Day 14: The Great Encampment during the Life of the 4th Karmapa Rölpai Dorje

Day 14: The Great Encampment during the Life of the 4th Karmapa Rölpai Dorje

Arya Kshema Spring Dharma Teachings:

17th Gyalwang Karmapa on The Life of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje

March 8, 2021

Following his greeting and offering prayers, His Holiness explained the main topic, giving a brief introduction to the Great Encampment, or Garchen, as it relates to Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s liberation story. In particular, His Holiness, noted he would focus on the historical and contextual background of the encampment this week and speak about the regulations of the encampment later on. 

What do we mean when we say Great Encampment?

His Holiness elaborated on the meaning of the Tibetan word, gar (sgar), referring to sites or camps with many tents. His Holiness clarified that when people would travel from region to region, they would set up and stay in tents made from woven yak hair or fabric. These encampments may be specific to special occasions such as an army encampment, mak gar, a ‘merchant encampment’, tsong gar, and a ‘Dharma encampment’, chös gar. Early on, gar specifically referred to a camp with many tents, and later also meant a group of houses. 

When we talk about a gar chen, great encampment, we add the extra word, chen or ’great’, and it refers to either the large size of the encampment or that it will well-known. Later this was called the Karme Garchen. The reason for this is the direct relationship between the Great Encampment and the Karmapa. Another term of reference was Garpa Yabse, or the “Master and Disciples of the Encampment,” but this was probably a term from other lineages referring to the Karma Kamtsang.

The Karme Garchen in contemporary terms is akin to a company that performed Mikyö Dorje’s work. Mikyö Dorje in this metaphor is like the CEO or company chairman. The Garchen functioned as the headquarters for the Karmapa. A labrang refers to a higher lama’s residence or the organization of people who support him. In contrast, the Garchen was directly connected with the Karmapa and functioned as an administration for organizing the Karma Kagyu overall. 

Establishing When the Garchen Began

His Holiness explained that there are not any clear sources on the origin of the encampment other than Karma Trinelypa’s Questions and Answers: The Brief Meaning of Liberation Stories. If we extrapolate from Karma Trinleypa’s text, it is primarily during the time of the Fourth Karmapa Rölpai Dorje that the encampment became larger in size, its organization became more regulated, and it formally became a true Garchen. For instance, it does not seem likely that the Great Encampment began during the time of the First to Third Karmapas. The First Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa, was an ordinary monk who did not become well-known until the end of his life; and, early on, he primarily practiced in mountain retreats and traveled with only three or four students. The Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi, and the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, both travelled to teach the Mongolian or Yuan emperors. Karma Pakshi lived a very yogic lifestyle; and Rangjung Dorje spent his time writing treatises and doing isolated meditation retreats. 

Since Karma Trinleypa wrote about the Fourth Karmapa, Rölpai Dorje, in his Questions and Answers: The Brief Meaning of Liberation Stories, we know that the Fourth Karmapa was very assiduous in his practice of the Vinaya. From this time, the encampment became more organized and more impressive. Moreover, Karma Trinleypa was a student of the Seventh Karmapa when the Garchen was at its peak. His Holiness concluded that we can rely on Karma Trinleypa’s words as a solid basis for understanding the early origins of the Great Encampment.

The modern scholar, Dunkar Lobsang Trinley, says that the actual organized encampment developed during the time of the Seventh Karmapa, Chödrak Gyatso, but His Holiness came to the conclusion that this was because it was during the time of the Seventh Karmapa that the Great Encampment became most significant. His Holiness encouraged us to read more of this history in the The Water Crystal of the Moon.

His Holiness guided us through his close research into the origins of the Garchen. According to the great scholar, Thubten Phuntsok, when the Fourth Karmapa returned to Tibet from China, many of the faithful monastics and lay people could not bear to be apart from their guru. For this reason, they followed him to Tsurphu and set up a camp near his residence. They spent their time practicing and striving in accord with their abilities. And, this is, in fact, the origin of the Dharma encampment. 

While His Holiness noted the history may be inconclusive, based on Karma Trinleypa’s text, there was clearly an earlier Great Encampment in formation. Kunpang Kunga Lodrö and Karma Könchok Shönnu’s works also provide clear evidence as both mention encampments during the time of Rölpai Dorje.

