The Anniversary of Gampopa

On this full moon day, the Karmapa Center 16 performed the Guru Yoga written by Dabzang Ngedon Tenpa Rabgye to honor the parinirvana of one of the forefathers of the Kagyu Lineage, Lord Gampopa, whose heart son was Düsum Khyenpa, the first Karmapa. In performing this Guru Yoga, the Karmapa Center 16 joined other monasteries, centers, and individuals all over the world that recalled the kindness of Gampopa, today.

Celebrating His Holiness’ Birthday

Today the Karmapa Center 16 held a ceremonial ritual in celebration of His Holiness Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s 36th birthday, with aspiration prayers for his long life and the flourishing of his activity. It was followed by a traditional tea and rice offering to His Holiness and everyone gathered. 

Fifteenth Story Update: Tara and her connection to the Kagyu Lineage

White Tara by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. 

In a recent post, we learned that one of the main practices of the 16th Karmapa was Tara, but did you know that White Tara was His Holiness the 16th Karmapa’s’ yidam? We practice Tara for three main reasons: She is powerful, her blessings are fast, and she is immeasurably kind.

White Tara is practiced by all four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and is the main deity of other Buddhist practitioners and scholars, including the great master Atisha. She played an important role helping Buddhism flourish once again in Tibet, following some great obstacles, when Atisha was invited to Tibet to reestablish the teachings. Wondering whether he should go or not, Atisha supplicated the White Tara statue in Bodhgaya. She appeared to him in a pure vision and said his journey would be a complete success, that it would benefit many sentient beings, but it would lessen the years of his life. 

Due to his great bodhicitta, Atisha went ahead to Tibet and, as prophesied by Tara, accomplished the enormous task of revitalizing and reforming the teachings, and founding Kadampa Buddhism. With good reason, Tara has since been one of the four main yidams of the Kadampa lineage. 

Tara is also an important deity in the Kagyu lineage that began when Milarepa’s student Gampopa integrated the Mahamudra teachings of Milarepa with the Kadampa teachings of Atisha, including the practice of Tara. Green Tara symbolizes the fearless and compassionate energy of our mind’s true nature and the resolve to dispel suffering and fear, while White Tara is associated with longevity and healing practice. 

KC16 will join Nalandabodhi International for its fifth annual Tara Drupchen to be held online from September 24 to 27, 2020, offering prayers and smoke pujas in Tibetan. 

As a precursor to the Tara Drupchen, please enjoy this special audio file of Tara practice in Tibetan recorded in the shrine room at KC16:

We hope you will join us for the Drupchen! The event is free and everyone is welcome to participate by joining practices online, making prayer requests, aspirations, and offerings, and choosing to #gokind in thought, word, and deed. For information and registration please email: communications@nalandabodhi.org.

Twelfth Story Update: Joyful Chökhor Düchen Greetings

His Holiness the 16th Karmapa prostrating to statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.
Photo Courtesy of Shambhala Archives

A joyful Chökhor Düchen to each and every one of you from The Karmapa Center 16! This day marks the first time the Buddha Shakyamuni turned the wheel of Dharma. This holiday celebrates the day the Buddha taught on the Four Noble Truths in Deer Park in Sarnath, thus laying the ground for the entire Buddhist teachings and path. This important day falls on the fourth day of the sixth lunar month in the Tibetan calendar each year, or July 24, 2020 this year.

It is believed that positive actions done on the anniversary of this sacred day are multiplied 100 million times over. 

Therefore, it is a wonderful time to come together in practice and uplifted celebration in honor of the Buddha individually and collectively – however that is safely possible. Perhaps at this time of continued COVID-19 seclusion invite a few Dharma friends to gather online and reflect on the Buddha and our good fortune in being able to walk in his footsteps through his teachings. 

Practicing generosity is also excellent! Consider performing an act of kindness, such as offering food, helping a being in need, planting a tree, supporting family, friends, sangha, co-workers, strangers, the community around you and so forth.

We invite you to share your completed positive action with KC16’s bot via: m.me/KarmapaCenter16. #GoKind.

Finally, dedicate the merit of all your actions toward the enlightenment of all sentient beings.

Wishing you a day filled with great appreciation for the Buddha and his teachings in your life, and all the great and small moments of being together in community, with health, joy and prosperity!

Fourth Story Update: James Gimian Shares His [Video] Recollections About His Holiness the 16th Karmapa

“The 16th Gyalwang Karmapa seldom gave Dharma teachings through words but taught intensively through physical gestures and tamed beings through his mere presence. One of his major activities was to liberate all those who saw him … so there is undoubtedly great value in any visual connection made with him.”*

— His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa

During this difficult time of the global coronavirus pandemic, we can find solace and inspiration by seeing images, watching videos, and perhaps recalling one’s own experience of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. His spontaneous and joyous actions benefited beings wherever and in whatever way conditions permitted, despite any obstacles. 

