December 23, 2020
Karmapa reflects on an historic Monlam
The most significant event of the year for Karma Kagyu practitioners around the world, the Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya is always an auspicious occasion. As tens of thousands of students, monks, nuns and other venerables gather under the welcoming shade of the Bodhi Tree to offer aspirations for the benefit of all sentient beings, the place where Buddha attained enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago takes on an even more special atmosphere.
The occasion of the 2017 Kagyu Monlam was truly historic, not only for all of the devotees who had gathered in person to receive empowerments and teachings from Karmapa, and the tens of thousands who joined the ceremonies live online, but for Karmapa himself.
The 2017 Kagyu Monlam was the first time Karmapa was joined in Bodh Gaya by his whole family. Karmapa’s parents, His Eminence Jamgon Ju Mipham Rinpoche and Mayumla Dechen Wangmo, were present for the first time in many years after being on a long retreat. Karmapa was also joined by his wife, Sangyumla Rinchen Yangzom, for their first Monlam together; Sangyumla’s parents, Yab Mr Chencho and Yum Mrs Kunzang were present; as were her family.
The most recent Kagyu Monlam was a very joyous and historic occasion for me personally. It was wonderful to be with my family – not only my beloved parents, wife and other relatives, but with the global family of practitioners who were present in Bodh Gaya, and those who joined us through the online stream. This Karma Kagyu family is very special, and one that I am very thankful to be a part of.
When we come together to the sacred place where Gautama Buddha reached enlightenment, and offer aspirations for peace and prosperity for all beings, the merit, wisdom and benefit that is accumulated is tremendous.
Karmapa opened the Kagyu Monlam Prayers at the Mahabodhi Stupa under the Bodhi Tree on 14 December. His Eminence 4th Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, Karma Mingyur Dragpa Senge, and His Eminence Beru Khyentse Rinpoche conducted alongside Karmapa throughout the ceremonies.
During the Kagyu Monlam, Karmapa gave private audiences to many Rinpoches, ordained and lay Buddhist practitioners, politicians, sponsors, and representatives of different Karma Kagyu organisations around the world. Karmapa conducted a ritual for the deceased, and gave a Chenresig empowerment to over 6,000 people. Karmapa also gave Buddhist Refuge to many young monks and nuns.
Karmapa took part in several high-level meetings, including presiding over the Third International Karma Kagyu Meeting. Karmapa visited the children at the the local Bodhi Tree school, and took part in other activities coordinated by his foundation, the South Asia Buddhist Association (SABA).
The 2017 Kagyu Monlam drew to a close with three days of ceremonies and offerings for Karmapa’s long life, and prayers for the swift return of His Holiness Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche.
Please enjoy and share this selection of photos from the 2017 Kagyu Monlam.