The goal of the Karmapa Khyenno mantra project, to present
the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa with one billion recitations by worldwide devotees and
friends, was successfully achieved in
Sept. 2006. You can still join the Vajra Guru Mantra Project (VGP)
currently in progress.
- About the BMI: Billion Mantra Initiative Early in
2003, a project was conceived by
individual concerned about the situation at that time
that limited people's
access to Karmapa. The project
had the intention of helping smooth the way for Karmapa
to be free to travel the world, and also to assume his rightful seat, which had
been established in Sikkim by his predecessor.
- Besides establishing and enhancing powerful spiritual connections, this type of participation is a skilful means to
accomplishing a worthy political end, as in the satyagraha
tradition made famous over 75 years ago by Mohandas K. Gandhi.
By July 18,
2006, the BMI had achieved a total of 1, 097, 540, 500
thus substantially exceeding the objective. On the morning of September 9th 2006 in
McLeod Ganj, India, Mr. Vic Gabriel, the project's leader, presented the document to HH Karmapa
attesting to its success.
- BMI-2, July 1, 2007
to June 30, 2009 The BMI had surpassed its goal by Summer 2006 but those who had not participated
before, or who wished still to take
part, could join BMI-2. When, in May 2008, HH the Karmapa saw "Welcome Home" on a sign during his visit to
America, out of gratitude and joy we continued through one more
year. At its close on June 30, 2009, on behalf of the participants, we
sent the BMI-2 report offering in celebration of HH's 24th / 25th birthday, a
further accumulation totalling 45, 036, 000
- The Universal Role of The Karmapa As the
embodiment of the activity of all buddhas
and bodhisattvas, Karmapa does not
"belong" to one denomination, lineage or school, nor to any single
institution or group. In other
words, the compassionate activity of the Gyalwa Karmapa
is not solely for the benefit of
members of the Kamtsang, or Kagyu, denomination of Buddhism. Anyone can always connect with Karmapa, whether they are Buddhist or not,
through the recitation of the mantra that has
been associated with him for over four hundred years.
- The Karmapa Mantra
Encouragement for the BMI first came from
Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche,
who found merit in
the idea and publicly encouraged participation. He explained that
the Karmapa mantra was first introduced
by the 8th Karmapa
Dorje (1507-1554) in the context of a teaching concerning the
tradition of "Calling the Lama from afar," a famously beautiful hymn.
Here is the mantra written in Tibetan:
"Karmapa, [you] know me" (Embodiment of all Buddhas,
please take heed of
In Central Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan, it is pronounced Karmapa
or Karmapa khen-no. In East Tibet, it is pronounced
"Karmapa chenno." Naturally, if you are used to saying it
like that, there is no need to change pronunciation.
The potency of the Karmapa mantra as described by Lama Surya Das in Auspicious Tales of HH the
16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje:
One day the head of a nomadic household in desolate, windswept northern
Tibet passed away. In such a sparsely inhabited region it was rare to find
monasteries and lamas to perform Buddhist funeral rites, so the family
wondered what to do. Then they happened to notice a ragged individual
travelling on foot who appeared as if he could be either an itinerant yogi or
a beggar, so they went to inquire.
The mendicant turned out to be, in fact, a lama. The grieving family
requested his ministrations for the deceased, and he complied.
When he reached the man's deathbed and began his incantations, the family
respectfully requested the lama to perform phowa (consciousness transference).
The lama, however, said: "I am just a poor, unlettered practitioner of the
Buddha's teachings; I have not mastered that esoteric practice. But I do have
one positive quality, infinite faith in the living Buddha, named Lama Karmapa;
he is like the great gate to Dewachen (a transcendent paradise from which
evolution on the path of enlightenment is said to be more easily assured). His
name is the magic password to that fabulous spiritual domain."
Then he began reciting again and again the powerful name-mantra, "Karmapa
"Karmapa Khyenno, Karmapa Khyenno," he intoned loudly, again and again.
After each and every rosary of one hundred and eight fervent recitations,
he would then hit the corpse with his mala, or prayer beads, commanding that,
in the name of the Buddha Karmapa, the spirit of the deceased be reborn
After some time, everyone noticed that the signs of successful
consciousness transference began to appear. Hair fell from the top of
the corpse's head, there was a pleasant fragrance in the air, and a large bump
appeared at the crown aperture where the subtle consciousness of the deceased
departed for the other world.
Everyone present rejoiced, and gratefully thanked the mendicant lama. All
began to faithfully practice the mantra of the Karmapa, praying to realize the
great freedom and bliss of Dewachen in this very lifetime.
