Day 7: Taking Adversity as the Path in Post-Meditation

Day 7: Taking Adversity as the Path in Post-Meditation

Arya Kshema Spring Dharma Teachings: 17th Gyalwang Karmapa on the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje's Autobiographical Verses

April 2, 2022 

For the seventh day of the Arya Kshema Spring Teachings, the Karmapa spoke about the fourteenth and fifteenth of the good deeds from the Autobiographical Verses Good Deeds by Mikyö Dorje. According to the outline from the commentary by the attendant, Sangye Paldrup, there were two parts to discuss regarding the meditation on relative bodhicitta: 

a. Exchanging oneself for others in meditation. 

b. Taking adversity as the path in post-meditation. 

The Karmapa had completed the first part so now continued to discuss the second part: taking adversity as the path in post-meditation, which contained ten sub-topics. Of the ten sub-topics he had already spoken about the first three so would now embark upon the fourth and the fifth:

4. Taking pleasing words as the path. 

5. Taking suffering as the path. 

The Karmapa then read the fourteenth verse from the root text:

Virtuous acts and results done with the hope of a return,
Like speaking nicely hoping for sweet words, *
Cannot be for the sake of true enlightenment.
How is it possible to cling to virtue and its result as mine?
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (14)

After reading the verse, he stated that the second line of the verse contained the following note: 

In giving up deceiving others through craft and fraud, this lord seems to have shown us a necessary example.

 This note indicated that some people believed there were spelling differences in the text that could affect the meaning, and that the line could read, “Like speaking nicely because of good words.” 

The Karmapa commented about this in terms of modern life:

When people say they try to engage in right livelihood and right speech, they might be speaking nicely, but their main aim is to use flattery, obsequiousness, and various other methods for personal gain. When they act this way, they do not admit they have faults, but instead, pretend the faults are qualities, even explaining them as positive qualities. If they can prevent another person from doing wrong, instead of stopping them, they do not. They will not speak honestly, not wanting to offend them. Instead, they do not speak straightforwardly or honestly but cover up the faults as positive qualities, trying to save the other person’s reputation saying, “That spiritual friend speaks in a respectable way.” These people consider pseudo-virtuous speech as being the most important.

Basically, no one likes being criticized. In order not to be criticized, people praise others, hoping they will be praised too, and in return will not be criticized. These people also think the best way to be praised is to praise others, and then their merit being widely known everywhere. 

Mikyö Dorje never spoke of anyone as being high or low, powerful, or wealthy, or having no power or wealth; he did not distinguish between people in that way. He did not speak about people having qualities they did not have, did not flatter them, and never had an ulterior selfish intent or harbored evil intentions. He did not have selfish thoughts at all. He never held hopes that things would turn out well in this lifetime, nor did he hold thoughts hoping for fame and praise. Mikyö Dorje thought pseudo-virtuous actions—things that were not virtuous but seemed virtuous—were meaningless and pointless. 

In general, pseudo-virtue, such as doing virtue for the sake of fame in this life alone, is meaningless. Such intentions and actions will not lead to attaining the paths to the higher realms or liberation, because the aim does not consider future lifetimes but only this lifetime. Any action done only for this lifetime will not bring benefit for future lifetimes as it will never be of benefit for reaching omniscience or liberation. That is why Mikyö Dorje never thought them to be important or significant. 

Many people came to see Mikyö Dorje. Many had connections with him so they wished the Karmapa would laud and praise them, spreading their fame so they could gain respect. They thought, “Maybe the Karmapa will compliment me and praise me.” But since he would not laud and praise others or spread their fame for the sake of gain and respect, they would get angry and spread rumors that would harm Mikyö Dorje’s reputation. This happened many times, but no matter how much they did this, Mikyö Dorje never paid much attention to it. 

The Karmapa then reflected: 

The Dharma says that when we are doing the worldly samadhi, you can go from the lower into the higher realms. When going from the lowest realm, the Desire realm, if you practice dhyana meditation, just before shifting to a higher realm, all the māras will gather to see how they can harm you, trying to prevent you from transcending to a higher realm by acting maliciously. But no matter how hard they try, you should only respond by rousing the samadhi of loving-kindness. You should always have love and not have any malicious thoughts. 

