In 1981 22 year old me met 27 year old Situ Rinpoche at an impromptu gathering here in Chicago.
The 16th Karmapa, his father since said Karmapa fled Tibet in 1959, was dying at American International Hospital in Zion, Illinois as we spoke.
With the benefit of hindsight 58 year old me can say without fear of contradiction that 62 year old Situ Rinpoche has never for a moment considered himself the literal reincarnation of Marpa Lotsawa based on what 27 year old Situ Rinpoche shared with us that morning when he needed someone to talk with that didn’t think he was the literal reincarnation of Marpa Lotsawa himself.
Speaking of Marpa and his example, in the name of Marpa’s lineage, let it be here said that any dharma practitioner whom in 2017 thinks Situ Rinpoche is the literal reincarnation of Marpa Lotsawa himself has no place in our sangha.
Furthermore, any Kara Kagyu sangha that in 2017 encourages its member to think that Situ Rinpoche is the literal reincarnation of Marpa Lotsawa himself is a direct threat to our sangha’s place among our fellow Buddhists in the society in which we practice the dharma and should thus publicly be called out as such here.
These people have nothing to do with us.
This isn’t practice.
And the obligation to speak out against these people has fallen to us as a sangha here.
That 62 year old Situ Rinpoche’s sangha members speak here of him as the literal reincarnation of Marpa Lotsawa himself is symptomatic of what happens when a Rinpoche’s followers act out their anxiety about their relationship with their guru by indulging in behaviors one would under normal circumstances expect to find in a child suffering from separation anxiety in 2017 no longer works for us as dharma practitioner.
We have let the lunatics take over the asylum at a peril.
27 year old Situ Rinpoche didn’t see Marpa in himself when he looked in the mirror in the morning.
He envied 22 year old me for the opportunity to practice that which at 27 years of age Situ Rinpoche knew he would never have the opportunity to practice himself.
In 1981 27 year old Situ Rinpoche could quote volumes on the subject of patience without ever personally having had the opportunity to actually practice patience in his entire life to date.
27 year old Situ Rinpoche knew who he was in 1981.
And he resented it as anyone else his age would have in his position, the bird in the gilded cage of a life he had been forced by his elders to live since he was 5 years old.
In 2017 62 year old Situ Rinpoche, a prisoner of Shangri La, may well be resigned to the bird in the gilded cage of a life he was condemned to live since he was a 5 year old child.
For 2017, with China all in on recognizing another generation of “living Buddhas”, let us resolve that 62 year old Situ Rinpoche’s generation of Karma Kagyu tulkus be the last generation of Tibetan children imprisoned in the Shangri La of Tibetan Buddhism so preserved, like a bird in a gilded cage, regardless of any rationalization for perpetuating succession by reincarnation in our Buddhism.