Sunday, July 27, 2008

A dream, a lion, an inescapable blade....

Thomas Brooks from Seattle offers this beautiful account of his encounter with His Holiness Karmapa.

After many years of anticipation, I finally saw His Holiness Karmapa at Nalanda West (in Seattle) on May 30th, 2008....

He is like a dream, I thought at first, and later as well. He appears also to be like a lion, or some other huge cat with a cauldron of awakened energy flashing out through the eyes, which seem to be two beautiful hooded windows offering glimpses into some radiant fiery universe within. Most of all, however: he is like a blade, a sword or perhaps Dorje Bernagchen's knife, an inescapable blade that cuts through all triviality, all hokum, all that is mundane, dead, asleep, inauthentic. He is gracious, graceful (all his physical movements and gestures are naturally beautiful), but he is utterly uncompromising. Only the truth will do, for him. Only the truth beyond flimsy appearances. He is heartbreaking, breathtaking, a source of ferocious delight, the cutting wind that sweeps away all facades. One wants to stare at him, drink him in, be slashed by the sword of wisdom. And yet he is kind: his fearlessness demonstrates the real world, the awakened world beyond suffering, beyond falsity. He leads one immediately beyond one's own folly. He is the gleaming blade of rejoicing; his words and voice make the Dharma direct and actual. No theory or ideas here: just the roar of clarity that relieves all this preposterous illusion. This is the presence of Mind.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Karmapa on PBS "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly"

While the Karmapa was in Seattle, Kim Lawton from the PBS program "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" sat down for an exclusive television interview with His Holiness. Episode 1145 which contains the profile of His Holiness Karmapa aired for the first time on PBS stations around the country this weekend, and can be viewed online at Or check your local PBS listings to find out when the show will be rebroadcast in your area.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Karmapa Visit on Tibet Connection Radio Program

For a limited time*, the link below to the Tibet Connection website includes an audio feature story on His Holiness Karmapa's visit to America. This program aired Sunday, June 29th at 9am PST on KPFK Pacifica 90.7FM in Los Angeles and 98.7FM in Santa Barbara. Producer Julie Adler went to Seattle to create this special report on the historic first visit to the West of His Holiness Karmapa, who is fast becoming the hope for generations new and old of Westerners and Tibetans alike.

* After the July program is posted later this month, the above URL may be refreshed with new content and features. At that point, readers can check the Past Programs page and search for the June program which features Julie Adler's report on His Holiness Karmapa's visit.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Compassion on the Wind

Christine Keyser has posted a long and beautiful blog entry on the Chronicles Project website summarizing the Karmapa's May 31st teachings in Seattle.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not Separate for Even a Moment

Elizabeth G. from Halifax, Nova Scotia sends this poem:
HHK 17th visit

Driving over the bridge from Halifax to Dartmouth
I saw an astonishingly large, perfect half-rainbow,
a reminder of you, the Karmapa,
922 years old

Ongoing ripples,
reverberations and
tears at seeing you,
not separate from the 16th Karmapa
different yet familiar, like an old family recipe
fired in a modern oven

We are all in the same boat;
at times, the only ship is hardship.
You said that even the Karmapa experienced hardship,
what matters is how we meet it,
with hope and a strong heart

Not separate for even a moment,
beyond meeting and parting
always connected
This inseparability can be nothing
but good,
This inseparability can do nothing
but good.
Just what the Medicine Buddha ordered

June 21, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Personal Teaching Just for You

Blog reader Skye writes:
His Holiness' teachings during this visit were the first teachings I received from him. His talks on Delusions and Wisdom in New York and Ngondro in Seattle happened at the time when I needed and was seeking these teachings the most.

It is said that the Buddha can teach in a way as if it is a personalized instruction/teaching to each and every individual. And it felt like a personal teaching just for me. The powerful connection came when we practiced the Chenrezig meditation together. I was not thinking or expecting anything. And then, when we were about to start chanting the mantra together, I found my first recitation mixing with his and I felt such an overwhelming power of oneness that it brought strong tears. I was very surprised. It was so emotional. I had to think of something happy to calm myself from crying further so that I can continue chanting the mantra. Thank you, Your Holiness.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

From Mexico to Seattle

Adela from Cuernavaca, Mexico (near Mexico City) writes:
I had the amazing fortune to be able to travel to Seattle, along with my 11-year-old son Santiago, to receive Karmapa’s teachings, a blessing beyond words. It was as if the connection to my guru, the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, had burst open and through him the connection to the 17th Karmapa was born. Being at the Paramount Theater with over 2,000 people, before the youth, wisdom and brilliance of His Holiness’s presence moved me to tears, while my son took notes of Karmapa’s words on his “Aspiration for the World."

Back in our house and our daily routine, we sing the song together as if has been part of us forever. Something deep inside has changed within us. I had read and seen pictures and videos of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and joined my teacher in his aspiration for this trip to happen, so the connection had begun who knows when. Yet actually being with him had a dream-come-true-quality. It was like finally meeting that relative for whom you had longed so much, without even being aware of it. May the music in the sky of Karmapa’s teachings resound forever and may our actions manifest his enlightened activity!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lama Surya Das on the Karmapa's Visit

"Karmapa Seventeen talks often and heartfully about love and active compassion, in various relevant contexts, along with change, altruism and goodness of heart, yet rarely, so far, the traditional monastic teachings about renunciation, nonattachment and the defects of worldliness," writes Lama Surya Das in a blog entry about His Holiness the 17th Karmapa's U.S. visit. "He seems very interested in seeing what is going on the world around him, and with his six-foot-tall frame, powerful glance and what the newspapers have termed his 'stunning handsome looks' strides around in this foreign land like he has been here among us before and knows where he’s going and what to do. Perhaps he has, and perhaps he does."

Read the entire blog entry here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Natural, Happy and at Ease

Diane from Portland, Oregon writes:

The weekend teaching in Seattle was what I imagine a retreat in a pureland to be like. Everyone seemed natural, happy and at ease and the surroundings were beautiful. Best of all, everyday mental distractions were quieted as we all listened with great excitement and anticipation to the wisdom teachings of the Buddha.

The Paramount Theatre was packed with people of many different nationalities, age groups and walks of life and yet, everyone shared the same purpose. By the grace of our great lineage masters and good fortune, we were given the opportunity to come together as one heart to hear the teachings and receive the blessings of His Holiness the XVII Karmapa.

His Holiness left us with much to contemplate on both a global and personal level. On a global level, he emphasized the importance of paying attention to the opportunity that exists in the 21st century to either help or harm each other. He said it’s especially important at this point in time to allow the natural calamities of the world to produce a depth of compassion that penetrates our heart, and motivates us to help others in need.

He spoke with great eloquence about cultivating compassion and the importance of not isolating ourselves in this high tech age to avoid the dangers of creating a society of self-cherishing individuals. He reminded us again and again of how our own happiness and fulfillment depends on the happiness of others.

Throughout his teachings, he talked about how the world is getting smaller and smaller because of technological advances, and therefore humanity needs to actively seek out the common ground in all traditions. He said we no longer can afford to cling to our identities as Buddhists or cling to any of our views, but instead we need to focus on the harmonious aspects of all traditions so together we can be of benefit to the world at large and those in need.

He shared many personal stories about his family, childhood and daily life experiences. His openness and willingness to share of himself was deeply touching and his sense of humor kept everyone laughing. By the end of the teachings, all hearts were overflowing with joy.

May we take these blessed teachings to heart for the benefit of all beings and in service of His Holiness’ Aspiration for the World.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sheer Joy and Love

Laura W from New Mexico writes:
I have been fortunate to know, and have had teachings with many amazing Tibetan Lamas and Rinpoches. Many have inspired my practice, guided me with compassion, and given me heartfelt advice that was invaluable. None of those encounters compare to my encounter with His Holiness Karmapa.

On the Sunday morning that I was in Boulder, the auditorium was packed with loud, enthusiastic people, chatting and laughing. I felt annoyed as the crowd noise continued through the Tibetan Dancers and Nawang Khechog's performance. But, as soon as Ani Pema Chodron walked on stage to announce HH, the room became quiet to me. All I could sense was her emotion, her devotion to HH the 16th Karmapa, and how that devotion was transferred to the 17th Karmapa. My heart began to open at that precise moment.

HH stepped on stage. We could all see that in the beginning, he was searching for words. Then, he made the statement that being able to see everyone's face from the balcony to the back of the room, made him want to talk about other things. I felt and realized in that very moment his genuine love and acceptance for all of us, his North American students. That statement touched my heart at the core, and it set up an environment for me of continual spiritual bliss which continued throughout that day, and into the following weeks. I felt such warmth, love and deep devotion for him, that I had never expected to feel. For the first time in a very long time, I felt very connected to another person on a deep level. I wept several times throughout the talks from sheer joy and love for him, and in response to his love for us. I am perpetually blessed by the experience, and long for the next time I will be able to see His Holiness in person.

A Devoted Dharma Student in New Mexico

Friday, June 13, 2008

A New and Longtime Friend

Elizabeth R. from Boulder, Colorado wrote to share this personal story of connection to His Holiness Karmapa and his first visit to America:
About ten years ago, when I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I happened one day to be browsing in a little bookshop (called The Noble Truth Bookstore) next to the Bodhi Stupa – both a part of the KSK Dharma Center.

My glance fell onto one particular book, whose cover featured a most captivating photo: a young boy in crimson and ochre robes, wearing a black crown with a golden diamond emblem, through whose eyes flowed a kind of power and clarity that caused me immediately to fall in love and awe with this unknown being.

The young boy was, I learned, the 8-year-old Karmapa – and the book, a rendering by Ken Holmes of his most amazing existence. I immersed myself in the book, and its wonderful photos – drawn back to it, almost magnetically, again and again. I knew that some day, somehow, I would meet this person – I simply had to!

When I learned that HH Karmapa was planning a visit to the very city in which I now lived, it felt like a miracle. My heart overflowed with excitement, joy and gratitude. I returned to the book, as food for an already blossoming inspiration.

Two weeks before His Holiness was to arrive in Boulder, he appeared in my dream, first as a red-headed and rather clumsy Caucasian man (which of course surprised me a bit), then later materialized – seemingly out of thin air – on the stage of the auditorium, and proceeded to offer his first Dharma talk, on the topic of “not being fooled by appearances.”

The night before His Holiness actually arrived in Boulder, I had another dream/vision, in which Karmapa had become inseparable from the Boulder Mountains and – as the mountains – was literally embracing the city with his extended arms. Then – twice – the image of rain – an intense downpour – a “rain of blessings.”

Then he was actually here, which was wonderful in countless ways. And then, for two days following his departure: intense rainfall here in Boulder – as though a parting gift of a dream become reality.

Now the memory – like a medicine more potent than any imagined – continues to nourish me, even as I write this account of nested dreams, and the precious opportunity to find myself at the feet, held within the Radiance, of a living Buddha: a new and longtime friend …

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Your Story

How were you affected by His Holiness Karmapa's first visit to the U.S.? What did it mean to you? Do you have an interesting story to share about the visit?

Readers of the blog are invited to submit their own thoughts (200 words or less) for possible inclusion here.

(Please note that not all submissions will necessarily be published, and published submissions may be edited.)

