The first worldwide online Karmapa Khyenno mantra project successfully accumulated over 1 billion recitations by 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 a private individual concerned about the situation limiting people's physical access to the 17th Karmapa.
This project, The Billion Mantra Initiative, had the intention of helping smooth the way for Karmapa to assume his rightful throne and be free to travel the world.
Besides establishing and enhancing powerful spiritual connections, news of the project directed attention to the situation that had been limiting our access to Karmapa. This type of participation is a skilful means to accomplishing a worthy end in the satyagraha way of peaceful resistance made famous 70 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.
Between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2009
The BMI surpassed its goal in Summer 2006, but those who had not participated before, or who wished still to take part, could join BMI-2.
In May 2008, HH the Karmapa saw "Welcome Home" on a sign during his visit to America. In gratitude and joy, we continued through one more year. At its close on June 30, 2009, on behalf of the participants, we sent the report offering, in celebration of HH's 24th / 25th birthday, a total of 45, 036, 000 recitations.
Background of the Project
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 Venerable 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 Mikyo Dorje (1507-1554) in the context of a teaching concerning the tradition of "Calling the Lama from afar."
Here is the mantra written in Tibetan:
< "Embodiment of the compassion of all Buddhas, take heed of me."
In Central Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan, it is pronounced Karmapa Kyen-no 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 your pronunciation.
The potency of the Karmapa mantra as described by Lama Surya Das in Auspicious Tales of HH the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje:
The goal to offer H.H. 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, with both individuals and dharma groups taking part, we had already collected 35 million recitations.
From about 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 a commitment.
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 contributed several million apiece.
This 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 Ven. Bardor Tulku and the monks of Raktrul Monastery (east Tibet.) The chant master at Rumtek Dharmachakra (Sikkim) and the monks there also contributed. Wangchen Rinpoche of Mahavajra Center in Los Angeles and Bengen Monastery in Kham expressed a commitment.
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. In Sikkim:
In West Bengal:
Then, on May 15/06, Rumtek.Org, the 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 Kagyu monasteries.
The Dhungdrub 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. The layperson's association of Rumtek submitted 163,494,820. The total for both the above came to 528,780,392.
On July 18/06: The total had come to 1,097,068,170 but with a few late submissions, we achieved 1,097,540,500.
The Actual Offering
Jun 26/06: 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.
Namgyelma (Skt. Ushnishavijaya) as painted by Karma Tsering Lama, Thamel, Nepal.
The 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:
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, it is related to the mantra invoking Chenresi (Avalokiteshvara.)
Furthermore, it contains the blessings of all buddhas:
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:
Recite the following mantras [3x, 7x, or 21x, etc.]
Then, dedicate the merit as follows:
Now visualize and say:
~ from the complete practice as given in Jan. 2000 by Lama Lodu of KDK in S. F.
thangka: 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.