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

Teachings

 The Second Cause: Gathering the Accumulations through the Seven Branch Prayer

First branch: Prostrations

In order to make a true dedication, prostrate with respectful devotion in front of Lama Measureless Light together with his retinue residing in Dewachen.
With a devotion that does not make any difference between near and far1, I emanate as many other bodies of mine as there are dust particles in the universe and prostrate full of respect with my three doors.
The explanation of the dharmakaya, the aspect which is basis of emanation:
The Dharmakaya Limitless Radiance2, which is the basis of emanation, Lord of the buddha family, emanates from his right hand light rays that become Chenrezi, and from him one billion secondary emanations of the mighty Chenrezi that fill the whole "Three thousandfold Universe which cannot be found". From his left hand he emanates light rays that become Tara with one billion secondary emanations of Tara similar to herself. From his heart light rays go out manifesting Padmasambhava together with one billion secondary emanations of Orgyen3 that fill the three thousandfold universe. I prostrate to all these emanations of Dharmakaya Measureless Light.
With the eyes of a buddha, during all six periods of the day and night, he constantly regards with love all sentient beings. His enlightened mind is constantly aware of whatever thoughts or ideas arise in the mind of all sentient beings. His enlightened ear constantly hears distinctly, without confusion, whatever words are spoken by all sentient beings. Remembering the qualities of the Dharmakaya which is of benefit for oneself I prostrate to the all-knowing Measureless Light.
Remembering the qualities of the form kayas which are for the benefit of others:
a) Nirmanakaya: Concerning Dewachen – except for those who have the two kinds of obstacles for rebirth there because they have rejected the noble dharma, saying that teaching and practise are of no use, or who have accomplished the extremely negative deeds of immediate retribution which will be explained below – all others who have faith in You (Amitabha) and make their wishing prayers will be born in Dewachen and their prayers will be fulfilled. Because it is like this, it is said that at the time when we have died and wander in the bardo, he (Amitabha) will send an emanation together with a retinue which will come towards us, and will guide us in one instant into this land. Remembering his qualities I prostrate to the guide Nirmanakaya Measureless Light.
b) Sambhogakaya: Your life span lasting for countless kalpas you stay here and do not go beyond suffering. If we pray to you with one pointed respect, it is said that – except for the complete ripening of previous karma – the coming together of the conditions for the end of our life force will happen only after one hundred years and the various kinds of untimely death will be averted. Being aware of qualities as these, I prostrate to the sambhogakaya protector Amitayus.
Further qualities of his deeds and enlightened activity:
It is said that it is of comparatively greater merit simply to join the palms of one's hands out of faith on hearing the name of Amitabha and about Dewachen than to fill the worlds of countless three thousandfold universes of vast extent with all kinds of jewels like gold, silver, and so on and to offer them as gifts. For this reason I respectfully prostate to Measureless Light.
Whosoever, whatever person or suitable sentient being, hears the name of Amitabha and develops just once a faith, which comes from the depth of his heart and bones and is not empty talk, then this faithful one will never loose the path to enlightenment and the extremes of samsara4 will be transformed. For this reason I prostrate to the protector Measureless Light.
From the time of hearing the name of Buddha Measureless Light until obtaining buddhahood I will not be born in an inferior body of (for example) a woman which (due to cultural limitations) was considered an inferior support for practice, but take birth in a good family and have a pure conduct in all lives to come. I prostrate to Measureless Light gone to bliss5.
This concludes the branch of prostration.

Second branch: Making offerings

My body and all my possessions, together with my roots of virtue, whatever offerings that are actually present like ablution water, flowers, incense, lamps, perfumes, food, at least a hundred of all these, or offerings emanated by mind including the eight auspicious substances which are a mirror, sindhura, kusha grass6, conch shell, white mustard, durwa grass,7 and yoghurt, all in limitless kinds, the eight auspicious signs which are the (infinite) knot, white conch, banner of victory, umbrella, vase, lotus, wheel, and sun8, the seven precious items (signifying royalty) which are the wheel (of a universal monarch), jewel, (the earrings of the) queen, (the earrings of the) minister, the (tusks of the) elephant, supreme mount (symbolised by the horn of a unicorn), (the signs of the) general – whatever offerings exist since all times, since the first appearance of the worlds, such as billions of three thousandfold universes with their four continents, the central mountain, the sun and the moon together with all the wealth of gods, nagas9 and humans – I take them up in my mind which means to visualise them very clearly and offer them to Amitabha. By the force of your compassion, accept this for my own benefit.
This concludes the branch of offering.


