17th Karmapa, Bodhgaya, Buddha, Buddhism, Butter Sculpture, Film, India, Kagyu Lineage, Kagyu Monlam, Mahakala Tormas, Ogyen Tinley Dorje, torma photo, tormas, Uncategorized

34th Kagyu Monlam Torma-making

In February 2017 the Kagyu Monlam torma artists were creating their artworks. Enjoy the slideshow:

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17th Karmapa, Buddha, Buddhism, Butter Sculpture, Kagyu Lineage, Kagyu Monlam, Mingyur Rinpoche, torma photo, tormas

2016 North American Kagyu Monlam Tormas

Torma master artists: Karma Samten (left) and Karma Wangchuk (right)

According to the 2016 North American Kagyu Monlam website:

“The chöpöns who have kindly come to Kagyu Thubten Chöling include Karma Wangchuk, a master artist from Rumtek Monastery, seat of the sixteenth Karmapa; and Karma Samten, who was trained at Dilyak Monastery in Nepal. Both are members of a select group of torma artists assembled by His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa in 2005, during which they received additional training in the intricate design and detail of torma as part of the preparation for the 2005 Kagyu Monlam in Bodhgaya.

Eight four-foot tall torma, painted in brilliant colors, are being created for the 2016 North American Kagyu Monlam, gifts of love to great lineage masters of the Kagyu tradition: Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa; the First, Eighth, and Sixteenth Karmapas; and the Eighth and Eleventh Tai Situpas. In addition, the torma will be ornamented with the Eight Auspicious Symbols and the Eight Auspicious Substances.”

(Photos by Margot R. Becker)

The Marpa Lotsawa torma:

NA Kagyu Monlam Torma (July 2016) 4

The Milarepa torma:

NA Kagyu Monlam Torma (July 2016) 8

The Choje Gampopa torma:

NA Kagyu Monlam Torma (July 2016) 3

The 1st Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa torma:

NA Kagyu Monlam Torma (July 2016) 7

The 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje torma:

NA Kagyu Monlam Torma (July 2016) 2

The 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpai Dorje torma:

NA Kagyu Monlam Torma (July 2016) 6

The 8th Tai Situpa Panchen Chokyi Jungne torma:

NA Kagyu Monlam Torma (July 2016) 1

The 11th Tai Situpa Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo torma:

NA Kagyu Monlam Torma (July 2016) 5

May it be auspicious!




17th Karmapa, Buddhism, Kagyu Lineage, Karme Ling Retreat Center, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, torma photo, tormas

Sang — A Cleansing Smoke Offering

This video of the Sang puja at KTD in Jan. 2014 was created by Jason Peterson.


Amitabha Puja, Buddhism, Columbarium at Karme Ling, Columbarium shrine, Jangchok, Kagyu Lineage, Karme Ling Retreat Center, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, torma photo, tormas

The Amitabha Jangchok Tormas and Ritual (video)

Lama Lodro Lhamo (chopon) pictured with the Jangchok tormas, which are sitting on top of the urns of the deceased.
Amitabha Jangchok tormas, (three gektors, three chambus, three butterlamps) and a scorpion of black sesame seeds

The three gektors indicate peaceful means, the three changbus, wrathful means, and the three butterlamps are extremely wrathful means.  All of the negativities of the deceased will be burned in the form of the scorpion made of black sesame seeds.

Below is a video clip of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche performing the Janchok ritual:

Photos and video courtesy Lama Karma Lodro.

Buddhism, India, Mahakala Tormas, torma photo, tormas, Uncategorized

Permanent torma made from clay

6-arm Mahakala torma made of clay

This unfinished 6-arm Mahakala (Chagdrupa) torma* is made out of clay in the Shangpa Kagyu style. This was probably made from a natural, air-dry clay.

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*Note this torma was made by the previous Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche.

17th Karmapa, Bodhgaya, Buddhism, Butter Sculpture, Film, India, Kagyu Lineage, Kagyu Monlam, Monlam Chenmo, Ogyen Tinley Dorje, Tibet, torma photo, tormas

Amchok Metok Gyens and the Nuns who Made Them

Amchok Metok is the name of a particularly beautiful decoration that looks like a flower and is used on the large butter sculptures that grace the shrine during the International Kagyu Monlam. Metok means flower and Amchok perhaps refers to the region of Tibet where this type of flower grew. In this clip, Tibetan Buddhist nun artists introduce themselves and demonstrate a few techniques as they prepare the flower gyens out of wax butter for the Kagyu Monlam shrine. Filmed by Ko Jung-Fa and Cynthia Chao in Bodhgaya, India in 2008-2009.