Summarizing the Important Points of the 4th Karmapa Rölpai Dorje’s Life 

His Birth: Since the histories show how the Great Encampment began with the Fourth Karmapa, His Holiness summarized the key points of Rölpai Dorje’s life. He began with the passing of the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. Rangjung Dorje passed away in the Mongol emperor’s palace in the Yuan Dynasty capitol, Xanadu. Prior to his death, Rangjung Dorje predicted he would be reborn in the eastern region of Kongpo. This is near Rölpai Dorje’s birthplace in Namdzong in Gochen Pangkar in Ngö, these days known as Alanka, Jiagong, Bianba, and Chengdu. 

Rölpai Dorje’s father was Sönam Döndrup and his mother was Dzomsa Tsöndru. Of the Dong Minyak clan, he was born in the Male Iron Dragon year (1340) on the eighth day of the 3rd month and he passed away at the age of 44. Tokden Gönpo Gyaltsen recognized Rölpai Dorje as Rangjung Dorje’s reincarnation. His main three gurus were Gyalwa Yungtönpa, Tokden Gönpo Gyaltsen, and Tokden Dargyalwa. He took full ordination from Döndrup Pal, the Khenchen from Gendun Gang, and his ordination name was, Dzamling Chökyi Drakpa. When we see the name, Dzamling Chökyi Drakpa, we know this is Rölpai Dorje.

Rölpai Dorje, known for his strict adherence to Vinaya, encouraged his attendants to keep pure discipline. His Holiness gave examples of how they all upheld virtuous discipline by eating only the three white foods – milk, sugar, butter, and so forth. Also, if they saw anyone with meat or bones, they would criticize them. 

His Lucid Dreams: His Holiness then described Rölpai Dorje’s ability to emanate in his dreams; he had such great power over lucid dreaming. At night, for instance, Rölpai Dorje would leave many texts open around him before he went to sleep and while he slept, he would emanate many bodies. When he woke up, he would know what was said in each of the texts. As Rölpai Dorje stated, “The way I have lucid dreaming, is no different from the way illusionists create different illusions.”  According to Karma Trinleypa, Rölpai Dorje had a strong innate knowledge so even though he did not have to study much, he still studied. Among all the Karmapas prior to the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje, Rölpai Dorje understood Validity and the Middle Way. He was also a skilled poet. While Karmapa Rangjung Dorje wrote the famous One Hundred Jataka Tales, one of the most beautiful texts, it was Karmapa Rölpai Dorje who wrote the best poetry. He also had many amazing students like Shamar Khachö Wangpo. 

The Jowo Gandhola

Through a series of slides and detailed stories, His Holiness explained one of the main images, the Jowo Gandhola, central to the Karma Kamtsang. The story begins in the Fire Monkey Year (1356) when the 14th emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongol Toghon Temür (1320-1370, reigned 1333-1370) and his son, the Crown Prince Ayushiridara (1339-1378, reigned 1370-1378), sent great offerings and an invitation to Rölpai Dorje. In the 5th month of 1358, Rölpai Dorje, left Tsurphu at the age of 19 and travelled along the northern route, stopping in Karme and Lhateng monasteries along the way. 

In the Dharma history A Feast for Scholars, it explains that around this time, five yogis came from India and told Rölpai Dorje that they were going to Wutai Mountain in China. They gave him an image carved from the Bodhi tree by Nagarjuna called the Jowo Gandhola. From that time, the Jowo Gandhola image became the primary representation for Rölpai Dorje who made prostrations, offerings, and circumambulated the image four sessions a day. This made a strong impression on his entourage and inspired them to practice virtue. 

His Holiness displayed a slide of a thangka of Rölpai Dorje from the Kagyu lineage thangkas kept at Palpung Monastery. His Holiness directed our attention to the corner of the thangka where he pointed out the five Indian yogis offering the Gandhola. The reason the image is called Gandhola, His Holiness explained, is that in India, temples where the Buddha stayed are called Gandhakuṭi or Gandhālaya. Gandhola is a corruption of those terms. In Tibetan, it would be called “the fragrant temple”. The Gandhola became the primary shrine for the successive Karmapas. When they would take their novice vows or full ordination, they would take their vows in its presence.  For example, if we look at the liberation story of the Seventh Karmapa, written by Goshri Paljor, he writes: 

The supreme support for the meditation of the successive incarnations of the Bearer of the Black Crown, the emanations of the Sixth Buddha Lion’s Roar, is called the Jowo Gandhola. 

In the presence of the unrivaled image, a clear carving of a thousand buddhas in the amazing material of bodhi wood, a wondrous supreme Gandha temple, the hair of the great being who was our guide was cut. 

