Shamar Rimpoche’s Message to the International Karma Kagyu Conference.
Rinpoches, Respected Khenpos, Dear members of the Karma Kagyu Sangha,
Very distinguished guests.
have reached a crossroads in our effort to preserve the authentic
transmission of the Karma Kagyu lineage. The individuals behind
the secret design to split and ultimately take over the Karma Kagyu
lineage have today emerged at the forefront of the controversy.
my meeting with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Washington in June, 2000,
I emphasized that the Karmapa and the Shamarpa had for centuries
exercised authority over the Karma Kagyu. I declared that in 1994,
I alone had identified and recognized Thaye Dorje as the 17th
Karmapa in accordance with our traditional methods.
the Dalai Lama had previously involved himself in the Karmapa matter
and he appeared to have taken a side. He also mentioned that there
could be more than one Karmapa. I accepted his position and asked
him to reveal it publicly. Since Ugyen Trinley was installed in
Tsurphu, I proposed that Tsurphu naturally continued to be his seat.
Thus, he would be the Karmapa for China and Tibet. In return, Thaye
Dorje would be supported as the Karmapa for India and as the head
of the Kagyu monasteries there.
forward this compromise in my genuine desire to solve the conflict
which had split the Karma Kagyu lineage in half. However, the Dalai
Lama rejected my offer. I was informed in writing that, in fact
His Holiness had recognized Ugyen Trinley as the authentic Karmapa.
The Dalai Lama’s recognition was carried out not only on the basis
of Situ Rinpoche’s so called "prediction letter" but also
because of his own private indications. This was a total departure
from the Karma Kagyu practice and tradition. The Dalai Lama was
forcing himself into a position of religious arbiter, endowed with
spiritual powers and authority to deliver the Karmapas. A move was
set afoot to convert the Kagyu school to the Gelugpa order!
not accede to such a scenario!
came forward with yet another compromise, that, if implemented,
could have won us back the unity of the lineage and installed a
Karmapa all his followers could accept. I proposed that the issue
of the Karmapa be solved by the Karmapas themselves. Accompanied
only by their parents, Urgyen Trinley and Thaye Dorje would meet
and themselves arrive at a satisfactory solution. I could have no
possible personal gain from any such offer and had only the lineage’s
benefit in view. I was also convinced that my proposal would best
serve the boys’ interests. Again my offer was not appreciated, this
time by the Dalai Lamas favorite political group in Sikkim (Joint
logical conclusion can one draw from these constant rejections?
The answer which comes to mind is that His Holiness the Dalai Lama
is against the growth of Karmapa’s activity and has engaged in a
"divide and conquer" policy. How else to interpret the
broken promises, behind the scenes plotting, the infringing upon
our centuries old tradition, the creation of new religious customs.
sharing this information with considerable concern and much regret.
Is the Dalai Lama still driven by his old personal animosity to
the late 16th Karmapa and to the then Rumtek administration?
The late 16th Karmapa, undisputed leader of the Karma
Kagyu school, confronted Dharamsala’s ambition regarding the four
schools. By creating a successful counterbalance to Dharamsala’s
policy, H.H. the 16th Karmapa gained no friends within
the exiled government. It seems that old rivalries die hard and
today the Karma Kagyu school has come under fire at it’s most vital
have reached a turning point. If we lose the right to recognize
the Karmapa our lineage will cease to function as an autonomous
transmission that has been preserved for nine centuries. I am asking
your opinion and seeking your advice. Do we fight for our independence?
Or do we submit to another lineage? If we should fight, what is
there to fight for? What constitutes the uniqueness of the Karma
Kagyu school that is now in imminent danger of disappearing?
it Rumtek monastery that lies at the centre of the Kagyu legacy?
The answer is no. According to the Buddhist sutras, a place where
the Sangha have been split and have engaged in a fight – described
in the sutras is one of the five limitless negative actions (Tsam
Meapa Nga) – loses its blessing, is devoid of spiritual merit and,
in fact, becomes spiritually polluted. To restore its unequaled
qualities, the warring sides must be brought together and fully
reconciled; moreover, a Yen-Dum (conciliation) Stupa must be erected
on the site, else no spiritual activity there is possible. If Rumtek
is to once again function as a Buddhist place, if a practitioner
is ever to develop and accumulate merit there, whoever resides at
Rumtek has to bring the Sangha together as well as construct the
Rumtek - or any other monastery for that matter - is only a building
designed to accommodate the monk community so they can perform the
necessary rituals and practices. The late 16th Karmapa
chose Rumtek for his headquarters and the cloister had well served
that purpose until the 2nd of August, 1993 when it came
under attack from and was subsequently occupied by Situ and Gyaltasb
Rinpoche’s supporters going hand in hand with the Sikkimese armed
forces on orders from bribed officers. The attackers committed one
of the five limitless negative actions described in the sutras.