If that is so for people doing worldly samadhi, then the bodhisattvas need an even vaster vision than that. Bodhisattvas wish to reach the state that dwells in neither saṃsāra nor nirvāṇa. They want to achieve the state of omniscience. Also, since bodhisattvas strive to liberate all sentient beings throughout space from suffering, there will be sentient beings who want to harm them. The bodhisattvas must have great loving kindness and especial compassion for them. 

When you think about these points, consider the people in our society these days who have fallen into suffering. They mistake fake happiness for pleasure. They believe that high status, power, and wealth will bring happiness, but instead, the longing for these worldly concerns brings suffering because of not bringing pleasure. These people think that if they can persuade others to praise them and think well of them, they might find happiness, but it is only a fake happiness. When we think about this, we should have more compassion. This behavior is not something we should feel angry about.

Mikyö Dorje understood this. Whenever Mikyö Dorje spoke to other people, or when he would praise someone, he would always speak from a deep understanding. He would always consider whether this would bring benefit and happiness to all. Even when he made jokes or engaged in ordinary conversation, the way he spoke was different than how anyone else did. He spoke with weighty words. People would think, “Maybe I should write this down.” 

When he pointed out the crucial points of practicing virtue and giving up misdeeds, or when he spoke about dharma, or worldly affairs, he was always making crucial points. When thinking about the meaning of right speech—one of the eight branches of the noble path—that meaning should be measured against Mikyö Dorje’s speech. 

The main points in the fourteenth good deed can be summarized as: when we accumulate virtue, we should not expect a response.

Then the Karmapa expanded upon this summary by returning to the three main points from the outline sub-topics: 

1. Complimenting others in order to be praised, cared about, or have people show their affection

Although this stanza was written long ago, it still applies to the present-day. Mikyö Dorje states that the aim of virtue is not for praise, for that is not true virtue. We should not praise others so that they will praise us or so we receive compliments. 

The Karmapa gave four current examples: 

These days many people wear stylish clothes when they go out—although monastics would not do this—but generally, when people go out, they will want to take a selfie of themselves, then look at how they can look the best after they take it. They do all sorts of things to make themselves look beautiful and make their body look good, even using a beauty app to look unbelievably attractive. When they are satisfied, they post their photo on social media and wait, hoping they will get likes. They hope and wait, having made completely artificial images of themselves, even though in reality, the person in the photo and the actual person are completely different. They do this so other people will like them, admire them, and then they can gain praises and compliments. 

However, in Tibet, when older women would go to the Jokhang in Lhasa or meet their root guru, or when they would visit a sacred site or a retreat cave on a rocky mountain, they would dress in new clothes and wear them well. They would do this because they had great faith and devotion at sites such as the Jowo statue, or their root gurus. So they went to pay their respects, and dressed well to show their reverence to their faith, and as a result were excited and happy. They did not dress up and wear new clothes to gain praise from other people. 

Also, if you are invited to go to a big celebration such as a wedding, award ceremony, or some other big event, you should wear clothes that are appropriate to the occasion, and that is good, for if you do not, it is not appropriate. But if you went to an orphanage or to made donations to the needy dressed up and made up, it might seem strange. Many celebrities, singers, and movie stars do believe in doing good work and help the poor because they have kind feelings for them. But it is possible that some are doing this to look better in society and improve their reputations. Are you doing this because you are looking for a response when accumulating virtue? 

In terms of Buddhism, practitioners should not do virtuous actions for the sake of receiving praise so others can say, “They have great faith and devotion. They’ve studied this many texts. They’ve stayed this long in retreat.” In general, studying and staying in retreat are things we should rejoice in, but not if we expect people to praise us, take an interest in us, and pay attention to us. Accumulating virtue in that way doesn’t have much point. 

The Karmapa said that when he was little in Tibet, many older people were illiterate. They didn’t have a broad understanding of the Dharma. But whenever they found time in their lives, they would not waste time, they would recite many mani mantras. They would recite several hundred million mani mantras for the sake of all sentient beings. They did this in a way that no one else could see. The way they accumulated merit is the actual way to accumulate merit. 

Then the Karmapa said, “When we are acting virtuously, we absolutely must examine our motivation. What are our initial intentions? Is it a good way that benefits others, or are we acting to receive praise from others? If we have a mistaken motivation when we accumulate virtue, everyone, including ourselves and others, has been deceived by all these fake virtues.” 

Some people might think that they must never accept praise from others when doing virtuous actions, but that is not what is being said here. When people have done something good or virtuous, they should not pretend that they do not want the praises or say they cannot accept them. The Kagyu forefathers said, “What happens automatically is a siddhi, so do not give it up.” 

2. We should not do virtuous acts so that others will give us good things or a good reputation.

Mikyö Dorje said that we should not do a virtuous act so that people will praise us, or do it because we are hoping for results which will bring us benefit. Nor should we hope for such good results. 

So why do we do virtuous acts? We do virtuous acts to gather the accumulations. But we must learn how virtuous acts should be done. If we have a lot of attachment to a good result and have a great expectation for a good return, then we will not be able to be virtuous. 

When you practice virtue, that is a quality of the internal mind. 

The Karmapa explained this further: 

These days, many people have become very attracted only to external things. We only look at the outside. There has been such a great development in external things that we have been fooled by their attractiveness. 

We have such strong imprints of external things that we see accumulating virtue as an external quality too, when actually it is internal. As a result, we hope the good result will come from the outside. 

The Karmapa compared accumulating virtue to planting an apple tree: it depends on your motivation. If it is only because we want to eat the fruit, then what happens to our mental state waiting for the fruit to ripen so we can finally eat it? We are constantly looking outside to see if it will bring us the result—eating an apple. If we plant it because we like apple trees, and we plant it not in our own yard but in a public park, then one day when the fruit ripens, we can enjoy eating it and everyone else who goes to the park can enjoy the fruit too. We should then feel satisfied that everyone going to that park can enjoy its fruits and be happy. We should not think it is only for ourselves. We should practice like this. It is also important to remember that when we practice virtue, the result does not come immediately. You must believe that someday the fruit will ripen. 

We should believe in karmic cause and result by thinking, “One day the result will ripen.” We shouldn’t be waiting expectantly for the result every day. We should not have the worldly thought that “I did something good for them, so they have no choice but to do something good for me in return. I wonder when they’ll do something good for me.” That is not accumulating virtue. 

The Karmapa concluded, “That is the fourteenth of the good deeds.” 

After the break, the Karmapa spoke about the fifteenth good deed. In terms of the outline, it was the fifth of the ten sub-points: Taking suffering as the path. 

He then read the fifteenth good deed:

Unreasonable, intolerable, unbearable though they were,
The more I experienced karmic results,
The more I became convinced that what the Buddha taught is true.
I gained conviction in the importance of taking adversity as the path.
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (15)

As the Karmapa had explained over the past several days, there were many unfounded accusations against Mikyö Dorje. People had responded inappropriately to his good actions. Even some of those whom he had trusted and relied upon deceived him. There were times when he had physical illnesses, or obstacles to his activity. No matter what adversity he faced or bad circumstances occurred, he never said, “I am the tulku. I am the reincarnation of the Karmapa. I’ll never turn away from the Three Jewels. My only intention is to benefit others. Everything I do accords with the Dharma, so when there is bad karma it is not right for such things to happen to me.” He would never say anything like that.

What Mikyö Dorje did say was, “From saṃsāra without beginning, we have harmed many sentient beings. We have harmed them in many ways and caused them various sufferings. This is the karmic ripening of that. This is the result of the connection between cause and effect, I can’t know it in its entirety right now. But even if I can’t know it in its entirety, but if I look at the words of the Bhagavān Buddha, this is how karmic cause and effect work. So then I think, this is how it is. I have certainty in this.” 

Then the Karmapa spoke in more detail: 

For someone who believes in the words of the Buddha and considers and respects his word—you will respect him. If you don’t respect him, you might think, “Oh, he knows something, but he does not know what’s going on for me.” 

