Hindsight being 20/20, thanks to the Panama Papers we can now see that neither Situ nor Shamar Rinpoches were a profile in courage during the interegnum, known to us in the West as the “Karmapa Controvery,” their dispute over who got to name the 17th Karmapa.
It turns out neither did.
What in fact happened was the following.
After the 16th Karmapa passed away in 1981 the Chinese Government reached out to Thrangu Rinpoche with the opportunity to repatriate his Karma Kagyu sect from exile and re-establish itself in its traditional role vis à vis the rulers of China in exchange for his recognition of China’s occupation in Tibet.
All the while Situ and Shamar were bickering over who got to name the 17th Karmapa, through Chen Li-an, a Taiwanese Buddhist in support of the unification of Taiwan and Mainland China, the government was secretly pouring money into the Karma Kagyu sect, enough to make it the richest sect of Tibetan Buddhism today.
The Panama Papers are just the tip of the iceberg, but one of the off-shore accounts used by the Karma Kagyu sect to hide these funds.
If the Guardian was able to document a billion dollars in verifiable assets we can only imagine how much money China has transferred to the Karma Kagyu sect over the decades in a quid pro quo for allowing China to make Ogyen Trinley Dorje 17th Karmapa.
When China claims the right to be the arbiters of succession for all sects of Tibetan Buddhism, which it does, including any future Dalai Lama, they have the precedent of their approving the enthronement of Ogyen Trinley Dorje as 17th Karmapa at Tsurphu Monastery to support said claim.
A supporter of Shamar Rinpoche here attempted to take Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s demise as 17th Karmapa to claim that this is proof that his side of the “Karmapa Controversy” was right about Situ Rinpoche.
This is my response, which I submit to you for your consideration.
The petty bickering of Situ and Shamar Rinpoches over who got to name the 17th Karmapa had nothing to do with what has happened.
Neither Rinpoche saw what was really at stake, the future of a Free Tibet.
Both were equally played by the Chinese government in this matter.