Karmapa Presides Over Vesak 2017 Celebrations

May 12, 2017

On the 10th May 2017, Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, presided over the Vesak celebrations at the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute.

On a hot day in New Delhi, practitioners came together on the occasion of the 2561st Buddha Purnima celebration.

Karmapa took part in the performance of the Puja of the 16 Arhats, after which he gave a teaching about the meaning of Buddha Purnima.

Focus inwardly.
Avoid extremes.
Encompass all.

Karmapa spoke about the spiritual way of life as one that focuses inwardly, avoids extremes and encompasses all. Spirituality and the way of the Bodhisattvas, Karmapa said, is not about trying to achieve the impossible. Quite the contrary, enlightenment is logical:

What we have to really be clear about, is that when we particularly practice the Buddha Dharma, the way of the Buddhas, or the Bodhisattvas, or whatever we call it – when we practice this, we are not trying to achieve something that didn’t exist. We are not trying to achieve something that was not there. It is just the opposite, in a way. We are trying to achieve something that is logical, that is possible.

Vesak celebration with Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, 2017.
Photo / Norbu Zangpo

Karmapa praised the devotion of those attending the Vesak celebrations and encouraged them to consider enlightenment in simple, clear terms:

What is not there is not there,
What is there is there.

I think it is safe to say that devotion is something that you all have, but at the same time, exactly to what we are devoted may not be clear. On this occasion, I suggest that to what or to whom you might be devoted is this: what is not there is not there, what is there is there. We have to use this occasion to somehow focus: this particular teaching, this particular method, this particular path, the path of the Bodhisattvas is all about this, and nothing more.

Our individual existence is not an accident.
We are all interconnected.
Our existence is extraordinary.

Karmapa then went on to talk about the illusion of separateness, and how the path of a Bodhisattva is to understand that we are all interconnected:

First of all, we are all human beings, secondly we all have feelings, and then more and more as we go into it, we realize that there was nothing solid to define as independent or separate. We may use this occasion to find our own way to let go of ideas of separation a little bit. And to see that I’m here because of you, you are here because of me, we are here because of them. Just like that. To use ordinary events, occurrences, as a way of realizing that we are all interconnected. That we are all interdependent.

Participants queue for a blessing from Karmapa. Photo / Norbu Zangpo

Karmapa elaborated about how this notion of interconnectedness and interdependence can empower us all:

There is interdependence with everything that we see here. Everything that we can think of, everything that we can imagine. Everything that is apparent in this life. Everything is interconnected in some way. Although we are living ordinary lives, nevertheless we are all in some way or another connected with every sentient being in the world. And so therefore, my action, my thought, my speech – all of them count. And so therefore, something as ordinary as me breathing in, breathing out, has an impact on the rest. And so therefore, then we can come to understand that our existence, our individual existence is not a fluke, it is not a coincidence, it is not an accident, but something extraordinary. Just like everyone. And therefore, we can take a beneficial pride in ourselves, that yes, I am a human being. And if need be, then also to feel that I am a Buddhist. I am a practitioner. And that my actions matter. And therefore if we have any delusions, if we have any confusion, habits of thinking that I am unimportant, I am no one, that my actions won’t mean anything, these kind of thoughts and habits will eventually diminish. And as those diminish then we get closer and closer to what we call the state of enlightenment.’

After Karmapa’s talk, everyone present queued to receive a blessing from him.

Professor Sempa Dorje then gave a talk, which was followed by the distribution of kheer and water in front of the the main gate of KIBI.

In the early evening, Karmapa presided over a beautiful 1,000-lamp offering, in harmony with tradition.

The main gate of the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI), New Delhi.
Photo / Norbu Zangpo