Third branch: Confession

I lay open and confess all the non-virtuous deeds which have been committed from beginningless time until now by myself and by all sentient beings headed by my father and mother.
[I lay open and confess] the three unwholesome acts of the body: killing, taking what is not given, and impure conduct. I lay open and confess the four unwholesome acts of the speech: lying, slandering, rough speech, and gossip. I lay open and confess the three unwholesome acts of mind, all that has been accumulated since beginningless time in samsara: covetousness due to desire, malice due to anger, and (holding on to) wrong views like denying the law of cause and effect or the Three Jewels (which stand for the possibility of enlightenment).
I lay open and confess all the five deeds of immediate retribution which we accumulated in beginningless samsara: killing our father, our mother, and – in following the way this explanation is given in the Kadampa tradition of Jowo Atisha – our teacher10, or an arhat11, and intending to cause harm to the body of a Victorious One which means actually doing the act without regret of cutting open his body so that blood comes forth. These five are the causes which will result (after death) in immediate rebirth in the Hell of Unspeakable Torment (Avici) without any possibility for other factors to hinder this rebirth.
I lay open and confess the evil deeds similar to the deeds of immediate retribution: killing a gelong or a getsul, making a nun fall into lay status (by seducing her), destroying a statue, stupa or temple – except if wanting to repair it – or to unnecessarily destroy holy texts and so on.
I lay open and confess all the evil acts of abandoning the dharma together with everything related to this kind of act like abandoning the three supports etc. in front of which I have committed myself at the time of taking the vows: the Three Jewels, the temple, and the supreme Speech (e.g. the dharma texts) present in front of us.
To "lay open" means not to keep one's faults secret but to clearly say them. To "confess" means to destroy or sweep them away like dust.
I lay open and confess all these accumulated very negative, useless actions – which are so useless that one cannot even get "a glass of water" for them – like abusing bodhisattvas which is of greater evil than to kill the sentient beings of the three realms12. In general one should, whenever talking about lamas and monks, be aware that there are probably bodhisattvas among them.
Compared to the five crimes of immediate retribution it is more negative not to believe in the benefits of virtuous deeds and the difficulties resulting from non-virtue about which we have heard and to think that this as well as similar teachings is not true and simply a pedagogical device, and this although we received explanations by a lama on the duration and extent of suffering in the hell realms, and so on. I lay open and confess this negative karma that makes liberation impossible.
This was the general confession of faults.
Now comes the more specific confession concerning transgressions of the vows of individual liberation, the bodhisattva vows and the tantric vows. Among these three, [transgressions of] the outer13 vows of individual liberation about what is to be given up are considered the roots of all faults and transgressions. They include: to take life, to steal, to have impure relationships with a woman (or man), to tell lies like pretending to have clairvoyance.
I lay open and confess all breakage and damages of the discipline of individual liberation including the five categories of faults14: the four root downfalls, in short: killing, stealing, impurity, and lying, these are what one should keep in mind and protect oneself from, since they are the principal transgressions – if they occur, one is not following the Buddha's teaching any more. Furthermore there are the thirteen [transgressions of vows] with a remainder, the thirty transgressions which are like downfalls, the ninety downfalls, the four individually confessed damages, and the hundred and twelve faults.
I lay open and confess the acts which we we should give up once having requested the bodhisattva vows: the four negative actions15 which damage (these vows), as well as the root downfalls which actually break the vows: the five which concern "kings" – referring to bodhisattvas who have obtained a power and influence similar to a great ruler, and the five similar ones of "ministers" who are executing the orders of a king and acting on his behalf, and to these are added the eight transgressions of ordinary beings in the bodhisattva family which (also) constitute a major breakage. Together they are counted as eighteen root downfalls. If they occur, they constitute the defeat of the bodhicitta: you should protect yourself from them, if any of those present themselves.
The four negative actions [in relation to the bodhisattva vows] which should be given up are:
to cheat the lama
to employ means to make someone regret the dharma (or any dharmic activity),
to slander the superior ones16,
to have a tricky mind which cheats the inferior ones [the ones who depend on us].
