BBC: Tibetan Lama meets spiritual leader

Saturday, 8 January, 2000, 10:16 GMT 



The Karmapa fled across the Himalayas (Tsurphu  Foundation)


The young Buddhist leader, the Karmapa Lama, who escaped to India from Tibet by walking across the Himalayas, has met the Tibetan leader-in-exile, the Dalai Lama. Officials at the Dalai Lama's headquarters in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala said the meeting took place shortly after the arrival of the 14-year old Karmapa Lama, although he was exhausted by his journey.
Karmapa Lama: Recognised by China (Tsurphu Foundation)

The Karmapa Lama is the only senior Tibetan Buddhist officially recognised by the Chinese authorities and correspondents say his escape, which has gone almost unreported China's press, is certain to be an embarrassment.

  The Karmapa Lama escaped his Chinese guards at the 800-year-old Tsurphu monastery in central Tibet by saying he intended to go on a retreat.

He set out across the mountains on 28 December, accompanied by five companions, including his 24-year-old sister and two other lamas.

Sources in Dharamsala said their feet were blistered during the week-long trek along rocky paths and their hands were scratched by thorn-bushes along the way.

Surprise

Officials of the Tibetan government-in-exile said that the Karmapa Lama had arrived on 5 January.
"We were all caught by surprise when we were told on the fifth morning that he has arrived," said Tashi Wangdi, Minister for Religion and Culture of the Tibetan government in Exile.

Mr Wangdi said the meeting between the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa Lama was private and lasted almost half-an-hour.

  It is not yet clear whether his intentions are to leave Chinese-ruled Tibet permanently or if it is a temporary measure in order to receive further religious teaching.

Since his arrival in Dharamsala, he has been kept in seclusion without any information being released about his future plans.

"Please appreciate that this is an extremely sensitive matter and we cannot give out any more information at this stage," a spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile said.

Retreat

The Karmapa Lama, the third most powerful person in Tibetan Buddhism, is the only person among the religion's senior figures accepted by both the Beijing and the Dalai Lama.

Beijing has issued a statement saying the Karmapa left a letter explaining he was collecting religious artefacts and did not intend to betray the Chinese state.

The new arrival soon met the Dalai Lama

On Saturday, the Chinese press remained almost silent on the subject. With the exception of the China Daily, an English-language publication aimed at foreign readers, the official media said nothing about the Karmapa's departure.

"Living Buddha simply went abroad," said the China Daily, reiterating a brief comment issued on Friday by the official Xinhua news agency's English service but omitted on its Chinese-language service and on television.

"The guarded response from the Chinese authorities to the news of the Karmapa's arrival in India and the fact that they have not denounced him, suggests that they wish to keep open the option that the Karmapa might return to Tibet in the near future," said the London-based Tibet Information Network.

But Robert Barnett, a Tibetan expert at Colombia University, New York, said: "It leaves China's religious policy in Tibet in complete disarray."

The BBC has been told that the Karmapa Lama had become increasingly frustrated with a lack of access to religious teachers in Tibet.

He is said to have wanted either permission to travel abroad for lessons from Lamas from his school of Buddhism, or for permission from Beijing for a teacher to visit him.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/595370.stm

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