Eighteenth Story Update: The Joy of Birds

His Holiness the 16th Karmapa in Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii. November 1976. “Feeding peacocks in Valley of the Temples.” Photo courtesy of Kagyuoffice.org website. 

Dear Friends of KC16,

During the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, adoptions and sales of pets have similarly soared around the world, bringing companionship, comfort and joy to many. His Holiness the 16th Karmapa understood that joy and extended his deep compassion and love to all animals, though most especially to birds.  

The connection between the Karmapa lineage and birds is legendary. The 10th Karmapa created artwork around birds, while the 13th Karmapa was renowned for his ability to communicate with his feathered friends. According to many students and attendants, birds literally flocked to the 16th Karmapa. Observers remarked that the Karmapa treated his birds as disciples, and they often displayed signs of meditative accomplishment in his presence.

A longtime student of His Holiness, Mary Jane Bennett, recounts a story in The Miraculous 16th Karmapa, when the Karmapa once said to her, “I don’t have to buy birds, you know. I just have to look at them and be with them. Being with them is my best medicine.” Bennett writes that she “could see that was true. After any journey to visit animals of any kind, His Holiness would return with a rosy glow on his face. When His Holiness lay dying in a hospital near Chicago, one of his close disciples, a driver and bird procurer, Steve Roth, brought a rare purple breasted gouldian finch and left it in his room. The joyful sound of birdsong would accompany his passage to parinirvana.”

Years before, Roth had asked the Karmapa why he liked birds so much. His Holiness replied, “Just try to sense their joy!”

What birds are you seeing and hearing around you? Pause, look, listen, and just be with them, as His Holiness says. Can you sense that powerful, compassionate connection with birds – or other animals? Can you feel the joy?

We send you all our best wishes and thank you for your continued interest and support of KC16.

Seventeenth Story Update: Celebrating HHK16’s Parinirvana Day!

KC16 celebrates the day His Holiness the 16th Karmapa attained Parinirvana according to the Western calendar. Therefore, November 5 is the day!

Each year a long guru yoga puja is conducted in alternating years of a composition by Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche and one by Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche. This year KC16 will be performing the guru yoga by Chamgon Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche.

Please join us in commemorating this auspicious day by dedicating your practice to His Holiness.

May all things be auspicious!  

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.

Fourteenth Story Update: Guru Rinpoche blessing statues formed from KC16 earth

(From right to left) Soil, mold for the statues, statues made of blessed earth, and finally statues painted in gold

Last week, soil samples from deep within the land at KC16 were taken as the next step for our engineers and architects to move forward with foundation plans. The contractors gave us the surplus soil, which Drupon Rinpoche and the Lamas on site have been using to construct small Guru Rinpoche statues from the blessed land. They say the soil is so good that nothing extra was needed to hold it together or be strong enough to create the statues. Due to the blessings of the land as the Parinirvana site of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, and being blessed by the 17th Karmapa, this earth is saturated with blessings!

Reminder! KC16 is co-hosting Tara Drupchen with Nalandabodhi International/Nalandabodhi Seattle and Nalanda West from September 24-27. The Tara Drupchen will be especially dedicated to overcoming the current pandemic, to all beings suffering directly or indirectly from it, and to dispelling fear in our world. For registration information 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!

Eleventh Story Update: Toward the Supreme Illumination

Friends of Karmapa Center 16, we wish you a very happy summer, the season in which both the 16th and 17th Karmapa were born. In honor of their summertime births, we would like to share a special prayer by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, “Toward the Supreme Illumination.” It’s our aspiration that His words fill your every breath and your every step of every day.

Kindness is contagious in the very best sense of the word. It spreads warmth and joy, inspires generosity towards others and helps us open to our own innate kindness. You can help spread kindness across the globe this summer and the possibility for others to connect with His Holiness by:
 
• Sharing our posts on social media with the hashtag #GoKind
• Submitting your images and videos of kindness to the KC16 bot via: m.me/KarmapaCenter16
 
The Karmapa Center 16 thanks you and the worldwide Sangha for all your support — no matter the form or action it has taken and continues to manifest.  
 
Karmapa Khyenno!

Photo Courtesy of Shambhala Archives.

Tenth Story Update: Liberation Upon Seeing

This lunar month is the time when we celebrate Saga Dawa, the birth, enlightenment and parinirvana of the Shakyamuni Buddha.

It is also a somber time for many, as we grapple with the death of black American citizen George Floyd, which sparked protest in cities across the United States for two weeks. This, combined with COVID-19 ever present in our lives globally, has left many feeling afraid, angry and disillusioned.   

During his life, the Shakyamuni Buddha foretold a prophecy, found in the Samadhi Raja Sūtra, which can give us courage for our lives now:

Two thousand years after I have passed,
The teachings will arise in the land of the red-faced men.
They will become disciples of Avalokita.
In that degenerate time for dharma,
The bodhisattva, Lion’s Roar,
Will appear and be known as Karmapa.
He will attain the samādhi empowerment and tame beings,
Establishing them in well-being through sight, hearing, recollection, and touch.

