His Holiness the 16th karmapa

Life Stories
Poems & Prayers



28th September – Tsuglakhang, Dharamsala.

This morning, the Central Tibetan Administration, on behalf of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, offered a tenshug (long-life prayer offering) to the Dalai Lama.
The heads of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism including the Bon tradition gathered together in the main temple to unanimously offer the tenshug. The four-hour-long prayer was led by the Sakya Trizin; he was supported by the Gyalwang Karmapa and Drikung Kyabgon representing Kagyu, the Gaden Tripa representing Gelug, Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche representing the Nyingma and Menri Trizin representing Bon.
This tenshug was organized at the end of the Second Special Meeting of Tibetans (September 25-28) which had been called by the Kashag and Tibetan Parliament in Exile in order to hold extensive discussions on campaign ideas and plans for action by exile Tibetans in light of the critical situation inside Tibet.

2012.9.28 法王噶瑪巴出席達賴喇嘛尊者長壽法會  Tenshug offering to the Dalai Lama


Tibetan Opera “Life of Milarepa”

by Bella Chao

Finally had a chance to see this play written by HH 17th Karmapa. Due to the time constraint, what we saw was an abbreviated version of less than 3 hours vs. the 5-hour original. Also thanks to Ani J. who spotted this great seat for me though I was quite late to the venue after the dharma talk hosted by Robert Thurman.
Since it was all in Tibetan, the interpretation below is purely based on my guess work. So a big disclaimer here…
Probably because Tibetan opera was invented by Tangtong Gyalpo, so in the very beginning of the show, they paid respect to his statue and had some mask dance. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 104110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 105
(Coincidentally I was chatting with this lady sitting next to me about the way they sing and promised to share with her some of my fav tunes. It turned out that one of the chant which reminded me of Gregorian chant and I thought she would enjoy is actually a prayer of Tangtong Gyalpo’s lineage on Combined Amitayus and Hayagriva:https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=12c681d04f03de08#cid=12C681D04F03DE08&id=12C681D04F03DE08%213924=>2nd file.
Also very surprising to find that this nice and humble lady is actually a Tony Award winner! )

So it started with Milarepa’s father was ill, about to die and asked his brother and sister to take care of his wife and 2 children. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 116

Yet these aunt and uncle took over the whole property and mistreated Milarepa and his mother and sister.
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 121110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 124110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 127

So Milarepa’s mother sent him away to learn black magic for revenge.   
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 141110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 145

Upon Milarepa finishing his study, in accordance to his mother’s wish, he performed some sorcery to cause a hailstorm and had many people killed on the day of his cousin’s wedding. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 157110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 158110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 162

Knowing his revenge was wrong, Milarepa set out to look for a real teacher for dharma and eventually found Marpa. In order to purify his past deeds, he was told to build towers here and there and suffered a lot. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 172110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 173

Marpa’s wife Damema felt sorry for him and tried to help but still he ended up with more work. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 185110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 196110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 191

Damema assisted him to join a teaching session but still he got kicked out by Marpa. Eventually Marpa thought it was the right time for him to receive the long-awaited teachings. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 204110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 206110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 195110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 210

After completing his studies, he bid farewell to his master and Damema. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 223110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 225

He first went home and sadly found that his mother passed away already. Then he gave up everything to remain a recluse practitioner. Even his aunt turned to follow him with great remorse. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 229110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 236110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 248

And more and more disciples came. Eventually he became a great master and the most beloved, inspiring, legendary saint in the Tibetan Buddhist history. 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 269
Curtain Call 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 273110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 271 
Going home 
110712 HHDL DC and Milarepa 275


In Praise of the Incomparable Tsongkhapa

by Gyalwa Mikyo Dorje, The Eighth Karmapa

At a time when nearly all in this Northern Land
Were living in utter contradiction to Dharma,
Without illusion, O Tsong Khapa, you polished the teachings.
Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

When the teachings of Sakya, Kagyu, Kadam
And Nyingma sects in Tibet were declining,
You, O Tsong Khapa, revived Buddha’s Doctrine,
Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, gave to you
Special instructions on the thought of Nagarjuna.
O Tsong Khapa, upholder of the Middle Way,
I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

“Mind and form are not empty of their own natures
But are empty of truly existent mind and form”,
You, O Tsong Khapa, are Tibet’s chief exponent of voidness,
Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

In merely a few years you filled
The land from China to India
With peerless holders of the saffron robes.
Hence I sing this praise to you Ganden Mountain.

