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    May 12, 2017

    One of the most important Tibetan Buddhist leaders worries about the growing Chinese influence and diminishing numbers of the community in exile

    Sanjay Kapoor Delhi

    In the year 2000, a 14-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorji or Karmapa Lama, head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of Tibetan Buddhists, escaped from Tibet and walked across the mighty Himalayas to India. His daring escape was viewed with suspicion by some who thought that it was part of a Chinese conspiracy to disrupt Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist Exile community in India. Karmapa, who was selected through a complicated process that combined prophecy and rigorous interviews by Buddhist monks in Tibet, through the force of his charismatic personality has been seeking to assuage the misgivings and controversies that plague the exile community. Karmapa lives in Dharamshala, where Tibet’s capital in exile is located. He enjoys an excellent relationship with Dalai Lama and many see in him as the spiritual leader who will helm the 6 million strong Tibetan Buddhists. He is the third most important leader after Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama (who is under Chinese control). Last November he made his first visit to Tawang, which has been claimed by the Chinese in their long-running border dispute. He addressed a congregation under the Indian flag in the company of State Home Minister, Kiren Rijiju, and reiterated to Hardnews in an exclusive interview that “ Tawang was a beautiful part of India.” The Chinese will surely hate his remarks.Hardnews met Karmapa in Delhi in an exclusive chat and discussed with him about his passion for environmental issues and about the future of Tibetan Buddhists in exile. He informed us that the number of Tibetans-in-exile was diminishing by 5,000 every year. Karmapa also said that besides the issue of identity, growing influence of China and tight border control was also impacting the flow of Tibetan Buddhists to India.

    You came to India in the year 2000 when you were just 14 years old, what are your early memories of the journey that you can recall?

    I don't have much to say, primarily because more unpleasant things have happened than pleasant things and probably sometimes the troubles are so much that you do not care to remember it on the spot.

    You were recently in Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), could you share with us impressions of Tawang, what was the journey like?

    For me, it was memorable and a significant visit, the state government and the people of Arunachal Pradesh extended their warmest and elaborate welcome and I have been able to share some teachings with them. The visit was also significant in a sense that from the time of the first Karmapa and through the lives of successive Karmapas there has always been a spiritual connection with the people of Tawang. Recently, his holiness Dalai Lama had a successful spiritual tour. It was my first visit to Arunachal Pradesh and I have very pleasant memories of visiting Tawang, which is a beautiful part of India. 

    Are you surprised by the tone of criticism that has been levelled against the Dalai Lama by China following his visit to Tawang?

    It's not a surprise to me, firstly, I hardly watch the television or news in that way I have nothing to compare. The other thing is that wherever his holiness Dalai Lama goes when was it that he wasn't criticised or blamed. This was not the only time that this criticism took place, any move that he makes is under scrutiny and is criticised for one reason or the other. 

    You have been at the forefront of environment protection, climate change, promoting green politics. How do you view the environmental destruction which is taking place in Tibet especially with the Chinese government’s move to divert rivers and its impact on countries like India?

    In general, the devastation of environment and problems concerning it are a global issue and therefore it is a problem on a large scale. It is a source of concern for all the people of the world, on my part while I realise the enormity of the issue there is little one can do, and so I try my best to concentrate on monastic institutes within the Himalayan belt by bringing as much awareness in these communities as possible. Prevention is better than cure, how can we prevent further devastation? Through awareness, education and by leading local communities at least that's how it will expand to a larger scale. I am trying, but given the enormity of the global environmental issue, my contributions are just like a drop of water in a river. As for the environmental problems in Tibet, there is very little for someone like myself can do other than being concerned about it and try to bring world’s attention to it. Most important is for people of the world to realise that the environmental destruction in Tibet is not an isolated issue and does not only involves problems only for the Tibetan people. Given the geographical location of Tibet, any large scale environmental destruction is a concern for China, India or even for the whole of Asia because of interconnectedness. So it is important that awareness of this huge problem is brought to the world stage and blaming just one country wouldn't resolve it. At the end of the day the consequences will be felt by many countries and therefore all countries need to take responsibility and make some constructive initiatives.

    When are you visiting London and what are your programs for the visit?

    Hopefully next month. I will deliver some talk and meet some parliamentarians but it's all in one religious program. 

    There is a view that you have a following which goes beyond the countries and you are in a position to lead the environmental movement. Have you begun to enlarge your reach just like the Pope as the issue is becoming so problematic?

    When you talk about the Pope, the Christian community is very large and a small person like me cannot be compared to the Pope. Also, I don't want to speak like politicians and say I have a very strong team and will lead people or make big movements. What’s important is that people should have some sort of awareness about what is going on in the environment. Lots of people don't know or have not even heard about global warming and we will try to provide them information so that slowly from the depth of their heart they start cherishing the environment. Tibetan and Himalayan people have a strong tradition of cherishing the environment as sacred and very important. That's why we should recall and understand the importance of cherishing the environment and not just use it as a political tool, these people who use it as a tool are just making excuses. 

    Buddhism is a religion of peace but there are areas of the world where Buddhists are engaged in violence, be it in Myanmar or at one point of time in Sri Lanka. How do you explain this contradiction?

    I think generally violence is increasing in the entire world and not all Buddhists practice Lord Buddha’s teachings or follow exactly what they are taught. Also, there are some people who are using the religion for their own benefits largely misusing it. It is very sad and I have said that several times, I think the international Buddhist community should take some responsibility or we should convene a meeting and discuss this problem because it is unacceptable. I also heard some monks are involved in the violence and it is very shameful for all the Buddhist followers and the Buddhist community should do something about it. Sometimes, one need to make a differentiation between the religion and the people.  

    Tibetan people are living in exile, how do you think these circumstances will change do you think China will allow the Tibetans to return and the exile will come to an end?

