Empowerment of Buddha Amitabha
The official programme of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa in Hong Kong started on January 18 with the empowerment of Buddha Amitabha (“Limitless Light”), regent of the Pure Land of Sukhavati (tib: Dewachen). When starting out on the path to enlightenment the individual who was to become Buddha Amitabha made aspirations to manifest a pure land that would be accessible for ordinary beings who had not yet reached the bodhisattva levels. Once he attained the state of buddhahood, through the power of his merit and aspirations he was thus able to manifest the Pure Land of Sukhavati. It is said that this pure land can indeed be reached by ordinary beings, provided they cultivate strong aspirations to be reborn there, generate bodhicitta and one-pointed faith in Buddha Amitabha and have sufficient merit.
Both you and myself, we have to think of those who have made this event possible – the organisers and volunteers. All of us should offer our appreciation and gratitude to them.
He then continued by explaining some fundamental notions about Buddha Amitabha and the related practice, and asked all those in attendance to focus on Buddha Amitabha’s heart.
Why am I asking you to focus on his heart? What is the heart of Buddha Amitabha? The essence of his heart is none other than bodhicitta, which is timeless, beginningless courage.
Before starting the empowerment proper, His Holiness gave refuge to several hundred people who had expressed their wish to follow the path taught by the Buddha. Talking about the meaning of refuge he explained that taking refuge was not about converting.
The reason why I’m saying this is that there is nothing to convert from and nothing to convert to, because our nature is known as the enlightened nature. It is unborn, unconditioned – so it doesn’t need any conversion, changes or alterations. We take refuge only to realise this nature which is already ours.
All the way through the empowerment His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa gave detailed explanations on the meaning of the various stages, and by the time the last of the devotees had passed by him and his monks for the blessing with the ritual objects it was long past midnight.
Gyalwa Karmapa gives Refuge and Amitabha-Initiation in Hong Kong: