Friday, February 04, 2011

Destroying the Village

Two young women with baby sons came to King Solomon for a judgment. One of the women claimed that the other, after accidentally smothering her own son while sleeping, had exchanged babies to make it appear the living baby was hers. The other woman denied this. Both women claimed to be the mother of the living son and said the dead boy belonged to the other.

After some thought, King Solomon called for a sword. He decreed the live baby must be split in two, each woman receiving half. Upon hearing the verdict, the boy's true mother cried out, "My Lord, give her the live baby—do not kill him!" However, the liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, "It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!"

Solomon instantly gave the live baby to the woman willing to relinquish that which she held so dear, realizing that a true mother's instincts were to protect her child. The liar revealed herself to have no such instinct.


Today, in Northern India's Himachal Pradesh state, government officials are in the process of dismantling the administration of His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. 
  • Seven people have been arrested. 
  • About USD $1 million has been seized. 
  • All of the Karmapa Trust's bank accounts in India have been frozen. 
  • Police are taking steps to confiscate all of the Trust's land holdings. 
  • Police are threatening to confiscate Gyuto Tantric Monastery. 
  • State government has ordered a halt to peaceful demonstrations in support of the Karmapa. 
  • State government has proposed a secret police intelligence unit be formed to monitor Tibetan Buddhist refugees.
  • Public opinion across India has been well and truly inflamed with lurid media reports.
  • The minds of thousands of Buddhists all over the world have been disturbed.
  • The Karmapa has been branded a Chinese spy.
  • Tai Situ Rinpoche has been denounced.
  • Relations between India and China have been disturbed.
  • There is a very real potential for violence.
The baby is being cut asunder, is it not?

We have heard from everyone with any conceivable claim of interest in this issue, and many who have no such claim at all. The Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje has manned up, met the crowds, and responded to the media. The Dalai Lama has weighed in on the matter. It is the talk of every news network throughout the world, and has put thousands of people in the streets.

Yet, during the whole of this affair, which has far-reaching effects throughout the entire fabric of Tibetan Buddhist institutions and practitioners, there is one voice we have not heard at all.


Predictably, the Indian press has seized upon the story of the two Karmapas -- known in journalistic shorthand as the "Karmapa Controversy."

So, lets drag it out in the open and ventilate it, shall we? Maybe we'll discover what all the fuss is about.

The boldest allegation against the Seventeenth Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje is that he has ties to China, and is in fact a Chinese agent of influence. The elements of information given in support of the allegation include the discovery of Chinese currency in Gyuto Monastery, and rather ill-defined accusations of telephone calls to China.

Since escaping occupied Tibet at the age of fourteen, the Seventeenth Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje has not returned. He is fundamentally unable to travel. He maintains no money in Chinese banks. 

The other, frequently-identified claimant upon the name Karmapa, a young man called Trinley Thaye Dorje, cannot say the same. 
  • He travels at his own discretion. 
  • For those of you in China who want to see him, he will be in Hong Kong later this month, February 18th through the 27th. 
  • While he is there, he is at liberty visit his bank, where several million dollars are on deposit -- estimated at USD $10 to $12 million -- much of which came from a court-ordered settlement of a deceased Chinese pop star's considerable estate. 
  • The funds are held in the name of a Hong Kong registered local entity bearing CR number 0551300: the New Horizon Buddhist Association Limited, formed on May 30, 1996, when Trinley Thaye Dorje was thirteen years old. 
  • Since thirteen year old Tibetan boys cannot form Hong Kong limited companies all by themselves, it is quite obvious that he had help from someone.
On those occasions when he is in India, Trinley Thaye Dorje resides at an institution known as the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute, in New Delhi. This institution is built upon land donated to the Sixteenth Karmapa by the Indian government. There have been no raids at this location, nor any inquiry into Trinley Thaye Dorje's overt ties to the Peoples' Republic of China. 

