Thirty-sixth Birthday Message from Gyalwang Karmapa
I would like to offer my greetings and Tashi Delek to all of you.
Today is the 26th of June, the day my birthday is generally celebrated. My actual birthday is the first day of the fifth Tibetan month, but my birthday has been celebrated on several different dates. The date my parents consider my birthday is calculated by the Tibetan calendar, and if converted to the Western calendar, it is June 19, 1985. Traditionally in Tibet, there was no custom of celebrating birthdays, so when I still lived in my homeland, we never celebrated my birthday. The first celebration of my birthday only occurred after I had arrived at Tsurphu Monastery. That celebration was held on June 26, which later became the date my birthday has been celebrated on.
The way I think about it, I personally see my birthday as a day to feel gratitude. The reason is that this is the date I was born into this world. Not only was I born, but I also received a good human body with which I could practice dharma. Having such a body is thanks to my dear parents’ kindness, so I feel grateful for the kindness of my parents.
Later I entered the gate of the true dharma and learned a little bit about what I should do and what I should not. This was thanks to the kindness of my great spiritual friends, so I recognize that it is important to remember and feel grateful for the kindness my spiritual friends have shown me on this day.
Likewise, my ability to do a little bit on behalf of Buddhism and sentient beings and my developing a wish to do so is thanks to the kindness of my friends and associates as well as the kindness of all those beings I have been connected to. Thus, I also recognize this as a day when I should feel gratitude to all my friends and all sentient beings.
In particular, this year, when I turn thirty-six, is my obstacle year. The monasteries and nunneries in India, Nepal, and Bhutan had planned extensive celebrations, but because of the coronavirus epidemic, they have had no choice but to postpone them. Since this is my obstacle year, monasteries and private people in my homeland of Tibet as well as in India, Nepal, and Bhutan and all over the world have been performing extensive services and rituals specifically for my sake, individually and collectively. In brief, I can feel how many pure intentions and how much love you have for me, even without seeing your physical or verbal expressions. I can feel in the bottom of my heart how great and deep they are. So I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you.
However, the coronavirus epidemic is not yet over either internationally or in India and Nepal, so it is very important for you all to take care of your health. In particular, the monks and nuns should not let down their guard on prevention, and if you should develop any symptoms of Covid, do not be embarrassed or reluctant and instead inform the responsible people in your monastery. Doing so will bring the benefit that first of all, you will be able to receive timely treatment, and second, there will be less chance of infecting anyone else.
This disease is highly infectious, but it is generally not fatal, they say. So, if you catch Covid, there is no need to be too fearful. But you should not underestimate or ignore this illness either; it is probably beneficial to eat more nutritious food, take traditional Tibetan medicines, and so forth. For the details, I think the best thing is to follow the advice of medical professionals and of your local public health officials.
To say a little about my personal situation, it is hard to describe how it feels to look back over the past thirty-six years. When I look at how long the previous Karmapas lived, on average they did not live much past fifty. Though their lives were not long, the benefit they brought to the teachings and beings is so enormous that it is difficult to express. In comparison to them, I have the feeling that I have fruitlessly and pointlessly wasted most of the past thirty-six years of my own life.
I spent the first seven years of my life in my homeland, living a modest nomadic life with my parents, siblings, and the other local people. These days, it is difficult to find an environment to live in like what I had at that time. People who live in cities nowadays can’t even imagine what it was like to live at that time, much less have any experience of it. But for me, that was by far the happiest and freest time of my life. The main reason is that I was with my parents, and I had the feeling that I was living under the protection of their love.
I still have trouble expressing what my life has been like since the time I turned seven. All of a sudden, people told me I was the reincarnation of the Gyalwang Karmapa and put me on the throne. I really did not know at that time what it means to be the Karmapa. But people said I was the Karmapa, so I myself began to lead my life and receive an education as if I were the Karmapa.
From that time onward, there were huge changes in my life. The biggest is that my own personal feelings and opinions were no longer important, and the way that other people’s ideas about how I should be became more important. So sometimes I felt as if I were an actor, as if I were performing the role that other people thought I should be playing or wanted me to play. That is how it felt to me. What it means is that I am a human being and naturally have feelings of happiness and sadness. But I felt as if I should hide my own feelings, or as if there was no one to express them to. The main thing is I had to live as some important personage the way others expected me to. I may not be the only one who has felt like this; I think that many other Tibetan tulkus have probably also felt the same.
