‘Personal feeling of connection’ The Karmapa lama speaks to Woodstock Times(Hudson Valley Times)
Barrist SternHudson Valley Times
July 28, 2011 12:49 PM
long overdue summer rain washed out the public appearance by Ogyen Trinley
Dorje, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa lama, that had been scheduled at the Comeau
property on Monday afternoon as an opportunity for lama to meet the people of
Woodstock. But if the lama won’t come to the people, it seems the people will
come to the mountain. A small crowd, including several town councilpersons, took
a chance they might meet the Karmapa and drove to the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra
(KTD) monastery on Overlook Mountain, the monastery that was built for him and
is his North American seat.
There, the crowd swelled to some 80 to 100
people who waited in the main shrine room until the Karmapa learned of their
presence and came downstairs from his residence area to greet them. Sitting on
an elaborate throne decorated with Tibetan designs and with one of the largest
gilt Buddhas in North America as his backdrop, the Karmapa said he appreciated
the support of the local community for KTD, according to Tenzin Chonyi,
president of KTD. “Regardless of the physical appearance of a monk’s robes or
lay clothes, we all seek peace and happiness and want to avoid unpleasantness,”
Chonyi said, paraphrasing the Karmapa’s spontaneous 15-minute address. “We have
a sense of common desire and we should [all be able to live in peace]. We
usually feel we are independent of each other but we are all interdependent and
part of the same community.” Chonyi has served the Karmapa lineage in America
since the mid-1970s when the present Karmapa’s predecessor, the 16th Karmapa,
Rangiung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981), originally considered building a monastery on
a donated site in Putnam County before deciding on Woodstock.
the public appearance at Comeau was cancelled, the Karmapa met with Woodstock
Times for a private interview as previously planned. It was the paper’s first
interview with the present Karmapa, although this writer interviewed the
previous Karmapa for Woodstock Times in 1980 shortly after the sect’s purchase
of KTD. The Karmapa is currently studying English and clearly understood the
questions posed to him but he spoke through a translator, Lama Yeshe Gyamtso,
choosing his words carefully.
WT: Why did the Karmapa lineage choose
Woodstock as its North American seat?
I think that what happened was when
my predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, visited this county he was first offered a
piece of land in Putnam County that was fairly large, around 300 acres. And, in
spite of the considerable size of that parcel, he must not have felt an intimate
connection with it. At the time this center was founded here, the only major
building on the property was the old Meads Mountain House, but evidently the
16th Karmapa felt that this site was more appropriate, in part because of its
relative isolation, also because of a certain holy energy that he felt in this
place and because of the personal feeling of connection.
WT: It seems
that Tibetan Buddhism is a good fit for the United States and there are a lot of
followers here. Why do you think that is?
One reason is the United States
of America is very international or we would say polyglot, both racially and
religiously. For one thing, this is a country where everyone has the freedom to
choose their form of spiritual involvement, if any, and because of the religious
freedom and the emphasis on religious choice. Even in a relatively small town
such as Woodstock you find a large variety of spiritual traditions represented.
Probably, the appreciation on the part of many Americans for Tibetan Buddhism
comes in part from the fact that for more than 1,000 years, Tibet, because of
its topography, was quite isolated from the rest of the world and therefore
concentrated or focused on spirituality and spiritual practice. This becomes all
the more appreciated now in the 21st century when, in general, we have come to
have a strong focus on material prosperity and technology. [The Tibetan focus on
spiritual practice] becomes a source of inspiration which enables us to
appreciate all the more the preciousness of spirituality and gives us the desire
to share it.
WT: With everything that is happening in Tibet, do you think
the United States is important to the survival, preservation and nurturing of
The events that have occurred in Tibet have placed not
only Tibetan spirituality but the Tibetan culture and Tibetan identity in danger
of destruction. Led by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a considerable exile
community has been created in India and the main goal of this community is the
preservation of Tibetan spirituality and culture. Although in Tibet freedom to
practice spirituality and to maintain the culture is very limited, in India we
have the freedom to maintain both the spirituality and the culture. Our goal in
this preservation, however, is not primarily political. It is the survival of
Tibetan culture, ethnic survival, and spiritual survival. It is also a search
for justice. As for the United States of America, there are many Tibetans who
have emigrated to this country; but there are also great differences between
mainstream American culture and Tibetan culture so it would be very difficult
for this country to have to bear the burden of the primary preservation of
Tibetan culture. But the essence of Buddhism, the Buddhist outlook, Buddhist
spiritual practice which is beyond culture, even beyond any tradition, that
essence not only can be preserved in this country, it is being preserved in this
country. That will, in turn, also ensure the future of Tibet.
would you like to tell the people of Woodstock?
WT: Your home here.
The 16th Karmapa passed away in the
United States of America. Before going, he told someone that in his next life,
he would return here. So, therefore, the town of Woodstock was a home for the
16th Karmapa and is a home for the 17th Karmapa as well. And both he did and I
do consider it to be our home. The great natural beauty of this place and the
tremendous warmth of the people here have created an environment that has
facilitated the preservation of our vision for this place so I want to thank all
of the people of Woodstock. I want to say thank you to all of them. I think of
you all as our neighbors and I care for all of you greatly.
