16th Karmapa with a young Jigme Rinpoche

40 Years or No, Gratitude Abides

When we began reflecting on Dhagpo’s 40th anniversary, anything was possible, so I’ll spare you the most farfetched ideas we came up with. The question was simple: how do we celebrate 14,600 days of activity, thousands of course participants—from the simply curious to the committed practitioner, hundreds of the most diverse teachings and the most profound transmissions, the most eminent Buddhist masters, the devoted and ceaseless activity of Gendun Rinpoche and Jigme Rinpoche, the support of each and every one at every level to realize what we call “Karmapa’s five wishes,” which have, today, been accomplished.

To start it all off, we spent a day cooking up ideas amongst the volunteers, a big group brainstorm, think tanks in small groups, and finally the dance of meetings of dialogue, reflection, and development. Through scrutinizing the ideas amongst ourselves and with Jigme Rinpoche, the project became progressively more clear. In short, the 40th anniversary took shape.

From the beginning one thing was clear: following Shamarpa’s departure, the notion of throwing a party was out of the question. Then, two key ideas revealed themselves: celebration and gratitude. And finally, we realized we could not limit this anniversary to a single event. The decision was made: we would need a full year to do justice to forty years of activity.

In four decades, Dhagpo has cultivated and disseminated important values. As Karmapa Thaye Dorje said, “Real wealth comes from appreciating everything, whatever there is in life. Real wealth comes from Inner Wealth.” Forty years of developing this inner wealth is what we’re going to celebrate. And thus, some twenty events will take place throughout the year.

Teachings: We made the choice to get back to the essentials: impermanence with Shabdrung Rinpoche, the Four Thoughts with Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, faith and the relationship of master and disciple with Jigme Rinpoche, and also a question: “What does Buddhism have to offer the West,” with Lama Jampa Thaye.

Practice: A grand accumulation of the mantra of Chenrezig, the guru yoga of 16th Karmapa with Jigme Rinpoche along with a week of Tara Practice. And also life-release of animals facing death and planting trees, signs of development to come.

Discovery: Dhagpo’s history in photos and stories as well as a round table with the mayors and officials who supported Dhagpo from its early years.

The slogan for these celebrations is, “Our connections shape the future.”

This year is also about opening doors to the future and presence of Buddhism in society. We will explore three themes: youth, the working world, and end-of-life through seminars, comparative perspectives, and shared experiences. We are likewise envisioning the meeting of Buddhism and the sciences.

And finally, the KTTs are of course connected with the 40th anniversary; up to each center to choose its own fashion to connect with the event.

A quote from Jigme Rinpoche, “Our happiness resides within us, and not in external conditions; if we connect with our own essence, we will be truly present to life and know happiness.” For me, this instruction is the axis of everything that has happened at Dhagpo since the beginning, to allow each and every individual to be present to life and know happiness.

Forty years or no, I am filled with deep gratitude.