WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — At the age of 7, he was deemed to be the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa — one of the most revered figures in Tibetan Buddhism — and whisked from the yak-hair tent of his nomad family in the Himalayas to be groomed in a monastery for leadership.
Now 26, his mere appearance on the stage alongside the Dalai Lama at a major ceremony in Washington this month sent a flutter of excitement through the Tibetans in the crowd. Here was more evidence to them that the Dalai Lama had taken the young Karmapa under his wing, serving as teacher and father figure in India, where both live in exile, because China claims sovereignty over Tibet.
The Karmapa and the Dalai Lama lead different Tibetan Buddhist lineages and are not equals; the Dalai Lama, who is 76, is the pre-eminent spiritual leader of Tibet. And yet, many Tibetans are looking to the Karmapa to assume the mantle of the Dalai Lama when the elder lama dies, to take on the role as shepherd of the Tibetan people and lead them home from exile.
The succession talk appears to be burdensome for the young Karmapa, a solid 6-footer with a serene gaze whose name is Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Asked about his future during an interview at the mountainside monastery here that is his North American seat, the Karmapa said that the Dalai Lama had made it clear that his hopes for the future of Tibet rested with its young leaders.
“In that regard, His Holiness has been very kind to me, and has served as a mentor and guides me greatly,” the Karmapa said in Tibetan, translated by an American lama. “But I’m only one of many.”
Then, breaking into English, he added, “I don’t need more pressure.” The Karmapa smiled, and then grew serious and added in Tibetan: “I don’t think I can do any more. It’s hard enough just to be the Karmapa.”
His Holiness the Karmapa, has just come through a trying time. Earlier this year, he was investigated by the Indian police who found more than $1 million in foreign currency in his residence, including more than $166,000 from China.
The Karmapa and his aides insisted that the money had been donated by devotees who flocked to India from around the world to see him. Although there is a rival who also claims the title, the Karmapa is regarded by the Dalai Lama and most Tibetans as the leader of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the four main schools in Tibetan Buddhism, with hundreds of monasteries and dharma centers in more than 60 countries.
The Karmapa’s aides said they planned to use the money to buy land for a monastery in India. But the Indian media fanned rumors that he was a Chinese spy.
To Tibetans and to scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, the notion is absurd. The Karmapa fled Tibet when he was 14, climbing out a window of his monastery to a waiting car, avoiding military checkpoints and riding a horse through the Nepalese outback to reach India. The escape was reminiscent of the Dalai Lama’s dash over the icy passes of the Himalayas in 1959.
But the rumors about the 17th Karmapa persisted in part because the Chinese government has recognized him as the legitimate leader of the Kagyu tradition, and avoided denouncing him even after his flight to India. That is in marked contrast to the Chinese denunciations of the Dalai Lama as a “splittist.”
This puts the Karmapa in a singular position, said Robert J. Barnett, director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University.
“The Karmapa is perfectly placed to be someone who could broker a solution in the future,” Mr. Barnett said. “This is one of the rather rare issues where exiles and those in Tibet are in agreement. They have very wide respect for the Karmapa.”
Mr. Barnett likened the allegation that the Karmapa is a Chinese spy to the “birther controversy” involving President Obama, saying that to experts it has no legitimacy.
The rival Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje, has the backing of one senior lama in the Kagyu tradition and some followers in the West (who managed to secure the rights to the Web address karmapa.org). But Mr. Barnett said that while Tibetans are free to choose the teachers they prefer, most recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the true Karmapa. “For most people, this is a settled issue,” he said.
Tenzin Chonyi, president of the Woodstock monastery (called Karma Triyana Dharmachakra), was an aide to the 16th Karmapa, and as a child fled Tibet with him in 1959. He said the 17th Karmapa was identified by a group of lamas who were entrusted with the task of finding the child who they believe is the reincarnation of the previous Karmapa.
“This Karmapa was found based on the previous Karmapa’s instruction,” Mr. Chonyi said. “So we have no doubt.”
During his first visit to the UK from May 17 to 28, 2017, the Karmapa, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist leader, joined former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Rowan Williams together with scientists, scholars and cultural figures for a dialogue on the environment hosted by the International Campaign for Tibet and Inspire Dialogue Foundation.
The round table discussion, held on May 24, 2017, was intended to bring together perspectives “between disciplines and generations” as the beginning of an ongoing exchange, according to Lord Williams, Master of Magdalen College and a noted poet and theologian. It involved figures from the arts and sciences, including Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre in London; James Thornton, the founding CEO of ClientEarth; Dame Fiona Reynolds, former Director-General of the National Trust; Dr Bhaskar Vira, Director, University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute; Tracey Seaward, film producer …
May 29, 2017 - The 17th Karmapa, one of Tibet’s leading Buddhist figures arrived in Toronto yesterday on his first visit to Canada. Known for his concerns about current global issues as well as for his spiritual leadership, the 31-year-old Karmapa will engage in a wide range of religious activities and will speak on environmental and social responsibility at various universities.
During his month long trip to Canada, the Karmapa will travel to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. In doing so, he is following in the footsteps of his predecessor the 16th Karmapa, who travelled extensively throughout the country and was instrumental in introducing Canadians to Buddhism in the 1970s.
