On the morning of January 3, 2013, the Gyalwang Karmapa gave an impromptu teaching on the nature of mind to a large group of international students gathered at the Root Institute for Wisdom Culture, Bodhgaya. Teaching in a mixture of Tibetan and English, he began the session by inviting questions from the students gathered. The first question was soon put forward: How do we experience Buddha-nature on a practical level? "I thought that if you asked me questions it would make it easier for me," he joked in English in response to the depth of the question, adding, "But this question makes it more complicated for me!"
As the laughter died down, the Gyalwang Karmapa delivered a profound and reasoned teaching on Buddha-nature and the nature of mind. "All sentient beings are endowed with the potential for complete Buddhahood," he began.
They are inherently Buddhas, and inherently that Buddha-nature is completely free of any stains -- it is stainless, and perfect. Yet, at the level of relative or immediate experience, our experience is not this way. Our experience is that this perfectly pure Buddha-nature is veiled by our confused outlook.
Shifting the teaching to a deeper level, the Gyalwang Karmapa then described the dharmakaya, or the Buddha's enlightened mind. "Lord Gampopa said that the nature of thoughts is dharmakaya," he explained.
Thoughts and dharmakaya are inseparable. We have this dualistic approach of seeing dharmakaya as pure and thoughts as impure, but we need to understand the inseparability of thoughts and dharmakaya.
The Gyalwang Karmapa spoke directly in English as he continued:
Every moment that we have thought, every moment that thought arises, we have the opportunity to recognize the nature of thought as emptiness or dharmakaya, whatever you want to call it. Thought and the emptiness of its nature are inseparable. We can't make them separate; there's no separation. Because thought itself is emptiness that means actually in everyday life we have lots of opportunity to recognize and realize the nature of thought, or nature of emptiness, or dharmakaya. But we just follow the appearances, the illusions -- we don't look deeper.
The Gyalwang Karmapa then responded to several more questions from the audience, teaching briefly on the progressive views of emptiness within Tibetan Buddhism which culminate in the final Madhyamaka view. The final questioner echoed the thoughts of many gathered when she asked the Gyalwang Karmapa how his students could help and support him. "I feel energized and inspired by all the love and the support that I receive from all of you. That really is sufficient. I don't need anything more than your love and support," he replied, to resounding applause.
Continuing an annual tradition, the teaching took place at the request of the Root Institute for Wisdom Culture. The Gyalwang Karmapa taught to an overflowing gompa, with hundreds of students spilling out into the surrounding balconies and gardens. In addition to mostly international students, the audience also included local Indian children from the Root Institute's school.