26.04.2020

Karmapa shares meditations for our times

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Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares some meditations for our times, which he hopes will be a useful resource for practitioners and all others.

26 April 2020

In this latest meditation, Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, explored the idea of ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’.

When we try to apply the Bodhisattvas’ methods, to think of others and benefit others, we might feel overwhelmed.

We might get the sense that we are too ordinary.

If we are ordinary, what is wrong with that?

Weren’t all Bodhisattvas in that position at one point? They must have felt utterly helpless and useless.

Nevertheless they achieved their extraordinary qualities – simply by accepting their ordinary state.

How did this happen?

First, they tried in ever so many ways to find this extraordinary state, just as Prince Siddhartha had done. But in the end, when all hopes had been dashed, they accepted their ordinary state.

They finally saw that aging is natural.

They finally saw that it’s also natural to get sick and to die.

It’s not at all wrong to experience age, sickness and death, no matter how ordinary they may seem.

Such experiences have taken place countless times.

These ordinary experiences have never stopped other experiences from happening.

It’s not as if these ordinary experiences are like a finale, cutting short any extraordinary experiences.

After all, this present experience is still possible.

So it is this simple acceptance, which stopped the quest to save everyone from dying and all of the other natural, ordinary experiences.

Instead, the quest to save everyone from dying transformed into the quest to help everyone embrace the acceptance of this ordinary pattern.

That’s how the Bodhisattvas became Bodhisattvas.

We too are in exactly the same position as the Bodhisattvas.

If we compare ourselves with the Bodhisattvas, we won’t find a single shred of difference.

So, let’s not burden ourselves with climbing a pinnacle-less mountain.

That’s no mountain at all.

When we climb mountains, we climb down.

That’s not inauspicious.

That’s most natural.

The descent of the mountain is essential to our enjoyment.

If there is such a thing as an advantage, then ours is that we can make use of the Bodhisattvas’ realisation that we do not need to look for a separate, extraordinary state.

Buddhahood is not separate from the ordinary state.

It was never meant to be.

If you superstitiously believe that the ordinary state is, in fact, ordinary, then consider this: pristine lotuses are born out of mud.

This is not just a saying.

It is a reality.

That is exactly how we are.

Ordinary-like compositions of physical and mental mud have produced a pristine experience like this one: Us. Or you. Or me. What’s wrong with this?

If there is anything wrong, it is our resistance to this natural way.

We can’t separate this pristine wisdom from this mud.

If we try, all we will get is either a lifeless statue or an idea of who we are.

That’s all we will get.

But it is that lifeless statue or idea that is the real death.

So this is not what we want. At least, if we are sane.

Therefore, my dear dharma friends, if you wish to benefit others, try to accept this ordinary state.

When I say ‘accept’, I do not mean in the sense of ‘take on this burden’ or ‘do nothing’!

Instead, accept it in a way that there is no other way.

There is no extraordinary way.

There never was.

We have that advantage.

We don’t have to try and flatten every mountain for the sake of all beings, in the name of finding this extraordinary way.

If there is an even path, we walk it.

If there is an uneven path, we walk it accordingly.

Our feet do not burden themselves that they have to walk the ground.

The ground does not burden the feet to walk on it.

There is just walking.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Extremely ordinary.

Yet, if viewed in a theatrical manner, it is extraordinary because we can’t find words to describe why these feet are walking the ground.

Left. Then right.

From beginning-less time.

Now that’s extraordinary.

 

19 April 2020

Accepting change: Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares a meditation on this subject

I’m not trying to frighten ourselves.

But we should practice with the attitude that it’s essentially a way to realise that we can’t overcome change, meaning that we are not an entity other than change or separate from change.

We are change.

So it’s a skilful way, and equally a caring way, to realise that.

We can try and think that everything is fatalistic, or that we have to be stoic and there is nothing we can do about it and let it be, so to speak.

But that will only numb our senses for a while and eventually bring panic.

So, practicing has a kind of charm to ease us into accepting change, without alarming us too much.

Owning our own karma is not based on clinging to the method of causality and rebirth.

These methods are just to roughly find a cue to flow with the current of change – just like waiting for a traffic signal before entering the highway.

Once we have entered into the traffic we naturally feel still.

That’s the point.

A disease like this is never evil.

It never was.

It’s just nothing in its essence.

But if we have courage this nothing can be transformed into something.

9 April 2020
Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, offers this meditation on the importance of practice to accept change

Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, presides over a fire puja at His Eminence Beru Khyentse Rinpoche’s guest house, India, December 2019. Photo / Tokpa KorloI’m not trying to frighten ourselves.

But we should practice with the attitude that it’s essentially a way to realise that we can’t overcome change, meaning that we are not an entity other than change or separate from change.

