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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Enthusiasm !

We could say that Karmapa closed the ceremonies of Shamar Rinpoche’s parinirvana with the transmission of long life. Hundreds of Tibetans, Indians, and Nepalese gathered to receive it. Before the transmission, Karmapa taught in Tibetan (translated into Nepalese). Then, he gave a shorter summary in English. Extract. (I quickly translated from a poor quality recording; though it may not be very precise, there are no major errors in the following texts.)

For all those who love tradition, they have all they need!

“We have the opportunity to come into spiritual excellence; the terms used in Buddha’s teaching are accumulation of merit and wisdom. For that, we must never lose enthusiasm, because at the very moment it escapes us, we become separated, we become individual, we lose coherence. That is why it is important to find a way to cultivate it. That doesn’t mean that we need to make a radical change immediately! That is obviously not possible. But if we can at least open to some curiosity, then we can go somewhere, that is to say the journey has begun. That is why we must find a way to realize that in every occasion that life offers, everything is there to gather our excellence. Whatever our responsibilities are, whether it is the responsibility of being a father or mother, starting from whatever responsibilities that we have, we have to find a way to increase enthusiasm, particularly for putting spiritual practice in place. We have to find the same enthusiasm in all that we accomplish, whatever we practice.

The crowd is gathered having just enough protection from the sun.
In front of them, a few hundred monks
then the tent where we find the Karmapa.

If not, we are neither here nor there. And before we even realize it, this physical condition which has its own limit, will decline and dissolve to finally disappear and transform into something else. It is not as if things will dramatically come to a halt, and the world will end. That is not it at all. It will simply change into something else, and we’ll have to begin all over again. That’s called samsara. To begin again, then again and again, is extremely tiring. That’s why it’s called samsara. It is not just a hazy or sinister view in which everything stops at the moment of death. That is not the case at all. We’re going to begin once again, and it is very, very tiring to begin again. That is why, if we can find enthusiasm in what we do, even if we’ve never heard a word of the Buddha’s teaching and the only thing which we have learned is what is taught in society, in that case, even a joke can be spiritual. Enthusiasm renders it spiritual. If we say, “How are you?” giving it full meaning, so we feel it from the bottom of our heart, then it is said with enthusiasm. Otherwise, it’s like we’ve just done our duty. With a lack of enthusiasm, we are nothing more than machines.

Karmapa wearing the small black crown and we can guess
(off to the right) monks are offering
the symbolic mandala of the universe.

We can wonder about when and how to begin to put enthusiasm to work. Ironically, it starts to develop through pain. This is very ironic. The Sanskrit term for this is dukkha. Exactly like a lotus flower which comes up through the mud. All the situations that we encounter are opportunities to develop enthusiasm. To find it, it is not about intentionally suffering, we simply have to focus on what appears before our eyes, within the grasp of our mind: we change progressively; we are subject to impermanence and rapidly age. It is the cause, the condition of the truth of what we are. The result is that it becomes the principal ingredient of enthusiasm.

One of the benefactors who financed the event
offers enlightened body, speech and mind to the Karmapa.

If we can find the courage, of course according to our capacities, to observe our condition which never stops changing, we will find what we are looking for and appreciate what we do. That is what gives meaning to what we do.

This is the type of enthusiasm that we need to engage in spirituality. For example, today we receive the Amitayus empowerment which generates longevity. We are programmed to aim for a long life, we always want more time: we want five more minutes, ten minutes more, ten years more, all with the aim of getting somewhere. If we cultivate this habit for itself, we’ll never get anywhere and only find ourselves exactly where we started. If, while aiming for longevity our goal is spiritual, then we will understand that our human birth is the best opportunity to extract excellence. We can obtain the essence. This does not mean any sort of power or position or a reputation. For example when Siddharta realized enlightenment, he was recognized and renamed as Buddha Gautama. It was not his goal to become famous, or powerful or even rich. He acquired the reputation of being the Buddha through his complete comprehension of what we are, of what we do, and how things are.

“Obtain a complete awareness, clear lucidity of what we are”

To possess a human condition gives us time to extract this. No other existence or rebirth allows one to obtain that. Imagine that we can extend our lives without limit, even during eons. We wouldn’t be any better off than the gods or celestial beings who have exactly this type of life; they are not considered as beings that have a precious birth. We would be in the same situation as them. So the reason for gaining in longevity is to use the time that we have to obtain a complete awareness, clear lucidity of what we are. That’s it. Nothing more. To obtain the state of Buddha has nothing to do with obtaining superpowers, or levitation. The goal is to obtain full comprehension. Then there is no more confusion. We are not blocked anywhere and we can move with ease. That is the goal.

In front, the gyalings and incense carriers,
to the sides are soldiers and an improbable bodyguard;
there are also photographers and the black hat follows just behind.
In the middle of all that, Karmapa remains Karmapa. 

With this intention, I ask you all to take the empowerment without separating anyone: the person giving the empowerment as if he is doing his job and the person receiving as if he receives an injection, like a vaccination to then go home after having received their daily ritual. That does not make sense. We have to pursue receiving the empowerment with enthusiasm by saying, “I am aware, I am here, I have this great opportunity to prolong my life to accomplish something excellent and not repeat what society incessantly repeats.” If not, we will aim for a long life only to repeat what we’ve done again and again, with nothing new. Repeating the same old things. If we want something new or fresh, it is enthusiasm that we need to develop and that will lead us somewhere.”

If that is not a teaching on the four thoughts…..


Last breakfast before leaving. Pelbar, the shedra’s secretary comes to sit at my table and we talk about the evolution of the community. His activity for the moment (and for the next three years) leads us to talk about finance and management. He explained to what extent there were no concerns as long as Shamar Rinpoche was alive. They were able to provide for all that they needed and financing all their projects. Shortly before he left for the pure lands (shortly before his death), he explained to all the monks at the shedra that they had to become more autonomous and think about financing the place as well as its management. Not too long after, Alex and Katya arrived, (one from Dhagpo Bordeaux and the other from DKL) and together they established a communication plan and a website so that the center could begin to finance itself. Pelbar adds, “Shamarpa told us that it would not be easy but it is by facing our difficulties that we mature.” After a moment of silence he finished with “and that’s true”. Today, the shedra manages to thrive and they have projects like the construction of a large temple and a guest house as a source of revenues as well as receive westerners.

Kalzang Puntso arrives, showing me his telephone (not long ago he would have shown me his watch):
-Only three minutes before departure!
-We are in the middle of a discussion with Pelbar
-But in three minutes, you can say a lot of things

I take my sack, it’s raining, Pelbar and Kalzang walk me out to the taxi. I tell them that it was raining when I arrived and now it is raining when I leave. Smiling, Pelbar responds, “Oh, that is a very good sign….probably”


Lama Puntso

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