November 17, 2016
Karmapa in Bodh Gaya 2015: the King of Aspiration Prayers
As the annual Kagyu Monlam at Bodh Gaya commences, Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, gives a teaching for his students on www.karmapa.org on the importance of aspiration prayers. At the Kagyu Monlam every year, participants recite aspiration prayers, including Samantabhadra’s King of Aspiration Prayers, in the presence of Karmapa and other Kagyu teachers.
“The practice of aspirations is one of the most important aspects of life as a Buddhist. We aspire to peace and prosperity for all sentient beings. Above all, we aspire for enlightenment for all sentient beings. From a Buddhist perspective, this is the ultimate aim in life. It is a state of the cessation of dukkha or confusion, and this is what we aspire to.
We use the teachings of Buddha himself as a guide to perform perfect aspirations. Therefore, we mainly use the sutras, in particular an extract from the Avataṃsaka Sūtra (Tibetan: mdo phal po che), which is known as Samantabhadra’s King of Aspiration Prayers. Our Karma Kagyu lineage has been fortunate to be able to perform such gatherings of aspirations (in Tibetan known as the “Kagyu Monlam”) in the very land where Buddhism was born, and the sacred place where Gautama Buddha reached enlightenment.
In simple terms, well-wishers and practitioners gather at this sacred place called Bodh Gaya once a year for a few days, and try to utilise these days simply to offer good thoughts, reflect, and observe our minds. Although a short period of practice might not seem like it would have a significant effect, I personally feel that any days of the year spent in practice are meaningful days.
It is very inspiring to see so many devotees from around the world come together and utilize their precious time to offer aspirations and observe their consciousness. I feel that it helps the individuals and that the benefit will be experienced throughout the year.
Just as food provides nutrition on a physical level, similarly by making these aspirations we harvest the nutritional benefit of merit and wisdom. From a Buddhist point of view, merit and wisdom are the most important nutrition for the development of one’s consciousness, and by joining these accumulations of aspiration prayers we accumulate immense merit and wisdom. Merit and wisdom in turn help to develop our mind in the most beneficial way, helping it to evolve. And since we are performing these aspirations in the same way as all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have done, are doing, and always will do, we are able to perform timeless aspirations, meaning that their results will be inexhaustible.
So aspiration prayers do work, and furthermore they are the easiest practice. All it requires is our attention and a most observant mind. Through these qualities, we come to deeply understand what Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have always aspired to. And then, we simply offer aspirations ourselves.”