    Lots of things are happening in the exiled Tibetan community, which is shrinking every year. Tibetan people living in exile though have no proper identity as they are not Indian citizens neither are they political refugees. Also, they don't have proper rights and that’s why I think there is a feeling that they do not belong to this community or society. Most of these people plan to go to other countries like Europe, America or Canada. Every year around 4,000-5,000 people seek asylum and citizenship of other countries. A large number of people are also choosing to go back to Tibet, we don't know the reason but Chinese embassy is granting permission to such people who are returning to Tibet, and a number of people coming out of Tibet are decreasing every year. These days even if a few could make it to India it's a big thing. Given the current situation, Tibetan issue is going to keep dragging because China has become more influential and therefore the Tibetan issue receives hardly any recognition. In the meantime the exile community is becoming smaller and dispersing, at some point, it might disappear but the Tibetan issue cannot be completely ignored.

    Chinese are also trying to control the entire Tibetan-Buddhism narrative in terms of saying that the reincarnation will have to be tested. They are showing a greater aggression in trying to control Tibetan-Buddhism, do you agree with that?

    I think there is nothing new about it, of course, they want to control everything and get everything in their hands.

    Can you move around freely in India?

    I need permission to travel to anywhere in the country. 

    How do you see the views of Indian government towards the exiled Tibetan community, is it the same when you came to India or is it changing?

    We need to thank the Indian government and the people. I have already told you that the exile community is shrinking due to one problem or the other. We carry a travel document which is also emerging as an issue. Recently, a European country (Sweden) declined to accept it as a valid travel document. We have good relations with Sweden, but lots of things are happening globally in terms of immigration and security, the Swedish government is tightening its security. In the future, it might get much more difficult when we travel outside India and we would require different permissions which are very exhausting. Since we do not have proper identity it gets difficult to secure a job or even start a proper business. We have great gratitude for the Indian government and people but it's only a second home for Tibetans, we don't have a choice but only to expect that the government will give us more support.

    This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: MAY 2017

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    June 1, 2017 - 4th Dialogue of the Three Major Traditions of Buddhism “Transforming Afflictive Emotions"
    Location: University of Toronto - Convocation Hall, 31 King’s College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3K1
    Time: 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM EDT
    Website: http://www.karmapacanada.org

    Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/june-1-2017-4th-dialogue-of-the-three-major-traditions-of-buddhism-transforming-afflictive-emotions-tickets-34307694237

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    MAY 17, 2017

    The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, arrived in central London this afternoon on his first ever visit to the United Kingdom. A long line of devotees offering katas greeted him on his arrival at his hotel. He was then officially welcomed at a special reception in the form of a traditional English afternoon tea.

    2017.5.17 Karmapa at welcome reception in London

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    II Government allowed 17th Karmapa to visit Mirik, but not Sikkim II
    II Buddists demand the entry of Karmapa in Sikkim II

    NBT I Gangtok I May 18

    The Buddhist organisation Denzong Lhadey brought out a peace rally demanding the entry of QA to Sikkim. Currently, as informed, the Government of India has barred him to enter Sikkim. 

    In a resolution of the organisation, that was unanimously passed today, the devotees have the Sikkimese devotees have waited for 17 years to see their guru 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. They have alleged the decision of Indian government to bar him to visit Sikkim as “slap to the glorious Indian religious evolution and civilisation that speaks volume of how the minority religion.”

    The devotees have demanded to clarify the stand of government about the 'religious freedom' on the basis of the confusing stand of the government that the Karmapa is not allowed to visit Sikkim, while he is allowed to visit Mirik.

    2017.5.18 Rally for Sikkim visit of Karmapa

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    Interview with Lama Tenzin Dakpa about Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Thrinlay Dorjee is scheduled to first visit Canada from May 29 to June 27.
    རྒྱལ་དབང་ཀརྨ་པ་སྐུ་ཕྲེང་བཅུ་བདུན་པ་ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗེ་མཆོག་མི་འགྱངས་བར་ཁ་ན་ཀྲའི་ནང་ཐེངས་དང་པོར་ཆིབས་བསྒྱུར་གྱིས་མཛད་འཕྲིན་སྐྱོང་འཆར་ཡོད་པའི་སྐོར་ལ། མཛད་འཆར་གོ་སྒྲིག་ཞུ་མཁན ཀརྨ་བསོད་ནམས་དར་རྒྱས་གླིང་ ཆོས་ཚོགས་ཀྱི་འགན་འཛིན་བླ་མ་བསྟན་འཛིན་གྲགས་པ་ལགས་དང་མཉམ་དུ་ འདི་གའི་རྩོམ་སྒྲིག་འགན་འཛིན་དཔལ་ལྡན་རྒྱལ་ལགས་ཀྱིས་གླེང་མོལ་ཞུས་པར་ཉན་རོགས་ཞུ།

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    Monks demands to State or Central government for early visit of His Holiness in Sikkim

    TST Reporter Analysis by (Pappu Mallick)

    Gangtok, May 18: A mass rally in Gangtok demanding immediate arrival of His Holiness the 17 th Gwalwang Karmapa Ogyen Dorje to early visit to Sikkim. The rally was participated by huge numbers of monks and devotees from all the four districts of Sikkim today. The rally wad also attended by leaders of the political party and organised by Denjong Lhadey (monks).

    Meanwhile the meeting was also held before the rally, in a meeting three resolution was unanimously adopted by Denzong Lhadey.


    1: 17 years have been a very long wait for the Sikkimese dharma loving people to wait for their Dharma Guru HH the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim. In fact, it is a slap to the glorious Indian Religious evolution and civilization that speaks volume of how the minority religion and its dignity are abandoned in this greatest democratic nation.

    2: If His Holiness could not be allowed to visit Sikkim while he is allowed to visit Mirik in Darjeeling District (very close to Sikkim), Indian Union must declare such policies of its government that deprives one with their religious freedoms and profess the same.

