10 June 2023
Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, shares the following message regarding the Parinirvana of his teacher, His Holiness the 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche.
Dear Dharma friends,
Tomorrow marks the 9th anniversary of the Parinirvana of our great teacher, His Holiness the 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, according to the Western calendar. Like every year, many of us will mark this day by offering prayers, lighting butter lamps, reciting mantras, and accomplishing the practice of Guru Yoga.
I have been giving some thought to why we commemorate the Parinirvana of great Bodhisattvas such as Shamar Rinpoche, and I would like to share some of my thoughts with you:
Buddhas or Bodhisattvas for themselves have no motive to be remembered. It’s only for the sake of those of us who wish to be awakened that we remember them; that we remember their awakened state, so to speak.
We are constantly consumed by our dreams – our dreams of tomorrows.
However, it’s important to know that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas haven’t decreed that there is no tomorrow, nor that there is. We, as fervent practitioners, are often puzzled, believing that they meant to say that we aren’t allowed to dream; that that’s what the practice is about.
But how they have awakened was or is somehow far simpler and subtler than we think. We are allowed to dream – but we need to understand that without awakening there is no dream. Dreams and awakenings go hand in hand.
If we allow awakening by not forcing it, dreaming becomes harmonious. Mind you, ‘not forcing it’ doesn’t mean that we don’t practice. One could almost say, “We must practice to see if we need to practice at all” – meaning that through practicing fervently we come to realise that practice was a method for us to realise that awakening doesn’t require effort.
One can’t teach a dreamer not to dream – yet one can give the dreamer a method to realise that dreams end through awakening. And, therefore, give him the privilege to say, “Wow! What a dream!”
So if anything, commemorate the allowance of yourself (your karma) and the acceptance of the other (Buddha’s blessings), and understand that these two interdependent factors give rise to both dreaming and to awakening.
We may be dreaming as tormented beings, frustrated beings, ignoring beings, sober beings, angry beings, or beings of ecstasy – all of these dream states are neither due to time nor due to some other force. All of them were allowed by none other than ourselves. And the so-called Buddhas have completely accepted our allowance of these various states, like loving mothers. Their complete acceptance is indicated by the depictions in the Wheel of Life, where a Buddha is shown to be present in all the six realms, as a symbol of their ever-present, never-waning blessing.
Buddhas are not judges and executioners, you see – they let sentient beings be, knowing that by themselves they will eventually be bored out of their minds by dreaming all these fantastic dreams.
So if we ‘must’ focus, then we must focus on the nature of our dreams. Can we call it a dream at all without awakening? Why are we afraid of awakening? Will awaking somehow cause our identity to cease?
Surely, the Buddhas’ blessings are present – if they weren’t we wouldn’t be dreaming, so to speak. So there is no fault in dreaming, nor is there a fault in awakening. It’s our privilege to both dream and to awaken.
With that in mind, dear Dharma friends, kindly practice.
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje