On Thursday, March 26, the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center had the great honor of hosting His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa in our office for lunch. This was certainly one of the most exhilarating days in all of TBRC’s exciting history.
His Holiness the Karmapa at the TBRC office.
The leader of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu lineage, His Holiness the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje is beloved by millions of people the world over. He is known as an advocate, an innovator, and a luminary in the Buddhist world and beyond. The Karmapa has passionately expressed his commitment to environmentalism, as well as his mission to restore the full ordination of nuns in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with his Holiness about TBRC’s mission to preserve and make accessible Tibetan texts.
The Karmapa blessing the TBRC office
During the visit, His Holiness blessed the TBRC offices and had a lively conversation with TBRC staff members over a vegetarian lunch. His Holiness took time to discuss his own interests in Tibetan textual preservation including his project, Adarsha, with TBRC staff and Board members, among other topics. Surrounded by precious volumes of the Kangyur and Tengyur in the TBRC library, all enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere.
After lunch, TBRC staff presented to His Holiness the many facets of TBRC’s work, mission, and future directions. Currently the largest digital Tibetan library in the world, TBRC holds over ten million pages of scanned text, all of which are now backed up in Harvard Library’s long-term preservation service. TBRC seeks out texts and makes them available online in the form of scanned page images for download, a detailed bibliographic search service, but also as eTexts, which are catalogued and organized into a searchable digital library. During the staff talks, His Holiness mentioned that he searches for texts in the TBRC library with great frequency, and that he hopes to encourage others to do the same.
Following the presentations, TBRC staff offered the Karmapa a very rare text, authored by the 8th Gyalwang Karmapa: “The Treatise on Kriya Tantra and Yoga Tantra.” TBRC founder Gene Smith had intended to present His Holiness with this manuscript when they met in 2008, but could not locate the text at that time. TBRC staff were delighted to locate the text and offer to his His Holiness on behalf of Gene Smith, fulfilling Smith’s wishes posthumously.
The 17th Karmapa receiving a rare text from the TBRC archives
In response to the offering, His Holiness kindly gave a brief teaching to the TBRC staff and Board members in attendance. Calling TBRC founder Gene Smith, “a lord amongst scholars of Tibetan Buddhism,” His Holiness stated:
“Gene’s accomplishments for the preservation and propagation of the literature of our tradition are inestimable… his passing was a terrible loss for our tradition and for all of us, but, because you are continuing his work and enacting his vision, that loss is not total. I thank you for doing this, and I urge you, please, to continue.
TBRC is the most important organization that exists in the world for the preservation of the literature of dharma and Tibetan culture. I use the TBRC website all the time, because in traveling as I do I can’t carry a huge number of books with me everywhere. As soon as I get access to the internet, I simply download from your site whatever I need. So it’s made a huge difference in my life and for our tradition.
As for the future, like you, I share the vision and intention of digitizing all of the literature of Tibetan Buddhism and all secular Tibetan literature. So let’s work together, let’s help each other, let’s share all the information we have, and continue in this task, so that together, we can get it done.”
His Holiness speaks to TBRC staff and Board members in the library: “I share the vision and intention of digitizing all of the literature of Tibetan Buddhism and all secular Tibetan literature.”
Following the teaching, His Holiness presented TBRC with a beautiful Shakyamuni Buddha thangka, which now hangs prominently in the TBRC office.
The Karmapa signing this Buddha thangka, His gift to TBRC
As a closing act of generosity and kindness, the Karmapa wrote the following calligraphic inscription for TBRC:
The Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center, which I deeply admire, has rendered incomparable service to the spiritual and secular traditions of Tibet.
The 17th Karmapa producing a calligraphy in the TBRC office
The 17th Karmapa gracefully and powerfully links the wisdom of his ancient lineage with the concerns of a rapidly shifting modern world. Likewise, TBRC stands at the intersection of the ancient and the modern, using digital technology to make the wisdom of Tibetan text available to all online. We could not be more pleased to have the allegiance of His Holiness the 17thKarmapa as we move forward with our shared mission to preserve and make accessible all Tibetan text in existence.
His Holiness poses for a photo with TBRC staff and Board members.
On the first full day of this topic journey across the country, His Holiness the Karmapa held a “fireside chat” with Chade-Meng Tan at Google’s Silicon Valley-headquarters on March 16. At the time, the talk was live streamed to all of Google’s offices worldwide, but can now be viewed by all online.
(April 7, 2015 – New Haven, Connecticut) In advance of his afternoon Chubb Fellowship Lecture, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, spent the first part of the day touring Yale’s historic campus and meeting with students engaged in environmental projects.
His Holiness the Karmapa began the walking tour by entering through Phelps Gate, the grand entrance to Yale’s Old Campus where all incoming students reside for their first year at university. He paused at the base of the iconic statue of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Yale president in the 19th century and founder of the university’s School of Fine arts. The raised foot of the statue was burnished from centuries of students touching it for good luck, and His Holiness stretched out his hand, adding his touch to that of successive generations seeking to polish their collective knowledge.
As His Holiness the Karmapa and his guides meandered leisurely among the fine examples of 18th- and 19th-century architecture, a fine mist initially lent atmosphere to the walk, and later gently hastened the group toward the final stops on this walking tour of Yale’s important historical buildings: the Sterling Library and the Beinecke Library.
Christine McCarthy, the chief conservator in Yale’s preservation, conservation and exhibition services, conducted a private tour for His Holiness, offering the opportunity to view an ancient papyrus manuscript. Along with a general presentation of the work done at Yale to restore and conserve ancient manuscripts and books, she demonstrated tools that conservationists can offer to surmount the challenges of preserving old books and manuscripts that had survived long centuries in Tibet’s arid climate but were later taken to the monsoon climate of India.
After walking across to Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, His Holiness viewed an original Gutenberg Bible and other important early books, accompanied by the director of the library, E.C. Schroeder, who described for him the purpose and function of the library. The 17th Karmapa then proceeded to an exhibition that had been prepared especially for his private viewing. There, 11th-century Sanskrit manuscripts were displayed alongside illustrated Tibetan manuscripts, along with numerous rare thangkas. His Holiness was consulted on the identification of figures in several thangkas, and asked to see the inscriptions on the reverse of several.
