Composed by His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
like nectar flowing from a spring on a snowy mountain face,
from some highest of realms high above,
with effortless vigor and a deep, unprompted longing,
drop after divine drop, each pristine and pure,
you crossed the mountains and plains of hundreds of months and years,
to come cascading down, down into the land of our hopes.
coursing through deep aspirations you held, held through the stream of many lives,
from some place completely obscured to us, you gave gentle warmth and nourished us.
since then, the tender young sprouts of virtuous minds
have blossomed with leaves and fruit,
and land once scorched with drought burst into life turquoise-green.
when a snow lion roars on a white mountain peak
the sound at once sends the crisp flakes swirling in a flurry.
when you arrived in the year eleven-ten
the lion’s roar of your majestic name blazed forth,
spreading its unchanging splendor and unequalled blessings.
day and night, for nine hundred years,
it has set trembling the hearts of those with faith, scared away the sleep of our ignorance
and stilled the waves of thought that trouble the ocean of our minds.
with the fearful crash of its sound, the haughty become hushed and still.
because you are here, we dare to face the angry countenance of the samsaric sea.
because you are here, we know that there is an end to this suffering.
the world, its voice raised in cries of birth and death, falls silent.
your deeds blend completely with a sky as deep blue as your brilliant crown.
your great heart, like a splendid mandala of wind,
keeps this world ever moved.
O Karmapa, you who act,
I am all that you have. and you are all that I have.
As the Kagyu monlam begins I would like to share a feast song, a ganachakra celebration, composed by the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje.
With the monlam and all of its blessings in mind, I offer this song. May the Kagyu monlam benefit all beings, and may the activities of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje be vast!
A Feast Song in Lhasa
I salute the guru Jewel.
In the ocean of true essence
arise multitudes of unreal concepts,
like varied patterns in the water.
Therefore I practice the following.
This heroic feast- the culmination of merit
for the profound mother tantra-
was taught to increase the merit of beings.
Thus do I understand its meaning:
Beings of the beginning stage
should visualize their body as a deity
at this stage of imaginative engagement.
Purify food and drink into nectar,
and offer the skandhas to the victorious sages.
This is called the great feast:
heros and heroines equal in number,
who have attained high realizations,
contemplate the essence of void and bliss
amid the abundance of food and drink.
Great is the assembly at the feast!
Since all heros have gathered,
it is called the joyous feast of heros.
The Master knows the way of mantra,
his mindstream is empowered,
he understands the essential precepts;
disciple-hosts of heroines and heros,
together engage in full absorption-
the stages of generation and completion-
immeasurable are the attainments of the feast.
Those who do not possess such virtues,
and wrongly take out of self-importance,
will encounter obstacles; this is foretold.
Though I have not seen the assembled heros,
I have sung the essence of the tantric scriptures;
for this is called the essential instruction.
Be inspired with wondrous admiration.
Join the celebration, partake fully in the feast!
(This poem was sung in Lhasa at the assembly gathered to celebrate a religious feast on the evening of the eighth day of the tenth month of the dragon year)[i]
[i] Taken from Songs of Spiritual Experience, trans. By Thupten Jinpa and Jas Elsner. Shambala, 2000.
It has always felt to me that if Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche was the essence of Milarepa, then Kaybje Bokar Rinpoche was the essence of Gampopa. While I never had the chance to meet Kalu Rinpoche, I have met many Tibetan, American, British and French students of Rinpoche who often spoke of his direct orientation towards practice, his passion for transmitting instruction, and his easy going trust in the dharma- these seem to be qualities that I associate with Milarepa.
Similarly, Bokar Rinpoche with his purity of heart, emphasis upon transmission of the lineage teachings and stainless vinaya, truly does remind me of qualities that were emblematic of Je Gampopa. In expressing the direct simplicity of mind, Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche was known as a great master of Mahamudra.
That they both maintained, preserved and expanded the Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya is important. Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche can be credited with establishing the Kagyu monlam in Bodh Gaya. When he began the monlam it was a small informal gathering. After his passing, Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche continued the practice of maintaining and further developing the Kagyu monlam; it slowly grew and grew. I attended several of these earlier monlams where Bokar Rinpoche and Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche presided over a much smaller number of monks, nuns and lamas than those that attend present monlam celebrations. They were a combination of grand and intimate, which seemed just right for reciting aspiration prayers and receiving inspiration.