If you are born in a good Dharma lineage or are born with a mixture of mind and Dharma and really able to practice, for that sort of person, whether it is illness or suffering or adversity for that person, it does not become adversity. For that person these are excellent circumstances that bring us to do good actions. In adversity, there is a very great benefit in practicing the Dharma and feeling renunciation, so for that person there is great benefit. He then gave three examples of renunciation: 

In Tibet, the greatest of all the mahāsiddhas was Milarepa. When Milarepa was little, he did sorcery and killed people, he accumulated great misdeeds. Once he had accumulated these misdeeds, there was nothing he could do to rectify them and make them good. But because of his courage and the way he thought, he thought about how the misdeeds he had done, the bad karma he had committed could become a favorable condition for benefiting someone, and that helped him develop courage and gave him the ability to endure the innumerable hardships that would come from the misdeeds he had accumulated. 

Likewise, when Gampopa was a young man, he married, had a son and daughter, and lived as a householder. But then an epidemic arrived, and his children and wife died. Because of this difficulty, he wished for liberation from saṃsāra and to enter the gate of Dharma. Then he became the founder of the Dagpo Kagyu lineages. 

When the glorious Dusum Khyenpa was around fifteen, there was a girl he loved but who left him. He got very angry and cast a spell that killed the person she loved. Because of that, he developed the wish for liberation and entered the gate of Dharma and practiced the Dharma. 

The Karmapa then summarized: 

Although there is no difference in experiencing suffering or adversity, the difference between great beings and ourselves is that great beings can turn adversity into a beneficial situation. They have the wisdom and courage to turn the adverse situation into something that will bring benefit to us. 

When they experience suffering or adversity, ordinary people worry about losing their status, wealth, power, and renown in this lifetime. They have an attachment or aversion to the good things in this life and worry about losing them.

When someone thinks, “Oh I’m a Dharma practitioner,” does that person have an actual belief in karmic cause and effect? Probably not. Do they consider the subtle aspects of what should be done or refrained from? Do they refrain from the coarse actions they should refrain from? 

Often people might exaggerate their abilities, but if someone says something slightly bad about them, or if there is suffering or illness, if a trusted person deceives them, or wealth is lost or stolen, or they must leave their home and all their belongings, their friends, and relatives, when that happens—some might say, “I’m really a Dharma practitioner and because of that people say terrible things about me. They’re staining my good name; I think I’d better leave.” 

Their fear is that they will lose status in this lifetime. They have so much attachment to this life. The Karmapa compared them to Mikyö Dorje. His thinking was completely different. When Mikyö Dorje talked about sentient beings, he thought that because sentient beings were always under the control of their karma and afflictions, they were weak. They were weak because they were always harming each other in many ways to bring themselves happiness. 

Sentient beings are like a cancer patient who has been diagnosed as a terminal case where no medicine, no remedy can be offered as a cure, and there is nothing more to be done. They are going to suffer. In the same way, sentient beings from the very beginning have experienced suffering, so they are similar to the patient the doctor has given up on. 

Despite this, Mikyö Dorje looked upon these weak and sick sentient beings and felt an unbearable compassion for them. What were the signs for this unbearable compassion and what were the reasons for this? 

Mikyö Dorje only lived to 48 years of age. He had many illnesses, many were very painful illnesses, yet he thought about his suffering like this, “All the suffering I have experienced is because of the ripening of the harm I caused many others in samsara without beginning.” No matter how much he suffered in his body, he became that much more careful about his actions of karmic cause and effect. Looking at the way he acted, considering what had happened for this person of the right capacity, the imprint still revealed he would have suffering. 

What is important to consider here, what is the basis for suffering? What is the antidote? What are the best ways for ending this suffering? We can see all of this in the life of Mikyö Dorje. 

Those who do not have this capacity would think, “If such suffering could happen to such a great being as Mikyö Dorje, all these physical problems he had, and the bad karma he had, it seems impossible it could happen. If he had such a hard time physically, then we need to do rituals taught in the sūtras and engage in repulsing bad circumstances.” They really did not understand Mikyö Dorje’s thought or actions. That is because the activity of the buddhas and bodhisattvas depends primarily on the students. 