Thus, the Seventh Karmapa had his hair cut and took his novice vows in front of this shrine. The tradition of making offerings, large and small, began at the time of the Seventh Karmapa. 

His Holiness animatedly explained an exciting aspect of his research. He said, “One good thing that happened was that a few days ago I received, A Catalogue of the Gandhola, the Supreme Image of the Great Encampment by Shamar Könchok Yenlak. Here it says, the main sacred object of the encampment has seven excellent qualities: material, image, maker, origin, power, activity, and blessings.” Unfortunately, the pages describing the maker and the origin are missing.

The Karmapa detailed these qualities according to the text:

  1. The excellent material is that is made from wood of the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya. 
  2. The excellent image is the depiction of the Mahabodhi statue and Gandhola temple built around it by Emperor Ashoka, and how the statue can be seen through the door. 
  3. The third excellence is the maker.
  4. The fourth excellence is the origin.
  5. The excellent power is that wherever this image was brought, the ground would tremble, lightning would flash, and all fires, floods, poisons, weapons, illness, hunger, conflict and so forth would be pacified and not occur.
  6. The excellent activity is that since the Karmapa, embodiment of the activity of all buddhas prostrated and made offerings to it, it was brought to many locations in India, Tibet, and Mongolia benefiting beings. 
  7. The excellent blessings are that, just as it is said in the Prajnaparamita sutras, beings who enter the area around the Vajra Seat will not be harmed except as a full ripening of karma. Since this image was made of wood from the Bodhi Tree, it had the same blessings as the sacred place of Bodhgaya. Also doing front and self-visualizations in the presence of this image had stronger and faster blessings than meditating on other yidam deities. 

However, the Gandhola  seems to disappear from the records after the time of the 10th Karmapa, when Mongol Güshi Khan destroyed the Great Encampment. However, Rinchen Palsang, private secretary to the 16th Karmapa, recorded that the regional Tibetan government took it while the 16th Karmapa was in Tibet. 

His Holiness noted, however, that the 1976 publication by Nik Douglas and Meryl White, entitled, Karmapa:The Black Hat Lama of Tibet, includes pictures of some of the sacred objects that the 16th Karmapa brought with him when he fled Tibet. This book includes interviews with the 16th Karmapa and his heart sons in Sikkim as well as an image of the Buddha made by Nagarjuna. Below the image, the text states:

The statue of Lord Buddha, showing miraculous events of his life. This is one of two which were presented to Karmapa Rolpai Dorje by five Indian Holy Men, whom he met on the way to China. This statue was made by Siddha Nagarjuna, out of a metal-like material which was recovered from the magical lake of the serpent kind (Nagas). It is preserved at the new Rumtek monastery, Sikkim.

His Holiness noted that he thinks this image must be the Gandhola, but even in the catalogues and oral histories from Tsurphu Monastery, there is no mention of this being the Gandhola at all. Maybe there is a story behind this, His Holiness explained, because as the main sacred object of the Great Encampment, they were worried someone might seize it. For this reason, they downplayed it and did not use the name Gandhola. His Holiness hopes that if anyone knows more history, they can offer some explanation. 

Rölpai Dorje Spreads the Dharma during his Travels

After this, Rölpai Dorje continued travelling east. He came to a place called Machuy Ling, in present day Amdo region. There, Rölpai Dorje taught the Dharma. The following summer, at the base of the throne where he had taught, a flower grew. This flower had never been seen previously. It had one stalk and eight branches. Each branch had eight flowers with a red corona and yellow center. It was a really strange flower. Anyone who saw or heard of it thought it was really strange. At this time, one monk, Geshe Kyuru Tönpa, said this flower was really amazing. Thinking that this flower would help people develop faith, he either drew an image or took a pressing. He distributed these widely throughout the region and anyone who saw the picture was said to have developed faith. 

When Rölpai Dorje went to the border area between China and Tibet, even though there were unresolved conflicts, he resolved all the disputes and everyone promised not to fight for twenty-five years.

The Emperor had sent a message expressing distress if Rölpai Dorje were not to come to see him. So, the Karmapa went to Lintao monastery founded by Drogön Chögyal Pakpa where he met Khenpo Palden of Lintao. The Mongol Emperor had also invited Sakya Pandita who built Trulpay De. Rölpai Dorje also went to Minyak where he taught the Dharma to many people of different nationalities through Mongol, Uighur, and Chinese translators. 

