The five-day event, on the broad topic of How to Cultivate Relative Bodhichitta, covered subjects including self-awareness, and understanding and demonstrating kindness to all sentient beings. The Gyalwang Karmapa, whose title translates as The embodiment of all activities of the Buddhas, is highly respected in Tibetan Buddhism, and plays an important role in preserving and spreading Tibetan Buddhist teachings.
Commenting on his easy wit and references to contemporary pop culture, one first-time attendee told the Tibet Post International they were pleasantly surprised by the Karmapa's youthful ‘rock-n-roll' approach. Apparently keen not to alienate followers, he demonstrated a clear ability to convey the wisdom of Buddhist teachings while using language and examples relevant to a modern audience.
On the first day, the Karmapa noted that many people seem to think they cannot achieve Buddha's level of wisdom because, thanks to his wealth and position, Buddha must have been able to obtain a top-of-the-line mind developed by Apple, while we are all stuck with PC minds running Windows XP. This, he said, is untrue - we all have this level of clarity when we learn to truly understand suffering and happiness.
A recurring theme throughout the Karmapa's talks - and one he seems to hold dear - is the importance of displaying kindness to all sentient beings, and not treating any being as less worthy of respect. On the third day, he questioned how different it would be if we could talk with animals and how hard we would then find it to justify eating them.
He argued that if animals could talk, they would surely hire lawyers and sue us for trying to kill them. He also questioned our brutality and selfishness, saying that it would be difficult to use an excuse such as "but you taste good" if animals could communicate with us.
During his teachings, the Karmapa regularly burst into laughter - setting off the audience into bouts of the same - and didn't hesitate to laughingly pointing out errors in the translations. With his good-natured approach and ability to connect with the audience, he gave his followers a fun and thought-provoking experience.
The teachings attracted around 400 attendees over the five days, and were also broadcast on the Karmapa's website.