Anyways, it was only when I had got older and had done a bit of study that I gradually began to have some understanding of what the Karmapa is and of the activity the previous Karmapas performed. Only then did my own responsibility gradually become clear to me. Previously, I thought I had to pretend, but that changed. I began to think that I should be a servant of the activity of the Gyalwang Karmapas. From then on, I no longer had to worry about whether I was the Karmapa, and no longer had any pride of being Karmapa, or any disquiet of feeling I should pretend I was.
So now, I think that the Gyalwang Karmapa is present above my head, like a crown. I think that my needing to bear the title of Karmapa is the compassion and blessings of the previous Karmapas, in particular Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, and of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other great beings. Either that, or they saw it would be a circumstance that would enable me to bring a little bit of benefit to sentient beings and Buddhism, so they recognized me and gave me the title. I have maintained this confidence as I have led my life up to now.
In particular, when other people make offerings, praise, or have faith in me, I think it is for the Karmapa who is sitting above the crown of my head. I have probably never had the thought that those people are offering to, praising, or having faith in me. Furthermore, I also have genuine faith in the Gyalwang Karmapa, just as other people do. I meditate that he is above my head, never apart from me, pray to him as much as I can, and likewise offer my faith and devotion. I do this as much as I am able. For me, this is my own way of practicing guru yoga.
But, as you all know, serving the activity of the Gyalwang Karmapa is not easy or convenient. Unless you have accumulated enough merit or have the highest intelligence, the situation is such that there is no way you can actually accomplish it.
I have never really lived as a regular person, and I lack the full experience regular people have. In addition, from the time I was given the title of Karmapa until the present, I have not had much control over where I go or what I do. It has even been hard to feel as if I had any friends. The reason is that you can only become friends with someone whose character, ways of doing things, and experience are more or less similar to your own. But my life has been too different from anyone else’s, and I have been too restricted in where I go and what I do. So, it has been hard even to find friends whom I feel close to.
In addition, many of the situations in my life have been connected with political and social problems and conflicts. I just naturally ended up falling into a complicated situation. I have had no control, and there has been nothing I could do. But I still try to muster the energy of my body and mind and do as much as I can. Still, even though I try, I sometimes feel as if the difficulties and problems are larger and more numerous than my abilities.
In such times, other than encouraging myself, I have felt that there are few people with whom I am able to share my feelings, or who could give me encouragement. But I always think that it wouldn’t be right to give the difficulties that I have faced to anyone else. I always think that I need to bear my own hardships on my own and often remind myself of that.
So usually, when I encounter any problem or feel sad, I don’t tell other people or try to explain it. First of all, my own situation is different than regular people’s, and the difference is so great that it is difficult for people to understand. That is one reason. The second reason is that when I tell others about the situations that make me happy and excited, they are happy, then I feel good too, and that is what is best. If, instead, I told others about my woes and the things that are going badly, then they would worry, and I myself would feel uncomfortable. There is no point to that.
In brief, no matter how many hardships and how much loneliness I have had in my life, most of the time I think about the things that have made me happy and joyful. There have been difficult situations when I have worried and had problems for a time, but I have not held them in my mind for long.
For example, during the Kagyu Monlams, I have been able to spend a few months working with monks from the different monasteries and people of various nationalities. Those times are really busy and sometimes I even forget to eat, but I feel really happy. The reason is that I feel that I am doing something meaningful. When I was in India, the most enjoyable times were when I had been doing something and working with many dharma friends. That is what I find the most enjoyable. Thus, it is only because of all of your help and support that I have been able to feel happy and fulfilled, so for that reason I would like to say thank you, not just saying the words but meaning them from the bottom of my heart.
That is just a little about the past experiences in my life.
Today is my birthday, and I don’t have anything I’d like to say to you other than thank you—I have no thought of saying “please do this” or “don’t do that.” Still, I’d like to take this opportunity to share a few words about some of the things that I have been considering and a few plans for the future.
Generally, I usually think that whether we say we are Tibetan, Tibetan Buddhist, or Kagyu, we are the same in experiencing joys and woes; our lives are all intertwined. I take this as being important. In particular, because of the great advances in technology, no matter how much distance there may be between people, they can contact each other immediately. No matter where an event happens in the world, no matter how big or small it is, we can learn about it quickly, while it is still fresh news. Thus, we all feel that this world is gradually getting smaller and smaller.