    3: We both the Sikkimese monks and lat devotees of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, thousands in number at BL House, Tibet road, Gangtok, urge upon the Indian Union to immeidately allow His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim. If this is not possible, the Indian Union must declare that it cannot grant such permission to His Holiness.

    Later, the rally went off from allocated footpath started to walk on the National Highway to breakdown the police beracade here at Deorali. On the day long procession rally was also Chakka Jam (Blockade the road) and no vehicle plied for more than two and half hour in the Capital Highway-10.

    Meanwhile, Tsheten Tashi Bhutia, President SIBLAC ask a question against the both central and state government that now both government should think that why we are organising today just before the visit of the Union Home Minister in Sikkim?

    Otherside, the relay hunger strike was called by the monks has reached 315 days today here at BL House, Tibet road in Gangtok.

    Meanwhile, Chewang Lama, Coordinator Denjong Lhadey had raised a question why it is difficult to bring him (karmapa) in the state please mention. If again they fail to send the karmapa in the state then 'I'll ready to sacrifice my life'.

    Meanwhile the Denjong Lhadey Convenor Chewang Lama accompanied by Sangha MLA Sonam Lama, TMC Sikkim TW Lepcha, BLPF President Phigu Tshering Bhutia has and others meet with the Chief Secretary A.K.Shrivastava at his office, Manan Kendra during the rally.

    Pics by : TST Reporter, Pappu Mallick

    2017.5.18 Denzong Lhadey called a mass rally, vehicle plied for more than two and half hour

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    Rally extracts appointment promise with Rajnath


    GANGTOK, May 18: pending demand for allowing 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim saw scores of monks and followers taking out a robust rally in Gangtok on Thursday, a day before Union Home Affairs minister Rajnath Singh comes visiting the Sikkim capital.

    Their well-timed persistence extracted an assurance from the State government that a 15-member delegation from their side would be allowed to visit Rajnath Singh on Friday to place the Karmapa visit demand.

    Another strategic objective of the rally was to attract the attention of intelligence agencies based in Gangtok for sending a message to the visiting Union Minister that the Karmapa followers in Sikkim have reached exasperation level.

    A meeting of Chief Ministers of five States who share borders with China is taking place at Gangtok on Saturday for which Rajnath Singh is arriving.

    “We want the IB and RAW officials listening and taking note of our rally to take the message to the Union Home minister, There will be a large assembly of Chief Minister and Ministers of State in Sikkim over the next few days. We want them to hear our demand as well because the Sikkim government has misinterpreted the demand as Karmapa to Rumtek instead of his visit to the State,”said SIBLAC convener Tseten Tashi Bhutia before the rally started.

    The procession today is the third rally organized by The Denjong Lhadey this year and also marks the 315th day of their movement. Monks under The Denjong Lhadey are also on a relay hunger strike at BL House, Tibet Road here with the Karmapa vist demand since last July.

    Starting from BL House at around 11.15 am, monks and followers completed a round of Gangtok along the NH10 before ending at the starting point at around 3.30 pm. The mass rally – also attended by opposition leaders and members of various organizations – crippled traffic movement when the road was blocked at three junctures for some time.

    The longest gridlock took place near Titanic Park where the participants squatted on the road for around on hour. They also appealed the business community at M.G. Marg to close their shops in support of the demand.

    Addressing the gathering at the spot, Sangha MLA Sonam Lama said he was attending the rally not as a politician but as a Sikkimese of Buddhist faith. “We will not take law and order in hand and uphold the Constitution but when it comes to religion we are ready to die. The devotees are aggressive and took to the road instead of the foot path designated to us for protest. We appreciate the cooperation by the Sikkim Police,”he said.

    “In these 315 days the government has ignored our hunger strike. We will not care even if the Chief Minister is in attendance, but we want to address our issue with Union Home minister when he visits the State from tomorrow. If any of the social media pages run by the SDF politicize the issue, we will vandalize their offices. We urge the SDF ministers to control their youths from politicizing the matter,”said Lama.

    After this, a delegation from the rally led by the Sangha MLA, Denjong Lhadey coordinator Chewang Lama, Sikkim TMC general Tshering Wangchuk lepcha and Bhutia Lepcha Protection Force convener Phigu Tshering met chief secretary A.K. Shrivastava at Manan Kendra.

    It was informed that the delegation was assured that a 15-member delegation would be allowed to meet the Union Home minister at Gangtok on Friday. The delegation will put forward the demand for allowing the Karmapa to visit and bless Sikkim.

    The Denjong Lhadey coordinator expressed that it is difficult to understand why the Karmapa is not being granted permission to visit Sikkim.

    The monks have threatened of a stronger movement if Karmapa is not allowed to visit Sikkim by the time their relay hunger strike at BL House completes on year on July 11 this year.

    2017.5.18 Rally for Sikkim visit of Karmapa

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    Dear Everyone, we are very happy to announce this very special event. 

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    By LobsangTenchoe

    DHARAMSALA, May 19: Scores of people took to the streets in Gangtok for a march over a pending demand to allow the 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje to visit Sikkim.

    A day ahead of the Union Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Sing’s visit to the state capital, hundreds of monks and followers rallied in Gangtok yesterday demanding that the Karmapa be allowed to visit the state, reports The Sikkim Express.

    The Union Home Affairs Minister will be in Gangtok today to attend a meeting of Chief Ministers of five states neighbouring China. Following the procession, the third rally organized by the Denjong Lhadey this year, the state government had assured 15 members from the group to meet with the minister to apprise him of their demand, the report added.

    The followers of the Karmapa, head of Tibetan Buddhism’s Kagyue lineage, are said to have rallied round Gangtok. The opposition leaders and members of various organizations took part in the mass rally.

    Before the mass rally kicked off, it was made clear that the congregation demands His eminence the 17th Karmapa to be allowed to visit Sikkim and not Rumtek monastery.

    “The Sikkim government has misinterpreted the demand as allowing Karmapa to visit Rumtek instead of his visit to the state,” the report quoted Tsetan Tashi Bhutia, convener of Sikkim Bhutia Lepcha Apex Committee as saying.