The Karmapa International Buddhist Institute was where, in 1994, Trinley Thaye Dorje was enthroned as the "rightful" Seventeenth Karmapa by Shamar Rinpoche, or the Fourteenth Shamapa: a senior Kagyu lineage holder who claims the sole right of recognition in this affair. To clarify: 
  • Ogyen Trinley Dorje, subject of the current affair concerning currency and land dealings in Himachal Pradesh, was discovered by Tai Situ Rinpoche, and thereafter recognized as the Seventeenth Karmapa by both the Chinese government and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the only post-1959 reincarnation to have such distinction. He is the son of a poor nomad from East Tibet, and was born in a tent.
  • Trinley Thaye Dorje was discovered and recognized by Shamar Rinpoche, who asserts that the Dalai Lama has overstepped his bounds, and that the Sharmapa is the only lineage-holder capable of recognizing a Karmapa. He is the son of an influential tulku from Lhasa.
It can be argued -- and some have -- that even two Karmapas are not enough for this world.

Shamarpa -- known as the "Red Crown" lama to distinguish him from the "Black Crown" Karmapa -- is a rather unusual figure in Tibetan Buddhism. In 1792, the Tibetan government found the 10th Shamarpa guilty of inciting a war between Tibet and Nepal. He was exiled from Tibet and a ban placed on his future incarnations, thereby abolishing the Shamarpa line. In 1963, following a request from the 16th Karmapa, the Tibetan government lifted the ban.

The current, or Fourteenth Shamarpa is known for an outspoken, sharp, and occasionally sarcastic turn of phrase. In a recent commmunique, he asked his followers not to refer to him by "the monicker His Holiness," adding:
"The above mentioned preference to decline the application of these titles is not intended to cast aspersions on His Holiness Dalai Lama, since The Dalai Lama has officially been conferred the title of 'His Holiness' by the Vatican itself."
In another communique, discussing the spread of Buddhadharma, he states:
"After observing this movement for 30 years, my conclusion is that Vajrayana is not really suitable for most people in both the West and in Asia, including Tibet."
Finally, in a 1997 letter to the Dalai Lama's private office, he explains why the Dalai Lama's recognition of the Karmapa is improper, saying as follows:
"I never requested that His Holiness acknowledge the young reincarnate as a body, speech or mind incarnation. I have no need at all for such an acknowledgment because H. H. the Karmapa is not obliged to request permission to take rebirth in this world. The claim that he needs a visa to enter this world is laughable to each and every individual in the three realms that make up our universe."
Sharmapa is actually the subject of a rather famous 1973 divination by Trungpa Rinpoche, which we publish below. You can read the Shamarpa's 2010 memoir of this divination by clicking the link just given.
Concerning Kyabjé Shamar Rinpoché’s life prediction:
Dzaya Ho!
Everlasting, indestructible Vajra Spring: the profound, clear symbolic wording is shown by Youdrönma, Turquoise Lamp, unconstrained and unhurried.
Always keep the life deity of emerald radiance in your innermost heart.
The light of the evil youth’s messenger will be burnt by the fire of the end of time.
Please do the ritual of the Wrathful Guru!
The darkness of the era can be consumed by the fire of the ruby-colored crown.
The ring of five times ten (age) should be inserted into the mantra of indestructible life.
Accomplish Vajrakilaya which overcomes black magic and vigorously purify through the practice of Mamaki!
Beware of those intoxicated and maddened elephants who would stir up internal conflicts.
There is the possibility that the prosperous yellow intellectualists will damage the lineage of true meaning. Therefore, sharpen the speartip of your wise and prudent mind.
Please do a closed three-year, three-fortnight retreat in the very blessed practice place of the holy masters, the vajra rock mountain which glitters like gold.
By the white light of Vajrasattva, you will move to the non-meditation level of Dharmakaya.
In your innermost heart, please develop these points.
The better translation of this replaces "prosperous yellow intellectualists" with the phrase "wealthy dialecticians:" a reference widely supposed to invoke an image of the Gelugpa.


Regardless of sectarian barbs, the recognition matter has quite openly and notoriously set off a chain of events that brings us to the present day butchering of the baby of Tibetan Buddhism in general and the Karma Kagyu in particular. 

Tragically, it is happening at the lunar New Year, in the 900th Anniversary Year of the First Karmapa. It is so sad to consider and report these matters. So very, very sad.

