His Holiness The 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje visits Nagpur and Chandrapur
55 years ago, on October 14th 1956, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, known to the people of India as the “Father of the Constitution”, organized a public ceremony for himself and his supporters in Nagpur where he took refuge in the “Three Jewels” and accepted the “Five Precepts” of the Buddhist tradition. After formally completing his own conversion, he then proceeded to convert some 500,000 of his supporters, many of who were considered “Untouchables” in the Hindu “Caste System” like himself. Ambedkar believed that the Mahar people were an ancient Buddhist community of India who had been forced to live outside villages as outcasts because they refused to renounce their Buddhist practices. He considered this to be the reason they became known as “Untouchables” in the Hindu tradition, according to his book entitled Who were the Shudras?. He then traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal to attend the fourth World Buddhist conference. Coincidentally, 1956 also marks a historical moment in the life of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, when at the Invitation of the Mahabodhi Society of India and Jawaharlal Nehru the Karmapa traveled from Tibet throughout India on pilgrimage in celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of Buddha’s Enlightenment.
Since the mass conversion at Nagpur in 1956, there has been a continuous renaissance of Buddhism in its homeland. In honor of this great moment in Indian Buddhist history, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje was, yet again, invited by the Buddhist Society of India and other local organizing committees in the ever growing Buddhist Sangha of the Ambedkar movement as their Chief Guest in Celebrations in both Nagpur and Chandrapur Maharastra, India on the 15th and 16th of October, 2011.
His Holiness was received with great fervor by both the venerable guests in attendance as well as the multitudes who gathered to receive “Darshan” (a religious act in Indian culture by which simply viewing a revered saint and being in their presence it is believed one receives immense blessings). His Holiness concluded the celebrations on the evening of the 16th in Chandrapur with a teaching to a gathering of over 200,000 people (Transcript provided below). I represent the Kagyu Buddhist School, here along with our dignitaries, and we offer our gratitude to all of you. Thank you. “Bahut Bahut Dhanyavad.” The Buddha that you bore and his teachings that came to Tibet have actually shaped the lives of so many people. If I had to pick one of these teachings to talk about, it would be the preciousness of human rebirth. When we talk about a precious human rebirth, it is precious, that I think we all know and I don’t need to explain why or how. We can achieve the most amazing things, such as the cell phones that you are carrying with you everywhere. Not just one, some of you might have even two or three. You see, the mind can do so much but, more than that, what the consciousness or mind can really absolutely achieve is Buddhahood. And, only by achieving that state can we truly benefit others.
Therefore, I would like to request all of you to use your lives wisely. I know you have many responsibilities that you cannot do without but, nevertheless, always think about it. Because the way that this world is functioning at the moment and its rate, it is so hard and there is the possibility that one could lose one’s path. Therefore, you have the best human rebirth that you could ever hope for, I tell you. I can guarantee it. So, of course, as I said you can do so many things but if you do not have examples it is very hard. Therefore, I would like to say a few words about examples. There are so many great examples that you could look up to but, we ourselves being Buddhists, we must look in the context of our own circle. So, I can think of no other better than the Buddha Shakyamuni, the person that chose to show the way to the rest of the world how to be enlightened. He didn’t just reach enlightenment for himself but for the sake of all sentient beings. That is a great example. It is that example alone that we need to truly benefit all of us. Deep down, all of us know that there must be something. We may be taking a sip of some nice tea or maybe coffee, thinking that, “hmmm… I need to do something. What is that something that could truly be meaningful?” But, we don’t know. It’s like that. Everywhere, it’s the same cup of tea. Maybe the decoration of the cup or the way we take it may differ from culture to culture. They could be Westerners, they could be Asians they could be Indians or they could be Tibetans. Nevertheless, everyone is thinking the same thing. “I need to be doing something meaningful.” but they don’t know what. So, that’s why an example is so important these days.
That’s what Buddha did. Not just in one way or one simple example. The greatest way was what he was teaching everywhere; the way you walk, the way you talk, the way you eat, the way you drink the way you sleep, EVERYTHING. From the way that he taught he showed how an actual utopia should look like. However, I think that if I go on too long about this I may bore you. So, I will continue with some other examples. There are many others who have come into this world but, though there may be some debate on this, I think the second example here should be Emperor Ashoka because he revived the Buddha Dharma in your land. Lastly, the most appropriately termed “Boddhisattva” Babasaheb Ambedkar. So you see in your lives, your present generation and the next generation, you will not have to go anywhere else in search of “The” example because all these examples are there. You just have to cultivate the qualities of those examples. In the beginning it may be hard. But, you just have to act, try to mimic and then it will come out so easily. Why? Because they are locked deep down in your nature. I am only a voice, that’s it. I’m only a voice here and the strength, the power, the “doability”, all of these strategies are in your hands. Yes, we can talk about “Global Warming”, “Ice Age”, “Dark Age”, all of that, but the thing is, that’s nothing. If we can follow these great examples and, above all, Buddha Shakyamuni the Gautam Buddha, then with their methods we can find the origin of “Global Warming”, which is right here (His Holiness points to his heart). It’s HERE (His Holiness points to his forehead). This is where the “Global Warming” starts. So, when we are extremely emotional, when we are shouting at the top of our lungs, screaming and doing unimaginable things, that’s “Global Warming”. So, first we have to find a remedy for this. That is to meditate, simply like Gautama Buddha. We have to meditate and calm this sponge like mind, and then we’ll find it. Calm some more, some more, some more and a little more and then we’ll get there. And then we’ll have real peace. So, what I am saying is that the power is in your hands, all of you. Some of you are here, some of you are not but, nevertheless, it is all in your hands. We are just voices, nothing but voices. They are good though because they remind you, therefore they are good voices. But, we are not examples like the ones I have mentioned. I hope I didn’t disappoint you in any way but what I say is something that comes from the depths of my heart and may it be of great benefit to you. Lastly, I would just like to say a few words about how to rejoice and how to dedicate. I believe that these are invaluable means to multiply, through the infinity of space, merit. Right now, all of us know that we are in a stage where we are going towards Buddhahood. It is that stage where we are all becoming fertilized. Therefore, we need to accumulate immense amounts of merit. That’s the way, by making wishes. Imagine all the good things that you did, just concentrate only on the good deeds, the accumulations of good karma, from the moment that you woke up today until now. You can do this in different ways but, nevertheless, you concentrate only on the good things that you did and then dedicate that to all sentient beings, not just hundreds, not just one million sentient beings or one billion sentient beings but ALL sentient beings. You dedicate that in your mind, “I have accumulated so much up to this moment and may it be of great benefit.” Lastly, comes the rejoicing part. For example, today I am sure that all of you have accumulated immense amounts of merit. I didn’t get here until now, but you all have been here since this morning until now. So, if I rejoice in your good actions, your good speech and your good thoughts, I would accumulate the same amount of merit as you right now. That’s the power of rejoicing. So, “Bahut Bahut Dhanyavad” (thank you very much) for the opportunity to be here with you again. I am looking forward to seeing all of you here again in the next year at the same time and the same place. Thank you very much and I wish you all a very good night. “Subha ratri!”