Likewise, many countries are becoming more international, and there are more connections between people of different nationalities. This is the way things are. In such an environment, whether we are Tibetan, Tibetan Buddhist, or Kagyupa, the extent of our vision and thinking must absolutely be far broader and deeper than it ever has been historically. I see this as important.
The reason is that most people are becoming international and world citizens. If we, among ourselves, see nothing more than only our own ladrang, our own monastery, or our own lineage, then I regard that as a feudal way of thinking. Instead, the moment we say “Tibetan Buddhism” or “Kagyu,” we should naturally remember the commonalities or the entirety of the teachings. If the teachings as a whole flourish, increase, and become excellent, the individuals who follow Buddhism, ladrangs, and monasteries will also flourish and thrive. I see having such an understanding and intention as being extremely important.
If, instead, we do not take a wide perspective and broad way of thinking, when a few of our monasteries or ladrangs thrive, we will be fooled. And when things are going well or prosperously for them, we will be amazed. If we have no idea what is going on in the world, it is as if the sun is shining on the world, but we are sitting in our room with the shutters closed. In the old days, we Tibetans were holed up in a remote part of the world and stayed there, oblivious. We all know what happened in the end.
Thus, all of us—on the broadest scale the whole world, or on the smallest all us Tibetans, all of our lineages, all of us Kagyus—exist in a relationship where what we do affects each other. We are mutually dependent; we rely upon each other. If instead of dividing ourselves into factions, we can gather all of our forces together, I firmly believe that we will be able to bring each other happiness and overcome our difficulties.
Thus, over the last few years, I have had a few opportunities to try and help bring about better connections within the Kagyu lineages and especially to bring about reconciliation within the Kamtsang. But thanks mainly to everyone taking a broad view, I think that we have seen great improvements. But the results have not yet fulfilled all of my hopes. So my wish is to continue trying steadfastly, and I hope that my dharma friends and companions will support and help in this.
Harmony is extremely important. In particular, harmony in the sangha is like the foundation for the teachings to flourish. If we really want the teachings to thrive, it seems to me that that there is no way for that to happen if we harbor attachment, hatred, and envy for each other.
The most important thing is that no matter which dharma lineage we are part of, first of all, we need to know who we are and what our origins are. In order to know what we should do, we need to understand what our lineage’s history, pith instructions, ritual practices, and so forth are, and we need to study them. Once we have studied them, I see it as very important for us to strive to uphold the lineage and to make it firm and stable. If we do so, we can have confidence that we are a follower and student of our lineage and realize that we have not lost our basis.
Similarly, knowing the history, pith instructions, and ritual practices of our own lineages well will make us able to bring out the special qualities of our lineage and show them off to others. If we do not take care of our own dharma lineage, it will be difficult to find anyone else to take care of it or consider it important.
Being nonsectarian is extremely important. Nonsectarianism means that we should view Buddhism in an expansive way without creating factions—it is a philosophy of how we should think. It does not mean that we should say, “I’m in the nonsectarian tradition” and then start a separate lineage. If we did, it would be hard to say whether it was nonsectarian.
No matter whether we are in the Sakya, Geluk, Kagyu, or Nyingma lineage, it is absolutely not so that we cannot be or are not allowed to be nonsectarian. No matter what our lineage, when we first entered the dharma, we made a connection with a particular lama and a lineage. I see this connection as our foundation and basis for entering the teachings. We need to treasure it. On that basis or that foundation, we should also follow as many different lineages and as many different lamas as we can. If we lacked any foundation or basis and instead dabbled in whatever dharma came before our noses, we would have no stable foundation in the dharma, and we would not have any lineage as a source. I also think there is the danger that we would have no one to call on and devote ourselves to at the time of death.
In the Kagyu tradition, for example, the Kagyu forefathers have left us an extraordinary inheritance: Marpa and Ngokpa’s explanations of the tantras, Milarepa’s fortitude and pith instructions, Gampopa’s Cleaning Up the Essence, the Karmapa’s Pointing Out the Three Kayas and Prana and Mind Inseparable, Lama Shang’s Ultimate Supreme Path, the Barom Swift Path of Mixing and Transference, Pakmodrupa’s secret mantra, the Taklung Thirty-Nine Liberations, the Drikung Single Point of the Three Vows, Tsangpa Gyare’s Single Taste of Interdependence, and Lorepa and Götsangpa’s devotion and revulsion, and so forth. Each is complete with all of the qualities, but there are numerous differences, such as how the names of the gurus are recited and how one is cared for by the guru. But we have not taken care of many of these instructions, and they have been lost. So, we must consider taking care of our inheritance to be our primary responsibility, and that is the first place we need to direct our energies.
