Category: Trinley Thaye Dorje
Chenresig Empowerment, Day 1
The official programme of the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje started on the afternoon of February 18, 2011. The venue of the five-day event is the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
A big stage has been set up in the vast hall, carrying the throne of Gyalwa Karmapa and the benches for the monks, covered in golden tissues, as well as the beautiful palace housing the sand mandala of Chenresig, which has been prepared by Karmapa’s monks from Rumtek monastery. Lavish offerings – flowers, candles, mandalas (offerings symbolising the entire universe) and elaborate tormas have been set out on the four sides of the palace, and rich flower arrangements decorate the area in front of the stage. The walls behind the throne are hung with beautiful paintings of the white four-armed Chenresig (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara) and various aspects of Jambala– in accordance with the two empowerments Gyalwa Karmapa is going to give over the course of three days.
Gyalwa Karmapa’s arrival in the hall was announced by the sound of Gyalings and the sight of a tall yellow parasol held over him by one of his monks. Another monk holding lit incense guided him through the passageway left by the waiting devotees, up the stage and to the throne. Once he and his monks and nuns were seated, a representative of the Hong Kong Bodhi Path Centre gave a short welcome address and asked Gyalwa Karmapa to say a few words to the audience. He complied with the request, saying that he deeply appreciated that so many practitioners from different regions and parts of our planet had come to Hong Kong to share the precious dharma.
“You have come here with the aim and the wish that by being here you will absorb something, learn something that you will be able to take back to your own life and the lives of your loved ones, families, friends and so on. May there be immense benefit accumulated!”
Gyalwa Karmapa then started the tagön (preparatory phase) for the two-day empowerment of Chenresig. He asked all the practitioners present to use this time for meditation, either by doing their personal practice or by simply reciting the six-syllable mantra of Chenresig.
“So do that and have no other thoughts, no worldly thoughts. In this moment whatever is happening outside this hall doesn’t matter. All that matters in this case is the ability and the power of your consciousness.”
The Chenresig empowerment transmitted by Gyalwa Karmapa belongs to the anuttara yoga tantra (the highest class of tantras). This empowerment comes from the oldest tradition within Tibetan Buddhism and goes back to King Songtsen Gampo.
It is taken from the Rinchen Terdzö (Treasury of Precious Termas) compiled by the great first Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche, but he himself extracted it from the Mani Kabum, a collection of teachings and practices focused on Chenresig and composed by King Songtsen Gampo. Among all the different aspects of Chenresig, this particular one has four arms and is white in colour.
After a short break the preparation phase for the empowerment continued in the evening and late into the night. At the beginning of the evening session Gyalwa Karmapa gave a short teaching on the meaning and benefit of empowerments.
“These empowerments are a reminder, or let’s say they will make you realise your own qualities: your own generous quality, your own compassionate quality and so on. We all have these qualities, and all that we need to realise them is some supportive tools. So basically, these empowerments are like a tool that makes you realise what you already have: the qualities.
We will now begin with the empowerment by accumulating merit and wisdom. These two are known as the very foundations of the Buddha dharma, so we will begin with that. And then, on top of that, we will receive the refuge vow as well as the bodhisattva vow. And then we will be introduced into the mandala of Chenresig.”
During the following ceremony members of the Hong Kong Centre presented the Gyalwa Karmapa with offerings of mandala(symbolic universe) and ku, sung, thuk, yönten and trinley (symbolic offering of enlightened body, speech, mind, qualities and activity).
Approximately 300 people took refuge for the first time this evening, and then all the practitioners queued up to receive the blessing with the empowerment vase. By the time everybody had passed Gyalwa Karmapa’s throne it was long past midnight.
Gyalwa Karmapa Transmit The Empowerment of Chenresig to 2500 Practitioners From Around The World
Chenresig Empowerment, Day 2
About 2,500 of Gyalwa Karmapa’s students from around the globe gathered at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to receive the empowerment of the white four-armed aspect of Chenresig (Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit).
On the morning of February 19, 2011, Rinpoches, lamas and monks started the ritual for the empowerment itself, which took most of the day. One of the highlights during the ritual were the lama dances during the afternoon session, performed by Nendo Dorje Lopön Rinpoche and Gyalwa Karmapa’s monks from Rumtek monastery.
In the evening, before starting the actual empowerment, Gyalwa Karmapa addressed the assembly of practitioners to give an explanation of the meaning and benefit of the empowerment and the practice of Chenresig.He explained that Chenresig was a manifestation of genuine compassion, a compassion born out of pure bodhicitta.
“Bodhicitta is basically a state of mind, or the nature of mind, one could say. Its nature is such that when it is awakened it only wishes to support and to fulfil the wishes of others, which are to be free and to understand the truth and the nature of all things, of all phenomena.
It is understood from the Buddhist perspective, that we all – all sentient beings – have this perfect nature. When it is awakened we are able to experience true happiness, true peace.When it is fully awakened, the consciousness, or the nature of that mind can manifest in any form that will benefit others – therefore we have countless and various forms of Chenresig.”
Gyalwa Karmapa went on to explain that though different in appearance all the countless aspects and forms share the same essence and the same purpose:
“The essence and the ultimate benefit is always the same: it is a practice for us to understand the nature of all things, good things, bad things, in-between things, basically all the various movements and the happenings and the actions of one’s mind. It is only by understanding everything that there is a way to be free, a way to be able to choose, to be able to do the right thing. So that’s why the practice of Chenresig is more about understanding the various activities of one’s mind, others’ minds, and the results, and even the causes and conditions, so that we can understand as a fact that every sentient being’s, every individuals’ action has nothing truly negative about it.”
Gyalwa Karmapa explained that it was due to misunderstanding and wrong interpretations that confusion could pile up and make life very chaotic.
“As we begin to understand more and more of the truth, we can appreciate every individual’s actions, seeing them as nothing but actions of compassion. From my own understanding that is the ultimate benefit of practising Chenresig.”
He then went on to talk about the benefits of receiving an empowerment, explaining it as an introduction to the wisdom aspect:
“And once you’re introduced to that wisdom aspect, then first of all as I said you have the blessing, and secondly if you have the wish and aspiration to practice it you have that opportunity as well. And if we do practice the benefit is that we will then much sooner be able to realise each other’s truth, each other’s nature. This will result in a very peaceful, very joyful and very meaningful life, not only for now but also for all our future rebirths – however many there may be – until we reach the fully enlightened state, like Buddha Shakyamuni.”
Gyalwa Karmapa then proceeded with the empowerment, giving further explanations as he guided the practitioners through the different stages of the ritual. At the end once again all the practitioners queued up to receive the blessing with the various ritual implements, and by the time the last ones had passed before Gyalwa Karmapa and the concluding part of the ritual was finished it was two in the morning.
“During an empowerment there are many different objects and names which are used, all very beautiful and elaborate, but the main point is to understand that all actions are the manifestation of pure compassion.”