Journey to the Kagyu Mönlam in Bodhgaya
25.12.06 – 6.1.07

It was a long journey from Hamburg to Bodhgaya via Kolkatta. Finally on the afternoon of December 27th Bernhard and I make our way through the dirty, dusty main road of Bodhgaya, with so many people living on the street, making awful little fires from waste. On the last stretch to the Mahabodhy Temple the number of beggars and insistent salespeople multiplies, which is a bit of a challenge.
Then when we pass the gate to the park with the high stupa, the beautiful trees, all the old little stupas, the offerings, the maroon robes of the monks, the colourful people of so many different countries, all tensions cease and I feel overjoyed.

We find a nice place on the wall of the middle kora where we can even get a glimpse of HH Karmapa on his throne under the Bodhi tree, giving a teaching on Milarepa`s life story. Others help us find the correct FM frequency, and when I hear Rinpoche`s voice with the English translation, tears come up. It has a dream like qulity to sit there within the sangha of many thousand, hearing the voices of HH Karmapa and Ringu Tulku life at the same time.

Every day I spend the mornings and afternoons at the stupa, in comfortable warm weather, filled with joy. There are nice places on the steep grassy area near the stairs towards the Bodhi tree, among many Tibetans, so close to HH Karmapa and with a view of Rinpoche sitting between the Westerners while he is translating.
It is also very nice in the quieter areas where many people do prostrations. And again and again I do the upper kora, with a wonderful view of the park, the groups of monks, the water and flower offerings. A few times I do the kora right around the stupa, where one gets a glimpse of the tulkus sitting in the front row under the Bodhi tree, Jamgon Kongtrul, Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso, Tenga Rinpoche, Mingyu Rinpoche and Ringu Tulku, who sits between two little tulkus.

Soon we meet Sangha friends, which gives a feeling of a family gathering, of belonging. There are pilgrims from Ireland, Brussels and Finland at our hotel, the Vishal. We meet some German friends, many of the other pilgrims, and old and new friends from all over the world. Most of us have joined the “Friends of Kagyu Mönlam”, we get three healthy meals a day at the Mahayana hotel, which is a friendly meeting place. At lunchtime Rinpoche joins us sometimes, which is a special treat.

Many of the visitors are not healthy, especially with a cough, headaches, and fever are wide spread, also diarrhoea. Bernhard gets quite sick and stays in our windowless hotel room for several days, using the time for a kind of retreat. I am lucky to stay healthy.

In the evenings HH Karmapa teaches at the newly built beautiful Terga monastery. It is about 25 minutes walk away, so we usually take a bicycle riksha. The large gompa holds more than thousand foreign students easily.
The teachings are surprisingly open and personal, I am deeply touched. There is a strong direct connection between him and the audience, with so much love and warmth.

On New Year`s eve HH talks about his English lessons and his wish for the year 2007 to develop a closer affinity with the Western people and culture and to walk the soil of the western continent this year. Together with Ari Goldfield he has developed a shorter version of the Ngöndro practice in English, and he gives us the lung for the first part – in English. It goes directly into the heart.
At the end he talks about how we are inseperable, that he receives strength and benefit from us and hopes we receive benefit from him. It is a very special moment.

On January 3 the Monlam ends with a light procession. The Chinese pilgrims in their generous and efficient way have provided many electric candles, the atmosphere is very enthusiastic, with loud chanting of “Karmapa Chenno”.
The following day HH gives the initiation of the Thousand Armed Chenresig. In his teachings he talks about the Mani Mantra as the wealth of his family, that he has been enveloped by this mantra from the moment of his birth. As other families pass on other forms of wealth, his family passes on the Mani mantra, and he wanted to share it with us.

On two occasions we can join the queus for a direct meeting with HH, one time with Ringu Tulku and family and the pilgrims, another time with the friends of Kagyu Mönlam.

The pilgrims go for a daytrip to Nalanda and Rajgir during their stay in Bodhgaya, but because of Bernhard`s illness we do not join. On January 4 it is time to say good bye, the two buses with the pilgrims and the two jeeps with Rinpoche`s family leave for Varansi. Later I hear from Annette that Rinpoche took a lot of time and care. The groups from South Africa and from Norway organised their pilgrimage independently, and we did not see much of them.

Early on January 5 we go to Gaya station for our journey home. The train is 7 hours late, which gives us the opportunity to experience Bihar quite intensely. 36 hours after leaving our hotel we arrive back home, very tired and very happy.

Maria Hündorf
Hamburg, 13.1.07


1 Response to “Maria’s report”

  1. 1 joy May 12, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Dear Seseg, thanks for your extremly beautifull blog.

    i really wish your good aims will fullfill!

    love, joy***

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