His Holiness Karmapa from a teaching on The Lamp on the Path by Atisha.
Many thousands of devotees, ordained and lay people filled the vast outdoor arena set up for the Karmapa 900 celebrations. His Holiness joked about the sun shining onto his face, grumbling good naturedly that when they constructed the dome they didn’t think about him. ‘I’ll become a Bihari’, he joked. First a red umbrella was held over his head, then a golden parasol, and then the red umbrella reappeared.
The air was unusually hot for December.
Some memorable words from my notes:
First of all I want to teach so that it goes directly to your heart.
It’s not enough to have devotion or faith in our practice. If we claim to be Buddhist and don’t practice, there’s no difference between being Buddhist and not being Buddhist. The reason we don’t advance in the practice is because we don’t appreciate the precious human rebirth. First we have to become a good human being and take responsibility for being a good human being.
How do we take the essence of a human life and make it more meaningful? We don’t allow our mind to be overpowered by negative emotions. We need to change our mind and practice according to the way we are.
Samsara is the office of the Buddha. The Buddha always has to work for people; he’s never just peaceful. Even if he has no consciousness or intention to do something, it happens naturally like that.
We can practice to have a better life or to get liberation from samsara. In the middle level are those who see samsara everywhere; that everything brings suffering. Great beings have everything under the control of compassion. When you feel the sufferings of samsara like a fire, then you have to act urgently to get everyone out. If you cannot take responsibility for others then you are not practicing Mahayana. It is really about helping beings out of suffering. It’s something you have to do every day.
The dharma of Dzogpa Chenpo is not enough. The person has to be Dzogpa Chenpo. If the teaching is deep it doesn’t make you deep
Compassion needs to arise from the heart, from your bones, not just from your thoughts. Then you become a follower of Mahayana. If you have bodhicitta you will never be reborn in the lower realms. Ultimately the benefit is enlightenment. To generate real compassion you have to put yourself in the other person’s place. We all live under one sun, one earth, breathe the same air, belong to the same family.
One group from Bamyan in Afghanistan came to see me. The people came from the place where the Buddha was destroyed. I told them, you have destroyed the Buddha image but in one way that is good. Muslims think God has no form so they feel bad if we make a form. It became an obstacle. So the problem between us is destroyed. This may be a way to bring Muslims and Buddhists together. In the face of compassion all problems, all disharmony is totally eliminated.
The worst negative deed is to give up the dharma. The main reason the dharma will be destroyed is because of disharmony between the followers.
It is said to be more negative to give up the dharma than to destroy all the stupas in the world.
We filed respectfully out of the vast arena and plunged into a road crammed with rickshaws, buses,tractors, bicycles, pedestrians. The din of horns and smell of exhaust created a dense ground level reality. It took half an hour to clear through the throng and mount my red bicycle, breathe fresh air and zoom free.