While he was traveling, he caught a cold. He told his attendant, Guogong Rinchen Pal, that he would cure his illness through a lucid dream and instructed him not to wake him. Later, when he awoke, he explained how he was completely cured:

In my dream, I went to the Potala palace where I saw red Chenrezig who was holding a vase of amrita nectar. He gave that to me and after I drank it, I had this experience of bliss, clarity and non-thought, and my cold was cured. 

In the Year of the Rat, in 1360 in the 12th month, Karmapa Rölpai Dorje arrived in the Yuan capital of Daidu (Khanbaliq, near Beijing). He stayed at a place called the Blue Temple, and bestowed many empowerments on the Emperor and the Crown Prince including: Vajrayogini, the Six Yogas of Naropa, and Mahamudra. He also gave the Crown Prince the additional empowerments of Gyalwa Gyatso, the 100 Jataka Tales, and the Root Commentary on the Sublime Continuum, the Root Commentary on the Sutras, the Root Commentary on the Kalachakra, and related Indian texts. Over two calendar years he instructed other members of the royal family, great ministers, monastics, and an communities of Mongolians, Uighurs, the Koreans. 

Then one day, Karmapa Rölpai Dorje told Guogong Rinchen Pal, that the political situation of the Yuan Dynasty was unstable, the Emperor would not live much longer, and, even if they continued to stay, there was nothing they could do to prevent  bad situations from occurring. For this reason, he made a request to return to Tibet but permission was not given. One time, when the Karmapa made the request, the Crown Prince shed tears and said, “Precious Guru, please stay and hold us with compassion.” This was the first time that someone from the Yuan dynasty shed tears for the Karmapa. Then two ministers, Ma O Jang Ching Sang and She Ra Muan Ching Sang, came to the Karmapa, prostrated, and said, “Since the time you have arrived, all the epidemics have stopped and the Crown Prince has had a son.” This was during the last days of the Yuan dynasty, so there were many conflicts in many regions, but all the conflicts had subsided temporarily and the region had become more prosperous while Karmapa Rölpai Dorje was there. The Emperor and Crown Prince both requested him to stay, with tears in their eyes. He became known as the ‘Auspicious Guru who Brings Good Crops’. They also requested that he engage in political activities, but Rölpai Dorje replied:

I have provided many services and supplicated the Three Jewels on behalf of the Emperor and Crown Prince. I do not have any need for decrees or ranks related to political affairs nor do I have any skills related to that. Monks should go wherever it is best for the sake of teachings and for sentient beings. If a monk stays in any one country and gets attached, that is not good. A good practitioner is one who is not attached to any country. 

The ministers recorded these words. Since he requested so earnestly, the Karmapa was allowed to return to Tibet, and they gave him horses and supplies for traveling back to Ütsang. 

Karmapa Rölpai Dorje’s Non-sectarianism and Miraculous Deeds

Karmapa Rölpai Dorje’s life story also illustrated his generosity and involvement across Tibetan schools. He requested the title of Guoshi for Khenpo Palden Chok of Lintao,  Drogön Chögyal Pakpa’s monastery. He resolved the situation of the First Lord of Pakdru, Jangchup Gyaltsen. According to Karma Trinleypa,  Jangchup Gyaltsen had been slandered by someone from Tibet  and this had created difficulties between him and the Yuan emperor. Rölpai Dorje cleared up the matter and requested that the Emperor give Jangchup Gyaltsen the title Tai Situ. When the Pakdru had taken power in Tibet, the position of the Sakya had declined, but Karmapa Rölpai Dorje made a Dharma connection with Sakya Lama Dampa Sönam Gyaltsen and received teachings from him, which raised the status of the Sakyas.  

Similarly, fifty years before Karmapa Rölpai Dorje’s birth,  there had been a rebellion in Ü-Tsang led by the Drikung, and many people were killed. This caused a great feud between the Sakyas and Drikung. Karmapa Rölpai Dorje, however, mended the relationship between the two schools, and helped rebuild the Drikung monasteries. Likewise, he made requests for the Emperor to benefit all of the great monasteries and lamas of Tibet, irrespective of their tradition. 

When Karmapa Rölpai Dorje was staying in Gansu province, many people came to see him.  Some of them came by horse or camel. Karmapa Rölpai Dorje did his prayers every morning and in between eating his meals, he gave blessings and empowerments continuously for nineteen days without a break or any difficulty.  At that time he received offerings and an invitation from the Mongol king, Tologh Temur, but he did not go.

