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 - In Nepal and India with lama Puntso

See the original in French

December 19, 2017

Monlam (wishes)

Throughout the years, if we take a good look, nothing looks more like a day at Kagyu monlam than another day at Kagyu monlam. The ingredients are the same: obviously, it takes place on the grounds of Buddha’s enlightenment, the Mahabodhi Temple, arranged for the occasion. The Gyalwa Karmapa is present, flanked on his right and left with the greatest masters and scholars of the lineage, thousands of monks and nuns of every nationality surround the Karmapa, thousands of lay practitioners who came from everywhere are also present.

The Gyalwa Karmapa, Jamgön Kontrul, and Beru Khyentse Rinpoches

Each day is divided by a rather elaborated seven branch prayer (lasting an hour and a half!), the recitation of different sutras, an extensive prayer to Manjushri, an accumulation of Samantabhadra’s wishes, the other kagyu wishes (of mahamudra, of Dewatchen, of bodhicharyavatara, etc.) and we finish with a great torma offering to the three Jewels and three Roots. A long daily chant sung in one voice and led by the galvanized vocal organ of the chanting master who stops for nothing except the occasional clearing of his throat to adjust the tone.

The row of tulkus

Each day resembles the previous one, but never quite the same. The staging is the same, the words and melodies are the same. Yes but….. From one year to the next, we don’t come back the same. And from one day to another, if we’re not completely different, we’re not the same either! So, in spite of the moments of great torpor, (shared by all but not at the same time), the idea is to keep the freshness of the meaning.

Along the central stupa: offerings (in abundance)

Before beginning a day of recitation, I always remember this prayer:

“The qualities of the Buddha are inconceivable, the qualities of the Dharma are inconceivable, the qualities of the Sangha are inconceivable, through an inconceivable faith, I will realize the inconceivable fruit.”

This type of citation is not meant to spare us the reflection but it does allow us to let go of the aim of understanding in favour of a progressive contemplation that is cultivated through alternate moments of reflexion and moments of meditation. In the end, it is the blessing that gives us access to the meaning even though it is a set of conditions that actually guides us. It is by going through the unknown that the known reveals itself. The wishes are there to support this process. They provide direction, perspective. By repeating them again and again, we deepen the groove. That is why for years, these same wishes have been recited at Bodhgaya for the good of all beings.

The central shrine, just facing the Karmapa

Mipham Rinpoche and Mayoum (Karmapa’s parents) come regularly

monks and lay practitioners pray with zeal

elegant service and order volunteers

When lama Jampa meets lama Jampa (Thaye)

If I had to make a short film, I would follow these two monks. We don’t know which monastery they come from, but they are there. They recite and seem to know the texts. But just the same, there is a small unusual aspect in the public.

And as everywhere in the world: during the pauses, discussion arises….


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