His Holiness Karmapa seemed to be at the peak of his power when he concluded the Monlam, speaking with confidence to the entire assembly of monks and lay people. ‘Thank you to the sponsors, Gyaltsap Rinpoche and others. I express my heartfelt gratitude. You have done great aspirations and prayers for all in this great sacred place, so thank you all.’ He also thanked the volunteers who worked for the Monlam.
Recapping the results of the past year, he remarked that many of the monasteries had made their assemblies free from meat; and regarding the environment, ‘people are making attempts to do projects’.
‘There are changes in the environment’, he noted, ‘even in Tibet the ice is melting. This concerns people throughout the world. It’s about the life and death of the globe. This year I brought out a booklet on guidelines to protect the environment, to be spread everywhere.
Secondly, we are the practice lineage. Our main practice is meditation. There should be teachings on meditation in each monastery. These Lamas should make a program to meditate, not just go abroad to teach where there is more money.
The practice lineage is not just a name. It means we have to do some meditation. We should encourage and train young monks and give emphasis to education. Let monks use their intelligence.
According to the Buddha, the whole assembly holds the dharma, so it is important to have respect for all the sangha, not just for tulkus.’
In the evening flowers and candles hung from the trees for the Butter Lamp Offering, lighting up the grounds of the stupa like a pure land. Karmapa sat on a raised cushion in front of the bodhi tree, facing the stairs which had become a stage. Chanting of Koreans, Chinese, and Vietnamese monks in different harmonies suddenly turned the grounds into an amphitheatre, blocking out the softer liturgy of Theravadin prayers in Sanskrit and the haunting wail of the Muzzein from the mosque outside the stupa.
A group of Westerners in white jackets with violin and guitar sang an arrangement of fairly complex melodies which Karmapa had composed, the Marme Offering and Ah World, to a pre-recorded background, which transformed the event into a musical concert. We all joined in the Chenresig puja and did a korra around the stupa holding candle-like torches, chanting Om Mani Padma Hung and Karmapa Chenno. A tremendous feeling of joy ran like an electrical current throughout the crowd; we had really achieved something, and done it together. We were a harmonious mandala.