Through the past decade, we have witnessed the terrible spectacle of Western zealots beating Tibetan monks at Rumtek Monastery, we have seen all manner of political maneuvering in Sikkim, we have seen the dirtiest brand of internecine wrangling on the shelf, and we have seen colonel in colonel out schemes in Himachal Pradesh that culminate in the current, very dangerous moment, when Indian police in that 95% Hindu state stand poised to seize and hold a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, with all of its books, images, and shrines intact.

Some are openly speculating that the Shamarpa has used his reputedly considerable political clout -- bolstered by the Hong Kong war chest -- to bring down the heel of the Himachal Pradesh boot on Ogyen Trinley. Whether he has political clout or not is something I do not know, nor am I in a position to judge. Whether he has done what he is openly suspected of doing is also something I also do not know. 

What I do know is that the Director General of Police in Himachal Pradesh, Daljeet Singh Minhas, could care less about who is the "real" Karmapa. With a positive information collection and intelligence-producing capability at his disposal, inclusive of human assets, technical surveillance, and a full analytical component, it is short work to identify the indigenous Tibetan controversies, the factions, and the players. By selectively appearing to favor one side over the other -- and here I would point to his rather hysterical branding of Tai Situ Rinpoche, which we previously reported -- it is all too easy for him to shift the blame from one side to another, and keep the Tibetans fighting amongst themselves.

Divide and conquer.

Earlier, I mentioned that there is a voice we haven't heard from. You probably thought I was talking about a person's voice, but what I really meant was we haven't heard from the voice of experience. In the centuries since Padmasambhava came to Tibet, there have been all manner of struggles and challenges. What became of them? We can even look at our own time. If you think what the Himachal Pradesh crowd does is bad, try to remember that the Red Guard were a whole lot worse. What became of them?

Well, I am just a nobody, and these are just a few elements of information I have gleaned from open sources. I do not have the wisdom to pick and choose between two young gentlemen in their mid-twenties, who are themselves caught up in a power struggle between political factions hell-bent on enforcing institutional will.

It is quite likely that what these two young gentlemen know of the situation doesn't stray much farther than what they have been told. After all, what chance have either of them ever really had to make independent inquiry of the matter?

Neither do I have the inclination to pick and choose. In my limited view, if one has the intention and ability to benefit all sentient beings, and actually goes about attempting to do be of such benefit, that in itself is sufficient. When the day is over, gossiping and speculating do not get you very far at all.

But, what I do have is the common notion that all intimate parties to this affair should take a good, long look at what is happening right now, and then start asking themselves if they are still spiritual men.  Internecine fighting has opened the door for anybody to walk in and take advantage of the situation. There is a sword, and it is poised over the baby. What are you going to do?

During the Viet-Nam era, among those who had to engage in an extremely difficult suspension of morality, there was an oft-repeated bitterness to the effect that one had, "destroyed the village in order to save it."

So, a lot of people were in situations where they had to break the "king's vows," whether they wanted to or not, or at least that is how they justified it to themselves at the time.

Some of us have to learn the hard way that there is no good excuse for doing what is better left undone.

Some of us have to learn the hard way how to save what we love by letting go.

Karmapa chenno

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18 reader comments:

Anonymous said...

The current situation already being too much politicized . Why must 'drag and implied' the other Karmapa into such sticky situation ??!!

Anonymous said...

This morning I asked the Mother, Tara what practice to do for this sad sad event. I am moved particularly for all the tibetans living in this area also. This is what came to me:

There is a hawaiian practice called ho 'oponopono which is a forgiveness practice in which one goes inside to find the enemy and when they are found you say, I am sorry, Forgive me, I love you! It is quite profound and so I did go within and found the one who is so full of revenge and waiting to strike. I did this with my inner Shamarpa.

Then I heard the Mother say, "feed the demons!" "Feed the demons don't draw swords". And so I am turning to Her Holiness Machig Labdron and asking her for assistance and intervention, for these young men, and the peoples of tibet and all who are involved in this dark affair, to show us how to transform this display of evil.

Nightprowlkitty said...


Causes and conditions.