Therefore, I am making plans that in the coming years, our Kamtsang shedras will study and discuss the Taklung Three Vows, the Drikung Single Intent, the Drukpa Mahamudra Treasury of the Victors, and so forth, one per year.
In addition, there has also been some talk of my writing a commentary on the Jewel Ornament of Liberation, and earlier this year I also taught the Four Dharmas of Gampopa. In the process, I have had the opportunity to look through many Kagyu texts. What I feel as I do so is that if we want to grasp the full intent of Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa, and the other Kagyu forefathers’ thought in its entirety, it would not be right not to look at the pith instructions, commentaries, and questions and answers written by the masters of all Kagyu lineages, the four elder and eight younger. I became convinced that studying and researching them to the appropriate level will make us able to bring out and understand clearly the particular features of the view, meditation, and conduct and the ground, path, and fruition of the Kagyu lineage. For these reasons, I see it as very important that we, within our Kamtsang tradition, should study, teach, and discuss the distinctive features and commentarial traditions of the other Kagyu lineages, and I am making plans to do so.
We often say that there are two traditions that come from the great being Marpa the Translator, the lineage of practice and the lineage of explanations. The lineage of practice has been passed down without interruption from Milarepa and is what we now call the Dakpo Kagyu. For the lineage of explanations, there are several lineages of explanation passed down from Metön, Tsurtön, and Ngokpa, but these days the lineage of explanations is in severe decline—the situation is difficult. Among the lineages of explanation, the ones for which there is still a transmission of the empowerments and reading transmissions are known as the “Seven Ngok Mandalas.”
There were two main transmissions of Ngok Chöku Dorje’s lineage of explanations, the Ram and Ngok traditions. It is said that Kunkhyen Chöku Öser wrote a text establishing that the Ram and Ngok traditions both have the same intent. Of these two, the Ram and Ngok, the Ngok tradition was passed down by Ngok Chöku Dorje’s son Dode, and that split into two transmissions, the Tsangtsa and Gyaltsa transmissions. The Tsangtsa transmission was passed down to Treushing Rinpoche Jangchup Palwa, who it seems Lord Tsongkhapa respected highly and frequently praised as being learned and awakened in the tradition of Ngok. Jangchup Palwa’s students at that time included Jamyang Chöje Tashi Palden, Taklung Ngawang Drakpa, Gö Lotsawa Shönnu Pal, Panchen Jampa Lingpa, and many other learned students. He taught the Hevajra tantra from a manuscript called the Dorjema, and each time he taught it, he made a mark. It is said he made 182 marks.
At one point, the lineage of explanation of Vajra Catuhpitha was lost, so Lord Tsongkhapa told Jangchup Palwa that he absolutely must revive it. Jangchup Palwa went to see an old lama at Treushing Monastery named Loppön Tsulgön and received the transmission of the tantra of Vajra Catuhpitha from him. After that, he taught Vajra Catuhpitha many times.
In particular, Trimkhang Lotsawa Sönam Gyatso received the empowerments of the Seven Ngok Mandalas and wrote complete new sadhana and mandala ritual texts for them. Later, he gave the empowerments of the Seven Ngok Mandalas to the Fourth Shamar Chennga Chödrak, on which occasion there were many miraculous signs, such as rainbows forming around the edges of the mandala. Panchen Sönam Drakpa wrote in his history of the Kadampa that Trimkhang Lotsawa’s most important activity was to spread the tradition of the Ngok mandalas.
Mahasattva Lodrö Gyaltsen of Dema Tang also went to Shung and received from Jangchup Palwa many of the Ngok dharma teachings. According to his liberation story, he took Dhumangari as his dharma protector. Also, when Druk Gyalwang Chöje went to Shung and met Jangchup Palwa, Jangchup Palwa said to him, “I have been waiting for you until now. Now I can return the dharma to its owner.” He then gave him all the empowerments and pith instructions of the Ngok Mandalas, including the minor teachings, entrusting the teachings to him.
