17th Gyalwa Karmapa"Buddhism is a way of life through which we develop the qualities of our mind.
This way of life is very unusual, as it is a means to attain happiness without harming others.

THE 17th GYALWA KARMAPA

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What sets Buddhism apart from other religions and spiritual paths?
Meditation? Hindus also meditate.
Prayer? Jews also pray.
A monastic tradition? Catholics have monks too.
Reflection? Protestants do a lot of reflecting.
Prostrations? Muslim prostrate themselves.
Ethics? Pretty much any religion worthy of the title has ethics.

So, what makes it different? This is what Lama Jampa Thaye explains during two days of teachings: interdependence, also called dependent origination or, more technically conditioned co-arising.

With his talent for doing so, he explains in a concise, precise, and well-thought-out way, “Phenomena—external (matter) as well as internal (mind), do not appear randomly or based on an outer entity. They appear according to causes and conditions, a succession of constantly changing causes and results. The world is in a flow of constant change. This flow is conditioned co-arising.”

And again, “Suffering does not appear by chance, nor based on an external agent. It arises due to wrong actions; karma. These actions occur based on our emotional states. These afflictions, which arise within us, come from incorrect interpretation of phenomena. There is a causal chain that we must understand.”

It is of course the Indian sage Nagarjuna who sheds light on the subject, “Whoever sees conditioned co-arising see the true nature of reality.” Indeed, if interdependence explains our being trapped by suffering and its causes, it is also the key to liberation. Through understanding it, we can perceive phenomena as they are and break free of our misunderstanding and obscurations—in short, of suffering and its causes.

As is the case during each of his visits, Lama Jampa does things well: he begins with an approach to interdependence according to the vehicle of the ancients (Theravada), explaining the twelve links of conditioned co-arising, then continues with the approach of the great vehicle (Mahayana), demonstrating that interdependence and emptiness are synonyms. And so as not to leave us unsatisfied, he explained this same theme in the context of the tantra according to the basis, the path, and the result. The picture is complete! And what's more, he likewise took a tangent to show that true comprehension of interdependence allows us to generate authentic compassion.

For those who don't know this British teacher, here is what Thaye Dorje, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, has to say about him, “Lama Jampa Thaye is a meditation master and scholar of both the Sakya and Kagyu traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, and as such has undergone rigorous traditional training with his Tibetan teachers. At the same time, he is a Westerner and has been brought up in a Western environment. As such, he understands the mentality and background of Western students of the Buddha dharma. »

This is the wealth of Lama Jampa, who comes to Dhagpo every summer to transmit the teachings: the double culture (Tibetan and Western), the double lineage (Sakya and Kagyu), the double training (Buddhist and university), the double approach (meditative and scholarly).

Karmapa further says in the preface of Lama Jampa's most recent book, “Over the past few decades, Buddhism - and particularly Tibetan Buddhism - has attracted a great many followers in the West. While the students are genuine in the devotion and dedication to their freshly discovered spiritual path, most of them are relatively new to the teachings of Buddhism. This may lead them to misguidedly believe that the tenets of their own cultural and spiritual traditions and the actual teachings of Buddhism are one and the same.”

Karmapa once more points to Lama Jampa's ability to root out the errors, misunderstandings, and mix-ups by which we can get lost during our search for reality on the Buddha's path. When we talk about equanimity, he warns us against indifference; when he teaches about compassion, he shows that it is not about sentimental affection; when he explains emptiness, he warns us not to confuse it with a simple vacuum, etc. He does so in a simple and direct way, like an elder who points out possible traps to the young.

 

Wisdom in Exil: Buddhism and Modern TimesIn his most recent work Wisdom in Exile, he explains why the meeting of Buddhism and the West is so meaningful, “At the heart of the Buddha's teaching is the insight that suffering arises primarily from our mistaken ideas about ourselves and the nature of the world—errors that prompt the arising of a confluence of disturbing emotions and actions. According to Buddha, liberation from suffering is always possible, through the transformation of our error into understanding, brought about by training in the three-fold path of ethics, meditation, and wisdom. Thus, despite its ancient origins, Buddhism would seem to be uniquely well suited to the modern world.” It’s just like I said: precise, concise, and well thought out! He’ll be back at Dhagpo next year.


Puntso, Head of Dhagpo's Program

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