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' Compassion - The Language of a Bodhisattva '

His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa Ranjung Rigpe Dorje

The practice of a Dharma involves certain possibilities. How these potentials evolve into actual
situations for the practitioner, and how much is possible withtin these situations depend on the
capacity of individual beings. It depends upon the level of teachings that one is able to relate to,
such as Mahayana or Theravada. At this particular time in our lives, the practice of the Mahayana
teaching is possible. It is absolutely precious and absolutely rare. Our concern for development
and our sense of responsibility has placed us in a position to integrate the preciousness and rarity
of the Mahayana teaching with our lives. Through it there is the possibility of the experience of
no-returning back into Samsara and the experience of ultimate bliss that is self-knowing and in
which there are no doubts.
In the midst of the wandering of our minds we might sometimes fall into thinking that whatever
one practices or not, the Dharma will always be available. If you have that kind of notion, it is a
very serious mistake.
Any brief moment, any time at all that one could use as an opportunity for Dharma practice,
one must use.
If you do not take this responsibility and offer sincere respect to the Mahayana and Vajrayana
teachings, there is a definite possibility of causing harm to oneself as well as to those spiritual
friends to whom one is linked. A lack of attention to the responsibilities of the Mahayana path
constitutes a breaking of Samaya principles, therefore, in whatever way one can hold to the
teachings, one must sincerely do so.
If you think that the teaching is negligible, such a reality will manifest because of your attitude,
to your great loss. The fact is that the teaching is very much hidden from you, so you cannot
really make speculations about it. On the other hand, the validity of the teaching has been
witnessed by its ageless effectiveness from the time of the Buddha to this day. This is something
to dwell upon. You must sincerely realise the sacredness of the teachings, to the point of
understanding that there is actually nothing more important than the practice of Dharma within
this lifetime, and in lifetimes to come.
In a simple mundane life situation, in the field of business, we know that the businessman develops
a plan for a project, he knows what it will cost him, perhaps one million dollars, and every detail of
the project is regarded with the utmost care. Absolute importance is attached to such a project in
the business world, and a great deal of energy is put into bringing it to a successful conclusion. The
point is if one is going to expand such effort for a result of such a temporary nature, why not put
at least as much effort into a project that is going to cause one temporary as well as ultimate
benefit? Whether you are receiving an empowerment, or an explanation, if you are able to have or
develop that sense of importance about Dharma, then there is purpose in your relationship with the
Mahayana teachings and there is going to be fulfilment, too. If there is a genuine commitment to the
teaching, you will be able to develop direct and meaningful trust and confidence in the teachings and
sincere compassion towards beings. You will at the same time develop a true understanding of the
universality of the working of Karma and the nature of cause and effect.
The Bodhisattva's aspiration and actions are powerful because from the very beginning when a
Bodhisattva embarks on the Journey of the Bodhi Path, he aspires to work for the benefit and
liberation of all sentient beings with a very determined, definite and powerful intention. Because
of the sincere resolve that is withtin this aspiration, whatever actions need to be performed to
benefit and liberate beings are performed with great power and tirelessness. Having undertaken
such a profound journey by virtue of the aspiration to help beings, as the different stages of the
Bodhisattva are experienced one finds oneself increasingly capable of benefiting countless beings.
That is how the Bodhisattva first treads upon the path. When the Bodhisattva works for the
benefit of all beings with such appropriate aspiration and actions there is total fulfilment. The
fulfilment is appropriate in the sense that there is no selfishness involved in the way of expectations,
doubts, hopes, attachment or aversion regarding gains and losses of any kind. The Bodhisattva is
completely pure ans spotless, working incessantly and wholeheartedly for the benefit of beings.
Not for a moment is there any hesitation or doubt, as these obstacles have been transcended.
The ways of a Bodhisattva are gentle, since all harmful actions and indulgences have been
abandoned. Not only are harmful deeds themselves eliminated in a Bodhisattva's life, but
also the creation of causes of future harmful situations. Work is done solely for the benefit
of other beings, not only in direct deeds, but in laying the foundations for future benefits to
accrue. When these Bodhisattvas initiate work, then they are able to cause immeasurable
benefit towards beings, and they do so manifesting fearless generosity without doubts or
expectations, like the great Bodhisattvas of Boundless Compassion, Avalokitesvara, or the
Bodhisattva of Boundless Power, Vajrapani, and so on.
All who comprise the great assemblage of Bodhisattvas are equally powerful and equally
beneficial to countless beings, so that all things seem to be at their command. Sometimes
beautiful lotuses and lotus frees are caused by them to growfrom the middle of the ocean,
or a teardrop is transformed into an ocean. Everything in nature is at the Bodhisattva's call.
Fire can appear as water; water can appear as fire. It is all because of the strength of the
Bodhisattva's attitude, the aspiration and action. For us this says that the practice of compassion
must be given full consideration, and it must at all times be in our awareness and at all times
performed.

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SONG OF THE RIGHT MOMENT
IN THE MELODIOUS HUM OF THE BEE

His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa


This song is ala ala ala.
It is thala thala thala.
"Ala" means it is a song of the unborn.
"Thala" is a word that invokes.
If you do not recognize this place,
It is the place of Akanishtha's heart chakra.
In the mandala of glorious Chakrasamvara,
The main seat is Tsurphu in the Dowo valley.

