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from kagyumonlam.org

Finally, our narrator explains that the next performance of Tibetan opera is based on a Jataka tale, recounting a previous life of the Buddha as the king Lodro Zangpo. The actors and actresses come from the Rumtek Opera Society, formed in 1961 during the time of the Sixteenth Karmapa, who was very fond of Tibetan opera. Sometimes, the group would perform for seven days in a row. Among the actors tonight are original members of the society, who have trained the new generation, helping to preserve this tradition started in Tibet by Thangtong Gyalpo (1385-1464). The opera ends with all the actors on stage and a lively Ki ki so so lha gyalo! All victory to the divine!

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The last day of the Monlam was dedicated to the long life of Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, who sat on a throne to the left of HH Karmapa. The throne of Tai Situ Rinpoche was unoccupied due to difficulties in making an appearance there. When his image was projected onto the screen and we heard his message of well-being to the lineage, it was a poignant moment for many. However, it felt like the lineage was stronger than it has been in many years, due to the quiet, steady activity of the great heart sons. His Holiness stepped more firmly than ever before into his rightful place as lineage head. The cycle of obstacles and uncertainty were rolled back and we seemed to be both participating in and witnessing the beginning of the determined, steady, immovable force of a buddha in action.

We made prayers of auspiciousness while the huge gathering waved white scarves in the air. With the stunning performance of a Taiwanese drummer troupe, male and female both clad in simple dark martial arts pantaloons, the perfect precision of the warrior suddenly blended with the energy of the Monlam and the Karmapa’s activity. Vigorous, compassionate, confident.

The butter lamp offering with each person holding a lit candle while singing the offering verses in many different languages, was a dramatic soft close to the entire eight day performance. I understand that HH Karmapa is getting introduced to Shakespeare. It seems that all the world will truly become his stage.

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photos by Filip Wolak

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photos by Filip Wolak

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by Ani Rinchen Khandro, a British nun in Bodhgaya
 

In this great gathering of Rinpoches, monks, nuns and lay devotees from the four corners of the world His Holiness Karmapa presides over all with grace, his perfect form adorned by majesty and modesty.

Like 1,000 Armed Chenresig his eyes of limitless compassion see everything. His hands of skillful means touch all aspects of this vast event and diverse assembly bringing everything into balance and harmony. Where at first there was unfamiliarity and wariness there is now kindness and smiles of friendship. What was rough has become smooth.

By his words of wisdom we are moved. By his immaculate example we are inspired. By his great love we are transformed. His very presence radiates blessings. Bodhgaya, this place made holy by the Buddhas, a place of extremes of heat and cold, chaos and calm, beggars and Bodhisattvas, this place becomes Dewachen. May the power of Karmapa’s blessing waves reach the whole universe and beyond. Emaho!

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