A quiet Losar 2013
February 13, 2013
Losar, the Tibetan New Year, is celebrated on the first day of the first lunar month. It is usually an occasion for joyful celebrations and various kinds of merriment.
However, this year – in view of the large number of natural and man-made disasters, and in particular the tragic increase in self-immolations in Tibet – His Holiness Karmapa decided to cancel all celebrations and instead perform the practice of the Sadhana of Avalokiteshavara (tib. Chenresig), entitled Drodon Khakyabma (“Extending Throughout Space for the Benefit of Beings”) and composed by Thangtong Gyalpo.
Before starting the ritual His Holiness addressed the gathered practitioners in both Tibetan and English and gave some concise instructions on the meaning of this practice and the state of mind to develop.
“First of all I would like to welcome all of you on this lunar calendar’s first day. It’s the water snake year, and I’m glad that we are taking this day to celebrate by practicing the buddha dharma, and particularly the meditation of Avalokiteshvara.
I think it’s a great opportunity, and a wonderful way to celebrate this day. So I would like to encourage all of you to rejoice for the fact that we are making this day virtuous, meritorious, by, one could say, emulating, or, one could say, mimicking, or imitating the way a fully realized bodhisattva thinks, functions… I am, of course, referring to Chenresig, Avalokiteshvara.
So this is a very great opportunity, and therefore I’m asking you to put your heart into it, for whatever little time we are spending together. I would like to ask for your undivided attention – please focus on the practice with a relaxed and clear state of mind”.
During the recitation of the six-syllable mantra Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hung Tibetan tea and saffron rice were distributed to all participants, and at the end the present devotees offered the traditional white scarf and other gifts to Gyalwa Karmapa.
His Holiness then went outside to offer the first of a thousand butter lamps, followed by Prof. Sempa Dorje, Khenpos, monks and lay devotees, transforming the space in front of KIBI’s temple into a sea of lights.
Such light offerings are made as a means of accumulating merit, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and giving rise to clarity and wisdom. We then dedicate the merit thus accumulated to all sentient beings, while making aspirations that it may free them from all kinds of suffering and help them achieve temporary and ultimate peace and happiness.