The 1st Kagyu Monlam in the UK took place at Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Scotland from 22 – 29 May 2018. It was hosted by Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, the Abbot of Samye Ling, together with Lama Katen, our Deputy Abbot.
The Monlam proceedings were presided over by Khenpo Lhabu (Drupon Rinpoche) from Thrangu Rinpoche’s Retreat Centre in Nepal.
We were also honoured that Lama Kunga from Germany attended as well as the three Western Lamas from the wider Samye Ling organisation: Lama Zangmo from London, Lama Tsondru from Spain and Lama Rinchen from Belgium.
A Chöpön (ritual master) from Sherab Ling monastery in India arrived two weeks beforehand and started preparing the richly ornamented tormas, which were later placed on the shrine alongside fruit, flowers and other offerings.
An excellent Umze from Sherab Ling monastery led the chanting of the prayers, supported by the other lamas, monks and nuns. All in all, 120 people attended the Monlam prayers.
Khenpo Lhabu bestowed the Sojong vows at the beginning of each day. He then gave two teaching sessions every day, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. In-between the teachings were two sessions of chanting the prayers.
The first day began with a solemn procession of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa’s image. Then Lama Yeshe Rinpoche and Drupon Rinpoche, together with the other lamas, offered a mandala of the Universe, as well as symbols of awakened Body, Speech, Mind, Qualities and Activities to the Karmapa’s throne.
In the evening of the second last day, we celebrated the Marme Monlam and candles were lit and held aloft while the Rinpoches, Lamas, monks and nuns recited the prayers.
The Kagyu Gurtso (the songs of realisation of the masters of the Kagyu Lineage) were recited on the final day, which was very auspicious because it was the anniversary of the Buddha’s Enlightenment and Parinirvana. In a break between the prayers, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa delivered an address to the UK Monlam which was pre-recorded and shown on a big screen in the temple.
His Holiness made the following aspiration: “May all the sounds of lament and war as well as the poisonous winds in the environment be dispelled. May these words of love and compassion blend with the innate goodness of every single being and coalesce into one powerful force. Like the light of the sun, moon and stars, may love, compassion and wisdom shine forth...”
We were graced with wonderful sunny weather throughout the Monlam and there was an overall atmosphere of joy, friendship and harmony throughout this special time.
Samye Ling is planning to host the Kagyu Monlam on an annual basis, and we plan to make this an even bigger event next year, inviting Lamas from throughout the UK and Europe, as well as from India and Nepal.