In the I-Ching there's a hexagram entitled "Splitting Apart," where the commentary says, "Fruit must decay before new seed can develop."

Your post brought that part of the commentary to mind.

I don't even know how to view this, my feelings are so unruly, it is so painful.

Thank you for these posts, they mean a lot.

Nightprowlkitty said...

TIME magazine has a story on this dated February 3:,8599,2046124,00.html

Anonymous said...

Shamar and Money
Shamar and Money
Shamar and Money
Shamar and Money
Shamar and Money
Shamar and Money
Shamar and Money

Alastair said...

Really really useful insight into the world of political intrigue and dharma institutions......loved the revelation from Trungpa rinpoche .
always enjoy the material you post........

Anonymous said...

When Liars fail to convince people about their lies. They scream and chant their lies.

Anonymous said...

When Liars fail to convince people about their lies. They scream and chant their lies.

Gesar said...

There is an ancient karma between Shamar Rinpoche and Tibetans. Just as he was responsible for bringing Nepali army into the Tibetan area some 200 years ago, he is causing so much damage to Buddhism and international image of Tibetans today. Just as he waged the war with Tibet for money (He was born as the brother of Panchen lama at the time and demanded wealth from Tashi Lhunpo estate), he is today fighting over a reported US $ 1.2 billion empire left by the 16th Karmapa!
Its very clear that Indian media and intelligence are operating based on Shamar Rinpoche's allegation of Karmap Ogyen Trinley Dorjee being a Chinese agent. Shamar Rinpoche may be right in his choice of Karmapa. I don't have have the necessary spiritual insight to decide that. But to fight a dirty and protracted war in the name of dharma, in the name of saving karma kagyue lineage, that I don't understand. If Shamar is true in claiming that he is fighting for the purity of Karma Kagyue lingeage, why does he needs Rumtek monastery? Why does he have to betray the good name of his lineage? Of course the same question applies to Situ Rinpoches' side. Its high time Tibetans should learn from history and wake up and and for once and for al eliminate this historical disease of dharma politics among the high lamas.

Anonymous said...

Both sides are dirty. This has been a protracted war of succession. Murder and intrigue cannot be washed away by water or years of forgetfulness. Many believed Kagyu was finished years ago. Some of us jumped ship to Nyingma. Now you see why. It will not end. I am so sorry Tenpa.

Mama Mojo said...

After watching his teachings via Internet I am convinced that Ogyen Trinley Dorje is the true Karmapa. His spiritual prowess manifests quite clearly. He is wise far beyond his years, and a true intellectual genius. I'm sorry for the other young man, Trinley Thaye Dorje. Clearly he has been used as a puppet all along. I have never listened to him teach, but he doesn't seem to have the same kind of magical presence to me. He doesn't emulate brilliance. Ogyen Trinley Dorje is a great leader, a precious jewel, who has great potential to lead multitudes of people out of mental darkness, and I believe he will. What's going on now is very scary indeed. The Karmapa is a great treasure for the world, and he needs our protection.

Semchong Hopkins said...

Is it wise to insult the Sharmapa?

He is an enlightened being after all.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for showing Shamarpa some face. Everybody else insults him, but you present him fairly.

Sirensongs said...

Did you notice, the "other" Karmapa just happens to be on the cover of the Buddhism Today magazine this month?

Sirensongs said...

Did you notice, Trinley Taye just happens to be on the cover of Buddhism Today this month?

Anonymous said...

It would seem that the real issue is that Orgyen Trinley Dorje and his administration have not managed their financial affairs according to India law. Considering they the Indian government has been suspicious of him for a long time, not playing by the rules was a really bad move on OT's part. Pointing fingers elsewhere does not change this situation and makes this blogger look foolish.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Just because your side is in trouble waters, why do you need to drag the other side into it too. Your writing is all assumptions and accusations and it only reflects the person that you are. Maybe your intentions are to potray someone (in this case Shamarpa) in bad light to the readers but to me it just showed how cheap you are. The first instance was by putting up the most ugly picture of him that you are in hold of.
I did enjoy other stories that you have written but this is not what we expected.