We are pleased to present a way to visually connect with the 16th Karmapa by sharing photographs and videos about him. Contemplating his life and the lives of other lineage masters can benefit our mind stream and help us find the courage to open our hearts as we move through distressing times. When we benefit ourselves in this way, we are better equipped to support others both directly and indirectly.

We hope these offerings about His Holiness are indeed uplifting and an inspiration for yourself, your family, friends, colleagues and communities. We will soon include new ways to share acts of kindness so that those positive actions may ripple outward to be felt far and wide.  

This week’s video features James Gimian, who first became involved with Buddhism in 1972, as a student of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Two years later, he held a lead role during His Holiness the 16th Karmapa’s first visit to the United States for the ten day Dharma Festival in San Francisco, in 1974. In the video interview Mr. Gimian, who is the publisher of Mindful Magazine, describes how His Holiness was a vital catalyst for introducing Buddhism to the West by facilitating “the diaspora of the teachings coming to the west.” 

Knowing that His Holiness was instrumental in the blossoming of Buddhism in Western culture, Mr. Gimian also recognizes how the Stupa in Wadsworth, in the Heartland of America, will serve as “ground zero for the dharma becoming deeply rooted in North American soil.” 

The story of His Holiness’ positive influences on those who cared for him at the end of his life in Illinois, reminds us of the power we all have to make a difference in the lives of others and vice versa. It made us think with tremendous gratitude and prayers for the safety of the millions of brave and selfless pandemic healthcare workers around the world. We can also follow His Holiness’ example and express gratitude, kindness, joy, generosity, and compassion in our everyday interactions regardless of challenging circumstances. We can be the positive change we all long for.

We give great thanks to everyone who has generously donated to help bring this vision to fruition by supporting our campaign for the Stupa. While the campaign will continue through June, we understand that making a donation is not possible for many at this time. Should you be able to give or feel moved to support the campaign at any point, your gift will be gratefully received.

We wish you all good health and well being, and look forward to sharing more about His Holiness with you next week.

*Excerpted from Dharma King: The Life of the 16th Karmapa in Images

James Gimian shares the significance of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa’s visits to North America. Video produced by Sam Scoggins. (Click on photo to view video)

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa visits The Karmapa Center 16

The Karmapa Center 16 was honored to receive a visit from His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, August 30–September 1 in Wadsworth, Illinois. His Holiness arrived early evening on Thursday August 30th. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche, staff and friends of KC16 were overjoyed to receive His Holiness and His Entourage for tea and rice followed by dinner.

His Holiness came to make a good auspicious connection for the success of the building of the Parinirvana Stupa for His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. On the bright sunny morning of Friday, August 31st the 17th Karmapa conducted a smoke puja and planted an evergreen in an auspicious location near the future stupa site. A sun halo sparkled overhead as devotees relaxed in the fields and gardens after the event.

KC16 hosted a dinner on Friday evening to the music of sandhill cranes and cicadas. Wadsworth Mayor Glenn Ryback, Board Trustees Doug Jacobs and Jim Zegar along with local friends and supporters enjoyed conversation, laughter and dining on the lawn with the 17th Karmapa, Ponlop Rinpoche and Drupon Rinpoche.

His Holiness returned for lunch on Saturday to give some words of advice for the project.

Photos courtesy of Lama Tenzin Namdak, Acharya Lama Jampa and Damayonti Sengupta.

Architectural Plans

The preliminary draft plans drawn by architect Keith Spruce show that the parinirvana stupa will be on the western third of the ten-acre property. The 30 foot stupa will be enclosed by a building with the entrance facing east towards the cancer center. This stupa and meditation hall will offer seating for over 100 meditators and enable circumambulation around the stupa from the inside as well as the outside. The current proposal includes windows around the top portion of the stupa in order to be visible from the outside.

The current 17th Gyalwang Karmapa continues to employ ethical programs for living in harmony with the environment, such as the Khoryug Environmental Protection Program: Khoryug Vision. To this extent, our goals include environmental conservation and sustainable environmentally responsible practices proposed wherever possible for new construction, remodeling or removal of buildings proposed on this site. For example, we are considering uses of gray-water recycling, composting toilets & dry urinals, green roofs, natural native landscaping, natural storm water retention and processing on-site, pervious pavement areas, low-energy use buildings utilizing passive and active energy conservation system, among other considerations. Our intention is to minimize the impact on the natural environment as much as possible while restoring and harmonizing our proposed site development plans with the natural rural surroundings and improvements.