And so it is, just as the Shakyamuni Buddha predicted. We have had the great good fortune to encounter His Holiness the 16th Karmapa’s teachings on love, kindness and compassion in this life — just when we and the world need them them the most.

Today we share with you Liberation Upon Seeing, produced by the Karmapa Picture Project. May all beings viewing these images of His Holiness be liberated instantly! Click on the photo below to view the video.

In the forward to the book Dharma King, a quote by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa speaks to the relevance of this video — with its collection of images of the 16th Karmapa’s  life — and its immeasurable benefit to us now:

 [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, as he did when donning the Black Crown, so there is undoubtedly great value in any visual connection made with him. 

Following the example of His Holiness —  by embodying loving-kindness and acting thoughtfully — we too can work to help others. It is said that any good deed performed during the month of Saga Dawa is multiplied as many as one hundred million times, so it is an especially auspicious time to perform positive actions!

One simple action to help create more widespread kindness and offer a chance for others to connect with His Holiness through images would be to:  
• Share our posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #GoKind
• Submit your acts of kindness to the KC16 bot via: m.me/KarmapaCenter16

With deepest appreciation to all who continue to support The Karmapa Center 16 in all its endeavors.

Click on the photo below to view the video Liberation upon Seeing. Karmapa Khyenno! 

His Holiness the 16th Karmapa in America.
Photo courtesy of Shambhala Archives. 

Ninth Story Update: Participate in “The Kindness Rocks Project”

Our world continues to suffer in a multitude of ways from the coronavirus. Reported cases surpassed three million and deaths are over three hundred thousand. People are struggling with anxiety, fear and isolation.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
As dharma practitioners, we have the tools to take inspiration from the vast loving-kindness of His Holiness The Sixteenth Karmapa, and be in touch with our own soft hearts. By doing that, we can radiate love and peace within ourselves, outwardly to specific beings we know are suffering and boundlessly throughout the globe to dissolve the energy of despair and unease.

In accordance with the One Million Positive Actions campaign, we invite you to touch in with your kind heart and participate in The Kindness Rocks Project which encourages painting an uplifting message on a rock and leaving it somewhere visible to others – such as under a tree, by a sidewalk or in a park, while taking note of Leave No Trace guidelines in consideration of our environment. The project is rooted in the belief that: “One message at just the right moment can change someone’s day, outlook, life!” 

HOW
Step one: Practice
Meditate on the presence of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. Acknowledge any fear, anxiety or pain you have. Take some time for the blessings to flow throughout you and dissolve your own suffering. When you have an experience of His Holiness’s enlightened presence, connect with the suffering of someone you know personally. Inhale their suffering and exhale the loving-kindness inside of you to alleviate the suffering of that being. Practice for a while to gain an experience of that being filled with the radiance of genuine love and peace. Then, finally, open your awareness to include all beings’ suffering as far as you can imagine. Inhale all that tension and unease, connect with your blessing-full, loving heart. Exhale all your positivity to dissolve all beings fear and suffering. Relax. 

Step Two: Paint
In your state of connection to loving kindness and compassion, on a stone paint or draw your message of love, hope and kindness, such as the rock below:

Step Three: Connect with One Million Positive Actions 
Take a photo of your message rock and share it with the KC16 bot via m.me/karmapacenter16 or social media and use the hashtags #KindnessRocks and #GoKind.
 
Step Four: Share your practice imbued message rock
Place your message rock in any place of your choosing. 

Step Five: Dedicate the merit
Take a moment to dedicate the merit in your favorite way. Karmapa Khyenno! 

Furthermore, please help us create more widespread kindness by:

  • Sharing our posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 
  • Encouraging family, friends, neighbors and community leaders to participate.
  • Asking any artists you know to create and post their own message stones (don’t forget to ask them to use #KindnessRocks and #GoKind in their posts!).

A deeply heartfelt thank you to all who continue to support The Karmapa Center 16 with all your capacity. May you be healthy, safe, and at peace. 

Karmapa Khyenno! 

Eighth Story Update: A Prayer by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa

This week, KC16 is inviting Dharma practitioners worldwide to find refuge in, to reflect upon, and to receive direct inspiration from His Holiness the 16th Karmapa through his declaration, “A Reminder to Myself” translated into English by Tyler Dewar.

“With your supreme intelligence, you realized the intention of the unsurpassable vehicle, the tradition of Padmakara. Guru of unequalled kindness, I remember you from my heart. I supplicate you—bless me with your compassion. I, Pema Trinley Palzang, a performer of three activities, From now on, will take control of my own discipline in thought and deed.” Read more…

May his vow be of benefit to one’s self and others and serve as a reminder that His Holiness is always with us in thought and action. There is no better time than the present to put the words of His Holiness into action in our own practice. 

Many thanks to all of you — our dedicated global network — who continue to support, share, and contribute to The Karmapa Center 16 Stupa Project!