Memories, Dreams and Reflections of the 16th Karmapa: The Inconceivable Activity of the Karmapas


by Hella Lohmann

Unfortunately I did not have the karma to meet the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa personally. But something incredible and very special happened in 1990 during my very first visit to Rumtek Monastery.

I immediately felt close to His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche at Rumtek, one of the four lineage holders and heart sons of the Gyalwang Karmapa. In fact, I saw him almost every day. During one meeting, I confessed candidly that I did not feel any connection or devotion to the Karmapa as I had never met him. At the same time, I expressed how much devotion I felt for the Dalai Lama whom I had met several times in Europe and India. Jamgon Rinpoche listened attentively and nodded his satisfaction.

During that time, I used to walk the long khora path around the monastery every morning before sunrise and sit in meditation while the sun was rising. I would take some incense with me to stimulate my meditation practice. The morning following my confession to Rinpoche, I walked up the hill to sit under the trees where thousands of prayer flags were gently blowing in the wind far above Rumtek. Halfway up, I realized that I had left the incense on my table but I did not feel inclined to walk all the way back to my cabin. I decided to just meditate without it.

The moment I closed my eyes – at that time I would meditate with eyes closed – there was suddenly a beautiful fragrance in the air. I opened my eyes and discovered right in front of me a single stick of incense stuck in the grass. It had just started burning — the ashes hadn’t even dropped yet. I stood up and glanced across the valley to the hills. To my great surprise, there wasn’t a single person to be seen. So, where did the incense come from?

I felt confused and puzzled – and excited. As I wasn’t able to continue my meditation after what had happened, I walked slowly down to the monastery to see Jamgon Rinpoche. I described the experience and asked whether the Karmapa could perform this kind of miracle. Jamgon Rinpoche listened very carefully and, as in the past, nodded his satisfaction.

From that moment onwards I felt a very strong and unwavering connection to the Karmapa and the Kagyu lineage. In July 1992, three months after the untimely death of Jamgon Rinpoche,  I was fortunate enough to meet the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa at his monastery in Tsurphu, Tibet; and with gratitude, I have been meeting with the 17th Karmapa almost every year ever since then.

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