Similarly, the two well-known masters of the Shennga Kagyu, Pakpa Lha and Shiwa Lha, went to Machen in Tsari, where they received the Seven Ngok Mandalas from Chöje Tsangchenpa along with their auxiliary teachings. The biographies of many Tibetan masters describe how they received the teachings and empowerments of the Seven Ngok Mandalas. The Fifth Dalai Lama’s biography of Gönpo Sönam Chokden relates how he received the Seven Ngok Mandalas from Ngoktön Jamyang Öser.
In later times, when the First Jamgön Kongtrul compiled the Seven Ngok Mandalas, he consulted old manuscripts including those by Trimkhang Lotsawa, Shamar Chennga Chödrak, Jetsun Taranatha, and Karma Chakme. Most of these texts are still extant, which is fortuitous.
In brief, when we say, “the Seven Ngok Mandalas,” they include the Nine Deity Hevajra; its mother form, the Fifteen-Deity Nairatmya; the Forty-Nine Deity Vajra Panjara; the father form of Vajra Catuhpitha Naljor Namkha; the mother form, the Wisdom Dakini; Mahamaya or Great Illusion; and Guhya Manjushri. In the Fifth Dalai Lama’s record of teachings, he notes that sometimes in place of Guhya Manjushri, Dhumangari is included as one of the seven, but he notes that is not quite right, it is said. However, it does not clearly indicate which masters include Dhumangari in the Seven Ngok Mandalas.
These days we have been receiving many old manuscripts from Tibet, including many from the seats of the Ngok tradition. This includes many of the manuscripts I have mentioned, including the texts by Trimkhang Lotsawa. The transmissions of the empowerments of most of these were all transmitted in full to Situ Panchen Tsuglak Chökyi Nangwa. His reincarnation, Situ Pema Nyinche, also received the complete transmission, and it is said that the Gelukpa Amchok Geshe Tulku Könchok Tenpay Gyaltsen received them all. I think this will be beneficial for us in our research.
In brief, Jamgön Kongtrul combined the other tantras of Marpa the Translator and the Seven Ngok Mandalas to assemble what we now call the “Thirteen Tantras of Marpa.” The fact that the lineages of the empowerment and transmission of these thirteen tantras are still extant is due to the inconceivable kindness of Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye, as you all know.
The Treasury of Kagyu Tantra that Jamgön Kongtrul compiled primarily contains tantra, not sutra. Within the tantra, it is primarily the unexcelled tantra, and within that, it is primarily from the tradition of Marpa. This mainly contains the transmissions of the Marpa Tradition that have been passed down through the Kamtsang and Drikung Kagyu. Jamgön Kongtrul himself said that he took the tantras of Marpa to heart and just wished to prevent their transmission of ripening and liberation from being lost. As he said, it is important for all of us followers of Marpa the Translator to treasure this inheritance and practice it. The great masters of the past have said this, and I have also come to feel a degree of certainty in it myself.
Not long after I arrived in India, we held the Karma Kagyu Conference in Varanasi. At that time, each monastery was assigned one of the thirteen Marpa Tantras, and I suggested that they should hold pujas of these tantras annually. The monasteries have done as I suggested and consider each of these like their special deity. They have received the empowerments and transmissions from the Heart Sons, studied the ritual with Kyabje Vajradhara Tenga Rinpoche, and so on. In this way, they have taken great interest and have been practicing them to this day.
At the time of Situ Panchen, in Jangyul they compiled an index of the deities of the unexcelled tantra and painted twenty-seven tankas. I have received old tankas from this transmission of just about all of them. It seemed to me that the monasteries holding the pujas needed to see the tankas, so I was able to offer them to the monasteries. Also, a few years ago, I let them know that I would be able to provide some assistance for building retreat centers for the Marpa Tantras.
I also have the idea that I should perhaps compile a supplement to Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye’s Treasury of Kagyu Tantra. As I mentioned, the Treasury of Kagyu Tantra primarily contains, among the four classes of tantra, texts of the unexcelled tantra. Even within the unexcelled tantra, there are some in Dusum Khyenpa’s Five Sets of Five Deities. Not all of those deities are from the unexcelled tantra, but Vajravarahi, Chakrasamvara, and Hevajra are. There are also the teachings on Gyalwa Gyatso passed down from Rechungpa, and other important tantras that are not included in the Treasury of Kagyu Tantra.
