For the fathers and uncles of my generation China was their mortal enemy, “better dead than red” was their motto when they were called upon to fight and die in a proxy war against the Chinese in Korea, and despite the fact that when my generation in our time was called upon to do the same we balked at taking up arms against the Chinese in Vietnam as our fathers and uncles did in their time in Korea, to have our Rinpoches, Thrangu, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches, find common cause after the 16th Karmapa passed into Parinirvana here in 1981, what for us represented the culmination of his life’s work to realize the aspirations of his generation of Tibetans to be free of their enemy, and collaborate with the Chinese, our common enemy, betraying the very purpose the 16th Karmapa sent them to us to become our Rinpoches in the first place was needless to say a lot for us to process as their disciples at the time.
But when push came to shove in the 1980’s and it became apparent to us that our Rinpoches had inexplicably chosen that which had hitherto been unthinkable to us, to not only accept China’s occupation of Tibet but to actively participate in making the Chinese Government the arbiter of succession that it has today become for the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, (thus making the 16th Karmapa the last of his kind, with the benefit of hindsight, a crime against humanity), we balked at taking issue with Thrangu, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches decision to accept Deng Xiaoping’s invitation to return Tibet’s ruined monasteries to their former glory.
Which they indeed did, in 1992 when at Tsurphu Monastery, Thrangu, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches succeeded in installing the first of China’s first ever government approved “living Buddha” as 17th Karmapa, and thus in doing so making said government the arbiter of succession it is today for the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, as hard as this is for today’s generation of Americans who have followed in my generations footsteps to benefit from that which the 16th Karmapa established in our country prior to passing into Parinirvana here to get their minds around.
We put our faith in the belief that the 16th Karmapa’s lineage which he had transmitted to us before passing into Parinirvana, an enlightened lineage for the ages, centuries in the making, would somehow not only prevail over the Chinese Government’s best efforts to harmonize it with its rule but ultimately turn out to be its undoing as a government, that which generations of Americans had fought and died for in Asia to see happen.
But, alas, in 2016 we know better, and as we look forward to 2017 and Donald Trump as President, we again find ourselves again as a people at war with China, a conflict for the ages between us and them, democracy and dictatorship, but this time, thanks to Thrangu, Akong and Khenpo Karthar Rinpoches, with a Karmapa and and Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism set against us in our struggle against our former common enemy, China’s Government, said Karmapa’s and Karrma Kagyu sect’s arbiter of succession, benefactor, and protector, for all intents and purposes, like it or not it’s us or them for the foreseeable future.