People have different levels of obscurations and misdeeds. When they see the activities of the guru, some people see them as good, or not so good, because people see things in different ways. This depends on their own karmic obscurations and attachments. 

The Karmapa told the story of Maudgalyayana, a great śrāvaka disciple of the Buddha: 

During the time of the Buddha, there were eight great disciples, the two most well-known were Śāriputra and Maudgalyayana. Śāriputra was the greatest in terms of prajña. Maudgalyayana was greatest with miracles and was the most powerful and strongest. But how did Maudgalyayana die? Some non-Buddhist Jain students beat Maudgalyayana and killed him. Although Maudgalyayana was the greatest with miracles, he was beaten to death. Why didn’t he show a miracle at that point? The Buddhist explanation is that in the past, Maudgalyayana had accumulated the karma of being beaten by others, so that the karma would ripen and have to be experienced. No one could stop it, not even the Buddha. When he was beaten, he completely forgot his miraculous powers, he forgot to do samadhi meditation, he forgot to show a miracle, because he could not even think about it. So even the śrāvaka Maudgalyayana could not stop the power of ripening karma.

Many things also happened with the Buddha. He suffered headaches and had thorns in his foot, he had troubles with his half-brother Devadatta. When we look at the examples of buddhas and bodhisattvas, the liberation stories of great beings, we see that there are different degrees of observation so that sentient beings would see great beings in different ways. When the Buddha appeared in India, not all people saw the Buddha as a good person. Some saw him as good, and some saw him as bad. The non-Buddhists did not see the Buddha as being good. 

If even the Buddha was not seen as good by everyone, then if we want everyone to see us as well, that is asking too much. Everyone has their own karmic obscurations, their own imprints. Some have very thick imprints and some very thin imprints, so the way people see things are different.

Then the Karmapa summarized the meaning of the fifteenth good deed with the following five points.

1. Adversity and suffering are the results of bad karma accumulated from beginningless samsara, so we must believe in karmic cause and effect. 

The essence of Buddhism is karmic cause and effect. We always talk about karmic cause and effect. Why do we experience adversity and sufferings in this life? They are the results of bad actions accumulated in the past. Not only the adversity and sufferings but even the pleasures, happiness, and reputation, the suffering and problems are all the results of our karma. Our karmic results are the effect of the actions we have done in the past. 

2. This life has been suffering from the outset, and there is no fairness. Not only is this life not fair; it is the same situation in all lifetimes. 

We normally think, “What’s the reason I have to suffer like this? Why am I being treated so scornfully? Why did my lover leave me? Why did my relative die? Why did I have to get such a horrible illness? Why did it happen to me and not to someone else? Why did I lose my job? Why do I have such great difficulty.…?” 

We have these questions because we think that this life is not fair so we conclude, “Life is not right, life is not fair.Some people become rich and some become beggars. I have only done good things, yet all this is happening to me…” This means we do not understand the nature of saṃsāra; we do not have a deep belief in karmic cause and effect. 

Where do suffering and unhappiness come from? The experiences of suffering and unhappiness are results of the bad karma we have accumulated in the past— this could be yesterday, or a previous lifetime, anything from before. Most of our karma was accumulated in previous lifetimes. We have had many previous lives. We can’t even calculate which was the first. If we have had innumerable previous lifetimes, the karmas we have accumulated in those previous lifetimes must also be immeasurable. When we think that life is not fair, if we thought about the situations from our many previous lifetimes, it might be possible to think, “there is nothing fairer than this.” This is what we mean by karmic cause and effect. There is nothing truer than karmic cause and effect.

3. Suffering and obstacles occur even for beings such as the Buddha and the Karmapa. 

What are the limits of the fairness and rightness of karmic cause and effect? The various incarnations of the Karmapa and even the Bhagavān Buddha also experienced suffering. The foundational vehicle said that the Buddha’s body was the aggregate of suffering. The Theravada said the Buddha’s body was the truth of suffering, meaning that these beings could experience suffering, and encounter unhappiness, obstacles, and adversity. 