His Holiness then related a miraculous story of how Rölpai Dorje ended an epidemic, recorded by his attendant, Guogong Rinchen Pal. Rinchen Pal was privy to many secret things but, when he began to write them down, the Karmapa explained this was not a good idea; people might not believe them. And if they did not believe them, they might lose faith.  However,  Guogong Rinchen Pal thought these stories might be beneficial to sentient beings if he shared them, and that is the reason that we have them still, His Holiness explained.

At that time, while staying in the area of Gansu province, there was a large epidemic and many people died. Guogong Rinchen Pal was concerned for their safety so he said to the Karmapa, “There is great danger; what do we do?” The Karmapa said, “I will have a lucid dream tonight and see if I can do something about it. Do not wake me up.” After Rölpai Dorje finished his meditation and prayers, he went to sleep. At that time, Guogong Rinchen Pal stayed awake and watched him. Just before sunrise, a clapping and booming resounded on the roof. Immediately, Rölpai Dorje woke up. He asked Guogong Rinchen Pal, “Did anything happen above the house?” Guogong Rinchen Pal said, “I thought the house was about to collapse.” Then the Karmapa said, “Now the epidemic will not come and spread to this region.” And, Guogong Rinchen Pal, asked, “How is that? What did you do to end the epidemic?” Rölpai Dorje explained to Guogong Rinchen Pal that there were many monsters and an especially frenzied goddess in his dream. Due to this, Rölpai Dorje emanated as a large garuda bird and covered the entirety of Gansu Province. In this dream, he swallowed all of the monsters and goddesses with the fire in his stomach, he burnt them to ashes, and then defecated them all. Since he was in the form of a garuda, he landed on top of the building. This was a mental emanation, Rölpai Dorje explained, so it was strange there were sounds outside because there was no form. Following this, the epidemic died down in Gansu and everyone regained their health. 

While we was staying in Gansu, he received horses, oxen, silver, and other countless offerings, which he sent to Ütsang, where they were distributed to all the monasteries, irrespective of the tradition to which they belonged.  This tradition of making offerings to the monks of all the monasteries lasted until the time of the 10th Karmapa. It demonstrates how the Fourth Karmapa was free from bias or sectarianism; he paid respects and made offerings to all monasteries. 

As Rölpai Dorje continued on his journey to Tibet, he came to the Tsongkha region in Amdo and met a very young Tsonghkapa. Rölpai Dorje gave him the novice ordination vows and the name Kunga Nyingpo. The Fourth Karmapa also predicted that Tsongkhapa would need to go to Ütsang. Later, when Tsongkhapa did go to Ütsang, he became like a second Buddha for the teachings in Tibet. 

The Silk Thangka the Size of a Mountain

Rölpai Dorje went visiting many areas such as the monastery known as ‘The Bowl of Cream,’ near the mountain retreat called, Pal Tsotra. While Rölpai Dorje was there, a wealthy patron, the Lady Puṇyadharī, had a dream. In her dream, she was told to build an image of the Buddha equal to the size of a mountain to fulfill the intention of the great Minyak Prince Ratna, who had died. So, she requested Rölpai Dorje to make this thangka. Rölpai Dorje responded, “If you want to make something the size of a mountain, you have to go to the mountain.” Many doubted and shook their heads confounded by the idea that anyone could make an image as big a mountain. Karmapa Rölpai Dorje smiled and instructed, “You need to make a large applique image of the Buddha and sew it all together.” 

Then, all the gurus, lords, and craftspeople came together to make a mountain-sized applique of the Buddha. He diminished their confusion and instructed everyone to find fist-sized, soft, and round stones from the river. In the oral history, Dharma History A Feast for Scholars, it records Rölpai Dorje riding a horse as he instructed the craftspeople to place the white rocks in the horses’ hoofprints. He rode round and round. People put a rock in every hoofprint until they had a design of the Buddha. Then Rölpai Dorje instructed them to mark the specific size and proportions. In this way, he created the entire design for the thangka. The Karmapa gave her 1900 sang of silver towards the cost of the silk, and the thangka was made by 500 tailors.

His Holiness gestured from ear to ear to explain exactly the extent of this image’s size which he described as “From the right ear to the left ear, it was 11 arm spans so it was basically the size of 11 people.” It had an image of the Buddha sitting cross-legged with Manjushri on his right and Maitreya on his left. When Rölpai Dorje consecrated the thangka, many auspicious signs such as rainbows and so forth emerged. 