Head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the 17th holder of a 900-year old lineage. Born in a nomadic family in eastern Tibet, he made headline news in 2000 with his dramatic escape to India, where he now lives near the Dalai Lama. The 17th …
Worshipped as a living god, will the 17th Karmapa Lama also inherit the Dalai Lama’s imagery of divinity and celebrity? By MARTIN REGG COHNOntario Politics Columnist Tues., May 30, 2017
It is not his destiny to be the next Dalai Lama. For he is already reincarnated as the 17th Karmapa Lama.
Yet he may one day succeed his 81-year-old teacher and protector.
Revered since age 7 as spiritual leader of a 1,000-year-old branch of Tibetan Buddhism, Ogyen Trinley Dorje is making his first trip to Canada this week at the age of 31.
Meeting Ontario politicians Tuesday before sitting down for an interview, the Karmapa padded around Queen’s Park in a pair of brown hiking shoes peeking out from under his simple maroon robes. A picture of youthful wisdom with his direct gaze, towering above other monks at six feet tall, he may yet emerge as the public face of Tibetan Buddhism
Worshipped as a living god and the Buddha of Compassion, will he also inherit the Dalai Lama’s imagery of divinity and celebrity?
May 27, 2017 – Lakeside International Hotel, Frimley Green, England
In the concluding public event of the 17th Karmapa’s first visit to the United Kingdom, nearly 2,000 people gathered at Lakeside International Hotel near Frimley Green in Surrey to receive an Amitayus Long Life empowerment. The Nepalese and Gurkha community turned out in force to welcome the 17th Karmapa and were joined by devotees from the UK, Europe, America, and other countries worldwide. This was the second part of a one-day program organised by the Buddhist Community Centre UK.
Monks from various Kagyu European centres and the Karmapa’s ritual master and attendants had worked hard to prepare the stage for the empowerment. The golden pagoda used during the Chenresik empowerment earlier in the visit now enshrined an image of Amitayus and a smaller image of Guru Rinpoche. To the left of the images, a large bowl contained long-life pills made from roasted barley and butter and to the right four bowls contained long-lif…
Aldershot, Hampshire, England – Morning, May 27, 2017
Early on this day of the Karmapa’s visit to the Nepali community in Aldershot, the double arch of a luminous rainbow filled the sky. It recalled his first visit to the US when rainbows followed him everywhere on the East Coast. The Karmapa was invited by the Buddhist Community Centre UK to this beautiful area of England, famous for its military garrisons and home to a sizeable population of Gurkha soldiers who have served in the British army. In 2006 they were allowed to live in England and in 2007, the Buddhist Community Centre UK was founded by Mr. Kaji Sherpa. He had the vision of establishing a Buddhist monastery to serve the growing Buddhist Community in this southeast region of the UK.
His daughter explained that about half of the Gurkha population in Nepal is Buddhist, and that her father felt a need for Buddhist guidance in this community, so a committee of Nepalis purchased a social club and completely transformed it into a …
Transforming Disturbing Emotions: Dialogue of the Three Major Traditions of Buddhism Date: Thursday, June 1st, 9:30AM – 12:00PM Place: University of Toronto, Convocation Hall (MAP) Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp9TaET_SNw
How to Apply Ancient Wisdom in Modern Times In these two sessions, His Holiness will discuss the basic nature of mind and the methods of obtaining happiness through listening to and contemplating the teachings of the Buddha, and then meditating according to the teachings. Date: Friday, June 2nd, 9:30-11:30AM, 2:00-4:30PM Place:The Enercare Centre, Hall D (MAP) Video: How to Apply Ancient Wisdom in Modern Times 1…
May 31, 2017– In the morning after his arrival, at 9:00AM, Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje arrived at Karma Sonam Dargye Ling– a Tibetan Buddhist centre under the direction of Lama Tenzin Dakpa. This was a visit of great significance, as the centre was first established in 1976 by the venerable Lama Namsel Rinpoche under the request of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.
Upon arrival, His Holiness was ushered into the main shrine hall and seated on the highest throne, on which he proceeded to receive a body-speech-mind offering from the sangha. The yellow rice and tea ceremony followed in sequence for the welcome ceremony. Shortly after tea was served, the current resident teacher of Karma Sonam Dargye Ling, Lama Tenzin Dakpa, rose to speak.
Lama Tenzin referenced the founder of this centre, Lama Namsel Rinpoche, as one of the first Canadian resident lamas to request for His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa to visit Canada. …
Thursday, 01 June 2017 16:04Lavania Saraf, Tibet Post International
London, UK — "Free from concretizing the eight worldly concerns, we train our mind in the illusion-like outlook that sees things as not real," the 17th Karmapa said during his first trip to the UK, Through training our mind, "our compassion and patience increase and our minds open up."
The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was received with anticipation and delight on his first visit to the United Kingdom on May 17th, 2017. His arrival in central London was received by numeral devotees and included a special reception with traditional English afternoon tea.
The visit had been highly anticipated by Karmapa himself, especially due to the strong dharmic connection between the United Kingdom and the Karmapa lineage, believed to be established earlier by the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. On May 18th, Karmapa visited the British Museum where some of the most crucial documents and artifacts in the his…