Email to karmapa(dot)foundation(at)gmail(dot)com.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Commemorative Merchandise and Recordings

Commemorative items and souvenirs that were available at the public teachings in New York, Boulder and Seattle may now be purchased online through Karmapa Foundation's merchandising partnership with Ziji. Items include T-shirts, caps, posters, tote bags, pendants, shrine photos, and a Lion's Roar CD set, along with a special commemorative issue of Bodhi magazine featuring teachings by Karmapa.

Click here to visit Ziji's official Karmapa In America '08 merchandise page. Proceeds support Karmapa Foundation.

Many people have also been inquiring about recordings of the Karmapa's U.S. teachings and whether they will be made available at some point. The answer is yes (!) but not just yet. Post-production (editing, reproduction onto CD/DVD, etc.) will take time. Information about recordings will be posted here when it becomes available, and at the web site, Stay tuned over the coming weeks.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

His Holiness Returns Safely to India

With thousands of American hearts blooming with love and devotion from his visit, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has returned safely to India and has resumed his residency at Gyuto Tantric University in Sidhbhari, near Dharamsala, India. Kagyu Office, His Holiness's official website, has posted journal entries detailing information about His Holiness's arrival at Delhi International Airport, where he was greeted by throngs of dignitaries and supporters; a welcome dinner held in his honor at Delhi's Airport Radisson Hotel; and an elaborate ceremonial reception hosted by the Karmapa's Office of Administration and the leaders of Gyuto Tantric University at His Holiness's temporary residence at Gyuto. Please go the Kagyu Office website for full details.

During his visit to the United States, His Holiness, on more than one occasion, commented about his plans to remember again and again what it was like to spend time together with his American friends once he returned to India, even saying at one point (with a buoyant smile) that he would "visualize" each and every one of the friends he had met and seen. With great delight in the news of his safe and comfortable return, there is no doubt that we, His Holiness's American students and friends, will be recalling, again and again, in our hearts and minds the wonderful experiences of being the recipients of His Holiness's unfathomable generosity, wisdom, and warmth, and offering these feelings of gratitude as flowers thrown skyward in supplication for his swift return and the fulfillment of all his wishes.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Seattle Slideshow

Photographers: James Gritz, Gregg Rock. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Pick up a copy of the new issue (dated June 9, 2008 - cover shown above) of TIME magazine, hitting newsstands now across the nation, for a profile of His Holiness Karmapa by senior writer David van Biema. The story includes a stunning full-page portrait of His Holiness taken by photographer Lynn Goldsmith while the Karmapa was in New York City.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa in New York City,
May 18, 2008. Copyright 2008 Lynn Goldsmith.

The Sky Dragon's Profound Roar

Organizers of the Karmapa In America '08 tour received word yesterday that His Holiness Karmapa landed safely in Delhi, India. Dekila Chungyalpa captured this beautiful image of His Holiness aboard an airplane en route to Newark International Airport from Seattle (click on photo to enlarge):

His Holiness Karmapa en route from Seattle
to Newark, June 2, 2008. Photographer:
Dekila Chungyalpa. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa

Up in the sky's expanse, true being, unborn, forever pure
Beautiful is the world below me—how many colors do I see?
But when I look, I can't find anything that's born or has a root
So the time has come to meditate on true reality, of ego-clinging free.

-- Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, "The Sky Dragon's Profound Roar"
Blog reader Luyen posted this comment that summarizes the feelings and aspirations of so many whose lives were deeply touched and transformed by the Karmapa's first visit to America:
So rare a thing it is to have a being dedicated solely to the happiness of others, touch the hearts of so many in such a profound way...

Your teachings were profound and your aspirations long lasting, I pray that you will return soon, as it's clear that everyone will benefit.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Fortune Cookie

His Holiness Karmapa departed Seattle this morning for his return trip to India, bringing a close to his very successful and inspirational first visit to America. At a private farewell ceremony last night at Nalanda West in Seattle, His Holiness thanked the organizers and sponsors of the visit as well as the governments of India, Tibet and the United States for all their encouragement and support in making the visit possible.

Before coming to the farewell ceremony, His Holiness said, he had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. At the conclusion of the meal, a plate of fortune cookies was brought to the table. As His Holiness reached for one of the fortune cookies, he says, he formed the intention that the message inside the cookie should be something connected to his next visit to America.

At the farewell ceremony, His Holiness had his translator read the message from the fortune cookie aloud to the students and supporters present. The fortune cookie stated:


Karmapa's Aspiration for the World

Yesterday morning His Holiness Karmapa gave the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment to a sold-out house of 2,800 at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, and in the afternoon taught on his song "Aspiration for the World." Because we need to depend on things and people other than ourselves for every benefit that we experience in life, Karmapa taught, our happiness is therefore connected to other beings and their well-being. However, our habitual "me and mine" mentality of self-centricity does not bring us happiness -- rather, the source of happiness lies in working for the benefit of others, since our own happiness cannot come from anywhere else.

His Holiness Karmapa shared many personal stories from his own life to illustrate his teachings. Although the Gyalwang Karmapa is regarded by some as being a fully enlightened and faultless Buddha, nevertheless this has not prevented the Karmapa from experiencing hardship in life. The key, Karmapa said, is how we meet the hardships we encounter -- we can embrace hardships as opportunities to grow and think in different ways and create more benefit for ourselves and others. But often, we simply create a lot of negative "self-talk" about our situation that compounds more suffering onto the original hardship. We can learn to allow hardships to happen (since we cannot, in many cases, prevent them) but limit the self-talk about them.

Our minds, Karmapa said, often become like a motor that is always running at high speed -- but it does not always need to be running at high speed. Sometimes we need to shut down the motor and simply relax.