    Apart from the rally, some monks from Denjong Lhadey who are on a relay hunger strike have threatened of a stronger movement if Karmapa is not allowed to visit Sikkim by July 11 which marks a year of their relay hunger strike.

    2017.5.18 Rally for Sikkim visit of Karmapa

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    May 17, 2017 – London, England

    The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, arrived safely in central London this afternoon on his first ever visit to the United Kingdom. His plane touched down mid-afternoon at London’s Heathrow airport at the end of a nine-hour flight from India. After an 18-mile drive across west London, the Karmapa finally arrived at his hotel still looking fresh and invigorated. He was welcomed initially by senior rinpoches, the event organisers, and the hotel management.

    In a video message released shortly before he left India, the 17th Karmapa declared his aspiration that the visit would be an opportunity to renew the strong dharmic connection between the Karmapa lineage and the United Kingdom established by his predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who visited the United Kingdom on all three of his world tours.

    The 16th Karmapa’s first European tour (1974 to 1975) began with three weeks in Scotland at Samye Ling, the Tibetan Buddhist monastery established by Akong Rinpoche, and also included a visit to Chime Rinpoche’s Kham House Dharma Centre (later renamed Marpa House), where the Karmapa gave a Milarepa empowerment. In 1977 on his second tour, the 16th Karmapa returned to Kham House and once more bestowed a Milarepa empowerment. He also revisited Samye Ling to give teachings and perform the Black Crown ceremony, a ritual unique to the Karmapa lineage. While there, at the request of Akong Rinpoche, the Karmapa sealed his presence by leaving a footprint on a rock in the grounds of the Purelands Retreat Centre near Samye Ling, and it can still be seen. He made a last private visit in May 1980 on his way to the United States.

    Now, after thirty-seven long years, on a rainy afternoon in London, the Karmapa had returned to the UK. As he walked slowly past a long line of devotees offering white katas, the 17th Karmapa smiled warmly at everyone, stopping briefly to speak with some. He seemed delighted to meet so many people, and the overcast weather outside could not dampen the joy which pervaded the occasion.

    In the official reception which followed, the Karmapa sat at the center of the head table, flanked by the three senior rinpoches resident in the UK— Chime Rinpoche, Ato Rinpoche, and Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche. All three were disciples of the 16th Karmapa, who have been resident in the UK since the 1960s and hold British citizenship. The 17th Karmapa was relaxed and obviously very happy to be in London. To mark the occasion, he momentarily posed for photographs with a Union Jack flag and a model of Big Ben, then resumed chatting with the three senior rinpoches and Ringu Tulku, head of Karmapa Foundation Europe and the 17th Karmapa’s representative in Europe.

    Rather than the traditional welcome of Tibetan tea and sweet rice, the reception took the form of a traditional English afternoon tea. Sandwiches and cakes were delicately arranged on three-tiered stands and included that most traditional of English afternoon treats, freshly baked fruit scones, strawberry jam and cream, all served with copious cups of English tea.

    In a short welcome speech, Jo Hollingbery noted how both Tibetans and Britons share a mutual understanding of the importance of history, and expressed both joy and gratitude that His Holiness was finally able to visit the UK.

    “Our cultures have a shared understanding of the importance of lineage and its preservation,” she said. “Tibetan Buddhism is preserving the sacred lineage of the Buddha’s teachings, and it is for this reason that we in the UK are so delighted to welcome you, Your Holiness the 17th Karmapa, to our country, thereby creating another precious link in that lineage.”

    Chonpel Tsering, the official representative of the Office of Tibet in London, also spoke briefly, welcoming the Karmapa on behalf of the Office of Tibet and the UK Tibetan community.

    Many of those at the reception seemed overwhelmed by the momentousness of the occasion. “It’s like a dream come true,” one rinpoche was overheard to say.

    Ato Rinpoche, who served as an attendant of the 16th Karmapa and has lived in the UK since 1967, summed it up: “Three times His Holiness the 16th Karmapa came, and now the 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley has come. We are all delighted. We’re simply over the moon.”

    After two days of sight-seeing and private engagements, His Holiness the Karmapa will give a three-session teaching on Geshe Langri Thangpa’s Eight Verses of Mind Training and also a Chenresik Empowerment (20-21 May, 2017). His first visit to the United Kingdom will last eleven days. On the 29th May he leaves London to continue his tour in Canada.

    Other guests at the special reception included Chamsing Ngodup Pelzom, Drupon Dechen Rinpoche, Chloe Roberts (Official Organiser), Lama Rabsang, Geshe Tashi Tsering (Jamyang Buddhist Centre), Tenzin Kunga (Office of Tibet), Pempa Lobsang (Tibetan Community Chair) Pemba Bhutia (Tibetan Community Deputy Chair), Kaji Sherpa (BCC),Yangdi Sherpa (BCC), Narayan Prasad Gurung (BCC), Yuwu Kumari Gurung (BCC), and Harka Gurung (BCC).

    2017.5.17 Karmapa at welcome reception in London

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    May 18, 2107 – London, England

    The day after he arrived in the Fair Isle, the Gyalwang Karmapa was invited to the British Museum, home to perhaps the greatest display of human culture and history to be found anywhere. Passing through its giant colonnade and portico, the Karmapa entered the several miles of galleries, which present eighty thousand exhibits selected from its thirteen million objects. Brought from all over the world, including Tibet, these treasures of art and related artifacts reveal the vast variety and richness of the world’s culture.

    Accompanied by a retinue that included Chime Rinpoche, Dechen Rinpoche, and Ringu Tulku, the Karmapa was guided on his tour by Richard Blurton, Curator of the South Asian Collections, and accompanied by the Deputy Director, Joanna Mackle. They had arranged a special exhibit of paintings, statues, and artwork, usually not on display. These articles were related to the Buddhism of Tibet, India, and China and laid out on a table in the spacious research offices.