With the various Karmapas, the amount of adversity and hardship they experienced was more frequent and greater than most ordinary people had. They were caught in the middle of innumerable conflicts, obstacles, and political, environmental, and sectarian pressures that ordinary people could not comprehend. 

Yet the Karmapas never felt unable to continue taking steps forward or wanted to give up. They had courage and prajña unlike anyone else, so they were able to keep moving forward. They did not see this life as being unfair. They never doubted karmic cause and effect—that all the difficulties and suffering they experienced now were the result of bad karma from the past. They were certain that karmic cause and effect was fair, right, and true. With that courage, no matter what bad event occurred, from deep within, they were able to accept it and forbear it. They never gave up on the path ahead or even wavered the slightest in their loving kindness toward others and their faith and belief in the Three Jewels.

The previous Karmapas viewed adversity and difficulty differently. They never blamed, accused, or held grudges against anyone even if people threatened their lives, because these people did not understand the bad karma they are committing and did not know the terrifying karma awaiting them in the future. The Karmapas had even more love and compassion for these people who were controlled by their karma and afflictions. When people harmed or blamed the Karmapas, the Karmapas never even got annoyed. The adversity created by these people became a cause for love the other and increasing their bodhicitta. 

Among the different incarnations of the Karmapa, some appeared rather wrathful and short-tempered. Looking from the outside, they seemed to have strict or untamed characters. But in actuality, they were like a loving mother with a bit of a temper. Their external appearance was like a mother worried about their children going down a mistaken path, so she would get angry and scold them. 

The Karmapa extended the analogy further by describing how the bodhisattvas like Subhuti and Mañjuśrī, were called “youthful” because they had childlike characters that were uncontrived and clean and could not be as complicated as adults, so the Karmapas who appeared rather angry were like these children on the inside. 

There were also Karmapas with peaceful characters. They were all like mothers with loving and gentle characters who, no matter how many mistakes their children made, loved them all the more. Wrathful or peaceful, the Karmapas had the same aims.

There is no one who has not encountered suffering and difficulties. 

If we do not believe in karmic cause and effect, we will see this life as unfair. But if we think in detail, if we don’t believe in karmic cause and effect at all, then how would we accomplish anything at all? We all have a certain degree of belief in karmic cause and effect. Why do farmers plant fields? If they did not believe it would bring a crop, they would not plant. Will the effort we make now produce a result? We do things with expectations and hopes. If we did not, is it possible that we would work for anything? Without karmic cause and effect, there would be no hope or reward from anything we do. However, sometimes “past and future lives” stretches into such a long time, and since we do not remember the events of past lives, we wonder why things happen to us now. 

When we teach the presentation of suffering in the Four Noble Truths, it says that while we are in saṃsāra, there is only suffering, and not even an instant of pleasure. The Buddhist texts talk about many different types of suffering, coarse and subtle, but in our lives the sufferings we experience, such as the eight types of suffering, occur simply because we are in saṃsāra. They will happen to us. No matter how much we try to avoid them, we cannot stop them. That is why we practice the Dharma. That is why we try to reach liberation. If there were no suffering in saṃsāra and there were happiness, why would we have to practice Dharma?  Why would we seek liberation? Human life and saṃsāra are suffering from the beginning; it is not only when we experience pain and adversity that we experience suffering. 

4. Whenever we have bad or good situations, it depends on the mind.

When difficulties, sufferings, and adversities occur in our lives, the most crucial point is that they depend on how we look at them. When we analyze a hardship or suffering, it depends on how the mind thinks about the situation. 

When adversity and obstacles arise, the pessimist will say, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I being blamed?” and feel unfairly treated. The optimist will say, “This life is the karmic result of the previous lives. This is a test in this life. It’s giving me real training. It’s an opportunity for me to purify my karma from the past.” 

There are many situations where, if we only think about them for this lifetime, they seem huge, but when we think about them in terms of many lifetimes, the situations may seem tiny among all the previous situations faced. 