The travelling lama soon continued on his journey. One day he heard
that the omniscient Karmapa was visiting south Tibet, so he determined to go
and meet him and pay his respects.
Upon finally reaching his destination, the first thing the clairvoyant
Karmapa said to him was: "That was a difficult phowa we performed up there in
the north, wasn't it?" The Karmapa laughed, hitting the other lama with his
Then the mendicant knew with unshakable certainty that the Karmapa is an
omniscient living Buddha, who always keeps his disciples, wherever they are,
in his heart and mind.
~ Lama Surya Das. ("Consciousness Transference," Auspicious Tales of HH the
16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje in "Insights & Outtakes,"
Tricycle Magazine, Winter 2004.)
The goal to offer Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje one billion (1, 000,
000, 000) mantras, was substantially surpassed
when, on July 18th, 2006, we realized a total of 1,097,068,170.
Late submissions eventually raised this to 1, 097, 574, 500.
Between February and June 2003,
individuals and dharma groups taking part, we
had already collected 35 million recitations.
1,250,000 recitations received at this web site between May 2004 and October 2005,
monthly contributions rapidly increased ten-fold.
On Dec. 10/04 with reference to the BMI, Wangchen Rinpoche said,
"The world is given a gift which is Holiness Karmapa." He added
that it would be
such a pity if His teachings are not heard by the world, so we should keep on
praying for this purpose.
In March 2005, Khenpo Tsultrim's ani-gompas (nunneries) in India and
Bhutan (Karma Drubdey Gomba,) Thrangu Rinpoche's Tara Abbey, Tenga Rinpoche's seat of Benchen Phuntsok in
Darjeeling, Karma Lekshey Ling in Nepal and Jamgon Kongtrul's Pullahari Monastery
expressed commitments to the BMI.
In May 2005, we posted information to Tibet
Times, and made available the BMI letter in Chinese. In July 2005, the project
appeared in prestigious Thar Lam magazine. In October 2005, the
nuns of the ani gompa in Nangchen established by Sonam Chotso, Bardor Rinpoche's wife, expressed
Hundreds of students,
monks, nuns and lay practitioners of the various Kagyu lineages took part
in the BMI, most contributing as part of a group.
Apart from those, 284 individuals from 17 different countries sent in mantra totals. Judging mainly by names, half are men and half women. 4 or 5 people
co-ordinator responded personally to every submission coming via KhandroNet, and every
notice of contribution was kept on file to ensure that no one's name was
omitted from the token of this great offering.
Besides having the
confidence of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche,
who wrote an official letter to the effect, and by Khenpo Tsultrim,
whose ani gompa joined early on, the BMI was approved by
Bardor Tulku and the monks of Raktrul Monastery (east Tibet.)
The chant master at Rumtek Dharmachakra (Sikkim) and the monks
contributed. Wangchen Rinpoche of Mahavajra
Center in Los Angeles and Bengen Monastery in Kham expressed a
Early in May 2006, T. D. Lharisang, Honorary
Secretary of Pal Karmapa's Dhungdrub Tsogpa in Rumtek, Sikkim,
reported support for the BMI from several important Kagyu monasteries.
Ralang, Palchen Choling Monastery, South Sikkim
Ralang Old Monastery, East Sikkim
Phodong Monastery, East Sikkim
Ranka (Garwang Rinpoche's monastery,) East Sikkim
Old Rumtek Monastery, East Sikkim
In West Bengal:
Mirik Monastery (seat of the Bokar Rinpoche)
Siliguri, a seat of the Kalu Rinpoches,
Sonada, seat of Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche
Lava Monastery, a seat of H. E. Jamgon Rinpoche.
Then, on May 15/06, Rumtek.Org,
official web site of the 17th Karmapa's Dharma Chakra Center (Shedrup
Chokhor Ling,) posted the
request for participation during the week of June 11th, of all Karma
Tsogpa (Laypersons' Association Offering)
On June 11th/06, we received news of a Karkhyen
Dhungdrub Tsogpa. Every year since 1983, a puja organized by Karmapa's Dhungdrub Tsogpa
(association) is held at the main seat of His Holiness Karmapa in Rumtek, Sikkim.
It takes place at Saga Dawa and usually consists of a
100-million recitations of the Vajrasattva mantra.
This time, as proposed by Ven. Dilyak Drubpon
Rinpoche, the General Secretary of
the Tsurphu Labrang [Tsurphu
in Tibet is the historical seat of the Karmapas,] the Dhungdrub Association decided to
join in the recitation of "Karkhen" (Karmapa khenno) and send the totals to the BMI.
