2016 NAKM: Day 1

2016 NAKM: Day 1

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nothing prepares you for the sheer impact of walking into the Maitreya Center for the first time and seeing the 34-foot Maitreya statue that dominates the main prayer hall. No matter how many photos you’ve seen–it’s much vaster than that. There are no words.

Today was the first day of the 2016 North American Kagyu Monlam. This event is significant in at least three ways:

  • Hundreds of people chanting prayers for world peace and the welfare of all beings together in unison is a very powerful thing. If one person’s prayers are believed to have a positive effect on causes and conditions, 350  people (or 500, expected by the weekend) chanting the same prayers at the same time–well, again, the word that comes to mind is vast. This is what the Kagyu Monlam is all about–focusing the collective energy of our many Lamas, nuns, monks, and lay practitioners toward the best of all possible aims.
  • This is the inaugural event for Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery’s brand new Maitreya Center, the culmination of Lama Norlha Rinpoche’s vision to benefit beings, for which he has worked tirelessly and against all odds for forty years. The paint (in its intricate, multi-colored traditional Tibetan designs) had literally barely dried on the walls before the Monlam began. Residents and staff worked into the night for months to make sure it would be ready. And it was!
  • The presiding Lama, beginning on Day 2, is Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, who just a few months ago returned from a four-year solitary retreat, wandering alone and anonymous through the mountains of Nepal in the tradition of the great Tibetan yogis of yore. We are very fortunate to have this opportunity to spend full days in Rinpoche’s presence and to receive teachings and empowerment from him. (See the schedule page for details.)

Meanwhile, about the first day: The prayers were chanted slowly and with beautiful melodies by the umze, Lama Sonam, who hails from Rumtek. In each session, butter tea sponsored by numerous benefactors was served (along with small snacks in the morning) by our staff of dedicated volunteers. Breakfast and lunch were prepared by staff cooks and a team of volunteers and served with great efficiency in our (vast) new dining room. And we were blessed with a wonderful teaching on the Kagyu lineage prayer and the meaning of lineage by the Venerable Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche from our sister monastery, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, in Woodstock, this afternoon, translated by the incomparable Lama Yeshe Gyamtso. I won’t try to summarize the teaching here, but if you missed today’s livestream, it will be archived for future viewing on this website.

If you can’t join us in person at the Monlam, we hope you will have time to join us via the live stream as it is broadcast each day from 8:00am to about 5:30pm. Tomorrow’s teaching by Mingyur Rinpoche is scheduled to begin at 10:30am.

posted by Lama Chodron