In the West we have experienced so many external advancements and technological benefits, yet we have also seen a corresponding increase of fear and suffering in people's minds, His Holiness said. This is related to our inability to cherish others -- our pattern of clinging solely to our own concerns, the habitual "me and mine" mentality. If we are not aware of how our happiness depends upon others and we do not work to benefit others, we end up with a society full of people who think only about themselves and act in ways that cause harm to themselves and those around them.

His Holiness expressed his profound gratitude to everyone who has helped make his first visit to America possible, and said that he has been very happy during his stay here -- and said he didn't quite realize this until someone showed him some of the photographs from his travels here, and he saw that he was smiling in many of the pictures. The Karmapa said that this surprised him somewhat, as he does not generally smile a great deal. His Holiness said that his happiness during his travels in America came from the fact that everyone around him was also happy and smiling -- a further illustration of his teaching that our happiness depends upon others.

Paramount Theatre before His Holiness Karmapa's teaching, May 31, 2008.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche delivers opening
remarks before His Holiness Karmapa's teaching
at Paramount Theatre in Seattle, May 31, 2008.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by
Karmapa Foundation.

A young Tibetan audience member waiting to see
His Holiness Karmapa. May 30th, 2008.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by
Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa teaching at Paramount Theatre in Seattle, May 31,
2008. Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa at Seattle's Space Needle, May 30, 2008.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa enjoys a Seattle boat ride. May 30th, 2008.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa teaching at Paramount
Theatre in Seattle, May 31, 2008. Photographer:
James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa addresses members of the West coast organizing
sanghas for the U.S. visit at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, May 31, 2008.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Karmapa on Building a Strong Foundation for Spiritual Practice

Yesterday His Holiness the 17th Karmapa gave his first public teachings on the West coast of the United States, to a crowd of nearly 2,800 at Seattle's beautiful Paramount Theatre. His Holiness taught on a special text he had composed on the preliminary practices (ngondro), which help lay the foundation for a strong spiritual practice by turning the mind towards the Dharma.

His Holiness also spoke of how the world we live in is getting smaller and smaller due to technology and globalization, and people's individual actions therefore have a much greater effect on the global village and the whole of humanity. This era, His Holiness said, is no longer one in which people can afford to cling to their particular views or self-centric identities -- not even the limited notion of "being a Buddhist." We need to think in larger terms.

Karmapa spoke of the preliminary practices as being akin to learning the alphabet and reading/writing -- common forms of learning that lay the foundation for more uncommon or advanced forms of learning that come later in one's educational process. Without the basic knowledge established by the common forms of learning, one could not cultivate a genuine knowledge of a higher order. Continuing this parallel between our spiritual education and our secular education, His Holiness said that we should, in the beginning, approach our spiritual education in the same manner: as a straightforward, simple process of education in which we engage so that we can gradually develop greater knowledge and confidence.

In the evening, His Holiness Karmapa gave a teaching to an assembled audience of members of the sanghas who organized his first visit to the West coast of America. His Holiness answered four questions that had been preselected. One question concerned which Dharma practices and study topics are most important in this age. His Holiness said that due to technology and external advancements, we have obtained the power to cause a lot of changes in the world, but for a long time we were not mindful about how we used this power. Now people are becoming more mindful, but so much damage has already been done, and we are on the verge of destroying our planet and our own ability to live here. In this day and age, His Holiness said, the practitioner's motivation to attain one's own personal liberation is "no longer sufficient whatsoever" -- instead, we need practitioners who can benefit the whole world while also engaging in their own personal practice. The old model of a yogi going off into isolation for many years and then working in a limited way with only a handful of students is no longer particularly practical or helpful -- rather, we need practitioners who are out in the world working for the benefit of the world.

Another question concerned how Western students, with limited time and resources to practice, might establish the genuine Buddhist lineage in our home lands. His Holiness spoke about the need for continuity of practice, which requires firm resolve. We need to remind ourselves again and again of what it is that we wish to accomplish through our practice and refresh that resolve every day to keep the momentum of our practice going. This resolve, the Karmapa said, cannot be a mere thought in our heads, but must be a strong building up of energy and intention within ourselves. His Holiness suggested that we could work with setting one clear goal and working with that goal for an entire month, reminding ourselves of it each day.

Most of us, His Holiness said, are not lacking in pith instructions from our gurus and teachers -- the problem, rather, is that we lack pith instructions from ourselves. We need to learn how to look within, listen to ourselves, and seek out instructions from our own minds.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Additional Photos from Boulder

Colorado-based photographer Marvin Ross has shared some additional photographs from His Holiness Karmapa's visit to Boulder.

His Holiness Karmapa addresses the Naropa student body,
May 24, 2008. Photographer: Marvin Ross. Copyright 2008
by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa arriving at the welcoming ceremony outside
Boulder Shambhala Center, May 24, 2008. Photographer: Marvin Ross.
Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Tibetans waiting to greet His Holiness Karmapa before the welcoming
ceremony in Boulder, May 24, 2008. Photographer: Marvin Ross.
Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche offers a mandala to His Holiness Karmapa
at the welcoming ceremony in Boulder, May 24, 2008. Photographer:
Marvin Ross. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche addresses His Holiness Karmapa
at the welcoming ceremony in Boulder, May 24, 2008. Photographer:
Marvin Ross. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Friday, May 30, 2008

His Holiness Karmapa Arrives in Seattle!

Yesterday His Holiness Karmapa arrived in Seattle, Washington, and was welcomed to the land of Starbucks with a special "tea" and rice ceremony at Nalanda West, the Seattle center of Nalandabodhi International. At the ceremony, His Holiness tried his first sip of coffee.