Jul 14/06: Monasteries
participating in the BMI as part of the Dhungdrub
Puja submitted 365,285,572.
layperson's association of Rumtek submitted 163,494,820. The
total for both the above came to 528,780,392.
July 18/06: The total
had come to 1,097,068,170
but with a few late submissions, we achieved
Due to our expectations that the objective would soon be attained,
we arranged for HH the 17th Karmapa to receive the small exquisite longevity tangka (see
photo below) on
the occasion of his 21st birthday (according to Western calculation.) It
was delivered on our behalf by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche.
(Skt. Ushnishavijaya) as painted by Karma Tsering Lama, Thamel,
tangka was framed by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche of KTD.
photo courtesy Bob Holt
The list of contributors to the BMI
comprising the names of over 280 individual practitioners
(without identifying individual totals,) and that of the many monasteries, nunneries, retreat centers and dharma
centers was given to HH's secretary.
On the 9th of September 2006 at
around 3 pm, a formal document in the Tibetan language celebrating the achievement
of the BMI was presented in person to Karmapa by the project's
originator, whose words follow:
HHK has accepted the offering. I was standing in His
presence as he focused on the letter. He was reading line by line.
Then HHK nodded, and more than any words (because He knows I don't
speak Tibetan) He completely accepted our offering and merged it with His
I felt His spacious heart open. [The]
Feeling is quite difficult to describe. It was like full acceptance and
appreciation without [any] fanfare.
More About the Karmapa Mantra
In 1996, it was observed that
when the 17th Karmapa rubbed his robe against some stones, Karmapa khyenno spontaneously
appeared, as if the rock were responding with iron oxide script. [An
image can be found on the Web.]
The mantra was instituted by
the 8th Karmapa, however it is not only favored by Kagyu people.
Its efficacy in
times of trouble and as a support for spiritual practice is well known. In fact,
related to the mantra
invoking Chenresi (Avalokiteshvara.)
Furthermore, it contains the blessings of all buddhas:
"The recitation of Karmapa
chenno is the invocation of the blessing, and the invocation of the compassion, and the invocation of all the activities of the Buddha, in the name of the great master who is the manifestation of the activity of all the
Buddhas, the Gyalwa Karmapa." ~ H. E. Tai Situ
When we join in the recitation of this mantra, we become part of the Karmapa mandala and
participate in the activity of the Buddhas.
Although it was not a requirement for participation in the
BMI, occasionally participants could renew the context by recalling the
continuity, as expressed in
The original practice taught by the 8th Karmapa
After taking Refuge and engendering bodhicitta, say:
Boundless Lord, Dharmakaya itself, [Amitabha, Buddha of infinite
Noble and excellent Avalokitesvara,
Who is the mighty Samboghakaya,
The One who Arose from a Lotus [Padmasambhava "Guru Rinpoche"],
Who attained the wisdom body [Nirmanakaya]
And the great glorious Karmapa,
Who gathers all [three kayas] into one essence,
We pray that you grant us your blessings.
Recite the following mantras [3x, 7x, or 21x, etc.]
OM AH.MI DE.WA HRI [mantra of Amitabha]
OM MANI PEME HUNG HRI [mantra of Avalokitesvara]
OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG [mantra of Padmasambhava]
KARMAPA KYEN.NO [mantra of Karmapa]
Then, dedicate the merit as follows:
By the merit that we have accumulated through reciting and meditating in this manner, may I, all those with whom I come in contact, and all beings, miraculously be born in Dewachen. As soon as we are born there, and reach the tenth level of
bodhisattva, may we send out emanations in the ten directions for the benefit of others.
Now visualize and say:
O wonderful Buddha of Limitless Light,
To your right is the Lord of Great Compassion [Avalokitesvara],
and to your left is the Bodhisattva of Great Power [Vajrapani].
You are surrounded by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, measureless in number.
In this land called Dewachen there is joy and happiness without limit.
May I be born there as soon as I pass from this life, without taking birth
Having been born there, may I see Amitabha's face.
May the Buddhas and Boddhisattvas of the ten directions give us their blessings so that the wish expressed in this prayer may be accomplished without hindrance.
TE.YA.TA PENTSEN DRI.YA AWA BO.DHA.NI, SO.HA
~ from the complete
practice as given in Jan. 2000 by Lama Lodu of KDK in S. F.
The Tibetan word, also transliterated as tangka or tanka, refers to a scroll
painting usually bordered by brocade material, like the one depicted on
this page. It is intended to be portable
and it can be hung on a wall or studied on a table.
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