In no rush to visit Sikkim 17th Karmapa to appear at Queens College instead next month

Tire-toé une bûche,

When the rumor was run up the flagpole here recently that OTD was going to risk returning to India in May I had to laugh at the folly of going there. Under normal circumstances as anyone old enough to have children in their thirties, shit happens. Plans change. Not withstanding the expectations we adults whom have forgotten what it means to be their age have for said young people as it pertains to our plans for them they will until we die remain our children. That being said for the past 30 years a 17th Karmapa in Sikkim has been a given for Diaspora Tibetans. For Tibetans there future is in their return to the past. Fast forward to the present though OTD has balked at the idea of returning to India anytime soon according to the schedule he has apparently committed himself to which has him here through June.

It was May of last year when the Indian Government decided to flip the script

on China’s 17th Karmapa and let him leave the country which he subsequently fled like a bat out of hell for London. A not-for-profit was hastily formed by his Chinese handlers and an event was scheduled for him to appear at which was advertised in English and Chinese but not Tibetan, not a good start for a supposed previously scheduled teaching tour. At this point a depressed OTD moved on to Germany where he was diagnosed. He had suffered a mental breakdown apparently while in London. He couldn’t go on. To lift his spirits his Chinese handlers had him do a listing tour of Diaspora Tibetans in Canada which only made worsened his depression. It only reminded him of his unhappy childhood at Tsurphu and so on. All of which brought him here to get away from it all.

At first there was no way he wouldn’t be ship shape and good to go for Kagyu Monlam. His Chinese handlers rescheduled. In the end OTD balked at returning to India. He was still too depressed for the dog and pony show that is his life there. When he arrived there he was heralded as the next Dalai Lama, so to speak. It doesn’t work that way, he would serve as Regent. And then he was caught hiding suitcases full of illegally held foreign currency in the Dalai Lama’s Monastery and that was the end of that. The Tibetan Government in exile changed its constitution to prevent said presumed succession. Suffice it to say outside of Sikkim where his supports live on India’s border with China OTD is China’s 17th Karmapa. And so on. No wonder he was so depressed.

The 16th Karmapa passed into Parinirvana here and it is here that his lineage’s future remains not in a Tibetan past but a young man’s future in which anything is possible, as his predecessor intended for the child selected to succeed him. Today a no longer depressed OTD is at last in a position to at least try to follow in the footsteps of the 16th Karmapa. Just as the 16th Karmapa put India behind him so has OTD. Slowly but surely he appears to be settling into his new life here. And good for him. A Karmapa can’t be the victim of circumstances beyond his control that OTD has been in his life to date. It can’t be so for a Karmapa. A Karmapa knows no circumstances beyond their control. This is what we aspire to, his example, the result which we Karma Kagyu take as our path, our guru yoga, the journey we make as every Karma Kagyu going back over 900 years as a lineage. The obstacles are many but so too are the opportunities. All as it should be. If we wanted anything otherwise we wouldn’t be known as the mishap lineage, a reputation well earned down through history to the present.

L’affaire est ketchup !

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “In no rush to visit Sikkim 17th Karmapa to appear at Queens College instead next month

  1. Jackie

    I think he’d rather go to Miami Beach than Sikkim. Can’t say that I blame him.

  2. Stephen

    In the end the Karmapa will have left a legacy of teachings in America and returned to Sikkim, and it will remain obvious to most of us that he was never a ‘Chinese’ Karmapa at all, and that he handled a terrible political situation very well. He’s entitled to have devoted Chinese followers. And the criticisms of him will dissolve for the most part.
    He was criticised here for not concentrating on furthering the American legacy of his predecessor, and yet, here he is, giving extensive teachings in America. He will soon return to Sikkim, after being ridiculed here for not being able and/or wanting to return.
    He’s been called any number of things. He clearly stated in a 2000 interview that he fled Tibet because he saw that the Chinese govt were seeking to cause a political rift between him and the Dalai Lama, in other words to use him as a pawn. Yet, he’s been repeatedly referred to here as the ‘Chinese’ Karmapa. No matter, he will endure.
    He’s been criticised here for being depressed, but if you read the spiritual biographies of the great Mahasiddhas you’ll see that many of them experienced depression. Milarepa especially. So that isn’t a failing, or an unenlightened experience. It’s also a teaching to many who experience depression that they also have Buddha nature.
    The more fragile the Karmapa appears, the more respect I have for him. The world is turbulent and troubled and the Karmapa is meeting the situation on a human level and demonstrated humility. OTD is in the thick of the world’s turmoil, navigating and enduring political threats, environmental catastrophe, and personal hardship. Which is, unfortunately, a lot more than you can say for Thaye Dorje who has retreated into domestic bliss and remains strategically passive throughout. I think this is because he lacks the capacity to walk through the fire. So no, you probably won’t hear that he is depressed, or criticised. Everything is just hunky dory in his regal world with his queen.
    Me, I’ll take the path of immersion and head-on engagement with the difficult stuff, which is the real Kagyu way. It’s the mishap lineage after all.

    • Jane

      That was well stated until you couldn’t resist getting nasty at the end. Karmapa Thaye Dorje is interesting in Buddha dharma, not politics.

      • Pete

        Well, there has been a heck of a lot of slander on this blog against OTD by followers of Thaye Dorje. It does seem that Thaye Dorje is afraid of politics. OTD has made far more critical statements about China than Thaye Dorje ever has, following the genocide of so many Tibetans. And yet, OTD is criticised as being the so-called “Chinese” Karmapa. This is a spurious myth. Thaye Dorje does need to be called out for this. What does he stand for? Why does he say nothing when real Tibetans lives are so precarious due to the political situation? Bodhisattvas are not silent in the face of evil. Evil flourishes when good people remain silent. This is not dharma but self-preservation. Dharma is also political when it needs to be. Please, point us to examples that show that Thaye Dorje takes the complexity of the political situation on. If he doesn’t then his dharma is indeed the ‘opium of the masses’.

        • Jane

          You have your political axe to grind. Go ahead. Enjoy yourself. Tibet will never leave China, so why waste a life fighting a losing battle? We all have to learn to get along. Leave politics to the politicians. The 16th Karmapa was not interested in politics. Why should the real 17th?

          • Pete

            If the 16th Karmapa wasn’t interested in politics he wouldn’t have fled Tibet.

            • Jane

              I see. I thought he was fleeing for his life.

              • Pete

                You don’t think going into exile has anything to do with politics? Er….ok.

                • Pete

                  I think what you are doing is attempting to make out that the 16th Karmapa was a-political so as to jusify Thaye Dorje’s lack of engagement with politics. Whereas I think the 16th was engaging and responding, by fleeing for his life and establishing the kagyu, primarily in countries who were opposing China in the Cold War. He did a very political thing which was also great for the spread of dharma. He killed two birds with one stone. V politically savvy.

                  • Jane

                    I see. Can you provide quotes from the 16th Karmapa encouraging us to be politically active?Thanks。

                    • Pete

                      No. I can’t. He didn’t leave any instructions of that kind that I’m aware of. OTD similarly doesn’t tell his students to be political. Thank you for the interesting discussion.

  3. Jane

    You’re welcome. Have a nice day/night!

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