Taiwan Honors 17th Karmapa’s Achievements
In Gala Two-Day Karmapa 900 Event

(May 13 and 14, Taipei) Taiwan held an elaborate two-day festival to commemorate the 900th birth anniversary of the Karmapa reincarnation lineage. The main theme for Taiwan’s event was a celebration of the artistic and musical achievements of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The celebration featured an exhibition showcasing His Holiness’ painting and calligraphy, along with a concert of songs written by the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa.  The aim was to allow attendees to appreciate the compassion and skill in diverse means of His Holiness.  All the activities were broadcast live via Internet.

The Gyalwang Karmapa’s official tutor, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, was delegated by His Holiness to preside over the Karmapa 900 events in Taiwan. Rinpoche led the vast gathering in a First Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa Guru Yoga practice composed by His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, as well as a Long-Life Puja for His Holiness.

On the afternoon of May 13th, Thrangu Rinpoche, Tulku Pasang Rinpoche, Nyima Rinpoche, Lama Chodrak and Khenpo Tengye held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the exhibition of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa’s painting and calligraphy. 

During the ceremony, Khenpo Tengye, the executive director of the Karmapa 900 ceremony in Taiwan, explained that: “Karmapa means ‘Being of Enlightened Activity’, which benefits all beings.”  From His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Khenpo Tengye said he had learned that Buddhism is not necessarily a complicated form of religion, but could permeate the simple things in life. Thrangu Rinpoche noted that enjoying His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa’s calligraphy was a wonderful way to connect with His Holiness’ great kindness.  Every painting carries with it His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa’s great compassion and blessing, Rinpoche said. Looking at all the paintings quietly, he added, one can see His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa’s compassion and commitment to benefit all beings.

After the opening ceremony, Thrangu Rinpoche led everyone through the exhibition hall. Rinpoche joined his palms in homage to each and every painting, as each of the students coming along behind carefully studied the details of His Holiness’ calligraphy and paintings. Many were touched by His Holiness’s profound activities of incorporating the Buddhist teachings into every single stroke.

Seeking Dusum Khyenpa’s Blessings

In the evening, the assembly joyfully engaged in the Dusum Khyenpa Guru Yoga practice, called Guru Yoga: Showers of Blessings, composed by His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa especially for Karmapa 900. The practice was performed at the suggestion of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, who advises that the text should be celebrated around the world as part of Karmapa 900 events.  Amidst heavy rain outside, Thrangu Rinpoche advised everyone to remember the Karmapas’ 900 years of measureless kindness during this celebration, to calm their minds and make aspirations to eliminate obstacles and bring joy to this world.  After the celebration, Rinpoche blessed every single person present with the relics of Dusum Khyenpa, the First Karmapa, and Jetsun Milarepa.

On the morning of May 14, a long-life Puja was offered to His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa in absentia, with the aim of reflecting on His Holiness’ boundless kindness to beings, praying for his long life, eliminating obstacles to his Buddha activities, and for the continuation for the Kagyu teachings. Thousands of monks and students chanted Fulfillment of Wishes, the long-life prayer for His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa composed by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, as well as a supplication prayer to the main guardians of the Kagyu lineage composed by His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa and Aspiration Prayer for Accomplishment of the Truth composed by the Seventh and Eighth Gyalwang Karmapa.  All the prayers were dedicated to the continuation of the teachings of the practice lineage, and peace and joy to the world.

Celebrating with Song

A grand concert of the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa’s musical compositions capped the two-day event. Tickets for the Karmapa 900 concert had all been ‘sold out’ in April, and the hall was packed. Indeed, many disciples waited in line early in the afternoon to enter, though the concert began in the evening.

The concert began with a melody rendered in flute and Chinese vertical bamboo flute, two instruments much appreciated by the Gyalwang Karmapa.  The intricate melody of Sweet Melody of Joyful Aspiration composed by His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa expresses the peace of a pure land, and was integrated with His Holiness’s own vocals, chanting the seven-verse hymn. In addition, renowned Taiwanese musician Jun Jen Wang and poet Yun Shi Chiang sang together, sharing in the joy of Wish Song.  Everyone was particularly touched when the music of Dharma Rain began.  The melody of Dharma Rain is based on the His Holiness’ composition using flute and vertical flute and incorporates His Holiness’ own vocal of reciting All-Pervading Benefit to Beings—a practice of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara—with His Holiness’ deep voice chanting om mani padme hum.

His Holiness had pre-recorded a lecture to be played during the concert. As the large screen on stage suddenly filled with the image of His Holiness, though he was pictured seated in his library far off in India, those assembled at once felt the towering presence of His Holiness with them in the concert hall.  When His Holiness began his message with the name of Amitabha as a traditional greeting, all those in the audience joined their palm together and returned His Holiness’ greeting, as the hall filled with the audience’s reply off “Amitabha.”

In his recorded address, His Holiness commented that the celebration commemorating the 900th birth anniversary of Dusum Khyenpa, the First Karmapa, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of us.  He pointed out that the tradition of recognizing the intentional reincarnation of one’s guru was created by the Karmapa lineage.  Therefore, the Karmapa 900 marks an event of great historical importance to the whole of Tibetan Buddhism. More broadly, the celebration offers us an opportunity to witness and reflect on how buddhas reincarnate in the world in order to benefit beings. As his address drew to a close, His Holiness thanked everyone on behalf of the Karmapa lineage and on his own behalf, and made the aspiration that the celebration could bring peace and prosperity to Taiwan. 

Musicians then sang the long-life prayer for His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa written by Thrangu Rinpoche. The crowd joined in when the chant of Karmapa Khyenno began.  The evening ended with everyone chanting in one voice as they waved the Karmapa 900 white flag in a show of appreciation and deep devotion towards His Holiness. 

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