His Holiness Karmapa at the welcoming ceremony in Seattle,
May 29, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by
Karmapa Foundation.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche addresses His Holiness Karmapa at the
welcoming ceremony in Seattle, May 29, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz.
Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Lama Phuntsok offering a mandala to
His Holiness Karmapa at the welcoming ceremony in Seattle, May 29, 2008.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa at the welcoming ceremony in Seattle, May 29,
2008. Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa considers his first sip of coffee at the
welcoming ceremony in Seattle, May 29, 2008. Photographer:
Gregg Rock. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Additional Photos from Karmapa's Teaching in New Jersey

Gene Hsiao and the folks at KTC-NJ have shared this album of photos from His Holiness Karmapa's public teaching on May 23 in Shamong, New Jersey.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Slide Shows from Karma Triyana Dharmachakra

Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery has posted a number of slide shows on YouTube from His Holiness Karmapa's historic visit there last week.

For additional slide shows from the 17th Karmapa's inaugural trip to KTD, visit the ktdmonastery page on YouTube.

Associated Press Video About Friday's Teaching at KTC-NJ

The Burlington County-Times produced this short AP video segment about His Holiness Karmapa's public teaching at KTC-NJ on Friday in Shamong, New Jersey.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Boulder Slideshow

Photographs and videos are among the ways in which modern Western technology has merged with the ancient Buddhist Dharma to create new means of liberation through seeing and hearing. As blogger Kathleen Franco wrote below, "Many of the attendees said that it was His Holiness’ presence that they will never forget. A theme true for countless members of audiences touched by the Karmapa in his tour of America. The Boulder crowd could not help but be touched by His Holiness and made a bit more malleable by his immeasurable love and compassion."

For those who were there and see these images again in photographs or video, it is a refresher, a vivid reminder of the quality and power of presence experienced with the teacher there. For those who could not be there, it is an equally powerful way of experiencing a deeper heart connection to the teacher's enlightened activity even from afar.

So, for those who were in Boulder this past weekend, and those who could not attend, we offer this brief slideshow of photographic highlights from the weekend's activities performed by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

Healing the World Through Enlightened Mind

Boulder, Colorado May 25, 2008

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa left his “hand print” on Boulder Colorado over the Memorial Day week-end. The sold-out Macky auditorium crowd for the two public talks received more than the priceless wisdom His Holiness shared concerning the interconnectedness between the environment we live in and the inner peace of our minds. Throughout the day into the evening the gentle yet powerfully penetrating influence of His Holiness’ unchanging impeccable presence left an indelible impression on those of us in Boulder.

Following the morning and afternoon public talks a question and answer session was held for the sangha audiences. Towards the end of the evening His Holiness wanted to share from” his side.” He stated simply and as a matter of fact that his love for us is so strong that no obstacle could get in the way of him returning here to spend time with us. Though there was thunderous applause’ during other points in the evening, a pin drop could be hear after this.

His Holiness taught that in Tibet, there are many stories about highly accomplished Masters who left handprints on stone and performed other feats that seemed miraculous. He said they really were not miraculous. The Masters do this to teach us about the powerful connection between our mind and the world. A heart full of love can transform something as hard as rock into something malleable.

Many of the attendees said that it was His Holiness’ presence that they will never forget. A theme true for countless members of audiences touched by the Karmapa in his tour of America. The Boulder crowd could not help but be touched by His Holiness and made a bit more malleable by his immeasurable love and compassion.

If it were not for the humor and warmth displayed between His Holiness and Ponlop Rinpoche’s amazing translator, Tyler Dewar, the Karmapa’s presence could appear to be quite powerful and intense. But the nonverbal teasing and “dead-pan face” the Karmapa showed in response to Tyler’s reactions were hilarious and endearing.

His Holiness said that even though our topic today is healing the environment through the mind of awakening, there are many problems in the world today that we cannot address directly and immediately with our mind alone. Aspirations to make our environment peaceful and gentle are important, but not sufficient. However, His Holiness said it is possible to change things indirectly. He said this is not a hope; His Holiness has had a vision that this is possible.

His Holiness used an illustration from own life. At gatherings in New York as well as Boulder the Karmapa has repeated that it was his greatest wish since he was eight years old to come to America. His Holiness had a very restricted life in Tibet and India sometimes limited to three floors of a monastery. Over time other people became concerned about his situation. As others began to pay attention to his situation, it began to change and become more workable. As a result, His Holiness is now here in America.

His Holiness said everything we do leaves an imprint on the world. The world has given us much, an environment in which we live and practice. Now we should consider how to give back.

A potent example the Karmapa gave of how the outer and inner worlds interact is the practice of meditation. A most important condition for meditation is to create a peaceful environment. We should think about this. So much in the outer world poses a challenge to inner peace. For example many people affected by natural calamities lose basic emotional stability and hope.

On Sunday morning His Holiness talk was preceded by the Tibet in America dancers, who performed a celebratory dance in honor of His Holiness’ visit. The Gammy award winning nominee Flutist, Nawang Khechog, provided the audience with beautiful, healing tones. America’s great favorite Buddhist Nun and renowned teacher, Pema Chodron, gave the opening introduction for the Karmapa displaying a heart awe-struck by the magnitude of the teacher she was presenting.

A film depicting the life story of the Karmapa was shown before each of the teachings. The momentous occasion was highlighted in the afternoon with a brief address by the Karmapa’s Secretary General. Also greeting and welcoming His Holiness in the afternoon was Lady Diana Mukpo. Lady Diana told the crowd about how her husband the Honorable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had worked single handedly to bring His Holiness the 16th Karmapa to America. His example and tireless enlightened activity imbued his western students with a sense of the nature of true devotion.

