya Monastery across from Rigul."
I send my best wishes and love and prayers,
For more information and photographs on Rigul Monastery, click here.
If you would like to make an offering for the monks, the students and the monastary to help commemorate this UK taxpayers may have their donation gift aidedauspicious occasion please feel free to make a payment through Rigul Trust
For this, please contact David, the treasurer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
click on the photos to enlarge them
'what it is not', as well as what it is: 'too easy, too good, too close, too deep'.
The Mighty General with 64 Special Accomplishments
Monday, 27 July 2009
Ringu Tulku's new book in the Heart Wisdom series, From Milk to Yoghurt, a Recipe for Living and Dying, is due out at the beginning of August. The introductory price will be £7 UK or 8 euros, plus postage/shipping.
Dharma centres and groups will receive a 35% discount for orders of of ten or more books.
This new book includes three edited and adapted talks given by Rinpoche that have never been published before; Rebirth, Working with a Spiritual Teacher and Death and Dying.
If you would like to pre-order please contact Margaret Ford for a detailed quote.
28 Carrick Drive, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, ML5 1JZ, Scotland
Book design by Paul O'Connor.
above photo: Gangtok from the 'ropeway'.
Rahima Sayer has spent the last 8 months helping to establish a herbal garden at Ringu Tulku's retreat centre in Sikkim. This is an abreviated version of the long letter she sent from Gangtok in June and the project sounds fascinating.
Some added news is that as of this week, Bodhicharya Ireland members have sponsored two machines to help Dr Tashi Namgyal to make pills and powders from the herbs grown at the centre. We look forward to some photographs.
SOWA RIGPA INSTITUTE OF SIKKIM
Planting the Medicine garden at the Bodhicharya Retreat Centre
This garden is the vision of Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, with the collaboration of Dr Tashi Namgyal of Gangtok. It is a conservation project, a reaction to a very real crisis in the supply of traditional medicinal plants in these beautiful Indian Himalayas. Traditionally there was respect for the plants, and the local doctors knew the appropriate time to harvest and the exact amount to harvest to allow for re-growth. There was a natural relationship between the plant and the healer, thus capturing extraordinary benefits from the herbs.
Now it is a very different picture, with many herb collectors out in the mountains with little or no knowledge if the exact taxonomy of the herbs and little understanding of their growth pattern. As a result there is overexploitation, and herbs are taken with no chance of re-growth for the following year’s harvest. It is not only Tibetan medicine that is suffering, but also Ayurvedic medicine and many local traditional healing practices. A very sad picture indeed.
The investigation that I am conducting is aimed at the sustainable cultivation of these plants that are disappearing from the wild.
The situation has not gone unnoticed, however, and in my search for sustainably cultivated plants I have met some very dedicated and inspiring people, whose wish is to protect these wonderful herb species that have been used for such a very long time within the pharmacopeia of traditional medicine. The Indian Government is also taking steps to try and preserve these medicines, by giving permits only to certain herb collectors. However, this does not stop the black market business.
Conservation Projects I visited
i) I first located through the internet the Kanchendzonga Conservation Committee, who invited me to Yuksam where they are based (some six hours’ drive along very steep and winding mountain roads), promising me seeds and plants. A breakthrough! Their initial thrust was to encourage local people to conserve the plants, but seeing that this was insufficient protection, they decided to grow a few medicinal plants, creating the Tunga Nursery in a beautiful spot above Yuksam. I was given both plants and seeds of swertia chirata (tikta in Tibetan), which Rinpoche and Dr Tashi Namgyal were particularly anxious to have in the garden. Dr Namgyal was delighted when I gave him the seeds, and amazed that they had been cultivated rather than grown in the wild. This was therefore a very successful visit, with the Conservation Committee suggesting that The Sowa Rigpa Institute might like to be involved in a joint project for growing at high altitude.
ii) In Gangtok, I also met the General Secretary of the Forest Department. They are actively cultivating medicinal plants in eight gardens throughout Sikkim, although I understand these are more for conservation than actual medicinal supplies.
i) I first travelled to Palumpur, in the Western Himalayas, to meet some of the scientists working at the Himalayan Biotech Resource Institute. The Director, Dr Ahuja, and his colleagues are doing trials in cultivating medicinal plants at both low and high altitudes, and offer courses in growing aromatic and medicinal plants. They are also very committed to distillation of essential oils such as rose and lavender.