    The first piece the Karmapa saw was the inside of a large wooden book cover, richly painted in warm hues of red, orange, and yellow depicting the embodiment of wisdom, Prajnaparamita, in the center with rows of bodhisattvas and monks on either side of her. The next piece was an album of photographs from the Tibet of yore, mainly showing the monasteries, homes, and aristocratic residents of old Lhasa. With a light smile on his face, the Karmapa looked carefully at each page, often identifying the places he knew. Richard Blurton mentioned that when he shows these images to older Tibetans, they are sometimes able to recognize their relatives, dressed in their best chupas and jewelry for the photographer.

    After looking at statues of Vajrasattva, Manjushri, and Akshobhya (an important deity for the Karmapa), he was shown a magnificent statue of Shakyamuni Buddha in the earth-touching mudra with a delicate and elaborately carved backplate, pierced with fire and flower scrolls. The curator’s notes on this piece state, “It is one of the largest and most lavish Yong’le-period Sino-Tibetan bronzes.” These notes also state the Yongle Emperor invited a Tibetan lama to perform rites for his parents in 1407, and this turns out to be the very year that the Fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa, arrived in the Yongle court at the repeated invitations of the Emperor.

    Texts describe this event: “When Deshin Shekpa finally arrived at the palace in 1407, three hundred fully caparisoned elephants carrying members of the Sangha came out to greet him. On that day, the supreme emperor came from the palace to its outer wall. He offered the Karmapa a thousand-spoked wheel made of gold and a white conch shell that turned clockwise. When the Lord of Dharma took out a similar white conch shell from the folds of his robes and gave it to the emperor, his faith increased even more.” (From The Karmapas and Their Kagyu Forefathers.) Given this coincidence it could very well be that the Karmapa was seeing the same statue that his predecessor Deshin Shekpa saw in the early fifteenth century.

    After viewing the remaining art of a banner, stupa, images of an arhant and Chenrezik, the Karmapa was invited outside to see highlights of the Museum’s exhibits. These included the famous Rosetta Stone, key to deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs, and the world famous Elgin Marbles from Greece. The Karmapa seemed perfectly at home amidst these treasures of world art, filling long galleries, and of knowledge, contained in libraries of leather-bound books enshrined in two-story bookcases. He listened attentively as the exhibits of the beginnings of archeology and the deciphering of ancient scripts were explained. Crowds of school children and tourists passed by, curious to see him as well. Afterward, the Karmapa passed into the main courtyard with its swirling domed roof and out into the front plaza where his car waited to take him through London’s elegant streets back to his hotel.


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    [Friday, May 19, 2017 12:23]
    By Tenzin Dharpo

    DHARAMSHALA, MAY 19: The Tibetan Buddhist figure Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee yesterday began his first ever trip to the United Kingdom in the English capital of London, where he will give teachings and undertake religious commitments for the next few days.

    The Karmapa who is considered as one of the highest reincarnate teachers in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy told devotees that he is happy to have made the journey to that part of the world and that he is looking forward to reaffirm the connection established by his predessesor.

    “I am very happy to have this opportunity to visit the United Kingdom. We have had a strong Dharma connection with Britain from the time of the 16th Karmapa. For many years, I have had the hope to visit Britain, and I am actually delighted to visit this year, the young Tibetan Lama said in a video post.

    The exiled religious figure who fled Tibet in the year 2000 in a daring escape has made three visits to Europe in the past will be giving teachings on the 8 Verses of Training the Mind and bestow the Chenrezig Empowerment through the weekend in London. His schedule extends on to May 27 when he will give a Long Life Empowerment at the Lakeside Country Club in Surrey.

    The current Karmapa’s predecessor 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje was one of the first Tibetan religious teachers to propagate Buddhism in the west in 1974 and had a healthy followership in Europe and in North America subsequently.

    In 2010, the Karmapa has set up ‘The Karmapa Foundation Europe’ headquartered in Brussels, to serve as his representative in Europe.

    2017.5.17 Karmapa at welcome reception in London

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    May 20, 2017 | UPDATED 17:30 IST

    Denjong Lhadey delegation led by Sangha MLA Sonam Lama met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at Raj Bhawan and submits memorandum seeking permission to early visit of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa to Sikkim. (Photo: Boom Tshering Yonzon)

    Gangtok, May 20 (PTI) A delegation of monks of various monasteries of Sikkim met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging early permission for Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to visit the state.

    The monks called on Singh, who is on a two-day visit here, at the Raj Bhavan last evening, officials said.

    They submitted the resolution taken after a peace rally here on May 18 which urged the Government of India to grant one of the "most important demand and aspiration" of the Buddhists of Sikkim seeking early permission for the Karmapa to visit Sikkim.

    The delegation was led by the Sangha MLA Sonam Kelyon Lama, who is the elected political representative of the monks in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, the officials added.

    A central government order bans entry of all the three Karmapa claimants to the title of Karmapa at Rumtek monastery in East Sikkim since 1994.

    The Sikkimese Buddhists who follow the Khagyu sect recognize the 31-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the real heir and successor of the 16th Karmapa who passed away in 1981.

    The Sikkim government has written several times and passed resolutions requesting the Centre to allow Ogyen Trinley to make his claim as the 17tyh Karmapa. The Centre has, however, not given any decision on it.

    Ogyen Trinley Dorje, head of the Karma Khagyu (Black Hat) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in Tibet and had escaped to India through Nepal at the age of 14. He reached the Tibetan exile quarters at McLeod Ganj on January 5, 2000. He presently lives in Dharamsala and is also recognized by the Dalai Lama. PTI COR KK KK

    This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

    2017.5.18 Rally for Sikkim visit of Karmapa

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    London, England – May 19, 2017

    Following the footsteps of his predecessor, the Sixteenth Karmapa who visited the Library fifty years ago, the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, traveled this morning to the British Library. As the national library of the United Kingdom, it is the second largest library in the world by number of items catalogued, holding well over 150 million articles from many countries. Among these, of great interest to His Holiness were the famous Dunhuang texts of the Stein Collection and some 2,700 blockprints and 850 manuscripts in Tibetan, among them the 16th Karmapa’s edition of the Derge Kangyur and Tengyur.

