Marme Monlam: Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance

Monlam Pavilion,
February 8, 2020

The joyous conclusion of the Marme Monlam marks the “virtue in the end” of the 37th Kagyu Monlam. On this cool evening, the image of the Buddha sat austerely among the decorated tormas and an image of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa enthroned below gazed outwardly as the assembly arrived and took their seats.

Participants gradually filled the pavilion and received a clay diya with a tealight as they entered, awaiting instructions for the anticipated lighting of the lamps. Participants sat eagerly as the three MCs who alternatingly in Tibetan, English, and Chinese greeted His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Kyabje Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Kyabje Bokar Yangsi Rinpoche and all the others lamas and tulkus, and Khenpo Lodrö Donyö Rinpoche and all the other khenpos and acharyas. The MCs extended gratitude for the teachings and the opportunity for the sangha and the members of the public to generate merit together.

The MCs invoked the prayer of refuge, “The Buddha is the unsurpassable Teacher, the Dharma is the unsurpassable Refuge, the Sangha is the unsurpassable Guide.” Having called to mind the three jewels, the MCs introduced the Marme Monlam and guided the assembly through the evening’s program.

Nine umdzes gracefully entered the stage and joined their palms in anjali mudra as they began reciting the prayers of The Three Daily Observances in Sanskrit, “Buddham saranam gacchammi, dharman saranam gacchammi, sangham saranam gacchammi.” Then, twenty nuns from Drupdey Palmo Chokyi Dingkhang Nunnery and twenty monks from Vajra Vidya Institute of Thrangu Monastery recited the Melody of the Three Jewels beautifully.

Following both of these invocations of refuge, the umdzes returned to the stage where they intoned The Meditation on the Great Compassionate One: Benefitting Beings Throughout Space, invoking Avalokitesvara, the Noble Chenrezik, who views every sentient being compassionately. Alternating performances, the nuns from the Drupde Palmo Chokyi Dingkhang Nunnery returned, together with the monks of the Vajra Vidya Institute of Thrangu Monastery, for a rendition of A Joyful Aspiration, a poem composed by the His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa.

The MCs returned to stage to invite the assembly of monlam participants to repeat The Lamp Prayer after His Holiness and to light the lamps when His Holiness said, “Om vajra aloke ah hum.” An image of His Holiness recited the verse in Tibetan, English, and Chinese:

May the bowl of this lamp become equal to the outer ring of this world realm of the great Three Thousands. May its stem be the size of the King of Mountains, Mount Meru. May its oil fill the surrounding oceans. In number, may a hundred million appear before each and every buddha. May its light dispel all the darkness of ignorance from the Peak of Existence to the Incessant Hell and illuminate all the Pure Realms of the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions so they are clearly seen.

Then, His Holiness recited the Sanskrit mantra, “Om vajra aloke ah hum. Om vajra aloke ah hum. Om vajra aloke ah hum,” and the lighting of the lamps began. The flickering light of the lamps spread throughout the pavilion as participants passed the flame neighbor to neighbor. Everyone held up their lamps and sang these inspirational verses as voices filled the pavilion with the final recitation for the auspicious conclusion of offerings and aspirations for the benefit of all beings.

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37th Kagyu Monlam Schedule

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Recorded during the 37th Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, India. January 28-30, 2020.