ii) I next visited the Ayurvedic Hospital in Joginder Nager, and met Dr Raj Yog Shamar, researcher in medicinal plants, who was very interested in our project. They have three gardens covering 125 acres, full of different shrubs and medicinal trees and located at different altitudes according to the needs of the plants. These gardens provide almost all the herbs the hospital requires, and will be able to supply us with seeds in future. Dr Shamar, however, gave me there and then a handful of the manu seeds I had been looking for specially!
iii) I also located Biolaya Organics (www.biolaya.com), a small company who manage several farms and grow high altitude medicinal herbs. They also provide services and products related to organic agriculture and sustainable management of medicinal plants in the Indian Himalayas. I was invited to do the three-hour walk up from the road to see the farm in the Shang Valley, located at 2500m in an exceptionally pure environment, amidst beautiful forests of cedar and juniper, with carpets of wild irises just about to bloom. It was very moving to see how lovingly and carefully these plants are being tended. The growers themselves do not know exactly how viable it is; it is certainly not financially lucrative; nevertheless they continue to try and keep these species in our world. The Biolaya people are exceptional organic farmers, working for the last seven or eight years promoting organic farming, training in compost making, and conducting trials of traditional grains. They are happy to share their knowledge and expertise, and will be able to supply us with seeds of inula racemosa (manu in Tibetan) in May when the snow melts in the high passes. At the moment we are working together on Anti-Bacterial Spray with wild Himalayan Oregano oil and Flower Essences to be used in hospitals and nursing homes. I am also receiving training in how to revitalise the soil and grow some of these endangered medicinal plants.
So I am currently in this incredibly beautiful environment, surrounded by snowy mountains running with pure mountain streams. Today I bought ten kilos of saussaurea costus from a certified herb collector down the valley for our doctor in Gangtok. It comes from Lahaul Valley and is cultivated. We will have to see what the quality is like!
My experience in Himachal Pradesh is seeing people’s growing awareness of diminishing wild medicinal herb stocks. One consultancy has had resource assessment officers working in the mountains for the last few years, and the overall picture is not good. Unauthorised herb collectors are rapidly diminishing the stocks of herbs in such a way that there is no time for them to recover. Hence the need to cultivate is growing ever more urgent. Small community projects are being initiated to this end: for example, in Mandi District, Dr Lal Singh, of the Himalayan Research Group, has initiated 500 households in growing swertai chirata, with more projects planned.
Of course the cost of cultivation is far higher than the price demanded by herb collectors roaming the mountains and selling on the market. The face of traditional medicine is changing, resulting inevitably in higher costs for the patient.
But it is with great inspiration that I will return to the Sowa Rigpa Garden at the Retreat Centre, knowing that what we are trying to do is possible, and having learned more about the great value of growing these wonderful healers, the medicine plants. Our vision of a beautiful garden full of all kinds of healing plants and trees, medicine for the body and spirit, is being realised: a garden full of roses and jasmine, fine crops of salads and vegetables, medicinal plants and grains to eat, a wonder to behold!
Now we have to plant the seeds! In fact, before leaving Sikkim at the beginning of my researches, I experimented with a bag of saussaurea costus seeds already three years old, from Ladakh. With the help of girls from the village, we fine dug the ground and put in manure to try and revitalise the very poor soil. Then the seeds were planted. To our great delight, and my astonishment, they sprouted within ten days!
Thank you to all of you who are so interested and helpful with the making of this garden.
May all beings be happy.
Monday, 6 July 2009
Ringu Tulku was a speaker at the Mind and Life conference held in New York during June. Here's a Youtube clip of part of his teaching on interdependence.
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Prajna Community was honoured to host Ringu Tulku for a 2-day seminar in Spiddal again this year. We had the rare opportunity of receiving a transmission and explanation of the benefits of Guru Rinpoche's Vajra Armour practice on the first day. On the second day of the seminar Rinpoche gave a beautiful Medicine Buddha Empowerment, along with teachings. It was inspiring to sing the Medicine Buddha mantra as a group with Rinpoche 100 times. There was a lively question/answer session on both days. Several students expressed interest in doing the 3-day Varja Armour retreat.
Other news from the Prajna Community:
The new book is now out by Wisdom Publications --"A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency". Ringu Tulku has written a wonderful essay. HH Dalai Lama, HH Karmapa, Ven Thrangu Rinpoche and many other Buddhist teachers have also contributed.
"Never before have so many teachers from all Buddhist traditions -- Zen, Vajrayana, Theravada, Vipassana; from the West and the East -- come together to offer a collective response to a matter of utmost urgency...."
You can order the book online by going to the updated website www.ecobuddhism.org and clicking 'THE BOOK'
The Declaration is also on the same website. It now has over 4,500 signatures from 50 countries including 70 Buddhist leaders. HH Dalai Lama was the first to sign, soon joined by HH Karmapa and Ringu Tulku. If you have not already done so, and would like to add your signature, click DECLARATION on the ecobuddhism website.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Translated by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche
Designed by Paul O'Connor
Published by Hay House Inc, New York & The Academy of Everything Is Possible, Ireland
This first mainstream publication by His Holiness Karmapa shows how the wisdom of an ancient tradition can resonate with our fast-paced, globally connected lives. His advice, insights and reflections on topics ranging from the environment and social responsibility to relationships and freedom are juxtaposed with bold and often unexpected contemporary images, which illuminate the timeless teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Open to any page and find guidance on how to live more consciously and caringly, and learn how to create a better world for yourself and future generations.
“I would like to express my appreciation and delight that the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the supreme head of the practice lineage, has composed 108 sayings of advice... I pray to the Three Jewels that this book of sayings, composed for people everywhere, and particularly for the young, will bring great benefit..”
– His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso
“This book is an actual meeting with this great spiritual being. It is a feast for the eyes, a spur to the intellect, and a balm for the heart. As I moved from spread to spread of always significant and beautiful photography, I savored the aphorisms and found them moving, thought-provoking, and delightful. It is historic in a unique way. I totally recommend it.”
– Robert Thurman, Professor of Buddhist Studies, Columbia University
“In our times of conflict and imbalance, the presence of great beings of wisdom and compassion, such as the 17th Karmapa, is a powerful source of hope and inspiration, and a reminder that we must be the change that we want to see in the world. His words of wisdom provide deep insights into our modern world, symbolized here by the striking images gathered in this wonderful book.”
– Matthieu Ricard
Front cover image: James Gritz / © Karmapa Foundation
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
During his visit to Dublin, Rinpoche taught on
Lojong: The 7 Points of Mind Training,
at Kagyu Samye Dzong, Kilmainham.
In the middle of those teachings came
the weekend at the Writers'Museum
where the topic was
is Devoid of Mind,
The Nature of Mind is Clear Light.
Of deep teachings on the Buddha Nature.
He interwove the section from the Lojong on Ultimate Bodhichitta
And the Nature of Mind with the Clear Light topic for the weekend.
Rinpoche also took one day to give a precious commentary of his own
On the Oral Instruction of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. This is a Pith
Instruction - a Dzogchen/Mahamudra mengak - which speaks about
The direct experience of resting in the Buddha Nature itself. The text
of the Instruction was taken from p293/294 of Dilgo Khyentse
Rinpoche's autobiography, Brilliant Moon.
The teachings culminated in Rinpoche offering a direct personal
blessing to everyone who attended the weekend. The event was jointly
orgainised and attended by Bodhicharya Ireland, Kagyu Samye Dzong
and Rigpa. There were many other dharma students in attendance
including practitioners from Jampa Ling, Cavan and Shambhala,
Dublin. We were also delighted to welcome members of the
Tibetan and Mongolian communities in Ireland.
We very much look forward to organising another weekend of
teachings with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche in 2010.
Over the June bank holiday weekend, Rinpoche also taught in
Dzogchen Beara, West Cork, on the 'Quintessential Practice Unifying
Mahamudra and Mahasandi', a profound teaching from
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Friday, 17 April 2009
Pat Little, from Co Wicklow, has made several visits to India and also Sikkim, where she spent time at Ringu Tulku's meditation centre.
This book is an account of her visits in 2005 & 2007
Om Productions Unlimited
An Tinteán Eile Plattinstown
Arklow Co. Wicklow
Republic of Ireland
Paperback: ISBN 978-0-9561920-0-4
price €20, GB £20, US $27; India 400 Rs(including p. & p.)
p. & p. Ireland €4.35; rest of world €5.35
Thursday, 9 April 2009
Venue: Kagyu Samye Dzong,
Kilmainham well House, 56 Inchicore Road, Dublin 8.
