Karmapa’s message for Losar

February 22, 2020

Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares the following message on the occasion of Losar, and the birth of the Year of the Male Metal Rat:

Dear dharma friends

Losar is an annual holiday that takes place at the end of the lunar year cycle. Many Asian countries celebrate it after their yearly harvest of crops, herding of animals and other hard work of all kinds. 

Any message that suggests that we do away with merriment on this occasion, or any other occasion, might seem grim, or that it is somehow spoiling the fun. It might give the impression that we are being asked to renounce cheer because of some occurrence of misfortune. When a religion or religious practice is advocated to replace an occasion of cheer, it may make the mood even more dull!

I hope that such an atmosphere won’t be induced when I ask of you, dear dharma friends, to practice instead of celebrating this annual festivity. No doubt there will be many fellow practitioners for whom ‘Losar’ is not part of their culture. Yet, over the course of time, having developed a connection with the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, many feel an association with the Asian sentiment of Losar. Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts on this occasion. 

Celebrations of any kind are supposed to be enjoyable. However, when something – or anything – is forced upon us, resisting emotions seem to rise. It’s difficult to force someone to enjoy themselves, of course. Often in societies, trying to force joy seems to be one of the many causes of anxiety or dukkha. The intention may be noble, but the means are somewhat lacking in skill. The practice of the Buddha dharma, however, is supposed to be that skilful means. 

Every moment of our life is celebratable. No matter how mundane an activity may seem, whether it is washing dishes, pruning trees, or walking, each and every moment is a celebration. No matter how important an activity may seem, whether it is discovering medical breakthroughs, governing a nation, parenting children or teaching students, each and every moment is a celebration. The precious practice of the Buddha dharma is the means by which our aspiration to witness these moments may be fulfilled. 

The more we try to develop a relationship with the practice of the Buddha dharma, the smoother and more graceful it will be to go with the flow of change, to live with impermanence. 

Then there is no need to force joy on ourselves. Then, every day is a Losar.

With compassion

Thaye Dorje

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

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