SThe Foyer outside Tergar Monastery,
February 5, 2020
On this fourth day of the 37th Kagyu Monlam, members and volunteers assembled on the lawn outside Tergar monastery’s main shrine hall for their annual audience with the presiding head of the festival. With His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa’s absence from Bodh Gaya this year, His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche stepped into the role of thanking and celebrating the members and volunteers for helping to make the Monlam a success. A beautiful afternoon made the outside audience special. Monastics sat on cushions at the front, and the rest of the devotees, most wearing white in observance of taking the daily Sojong vows, sat in orderly rows on the grass. Shortly after 3:00 p.m., His Eminence emerged and spoke for perhaps 10 or 12 minutes.
Via English and Chinese translators, Rinpoche offered his heartfelt thanks for the support of the members and volunteers. He commented,
“This year again, we’ve been able to get together for our Monlam in the holy place of Dorje Den [the Vajra seat]; and we have proceeded without any obstacles. We’ve been protected from any outbreak of illness. I acknowledge all the wonderful things happening due to your collective support and express my appreciation for it.”
Rinpoche explained that the Monlam is exceedingly important for our Karma Kagyu lineage, as well as for the spread of the buddha-dharma throughout the world. He said that the Monlam is a service to the fourth buddha, Shakyamuni, the buddha of our age, as well as to the fifth buddha to come, and the one thousand buddhas of the future. He added that the Monlam fulfills His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s enlightened activity and presages the activity of all future Karmapas.
“Now, what’s emphasized in dharma practice is the mind. You can think that through supporting the Kagyu Monlam, you are serving all the Karmapas and the one thousand Buddhas. In this way, the benefit is enormous. We make the aspiration as boundless as space — may our prayers be limitless and benefit all sentient beings throughout the universe.”
Rinpoche commented that in making this aspiration and in supporting the Monlam, the members and volunteers have accumulated a great deal of virtue. He cautioned that we must not let this go to waste. He promised, “If you continue with your practice and uphold a noble motivation, you will grow into an authentic dharma practitioner.”
Rinpoche reminded those in attendance that His Holiness the Karmapa is following the Monlam from afar, and he expressed the wish that His Holiness could soon reunite with us all at the Monlam. He finished, “I personally wish you a long life free of illness, and a happy, meaningful life. I will hold you in my prayers, as will His Holiness, and I rejoice in your activities.”
Speaking briefly after Rinpoche had left the foyer, Lama Chodrak, organizer of the Kagyu Monlam, appealed to all present for continuing support. He noted that membership tends to wax and wane from year to year; people who attend the Monlam become members for that particular year but don’t necessarily donate from afar on an annual basis. He told the audience that if the Kagyu Monlam can consistently achieve 4,000 members annually, it will be able to pay for all the activities it undertakes. He asked all to help arouse enthusiasm for the Monlam among our friends and dharma siblings when we return to our home countries.
Finally, monastics at the head of the line, members and volunteers filed past the attendants who handed each person a red blessing cord, a precious glass gau containing blessing pills, and a beautiful photo of His Holiness on his regal throne. It was a fitting end to a celebration of generosity.