If you do not recognize a person like me,
I belong to the family lineage of 'den, a good ancestry.
If you call me by name, I am known as Rigdrol Yeshe
(This is the childhood name of the XVIth Karmapa, used until his
enthronement at the age of eight.)
This victory banner of the teaching of glorious Dakpo's lineage
(Dakpo Lhaje or Gampopa was the teacher of the first Karmapa, Dusum
Khyenpa.)
Is raised high on the summit of worldly existence, they say,
Planted at the end of a series, held high and never declining.
("Series" refers to the unbroken lineage of the Kagyu teachings.)
Nourished by the essence of the father lama's oral instructions,
It is the perfection of the great display of innate primordial wisdom.
The turquoise mane of the lion from the high snows
(The snow lion's mane is vast and a metaphor here for the teachings of
Buddhism in Tibet.)
In the stunning sandalwood forests, lives a huge tiger
With a powerful roar and the radiant color of clouds at dawn.
(The lustrous saffron color of the tiger to the brilliance of the Dharma.)
Insatiably he conquers the wild animals of wrong views.
What I have spoken is the truth, the Victorious One's power,
Resounding over the lake with its waters of eight qualities
( The water is cool, sweet, light, soft, clear, pleasant, wholesome, and
soothing.)
Like the pleasant sound of hastening ducks.
(The metaphors of the lake and ducks refer to the clear and pleasing quality
of the Dharma and to the fact that it pervades the great oceans.)
In the sky, vast and all-pervading,
Are set the sun and moon, luminous and natural.
(This metaphor refers to the naturally luminous quality of the
Dharma and to the fact that it pervades all space.)
The very famous one called Rigdrol
Does not remain, yet knows not where he will go.
The swan places its trust in the lake
And the lake, unreliable, turns to ice.
(The Karmapa is the swan residing on the lake of its monastery, Tsurphu.
When the Chinese invade Tibet and take over the monastery, it becomes
uninhabitable like a frozen lake.)
The white lion places its trust on the snow,
But the fine, white snow attracts the sun.
(The lion is also the Karmapa, who relies on his monastery of Tsurphu in the
snowy land of Tibet. The heat of the sun, which melts the snow, is a metaphor
for the destruction of Tsurphu during the Cultural Revolution. Both
metaphors of the swan and its lake and the lion and its snow indicate that
although the Karmapa wished to remain at Tsurphu, it was not possible.)
May all the noble ones left behind in the snowy land of Tibet
Not come under the power of the four elements.
(Here, the Karmapa prays that those who could not escape will be protected
from harm caused by the four elements, such as being drowned in water,
burned by fire, and so forth.)
On the day the swan circles the edge of the lake
And leaves its fledglings in the darkening swamp,
(Again the swan is the Karmapa departing for India and the young birds left
behind are the people of Tibet, and in particular, his disciples.)
The day the white vulture soars in the depths of the sky,
You will wonder where the man Rigdrol is.
O Fledglings, I feel untold grief for you.
Now I will not explain much; this is but a jest,
Yet unified with ultimate reality.
When the Lord of the Path is held by the king of birds,
In prayer I aspire that we gather in great joy.
("The Lord of the Path" refers to the astrological path or cycle of twelve
years and the "king of the birds" refers to the year of the bird. It was the
year of the bird, (in June of 1992) when the XVIIth Karmapa returned to
Tsurphu and a joyful reunion with his disciples.)
For this life, take this as the essential point coming to your ears.
Speech is indestructible sound like an echo.
Mind is empty, free of material concerns.
On the path with no accepting of good nor rejecting of bad,
The conduct of the king of birds is relaxed within itself.
("These four lines refer to meditation on the true nature of mind.)
Examine in detail this meaning of a hundred flavors.
Ki ki so so, gathering of wrathful Wermas.
(Wermas are dharmapalas [protectors of the Dharma] with great dignity and
courage.)
In the sixteen Rabjung's [sixty-year cycle's] year of the wood monkey [1944], this was
composed by the sixteenth incarnation of the Karmapas, Ranjung Rigpe Dorje, in his residence
Tashi Khangsar, located in the main temple of Tsurphu Dowolung. May it be auspicious. Under
the guidance of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, translated by Michele Martin, Bodhanath, Nepal,
April 1994.

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The Karmapa (honorific title His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, sometimes spelled Gyalwang Karmapa) is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu , itself one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

The first Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa (Dus gsum Mkhyen pa) (1110–1193), was a disciple of the Tibetan master Gampopa. A talented child who studied Dharma (Buddhist teachings) with his father from an early age and who sought out great teachers in his twenties and thirties, he is said to have attained enlightenment at the age of fifty while practicing dream yoga. He was henceforth regarded as the Karmapa, a manifestation of Avalokitesvara (Chenrezig), whose coming was predicted in the Samadhiraja Sutra and the Lankavatara Sutra.


The source of the oral lineage, traditionally traced back to the Buddha Vajradhara, was transmitted to the Indian master of mahamudra and tantra called Tilopa (989-1069), through Naropa (1016–1100) to Marpa and Milarepa. These forefathers of the Kagyu lineage are collectively called the "golden rosary".

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