Guru Sevaka, Serving the Lineage

''I feel myself as one of the volunteers who has an interest to serve.''  HH Karmapa

22 February, 2016 — Tergar Shrine Hall,

Guru Sevaka is a Sanskrit word for ‘serving the Guru’. The gathering in the shrine room of Tergar Monastery of  approximately 1000 volunteers, the vast majority from Asian countries, who came this year to serve the Guru, was so quiet that for the first time sweet birdsong could prevail over chanting monks and loudspeaker announcements. In orderly rows more than 20 teams covering everything from bread making to registration, cleaning, publicity and translation, waited for the Guru. An image of the 16th Karmapa was in the foreground with 3 Buddhas in different mudras behind him. The first sign of the Karmapa's arrival was when a modest sitting room chair was placed onstage, with a simple brocade cover, followed by an ornately carved small table. His Holiness arrived at 12 pm after holding private audiences for long queues of people.

I'd like to first extend warm greetings to all of you who have joined the volunteers for the 33rd Kagyu Monlam. I don't have much time to speak. As you all know, the Kagyu Monlam continues to flourish and this past year we have expanded the Monlam Pavilion. Even though it has expanded, somehow it seems that the number of people has increased and so the expansion is not very visible. Since the number of attendees is increasing and the interest in Kagyu Monlam activities is also growing, there is a greater need to attend to the details of serving the Monlam and a lot more for Guru Sevakas to do.

Over the years the Kagyu Monlam has grown in more ways than one. The attendance now covers people from over 40 countries. I see this as a result of the profound, noble aspirations of my predecessors, the previous Gyalwang Karmapas. For instance, the first great Monlam encampment goes back to the time of the 7th Karmapa, Choedrak Gyatso. At the time of the auspicious encampment, the 7th Karmapa spontaneously prophesied that on many auspicious occasions and in many auspicious places, people of different nationalities and languages would come together and engage in joint celebrations. That something with a centuries old history still continues to be celebrated is a result of the profound noble aspirations and meritorious accumulations of the great enlightened beings.

Therefore I don't regard this as the superficial result of a few years’ work. It is a spontaneous expression developed as a result of the powerful, noble aspirations that have been invested in it for a long time.

At the Garchen Monlam, the auspicious Monlam gathering at the time of the 10th Karmapa, and before on many occasions, there were nearly a hundred thousand people attending; as many as 10 or 20,000 monks. During that time, as a way of serving the gathering, the Karmapa himself joined the service of collecting and carrying water. In those days there were no water taps. You had to go a long way to get any water and bring it on your back in a container. In this way he participated in the Gurusevaka or service of the Monlam.

I don't regard myself as Karmapa or even as an ordinary Lama. I feel myself as one of the volunteers who has an interest to serve. In this way we are together, serving the Kagyu Monlam and since we are able to join forces together, maybe this gives our particular team special inspiration. It is my sincere aspiration that all of you, including me, that together we will have many such opportunities to serve in the future. In all future lives may we be able to have the same aspiration and to voice it, for the benefit of sentient beings without exception.

Many sevas were wiping away tears as they went to receive a wrist mala and beautiful photo of His Holiness in simple but regal attire. It happened to be the Day of Miracles when the Buddha conquered the Tirthikas by showing miracles at Shravasti. For many of us, just having the connection to be there and hear these words was the greatest miracle of all.


37th Kagyu Monlam Schedule

Tibetan / English / Chinese •  FrenchGerman • IndonesianKorean • PolishRussianSpanish  • Vietnamese 

Dharma Teachings

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