Upon concluding his time with the rare books and artwork, it was time for students. Eleven students from Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies spent an hour and a half expressing their aspirations and concerns about environmental issues to His Holiness, who listened attentively as they presented their projects to him. A human rights activist from the Congo spoke of his work on behalf of indigenous people’s rights, while other students spoke on such topics as biodiversity and food security, climate change and disaster risk reduction, and environment and human health.
Their shared passion for protecting the earth rang through clearly as they spoke, and served as the perfect clarion call to convoke His Holiness’ Chubb Lecture on the environment, which took place shortly thereafter.
Photography by Filip Wolak. Photos with students by Andrew Quintman.
Speaking to a sold-out Woolsey Hall on Tuesday, Buddhist leader His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje decried the degradation of the environment and encouraged environmental activism rooted in a spiritual connection to nature.
Addressing Yale students, faculty and the local community through a Tibetan translator, the Karmapa recounted his personal journey with environmentalism, citing early experiences with “living systems” in the mountains of Tibet. The Karmapa, who heads the oldest of four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, is believed by Buddhists in the Karma Kagyu school to be the 17th re-embodiment of the original Buddhist teacher, Chubb Fellowship Director and Timothy Dwight College Master Jeffrey Brenzel ’75 said during the talk.
“In order to understand the necessity of environmental protection, we need to understand how connected we are to one another and to our environment,” the Karmapa said during the talk. “If you look at the situation, there is absolutely no reason not to support environmental activism.”
The Karmapa, who gave speeches at both Princeton and Harvard this spring prior to visiting Yale, emphasized the importance of living in communities supportive of environmental conservation. Students and Fossil Free Yale members thought the talk challenged Yale’s current sustainability initiatives.
During his talk, the Karmapa pinpointed a specific environmental issue that he thought the world needed to address: the intrusion of non-biodegradable and artificial substances into nature. He added that his decision eight years ago to be vegetarian was a small way he chose to combat the effects of climate change. The Karmapa encouraged individuals to change their daily habits, and to think differently about what he called an “artificial boundary” between humans and the environment.
“We’re all human beings living in the same world and relying on the same environment,” he said. “Some people have the idea that the environment is so vast and so primordial that nothing we do to it will have any effect. Unfortunately that is not the case.”
After the talk, FFY activists said the Karmapa’s comments were in line with the broader mission of their organization to dissolve the distinctions between natural and social environments.
Project Manager Mitch Barrows ’16 said in an email that FFY’s core values are grounded in the sentiments the Karmapa expressed, but added that FFY places an emphasis on Yale’s institutional responsibility.
“Power-laden institutions, like Yale, share blame for socio-environmental harm, but also share responsibility in changing the systems responsible,” Barrows said.
Auguste Fortin, board member at the New Haven Zen Center and associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine, said he was pleasantly surprised by the Karmapa’s emphasis on spirituality as a vehicle to change the environment. While Fortin said he thought Buddhism was especially environmentalist, other students found a source of inspiration in their own spiritual and cultural traditions.
Sebastian Medina-Tayac ’16, president of the Association of Native Americans at Yale, said that as a Native American, his spirituality leads him to think that all natural life is sacred and needs to be cared for.
“I think that there’s a very innate connection between environmentalism and Buddhism,” said Lillian Childress ’17, leader of Yale’s official Buddhist organization, Yale Sangha, and a former reporter for the News.
The Karmapa concluded the discussion by pointing out that human desire is limitless while natural resources are limited.
As a child living in a rural area in eastern Tibet, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje recalls a natural environment that was pristine and untarnished by modern development.
It was there, he said during his Chubb Fellowship Lecture at Yale on April 7, that he first experienced a feeling of “intimate connection” with and respect for the natural world.
“Where I was born, we regarded and experienced our environment as a living system, a living being: The mountains, the sources of water were all regarded as the dwelling places of what I would call holy spirits of various kinds,” the Karmapa told the packed audience in Woolsey Hall. “We therefore respected every aspect of the environment as part of a living system. We didn’t wash our clothes or even our hands in flowing water sources. We didn’t cast any kind of garbage or any kind of other pollutant into our fire in our hearth. We regarded the entire environment as innately sacred.”
Today, the Buddhist leader hopes to inspire others to see the interconnectedness of humans and their environment, and discussed that theme in his Chubb Lecture on “Compassion in Action: Buddhism and the Environment.”
Addressing the audience through an interpreter, the Karmapa decried the human-contrived distinction between their own being and the external world and described environmental stewardship as a moral responsibility.
“For us to acquire or eat any food, have clothes to wear, or even to have the bodies we do, all of these require the interconnectedness of many things and many people within the environment,” he said. “The value of understanding interdependence in this regard is that we often feel at some distance from our environment. We divide the world into subject and object, and we feel that the external environment is an object separated from us by some kind of boundary and some distance from ourselves as subjects. We need to dissolve this artificial boundary and decrease the distance from ourselves and our environment.”
In Tibet, he told his audience, people compare the interconnectedness of humans and their environment to a container and its contents — where one cannot be separated from the other. To think of our interconnectedness with the environment in those terms, he said, makes it easier to understand our responsibility for protecting it.
“We … need to acknowledge that our environment can affect us, and we can also affect our environment,” he commented. “Some people have the idea that the environment is so vast and so primordial that nothing we do is actually going to affect it. Unfortunately, that’s been proven not to be the case, and we need to begin to acknowledge the aspect of interdependence that is our effect on the environment even as the environment affects us.”
Having scientific knowledge of the symbiotic relationship between humans and their environment is not enough, however, to make people feel protective of all that surrounds them, the 29-year-old Karmapa acknowledged.
“Obviously, as a child I had no knowledge of philosophy or science, but I had a strong emotional connection with and strong feeling for the environment, which means that now that I’ve begun to acquire a little bit of knowledge, it isn’t just knowledge for me, it’s [a connection to the environment] based on my strong feelings.”
Unless a concern for and connection to the environment becomes part of our daily lives, we will be unable to protect it from increasing harm and degradation, he told his audience.
“Our knowledge, our understanding, has to become so intimate, so personal to us that it naturally changes our behavior, so that we feel it emotionally and in our hearts,” he said.