Whether the situation is good or bad primarily depends on the way you think, and the way you view it. For that reason, you have to take care of your mind. You have to gain control over your mind. You must take interest in paying attention to how you think about things. The root of everything comes down to mind. 

5. When adversity occurs, we can accumulate vast merit. 

When adversity occurs or we are in the hardest point of our lives, we need to understand that it is like being at the bottom of a ravine, and this is the best time to accumulate merit. “Merit” is like water rushing down a ravine that needs to flow to lower ground, so that is the best point to gather the accumulation of merit.

We need to carefully consider how we accumulate merit and not miss that opportunity:

  1. When we have adversity, we need to recognize that it is the best opportunity to gather the accumulations to purify obscurations. 
  2. When someone causes us harm, we must not harbor malicious thoughts toward the other but keep a benevolent motivation. This will multiply our merit exponentially. 
  3. When we have adversity, it is an incredible opportunity to train our minds. As the Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa said, “Adversity is a spiritual friend.” An authentic spiritual friend or lama means someone who can change or improve your mind. 

If you’re a soldier, the best training is having had actual experience in battle. If you have only experienced mock exercises in training, it’s completely different from fighting in battle with experience. If we are always having good times, anyone can look like a good dharma practitioner.

Hardships let you know if you have faith in the Three Jewels and the gurus. When we encounter adversity, we know whether we believe in karmic cause and effect and that is when we know we have faith in the Three Jewels and the gurus. 

The crucial point is when we are on our deathbeds breathing our last. We need to remember that this is the time when there is nothing else to do but to entrust ourselves to the Three Jewels and the gurus. At that time, faith and belief will make us able to face up to all the terrors and suffering, so we need to do the preparations for that now. 

The times when adversity occur are the best times for us to improve our practice. It is important not to let the adversity pass us by. We do not have to go look for it, because the day will come, and when it arrives, we should not miss the opportunity. It is better if we do not have adversity and suffer, but we should be prepared and not immediately panic or lose courage. We need to have more courage, and counsel ourselves and not miss that opportunity. This is very important.

The difference between the great beings and us is whenever they have suffering and problems. The great beings often have greater adversities because they have vaster greater activities. The biggest difference is that when difficulties come, they rise to the difficulty, and they move forward. When we have adversity, we need to learn how to stand up and move forward too. That is why we need to study the great beings and look at their liberation stories. 

The Gyalwang Karmapa then said the teaching itself had come to an end. But now, he had a transmission he wanted to give to everyone.

He then mused about how all the great beings had great dreams and signs and he thought he had never had these signs, but that this never happened to him. Then one night in 2019, he had a dream where he met Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche. In the dream, the Karmapa was making a long-life offering to Rinpoche and was reciting a long-life prayer he had written. Since this was a connection that didn’t usually happen, he felt great amazement. He remembered a good deal of the long-life prayer and wrote it down. He said, “Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche is one of the greatest lamas who, through his kindness,  has always done whatever he can for the teachings of the Kagyu monasteries.”

The Karmapa recalled that many lamas had already passed away: Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche passed away at a young age; Tengyur Rinpoche passed away; many of the other old lamas have passed away; Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche was not in good health. However, Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche was still performing his activities and giving teachings. Everyone should rejoice in such a good situation, since Rinpoche is very elderly, a great being, and like a great treasure. The Karmapa asked that we make the aspiration, “Please stay as long as there are sentient beings.” 

He also said he included this long-life prayer with all the prayers for sentient beings he made, and among them, he made long-life prayers for the Dalai Lama daily, long-life prayers for the heart sons, and all the great beings of the Karma Kagyu. He recited these daily because, “If these great beings can stay, there will be good times, and that would be very good. If they do not live, we will experience suffering. For this reason we should recite this long-life prayer for Thrangu Rinpoche.”

The Gyalwang Karmapa recited the long-life prayer for Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche, and the translations were recited by the translators. The teaching concluded with the closing prayers. 

