His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa transmits the empowerment of Gyalwa Gyatso
The highlight of His Holiness Karmapa’s visit to Taipei, the two-day empowerment of Gyalwa Gyatso (Red Chenresig), took place on May 5 and 6, at National Taiwan University Sports Center.
A good dozen of Karmapa’s monks had been busy for several days before, preparing hundreds of tormas (symbolic food offerings) and setting up the elaborate mandala housed in a beautiful palace, the four sides – symbolising the four main directions – lavishly decorated with offerings.
The reception given to His Holiness Karmapa upon his arrival was impressive: both the outside stairs leading up to the venue on the second floor of National Taiwan University Sports Center and the corridors inside were lined by rows of men in formal garb and women in beautiful traditional clothes, their hands folded in respect.
The sound of gyalings (Tibetan wind instruments used in rituals) announced Gyalwa Karmapa’s arrival in the assembly hall long before the tall parasol held over him by one of his monks came into sight. Rows of men carrying victory banners preceded him, and a monk bearing lit incense guided him through the passageway left by the waiting devotees. The Chairman of Parliament, Mr Chin-pyn Wang and the Deputy Minister of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, Mr Wang-Hsiang Hwang, preceded him as he slowly advanced towards the palace housing the mandala. Once they reached it they each lit a candle in front of the mandala and then proceeded on to the stage.
Mr Chin-pyn Wang then gave a short opening address, in which he extended a warm welcome to His Holiness and expressed his delight at receiving him once again in Taiwan after so many years. He also mentioned that the historical Buddha Shakyamuni himself as well as other realised beings had prophesied that the 16th Karmapa would spread the teaching of the dharma all over the world. “Now we can see that this is coming true in our world. The 16th Karmapa, and now especially the 17th Karmapa, have been spreading the dharma to all corners of the world, and they have been doing this very devotedly and diligently.” The first day of the empowerment was dedicated to the preparatory phase, in Tibetan known as tagon.
On the second day, His Holiness started the empowerment proper with some general explanations.
“Empowerments are not so very complicated in some ways. It can be very simple. It can be a very simple path. All we have to know is that when we practice an empowerment we try to receive this blessing in order to develop our qualities, our bodhicitta. And in order to develop this bodhicitta, all we need is two main ingredients: the accumulation of merit and the accumulation of wisdom, and together with that we develop absolute or unconditioned compassion, combined with absolute wisdom.”
His Holiness then proceeded with the empowerment and transmitted the various stages of the empowerment to the large gathering of devotees, many of whom also took refuge in the Buddha dharma for the first time on that occasion.
Throughout the two days of the empowerment devotees presented His Holiness with offerings of mandalas and ku sung thuk, and many of the practice sessions were preceded by beautifully choreographed dance interludes.