The Karmapa blamed human greed for the degradation of the environment and said that spiritual and religious leaders can have a role to play in inspiring better care for the environment.
“When I say religious traditions, I don’t just mean Buddhist traditions; I mean every religious tradition in the world can play its part. And I’m confident that if we do this — if we can work together, if we can apply the knowledge that is embodied in the many indigenous cultures that have survived, the ancient wisdom of our ancestors — we will be able to discover together that environmental protection is not just a point of view, not just science, but must be a way of life.
"At various times in our history, science and religion have seemed to be contradictory to each other, have even become enemies — attacked one another or, to be more polite, refuted one another,” he continued. “But really there is a great commonality of experience that we all share. We are all human beings living in this same world, relying on this same environment. And, therefore, on that basis, on the basis of acknowledging our shared or common experience, we have to accept that the protection of this environment is beyond the views of any one religion.”
He added that there would be “no contradiction” between science and spirituality if the task of environmental stewardship is approached “by being loving and compassionate” and by making practical use of scientific knowledge and “not living as though are in denial about it.”
In his native Tibet, where the Himalayas feed the largest Asian rivers, representatives of Buddhist monasteries have been trained in best practices for water conservation and relay the importance of the water supply to local and neighboring communities, the Karmapa told his audience.
“When this subject was first introduced to representatives of these monasteries, they were immediately emotionally affected and demonstrated tremendous commitment to environmental stewardship in their region,” the Karmapa said. “But at the same time, we lack scientific knowledge and technical expertise. So in order to this, we need the support of the scientific community and the assistance of the scientific community. I mention this as an example of how, in order to preserve our environment, we all need to work together and offer our individual skills and knowledge.”
Following his address, the Karmapa answered questions posed by Mary Evelyn Tucker, a senior lecturer and senior research scholar at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Divinity School, and Andrew Quintman, assistant professor of religious studies, who also introduced the Buddhist spiritual leader.
Quintman asked the Karmapa how to bridge good intention and action with regards to environmental stewardship. The Buddhist leader answered by describing his own decision to become a vegetarian after many years of eating meat.
“I knew it was wrong but I still ate [meat],” the Karmapa said. “In that type of case, I think that the bridge is a type of compassion, a type of courage, by the power of your heart. By the power of your heart I mean that which enables us to decide once and for all to take responsibility for our own actions, to be able to commit ourselves to accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a person. The bridge is a mere understanding that becomes more emotionally felt. And a deep understanding based on emotional feeling will inspire us to take action once we listen to the advice of our hearts.”
Questions from audience members, submitted in advance, centered on the issue of climate change and how best to take effective action to protect the environment. Asked how to convince politicians and others who deny climate change of its reality, Karmapa laughed and said, “I don’t have all the answers.” He then responded: “There are really two levels of denial here. There’s the denial of those who are actually climate change deniers — politicians and others — and then there’s the denial that most of us live with, where because we don’t actually feel [climate change], it’s not on our minds most of the time. And there are little pockets of odd reactions. For example, Tibet is a cold country. It’s often hard to get warm enough. So some Tibetans have greeted global warming with enthusiasm, saying it doesn’t get as cold as it used to, and it’s much more pleasant. As to what to do about politicians and others who are climate change deniers, the best thing might be to appeal to support from spiritual and religious leaders because they have so much influence over their respective communities or devotees.”
Asked how students can organize to take fruitful action, the Karmapa said they can respond by taking part in traditional activism, such as by holding demonstrations, but more importantly, they should think about taking action on an individual level.
“Fundamentally, each of us has to start with ourselves, because the only solid basis for the type of courage it’s going to take to make these changes comes when you have made changes in your own life and have begun to feel the effects of that. That courage can’t be taken away from you, so you won’t lose in in the process of a long career of activism. Otherwise, if we attempt to change or convince others to change without having changed the way we live our lives ourselves, we will be fueling ourselves not with an internal courage but with expectations, and when others don’t change, we become disillusioned and possibly burned out altogether. So whatever we may do on a social or communal level, we have to begin by making changes in our own lives.”
(April 7, 2015 – New Haven, Connecticut) On his second day at Yale, the Karmapa delivered the Chubb Fellowship Lecture, entitled, “Compassion in Action: Buddhism and the Environment.” This prestigious lecture was given in Woolsey Hall, an elegant space filled with the 2,500 people fortunate to have tickets. The front of the hall was filled with soaring organ pipes while two large screens flanked the Karmapa’s chair, set before a wide backdrop of indigo blue.
Andrew Quintman of the Department of Religious Studies introduced the Karmapa with a brief history of his lineage of reincarnations (tulkus), noting that the Karmapas are the first in the world to have this tradition in which a previous incarnation recognizes a subsequent one. “Now at the age of twenty-nine, the Karmapa is already recognized as a leading religious figure of his generation and an accomplished Buddhist teacher.” He is a prolific artist, a religious reformer, a social activist and an environmentalist.
To illustrate the Karmapa’s heart-felt involvement, Professor Quintman quoted him: “Whatever it is that I do, I want it to have a long-term visible impact and for it to be practical. If I have the opportunity, I would most like to restore the natural environment in the Himalayas and Tibet, and to especially protect the forests, the water and the wildlife of this region.”
Professor Quintman predicted, “This 17th Karmapa will revolutionize Buddhism, not just in Tibet but on a global scale.”
The Karmapa began talking about the environment by speaking of his personal experience and what inspired him to get involved in protecting the environment. He was born in an isolated, pristine part of Eastern Tibet, untouched by modern development, where he lived until seven years old. This world was all that he knew, so as a child he had a special connection with his surroundings, a feeling that he remembers to this day. It is on the basis of this experience that he sustains his wish to protect the environment.
The Karmapa continued to explain that when he was young, the people he knew respected the environment as a living system to be protected: the mountains, the sources of water and other special places were regarded as an interconnected, living world and as dwelling places of spirits. “We respected every aspect of the environment as part of a living system; for example, we did not wash our clothes or our hands in running water. Everything was regarded as innately sacred.”