Last follows a special story His Holiness shared from his childhood in Tibet. When His Holiness was about 8 years old, the area around his monastery, not far from Lhasa, experienced earth quakes frequently. The structures were largely made of wood and rattled noisily. At his age, he said he did not know how to be afraid so he slept through many earthquakes. Even when people would pick him up and carry him from a two- story building to a single- story building, thought to be safer, he was so tired he just decided to go back to sleep. Though His Holiness was relaxed through all of this, people came to him and said.” You are the Karmapa. You should do something about this.” His Holiness said he didn’t know how to be afraid or how to stop earthquakes. At the time there was a belief that earthquakes were caused by a giant tortoise stirring under the earth. The people told him he should talk to the turtle and persuade it to stop causing earthquakes. The very young Karmapa wondered if the turtle had ears, especially if it was under the earth. He was not sure so he simply started talking to the earth saying, “If you stop moving around, I will give you something good, (he thought maybe the turtle would like milk). But if you don’t cut it out things will not be easy for you in the future.” After that there were no significant earthquakes in the region.

When His Holiness was 14 years old, on the eve of his planned escape from Tibet, there was a minor earthquake. His Holiness, smiling, noted, “It was as if the turtle knew that the guy who told him to stop it was leaving so he did not have to be still anymore.” He also said he thought the earth tremor signified good luck.

Karmapa Returns to Boulder

At a tea and rice and body, speech, and mind offerings ceremony at the Boulder Shambhala Center this past Saturday, His Holiness was greeted and welcomed formally by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the head of Shambhala International and son of Shambhala International's founder, the venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Also greeting His Holiness were Lady Diana Mukpo, Trungpa Rinpoche's wife; Richard Reoch, the President of Shambhala; and hundreds of representatives and members of dharma communities from Colorado and the central region of America.

Also on Saturday, His Holiness toured Naropa University, the Buddhist-inspired higher education institution founded by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. After being greeted and presented with various offerings by the President of Naropa, Thomas B. Coburn, and members of the faculty, staff, and student body of Naropa, His Holiness gave a brief address to the assembled audience at Naropa's auditorium. He reminded the audience that Naropa University possesses the special blessings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and a lineage of heart experience that goes beyond the intellectual aspect of study.

On Sunday, His Holiness gave two public talks at the Macky Auditorium in Boulder on the topic, "Healing the World Through the Enlightened Mind". More blog posting will soon follow in relation to these amazing teachings.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Karmapa's Official Welcoming Ceremony in New York City

The video journaling team has begun to publish video clips from His Holiness Karmapa's travels in America on the KarmapaDotTV channel on YouTube. Included below is a clip of highlights from His Holiness Karmapa's arrival and official welcoming ceremony in New York City on the morning of May 15th.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Welcoming the Karmapa into the Heart of America

Today His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa journeys into the heart of America (to Colorado), having already journeyed deeply into our hearts and minds during the past nine days of public teachings and activities on the East Coast.

To celebrate the 17th Karmapa's historic first journey across the United States, we offer this letter of welcome from The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.

Welcoming the Karmapa

The historic first visit of His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, to the United States is a joyful and momentous occasion for his many followers and friends in the Western world. His Holiness, head of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, is revered widely as one of the greatest spiritual masters of our time. Indeed, since the appearance of the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, in the 12th century, the name “Karmapa” has been synonymous with wisdom and compassionate activity for generations of Tibetan Buddhists. The Karmapa is the emblem of a great legacy of spiritual guides who have promoted the welfare of humanity through the ages.

The current Karmapa, at the age of 22, now steps onto the world stage as the 21st century manifestation of this venerable lineage. Regarded as the living embodiment of 2,500 years of teachings, the youthful Karmapa brings with him a very positive and hopeful spiritual message: we possess the capacity to ease our individual and shared suffering and bring greater peace and joy to the world through the realization of our interconnectedness and our own heart of compassion.

In the Buddhist tradition, beings who dedicate themselves to such a path are called “bodhisattvas.” In Western culture, they may be called “humanitarians” or “saints.” Yet, when we go beyond words and labels, we discover the existence of unconditional and unbiased compassion within our own heart.

In this era of globalization, we are approaching a new frontier—one that transcends cultures and borders and opens the way for the wisdom of East and West to meet and interact. We have a fresh opportunity to explore who we are—as individuals, communities, and stewards of our world.

Today, at this historic juncture, we are witnessing the fulfillment of the Karmapa’s long-held wish to come to the West. Over the course of one year, many Dharma organizations and individuals have worked tirelessly and donated generously to create the auspicious conditions for this visit to occur. We are grateful to all for their dedicated efforts and liberal contributions. In particular, we would like to acknowledge and thank: the Government of India, the Office of Tibet in New York City, the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, and the Government of the United States for their wise council and support in helping this visit to materialize.

We now join together to welcome His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa to the United States. We are delighted to introduce the Karmapa to this great and hospitable land and three of its remarkable cities —New York City, Boulder, and Seattle—each in its own way a hallmark of American culture and achievement.

Over the course of His Holiness’s tour from the East to the West Coast, may peace and joy thrive everywhere along the way and expand throughout the world. By the power of His Holiness’s blessings and our own benevolent aspirations for peace, prosperity and the well being of all, may numberless beings be freed of suffering. May we welcome the one known as “the Karmapa” again and again to the United States of America and to the Western world communities.

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Principal Organizer, Karmapa In America 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008


Another brief anecdote from His Holiness's New Jersey teachings today: toward the end of the session this afternoon, His Holiness returned to the theme of his great joy and delight at spending time together with his dharma friends. "You have made me smile," he said. "And smiling is something I usually do not do a lot of." His Holiness told the members of his audience that he will never forget the feelings of joy they have given him which brought a smile to his face. "And," he added, "if I have brought a smile to your face, I aspire that the feelings of joy and happiness you have experienced in this environment will always stay with you."