The eighteen root downfalls of a bodhisattva are:
The five concerning a king (or powerful person) are: (1) to steal the wealth of the [Three] Jewels17, (2) to [cause someone to] abandon the dharma, (3) to strike and punish a monk who has become a lay person [due to having lost his discipline], (4) to commit one of the five crimes with immediate retribution, (5) to have erroneous views and to deny [the law of] cause and effect.
Of the five downfalls for a minister the first four are the same as above (counted as 6–9), but instead of wrong views we find (10) destroying a town (or country) with an army.
The eight principal transgressions of ordinary people (practising the bodhisattva path) are: (11) to teach emptiness to those whose mind has not been purified (and is not ready), (12) to create obstacles for the dharma [practice] of the great vehicle, (13) to (make someone) engage in the Mahayana while giving up the self liberation vows, (14) to instigate others to abandon the dharma of the smaller vehicle18, (15) to denigrate others in order to obtain praise and fame, (16) to lie saying that one has realised emptiness when one has not, (17) to pass on the donations given to the [Three] Jewels to someone who is not worthy to receive them, (18) to take away the provisions of a meditator who then has to abandon [his practice of] meditative absorption and to give them to someone who is just doing recitations without faith.
These are the eighteen root downfalls concerning the [bodhisattva] vows. If such a transgression has occurred, one will fall into Avici, the hell of unspeakable torment. (In order to purify these acts) confess these downfalls again and again in front of the bodhisattva Akashagarbha (Namkai Nyingpo19) and promise to keep the vows. In brief, you should never even abandon someone whom you consider as an enemy, (but remain open for when) the time will come that he needs your help. With this attitude I lay open and confess all the transgressions as explained concerning the bodhisattva training.
The confession of transgressions concerning the vows of the tantrayana20:
These vows should not be explained in public or to unprepared, feeble minded people. You should keep them secret in your mind. The 14 root downfalls of the mantrayana are:
(1) to disrespect the lama, (2) to transgress the Buddha's word, (3) to be angry at one's [vajra] brothers and sisters, (4) to give up love and (5) to give up bodhicitta, (6) to disrespect (non-buddhist) spiritual teachings, (7) to disclose secrets (of the vajrayana transmission), (8) to despise the 5 aggregates21, (9) to disbelieve pure dharmas22, (10) to have love for malicious ones23, (11) to apply discursive concepts24, (12) to create regret in those who have faith, (13) not to rely on samaya substances25, (14) to disrespect women.
If you keep the tantric vows, they will be the root of all accomplishments. If you damage them, they are the root of all faults and downfalls. Pledging to them, they are the root of all samayas. That is why they are [called] the 14 root downfalls of the mantrayana.
The [transgressions of the] eight secondary vows are:
(1) to rely on a wisdom lady who is not yet mature, (2) to quarrel at the time of the tsog gathering, (3) to accept dütsi with improper characteristics26, (4) not to teach the secret mantra to those who are fitting vessels, (5) not to teach the noble dharma to those who have faith27, (6) to stay seven days together with a shravaka who is striving towards a personal benefit28, (7) to boast with being a "tantrika" while not having the primordial awareness of the yoga29, (8) to explain the dharma to unfit vessels. These are the secondary tantric vows.
For this reason I lay open and confess the samaya damages of the secret mantra: the 14 root downfalls of the mantrayana, and the transgressions of the eight secondary vows.
I lay open and confess all harmful deeds which I did not understand to be harmful: the non-virtuous deeds that I have committed due to not requesting vows and all evil deeds of which I was not aware of as actually being harmful, like impure conduct (sexual activity), drinking alcohol and so on due to desire.
I lay open and confess the serious transgressions and downfalls due to receiving refuge vows of a genyen30, initiations and so on, but not knowing to keep the respective vows and commitments.
Since a confession will not purify if there is no regret, I confess with great remorse, with shame, and with despair at my previous harmful deeds, as if poison had attained the depth of my being. This is applying the "force of repentance" in relation to our previous acts.
Since there will be no purification if I am not keeping to my vows from now on, I promise in my mind, from today onwards, never to commit non-virtuous activity even at the cost of my life. This is applying the "force of renunciation" by keeping the vows present in our mind from now on. For a true confession these two [forces] are very important.
Please, Sugata Measureless Light and your heirs, grant your blessing so that my stream of being may be completely purified.
This concludes the branch of confession.