The Karmapa then emphasized the importance of recognizing that we are all interdependent: “To understand the necessity of environmental protection, we need to understand how connected we are to each other and to the environment.” We can see our relatedness if we think about how we are sustained through food, air and clothing, all of which come to us through a vast network of interdependent links. We do not see this situation because we tend to divide the world into outer and inner: the environment is out there and we are in here.” The Karmapa counseled that we need to decrease this sense of distance between subject and object and finally dissolve the boundary. If we can do this, we will “discover a sense of closeness and see how connected we are to the environment. Buddhism refers to the external environment and the living beings inhabiting it as the container and the contained: We are all held by the environment and should come to acknowledge that interrelationship.”
Throughout his lecture, the Karmapa emphasized how important it is to become personally involved. Understanding is not enough: We must open our hearts and become engaged. He observed, “We tend to separate ourselves as persons from our knowledge. If we know the need for environmental protection, we should apply it in our daily lives. It has to become so intimate to our being that we feel it in our hearts and it changes our behavior.”
Since it touches our hearts and minds, a spiritual path can inspire us to engage in environmental stewardship. The Karmapa explained, “Every religion in the world can play its part. If we work together and apply the knowledge that world religions and numerous indigenous cultures have preserved, I’m confident that we will discover together that environmental protection is not just a science but a way of life.” He noted that here is a common foundation for spirituality and science: “If we base our environmental stewardship on being loving and kind, there is no difference between science and religion.”
The Karmapa then spoke of the Himalayan region and the Tibetan plateau; these glaciers are a treasury of water, the source of many great rivers of Asia. He said, “We have to be especially concerned with the environment in the Himalayan region and the conservation of water there. We are training the Himalayan monasteries in the best environmental practices so they can spread this information to their local communities.”
With this reference to community work, the Karmapa closed his Chubb lecture, which has ranged from working with our minds and motivations through to how to engage and sustain practical activity in the world. There followed a lively question and answer period.
One question asked: “What is it that moves us to overcome our hesitation and move into action?” The Karmapa replied, “The bridge is a type of compassion or courage, a willingness to engage the power of our mind. We have the capacity to decide that we will take responsibility for ourselves as individuals. We can move from a mere understanding to something more emotionally felt if we listen to the advice from our hearts.”
Another question was about science and religion. For many years, scientists have been speaking of climate change and the environment. Some say this is no longer an issue of science alone, but a world question and a dialogue of science and religion.
The Karmapa replied, “Conserving the environment is fundamentally a moral issue. Its degradation has been caused by human greed, exacerbated by the media and the advertising industry. As we all know, human desire is limitless and environmental resources are limited. Since we depend on these resources, it is our responsibility to rein in and control our greed. It is essential that religious leaders not only teach about individual moral issues but global issues as well and provide moral guidance on environmental stewardship. Spiritual teachers can evoke an emotional feeling and commitment, encouraging us to change so we come to see that the environment is not external but in our minds as well.”
A third question asked about meditative practices that can help dissolve the distinction between self and other, inside and outside. The Karmapa responded, “There are a number of meditation practices to dissolve this false boundary. One is contemplating the equality of self and other. We create an empathetic relation by recognizing that just as I wish to be happy, so do others. We are all the same. Once we see this, then we have to put it into practice.” He also mentioned the practice of sending and receiving that works with the breath. In applying this to environmental awareness, he suggested, “We could think about how trees breathe out the oxygen we need to breathe in and we breathe out the carbon dioxide that trees take in. We can contemplate how our breathing is interconnected with these things that grow. We are two parts of one whole system.”
A final question asked how students can organize themselves to do something practical. The Karmapa advised, “There are several things we can do—the usual things like demonstrations of various types—but fundamentally each of us has to start with ourselves, the only solid basis for the type of courage it will take to make these changes. We have to make changes in our life with a courage that can’t be taken away from us and this way we can have a long career. If we have not changed ourselves, we fuel ourselves with expectations and get burned out when others do not change.” So change begins from within, and the Karmapa further advised that working in groups and giving each other support is a good way to promote change and sustain our efforts.
It’s said that the visit of a great teacher produces a lot of ripples, like dropping a stone in a still pond. How those ripples come to fruition is interesting,” said Kathleen Wesley, communications coordinator of the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD) Monastery in Woodstock, where community members are preparing for a visit from the leader of their Tibetan Buddhist lineage. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu school, will give a public teaching on compassion, along with bestowal of refuge vows, on Saturday, April 18, at Kingston’s UPAC Center.
The 29-year-old religious leader is in the midst of a two-month tour across America, giving teachings at universities and Buddhist communities on his third visit to the U.S., following trips in 2008 and 2011. Deki Chungyalpa, spokesperson for the tour, said the Karmapa’s focus this time is to meet college students, while addressing issues of environmental sustainability and women’s empowerment.
“He wants to learn what student life is like and what the younger generation cares about,” said Chungyalpa. The tour includes visits to six universities, including Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.
“Karmapa” literally means “He Who Performs the Activities of the Buddha,” and the lineage is known for putting Buddhist principles into action, according to an online biography. In January 2015, the Karmapa made the historic announcement that he will establish full ordination for women, a long-awaited step within Tibetan Buddhism. “In the past, women have not been able to take the most important vows,” said Chungyalpa, “so they could not take a leadership role. This step will allow women to be seen as equals in the religious system.”
In India, where he lives in Dharamsala, the same town as his mentor, the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa has organized annual conferences since 2009, gathering representatives of the 55 Himalayan Tibetan monasteries to address issues of climate change and fresh water. “The Himalayas contain the headwaters of seven great Asian rivers,” said Chungyalpa, “including the Ganges, the Indus, and the Mekong. The glaciers are melting, causing flooding and drought, so these two issues are interconnected.” The Karmapa also speaks on wildlife protection and the vanishing of species, urging people not to buy ivory or the fur of endangered animals.
“The 17th Karmapa was born in 1985 to a family of nomads in the remote highlands of the Tibetan plateau,” states his official biography. The boy was seven when he was recognized as the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa and left his nomadic lifestyle behind. Once installed at Tsurphu Monastery in central Tibet, at the age of eight, he delivered his first public religious discourse to an audience of over 20,000 people.