A Prayer for the Long Life of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche 

ཟག་མེད་ཡེ་ཤེས་དམ་པའི་བདུད་རི་ནི། །

sak me ye she dam pay dü tsi ni 

Between your hands united in equipoise, 

མཉམ་ཉིད་ཟུང་འཇུག་ཕྱག་གིས་ལེགས་འཛིན་པ། །

nyam nyi sung juk chak gi lek dzin pa 

The nectar of the highest undefiled wisdom.

འཇིགས་མེད་ལྟ་བའི་གད་རྒྱངས་ཆེར་སྒོགས་ཤིང་། །

jik me ta way ge gyang cher drok shing 

Far and wide you sound the roar of fearless view. 

མཁས་བཙུན་གྲུབ་པའི་ལུས་སོབས་ཡོངས་རོགས་པ། །

khe tsün drup pay lü top yong dzok pa 

You have perfected the physical strength
Of being learned, venerable, and accomplished. 

རྒྱལ་དང་རྒྱལ་སས་ཐུ་བོ་ཆེ་རྣམས་དང་། །

gyal dang gyal se tu wo che nam dang 

By the power of the victors, of their foremost offspring, 

བདག་གི་ལྷག་བསམ་དགེ་བའི་བདེན་སོབས་ཀིས། །

dak gi lhak sam ge way den top kyi 

Of the truth of my pure intentions, may my prayer

འཆི་མེད་ཚེ་ཡི་བུམ་པར་འཁིལ་བའི་མཛོད། །

chi me tse yi bum par khyil way dzö 

You hold the vase of deathlessness that collects 

ཚེ་དབང་འོད་དཔག་མེད་པས་དགེ་ལེགས་སོལ། །

tse wang ö pak me pé ge lek tsöl 

Lord of life Amitayus, grant auspiciousness.

ལུང་རོགས་ཆོས་ཀི་གཡུ་རལ་སིད་རེར་འབར། །

lung tok chö kyi yu ral si tser bar 

Up to the Peak of Existence blazes your turquoise mane Of the dharma of scripture and realization. 

སྨྲ་བའི་སེང་གེ་ཁེད་ཉིད་འཚོ་གཞེས་གསོལ། །

ma way seng ge khye nyi tso she söl 

Lion of Speech, I ask you to live long. 

ལྷ་དང་དྲང་སོང་གྲུབ་པ་རྣམས་ཀི་མཐུ། །

lha dang drang song drup pa nam kyi tu 

Of gods and sages and siddhas, and by the strength 

ཇི་བཞིན་སོན་པ་གེགས་མེད་འགྲུབ་གྱུར་ཅིག །

ji shin mön pa gek me drup gyur chik 

Be accomplished without any obstacles. 

བསན་པ་ཡོངས་རོགས་ཀི་དགེ་བའི་བཤེས་གཉེན་བཀའ་དྲིན་མཉམ་མེད་སྐྱབས་རེ་ཁྲ་འགུ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་སྐུ་ཚེ་ཡུན་བརན་གི་སོན་ལམ་འདི་ཉིན་ཤས་གོང་གཉིད་ཀི་འཁྲུལ་སྣང་ དུ་སྐྱབས་རེ་རིན་པོ་ཆེར་བརན་བཞུགས་ཕུལ་བ་དང་། ཞབས་བརན་འདི་ལྟར་བྱས་པ་རིས། གཉིད་སད་ཚེ་ད་དུང་ཚིག་འགའ་དྲན་བཞིན་འདུག་པས། སིགས་མའི་དུས་འདིར་ སྐྱབས་གནས་འདི་ལྟ་བུ་ཡུན་དུ་བཞུགས་ན་བསན་འགོར་སན་ཡོན་ཆེ་བར་བསམ་ནས། ཨོ་རྒྱན་ཕིན་ལས་སུ་འབོད་པའི་སོབ་འབངས་བདག་གིས་སོན་པའོ། །

This prayer for the long life Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche, the incomparably kind spiritual master of the teachings in their entirety, came a few days ago in the confused appearances of sleep. I dreamt that I was making a long life offering to Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche and praying like this for his long life. When I woke up, still I remembered a few words. Thinking that in this degenerate time, a source of refuge like him living long would be beneficial for the teachings and beings, I, his student and servant Ogyen Trinley, wrote this prayer.