New York City
The Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism has millions of
followers worldwide, according to Chonyi. KTD has 900 members but several
thousand individuals have “taken refuge,” the initial Buddhist vow, with Khenpo
Karthar Rinpoche, the abbot of KTD, who immigrated to the United States in 1976
at the request of the 16th Karmapa, to establish and guide the development of
the local Tibetan monastery. The lineage, which traces its roots to the Buddha,
has been headed by a succession of reincarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapa. The
line of the Karmapas is said to be self-announced, because each incarnation
leaves a letter predicting his next rebirth. The 16th Karmapa died in 1981 and
the current Karmapa was born in Eastern Tibet in 1985.
During his first
visit to KTD in 2008, the 17th Karmapa said he would visit the local center as
often as possible during the next decade, bringing advanced Tibetan teachers
here to carry on the teachings, according to Chonyi. At that time, he said he
might be in residence for a few months at a time.
Accompanied by a U.S.
State Department security detail, the Karmapa left KTD on Tuesday morning for
New York City, where he will appear at Hunter College on Friday evening, July 29
before returning on July 30 to northern India. He currently resides at a
temporary residence at Gyuto Monastery, not far from the Dalai Lama’s home in
Dharamsala. The Karmapa left Tibet for India in 1999 at the age of 14 in a
clandestine and heroic seven-day journey by car, foot, horseback, helicopter,
train and taxi that made newspaper headlines throughout the
Recently the Gyalwang Karmapa went through a medical examination in Germany, his doctor strongly advise him to stop all Dharma propagation activities so that he has more time and space to treat some of the medical conditions that he has. After much consideration, the Gyalwang Karmapa decided to cancel this year’s Asia Dharma Teaching, i.e. the Diamond Sutra Teaching.
When we heard about the Gyalwang Karmapa’s decision to cancel the teaching, our emotions evolved from unspeakable shock to calm contemplation. Eventually, we understand the difficulty and necessity to make such a decision. We will continue to pray that the Diamond Sutra Teaching to be held in future, yet we are unsure when and where the teaching will be held. Therefore, we will begin the refund process for those who had registered for the teaching after we had negotiated with the hotel for refund.
Even though we feel a sense of regret that the Diamond Sutra Teaching cannot be held, yet we understand and …
In 2016, the Centre had lifted restrictions on 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, movement within India after five years. Following this, he visited Arunachal Pradesh, an area claimed by China.
Sujit Nath | News18.com Updated:July 26, 2017, 11:31 PM IST
Kolkata: Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to grant permission to 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, to visit the state.
Any such visit to the by the Tibetan leader living in exile in India is likely to anger China. This comes at a time when the two countries are engaged in a standoff in Doklam plateau in the Sikkim sector.
In 2016, the Centre had lifted restrictions on Dorje’s movement within India after five years. Following this, he visited Arunachal Pradesh, an area claimed by China.
“I also invited the Prime Minister to visit Sikkim after the rainy season came to an end this year, which he agreed and promised to make a trip soon,” Chamling told the media after his mee…
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The land of Sikkim, at the border of India and Tibet, was consecrated as a hidden sanctuary for the Buddha's teachings during the present epoch by the second Buddha, the great master Padmasambhava, who blessed it with the vajra wisdom of his body, speech, and mind. Through the infallible power of his aspiration and through our great effort, the monastery Shaydrup Kunkhyap Otong Khyilway Tsuklakhang (the Temple of Pervasive Teaching and Practice Blazing with a Thousand Lights), has been established for the preservation of the precious doctrine of the Buddha, which is the source of all benefit and happiness in existence and tranquility, and for the sake of all beings in the world.
Before the building's foundation was begun, I performed the customary removal of impediments and, using a sand mandala, the ritual of Chakrasamvara, blessing the location so that it is his wisdom mandala. In that and similar ways, the site has been consecrated m…
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The Gyalwang Karmapa graced KTD, his monastery in North America, with a short private visit toward the close of his international tour in July of 2017. Please enjoy the video celebrating this joyful occasion, along with the photos of his arrival, the traditional Tea and Rice Welcome Ceremony, and consecration of the new Stupa Project site.
The Gyalwang Karmapa Consecrates the Eight Auspicious Stupa Project at KTD (July 2017)
Today’s episode comes from the Gyalwang Karmapa’s maiden tour of Canada where he gave teachings all over the country. Many Canadian students had been waiting for years to hear him speak, and so it was a particularly special occasion.
This teaching is on the subject of meditation and how we can use this Buddhist practice to find inner freedom and bring about a more happy and beneficial life. The Karmapa approached the topic from the point of view of his own personal experience, and a wonderful, practical and sometimes humorous occasion unfolded over the course of the hour.
The talk is in Tibetan with an English translation and has been slightly edited for length and audio clarity.