The Karmapa was 14 when he realized that Chinese authorities were likely to prevent him from meeting his religious obligations. He escaped from Tibet and settled in India. A citizen of the 21st century, he is no stranger to technology as a means of spreading Buddhist principles. When he delivered a talk at a TED conference in Bangalore in 2009, he was the youngest speaker to have done so at that time. His teachings are often webcast live with translation into a dozen languages.
Attendees at the UPAC presentation will be able to take the Buddhist vow of refuge, which is usually given in religious settings and rarely at a public venue where anyone present may take the vow that launches the aspirant on the spiritual path. Wesley is affiliated with a monastery located in Columbus, Ohio, where the previous Karmapa offered refuge vows at a teaching held in a public ballroom in 1980. “Even the janitor came forward and took refuge,” recalled Wesley. “He was watching the ceremony from a doorway and became a Buddhist. I’m sure not what he planned when he went to work that day. Even if person can’t totally follow up on it, taking refuge is still a great blessing, turning the mind toward the spiritual.”
Mantra rolls and relic pills
While His Holiness, the Karmapa is in town for the UPAC teaching, he will reside at KTD, which was established in 1978 under the auspices of the 16th Karmapa. The 20 resident monks and laypeople are busy making preparations for his arrival. “For people at the monastery,” said Wesley, “it’s like having a parent return home — someone who cares for us and has been always there for us, has been an inspiration.” Residents are painting rooms, cleaning, locating silverware and linens, unfurling welcome banners, and organizing a fundraising luncheon for members and donors.
The Karmapa will bless statues of the Buddha and religious figures, known as bodhisattvas, for some of the members and donors to take home to their shrines. Residents have been filling the statues with sacred items, including mantra rolls, relic pills, juniper, and semi-precious stones. Mantras, or sacred phrases, are written on strips of paper and rolled up. “When a great master dies, there are often relics left in the ashes,” explained Wesley. “Small pinches of those relics are made into spherical pills and placed inside the statues. The Karmapa will say prayers of consecration over them, spreading the blessings of the Buddha over a large number of people.”
Wesley said that just seeing or hearing the Karmapa can convey blessings. “Some people take advantage of this opportunity to make resolutions for their lives or improve habits. It’s a special chance to renew one’s spiritual life. He brings a blessing to the locality as well.” She compared his presence to the Dalai Lama’s visit to Woodstock in 2006, when a substantial crowd attended an impromptu teaching at Andy Lee Field. “Even today,” observed Wesley, “they may remember it fondly for spiritual inspiration.”
His Holiness the 17th Karmapa will bestow refuge vows and give a teaching on “The Development of Genuine Compassion” on Saturday, April 18, 10 a.m.-noon and 3 p.m.-5 p.m. at Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC), 601 Broadway, Kingston. Tickets range from $30 to $180 and may be purchased at http://www.bardavon.org.
Buddhistdoor International Dorje Kirsten 2015-04-09
His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is continuing his tour of the United States, which includes visits to six universities. He addresses topics such as gender equality, the environment, vegetarianism, and social activism. His first stop was at Stanford, on the west coast. He received his first honorary degree at the University of Redlands on 24 March. He gave a lecture at Harvard on 26 March, and at Princeton on 1 April. He will also visit Yale and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
At Princeton, His Holiness said that he was inspired to visit the universities because of his interactions with American students who have visited him in India. He originally intended to visit the universities as a student to get a taste of what it is like to study at one of these universities. During the early part of the Princeton lecture, each of the universities extended an invitation for him to give a talk, which he accepted.
At Princeton he gave a lecture titled, “A Buddhist Perspective: The Environment, Gender and Activism,” which included questions from the audience. He spoke about the need for reestablishing full ordination for women in Tibetan Buddhism, which he said is at the core of fostering women’s rights, and their innate leadership abilities. He noted that just changing legislation is not enough to create gender equality. He said that real understanding of equality must come from love and concern for each other.
As part of his visit to Harvard on 26 March, the Karmapa gave a talk to faculty and students at the university’s Memorial Church on “Caring for Life on Earth in the Twenty-first Century.” This talk was hosted by Harvard Divinity School, where his predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, had visited in 1976. In his talk His Holiness emphasized the need for an experiential understanding of interdependence, and our innate compassion, which he said gets obscured in us as adults. He went on to say that one source of disaster that is overlooked is “lack of love” and that “the most dangerous thing in this world is apathy” (Karmapa America 2015).
The Karmapa was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Redlands on 24 March. It was presented by university president Dr. Ralph Kuncl in front of 1,700 people. Dr. Kuncl said, “We were thrilled to gather . . . with our University community, special friends and family members, many new visitors to our campus . . . to present His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, an honorary degree – the first-ever to be conferred upon His Holiness. We thank and honor His Holiness for his kindness to our students who learned from him at his home in India and engaged with him during his visit this week, and for his universal teachings of peace, tolerance and understanding.”
Dr. Karen Derris, Professor of Religious Studies read out a proclamation commending the Karmapa for his leadership qualities in environmental sustainability, gender equality, and the humane treatment of animals. The presentation was followed by an address given by the Karmapa, called “Living Interdependence.”
