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.



Travel Log—Commemorating Shamarpa's Parinirvana with Karmapa in Kalimpong

See the original in French

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Speed, fire and possible distraction

This time it started at 6 am (half an hour earlier than expected, luckily we were warned 10 minutes ahead of time). The Gyalwa Karmapa was not present, but Lodro Rabsel and Shabdrung Rinpoches arrived the day before and joined us for the ritual of course. And most importantly, the altar of the temple was decorated with the stupa of Shamarpa with its relics. One of the reasons for the Karmapa's absence the day before was because he had accomplished the rabne (the consecration) of the stupa. Other than that, I would almost say that this is the routine: we immerse ourselves in the different phases of Gyalwa Gyamtso with, it seems, less fatigue than yesterday. The break arrives.

The Stupa of Shamar Rinpoche

Coming back from the break, the temple is empty and the monks wait outside the door. I am a little perplexed and ask one of the monks (I have already spoken with him, he is a khenpo specialized in the history of lineages and poetry)

- Excuse me, I do not know the rules of the place well, why is everyone waiting outside the door when the break is over and the temple is empty?
“Probably because His Holiness will eventually arrive. Perhaps.”
A silence and he continues:
“But it could also be for no reason.” He says that very seriously, but I can see a smile deep in his eyes.
Finally umze Ngedon comes, the master of ceremony
“That is why, in fact”, concludes the khenpo, as if he discovered it himself: the monks were waiting for the umze.

The umze enters the temple first, followed by the elders, followed by the others. I sneak in. We practice. The morning ends.

Beautiful work!

In the afternoon, we meet in the temple as early as 1 pm. Karmapa is present. And there, buckle-up: the ritual that took five hours the previous days hurtled through the afternoon in just two and a half hours. Gone are the slow melodies with the floating syllables, no more rehearsals, everything is read once. You can feel that there are weighty matters to follow. At the break, everyone goes down to the yard in front of the plastic tent where everything was prepared for the jinsek.

Preparations for the jinsek

The offerings for fire

Jinsek? A fire ritual. It is not the ritual of purification by the smoke in which fire is the offering. Here, fire represents the divinity. There are as many jinsek as there are yidam. It is a practice that takes place after an accumulation of a divinity mantra and brings together all the accomplishments for the practitioners and those that are related to them.

The tent set up for the officiates

The tent was adapted to the ritual and Karmapa wore the ornaments of the dakas and dakinis. One feels a crescendo in the process. Everyone takes a place (or more exactly is placed by the master of discipline) and those who have not been placed have to sort themselves out. That's my case. A monk invites me to sit beside him, I sit down and find myself facing the Karmapa who is on the other side of the courtyard (hence the few photos I could take; in general, as I am sitting with the monks, I am not to move to take pictures and I feel that taking them from where I am isn't appreciated! I received a glare from the master of discipline. I did not abuse, so he did not say anything - tacit agreement)

The fire ritual is an extension of the benevolent mechanism of the drupcho: fire, offerings, music, wishes. Compassion is once again at work beyond appearances. I contemplate Karmapa, who unfolds his activity with power and ease! Looks like he's been doing this for 900 years ... The ritual is finished, he leaves and lets the moment float a little before everyone resumes their activities (especially those who put away the remains of the ritual).

Tomorrow is the last day and I realize that here the spiritual form entirely unfolds: temples, rituals, thangkas, statues, music, songs and melodies, these monks that evolve like an organism , the masters... I have the impression that if you get carried away by the forms, you risk missing the essential. My teachers have taught me that the quintessence of training is always to return to the essential: the essence of phenomena, the essence of emotions, the essence of appearances, and the essence of the mind. And what if this extravagant ceremony diverted us from the essence and was ultimately a distraction? In reality, it depends on how you live it.

In this regard, I spotted a phrase in the Gyalwa Gyamtso ritual:

"Look, look at your own mind.
The mind-in-itself has not the slightest existence.
This intrinsic, unreal mind
It is the great wonder of the multitude of appearances.
The appearance is nothing but the mind. "

For me, this is where the generosity of the kagyu masters lies; it is the real fireworks (without artifice) of the instructions on the nature of the mind that leads us to recognize our own, beyond words. It is universal. That said there is no contradiction with the formal aspects, on the contrary. The text also says:
"The mind manifests itself as the essence of clarity,
Deploying a variety of skilful means
For beings with different dispositions.
Through a multitude of activities. "

Some know how to take refuge in the sangha

And make no mistake (forgive me for formulating this as advise), "skilful means" means "compassionate means" and the nature of compassion is to free us, not to distract us. This is what I learned from the teachings of Gyalwa Karmapa.

In fact, tomorrow morning practices will end with the destruction of the sand mandala by pouring it into the river. And I do not even know what time it starts.

Lama Puntso


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