K a r m a . K a g y u . T r a d i t i o n


The Announcement of Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje's monastic ordination (2000, april 07)

On this day, the third day of the third month of the Iron Dragon year according to the Tsurphu calendar (the seventh day of the month of April in the year two-thousand), the principal holder of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Kyabdag Donkun Drubpa'i Mawa'i Kyuchog Mipam Chokyi Gyalpo Trinley Thaye Dorje receives monastic ordination from His Eminence Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche Ngawang Khyenrab Tubten Legshe Gyamtso of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism.

The monastic ordination in question is that of the Individual Liberation tradition; such ordination is of utmost importance for an individual who follows the Doctrine of Buddha Shakyamuni. According to Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha of our era, whether his Doctrine will be established in any world-system depends on the three trainings in ethics, samadhi and higher knowledge, and neither samadhi and nor higher knowledge can develop without the upholding of ethics.

A Vinaya sutra says :

' Just as the root of a tree is most important for its growth and life-span
Just so, ethics are the very foundation for samadhi and higher knowledge'

Furthermore, the ethical vows in the tradition of Individual Liberation are the foundation for both the Bodhisattva path and the Buddhist Tantras. In his 'Torch of the Path to Buddhahood, the Enlightened State', the Indian Buddhist master Atisha says, 'The vows of Individual Liberation are indispensible as a basis for the Bodhisattva vows'. Also, the Guhasamaya Tantra says, 'The outer aspect of the pratice is to uphold the conduct of a Shravaka and the inner aspect of the pratice includes the essential points of the two stages of generating the Sambhogakaya and its union with the Dharmakaya'.

In Tibetan Buddhism today, there are two lineages of transmission as to the vows of Individual Liberation. The first of these two lineages was introduced to Tibet by the Indian Buddhist master Shantarakshita, and the second lineage by the Kashmiri Buddhist master Shakya Shri Bhadra. It is the second of these two that prevails today in the Kagyu and Sakya schools; the majority of the previous Karmapas took monastic ordination according to this lineage.

Today, the Khenpo in this lineage of transmission who confers the vows upon the 17th Karmapa is Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche. He has all the qualities necessary to such a Khenpo as listed in the Vinaya scriptures. Two aspects are related to these qualities: how one relies upon a spiritual master and one's learning in the Vinaya sutras. And, as was just stated, Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche excels in both categories. Also, he is the most senior holder of the lineage in Tibetan Buddhism today. More than fifty years have passed since he himself took this ordination and he has without fail upheld these vows for that period of time. Thus, he is an equal to the sixteen Elders, the Arhats who were disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni who stated that to keep the vows pure for a period of forty years makes a practitioner the equal of any of the sixteen Arhats. Therefore, Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche is unparallelled as the Khenpo confering this monastic ordination.

The ordination is given at the Kundrol Ling Monastery, Auvergne, France, a site that has been blessed by the previous Karmapa Rangjung Rigpei Dorje and the present Kunzig Sharmapa Mipam Chokyi Lodro as well as the Buddhist master Gendun Rinpoche who lived and taught at the Monastery for approximately two decades.

The day of the ordination, according to the astrological calculations of the Kalachakra Tantra, should be an auspicious day in the very beginning of a new year, and the appropriate month is the month that Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Kalachakra Tantra in Drepung in the south of today's India. In particular, it should be the birthday of the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi.

This occasion will establish the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa as a great holder of the Vinaya, the same Vinaya that Buddha Shakyamuni appointed as his rule in our world-system.

Furthermore, on this occasion, we, the followers of the Karmapa, offer our prayers for the long life of Chobgye Trichen Rinpoche and the Gyalwa Karmapa as well as all other masters. We also, at this auspicious event, pray that the Buddha's Doctrine may remain pure for generations to come, that all peoples of the world may come to enjoy peace and prosperity and attain Buddhahood, the enlightened state.

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