To help us understand the actual extent and beautiful detail of this image, His Holiness showed a slide of his own illustration of this mountain-sized thangka regally hanging from the mountain peak. His Holiness explained that the thangka must have been comparable in size with the Statue of Liberty in New York City. It was incredibly huge. 

Afterward, they offered the thangka to Rölpai Dorje who brought it back to Tibet. In Dharma History A Feast for Scholars, the Buddha image was separated into 32 packages and 8 additional packages for the side panels. In the liberation story by Karma Könshön, it says, transporting it required just under 70 dzos, a yak-cattle hybrid, to carry the thangka. Once it arrived in Tibet, of the two side panels, one was given to the Pakdru and one was given to the Drikung Monastery. The main Buddha image was kept at Shokha Monastery in Kongpo, but later it was damaged in a fire. All the different sections were divided up. There were five panels missing, but they were remade at Tse Lhagang. The upper part of the body was in Tse Lhakhang. This was then later kept in one location. This great silk thangka is one of the first appliques of the Buddha. Where is this great silk thangka now? Unfortunately, it no longer exists — Gushi Khan’s army tore it apart and burned it. Since it was a really important artefact and sacred Buddhist image, His Holiness drew it to give us an idea of what it was like. 

The End of Rölpai Dorje’s Auspicious Life

Later, Rölpai Dorje went to the area of the Dunhuang caves where there were 3700 temples at that time. Among them, some had been built by Mongol Emperors, some by Chinese Emperors and some by the Tibetan King Tri Ralpachen. When Rölpai Dorje stayed in this region, many people came to give him offerings. There were eternal lamps to be burned day and night and to restore the temples. This shows his connection there. He also went through the areas of Amdo and  Kham and returned to  Kongpo, to the sacred spot of Tsari. He opened it up and, from then on it became a place of pilgrimage and retreat. He also went on pilgrimage to other sacred spots in Kongpo. 

He then travelled to Nachopa. As there would be a shortage of firewood, the Karmapa instructed them to bring cypress wood. His Holiness explained that the Third Karmapa’s Rangjung Dorje’s remains had been cremated with sandalwood in Mongolia, but there was no sandalwood in Tibet, so they used cypress instead. They went to a beautiful grass covered mountain on Nachopa and set up the encampment. It was said, if a pure bhikshu were to be cremated in that place, the Chinese armies would not come to Tibet.   

At the age of 44, in the Water Pig year, on the 3rd day of 7th month, Rolpai Dorje began to feel unwell. There were many signs such as earthquakes, rainbows, and rains of flowers and so forth. On the 15th day, he made fifty-two circumambulations and prayers, then passed away.  A rock and stone stupa was built in celebration of his auspicious life, and, according to Tsuglak Trenwa, animals would circumambulate that stupa.

In Conclusion

His Holiness wrapped up the teachings with a brief story about Rölpai Dorje’s attendant and foremost student, Guogong Rinchen Pal. It is said that when the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje was staying near Tsurphu monastery, there were many children playing and gathering livestock dung. A dog escaped and the children were very afraid so they ran in all directions. There was one child who did not flee. Instead, with a basket for carrying the dung and a rope, he tricked the dog into running around the basket. Everyone thought, “This is a clever child.” Rangjung Dorje witnessed this and said, “Please give that child to me.” The parents offered the child to Rangjung Dorje, and he predicted that the boy would have great influence. He was Guogong Rinchen Pal; from the Chinese to Mongolian princes to Tibetan leaders, all called him the “Great Master” and would not call him Rinchen Pal. He left the greatest imprint on the teachings. While his dates are uncertain, his life stretched from the end of Rangjung Dorje’s life through his time receiving many teachings from Rölpai Dorje. His Holiness shared that infromation for his teaching had come primarily from another student of Rölpai Dorje’s, Karma Könshön, who studied at the first Tibetan shedra, Sangphu. 

His Holiness then summarized that the life of Rölpai Dorje is central for understanding the background information on the Great Encampment, the Garchen. During his lifetime, the Gandhola was the primary sacred object. Also, the primary rule of the encampment prohibited drinking and meat. Having concluded this rich and detailed background information, His Holiness mentioned that he will elaborate more on the regulations of the Great Encampment in the subsequent teachings. 


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2021.03.08 Day 14: The Great Encampment during the Life of the 4th Karmapa Rölpai Dorje