There are also texts from the lower tantras such as Akshobhya and Sarvavid as well as tantras that previously had been transmitted in the Karma Kamtsang but now have been lost, such as the Abhisambodhi of Vairochana, Vajradhatu, and so forth from the time of the Sixth Karmapa. The empowerments, transmissions, mandala, and rituals are probably mostly from the Sakya and Butön traditions, so I thought that if I could restore the transmission of these empowerments, we could include them and have texts from all four classes of tantra. Then the Treasury of Kagyu Tantra would be even more complete than it already was, it seems to me.
Someone like me lacks the necessary qualities and is not at all suitable to do such work, but as the Tibetan saying goes, we are reduced to walking on our knees—we are in a time when we must do whatever we can. In particular Guru Vajradhara Tai Situ Rinpoche, Goshri Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Kyabje Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche, and other great masters are still alive, and we are still able to receive teachings on texts written by the lamas of the past. Further, the transmissions of many outer and inner tantras are still extant in other dharma lineages.
In the past, I was overcome by the ninth lack of leisure—a hectic environment—and that really clouded things. But these days, I have a bit of time to stay at some distance from that hectic environment. During this time, I have begun by compiling as many texts as I can of the Practice Lineage of the Karma Kamtsang, and I will try to restore the lineages of their empowerments and transmissions. If all goes well, then I will eventually include as many empowerments, transmissions, and pith instructions of tantras as possible from other Kagyu traditions. I would like to make the Treasury of Kagyu Tantra into a general collection of Kagyu tantras. If I am able to do so, then in the future, when Kagyu lamas give the empowerments of the Treasury of Kagyu Tantra, we will be able to receive the empowerments, transmissions, and pith instructions of most Kagyu lineages. I believe this will also help preserve the textual traditions for a long time.
Now, to speak about the explanations of tantras in general, in the past Tibet had a wealth of explanations of tantras, empowerments, transmissions, and pith instructions of Marpa and his disciples, but most of them have been lost. As an example, in the Karma Kamtsang, other than teaching the Profound Inner Principles, the Hevajra Tantra, and the Sublime Continuum, there is not much of a custom of teaching the tantras.
So this year we will have a summer teaching, which will principally be for monks and nuns in the tantra sections of the main monasteries, as I previously announced. First and foremost, my aim is to revive the teaching and study of the tantras. I thought that this year, for the first summer teaching, I would give a brief history of the tantras of secret mantra. Then from next year onward, following the practice at the time of the Eighth Karmapa Mikyö Dorje, we will begin with the Fifty Verses on the Guru and the explanation of the root downfalls from the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje’s Ocean of Samaya. Then we will go through teachings on the kriya, charya, yoga, and unexcelled tantras in order. Similarly, we will go through the presentations of the paths and levels and the arrangements of rituals. If we are able to meet and the conditions are right, I also thought we could perhaps study the great tantras of Chakrasamvara, Hevajra, and Guhyasamaja.
A few years ago, I was able to receive the transmission and explanation of Lord Tsongkhapa’s commentary on the Guhyasamaja tantra from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. My main purpose was to be able to spread the teachings of Marpa’s tradition of Guhyasamaja within the Kagyu. Similarly, I would like to receive as many empowerments and transmissions of Chakrasamvara, Hevajra, Catuhpitha, and so forth as I am able, and I have the hope that I will be able to teach them to others.
I have wasted a lot of your time rambling on today, so I don’t need to say much more. To close, I would once again like to express my appreciation to everyone from all the lineages and all my friends for this celebration of my birthday. In particular, I would like to thank all the Kagyu monasteries in Tibet and abroad who have organized planting trees, cleaning up litter in their local areas, practicing vegetarianism, life releases, donations to the needy, and many other activities of giving up misdeeds and practicing virtue. This is a meaningful and moving way of celebrating my birthday. I would like to thank you all for doing so.
In particular, while I was in India, I stayed at Gyuto Monastery. Every year, they celebrated my birthday with aspiration prayers and a ceremony. Even this year, despite the additional difficulties of the coronavirus epidemic, they still held a ceremony and recited prayers, so I would like to express special thanks to them.
In conclusion, I would like to express my prayer that His Holiness the Dalai Lama may live long and spontaneously accomplish all his wishes. Likewise, may the great lamas of all lineages—Sakya, Kagyu, Geluk, and Nyingma—all live long and may their activities flourish. May those who uphold the teachings of the Dakpo Kagyu live long, may their activities flourish, and may their wishes be spontaneously fulfilled. Thank you.
From: The Official Website of the 17th Karmapa: http://kagyuoffice.org