Being a Karmapa really wasn’t a thing until the third Karmapa…

Picture of the third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, 1284-1339, the old man instagramed to illustrate this episode of Pulp Buddhism in which the Naropa Prairie Dog Players discuss how this remarkable child prodigy made being a Karmapa a thing for the ages…

Jonathan begins.

“Prior to Rangjung Dorje the Mongol empire which ruled Tibet at the time had hitherto done so through a succession of Sakya lineage holders.”

Caroline replies..

“For better or for worse, this is the beginning of succession by reincarnation for us as a tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.”

Virginia replies.

“Which, thanks to Situ Rinpoche, lives on to this day with Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the spiritual conscience of today’s rulers of China as Karmapas have been to China’s rulers dating back to the Mongol empire.”

Karl replies.

“Hooray for China.”

Virginia replies.

“And Tibetans, too.”

Karl replies.

“That’s Khenpo Karthar talking.”

Virginia replies.

“Rinpoche isn’t alone among his generation of Rinpoches in thinking of their being forced into exile as just a bump in the road in a Sino-Tibetan relationship that is for the ages.”

Jonathan replies.

“At least we can say this of Khenpo Karthar’s generation of Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s Karma Kagyu sect.”

Karl replies.

“I’ll never forget how Khenpo Karthar jumped at the opportunity to re-establish his Karma Kagyu sect in a Tibet not ruled by the Dalai Lama.”

Jonathan replies.

“No disrespect to HHDL, Tibet under the rule of his predecessors as Dalai Lama was bad for the Karma Kagyu sect.”

Virginia replies.

“It is only fitting that the Karmapa return to his traditional role as a much needed spiritual balance to the materialism of China’s current rulers.”

Jonathan replies.

“A relationship that became a thing with Rangjung Dorje, the third Karmapa.”

Sally replies.

“So basically China’s rulers and the Karmapa being a thing is nothing new in terms of Tibetan tradition.”

Jonathan replies.

“In a nutshell, yes, not much has changed in retrospect, from a Karma Kagyu perspective really.”

Sally replies.

“I don’t know.”

Virginia replies.

“Don’t worry about it.”

Virginia replies.

“This isn’t something we talk about as Karma Kagyu.”

Caroline replies.

“Perhaps it’s time we did.”

End scene. Fini.

Another episode of Pulp Buddhism brought to you by the Naropa Prairie Dog Players and by viewers like you, thank you for your support.



Filed under Buddhism

7 responses to “Being a Karmapa really wasn’t a thing until the third Karmapa…

  1. Yenzin


    • lama y

      I don’t post here, primarily because we have been instructed not to, but I just have to say that this comment about my guru is totally inappropriate. Mr. Schwartz, I implore you to remove it as it harms the stainless brilliance of his activity.

      Lama Y

      • Lama y,

        I hear you but that KTD ordered you and your fellow lamas to stand down in 2013 is part of the story here.

        You weren’t posting comments here.

        You and your fellow KTD lamas brought shame on Khenpo Karthar’s reputation as a Rinpoche.

        KTD ordered you to stop what you were doing.

        I suggest that you do as KTD told you to do.

        I don’t like the comment any more than you do.

        In fact, when the comment was posted I was ready to delete it.

        I was done for the day though and decided it could wait until this morning.

        And then you decided to not do as you were told by KTD to do.

        I thought this matter was settled years ago.

        You were ordered to stand down for a reason.

        Your “comments” and those of your fellow lamas posted here reflected poorly on Rinpoche’s reputation far more than what you and your ilk were responding to here.

        Anyway, thanks to you not doing as KTD told you, the inappropriate comment must remain as part of the story being told here as such.


        • Lama Y


          You are the one to blame for the denigration of Rinpoche’s name here because you operate this blog.

          Personally, I find your blame of KTD laughable.

          Please take down that comment.

          Please know that I keep you in my practice that you may come around to see things the way Rinpoche has taught us.

          Offering love and kindness to you my estranged brother.

          • Lama y,

            Actually KTD agrees with me in this regard.

            I have been with Rinpoche since I took refuge with him here in 1981.

            At that time he told me that we would never again be apart as guru and disciple.

            Nothing has changed for either of us over the years.

            Regarding your existence, that you exist, is Rinpoche’s bad I’m afraid.

            It is you that have let Rinpoche down by proving him wrong about what you are capable of as a dharma practitioner.

            You were ordered to leave me alone but here we are.

            Rinpoche has no issue with me personally or with my blog.

            His problem is with you and your fellow lamas.

            You don’t do as you have been told to do.

            Ask Rinpoche if you don’t believe me.


          • Jonathan begins.

            “We now know who gives a fuck what Khenpo Karthar thinks.”

            Caroline replies.

            “Apparently, not this particular lama of his.”

            Virginia replies.

            “I don’t know who this person is but he doesn’t represent how Rinpoche regards criticism of himself personally.”

            Jonathan replies.


            Caroline replies.

            “That being said the problem remains as to what to do with KTD’s lamas.

            Jonathan replies.

            “They were supposed to become lamas at the KTC they came from but KTD no longer wants to be in the dharma center business.”

            Karl replies.

            “To say nothing of the fact that nobody wants these people as teachers.”

  2. Lenny

    This is a significant point!

    It’s been a few years since my last visit to Gyuto, but I distinctly remember conversations with Khenpo Garwang, a major player behind the scenes in Tsurphu Labrang who was very motivated in “restoring” what the Kagyu lineage had lost from the time of the 5th Dalai Lama. Unknown to most, especially in the west because everyone seems to wear the same rose tinted glasses when it comes to Tibet, Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism, even into the years preceding the Chinese invasion the Karma Kagyu were kept on a very short leash by the Ganden Phodrang.

    This was so much of a “thing” that even in exile a great many Karma Kagyu had mixed feelings when HHDL and HHGK16 would meet. This is also why the reaction was so strong when HHDL was consulted by Situ Rinpoche regarding Karmapa’s Yangsi that the Dalai Lama should have nothing to do with it.

    Indeed, if you talk to the right people in Dharamsala the remnants of a Cold War between the two lineages can still be easily discerned. The vehemence in the part of some Karma Kagyu has lead to a very significant number of key players in Tsurphu Labrang wanting to through Situ under the bus for playing politics with Ganden Phodrang in India. In fact, it is this group who are trying their best to align circumstances so that Karmapa does return to his place as leader of the Tibetan Buddhist world. The money and power of the newly risen China is a symbol that fits right in as you say, allowing for the mirroring of the role and appearance of Rangjung Dorje.

    Check out Khenpo Garwang on the Tsurphu Labrang site. He is the head of the team that investigates new tulkus:

    Khenpo Ghawang, Coordinator (Recognizing and Reincarnation and Matters)
    Cell Phone: 9434300350

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