We are change.

So it’s a skilful way, and equally a caring way, to realise that.

We can try and think that everything is fatalistic, or that we have to be stoic and there is nothing we can do about it and let it be, so to speak.

But that will only numb our senses for a while and eventually bring panic.

So, practicing has a kind of charm to ease us into accepting change, without alarming us too much.

Owning our own karma is not based on clinging to the method of causality and rebirth.

These methods are just to roughly find a cue to flow with the current of change – just like waiting for a traffic signal before entering the highway.

Once we have entered into the traffic we naturally feel still.

That’s the point.

A disease like this is never evil.

It never was.

It’s just nothing in its essence.

But if we have courage this nothing can be transformed into something.

2 April 2020
A meditation on karma and change by Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

Owning your own karma, by saying ‘it’s your own doing,’ is simply one way of talking about karma.

The concepts of time, self and language used in ‘it’s your own doing’ play a powerful part in describing karma. In fact, with the tools we have, we have no other way but to describe it in this way. It is as though there was an ‘I’ that caused something in the past to result in this present experience, in a linear way. But that’s just a way of explaining it – nothing more.

It is helpful on a relative level because I feel that this experience that I am going through is so vivid, and I want to be able to make sense of it. And so, this statement is almost the only way to put it into words.

However, if we strip away the concept of time for a moment, then what is left is just the causal aspect of karma, in which the past does not play any part. Then, we will find that, when owning our karma, the infinite burden of time is not weighing us down.

Next, we strip away the concept of ‘I’, or in this case ‘your’ and ‘it’s’, and then what is left of the statement is ‘own doing’. Since factors of subject and object are stripped away, the concept of ‘own’ has no place, and then just ‘doing’ will be left.

After a while ‘doing’ will become a mere sound – ‘Doing!’ Nothing more. Then there is even less burden – in fact there is no burden at all. There is not even a ‘here’ or ‘now’, both of which belong to the concept of time.

Nevertheless, the concepts of time, self, and all of the linguistic tools used have all played their part in their own way. They have not claimed any merit for their part and have departed naturally after conveying an answer to our question about how we can make sense of what we feel.

Ever since the time of Buddha Shakyamuni, all educational institutes or Viharas have been founded with the sole purpose and with the sole hope of making the knowledge of understanding karma (which is synonymous with change) available to all.

The establishment of these spiritual environments was never about anything else. It was never about escaping karma or change. The nature of enlightenment or liberation was presented simply as a means to inspire us to own change, to own karma.

Achieving Nirvana is never a separate entity from change.

Enlightenment is the complete acceptance of change.

With this attitude, practice as well as you can.

If it helps to think that you are practicing for all, then do just that.

But there is no need to practice with a sense of a burden.

All you need to do is just use these means to accept change.’

28 March 2020
A meditation from Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa:

Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa
A recitation of the Six Syllables is like a few simple lines of musical notes, or a melodic ringtone.

More elaborate practices are like complete orchestral scores, such as those created by Studio Ghibli.

Music doesn’t carry any real purpose, and it’s the same for meditational practices.

But, amid fear and anxiety, meditation can help us to find calm and gain focus.

So, kindly practice.

Even taking precautions is also a practice.

But practice that too like playing music.

26 March 2020
Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares the following meditation:

Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa
As we breathe, if we say that inhaling is life, then as we inhale we are doing just that.

As we breathe, if we say that exhaling is death, then as we exhale we are doing just that.

But just because exhaling is death, it doesn’t mean that we should stop exhaling.

That act of panic itself would be unnatural.

As we breathe out and let go of life, it comes back.

Death might seem final, but just as there are long inhalations, there are long exhalations, and there is nothing else.

Both the aspects of breathing are interdependent.

They always were.

So there is nothing permanent.

Our natural body and mind knows this without any external input.

That’s how our heroes, the doctors and nurses, and the whole medical establishment, are able to care for all the patients.

Sure, they have fear and panic: they are sane.

But when they find a way to accept reality – which is change – their courage and their love take over their panic and fear, and with only one focus they go with the flow of what’s happening to the patients and do what they can.

So kindly breathe, my dear ones.

Breathe.

Breathe without fear.

You are breathing with me and I am breathing with you.

24 March 2020
Karmapa offers a new teaching on accepting change

18 March 2020
Karmapa’s teaching on change, karma and COVID-19 – in Tibetan

18 March 2020
Chenresig Practice – Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

18 March 2020
Karmapa’s teaching on change, karma and COVID-19 – in English

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Normally in life, greed – and in most cases even ambition – are things we need to slowly renounce. But while generating your qualities, such as bodhicitta, you need to be very ambitious, almost greedy