His Holiness the Karmapa’s tour is about connecting with the students and teachers of as many American universities as possible, and planting seeds of the Buddha’s teachings with lectures on compassion and interdependence. http://enews.buddhistdoor.com/en/news/d/56365
Carol Comegno, CherryHill 12:16 a.m. EDT April 11, 2015
SHAMONG – Devoted followers listened intently to a religious instructor who came from afar to teach them about the art of Buddhist meditation last week. During his ongoing, two-month U.S. tour, Ogyen Trinley Dorje stayed at his home in Shamong for five days and taught a group of devoted students before leaving Monday for Yale University. Dorje is considered by some Tibetan Buddhists to be the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa — one of four lineages in Buddhism that also includes the Dalai Lama His home is a sprawling 150-acre estate secluded in woods on Atsion Road in rural Shamong. Called Karma Thegsum Choling-NJ (KTC-NJ), the estate is home to two Tibetan lamas the Karmapa appointed to provide teaching and guidance to students of Buddhism in the region. At the estate, he conducted instructional sessions and meditated before leaving to continue his U.S. tour, speaking at top universities about the environment, gender equality and compassion for same-sex couples. As head of one of the major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa is a guide to millions of Buddhists worldwide. When he was 14 he made a dramatic escape from Chinese-controlled Tibet to India to be near the Dalai Lama and his own lamas (teachers) who already had escaped. An environmentalist, the Karmapa has created an eco-monastic movement with more than 55 monasteries and nunneries serving as centers of green activism. Recently he announced plans to establish full ordination for women, a step that will change the face of Tibetan Buddhism. “We were most fortunate to have the Karmapa, the embodiment of compassion, here in our backyard,” said Lori Volpe of Voorhees, spokeswoman for KTC-NJ. Buddhism centers around spiritual development and meditation to achieve enlightenmentand escape the worldly cycle of death, rebirth, and suffering. At Princeton, the Karmapa said gender equality for women needs to be more than just external. Despite efforts to combat it, , he said, women still suffer inequality. “So I think the solution lies beyond mere legislation and social pressure. We must try to truly develop love, understanding and an authentic concern for one another,” said the 29-year-old spiritual leader. He also took questions, one about life as the Karmapa. “It may be difficult for normal people to imagine the challenges that someone like me has to face,” he said. “I suppose some people imagine that, being a spiritual leader, one leads a life of comfort, luxury and ease, but let me assure you that is not the case. It is filled with challenges and difficulties of all kinds.” Yet, he said, those very difficulties enhanced his empathy. “This is actually what has made me sensitive to and concerned with issues such as gender inequality,” he said. He later spoke at the Westin Hotel in Mount Laurel to 700 followers who traveled from as far as Taiwan, Canada and England, and led a morning meditation and an afternoon ceremony focusing on special Buddhist meditation practices. Carol Liao, who came to the event from California, said she felt “very touched” by the whole experience. “Just being in the presence of His Holiness the Karmapa made me feel wonderful,” she added. Volpe said his style is down-to-earth, compassionate and right on point. “It was heartwarming to see so many people benefiting from his teaching,” she said. http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2015/04/11/karmapa-buddhism-visit/25599887/
FREE TICKETS TO KARMA PAKSHI EMPOWERMENT IN KINGSTON! His Holiness The Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje will offer a Karma Pakshi empowerment on Sunday April 19 at 7:00 pm at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) at 601 Broadway Ave. in Kingston, NY.
Those who have taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are welcome to receive the Karma Pakshi empowerment from His Holiness.
Tickets are free of charge and may be obtained on a first come, first served basis at the UPAC box office during the following times: Friday, April 17 11 am - 5 pm Saturday, April 18 8 am - 3 pm Sunday, April 19 1pm - 7 pm
UPAC will release no more than two tickets to each person who comes to the box office. Tickets to the empowerment are not available online. Please do not call UPAC with requests for tickets or information. UPAC will not replace any lost tickets.
This special blessing from His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa is sponsored by Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD Monastery) in the hope of spreading blessings and peace of the Buddhadharma to all sentient beings.
(April 8, 2015 – New Haven, Connecticut) As he has been doing all across the country, His Holiness the Karmapa met today with the Tibetan community from Connecticut, which turned out in great numbers to see him and to listen to his warm words of encouragement. Some 375 Tibetans filled the Victorian Gothic chapel at Yale, and were welcomed there by the university’s chaplain, Sharon Kugler. After a brief speech by Namlha, the president of the Tibetan Association of Connecticut, His Holiness the Karmapa spoke from the heart to his fellow Tibetans.
“As Tibetans,” he said, “we are all joined in sorrows and joys. Our situation is difficult, in some ways even desperate, and so it is important for us to come together, encourage one another and express the affection and love that we feel for one another.”
Echoing a theme he had touched on in earlier meetings with Tibetans living in America, the Gyalwang Karmapa noted how often Tibetans had come to take for granted the unifying leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He observed that in his own case, it is only upon profound reflection that he had begun to recognize how inexpressibly fortunate Tibetans are to have him as their leader in such times.
He urged those present to make special efforts to preserve Tibetan language, culture and religion. Although this is a responsibility we all share together, he said, those who live in exile had far better conditions to do so. Those who enjoy better conditions should be doing more, the Karmapa said.
After concluding his talk, His Holiness the Karmapa was requested to bless and sign a large cloth image of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. He did so, bid those present a fond farewell and departed for the next activity on his full agenda at Yale.
Published on April 9th, 2015 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg
Though I’ve written about Buddhist environmental activism, I’ve generally found the concept a bit confusing. Don’t Buddhists see the physical world as an illusion that draws us away from “the path?” Not exactly – as Robyn noted in an overview of the faith’s relationship to the natural world, Nature allows a believer to detach themselves from the desire that’s so damaging to one’s spiritual life. Rather than distract us away from our connection to something bigger, Nature highlights this connection.
That last point seemed to serve as the foundation of a talk by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje at Yale University this week. The leader of the oldest sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa told his audience at the school’s Woolsey Hall that “In order to understand the necessity of environmental protection, we need to understand how connected we are to one another and to our environment… If you look at the situation, there is absolutely no reason not to support environmental activism.”
Addressing his own lifestyle choices, the Karmapa took note of his own choice to become vegetarian as a means of doing his small part to address climate change. He also spoke to his concerns about “the intrusion of non-biodegradable and artificial substances into nature.” Environmental challenges, regardless of their scale, though, spring from an “artificial boundary” between humans and the environment.
We don’t just depend on the natural world for resources to sustain life; rather, it’s a part of the larger unity of spirit to which we all belong. I don’t know that I agree with one comment that Buddhism is “especially environmentalist,” but I do think that those of us from other faith traditions (or none) could give the Karmapa’s claims some thought in our day-to-day interactions with the natural world and the resources it provides.
Have your heard the Karmapa speak on Buddhism and environmentalism? If so, what did you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
His holiness the 17th Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. After his travel and teachings were restricted by Chinese authorities, the Karmapa fled to India where he still lives. Currently touring the U.S., His Holiness joined us in the studio.
(April 9, 2015 – New Haven, Connecticut) “Your presence here enriches the quality of our worship,” the Dean of Yale Divinity School, Gregory Sterling, told His Holiness the Karmapa as he welcomed him to the university’sInstitute of Sacred Music (ISM). The Institute of Sacred Music arranged a private concert for the Karmapa, himself both a performer and a composer of sacred music in his own Buddhist tradition.
