Thrangu Monastery Canada, Richmond, BC
June 26, 2019
As the morning session began, the sun was shining through the clearstory windows and illuminating the lineage thangkas that encircle this area of the shrine hall. The series begins with Vajradhara and descends through Tilopa down to the Karmapas and their heart sons. The ceiling itself is emblazoned with mandalas related to the main practices performed in the shrine—Chenrezik, Hevajra, Chakrasamvara, Mahakala, and many others.
Today, seated in front of the large golden Buddha, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche gave the sojong vows. After a session of chanting and a break, the second of today’s four sessions was given over to a celebration of the Karmapa’s thirty-fourth birthday. It began as Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche came into the shrine hall followed closely by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, his old friend from Thrangu monastery in Tibet. After everyone had recited the King of Aspirations, a senior monk read out extended poetic wishes for the good health and flourishing activity of the Karmapa and his lineage as well as the Buddha’s teachings in general. Aspirations were made that the Karmapa be able to travel the world freely, that Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche live long and healthy lives, and that all living beings eradicate every affliction and develop pure, loving minds.
Subsequently, body, speech, and mind offerings were made, lead by Thrangu Rinpoche who presented a mandala to the Karmapa’s throne along with long scarves in five brilliant colors, and then Khenpo Karthar offered a statue that represents the body of the lama. They were followed by Drukpa Yongdzin Rinpoche, Dungse Lama Pema, and other lamas as well a group of nuns, and a long line of lay people with bouquets of flowers, incense, and generous gifts.
After long-life prayers, the volunteer staff brought out a meter-high, three-tiered white cake and placed it in front of Thrangu Rinpoche. They sang Happy Birthday in English and Chinese, and then the microphone was given to Thrangu Rinpoche. In a strong and clear voice, he recited:
May the glorious lama’s life be long.
May all beings know joy and delight.
May all gather the accumulations and eliminate obscurations
Thus swiftly attaining the level of buddhahood.
Without a pause, he continued by chanting “Karmapa khyenno,” and everyone joined in. Thrangu Rinpoche then cut out a large wedge from the cake and carried it on a plate over to the Karmapa’s throne, respectfully placing it on the high table in front. As the chanting continued, cake was offered to everyone present both inside and outside the shrine hall while the clouds above shifted shapes across the clear azure of the sky.