The Karmapa on Harmony in the 21st Century

His Holiness Karmapa visited the main Karma Thegsum Choling center in southern New Jersey today and gave teachings and a Medicine Buddha empowerment to a large audience of several hundred under a vast tent outdoors.

Full of humor and good will, His Holiness began by saying, "This is my first visit to New Jersey, and as such I feel like a new man." But beyond sharing humor with his audience, His Holiness had profound and far-reaching messages to share. In the lead-up to the Medicine Buddha empowerment he offered, His Holiness talked about the importance of global harmony and the importance of education in making harmony possible.

Our world, His Holiness reminded us, is getting smaller and smaller. We need to engage in new methods in order to understand each other and increase the feelings of warmth and friendship that exist between members of different cultures. There are two things we can learn more about in order to give rise to this type of harmony: culture and language. When we learn about the cultures and languages of other types of people, the obstacle of ignorance is removed, and, along with that, the distance between people.

In this vein, His Holiness--once again generously and intimately sharing with his audience some of his most personal experiences--related that, as a very young boy, he had some reservations about Western people. Since the Western tourists who visited him in Tibet appeared to be so vastly different from him, he assumed that these differences were all-pervasive. However, at some point, as an experiment, His Holiness inserted some lines into his teachings which he thought were funny. To his delight, the Western students found them funny too. He gave speeches that contained sad elements which he felt might make people cry. And indeed, the Westerners shed tears. Finally, His Holiness concluded that Western people were fundamentally exactly the same as Eastern people--human beings who have feelings and wish to be happy and free from suffering. Since gaining this certainty, His Holiness said--and also due to His Holiness's own increased exposure to Western languages and cultures--his comfort around and friendship with Western people, along with his ease in teaching them the dharma, have deepened beyond measure.

His Holiness especially pointed out the auspicious connection of having his teachings translated into English and Chinese, two languages that are very important to the world in this century.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Yesterday around sunset His Holiness Karmapa visited the rooftop of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery. A rainbow appeared in the sky. Photographer Naomi Schmidt captured these beautiful images of the moment.

(Update, May 23): Blog reader Karin posted a comment pointing out that it was, in fact, a double rainbow. A smaller rainbow can be seen to the right of the main one in the second photograph here.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa on the roof
of KTD, May 21, 2008. Photographer: Naomi Schmidt.
Copyright 2008 by KTD and Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa on the roof
of KTD, May 21, 2008. Photographer: Naomi Schmidt.
Copyright 2008 by KTD and Karmapa Foundation.


Photographer Sarite Sanders captured these beautiful images of His Holiness Karmapa during yesterday morning's Guru Rinpoche Empowerment ceremony. More images can be found at KTD's gallery page.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa during
Guru Rinpoche Empowerment at KTD, May 21st, 2008.
Photographer: Sarite Sanders. Copyright 2008 by KTD
and Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa during
Guru Rinpoche Empowerment at KTD, May 21st, 2008.
Photographer: Sarite Sanders. Copyright 2008 by KTD
and Karmapa Foundation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A deep connection with America

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, continues to melt the hearts of countless members of his audiences with expressions of unreserved and uncontrived love and affection for the United States of America and its people. His Holiness simply cannot seem to say enough times and in enough ways how happy he is to have finally received the opportunity to be here. "Now, with this visit to America actually happening," he said while giving a teaching at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra today, "I feel that 'freedom' is really beginning for me." The audience lit up with roars of celebration and applause.

But it is probably safe to say that no one had anticipated His Holiness's stories of the ways in which his longing to come to America over the years had expressed itself. Students today were treated to a rare and utterly endearing glimpse of His Holiness's childhood: as a young boy, he related, he would read many children's books about America. Now that he is here in the United States, His Holiness has had a kind of déjà vu experience: he shared, with a wry smile depicting perhaps more than a little humor, that he is seeing some of the characters in his children's books in the American faces he sees before him in person!

Today, His Holiness bestowed an empowerment of Guru Padmasambhava on the assembly of devoted members of the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra community. His Holiness also gave a teaching on the general meaning of the famed Seven-Line Supplication to Padmakara, sharing touching stories, again from his childhood, about how devoted his parents were to Padmasambhava and about how he remembers reciting the Seven-Line prayer from a very young age. (Absolutely) wonderful humor, warmth that speaks to the heart, and accessible practicality continue to mark each teaching His Holiness generously imparts.

An Open Letter from The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

We are pleased to share this open letter posted today to by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, regarding His Holiness Karmapa's visit to America:

May 21, 2008
Woodstock, New York

Dear Friends,

We joyously welcomed the arrival of His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, to the United States on Thursday, May 15. For nearly two decades, thousands of people have been anticipating his coming to the West, and it is finally happening. On May 15, His Holiness began an historic 18-day tour, visiting New York City, Woodstock, New Jersey, Boulder, and Seattle. This visit is entirely spiritual in nature. During this visit, His Holiness will present major public talks, meet with many Buddhist practitioners, give traditional empowerments, bless centers, and share his wisdom and compassion.

As organizers of this visit, we wish to express our deep gratitude to the Government of India for facilitating this trip, as well as for all the support they have provided to His Holiness in India. We also wish to thank the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi and the Office of Tibet in New York City; the United States Government; and the Karmapa's Office of Administration in Dharamsala, India for their guidance and support. We also wish to thank the many hundreds of volunteers, supporters and donors throughout the West who are making this visit a reality.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the tours of the Sixteenth Karmapa were historic occasions for the Western Buddhist community. This first visit of His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa is also proving to be a momentous event. People are drawn to the Karmapa's public appearances and teachings because of his profound spiritual and meditative mastery and his transformational and enlightening effect on almost everyone who comes into his presence. The Karmapa brings a very positive and hopeful spiritual message for these turbulent times.