    On this special tour, the Karmapa was accompanied by Chime Rinpoche, who had worked in the British Library for fourteen years as curator of the Tibetan collection and welcomed the Sixteenth Karmapa to England. Guided by Kristian Jensen, Head of Collections, and Burkhard Quessel, Curator of the Tibetan Collection, the Karmapa and a small entourage descended two stories to the underground floor of the Library, which holds the oriental and Tibetan collections.

    Here, the Karmapa was invited into the carefully guarded Strong Room containing the precious Dunhuang texts. After viewing these, he also saw a beautifully illustrated manuscript combining Milarepa’s life story and his 100,000 Songs, which belonged to the Taklung Kagyu tradition. Based on the Third Karmapa’s life story of Milarepa, it quoted an earlier life story by Sangye Ö, which the Karmapa also knew about. This text and a work on mahamudra, dzogchen, and madhyamaka by Kathok Yeshe Dechen were copied on to a UBS stick and offered to His Holiness for his personal collection. Among other documents, he looked at the earliest known Buddhist text, the content taken mainly from the Pali canon, which was written on birch bark and found in a clay pot in Afghanistan.

    The Karmapa then came back up to the first floor and toured a stunning exhibit, the Treasures of the British Library. He looked with great interest at the texts, illuminated in gold and brilliant color, embodying the precious heritage of many religious traditions. The first text was the earliest complete manuscript of the New Testament; from the Jewish tradition, a golden Haggadah for Passover eve; from Islam, a kufic Qu’ran; from Nepal a Hindu Sanskrit text with gold letters on a black background; a Burmese life of the Buddha, a Japanese edition of the Kannon Sutra, and the Heart Sutra in gold with illustrations in the shape of a bodhi leaf.

    The exhibit on printing noted that the earliest surviving documents are Buddhist and showed a prayer sheet from the Dunhuang caves and texts printed on moveable type from China. The Karmapa also has taken a great interest in printing and published a splendid and elegant edition of the Jaing Kangyur, the first kangyur to be printed in the area of Tibet. Perhaps one day it will find its way in the British Library’s collection. After viewing the Magna Carta and the Gutenberg Bible, sources of revolution in the worlds of politics and information technology, the Karmapa returned to his temporary home in London.

    2017.5.20  Exploring the World of Precious Texts: The Karmapa Visits the British Library

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    May 20, 2017 – Battersea Park, London, England

    On his way to teach for the first time in England at the Battersea Evolution, the Karmapa stopped to bless the nearby Peace Pagoda, located on the River Thames in Wandsworth. It is known as the Brighter Borough of London, and this morning lived up to its name as the sun shone brightly while wisps of white clouds perched in a wide and light blue sky. The mayor of Wandsworth, Clir Jim Madden (reelected just yesterday) and his wife were present in their impressive regalia of golden mayoral collars or chains of office. Before their arrival, the head monk of the nearby temple, Reverend Gyoro Nagase, and a Japanese nun, both of whom belong to the Nipponzan Myohoji tradition of Japanese Buddhism, joined a group of Tibetans to prepare the site. They set up a small alter with an antique incense burner, wafting Tibetan and Japanese incense into the cool morning air.

    When the Karmapa arrived, these personages were the main ones to welcome him. The sounds of Japanese chanting and the pulse of two circular flat drums accompanied the Karmapa as he moved down the line of well-wishers and climbed the marble stairs to the second level of the pagoda. He circumambulated its core three times, pausing along with the monk and nun in all the four directions at the tall alcoves, enshrining gilt-bronze statues of the Buddha. They represented the four major events of his life: birth, enlightenment, first teaching, and passing into nirvana.

    In 1984, this elegant, dark-timbered and white pagoda was offered to London by the Ven. Nichidatsu Fuji (founder of Nipponzan Myohoji), whom his close friend Gandhi affectionately called “Guruji.” The Reverend has stated, “Civilization is not to kill human beings, not to destroy things, nor make war; civilization is to hold mutual affection and to respect one another.” These two qualities of affection and respect turned out to be central themes of the Karmapa’s teaching today, demonstrating once again the values held in common among all Buddhists and those seeking a lasting peace in this world.

    2017.5.20 大寶法王噶瑪巴參訪巴特錫公園,朝拜公園內的和平佛塔 Gyalwang Karmapa blessed the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.

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    Battersea Evolution, London, England
    May 20, 2017

    More than 2,000 people, mainly from the United Kingdom and Europe, gathered to hear the young head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism expound on an 11th century Tibetan text “The Eight Verses for Training the Mind” by the Kadampa master Geshe Langri Tangpa.

    The Samye Ling community, who had transported everything from Scotland, transformed the hall of Battersea Evolution into a Tibetan shrine room. In front of an antique gold velvet backdrop, hung three thangkas depicting three of the twelve deeds of Shakyamuni Buddha, and a large, ornate throne graced centre stage. To its right a shrine containing an image of Four-Armed Chenresik had been prepared in advance of the empowerment to be held during the final session of the teachings. Two great bouquets of flowers flanked the throne and an abundance of flowers and greenery along the front edge of the stage added a fringe of living colour.

    Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, head of Samye Ling Monastery and the Samye Dzong organisation, escorted the 17th Karmapa onto the stage. With great devotion and reverence, Lama Yeshe first welcomed the Karmapa to “the most beautiful city in the world” and then thanked all the people who had worked to make the event happen, including the Government of India and the Central Tibetan Administration. It was his hope now, he said, that His Holiness would soon be able to visit Samye Ling, his great monastic seat, which was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.

