His Holiness Karmapa: What Do We Really Need? What Is Our True Goal?

SColvey-5666In his first major teaching at his American monastic seat in almost four years, His Holiness Karmapa spoke on the Four Dharmas of Gampopa in the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Main Shrine Room on April 19, 2015. The teaching was preceded by a heartfelt expression of welcome by KTD President Tenzin Chonyi and a Long Life Offering to His Holiness.


After greeting the assembled lamas and guests – including the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and KTD Abbot Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche – His Holiness said he was delighted to be visiting his seat, which has grown much in recent years.


Looking over the crowd of more than 200 invited guests from all over the United States and the world, His Holiness granted a teaching that he called the essence of all Buddha dharma. However, he began with a moment of modesty.

“The great mahasiddha Drukpa Kunley said that to teach Dharma well one has to be a perfect being or an extremely boastful being – I am afraid I am the latter.”


His Holiness went on to say that the Four Dharma of Gampopa comprise an explanation of the complete path to liberation for the three types of persons. His discussion in the morning session centered on “The Dharma becomes Dharma,” which is the path of the lesser individual, who either practices to achieve a higher rebirth, or simply to gain benefit in their current life.

The remainder of the teachings touched on both the philosophical – and truly practical – aspects of the teachings, using examples from everyday life.

Here are some quotes from His Holiness’ teachings:

“Consumerism has become our true religion nowadays.”


“When we practice it is best not to have it mixed with the eight worldly dharmas.”

“The problem is that often we maintain a dharma demeanor on the outside but don’t maintain dharma on our insides. Much of what we display is mere outer demeanor.”


“We actually have to tame our minds.”

“When we use the traditional methods of explaining the Eight Worldly Dharmas people don’t seem to get the point.”


“Obsession with this life is the inability to think or see clearly because our obsessions blind us – for example, advertising manipulates us to lose sight of what we need and what we don’t need.”

“We lose our mental autonomy.”


“We may practice Dharma but we don’t crave Dharma the way we crave other sense pleasures.”

“What we dream is a sign of what we are really attached to in the depths of our mind.”


“Nowadays our craving for material things has made us a little crazy – we surrender our autonomy to them – you need to ask yourself, what do I really need?”


“What do I really need – what is my true goal?”


“What do I need?” “What is my purpose?”

“As long as we are blinded by material things, we can’t even see the path.”


The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, left, and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche listen to His Holiness’ teachings.
Lama Yeshe Gyamtso offered expert translation day after day with grace and humor.
Blessed statues fill an offering shrine.
Tsunma Kartsok, left, chats with Lama Tsultrim Allione, who attended many of His Holiness’ KTD events.
Simultaneous translations in Mandarin and Spanish were offered daily.
The teaching events at KTD had the feel of family. Here, Wangchen Pema, left, and Lekshey Chonyi share a moment with Lama Lodu of San Francisco.
His Holiness’ attendants joined in the teachings every day.
Himalayan people were part of the events sponsored by KTD. Malas and prayer wheels were in evidence around the shrine room.

Photos by Stephanie Colvey.

3 thoughts on “His Holiness Karmapa: What Do We Really Need? What Is Our True Goal?

  1. I agree entirely; at the same time, in spiritual traditions I also see people attached to the material, the hierarchichal, the wealthy, the vaneer without the depth………life is a vast journey of looking, listening, deep and profound understanding, with continual minute-by-minute compassion for one’s self and others……….recently I have found that in helping some people, others are greatly offended…….the Earth embraces all, yet it, too, is particularly challenged! so grateful for teachers/teachings which stabilize the view of the heart in a wide, pervasive, longer-lasting view, Long Life HH Karmapa, me ke aloha

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