Friday, December 18, 2009

Drinking Fully of the Dharma

Starting tomorrow, and continuing until the 22nd of December, HH Gyalwang Karmapa will be teaching on Nagarjuna's Letter to a Friend. These teachings, aimed especially at His Holiness' Western and students, will be webcast live, and we invite you to take your seats alongside us, virtually, and share with us the experience of receiving the Dharma directly from this exceptional spiritual teacher.

If the time difference allows you to watch during the Indian hours of 9-11 am and 3-5 pm, you will find the webcast at this site: http://www.kagyumonlam.tv/ As a guide to the time differences, these Indian hours coincide with 10:30 pm to 12:30 am and 4:30 am to 6:30 am in New York (and please pardon the east coast bias!)

His Holiness recently commented that he had chosen this text to teach on because :it was the custom in ancient India that, as soon as someone took the five refuge precepts, they would memorize this text. Nagarjuna’s Letter to a Friend was written for a king, with laypeople primarily in mind. Hence, it is very helpful in that it addresses the conduct of laypeople, explaining how they should behave in their day-to-day lives."

Should you decide to join us, we offer this summary of advice on how to listen to Dharma teachings, from the deeply moving talk His Holiness gave last week to a large gathering of monastics attending the winter debate session here in Bodhgaya. It is excerpted from the daily report we are preparing and that you can also find on the Kagyu office and Kagyu monlam websites.


Describing the way to receive Dharma teachings, His Holiness took up the image of a vessel free of the three faults—of having holes in it, being dirty or being placed upside down. He managed to take this analogy, well known to many Dharma practitioners, and make it come suddenly alive and replete with new meaning—another characteristic feature of his teaching style. His Holiness assigned the audience the task of examining for themselves whether their minds were worthy recipients for the pure Dharma. We ourselves must take steps to ensure that our minds are suitable vessels to hold the Dharma, he said. We must actively work to remove any stains in our minds, and see to it that our minds are sound, and held upright to receive and retain the Dharma offered.

Going to attend the teachings of a high lama casually, as if we were going to an ordinary, everyday event, is a sign we are not properly valuing the Dharma. Nor is it adequate to simply sit, nonchalantly extending our plate for whatever might be dished onto it, His Holiness said. Instead, we should go to teachings with a deep hunger, and eagerly hold up the empty bowl of our minds to receive the nectar of the pure Dharma.