His Holiness visits Karma Guen, Spain
On the evening of May 24th His Holiness begins to prepare for what will be a ten hours excursion into the nature of mind in the form of Mahakala and Mahakali. Outside the crowd begins to swell. The smell of incense and flowers fill the air. The dichotomy of tranquility and fervent anticipation is a feeling that is strangely familiar and yet so fresh changing and unchanging. The blessings of the Buddha rain down on the people gathered for such a meritorious occasion. Once again, the bodhisattva Karmapa has fulfilled his promise to work towards the liberation of all sentient beings, individually or by the thousands. His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje has come to Karma Guen.
Nestled in the mountains of Veles-Malaga, Spain lies a quiet Buddhist hermitage called Karma Guen. Celebrating twenty years since the first Dharma activity was generated in that area in 1989 by Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche, Pedro and Dorid Gomez with Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl, His Holiness Karmapa was invited to give a series of empowerments and teachings from the 24th of May to the 4th of June.
An estimated three thousand people showed up for this year’s course, which included a 4 days Phowa session with Lama Ole Nydahl. Cars could be seen winding several Kilometers up the dusty road that leads to Karma Guen and Tents were strewn everywhere along the hillsides from the toilet and shower facilities, behind the “Gompa” all the way up to the Kalachakra Stupa, which shines above the main center of attraction and looks over the valley with luminescent light from dusk until dawn. There were representatives from fifty three different countries from almost every continent at the event. Karma Guen is also the current residence of Mipham Rinpoche and Mayumla, the parents of His Holiness Karmapa.
His Holiness gave the Torma Empowerment (Blessing Empowerment) of the Enlightened Dharma Protector Mahakala to an estimated three thousand eager participants on the first evening.
Karmapa began his preparations at 2pm that day and remained in the Lhakong for the next ten hours giving the Mahakala Empowerment and blessings to everyone who had attended. The people waited patiently in queue while His Holiness blessed the entire attending audience without a single break.
Throughout the two weeks, there was a strong sense community while the Gomez family, who hosted this wonderful event, and the thousands of attendees figured out a way to make things run smoothly.
On the 26th of May, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa met with the Spanish Speaking Sangha members from around the world. Representatives from Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain gathered to pay homage to His Holiness. This was the first of four meetings Karmapa would have with different Sanghas, who have taken the voyage to Karma Guen to receive blessing and guidance for their centers.
On the 28th of May, His Holiness had the second meeting with Sangha members from various parts of Russia and the former Soviet Union. So many devoted followers had made the long journey to meet Karmapa.
Then, on the 30th of May, His Holiness met with the Italian Sangha, due to the fact that this would be the only opportunity for them to meet with His Holiness as a group this year.
Finally, His Holiness met with the Israel Sangha on the 4th of June. Though many are immigrants from Russia, Dharma seems to be spreading in this turbulent region and His Holiness expressed his wishes to one day visit and help establish a firm foundation for Dharma in the years to come.
In every meeting gifts were presented to His Holiness and every center introduced themselves by giving short explanations of the activities and expansion of the Sangha and Dharma programs, At the end of each session, His Holiness gave advice suitable to each group and encouraged them to maintain the perseverance and joyous effort that everyone has put forward into the centers. He always remembered to give his blessings and guidance to the people from the different Sanghas that were not able to be present at the meetings in Karma Guen.
The second Empowerment was given after the Phowa sessions on the 30th of May. It was a rare two days empowerment of the 21 Taras. His Holiness patiently gave the series of empowerments giving careful attention to explain the details of each wisdom aspect and their abilities in overcoming different obstacles. Karmapa paid heed to the people’s tolerance of sitting through such a long procedure. He offered that after each of the 21 empowerments, while reciting the 100 syllable mantra, people could get up and go to the toilet, stretch their legs or get some fresh air to relieve the tension of sitting in the heat of the main hall. On the first evening, they mad it through 8 Tara empowerments. His Holiness then gave blessing until 3 am that morning to the thousands of people who came that night. The next day saw the completion of the Tara empowerments and after a long day of meditation and blessings everyone went retired to their beds to rest up for the next day’s empowerment.
His Holiness would give several empowerments over the course of his visit in Spain, including Karma Pakshi (the 2nd Karmapa), Dukar (White Umbrella) and a Dorje Sempa (Vajrasattva) in union empowerment at the Benalmedena Stupa. This was a particularly special evening, as the stupa in Benalmedena is the largest in the Western world and the event was held outdoors for any public spectator to attend. The Empowerment went on into the night with in-depth explanations on the visualizations and instructions of the practice. It was concluded by a walk around the Stupa after completion of the blessings, with the audience in queue behind His Holiness before His Departure that evening.
On the 4th of June Karmapa gave a teaching to the masses at Karma Guen on the importance of Bodhicitta and the 6 perfections of wisdom. Afterwards, there was a vivid rainbow around the sun for the next couple hours when the teaching was finished.
While he was in Spain His Holiness was visited by the Mayor of Velez Malaga, Antonio Soviron, and was offered an honorary citizenship of the community. His Holiness also attended the Grand opening of a Himalayan Buddhist Art exhibition with Mayor Antonio Soviron, Pedro Gomez and Lama Ole Nydahl.
Report: Derek Hanger
Photos: Thule G. Jug