The 7 Points of Mind Training is a well known traditional teaching on the practice of mind training. These talks will give a foundational overview of the Buddhist path, giving advice on how to transform everyday experience into the path of wisdom and awakening.
cost: 18€ per talk.
Places for the evening sessions are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
bookings: Kagyu Samye Dzong. tel. 01 473 7427
Weekend: 23rd/24th May.
Public Talk: Writers Museum Parnell Square. Dublin 1.
The Mind, is Devoid of Mind, the Nature of Mind is Clear Light. What is mind and what is true nature? Rinpoche will speak on this profound topic from the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.
10.30am - 4.30 pm The Writers Museum, Parnell Square, Dublin 1.
cost: 50€ per day.
All welcome, early booking will avoid disappointment.
Chairs will be provided, but if you prefer to sit on a cushion, feel free to bring one. There will be space and the floor is carpeted.
Bookings for all Rinpoche's teachings can now be made through Kagyu Samye Dzong, (click for link to website) Phone no. for enquiries to Ani Tsondru, 01 473 7427.
Cheques payable to Kagyu Buddhism Ireland and posted to KSD, Kilmainham Well House, 56, Inchicore Road, Dublin 8
These talks have been arranged by Bodhicharya Ireland, Kagyu Samye Dzong & Rigpa Ireland .
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Here are some recent photos taken by Francois, of the Bodhicharya centre in Berlin, including the 'laying of the first stone ceremony' of their new temple. Salga, Rinpoche's brother is now there to paint the shrine room. A great thank you to Francois for these photos.
Also from Margaret Richardson of the Rigul Trust, who was also there:
'It was a memorable visit to Bodhicharya Berlin. The setting of the vase of precious mineral etc, that had been blessed in Sikkim, in the base of the site of one of the pillars for the new temple, was blessed again by Rinpoche, Lama Soga, Lama Shenga and a Lama I don't know the name of.
Salga had an exhibition of some of his thankas and gave a talk.
There was a great warmth of welcome among the Berlin sangha. The teachings that Rinpoche gave were on The Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra from Rangjung Dorje 3rd Karmapa
I was also very impressed by the hospice work that the sangha are engaged with in the community'.
Here's is a short film taken by Bruno when he visited Rinpoche's Meditation and Retreat Centre in Sikkim during December 2006 : click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Currently there are 8 people practising here long term, in the 2nd year of a 3 year retreat. There will be an article written by Pat Murphy in the upcoming Rigul Trust Newsletter.
More details of that when it is published.
Rinpoche has initiated the planting of a herb garden here to grow Himalayan Medicinal Plants. We are waiting news from Rahima who has been working on that recently with Rinpoche. The retreat is self funded in part, and in part by the Rigul Trust - but also depends upon donations - of time, money, and energy to enable the supporting projects. We hope to bring further news of this soon, including practical ways to contribute.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
1. Shrine room decoration, Sherab Ling Monastery
Cards are standard greeting cards, blank inside. Generously sponsored by the O'Brien Family and printed by Wood Printcraft. Dublin.
Monday, 16 March 2009
7 Points of Mind Training
20th, 22nd, 23rd, and 25th May
Kagyu Samye Dzong,
Kilmainham Well House,
56 Inchicore Road, Dublin 8
Entrance: 18€ each evening.
Bookings: 01 4537427
Also Weekend Public Talks: 23rd - 24th May, 2009:
Is devoid of Mind,
The Nature of Mind is Clear Light'.
Rinpoche will speak from these three lines taken from the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.
Venue: The Dublin Writers Museum, Parnell Square, Dublin 1.
Times: 10.30 - 4.30.
Entrance: 50€ per day
Bookings: 01 4537427
For more information on the Dublin talks please go to
www.buddhism.ie or click here. All are welcome.
Public talk Galway: Telephone for info: 091 525 432
or click link to Prajna Community
30th May - 1st June (Bank Holiday Weekend):
Dzogchen Beara, Garranes, Allihies, West Cork.
telephone: 027 73032. For more info click here
Monday, 23 February 2009
Fifteen of us, both from the UK and Germany had a private audience with His Holiness Karmapa, who answered questions and blessed photographs of friends who are ill. We requested a long life prayer for Ringu Tulku which the Karmapa gave us at the end of the teachings. It is exquisite.
