Nearly 10 minutes from the Stupa (by cycle rickshaw), at Mingyur Rinpoche’s new Tergar monastery, about 600 Kagyupas began the “winter dharma debate.” Ten monasteries will battle each other on Buddhist philosophy using logical analysis.
Karma Guncho began ceremonially at 4AM on November 13 with all the debate monks sitting in the shrineroom before the Khenpos and debate moderators. The monastic schools, the shedras, had been preparing for this winter’s debate. So, monks eager to begin sat up in the shrinehall, backs vertically aligned and listened with particular attentiveness to the speakers. With so much mental alertness focused on the subject, they may not miss the fact that they are restricted to remain at Tergar for the duration of the debate, which lasts approximately one month. They are allowed leave the monastery only once a week for what will be a much needed break.