The following is an account of the public address given by His Holiness Gyalwa[ng] Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje at the Macky Auditorium of the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, USA on May 25/08. This was during the first visit to the West by HH the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. The translator was Tyler Dewar.
Healing the Earth through Awakening
As an example of how the outer world affects our thoughts and actions, His Holiness noted that at his teachings in metropolitan New York, the bright lights around the stage obscured his vision of those who had come to hear him teach. However, at [the] Macky Auditorium, he could see all of us clearly and this would affect what he said to us.
Another example of how the outer and inner worlds interact is that when we practice meditation it is important to create proper conditions for practice.
For shamata [relaxed meditation] practice, the foundation of all practice,
the first thing we must do is to create a peaceful environment. This
demonstrates the connection between outer environment and our state of mind.
This principle of the outer environment being important to peace in our mind is
something we should think about.
Though His Holiness was relaxed through all this, people came to him, saying, "You are the Karmapa. You should stop these earthquakes." His Holiness said he didn't even know enough to fear earthquakes, so it seemed odd that he would be expected to stop them.
At the time, there was a belief that earthquakes were caused by a giant tortoise stirring beneath the earth. People told him to talk to the tortoise and persuade it to stop causing earthquakes. But if this giant tortoise was under the earth, the very young Karmapa wondered, where would his ears be? He was not sure, so he simply started talking to the earth, saying, "If you stop moving, I will give you something good, perhaps some milk. But if you don't stop moving, things will not be easy for you." After that, the earth settled down.
When His Holiness was fourteen, his escape to India was being planned.
The afternoon that plans about their route and other particulars were finalized,
there was a small earthquake. His Holiness, smiling, noted, "It was as if
he knew I was leaving and he did not have to be still anymore." He also
said he thought that the earth tremor was a sign of good luck.
Our suffering has a lot to do with where we place our mind. When we face difficult circumstances, the degree of suffering depends on how we relate to the circumstance, where we place it in our hearts and minds.
Be mindful of how we process difficult situations, where in our hearts and
minds we place our circumstances. We can become skilful at this; we can be at
peace with difficult external situations, and eventually the difficult external
circumstances can be pacified.
As an illustration of his vision of how this works, in his early life His
Holiness lived a very restricted life in Tibet and later in India.
Over time, people began to pay attention to his situation; it became their
concern. As others became concerned, the situation became more vast and
things became more workable. And now His Holiness has been able to come to
America, to be here in Boulder, sharing his thoughts. This demonstrates how we
can affect change -- by making others' concerns our own.
The world has given us much, an environment in which we live and practice. Now we should consider how to give back.
Sometimes it seems we can approach this relationship with the world as if the world's citizens are artists creating a vision of their environment, everyone in the world offering an ideal representation of the world in which we live, creating together a beautiful vision of the world.
The world is getting smaller, a global village whose members are
interconnected. There is great opportunity for the East to share its wisdom with
the West and for the West to share its resources with the East.
We must choose what to do and what not to do. We must select positive,
virtuous opportunities, even if they seem difficult. We must think deeply about
what we want and how to get there. This is a way to connect deeply with virtuous
Merchants try to sell us many things, but we should be selective and take
only what we need. Unless controlled in this way, craving is endless.
As one of many possible examples of the negative effects of modern technical
efficiency, His Holiness told a story of the village in which he spent his early
years. There were hunters who hunted animals near the village. Their tools
were simple and because the tools were simple, there was no threat of
extinction, no major disruption of the animal population. In modern times,
hunters equipped with guns, binoculars and other tools have hunted animals to
the brink of extinction. We have a notion that this world will be around for a
long time. However, if we accumulate powerful negative karma through how we use
technology, this becomes less likely.
(This ends the main teaching, which was followed by a question-answer
Answer: In technical [or, traditional Indian] terminology, this is the Kali Yuga, the "age of pollution." What is meant by "pollution" here is what remains when what is good has been overpowered by negative forces.
In the [a ?] Kali Yuga, it is difficult to find a Lama [or, guru] free of
faults. Even if we did find one, our mental state is such that we would
project faults onto a teacher who is without flaw. Thus, we should simply
rely on a Guru who has more positive than negative traits. Teachers in
this age will have a combination of positive and negative qualities, but they
can still benefit us. It might be difficult to rely on the teacher in the
traditional way. We can approach our Buddhist training in the
Preparation is forming a strong resolve, a strong motivation that suffuses
our being. Main practice: The capable student applies diligence, patience,
exertion and long-term vision to taming the mind. Follow-up: After
practice, go out and help others. Don't wait to attain Buddhahood -- consider
how to benefit others right now. View others, their joys and sorrows, as
extensions of your own being.
Answer: How many people focus one-pointedly on practice now? We
don't know what will happen in the future. The situation we are in now is
that resources are scarce and the population is growing, but to over-focus on
the future can be detrimental to our efforts to have a positive effect on the
world. We have a responsibility to leave a habitable world for today's
Answer: Generally, we say that we practice shamata to reverse the
tendency of our mind to be distracted. In vipashana, we investigate.
Answer: One traditional way of discussing this is [by] hearing,
contemplating and meditating. If we do not incorporate all three of these
in our practice, then our practice is incomplete. It is possible to
hear teachings, contemplate them and meditate simultaneously. However, for
beginners, this is not possible; so it is possible for us to hear one-pointedly,
contemplate one-pointedly and [at the same time] meditate. The cause
for meditative accomplishment is vast hearing and extensive contemplation.
Without these, there is no true meditative experience.
Answer: The Bardo teachings originated with the Buddha, in the Tantras, particularly in the Nyingma Tantras. There are examples of periods in the bardo that are greater than 49 days. Some classes of sentient beings have no bardo at all; they go directly to their next rebirth.
When beings enter the bardo, there is suffering, e.g., fear and terror due to
negative acts on the path. When one dies and enters the bardo, the most subtle
form of mind, luminosity, becomes accessible and we can become enlightened.
Bardo teachings are intended to help us make good use of this opportunity.
Answer: Westerners who are trustworthy, are being entrusted with secret
teachings. There are differences in the ways people think, their inclinations
and approaches. The Dharma is taught consistent with the disposition of
various students. The Kagyu Lineage originated in India, and Indians
as well as Tibetans are held in high regard. All Gurus in the Lineage are
to be revered. There is no particular reason for concern about cross-cultural
issues in spreading the Dharma.
These notes were forwarded by KCC, appearing on the kagyu email list on June 30/08. Khandro.Net re-formatted the text for easier online reading here.