After His Holiness the 17th Karmapa escaped from Tibet in January of 2000 and was allowed to travel inside of India, he presided over the monlam. Its as if Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche and Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche were keeping his Holiness’ seat warm under the bodhi tree. Since the sudden death of Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, the monlam has been run by Lama Chodrak (the lama he appointed to organize the monlam) and the monlam committee. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa has also taken a strong role in monlam planing, and feels strongly about its mission and goals.
With their activities in mind I offer this song of supplication written by Kaybje Bokar Rinpoche. May it be of benefit!!
Wide Wings That Lift Us to Devotion: A supplication
A Vajra song by Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche
Spiritual master, think of me! Think of me!
Source of all blessings, root spiritual master, think of me!
Spiritual Master, think of me! Think of me!
Epitome of all accomplishment, root spiritual master, think of me!
Spiritual master, think of me! Think of me!
Agent of all enlightened activity, root spiritual master, think of me!
Spiritual master, think of me! Think of me!
All refuges in one, root spiritual master, think of me!
Turn all beings’ minds, with mine, towards the Teachings.
Bless me that all stages of the faultless path-
Renunciation, the mind of awakening, and the correct view-
Genuinely arise in my being.
May I dwell untouched by the faults of pride and wrong views
Toward the Teachings and the teacher of freedom’s sublime path.
May steadfast faith, devotion and pure vision
Lead me to fully achieve the two goals for others and myself.
The Human tantric master introduces my intrinsic essence.
The master in the Joyful Buddha’s Canon instills certainty.
The symbolic master in appearances enriches experience.
The ultimate master, the nature of reality, sparks realization of the abiding nature.
Finally, within the state of the master inseparable from my own mind,
All phenomena of existence and transcendence dissolve into the nature of reality’s expanse;
The one who affirmed, denied and clung to things as real vanishes into the absolute expanse-
May I then fully realize the effortless body of ultimate enlightenment!
In all my lifetimes, may I never be separate from the true spiritual master.
May I enjoy the Teachings’ glorious wealth,
Completely achieve the paths and stages’ noble qualities,
And swiftly reach the state of Buddha Vajra Bearer.
In 1995, in response to requests from two translators, Lama Tcheucky and Lama Namgyal, on behalf of my foreign disciples, I, Karma Ngedon Chokyi Lodro, who holds the title of Bokar Tulku, wrote this at my home in Mirik Monastery. May it prove meaningful.[i]
[i] Zangpo, Ngawang. trans. Timeless Rapture: Inspired Verse of the Shangpa Masters. Snow Lion Publications. 2003. Ithaca, NY., Pg. 215-217.
In honor of the approaching 28th annual Kagyu monlam in Bodh Gaya I would like to share a pith instruction of His Holiness the 19th Karmapa Rangjung Rikpai Dorje. While every year is special, and every Kagyu monlam is truly a wonderous event, this year’s monlam coincides with the 900 year anniversary of the birth of the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. This is a moment to celebrate and praise the history of the Kamstang Kagyu Lineage and all of its wonderous lineage holders, siddhas, yogins and yoginis. Emaho! I am humbled to know that His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Drodul Trinley Dorje will be leading the prayers along with the leading lineage holders of the Kagyu lineage.
You can learn more about this year’s monlam, its schedule and special activities here.
His Holiness the 16th Karmapa on pointing out the nature of mind
Here, in the thick darkness of deluded ignorance,
There shines a vajra chain of awareness, self-arisen with whatever appears.
Within uncontrived vividness, unimpeded through the three times,
May we arrive at the capital of nondual, great bliss.
Think of me, think of me; guru dharmakaya think of me.
In the center of the budding flower in my heart
Glows the self-light of dharmakaya, free of transference and change,
that I have never been separate from.
This is the unfabricated wisdom of clarity-emptiness, the three kayas free of discursiveness.
This is the true heart, the essence, of the dharmakaya, equality.
Through relying on the display of the unfabricated, unceasing, unborn, self-radiance,
May we arrive at the far shore of samsara and nirvana- the great, spontaneous presence.
May we enter the forest of the three solitudes, the capital of the forebears of the practice lineage.
May we seize the fortress of golden rosary of the Kagyu.
O what pleasure, what joy my vajra siblings!
Let us make offerings to dharmakaya, the great equal taste.
Let us go to the great dharmadhatu, alpha purity free from fixation.
They have thoroughly pacified the ocean of millions of thoughts.
They do not move from the extreme-free ocean of basic space.
They posses the forms that perfect all the pure realms into one-
May the auspiciousness of the ocean of the protectors of being be present.