Exploring his interest in the music of other traditions is beginning to emerge as an additional theme of this university-centered trip, as His Holiness the Karmapa had operatic voice lessons in Redlands, heard a special arrangement of one of his own songs performed by a 26-person chorus and attended an open mic night at Princeton. On his last trip abroad to Germany, His Holiness had also attended Vespers service at one of the country’s oldest Benedictine monastery, where he shared in their distinctive use of chanting during worship.
Several exceptionally talented students of the institute performed for His Holiness the Karmapa, showcasing French Baroque voice and organ music from 17th-century Europe. The powerful soprano voice of Nola Richardson held her audience perfectly still as she sang a lament in Latin, accompanied by Ignacio Prego. Wyatt Smith performed two pieces on Yale’s Krigbaum pipe organ, which was tuned in meantone temperament, as were many organs used in the 17th century, the same period when the pieces he played were composed.
After the final reverberations of the lower pedals of the organ through the chapel had given way to the sound of applause from the small private audience, His Holiness expressed his interest in viewing the pipe organ up close. The party proceeded upstairs, where the Karmapa examined the workings of the complex instrument and had a private demonstration of the principles of organ playing. His curiosity satisfied—at least for now—His Holiness made his way out of the building and on to his next activity on this rich and diverse university visit.
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 18:15Molly Lortie, Tibet Post International
The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje bestowing Teachings and Empowerment for the practice of Akshobhya, Terrace on the Park, Queens, New York, America 12 April, 2015. Photo: TPI
Dharamshala — His Eminess the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje continued his trip the the United States with a five day stop in Boston. During his first day in Cambridge, he visited the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center in Harvard Square, an endeavor that lies close to the Karmapa's heart. The TBRC was founded in 1999 by the great Tibetologist Gene Smith with the goal of sustaining and making accessible to everyone the whole range of Tibetan literature. The Karmapa praised the center, and asserted that it has made a huge difference in his own life. He uses the TBRC website regularly and appreciates it especially when he is traveling, since he does not have to carry suitcases loaded with heavy books. In the future, the Karmapa proposed, "For the digital preservation of the Buddhist tradition, both spiritual and secular, we work together and continually share information." Next, the Karmapa graced the Memorial Chapel at Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Karmapa began his talk by embracing the link to his previous incarnation, the 16th Karmapa, who was one of the first masters to bring Tibetan Buddhism to the U.S and to Harvard. He spoke candidly to the audience about caring for life on Earth and the importance of depending upon one another. He encouraged this interdependence to yield unaltering compassion, and explained: "Compassion is not a thought, but a feeling, which cannot be inculcated or encouraged. Compassion is something each of us has to volunteer through our natural courage and benevolence, which is the root of compassion. During His Holiness's last day in Boston, he met with the local Tibetan community, which consists of around 600 people. He expressed the importance of meeting with Tibetans wherever he goes, and he spoke of the importance of combating the possible loss of Tibetan language and culture. "We all carry this responsibility to uphold Tibetan language and traditions, and we are carrying it together," he told them. The Karmapa's two month journey in the United States continued with a trip to Princeton University in New Jersey. During his three days at Princeton he attended student run open mic nights, gave a lecture where he highlighted gender equality, gay rights, and other issues important to the students, ate with students in campus dining halls, sat in on classes about climate change and sculpture, and interacted with groups of students and faculty members regarding several issues dear to his heart: the environment, gender, activism and art. His time at Princeton encapsulated his intention in making this university tour; to connect more deeply with students and to enhance his exposure to their experiences as young people. http://www.thetibetpost.com/en/news/international/4510-ogyen-trinley-dorje-the-17th-karmapa-of-tibet-continues-us-tour
(April 8, 2015 – New Haven, Connecticut) His Holiness the 17th Karmapa today put on gloves, hefted a shovel and planted trees on the streets of New Haven, lending his own efforts to the nation’s growing urban ecology movement. His Holiness this morning joined a group of men rebuilding their lives after serving prison sentences, sharing with them the task of bringing new life to the streets of the city. The activity formed part of Yale’s Urban Resources Initiative (URI), which employs ex-convicts and urban teenagers to work on environmental projects across the city, As such, the program supports two major aims dear to His Holiness the Karmapa: environmental protection and social justice.
In his talks to university students across America, the Karmapa has been advocating greater awareness of our deep connectedness to one another and to the planet, and more fully assuming the responsibility that those connections imply. He has also been emphasizing that our sense of responsibility must manifest in direct action. Today he vividly demonstrated his commitment to those principles.
Although His Holiness the Karmapa conversed with the ex-convicts as he was introduced to them one-by-one and later as they worked side-by-side, he gave no general talk. Rather, his teaching this morning was wordless, as he extended his hand in friendship, hauled buckets of water and shoveled compost shoulder-to-shoulder with men whose life experience differed so greatly from his own.
Bill Burch, a founding pioneer of the urban ecology movement, himself had flown back from the Andes to host His Holiness the Karmapa during his activities in New Haven. A long-time activist, Bill Burch recounted to the Karmapa how he had returned from the Himalayas where he had been overseeing a community forestry program that combined community building and ecological conservation and was asked to do something similar in an urban setting in the United States. He began implementing community forestry initiatives in urban settings, laying the groundwork for his urban ecological activism and the later creation of URI at Yale. Colleen Murphy-Dunning, program director at the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology at the Urban Resources Initiative (URI), was also on hand to present the URI initiatives to the Karmapa as he visited its sites in the morning.
Among URI’s various programs, the Greenskills program that His Holiness the Karmapa joined today trains community members, ranging from urban youth to ex-convicts, in ecological skills, including tree-planting. With links to various institutions, URI illustrates just how mature the urban ecology movement has become in the United States. Housed at Yale University and involving Yale students as volunteers, URI also works with the City of New Haven. New Haven homeowners can submit requests for the city to plant trees on their property, and then directs the petitions to URI, which deploys its teams to fulfill the work orders.