Those who become your followers
And look to you and your teachings
Are never again disappointed or forsaken.
Hence I sing in praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

The trainees who walk in your footsteps
Breath the fresh air of the Great Way.
They would die for the good of the world.
Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

Anyone who disparages your doctrine must face
The terrible wrath of the Dharma protectors.
O Tsong Khapa, who abides in truth’s power,
I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

In person and in dreams you come to those
Who but once recollect your image.
O Tsong Khapa, who watches with compassionate eyes,
I sing the praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

In order to civilize men and spirits you spread
Your teaching through Kham, Mongolia and Turkestan.
O Tsong Khapa, subduer of savages,
I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

For men coarse and far from the Way, you dispel
Mental clouds, evils and bad karma.
O Tsong Khapa, who bestows quick progress,
I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

Those who take heartfelt Refuge in you,
Even those with no hope for now or hereafter,
O Tsong Khapa, have their every wish fulfilled.
Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

Having exposed false teachings transgression
The excellent ways well shown by Buddha,
You firmly established your Bold doctrine.
Hence I sing this praise to you of Ganden Mountain.

Manifesting sublime austerity and discipline,
The form and fragrance of your life was incomparable.
O Tsong Khapa, controlled one pleasing to the Buddhas,
I sing this praise to you to Ganden Mountain.

By the strength of the sons of your lineage
And by me having faithfully offered this praise,
May the enlightened activity of Buddha Shakyamuni
Pervade the earth for ages to come.

Once when Gyalwa Mikye Dorje was traveling through the Charida Pass, thoughts of the incomparable Tsong Khapa welled up within Him. Overcome by profound faith, He was moved to compose the above poem.



The Gyalwang Karmapa bowing to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Each person must find his or her own path. Nonetheless, seek guidance from wise and compassionate people and listen to them earnestly. This will help you find the best way to proceed – now and in the future.

 ~ His Holiness the 17th Karmapa




13th September – Gyuto, Dharamsala.

The Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism and revered as the Tibet's third highest lama. The Karmapa means "the one who carries out Buddha activity" and like the 14th Dalai Lama, the 27-year-old the 17th Karmapa too fled his homeland Tibet for religious and other freedoms and now lives in the Indian Himalayan town of Dharamsala also known as the de facto capital of Tibetan exiles which has come an epicenter of Tibetan Buddhism and politics far away from their homeland Tibet.
His dramatic escape from Tibet in 1999 made him a hero to exiled Tibetans and caught world attention fooling the Chinese government; he pretended to go into seclusion but instead slipped out with a handful of helpers. He was just 14, but the Tibetan movement straightway saw in him a young and a charismatic leader who balances his spirituality much with today's modernity.
The young and energetic Karmapa is the young voice of Tibet and many believe is the future face of global Buddhism especially after the current Dalai Lama passes away. Belonging to oldest school in the Tibetan Buddhism, the Kagyu - the 17th Karmapa holds the more than 900 years old lineage.
The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee is though recognized by the Dalai Lama and most Tibetans in and outside Tibet. New Delhi still restricts him from traveling to the Rumtek Monastery, his order's seat in exile in the Indian state of Sikkim near the Chinese border and also to the West where his Buddhists followers in Europe and United States, and his fans still await to seek his blessing and listen to his discourse.
Nevertheless his influence and unique position cannot be undermine, he is one of the holiest men in Tibetan Buddhism and his close attachment with the Dalai Lama are possible signs the world could see in him as a great future leader, particularly in relation to the Tibet's geopolitics. In an exclusive and rare interview, to the APA - Austrian Presse Agentur he speaks about his life, the situation inside Tibet and hopes on travel restrictions being removed so he could meet his followers in Europe.
Saransh Sehgal: Being a spiritual leader, you are also an influential figure and carry a lot of weight of Tibetans in and outside Tibet, how do you view this?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: Historically, the Karmapas already have high dignity and spiritual position - thus a role to play. For me the Tibetan people both in Tibet and exile have strong faith and I feel that I have a responsibility to serve the people and the nation. So it's both spiritually and social service.
Saransh Sehgal: The world portrays you as the future global face of Buddhism (especially when the HH Dalai Lama passes away), what are your views?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: I do not think that far. In Buddhism there is lot to learn, it's very deep and wide and I'm still learning the philosophy and practice. First it is important is to be a human being with good heart and be as a good person and next become a good practitioner so that can benefit on certain beings, this is my responsibility. But it's also not just me but lots of other Rinpoche and lamas and our Buddhist community in large, especially Tibetan community where young leaders are growing up, so it's not just me as a new face of Buddhism but maybe lots of other.
Saransh Sehgal: You are one of the most modern Tibetan spiritual leaders with an iPod, PlayStation and internet, how do you balance your spirituality and modernity?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: Sometimes I think the 21st century is more materialistic century, we need more than before. But sometimes these material things become more like obstacle to the practice because in lot of things one gets carried away and one can't focus and concentrate the practice, which is possible. But if I try to just use from those things then maybe it's not a problem. Actually, the point is one's mind, one can't just go away from the material things, it is difficult especially for a person like me, I can't escape from the society and go to some remote place. So by training our mind one can focus and not be driven by those material things.
Saransh Sehgal: What is the current situation inside Tibet?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: The situation inside Tibet is very difficult and sad, and there are lots of heartbreaking news because of many Tibetans set themselves on fire. It is tragic.
Saransh Sehgal: What are your views on the self-immolations of Tibetans which has crossed the 50 mark?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: I think that is quite difficult to say as there are lots of people, they have different ideas but I'm worried that one day it is just becoming like a number, already its 50 then maybe 70s, 80s… so just a number and not a positive influence or result, which is very sad.
We Tibetans consider the human life is very precious.
On the other I'm also wondering this period of time if the international community will support the Tibet issue more strongly or not as their there is global economics which is not so good, everyone wants strong relationship with China, so I am not sure.
Saransh Sehgal: Would you like the international community to press the Chinese government in engaging talks with the exiles?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: That is something I can't say in details, so it would be better to ask the Tibet government and Kalon Tripa (prime minister in Tibetan) Dr. Lobsang Sangay.
Saransh Sehgal: Could you tell about your relationship with His Holiness the 14th the Dalai Lama?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: When I was in Tibet, although I didn't see him but have a strong connection, every Tibetans has this deep and holy regard. His Holiness is the Avalokiteshvara - the Buddha of Compassion or the living Bodhisattva. When I came to India I received lot of his teachings and guidance, the relationship became closer like a teacher and student.
Saransh Sehgal: Your Holiness, you have large followers in the Europe, if I may ask what advice you have for western practitioners.
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: Immediately I have no special advice but I want to see them because they are longing for long time to see me, I also have that wish.
Saransh Sehgal: You have been denied permission to travel to the west where your teachings are being requested by your dharma centers and followers. Can you explain how this affects you personally and what would you say to those devoted to you who are feeling very disappointed due to your political restrictions?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: Personally for me it's quite sad and disappointing because when I was in Tibet I couldn't travel within the Tibetan area what the Chinese call the Autonomous region and when I actually arrived in India I thought things will change - I can travel freely, I can see what I want to see but since my arrival lot of political things and still it's not 100 percent free to travel. It's already 12 years which is a long period of time and I think I can't wait for another 12 years. I have already requested the Indian government to consider my request so I could travel freely.
Saransh Sehgal: When can Europeans see you touring the Europe? Could they followers expect something to see you in coming months?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: Nothing I can say now but I hope next year it could be possible.
Saransh Sehgal: What do you expect from Europe/the EU (maybe Austria in special) concerning the Tibet/China-conflict?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: Of course Austria and the European Union have done many things in the past and can still a lot of things but this is something I cannot advice but Dr. Lobsang Sangay head of the Tibetan government in exile can appeal.
Saransh Sehgal: You have a special affinity towards environment activism, could you us tell about it?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: I think the environmental issue is the issue of 21st century. We have done a lot of environmental damage and now it is the tipping point that we need to change our behavior. For the benefit of change behavior is the first thing that needs to be changed. In lots of people there is no realization, we have to be interconnected and dependent on natural environment and have a clear vision so that we can understand the value of nature and how important it is to protect and preserve.
Saransh Sehgal: What are your views on the first ever Tibetan athlete Choeyang Kyi winning a medal at the London Olympics but for China?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: It doesn't matter, for-example in the past when the Japanese controlled Korea that time one Korean athlete (Sohn Kee-Chung) won a gold medal for Japan but still she was a Korean.
So I'm proud about her achievement. She is the first Tibetan to win at the Olympics and I think it's a proud feeling for all Tibetans and especially in Tibetan women.
Saransh Sehgal: Do you think you will ever see your homeland Tibet and that China will ever change its policies and allow HH Dalai Lama, you and exiled Tibetans back to Tibet?
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa: I think so I will see. The exiles have opportunities as we know the world is changing very quickly in the 21st century and China should also change. I hope not than just me, His Holiness the Dalai Lama can also go back to home.
Saransh Sehgal is a contributor based in Dharamsala, India, who currently is pursuing further study in Vienna, Austria.

2012.9.11 法王噶瑪巴接受歐洲媒體專訪 An Interview with Tibet’s Third Holiest Man – The 17th Karmapa by Saransh Sehgal