Fourth branch: Rejoicing

When I hear about others who have accomplished wholesome acts, like spreading the teaching of the victorious ones and erecting supports of enlightened body, speech and mind etc., I abandon all unwholesome thoughts of jealousy and rejoice in their deeds with heartfelt joy, which is said to make us progressively obtain a merit equal to theirs.
A previous Buddha together with his retinue was invited by a king for a meal. At that occasion, when he was requested to dedicate the roots of virtue, the Buddha said: "Great King, since your aspiration to perform virtuous deeds is small, the roots of virtue [of this feast] will be obtained by this old mother next to you who really rejoices."
For this reason, since it is like this, I rejoice in whatever virtuous deeds are accomplished by realised and ordinary beings.
I also rejoice in the vast activity accomplished for the benefit of beings due to developing the mind of supreme unsurpassable enlightenment.
I rejoice in giving up the ten unwholesome and performing the ten wholesome acts: the three virtuous acts with the body which are to protect the life of others, to give offerings, and to keep one’s vows; the four virtuous acts with speech which are to speak the truth, to reconcile adversaries, to speak peacefully, gently and sincerely, and to engage in conversations which are meaningful; and the four virtuous acts with the mind which are to have little desire, to cultivate love and compassion and to give up erroneous views (like for example) about acts and their consequences (karma) which make dharma practice impossible and to practise the Dharma – in all these virtuous acts I rejoice.
Fifth branch: Requesting to turn the Wheel of Dharma
I exhort all those perfect buddhas who dwell in all the myriad worlds of the ten directions to quickly and extensively turn the wheel of dharma without waiting any longer. Praying like this: Please be aware of this request with your clairvoyant mind.
Sixth branch: Praying that the buddhas may not pass beyond suffering
I supplicate all the buddhas, bodhisattvas, holders of the teaching, and spiritual friends who intend to go beyond suffering to remain and not pass into nirvana.
Seventh branch: Dedication
As it was shown, I dedicate all my virtuous acts of the three times for the benefit of all sentient beings. Dedicating the roots of virtue in this way will multiply the virtue a hundred thousand times.

i     This means without considering Amitabha to be far away and wishing that he would be nearer by.
ii     Limitless Radiance (Tibetan: Nangwa Thayä) is another name of Amitabha.
iii     Padmasambhava and Orgyen Rinpoche are further names of Guru Rinpoche who was the central figure in bringing the dharma to Tibet.
iv     The extremes of samsara are all forms of clinging to existence, non-existence and so on.
v     Someone gone to bliss (Sanskrit: sugata) is a fully accomplished buddha.
vi     In the usual list we find the bilwa fruit instead of kusha grass.
vii     The list usually includes at this place a medicine made from elephant brain.
viii     The Tibetan text has nyi-ma which means sun, but usually there would be nya-ma, fish, which stands for two golden fishes.
ix Nagas are beings of the animal realm, some of which have half human, half fish or serpent form.
x     In the usual list of the 5 extreme crimes of immediate retribution one includes creating a schism in the sangha instead of killing the teacher.
xi     Arhat stands here for any realised being including bodhisattvas.
xii     Three realms refers to the desire, form and formless realms which together make up the whole universe.
xiii     The self liberation vows are called outer vows because they concern the outer level of our existence, our visible behaviour.
xiv     The following five categories are a summarised list of transgressions of the vows of buddhist monks.
xv     The four negative actions are called the four "black dharmas" in Tibetan. They are explained in the next paragraph.
xvi     The superior ones are bodhisattvas and all the people who have taught us : our parents, teachers, etc.
xvii     To steal the wealth of the jewels is for example misusing donations given to a community of practitioners or to destroy and rob the precious items found in a temple or monastery etc.
xviii     For example by claiming that the smaller vehicle does not lead to liberation from emotions.
xix     Akashagarbha is one of the eight bodhisattvas belonging to the sangha of the Buddha. Here he represents this sangha.
xx     Tantrayana, mantrayana and vajrayana are synonyms. The explanations given here belong more specifically to the anuttara yoga tantra, the highest form of tantra.
xxi     To despise the five aggregates means to despise one's body and mind.
xxii     To disbelieve pure dharmas : the Tibetan word chö also means phenomena, so this can also mean to regard phenomena as impure when, in the tantra, they are considered as being pure by nature.
xxiii     To have love for malicious ones means to engage in close friendship with people whose views are against the dharma and who intend to harm.
xxiv     One should not apply discursive concepts on what is free of them by nature, on ultimate truth for example.
xxv     Not to rely on samaya substances means not to accept even a tiny bit of a tsog substance because of for example a personal dietary choice against meat or alcohol.
xxvi     To accept dütsi with improper characteristics means dütsi which is received from an improper consort. 
xxvii     Not to teach the dharma also means not to answer to sincere questions on the dharma, but to turn them into derision.
xxviii     To stay seven days together with a shravaka who is striving towards a personal benefit is a transgression because one might be influenced to rely on a lower vehicle; also the shravaka might be disturbed in his practice. xxix     Yoga refers hear to the union of wisdom and means.
xxx     Genyen means friend of virtue and refers to the first level of vows of a lay practitioner.

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