As His Holiness the Karmapa and the men toiled in front of a house to plant a tree, the owner of the property stood on her front lawn, watching the work crew plant new life in her front yard. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she offered the Karmapa a bouquet of tulips, and sought to express in words her joy and amazement at her good fortune to have His Holiness blessing her home and her family by planting trees on her property.
When the tree stood firm in the ground, the men requested a photo with His Holiness. They shared a final moment together, posing for the camera, and then shook hands one last time, their joint labor complete for the moment. The Karmapa departed to tour the East Rock area of New Haven, leaving to nature the task of strengthening the roots of what had been planted, and watered and nourished together today.
The 17th Karmapa in an RFA interview in Washington, April 15, 2015.
The Dalai Lama is the only one who can decide the matter of his reincarnation, a senior Tibetan lama said on Wednesday in an effective rejection of China's insistence that the communist rulers of Beijing have the authority to select the next leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
The 17th Karmapa told RFA's Tibetan Service in an interview that he had "complete belief and trust in the future decision" on on a successor to be made by the 79-year-old Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959.
The Dalai Lama speculated earlier this year that he might not reincarnate, thus ending his spiritual lineage. China, keen to engineer a process that produces a pro-Beijing monk as the spiritual leader of Tibetans, reacted angrily to that suggestion, insisting that the officially atheist Chinese government was the only one with the authority to make that decision.
The 29-year-old Karmapa said, however, that the decision rests with the Dalai Lama and he was confident that the globe-trotting Nobel laureate would make the right choice.
“In Tibetan traditions, we don’t talk much about the reincarnation of a living master," he told RFA in an interview in Washington during a tour of the United States.
"However, now many questions are being generated. In my view, it is only the Dalai Lama himself who should decide about his future reincarnation. So I am confident and have full trust in his decision. There are many presumptive statements and guess works, but I am not worried," he said.
The Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and one of Tibet’s highest-ranking religious figures, escaped from Tibet into India in 2000. He has since established himself in exile, and is considered close to the Dalai Lama.
The dispute over the Dalai Lama's reincarnation is not the first time China has clashed with Tibetans over their traditional method of identifying future religious leaders.
In 1995, Beijing named Gyaincain Norbu as the Panchen Lama in a retaliatory action after the exiled Dalai Lama identified another child, six-year-old Gendun Choekyi Nyima, as the reincarnation of the widely venerated religious figure, who died in 1989.
But Chinese authorities have had difficulty persuading Tibetans to accept Gyaincain Norbu as the official face of Tibetan Buddhism in China, and monks in monasteries traditionally loyal to the Dalai Lama remain reluctant to receive him. In a tour of Tibet last August, Chinese authorities threatened punishment of Tibetan monks who refused to turn up for his official public appearances.
Reported by Dorjee Damdul for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Paul Eckert.
(April 7 & 8, 2015 – New Haven, Connecticut) His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, was awarded aChubb Fellowship, the highly prestigious Yale fellowship devoted to encouraging an interest in public service.Past recipients include such luminaries as Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Elie Wiesel, Maya Angelou, Octavio Paz and Wendell Berry, as well as several former presidents of the United States and Nobel Prize winners.
Most often conferred upon political and social leaders, the Chubb Fellowship was awarded to His Holiness in recognition of his role as a global leader on environmental issues. During his Chubb address, His Holiness the Karmapa spoke of the role that religious leaders can play in prompting the changes in attitude and behavior that are needed to bring about change in our environmental practices.
In line with the aim instilling greater interest in serving society in its students, Chubb Fellows are required to engage in three activities: deliver a campus-wide Chubb lecture, attend a reception in their honor, and share a dinner with students at Timothy Dwight College, which administers the fellowship. Timothy Dwight College is one of Yale’s twelve residential colleges. When possible, Chubb fellows are invited for longer stays on campus and are encouraged to interact closely with students, an aim that His Holiness the Karmapa has often described as his own wish for this two-month university tour.
His Holiness the Karmapa fulfilled two of the Chubb commitments on April 7, delivering the Chubb lecture in the afternoon and attending the reception in the evening. An audience of 2,500 packed Woolsey Hall to hear his lecture. Joining for the reception were deans from across the university, heads of the university’s various residential colleges and key faculty from many departments.
The final of the three Chubb-related events at Yale was a dinner with students in the dining hall of the Timothy Dwight College. When His Holiness the Karmapa learned that he was expected to sit at the head table with senior faculty and administrators, while students dined separately at their own tables, he proposed to overturn that order. Instead, the Karmapa sat with students, moving from table to table as each new course of food was served.
Although the young students peppered with questions much of the meal, His Holiness the Karmapa himself took the opportunity to ask penetrating questions of his own. He has frequently stated on this trip that he wished to learn more of the experiences of today’s young people and gain a closer glimpse of their lives as students. During the Chubb dinner with students, he inquired of them what strategies they used to deal with the stress of attending an Ivy League school like Yale. He also asked them what impact the competitive academic climate had on their relationships to their classmates, and then listened attentively to their answers.
At the conclusion of the meal, Timothy Dwight College Master Jeff Brenzel asked the Karmapa to speak about his own experiences and offer advice to the students. His Holiness spoke movingly of the pain of being taken away from his parents at the age of seven, and described his own process of coming to terms with his role as Karmapa. He described how formative it had been for him to see that his own parents, though equally pained at having to part from their son, did so willing in the confidence that his future as the Karmapa would be of great benefit to the world.
“Seeing how my parents dealt with it gave me courage,” His Holiness the Karmapa said. “It helped me understand that if we see that is will be of real benefit to others, we are capable of sacrificing our own comfort.”
He emphasized that this is not a matter of having special qualities or power. “Deep down, we are all the same,” he said. “We are all fundamentally capable, deep down, of serving others.”
He spoke of his own growing awareness that being told he was the Karmapa allowed him recognize the great responsibility he had toward others and also gave him a wonderful opportunity to serve others. Although he never drew the explicit connection to the privileged position enjoyed by Yale students, as he described his own unusual life circumstances, the 17th Karmapa gently made the point that not only do those with greater opportunities bear a greater responsibility to serve, but in fact life becomes truly meaningful when it is used to benefit others.
Photography by Tsurphu Labrang Media and Filip Wolak.