    After prayers and a mandala offering, the Karmapa began his teaching by expressing his great delight at finally being in the United Kingdom, though the visit was tinged with sadness. “I always thought when I got to London, I would see Akong Rinpoche here,” he explained. “But now that I have had the opportunity to come, I am not able to meet him. This saddens me. But nevertheless, Lama Yeshe and others are continuing to faithfully uphold the vision and enlightened activities of Akong Rinpoche and this is very heartening. Furthermore, I am confident that in the future, I will be able to visit the very important seat of Samye Ling.”

    Moving on to the text for the teaching, Langri Tangpa’s “Eight Verses on Training the Mind,” His Holiness started with a short introduction to the author, Geshe Langri Tangpa (1054 – 1123 CE) whose nickname was “Grim-Faced” because he never smiled or laughed. Contrary to the claims of some, this was not evidence that practising the Buddha Dharma saddens and depresses practitioners, the Karmapa asserted, but rather proof that Geshe Langri Tangpa was completely immersed in the practices of loving-kindness and compassion. He appeared so serious because he cared so deeply and pure-heartedly about the welfare and suffering of sentient beings.

    Mind training is a primary focus of the Kadampa tradition, His Holiness explained. One of the most important texts on this topic, the “Seven Points of Mind Training” by Geshe Chekawa Yeshe Dorje, bears witness to the influence that Geshe Langri Tangpa exerted. It was hearing the “Eight Verses for Training the Mind” at a young age that drew Geshe Chekawa into the Kadampa tradition.

    His Holiness commented that the word mind refers to the mind of enlightenment or bodhicitta: “Mind training really means training in bodhicitta.” “Bodhi” means awakening and “citta” refers to mind. This training is indispensable for those who wish to become bodhisattvas. Mind training texts summarise the main points of training in bodhicitta and, like a manual, provide a step-by-step guide for practitioners to follow in order to develop bodhicitta gradually. The texts themselves are designed to be pithy and easily ascertained: they are short on words but dense in meaning, intended to be memorised and practised rather than just studied.

    Each of the eight verses taught a different practice which we could use, and through these contemplations, His Holiness stated, we should endeavour to make our hearts and minds vaster and more encompassing. We could learn to differentiate between the conditions which are adverse for developing love and compassion and those which are conducive. With this knowledge we should work to reduce adverse conditions and increase the favourable ones.

      The first verse of the text concerns the practice of learning to cherish and value all living beings:
      Thinking that all sentient beings
      Surpass a wish-fulfilling jewel
      For accomplishing the supreme aim,
      May I always cherish beings.
    His Holiness explained its meaning: “The example often given is that of a diamond in the earth. Initially it is covered by mud and earth. But this has no effect on the inherent value of the diamond. In the same way there are many kinds of sentient beings and they all possess different flaws, but these flaws have no effect on the inherent, high value of sentient beings. Their basic nature remains worthy of being cherished.”

    Not only are sentient beings like a diamond in quality but they surpass it in value. Drawing on our experiences in the 21st century, the Karmapa demonstrated how we are all interconnected and deeply dependent on others for the necessities of life. A diamond confers no direct benefits but the sentient beings sustaining us help us directly, and therefore, they are more important than the most valuable jewel. We should view them as “extremely valuable, sacred and the object of our gratitude.”

    With that heart advice, the Karmapa concluded the morning session. After he had left the auditorium, people milled around, exchanging comments on their experience of the morning. It seemed that it had been a most extraordinary, profound and joyful experience for everyone. The 17th Karmapa’s humility and wisdom, peppered with humour, had affected them deeply.

    Ken Holmes, one of the most senior Tibetan Buddhist lay practitioners in the United Kingdom, who worked closely with His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, and is a highly respected Buddhist teacher in his own right, summed it up: “People often ask me “Do you see the similarity between the 16th Karmapa and the 17th?” My answer is “Yes and no.” It’s like when you see a really great actor. Whatever roles they play, once they start acting, your hair stands on end. Yet the roles they play are very different. The 16th Karmapa was exactly what was needed for us in the UK in the 1970s, and now, in his teaching today, this Karmapa is giving us not just the words we need to hear, but also the way he does it is what we need to see and what we need to feel. The moment he comes in, there is such majesty you know that you are in the presence of a unique person. He goes right to the heart of the matter and puts his finger exactly on what’s right for the moment.” After nearly forty years, the Karmapa had undoubtedly returned to the United Kingdom.

    2017.5.20  Eight Verses for Training the Mind, day 1

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    May 20, 2107 – Battersea Park, London, England

    Reprising his teachings on the Eight Verses of Mind Training, the Karmapa turned to the second verse:

      Wherever I am, whomever I’m with,
      May I regard myself as lower than all others,
      And from the depths of my heart,
      May I hold them as supreme and cherish them.
    The first verse, he reminded us, gave the practice of seeing all living beings to be as precious as a wish-fulfilling jewel, and this second one encourages us always to be respectful towards others. Whomever we meet in whatever place, we train in respecting them and regarding ourselves as inferior, not in a superficial way, but from the depths of our hearts and the marrow of our bones. “This is about being humble,” the Karmapa remarked, “and mainly functions as an antidote to pride.” It is important, “because as we seek to benefit others, we will connect with all kinds of people, educated or not, wealthy or poor and we need to make our minds ready to be free of pride in any of these circumstances.”

    To illustrate his point, the Karmapa gave the example of the powerful and vast oceans, which cover a good deal of the planet and still hold the lowest place, allowing all the rivers to flow into them. If they were elevated, the oceans would drain dry. Similarly, if we train ourselves in humility, anyone we meet becomes an opportunity for this practice, and virtuous qualities will naturally flow into us.

    To illustrate pride, the opposite of humility, the Karmapa gave the example of pouring water on a ball. When we are puffed up with ourselves, there is no space for improvement, which we deem unnecessary, so it is very difficult to increase positive qualities as we miss the chances. Being humble, holding the lower place, opens up a pathway through which we can learn more and develop.

