Happy birthday to KTD’s Lama Karma (may you someday be a real lama)!

KTD’s Lama Karma, born the year I first committed myself practicing dharma (after learning how to do so from Shunryu Suzuki’s “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind” as so many of my generation were inspired to do so), celebrated his 39th birthday today. Happy Birthday and best wishes for the coming year. Lama Karma is Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s nephew, whom the Chinese Government in appreciation of Rinpoche’s role in normalizing its unprecedented involvement in the selection of the 17th Karmapa, parachuted said nephew into our country to continue in his Uncle’s footsteps as a supporter of said government’s occupation of free Tibet. Being a lifelong monk at Thrangu Monastery who grew up harmonizing his practice of the dharma with the dictates of the Chinese Government he is uniquely qualified to do so.

At the age of 27 Lama Karma began his three year retreat at Karme Ling under the supervision of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche (a “retreat” where you pay for the privilege unless of course your Uncle is the retreat master) where he today serves as its retreat master, the first in the history of Tibetan Buddhism to own a Lexus, a used one I’m told, but still a luxury vehicle nonetheless.

Oh, too be young again. I’ve met Lama Karma, he’s not at all like the person who uses his name to post pictures of penises in the comments section here. He’s a very polite young man (raised to respect his elders) and I very much enjoyed his biography of his Uncle. I have a copy of it that Rinpoche himself signed for me which I keep on my shrine wrapped in brocade as a support for my daily practice.

Of course no mention of Lama Karma here (this is a blog, and blogs are topical) would be complete without mentioning all the texts he has managed to memorize since he was a child monk at Thrangu Monestery and the unique in the world today pedagogy that made such an accomplishment possible, heavy on the child abuse (corporeal punishment) but that which makes Tibetan Buddhism truly Tibetan, parents giving up their children to monasteries where an Uncle is a monk to follow in his footsteps and keep up the family tradition (child abuse runs in families), as what happened when Lama Karma’s gave him to Thrangu Monastery to follow in his Uncle’s footsteps.

To the 16th Karmapa’s credit His Holiness recognized that Americans would never give their children up to be raised as monks (traffic their children for the promise of the good karma of doing so). All of which is to say for anyone who thinks KTD is a “Tibetan Buddhist” monastery (someone recently asked me here if KTD is an “authentic” Tibetan monastery). Authenticity is in the eye of the beholder but that being said I submit the following for your consideration, that as long as parents here aren’t willing to give up their children to KTD to raise as monks it can never be a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in my opinion as a lama for the true measure of achievement in Tibetan Buddhism, as the example of Lama proves without question, requires that one be given up by your parents as a child to be raised to become a monk by a monastery where a relative is a monk, if he is an important monk like Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche all the better.

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44 Comments

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44 responses to “Happy birthday to KTD’s Lama Karma (may you someday be a real lama)!

  1. Starshine

    There is abuse of young people everywhere. As someone told me, society is a trap, lures you in with desire then closes the walls around you. Desire for security, desire for temporary happiness, desire for fame, the list goes on. It’s poverty, endless poverty. Hunger, jealousy, and hatred. The conditions of this world, the five hindrances we all endure – cannot be conquered with violence. Only contemplation of our own heart mind can turn our hindrances into gold. Our desires become our allies when we realize they are unquenchable, painful and illusory. Our struggles have become unsustainable materially. We already have what we need to appreciate and enjoy this human experience, in this moment. Hunger turns to satiety, jealousy to pity, hatred to compassion.

    • I’m going to go out on a limb here with a more direct approach and come out against parents trafficking children in the name of accumulating merit as Tibetan Buddhism clearly requires. That you have to be a monk from childhood to be considered accomplished in Tibetan Buddhism is problematic given Tibetan Buddhism’s history with child abuse. It’s worse than the Catholic Church on this issue. Kalu Rinpoche was gang raped by his own monks as a child.

  2. Starshine

    Violent means toward submission is common in many cultures. Why would any organized movement be exempt from this common problem? How many humans have been exempt from rape, bullying or exploitation? The rapist and bully are simply recreating their own experience, not having gained wisdom they continue repeating the pattern. Suffering the result of their own ignorance it goes on and on. Discernment governs the actions of someone who has observed their own violence and its causes.

  3. I’m not sure if Starshine is condoning mistreatment of others or not but one thing is for sure that the issue here is that, as Starshine suggests, people are NOT using discernment and are behaving badly. In such a case, those who have the proper discernment should put a stop to it and not just rationalize the bad behavior as ignorance and poor discernment and allow the suffering to continue.

  4. Starshine

    Even Siddhartha had a past life filled with violence, realizing this he was freed. It’s difficult when you are a victim or witness violence to realize it is a cycle only ended by wisdom and right effort. We are all affected by violence, all affected by the collective karma of all human beings. Imagine the suffering caused by well meaning efforts when acting without wisdom. If Siddharthas exist, they inherently exist within everyone, even those who are blinded and sleeping. Wisdom and right action are perceived as non action, acceptance and silent agreement – while the unspoken dharma within all in this moment now, clear light of wisdom, is unshakably present and realizable by everyone.

  5. Why not? Wisdom and right action are perceived as non-retaliation perhaps, but never non action, acceptance and silent agreement. That’s impossible, unless you are dead. I’m not dead. So there.

  6. Starshine

    There is no path to liberation, self existing without one practitioner.
    There may be a manageable way to be human.

  7. Starshine

    Without hope for change in a world of temporary solutions, one discovers the root cause of suffering.

    • We need only recognize the true nature of the mind which is free of such that which you suggest, a fabrication of said mind’s luminosity, emptiness and infinite capability to delude itself. There isn’t a single example of such a path leading to anything but suffering to the best of my knowledge.

  8. So, now that all three of us have liberated our own suffering at the thought of the child abuse…. is there any way we can prevent the real physical suffering of the children?

    • The realization that the nature of a thought is self liberated is not the same as being liberated from suffering. This requires practice, the actual disruption of that which binds us to, in the example being discussed, parents giving up their children to a monastery where a family member is a monk for the supposed merit of doing so which puts said children at risk of being abused as, for instance, Kalu Rinpoche was as a child. This happened on the 17th Karmapa’s watch yet to date he has never publicly acknowledged said child abuse. Let us start as we have hear with dispensing with the idea that this is acceptable to us, but the first in this particular path of liberation.

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