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.


  • A lama as a person

He was at the same time a demanding father who sometimes instilled fear and a mother, always supportive in times of difficulty; entering into a relationship with him could not be done on the basis of attachment since he always established his contact through the Dharma. That forced us to reposition ourselves in order to find the right distance based on confidence. The miracle is that he arrived at 57 years of age, in a country and culture he did not know, meeting with people whose language he never spoke; he sat down, some came to ask his advice, he began to teach and everything built up around him: study and meditation centers, retreat centers and monasteries. Laughingly he remarked: “What’s a lama? It’s someone who talks and drinks tea!” He talked a lot and he also drank tea. That was only the visible part of a continual and unconditional deployment of what he himself jokingly called his obsession: compassion. Compassion supported on wisdom with no veils. This is how lamas Döndam and Shedrup expressed their experience during the three days of homage to Gendun Rinpoche.

  • The ultimate lama

As Rinpoche said himself, “the lama is not this group of impure aggregates wrapped up in silk robes. The real lama, the ultimate master is our own mind, wisdom and compassion. That is what he harnessed throughout his twenty years in France: to allow each and every one to find his inner lama, the ultimate lama. Gendun Rinpoche himself embodied the completion of the three trainings! He expressed an infallible ethic based on the enlightened mind. He spread the fruit of mahamudra meditation, constantly introducing us to the détente and non-distraction. He personified wisdom and discernment, his target was the “da dzin” or self grasping, he gave to each and every one according to his capacities and through a thousand methods the means of freeing oneself. At the heart of his activity was faith: an indefectible confidence in the three Jewels and an infinite devotion towards his masters and particularly towards the Karmapa. Moreover, to look closely, he did nothing other than put the instructions of the 16th Karmapa into action only to offer the fruit to Thaye Dorje, the 17th.

  • The lama of instructions

We didn’t want to spend three days of just nostalgic homage, a sort of returning to a lost past. It was just the opposite: we, together, showed (as if it was still necessary!) that the heritage of Gendun Rinpoche is always present. And very present! Nearly 100 people participated in what became a small retreat of intensive practice. We alternated moments of memories, accumulations of Mani and Milarepa meditation. The afternoon, since the pause was longer; we accomplished the Mahakala practice. Hence, the three roots to which Rinpoche initiated us were present: the lama, the yidam and the protectors. The best homage that one can give his master is to put his instructions to work.

  • The lama of the situation

Throughout the testimonials, we remembered how Gendun Rinpoche demonstrated to everyone how to preserve the opening. As the risk of meditation is to remain around oneself and in the end, in the name of pacification, fixing the mind, he invited everyone to invest themselves in the activity and to open up to others. In this manner, by combining reflection, meditation and activity, the mind becomes more flexible. Leather is at first very stiff; by tanning it, it becomes flexible. The same is true for the mind, rigid in the beginning then becoming adaptable through practice, a.k.a. capable of kindness (he was fond of these types of images). And then, to work together, first we are like rocks; it is only by rubbing them against each other that they become polished. Whatever the situation, it is by going to confront our emotions and grasping that we can see them and transform them. That is how we can say, in front of every difficulty: “the lama has arrived”. At that point we can see the situation as an instruction from the lama who is showing us our limits, as well as the possibility to go beyond them.

  • The spontaneous activity of the lama

Throughout the three days, there was testimony from people and the relation they had with Gendun Rinpoche. Whether they knew him or not, had met him or not, the contact had been decisive each time. For example: “I didn’t know Gendun Rinpoche, but I feel his presence in my heart. It is an enlightened presence in my very core. It gives me great confidence in the teaching. It is inseparable from other masters and of the mind.” Or another, “I didn’t know him either, but I have the feeling that he came to get me.” Lama Dondam reminds us that we don’t need to be present near the lama in order to benefit from his blessing; it is the confidence which leads to the dimension of enlightenment. The inverse is also true: we can remain years in the presence of a lama and see him as an ordinary being. In that case nothing happens. And then there were those that knew him: “I came to Dhagpo without really knowing what it was all about, I didn’t know lama Gendun and someone suggested I receive his blessing. I found myself in front of him in his room. He took my head in his hands, recited a few prayers and I was struck! It profoundly changed my life.” There are many stories that show that his was spontaneous activity of a bodhisattva: his mind being so vast, full of compassion and wisdom that his activity knows no limits neither in time nor space. This is what the homage prayer composed by Shamar Rinpoche says: “streams of his compassion flow in the chalice of beings.”

  • The living lama

We finished the three intensive days, refreshed from the recollection of qualities of the master, the lama in all his forms: exterior and interior, the lama of the situation, the ultimate lama in the practice. It is the fruit of one of the most beautiful gifts which Karmapa gave us Westerners, to send us a rare jewel: Gendun Rinpoche. He also sent us his heart in the person of Jigme Rinpoche, who regularly reminds us of the importance of preserving this heritage and to continue, again and again, to make it living by putting it into practice. There is nothing more precious than having received through multiple forms the transmission of the Kagyu fathers, the essence of mahamudra. Gendun Rinpoche opened the doors to this living source of Dharma which allows everyone to obtain both relative and ultimate happiness. Through his example, his teachings and above all his presence in the heart of each one, Gendun Rinpoche is alive and well.

Puntso, Program director at Dhagpo

Dhagpo Kagyu Ling - Landrevie - 24290 Saint-Léon sur Vézère - France - 0033 5 53 50 70 75 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.