( see below).
The Monlam schedule required us to wake before 4.30 am each morning to be sure of a seat in time for the Sojong Vows at 6 am, followed by a recitation of the Refuge Prayers and the Heart Sutra in Sanskrit. The day continued with teachings and prayers ( and gallons of sweet or salt tea and a bread,) until 5 pm. Since last year, thanks to Ringu Tulku and a team of translators, all of the prayers had been printed in English, and it was such a pleasure to have and appreciate the poetry of the devotional texts. Everything was translated into 8 different languages over FM radio - French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish, and Russian, while the English speakers were able to once again enjoy the voice of Ringu Tulku as the conduit for all the Karmapa's teachings.
Meals were served to the 1500 Western and Chinese monlam members at the Mahayana Hotel which is also the central social hub and organisationally everything appeared to work like a dream.
No detail was missed for 10,000 people who spent 9 days together under the bodhi tree, experiencing the unfolding of a perfect Buddhafield: we were given a direct transmission on the perfection of the Paramitas.
One of the highlights was the Akshobya Purification Ritual, an evening fire puja at the Tergar Monastery, which is his residence for the duration of Monlam and where the Chinese and Western Teachings are given before and afterwards. It is a mile or so from the Mahabodhi Temple, in the fields away from the town. 16 monks had just completed a 15 day Akshobya rereat and only they, with the Karmapa, were allowed inside the shrine room. We 30 or so curious onlookers sat around the outside, as all the doors were opened to ensure the best possible view for us. As the puja progressed the whole of the shrine room appeared to emanate more and more golden light until finally two fires were lit, one inside, and one outside the temple. The puja ended after more than two and a half hours when the Karmapa joined us at the outer fire, to bless and burn the lists of names of those who have died. It was almost midnight, the Karmapa's day with us had begun at 6 am, and as we walked home, he waved goodnight from the temple roof. ( see photos on www.kagyuoffice.org)
There are many beggars who travel to Bodhgaya, especially during Monlam. They confront us with the meaning of the teachings, without compromise. It is a time of opportunity for these people who, like ourselves, also come from far away in the hope of sustenance. Last year a soup kitchen was set up in a field nearby by the Karmapa's sister, and this year a small group of Rokpa volunteers from Samye Ling joined in, feeding a few hundred mouths each lunchtime. The challenge is not only to ensure everyone receives something, but also to consider the cost of waste in the environment - next year the plan is to have plates especially made from banana leaves.
During his talk, 'Living the Dharma', the Karmapa reminded us that we live in many different societies and environments, but the most important thing is that we always keep other beings in mind in a lively way, we mustn't lose contact with those we wish to benefit. He said the main practice is not to give up on sentient beings. That is the most important thing: if we can keep the happiness and the suffering of many in our mind, that will help us to transform ourselves........keeping others in mind becomes the basis of practice, and self cherishing becomes less. This type of love and care towards all beings is like a wish fullfilling gem, it is the most important thing, and when it happens, when can give it, it becomes easier to apply the antidotes to the mind poisons.
He said that we must totally see the destructive aspects in ourselves, and when we commit to that, our hearts become full of joy, we are clear, and finding the wish fulfilling gem in our heart frees us and gives us a confidence and certainty in the Three Jewels: the purpose of life becomes very clear.
The Karmapa also spoke about the importance of prayers to overcome obstacles, and asked that people put the Heart Sutra into their formal daily practice as it is a very strong antidote to the type of obstacles which prevail in our world at this time.
He also drew an image of White Tara which was printed, personally signed, and distributed to all who attended the teachings, along with his own calligraphic script of the White Tara mantra. The regular recitation of White Tara Prayers and mantras by us will, he said, help to clear the obstacles which he himself is facing this year.
The following Long Life Prayer for Ringu Tulku, composed by His Holiness Karmapa was written at the request of Ringu Tulku's students at Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya, January 17th 2009.
manifesting from the luminosity of perfect natural harmony
always unmarked by the signs of aging and decline
may you remain in the essence of the deity of immortality'.
All information and transcripts of teachings can be accessed on the Monlam website at www.kagyuoffice.org and the Kagyu Monlam Blog.
A full history and meaning of Kagyu Monlam can be found here on the Unofficial Ringu Tulku Blog, written by Andy Lowe.
Love and Best Wishes,