    “Sometimes,” the Karmapa noted, “we confuse pride and confidence. The pride we are discussing here is something we should lose. It is a state of mind in which we focus on our own positive qualities and accomplishments to justify a sense of superiority and looking down on others. This is not an authentic way of practice because the qualities we focus on are not what they seem to be; they are not a true basis for having such an attitude. Actually they just fill our minds with clutter and keep our positive qualities from blossoming.”

    The Karmapa explained further, “For bodhisattvas there is no end to learning, no state which they achieve and then are told, ‘You’ve completed your training. There is no higher state than this.’ The reason is that there is something to learn from each and every living being. When bodhisattvas are helping others, they learn from every being with whom they make a connection. And living beings are limitless. If there were only one of them to help, there would be no opportunity for inexhaustible learning. Living beings, however, are inexhaustible in number, so there is no end to training in the conduct of a bodhisattva.”

    “Therefore, when we are encouraged to regard ourselves as lower than all others,” the Karmapa summarized, “it does not mean that we denigrate ourselves and jettison our self-esteem. In Buddhism, that would be considered a type of laziness called the laziness of self-deprecation. We cannot evade helping others with the excuse that we are not able. Regarding ourselves as lower than others is actually an opportunity to learn, since those we meet can educate us. Bodhisattvas have the motivation to learn something from everyone they meet, so their training has no end, just like living beings.”

      The Karmapa then read the third verse:
      In all activities I will examine my mind stream.
      Since mental afflictions damage myself and others,
      The moment they arise,
      May I energetically face and reverse them.
    He explained, “Whatever we might be doing—going somewhere, sitting down, falling sleep, and so forth—we should examine our streaming mind. When we notice negative emotions, we should try with all our energy to stop them the very instant they arise. This verse teaches being attentive and mindful as the antidote to afflictions. We are continually vigilant to what is happening in our minds, whether we are relaxing, driving, or facebooking.”

    The Karmapa commented that these days many people conflate Buddhism with relaxation, turning it into a kind of “spiritual massage.” But this is not mind training, which actually requires intensive care and serious effort like a full workout at the gym. “Mind training resembles a series of exercises for our hearts and minds, and not simply relaxation,” he said. “Our habits and emotions run deep and some are negative, so they are not that easily altered. The process of changing bad habits and getting into new and more constructive ones is not that easy. It entails work and experiencing the feeling of being sore as if we had engaged in hard physical labor.”

    Offering his advice, the Karmapa counseled, “We need to have a plan in place for how we will deal with any given situation. If we let the mind go where it wants to go, it will turn stubborn. There is a saying in Tibetan: ‘Appearances are skilled at deception and the mind is like a small child following after them.’ Instead of letting mind be fooled by appearances, we should take care of it like a small child, not letting it do whatever it wants; rather, we should examine carefully to discover the state of our mind.

    “The great Kadampa masters of the past used games in training their minds. To play a game of mindfulness, they carried black and white stones to count the times they won or lost against their afflictions. Looking at the win-loss ratio was a way to get into positive habits. We must continually examine our minds since change will not happen by merely wishing things to be so. We need to put continued effort into seeing our mind clearly.”

      The fourth verse reads:
      Whenever I see beings of ill character
      Weighed down by harsh misdeeds and suffering,
      As if I had discovered a treasury of precious jewels,
      May I cherish them as something difficult to find.
    The verse advocates the practice of compassion in learning to cherish three types of living beings: those with difficult personalities, those weighed down by deep suffering, and those in the process of committing negative actions, big mistakes, or harmful activity. The Karmapa explained, “We should see each of these three types of individuals as an opportunity to put our compassion to use, thereby improving and making it more all-encompassing. This point is easy to understand but very difficult to put into practice.”

    The Karmapa then left the remaining verses for the next day and responded to written questions.

    Q: Do you talk to birds in this lifetime? What do they say?

    A: “I phone them sometimes” the Karmapa replied in jest. “When I was young at Tsurphu, people said to me, ‘The Sixteenth Karmapa liked birds, so you must like them too,’ and they gave me many. Actually, I have no special connection with birds. To be honest, I was uncomfortable with keeping birds in cages. They are happier being free to fly around in nature. And maybe I sensed that it would mean that I, too, would be caged. It is better to leave them in their natural environment.”

    Q: I have been practicing Dharma for more than forty years and was expecting the world to be better toward the end of my life. Could you explain where I went wrong?

    A: “It is difficult to make the whole world a better place, and sometimes our hopes for how things might be are too big. If we scale down and work with ourselves so that we become good people, then there would be one more good person in the world and one less bad one.

    “Sometimes the way we feel depends on what we are looking at. We could reflect on the state of the world and begin to lose hope. On the other hand, we could see one person practicing compassion or having a good heart, and that could encourage and inspire us.

    “I read a digital newspaper with a good news section but it’s not updated nearly as much as the parts with mostly discouraging news. It is the shocking news that gets reposted but this does not mean that nothing positive is happening; we just do not hear about it. In the end, however, it comes down to us working on ourselves. This is where we start to make the world a better place.”

    Q: How to deal with racial discrimination?

    A: “It is essential to start by focusing on our commonalities, that we all are human beings seeking happiness and wishing to avoid suffering. From this perspective, we can develop love and compassion, which remove the labels that distance us from each other. We can then find mutual respect, affection, and a sense of equality. If we can begin from here, we can become closer, increasing our respect and love for each other. Inwardly, the more we connect with our own love and compassion, the more we will be able to connect with others.”

    On this positive note, the question and answer session drew to a close. After the teaching, following through on the theme of connection, groups of disciples from individual countries were arranged, and the Karmapa moved from one to another, sitting down with people to take their questions and standing to receive their khatas. Finally he donned the yellow knit shirt of the volunteers and posed with them lined up on the stairs for a final photograph.

    2017.5.20  Eight Verses for Training the Mind, day 1

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