The XVII Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje
Birth and Early Years
In 1985 a male infant was born into a nomad family in the Lhatok region of Eastern Tibet. In the months prior to his birth, his mother had wonderful dreams during her pregnancy. On the day of his birth, a cuckoo landed on the tent in which he was born, and a mysterious conch like sound was heard by many throughout the valley in which the family lived.
In Tibet, such events are considered auspicious portents of the birth of an enlightened teacher.
The young nomad was called Apo Gaga. While his early years seemed, to his family, full of blessing, Apo Gaga did not talk of any connection to the Karmapas. However, in 1992, he asked his family to move the location of their nomadic home to another valley, and told them to expect a visit from traveling monks. Soon after setting up their home in the new location, followers of the XVI Karmapa came to that valley pursuant to the secret instructions of the XVI Karmapa, contained in his letter of prediction. The birth and the other details of Apo Gaga's life matched the predictions of the letter. Apo Gaga was discovered to be the XVII Karmapa, Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje.
In addition to his letter of prediction, the XVI Karmapa wrote many poems, or songs, predicting that though he would leave his traditional main seat of Tsurphu Monastery, Tibet, he would soon return to Tsurphu again, that his root teacher would be Tai Situpa Rinpoche, and that he would study in India. After the death of the XVI Karmapa, it became clear that these predictions applied to his successor. Furthermore, the XIX Century master Chogyur Lingpa made a number of predictions about the lives of the Karmapas, and for the XVII, Chogyur Lingpa's predictions matched the details of His Holiness's birth. Since these predictions were to be fulfilled in themselves without recognition by any other master, it is traditionally said that the Karmapa is "self recognized."
The Karmapa's Return to Tsurphu
In His Holiness's historic return to Tsurphu Monastery, Tibet in June 1992, he donned ritual clothing and approached on horseback. The XVII Karmapa did in fact return to Tsurphu, where he was enthroned on the same year in September 27, with the permission of the Chinese government.
At Tsurphu, over 20,000 supplicants assembled to witness the return of the XVII Karmapa. The following morning, some 25,000 people gathered before His Holiness to receive a personal blessing.
At Tsurphu, the Karmapa studied the Buddhist sciences of mind, learned ritual, and practiced sacred arts, such as dance. Each day he received hundreds of visitors from throughout Tibet and around the world. He eventually began to offer empowerments and participated in various rituals at the monastery. At the age of about 10, His Holiness recognized the rebirth of reincarnate teachers, including such eminent teachers as Pawo Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpocheand the Dabzang Rinpoche.
While His Holiness was at Tsurphu, the monastery underwent extensive rebuilding to restore the temples, shrines, stupas, a shedra, and residences that had severely decayed and been neglected over the years, fulfilling one of the main duties of a Karmapa. As the years went by, His Holiness sought to receive the empowerments and transmissions of the lineage, but was unable to do so fully because many of the Kagyu Lineageteachers remained in India. To fulfill his spiritual duty, he and a handful of attendants left Tibet for India.
Karmapa's Journey to India
After months of careful planning, on December 28, the fourteen year old Karmapa pretended to enter into a solitary retreat, instead donned civilian garb, and slipped out a window. Leaving Tsurphu Monastery with a handful of attendants, he began a daring journey by car, foot, horseback, helicopter, train and taxi, a heroic journey which was to become the stuff of headlines throughout the world. On January 5, 2000 he arrived, to the great surprise and overwhelming joy of the world, in Dharamsala, India, where he was met by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. He received refugee status from the government of India in 2001. From the year 2000, His Holiness continues living near Dharamsala. He has been permitted by Indian governmental authorities to engage in tours to Buddhist sites in India, and annually traveled to Bodhgaya and Sarnath for important Kagyu ceremonies over which he presides. He has also traveled to Ladhak, Tibetan settlements in southern India, Kolkata and elsewhere in Himachal area. His Holiness still awaits permission from the Indian authorities to leave Dharamsala and return to Rumtek Monastery, the traditional seat of the Karmapas in India. In 2008, His Holiness received permission to travel to the United States to teach the dharma for his first time in the West.
His Holiness the XVII Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, has been the leading Tibetan master in the post 1959 era of Tibetan history. His Holiness was the first reincarnate Lama to be recognized by a communist government in the world history.
The Activities of the XVII Karmapa at the present time
Nowadays, the Gyalwa Karmapa is temporarily living in the Gyuto Monastery and Tantric University, in the Dharamsala region, where, waiting for returning to his monastery in Rumtek, he is receiving the full lineage transmissions and benefiting countless sentient beings. Thousands of Tibetans, Indians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Asians, and Westerners visit His Holiness throughout the year. His Holiness grants public and private receptions, as well as audiences for special practices for higher lamas.
