In the aftermath of the 16th Karmapa’s death in 1981 China reached out to the defacto leader of the Karma Kagyu sect at that time, Thrangu Rinpoche, through its creature Chen Li-an, a Taiwanese elite, a former government official, businessman, and so on, a supporter of Taiwan’s unification with our Cold War nemesis, Mainland China.
I was 22 years old at the time.
It seems like a lifetime ago.
That being said I knew something was afoot.
My Rinpoche, my guru, was clearly up to something, his first visit to occupied Tibet, and his repurposing of KTD as his sect’s base of operations in North America, which both became a thing for us in the 1980’s, culminating with the roll out of KTD’s first three year retreat at Karme Ling which provided it with the creatures necessary to do its bidding as it pertains to its relationship with us, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s disciples.
Most of Khenpo Karthar’s disciples bailed on him during this period, to be replaced by KTD’s so-called “retreat” lamas, anyone willing to pay KTD for the privilege to call themselves lamas of China’s ally against the Dalai Lama government in exile and the aspirations of the Tibetan people, the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
That was the plan at least.
Today, as I look back over my thirty-five years as a Karma Kagyu, a senior disciple of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, I can’t help but remind myself of how as Karma Kagyu we suffer our guru, how since Tilopa and Naropa, the struggle between guru and disciple, this dialectic, remains as real today for us as it has ever been for those of us who call the Mishap lineage their own.
Without fear of contradiction we can in 2016 say that the Karma Kagyu sect did indeed, without question, collaborate with China’s genocidal occupation of Tibet.
Thanks to the Karma Kagyu sect we have seen our last Karmapa that is not a creature of the Chinese Government.
Thanks to the Karma Kagyu sect we have seen our last Trungpa Rinpoche that is not a creature of the Chinese government.
Thanks to the Karma Kagyu sect we have seen our last Traleg Rinpoche that is not a creature of the Chinese government.
All of these things happened thanks to the Karma Kagyu sect, our Rinpoches, our gurus, since 1981.
All of these things, bad news for us as dharma practitioners, are nothing though compared to what the Karma Kagyy sect has done to the people of Tibet.
Thanks to the Karma Kagyu sect the people of Tibet have seen their last Dalai Lama that is not a creature of the Chinese.
The Cold War is no longer a thing for us.
That being said our Cold War adversary, China’s Communist Party’s ambitions for itself in Asia, and in particular its neighbor India, where Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s presence there so threatens its sovereignty that His Holiness lives under virtual house arrest at Gyuto monastery, remains a thing for us all the same.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje is now a fact on the ground not only for India but also for us in the West since the present government of India has allowed His Holiness to travel abroad in the hope that he will take up residence elsewhere and thus avoid having to expel him as a threat to its national security interests vis à vis China’s claim on those parts of India which Tibetans have historically called their own.
Flush with its windfall from collaborating with the Chinese government against the Dalai Lama, see the Panama Papers for an idea of the kind of money, money which the Karma Kagyu sect cannot account for, clandestinely transferred from China to the Karma Kagyu sect since Ponlop Rinpoche’s brother, Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche, became Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s labrang in 2005, there is no denying the fact that we are no longer dealing with the same Karma Kagyu sect, lead by the 16th Karmapa, that Chogyam Trungpa introduced us to as being representative of the Karma Kagyu lineage in the 1970’s, but something else, something we can no longer associate ourselves with as Karma Kagyu moving forward.
It remains to be seen what China intends to do with its Karmapa moving forward.
All will be known though.
It’s only a matter of time.
In this summer of 2016 we can say without fear of contradiction that the promise of Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s visit to America in 2008 remain unfulfilled.
Our relationship with KTD, it remains as out of touch with us as dharma practitioners as ever, has gone from bad to worse since 2008.
It is nothing if not on the defensive at this point.
The struggle continues.
That which Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche introduced us to in the 1970’s, the 16th Karmapa and his Karma Kagyu lineage, lives on in our practice as dharma practitioners of the Karma Kagyu lineage in our own right, not withstanding the efforts of China’s creatures in Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s Karma Kagyu sect to the contrary.
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