Furthermore, for all its beauty and auspicious location, a building
alone cannot aspire to the spiritual status of the Kagyu’s unique
heritage. In spite of this, every effort is still under way to recover
Rumtek and return it to its rightful occupants.
holy relics stored at Rumtek carry the blessing of the lineage.
However, those are moveable artifacts which, luckily, had been placed
under lock and key as early as August 1992 by the farseeing Rumtek
monk community. They were later sealed on order issued by the District
Magistrate and can be recovered once the court comes down with a
ruling. Even Karmapa’s famous black crown – adorned with precious
ruby – is not indispensable for the functioning of the lineage.
The crown was offered to the 5th Karmapa by the Tai Ming
Yung Lo, emperor of China. However, our lineage had flourished no
less successfully without the crown’s presence than when it was
endowed with its physical existence. Besides, neither Urgyen Trinley
nor Thaye Dorje may be able to obtain the black crown unless they
reach a mutual agreement.
then constitutes the Karma Kagyu’s unequaled transmission which
should be preserved at all costs? First and foremost our right to
recognize the Karmapa, the undisputed spiritual leader of our lineage.
The Dalai Lama’s attempts to force the Kagyu school into the Gelugpa
order must be stopped in its tracks. Regrettably, Situ Rinpoche
together with Thrangu Rinpoche, closely followed by Gyaltsab and
Bokar Rinpoche gave in to the Dalai Lama’s intrusion and in doing
so they have created a crisis of unprecedented proportions in Karma
Kagyu history. Their short-sighted and self-serving deals with the
Communist Chinese and their sheepish submission to the Gelugpa school’s
authority put the independence of the lineage in total jeopardy.
we must preserve the teachings and methods written and handed down
by the Karmapas and the Kagyu masters which make up the uniqueness
of this school. The main source of the lineage are the founding
fathers: Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa. The transmission encompasses
profound Vajrayana teachings such as the essential instruction given
by Dusum Khyenpa; the Six Yogas of Naropa, taught for the first
time in written form by the 2nd Shamarpa; the profound
commentaries to the tantras, extensively given by the 3rd
and 8th Karmapas along with the 4th Shamarpa.
The Kagyu transmission also encompasses the vastness of the sutras
such as the Madhyamaka, the Abhidharma, the Prajnaparamita, the
Vinaya and the Tsema explained in complete detail by the 7th
and 8th Karmapas. Finally the transmission contains both
Sutra and Tantra within the profoundness of the Mahamudra, written,
explained and taught by the 9th Karmapa and others. Additionally,
the Karma Kagyu transmission includes the Nyingma teachings, called
Karma Nyingtik, incorporated into the lineage by the 3rd
Karmapa as well as the Termas of Jatson Nyingpo and Karma Chagme.
are at a turning point in our history. Indeed, it would be a great
loss to the Buddhist world if our transmission were to disappear
in favor of another ambitiously expanding lineage. I am once again
asking you the crucial question. Do we fight for our lineage or
do we surrender? We must come down with a binding decision during
this conference. If we yield, we will lose the treasure of the Karma
Kagyu transmission. If we wish to continue our struggle, we have
no choice but to oppose the Dalai Lama. It is his interference and
his "divide and conquer" strategy that is the primary
threat to the integrity of our Karma Kagyu today.
we together decide to defend the lineage, we would need everybody’s
help and support. It is our common house we are protecting. We are
struggling for the very survival of the Karma Kagyu blessing; our
aim is to preserve the Buddha’s unparalleled methods for helping
beings achieve enlightenment. They must not disappear today due
to corruption from within and aggression from without.
order to function as an efficient body, under today’s challenging
circumstances I would propose the following: The establishment of
our Karma Kagyu headquarters in New Delhi, India and the set up
of two administrative centres, one in Washington, DC, USA for the
West and one in Hong Kong for the East.