In the year 2008, between the 15th of May and the 5th of June, His Holiness the Karmapa travelled for the first time to the United States, where he visited different cities, such as New York, New Jersey or California. During his journey, the XVII Karmapa imparted different teachings about the Dharma, gave two conferences regarding the Healing of the Environment through an Enlightened Mind and another two dissertations about the Preliminary Practices (Nongdro). In the course of his tour, he also visited his Seat in the United States, the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery, located in Woodstook, New York, where he conferred the initiation of Guru Rinpoche to those present there.
On the other hand, in the months of May and June of 2010, it was expected that His Holiness could make a tour across nine countries of Europe, among them, Spain, Poland or Scotland, country where he was going to visit for the first time his Seat in Europe, situated in the Samye Ling Monastery. Waiting for the arrival of the XVII Karmapa, during months different centres of the Kagyu Lineage in Europe were making the necessary preparations, involving a large number of followers. However, one month before the beginning of the tour, without any explanation, the Government of India denied him the exit permit from the country, reason why the trip had to be cancelled.
(Extracted from the Web page: www.kagyuoffice.org and reviewed by Trikaya)
The relentless pursuit of the Indian Government in 2011
After his arrival to India in December of 1999 fleeing from Tibet, His Holiness the XVII Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje was welcomed in this country by the Indian Government. After one year of uncertainty, in the year 2001 He received the statute of refugee. In spite of it, in 2011 the Indian authorities has not yet given its permission to return to His monastery in the exile, located in Rumtek, in the Indian Kingdom of Sikkim. This residence was established in the last third of the XX century by the Karmapa Himself, in His XVI incarnation as Rangjung Rinpay Dorje (1924-1981), after receiving 70 hectares from the hands of the prince of Sikkim in that time. Since them, the monastery of Rumtek became in the main centre of the Kagyu Linage for the divulging of the teachings of the Vajrayana Buddhism, having welcomed during the years to some of its highest representatives, such as the XII Tai Situpa, to the III Jamgon Kongtrul or to the XII Gyaltsab Rinpoche, who from the disappearance assumed the responsibility of ruling the place.
In January of 2011, Indian officers arrested at Dharamsala, in which surroundings resides the XVII Karmapa at the present time, to two aides of His Holines´s office, who were in possession of 219.000 $ in Indian Rupees, while they were travelling by car. Following the arrest, the Indian authorities entered in the XVII Karmapa’s room, to who later they interrogated about the possession in His residence of about 1, 6 millions of dollars in foreign exchange, a big part in Chinese currency. The amount of money in this currency aroused the suspicions of the Indian police, who fear the connection of Ogyen Trinley Dorje, to whom they accused of an alleged offence of espionage related with conspirators from China, country that in the course of the years has maintained different politic and territorial disputes with India.
During the interrogations, His Holiness explained that the kept money in His provisional residence in the Tantric University of Gyuto came from the donations given by His devotees of around the world, included His Chinese devotees, and that He planned to assign the money to the development of His monasteries. In this sense, it is necessary to take in consideration that, as a Tibetan Refugee, the Karmapa has not the possibility of the deposit the amount of money of the donations in the Indian Banks and that because it He had to keep the received money along the time in His own residence.
In reference to this lamentable matter, the Saya Kunsal Kassapa founder of Trikaya Association offers all the support to His Holiness the XVII Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, to whom recognize as a spiritual master of the highest stature and who has always dedicated His efforts in elevating the consciousness of all the beings. In this way, the hopes that the legal lawsuits came shortly to its end and that His Holiness could continue His task of spreading the Dharma. Likewise, the Saya Kunsal Kassapa also hopes that finally the Indian authorities could grant in a short period of time to His Holiness the permission to return to Rumtek and to have freedom of movements around the world, including the possibility of visiting His Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet and of travelling to Europe, trip that in the last moment was denied in June of 2010 by the Indian Government in despite of having planned this tour since months.
To read the letter from Lama Norlha Rinpoche Abbod of Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery on the United States of America to the India Government regarding His Holiness Karmapa visit the following electronic direction http://www.kagyu.com/en/component/content/article/340
Second Official Visit of His Holiness the XVII Karmapa to the United States of America (two weeks)
The 7 of July of 2011 and coming from India, His Holiness the XVII Karmapa traveled for second time to the United States, where during two weeks he realized a religious tour plenty of activities and meetings.
