His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa Visits Karma Kagyu Sangha in Vienna, Austria
Amidst the Wiener Schnitzel, Sachertorte and architectural relics of days gone by is a Karma Kagyu Dharma Community with its roots planted by His Holiness the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje’s first turnings of the Wheel of Dharma in the Western world. On May 17th, 2007 the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje was again reverentially received by an assortment of the Karma Kagyu Sangha of Vienna, guided by the Venerable Khenpo Chodrag Tenphel Rinpoche.
His Holiness had been invited to start his European tour of 2007 in Vienna to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of His Holiness’ first visit in the form of the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, where he gave the Chenrezig Empowerment and established a relationship that has blossomed and continued to flourish in its various manifestations until today. Once again His Holiness was requested to give the Chenrezig Empowerment to the Sangha who have enthusiastically focused their efforts over the years in this particular practice.
The morning of the 18th was filled with frantic preparations for the big event, which would be held over a series of 3 days at a prestigious University Hall in the heart of Vienna’s cultural first district. During the hustle and bustle of both the formal preparations of Tibetan formalities and the technical preparations for the event, His Holiness met with reporters for a personal interview to be shown in June on Austrian television. Though the reporter himself was not Buddhist, he was inspired by His Holiness and showed clear signs of respect including a traditional bowed head and request for blessing afterwards. The line of questioning, due to the journalists unfamiliarity with the technicalities of the Buddhist Dharma, should provide interesting and informative viewing for both Buddhist and Non-Buddhist audiences alike.
On the opening evening of the event Khenpo Chodrag Rinpoche gave a brief teaching on the Karma Kagyu lineage as well as on the Karmapas, preparing the audience to have a deeper understanding of the invaluable preciousness of the blessings they were about to receive. Afterwards, His Holiness gave the refuge vow to those who wanted to take the first formal step towards becoming a Buddhist and for those of us who wanted to renew our commitment to the Buddhist path. Hundreds of participants joined in for the opportunity to receive blessings and instructions from His Holiness. Karmapa finished the evening off with an Empowerment for the practice of Guru Yoga on Milarepa.
The afternoon of the 19th was filled with private meetings with people who had come for personal guidance from His Holiness on their Dharma practice and for advice for the activity of the various centers who had joined the 3 day event as a group from a variety of locations. Despite feeling under the weather, His Holiness graciously met with the people until the time to start the second evening’s ceremonies and celebrations.
The evening of the 19th was an event of both pure Dharma activity and good old fashioned celebration. His Holiness Began the evening with the Lung and Empowerment for the Dorje Sempa (Vajrasattva) practice, which is a Vajrayana practice aimed at purifying your Body Speech and Mind. After the Empowerment, His Holiness was treated to a musical performance by the internationally acclaimed classical guitarist Armin Egger. This was in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary since His Holiness 16th Gyalwa Karmapa had given the Chenrezig Empowerment as well as the 10th Anniversary since His Holiness the 14th Kunzig Shamarpa had given the same Empowerment to the then more established Karma Kagyu Sangha of Vienna. The musical performances were interspersed with heartwarming and inspiring speeches from Khenpo Chodrag Rinpoche and Alex and Tina Draszczyk as well as several gift offerings to His Holiness, including the sponsorship of a giant tortoise in the Vienna zoo symbolizing wishes for his long life.
The final evening and main event was a very special occasion for all and the hall was filled with anticipation. His Holiness gave the full Empowerment of Chenrezig, which was given in 3 phases: The Preparatory Phase, The Actual Empowerment and the Secret Empowerment. “It is a very special occasion,” His Holiness said. “Today we will be taking the Empowerment of Chenrezig in the Royal Tradition. We are embarking on a great journey, which is the path of the Bodhisattvas. We must rejoice in what we must accomplish and what we must aim for.” His Holiness gave a very powerful blessing that evening as well as providing everyone with a map of the Three Yanas and the Bodhisattva way. He advised everyone to be careful of generating “unnecessary Karma” and to take these Empowerments with single pointed concentration and a clear mind motivated towards freeing all sentient beings from the bonds of Samsara out of our Compassion and Loving Kindness.
Report: Derek Hanger
Photos: Thule G. Jug