At the final ceremony of the 28th Kagyu Monlam the statue of Dusum Khyenpa was brought in regal procession, perhaps for the last time before he travels the world. As the jalings sounded to herald its arrival, the Karmapa, wearing his ceremonial black crown, extended a khata to it in greeting, took it from the monks and placed it on the shrine.
In his closing speech the Karmapa again emphasized the preservation of the environment and the importance of engaging in action. Addressing the monks, he said they need to receive a modern education in monasteries including history and science, ‘or we may be left behind’. Health and hygiene were also important. He would like to visit the kitchens, preferably in disguise, to check up on the use of sugar, butter and salt.
‘Tame your own mind. This is the teaching of the Buddha’ he told the entire assembly. We need to know how to think, and to value ourselves.
We made prayers for the auspiciousness of everything imaginable, and unfurled white scarves into the air to flutter for a few moments like a cloud of winged doves.
In the evening we listened to a medley of chants starting with the Pali refuge prayer and the Tibetan invocation to Chenresig. There were Mahayana Chinese in gold robes who chanted melodiously, and Koreans in grey and brown using the beat of a gong to accompany deep gutteral sounds. The Vietnamese in ochre robes performed their offering. Tibetans from the Institute for Performing Arts sang the very moving Peace Prayer for Tibet. A group of Westerners, mostly German, sang Silent Night in dulcet tones and the Dewachen prayer in German. The performance that drew applause came from Taiwanese students of Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche wearing little brocade rimmed caps,who sang and choreographed Milarepa songs in Chinese. A lady with two long plaits played guitar and sang like Joni Mitchell as an offering to Bokar Rinpoche.
The surprise of the evening was a slide show in homage of the incredible life and activity of the 16th Karmapa with many photos I had never seen before. Hearts brimming with joy, we lit the candles in lotus containers and sang the butter lamp offering prayer.