His journey started at Washington DC, where His Holiness had a meeting with the Dalai Lama, from whom he received the Kalachakra Initiation. In the same city, the XVII Karmapa also visited the headquarters of the World Wildlife found (WWF), where he conversed with relevant leaders in the field of science and environment. In fact, the protection of the Tibetan plateau –the main reservoir of water in Central Asia−, and of the entire Himalayan rage centered great part of the messages which the XVII Karmapa spread during his interviews in the Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. In Washington he also gave private audiences to various groups, including the Tibetan communities of different countries.
The second stop of his trip to the United States was New York, in whose surroundings he visited his Monastery “Karma Triyana Dharmachakra” (KTD), his North America Seat, located in Woodstock. There, he was received by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Khempo Kathar Rinpoche, who, together with other members of the sangha, gave their welcome to His Holiness with rice and tea ceremony, with sacred prayers and with the mandala offering.
In his historical second visit to his Monastery KTD, His Holiness extolled the efforts of the monastic efforts, to some of whose members imparted valuable teachings and gave the transmission of the meditation of the Buddha Shakyamuni, as well as the Taking Refuge linked to the transmission of Atisha.
The stay of the XVIIKarmapa in the United States came to an end the 21st of June of 2001(for more information about His Holiness visit the United States see karmapa foundation), when His Holiness returned to his temporal residence in the Tantric University of Gyuto, located in the outsides of Dharamsala (India), from where he promotes his activities. The XVII Karmapa keeps waiting for the legal permits required for returning to his Monastery of Rumtek, his official Seat in the exile, located in the Indian state of Sikkim.
Celebration “Karmapa 900”
In commemoration of the 900 anniversary of the apparition of the first Karmapa Dusum Kheypa, the second week of December of 2010, the XVII Karmapa presided at Bodhgaya (India), the opening of the celebration “Karmapa 900”, act in which also were present His Eminence the XII Goshir Gyalsap Rinpoche and the first minister of the Tibetan Government in the exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, who attended as the main guest.
During the event, His Holiness began expressing his wish for the recovering of the original texts of the Dohas (devotional spontaneous chants of realization) intoned by great accomplished masters. Today, the majority of these Dohas are found in translations from the Tibetan, although the original ones were composed in Sanskrit. Therefore, during the inauguration of these celebrations was heard for the first time since centuries the auspicious recitation in Sanskrit of the Doha of Tilopa, which was declaimed by four persons known around the world coming from the Indian state of Mysore. This beginning of the celebrations was ready for accommodating around 5.200 persons sitting, but the number of those who attend the event was much bigger.
Since its beginning at India in December of 2010 and along 2011, these acts of commemoration of the 900 anniversary of the first Karmapa were carried on in different countries, as Indonesia, Singapore, Malays, Taiwan, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Scotland, Poland, Hong Kong and Macau, Australia, New Zeeland, Brazil, the United States of America or India.
In all of them, the auspicious feasts were presided by eminent masters of the Kamtsang Kagyu Linage, who conveyed the good wishes of His Holiness and gave different transmissions and initiations to those present. In some of these countries it was also organized the celebration of the Kagyu Monlam and in other it was possible even to pay homage to the image of Dusum Khyenpa himself, known by its prodigious capacity of speaking.
Also, in different places was pay tribute to different sacred objects as a mother black pill belonging to the XV Karmapa Khakhyab Dorje, a hat belonging to Gampopa, a relic of Marpa the translator, relics of Milarepa o belongings of Dusum Khyenpa himself, as his cloths or the Thangka with his image that the XVI Karmapa commissioned to the Tibetan artist Uncle Sherab and to which some devotees could render homage.
After a full year of celebrations, the acts included in the closing ceremony of the “Karmapa 900”, also presided by His Holiness the XVII Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, took place the days 23, 24 and 25 of December of 2011 in the capital city of India, Delhi, where there were gathering more than thousand disciples, as well as delegates of each one of the regions of that country and representatives of other 44 nations.
His Holiness, to whom in the evening program there were dedicated chants of praises in Sanskrit, began the closing feasts the 23º of December rendering homage to the relics of Buda entrusting in the National Museum of Delhi. The same day, and for the first time since more than thousand years, it was recited in Sanskrit the Doha of Saraha. The acts also served as means for rendering tribute to the Indian roots of the Kamtsang Kagyu Linage.
Likewise, in this closing ceremony, His Holiness the XVII Karmapa refused to recognize the event as a personal feast, but as an opportunity to remember the great qualities of the masters of the past and for getting inspiration in order to emulate them. (for more information www.karmapa900.org)
Celebration Karma 900, New Dheli,India