The Gakyil gyen is similar to the Amchok Metok gyen. Gakyil means “joy swirl.” Below is a slideshow with more photos of both Amchok Metok and Gakyil.


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Amitabha Puja, Buddha, Buddhism, Columbarium at Karme Ling, Columbarium shrine, Kagyu Lineage, Karme Ling Retreat Center, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, torma photo, tormas

Amitabha Jangchok Puja and the Importance of Choosing a Proper Burial Site

In a couple of weeks, from May 15-17, the annual Amitabha Retreat will take place at Day Den Shing, the Columbarium at Karme Ling Retreat Center in upstate New York. On the third day, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche will perform the Jangchok, a special ceremony to liberate the consciousnesses of the deceased. It is a very fortunate opportunity for those beings whose ashes will be interred in the Columbarium, but it is not just limited to them. This is an amazing ritual to witness. The Karmapa does a similar puja every year in Bodhgaya at the end of the Akshobyha Retreat, whereby Monlam attendees are invited to submit the names of  friends and relatives who have passed away. At a certain point in the puja, the Karmapa burns the lists of names and liberates the beings. Below is a slideshow of the Jangchok at Karme Ling in previous years and below that are Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s remarks on the importance of choosing a proper burial site from a tantric point of view.

The urns, made of African red granite and containing the ashes of the deceased, are blessed during the Amitabha puja

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The Importance of Choosing a Proper Burial Site

As is written in the sutras, the end of birth is death. None of us will escape death. After death, many people have their ashes cast into water, but there is no evident dharmic reason for this, and in fact, according to Tibetan Buddhist tantric teachings, this may not be the best course of action for the descendants of the deceased.

During a question and answer session at the annual 10-day teaching at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in July of 2007, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche made several comments regarding the importance of choosing a good burial site. His remarks have been summarized below:

The remnant of a person’s being that tends to stay with the person’s remains for a long time after death is not the person’s consciousness. The person’s consciousness moves on because after a certain period of time it takes rebirth. What remains with the body of the deceased is something else. And this something else is not talked about much, if at all, in the sutras, but is talked about frequently in the tantras. And it is called the person’s “la.” In English, the best word for this is their “spirit” if you understand that spirit does not mean the person’s mind, consciousness, or soul or anything like that.

Now, what is this spirit or la if it isn’t the deceased person’s mind, or their consciousness? One way you can think of it is the god or gods that inhabit the person’s body, that are inherited from both parental lines. In any case, it is this ancestral spirit that inhabits the place of burial or interment of the remains, and it is because of the effect of the place of burial on this spirit, that there is significance in the burial site. And we use the word “burial” but understand that it could also be the place where one’s ashes are kept after death.

If the body is interred in a good place, a sound environment with excellent feng shui, then this strengthens or nourishes this spirit. If the spirit is nourished, the descendants of that person will benefit because the spirit remains there perennially. If the body is buried in an inappropriate place or environment, (a place with bad feng shui) the spirit doesn’t die, but it becomes enervated or weak–it is not nourished. And if the spirit of the person becomes weak, this harms the person’s descendants; they may experience various sorts of mishaps, illnesses, impoverishment and so on. This is one of the reasons, the primary reason, for the importance of appropriate burial sites.

Now because of this, it is often said that when a family goes to a lama for divination, to find out why they have such bad luck, generation after generation, often the diagnosis will be the impairment or damage to the spirit of an ancestor, caused by the improper burial of that ancestor’s remains. So while Rinpoche says he doesn’t know exactly what this spirit is, he’s seen sufficient evidence to be assured of its existence and of the importance in choosing the best possible burial place according to feng shui, or geomancy.

Furthermore, it has been taught that there is a great danger of the untimely death of young people if geomancy is ignored. Rinpoche said, “I have seen and experienced this myself. If geomancy is ignored, great obstacles such as misery for the dead and illness for the living can occur. If geomancy is observed, both the dead and the living will be happy. This has been taught by the Buddha, Guru Rinpoche, and others.”