The lineage of the Karmapas was prophesied by Shakyamuni Buddha who said that approximately 1600 years after his death an emanation of Avalokiteshvara (aka Chenrezig) the Bodhisattva of Compassion would be born. Karmapa literally means ‘one who manifests buddha activity’ and his activity is to preserve and spread the essence of the teachings of all the Buddhas. The Buddha predicted the Karmapa would propagate the teachings during the course of many successive incarnations. As well, the Buddha predicted, “In the future, a great bodhisattva with a ruby red crown will come to the suffering of the multitude, leading them out of their cyclic bewilderment and misery.” In the Karmapas and the Shamarpas, the Buddha’s predictions were fulfilled.
Archive for January, 2011
“You need not make efforts to create non-conceptuality. You need not regard thoughts as a fault. And so that your practice does not succumb to famine, from the beginning have a bountiful crop. Not searching for a state that is calmly resting, vividly clear, and filled with bliss, bring into your experience whatever arises without taking it up or discarding it.”
- Drubtop Urgyenpa (1230-1312), Karma Kagyu lineage holder (between the 2nd and 3rd Karmapas)
Renowned cardiologist Pim van Lommel, author of Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience , discusses his research into the near-death experience. In this extensive interview, he describes the brain as a “transceiver” which receives information from consciousness, states that everything originates from consciousness – which he describes as “fundamental” and “non-local” – and discusses the profound implications of his research for Western science.
We are all looking for happiness and trying to avoid suffering, every one of us doing what we can to make life comfortable and get rid of everything we find unpleasant or that makes us suffer. In the midst of this conflict of interests, no one has much freedom of choice. Each situation has been woven by the thoughts, words and deeds accumulated throughout countless previous lives that have sown the seeds of the karma we experience at the moment. All of us now find ourselves caught up in this web of ripening karma, so that whether we like it or not, we are carried along by the force of events, suffering even more because what happens is happening despite our wishes to the contrary.
When you study, study everything under the sun.
When you reflect, keep an open mind.
When you practice, do one practice and go deep.
- Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye, 1813-1899
A new book published by Wisdom Publications entitled “Lives Lived, Lives Imagined – Biographies of Awakening” is an impressive collection of cross-traditional accounts of the lives of Buddhist practitioners, with contributions from a range of contemporary authors and scholars. In particular, it contains a fascinating account of the early years of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje (1507-1554).
The section of the book in question is “Narratives of Reincarnation, Politics of Power, and the Emergence of a Scholar – The Very Early Years of Mikyö Dorje”, by Jim Rheingans. In it, Rheingans presents a vast range of biographical and historical material on the early years of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje, whose recognition and enthronement were overshadowed by attempts to install a rival candidate as the new Karmapa. Rheingans makes clear how the method of establishing spiritual lineages through identifying reincarnations was (and is) embedded into the politics of the day. Biographies and autobiographies reflect this religio-political dimension, and some of the stock elements of such narratives, like the self-recognition of an incarnate young lama or the establishment of the prototypical patron-priest relationship in later years, serve to legitimize the position of the Karmapa and establish the political alliances that were necessary for maintaining a religious legacy.