The “Victorious Banner” (Tib. Gyaltsen) was originally a military standard of ancient Indian warfare. Early Buddhism adopted the banner as a symbol of Buddha Shakyamuni’s triumph over the armies of Mara, the personification of obstacles on the path to enlightenment, whose demonic warriors bore it as an emblem. Legend says that this banner was placed at the summit of Mount Meru, the mythological centre of the cosmos, as a symbol of the Buddha’s victory over the entire universe. The top of the banner was surmounted by the “Wish Fulfilling Jewel” (Tib. Yidzhin Norbu), which is a famous epithet of the Karmapa…
July 2012 marked some of the most significant events in the history of the Karma Kagyu lineage in the United Kingdom: the Wish Fulfilling Jewel appeared once again in the UK, and a victorious banner was raised above the Beaufoy Institute in Lambeth. In the midst of the celebrations of the enormous success, after a long process of planning consultation, in planning permission being granted for Diamond Way Buddhism’s new London Centre at the Beaufoy Institute, H.H. 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje arrived in the UK for a momentous 10 day visit.
Arriving in the evening of Friday 6 July, Gyalwa Karmapa was joyfully greeted by many students in Heathrow airport. He then spent the weekend in London where he had a number of private meetings and interviews, including an important interfaith event which we will report here in more detail in due course.
On Sunday 8 July Gyalwa Karmapa travelled from London to Manchester by 1st class Pendolino train, in a carriage only used by his entourage. At Manchester Piccadilly station he was greeted by Lama Jampa Thaye and students from the Dechen Community, who hosted him over the next four days. Many of the Diamond Way dharma friends travelled to receive the initiation of Milarepa given by Gyalwa Karmapa in Harrogate on Monday July 9, as well as his public teachings in Manchester on July 10 and the profound 2-day initiation of Gyalwa Gyamtso in Manchester on 11-12 July (see the Dechen blog).
On Friday 13 July, Gyalwa Karmapa and his entourage returned to London again via 1st class Pendolino for a packed programme of events and engagements. At Euston Station he was greeted by Lama Jigme Rinpoche, who had flown into London from Dordogne the previous evening, as well as many Diamond Way students. Afterwards Gyalwa Karmapa was driven to his residence in London.
Later that evening, Lama Ole Nydahl arrived at Heathrow airport to join the programme for the next days, greeted by many happy students. In the car ride from the airport to the London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre, he was regaled of some of the remarkable events of the previous weeks in the run-up to the decision to grant Diamond Way Buddhism planning permission to complete the purchase of the Beaufoy Institute. Back at the London Centre, the celebrations continued and Lama Ole thanked his students for all the work they had put into the process.
On Saturday July 14 the official programme in London began. Gyalwa Karmapa was greeted by a packed-to-capacity hall at the historic Friends Meeting House on Euston Road.
Gyalwa Karmapa was welcomed on stage with the following speech:
Dear Gyalwa Karmapa,
On behalf of the UK’s Diamond Way Buddhist centres we are overjoyed to welcome you to London for the fourth time to share the Buddha’s teachings with us.
We are also very pleased to welcome Jigme Rinpoche, Lama Ole Nydahl, and Lama Jampa Thaye, as well as their families, attendants and entourages.
We are fortunate again to be in this auspicious location, where in 1974 your predecessor the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa gave the black crown ceremony in this very hall.
We are also glad that so many of you came, because as you might have heard, this year is very special – and we’ve been celebrating for the last 10 days.
We are very happy that Diamond Way students could finally fulfil the wish of your predecessor the 16th Karmapa, to create a Landmark in London for the Karma Kagyu Lineage. It will be a cultural jewel for the benefit of many, with a magnificent meditation hall.
So in the near future, many of our events will happen there, and we will be able to welcome you all in this new very hall!
Of course our huge success would not have been possible without your inspiration Gyalwa Karmapa, and the great support we received from Jigme Rinpoche and of course Lama Ole.
So once again thank you very much for being with us!
Gyalwa Karmapa then gave a wonderful talk on the topic of “The Four Immeasurables”, based on a teaching by Dza Patrul Rinpoche, from the Kunzang Lamai Shelung. This concerned the meaning of the unconditioned loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity which is the essence of the Bodhisattva path.
In the evening of 14 July, Steve James and Lama Ole Nydahl took to the stage, and Steve James made a presentation about the history of the London Centre, starting from the wish of the 16th Karmapa to create a strong and representative Karma Kagyu Buddhist centre in London. Steve showed the vision and the hard work of the London Sangha, as well as the great support and inspiration we received from many friends and places around the world. After the presentation, Lama Ole continued with a lecture about the Buddha’s teachings on Compassion and Wisdom, followed by a session of questions and answers as usual. Afterwards everybody practiced the Guru Yoga on the 16th Karmapa and received a blessing from Lama Ole.
The next day, Sunday 15 July, the programme started in the afternoon with the blessing empowerment of White Dzambhala by Gyalwa Karmapa. The empowerment belongs to the Kadampa lineage of Atisha and is part of the collection of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo called Drulthap Kuntu. H.H. Karmapa received this empowerment from Chogye Trichen Rinpoche in 2002 while on retreat in Le Bost, Dordogne. Before the empowerment Gyalwa Karmapa gave explanations on the meaning of empowerments and particularly the meaning of Dzambhala and outer and inner wealth.
Lama Ole Nydahl was on the stage during the empowerment together with our special guests Lama Jampa Thaye and Dechen Dolma, as well as Gyalwa Karmapa’s monastic entourage. Lama Ole Nydahl, Lama Jampa Thaye, and Lama Tsultrim Namgyal had all been together in this very hall in 1974 when the 16th Karmapa gave the black crown ceremony, also to a full-to-capacity venue.
Following the empowerment, Gyalwa Karmapa was thanked for his blessing, which was also understood to be the key to the success in getting the new Landmark Buddhist Centre for the Karma Kagyu lineage in London. Click on the thumbnails below for some impressions of the event.
H.H. Karmapa tours the Beaufoy Institute
In agreement with the relevant authorities, on Monday 16 July, Gyalwa Karmapa as well as a group of special guests were shown the site of the future London Diamond Way Buddhist Centre, the Beaufoy Institute building on Black Prince Road, Lambeth. Joining Gyalwa Karmapa and his entourage for the tour were Jigme Rinpoche, Lama Ole Nydahl and Lama Jampa Thaye.
The building had been lovingly cleaned during the preceding week by a team of incredibly hard working and efficient members of the London Sangha. The Beaufoy Institute, which had stood lonely and derelict for so many years, was already cleared of the worst of the debris and had begun to shine, showing a glimpse of the cultural jewel which it will transform into in the coming months and years. Gyalwa Karmapa took his time to bless the building room by room, inside and outside. We aim to publish more pictures soon, and in the meantime we hope the following snaps give a first taste (click on thumbnails to enlarge).
Later that evening at Friends Meeting House, Jigme Rinpoche taught about using Buddhist methods to be calm and effective. Jigmela’s timeless wisdom shone through in the answers he gave to the numerous questions from the audience.
On the following day, Tuesday 17 July, Gyalwa Karmapa and his entourage were bid farewell at Heathrow Airport where they departed on the tour to the next destination, the Bodhipath centre in Renchen Ulm. The incredible blessing and inspiration that Gyalwa Karmapa gave during this visit will undoubtedly carry us through the great task we have ahead of us, enabling us to surmount any obstacle.