We view this visit to America like a “family reunion.” People are coming from not only all over the United States and Canada, but also from Europe and even Asia to attend the teachings. The Karmapa's only intention is to connect with and offer spiritual teachings to his students and to the interested public-at-large. Due to the short duration of the visit, the Karmapa will be entirely focused on his spiritual activities.

As the visit progresses, we invite everyone to visit our website (, and to view posted photographs as well as accounts on the official blog (

The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Principal Organizer, Karmapa in America 2008

H.H. Karmapa's Office of Administration, U.S.

Lion in Action

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa yesterday performed a purification and affirmation puja at his North American seat, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. A photo gallery of images from the ceremony can be found at KTD's site.

Photographer Robert Hansen-Sturm captured this amazing image of His Holiness during the ceremony:

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa performing a purification and affirmation
puja at KTD, May 20th, 2008. Photographer: Robert Hansen-Sturm.
Copyright 2008 by KTD and Karmapa Foundation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beyond Meeting and Parting, He Returns

Yesterday, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa "returned" to his North American seat, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, the beautiful monastery near Woodstock, New York, marking the first visit of the Gyalwang Karmapa here since the site was graced by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.

Before arriving to ascend the grand throne at KTD, His Holiness made a brief stop at Kagyu Thubten Choling, a Buddhist retreat center guided by Lama Norlha, a master in the lineage of the venerable Kalu Rinpoche. Of the many sparkling qualities of His Holiness that have charmed his audiences, one that seems to be taking on a special brilliance is his delightful and spontaneous sense of humor. At Kagyu Thubten Choling, after a lengthy ritual reception, His Holiness gave a brief welcome address under a tent outside the main retreat center building. To the surprise of many under-dressed devotees, the upstate New York air was a frigid forty degrees Fahrenheit, with a whipping wind that seemed to at times threaten to blow the tent down.

In the midst of expressing his delight to be present with the devoted students gathered there, His Holiness quipped, "And, given the weather today, I can also say to you, 'Welcome to Tibet!'" As the wind continued to have its way with the tent's canvass, on which were mounted banners containing photos of the Buddha Shakyamuni, His Holiness, without missing a beat, remarked, "I think the buddhas and bodhisattvas are as happy as we are on this special day; so much so that they are not content to stay posted to the wall--it seems they would like to come down and join us!"

The reception offered to His Holiness at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra was breathtaking. The sharp yellows and reds of dharma robes and ceremonial hats filled the visual landscape like spring flowers. The members of this community have been waiting, and longing, since 1981 (the year of the Sixteenth Karmapa's passing in Zion, Illinois) for the Karmapa to once again take his seat here. A palpable joy filled the air that this return had finally come to pass.

Yet the Karmapa enlightened the hundreds gathered here, inside the monastery's main shrine hall and outside in a large tent with closed circuit television screens, with a different perspective of his absence from these grounds over the past quarter-century. "In reality," he said, "the Gyalwang Karmapa has never been separate from you." His Holiness pointed out that the community at KTD, through the efforts of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, President Tenzin Chonyi, and many others, had, over the years, persevered diligently to ensure the continuity of a mandala of the Karmapa's activity. Within this mandala, the Karmapa said, there vividly lives the heart of the Karmapa--a heart that thrives within the minds of all his devoted students.

Even still, the masters and students at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra are, undoubtedly, overjoyed with the good fortune of having the radiant, face-to-face presence of the Karmapa before their eyes once more.

Karmapa In America: The Meeting of East and West

This iconic image was captured by photographer James Gritz at a teaching that His Holiness Karmapa gave for Tibetans in New York City on Saturday evening. Sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa at a teaching for Tibetans in New York
City, May 17th, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by
Karmapa Foundation.

Monday, May 19, 2008

His Holiness Karmapa Has Returned to His North American Seat

On this Buddhist holy day of Saka Dawa, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa has returned to the Karmapa's North American seat, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery in Woodstock, New York, established by the 16th Karmapa. KTD's Web site features a picture gallery from the reception ceremony this morning.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa in the main shrine
room at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, May 19th, 2008.
Photographer: Sarite Sanders. Copyright 2008 by KTD and
Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa in the main shrine
room at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, May 19th, 2008.
Photographer: Robert Hansen-Sturm.
Copyright 2008 by
KTD and Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa arriving
outside the monastery gate at KTD, May 19th, 2008.
Photographer: Robert Hansen-Sturm.
Copyright 2008
by KTD and Karmapa Foundation.

New York City Slide Show

In honor of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa's first visit to New York City, we offer this slide show of selected photographs taken over the past four days.

"His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Week" in New York City

The past four days in New York City have been a whirlwind of joyous activity for the students of His Holiness Karmapa and the various sanghas organizing the visit. The students in New York are also a little saddened today that the Karmapa's first visit to New York City passed so quickly, and are sending prayers and aspirations that the Karmapa will return to New York City very soon.

Today, on the auspicious Tibetan holy day of Saka Dawa honoring the Buddha's enlightenment, His Holiness Karmapa arrives at his North American seat, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery in upstate New York. The cities of Shamong, New Jersey, Boulder, Colorado and Seattle, Washington are also busily and joyfully preparing to host His Holiness in the next two weeks.

His Holiness Karmapa taught again in the Big Apple yesterday, to an audience of approximately 1,700 at the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf-Astoria. Kagyu Office posted this beautiful summary of the teachings:

In discussing the topic “Cutting Through Confusion: Discovering the Wisdom of Our Own Minds,” His Holiness gave incredibly practical and useful advice about how to transcend the cultural trappings that may come to be associated with meditation practice and, rather, allow one’s mind to relax and be wakeful in a natural, uncontrived way. His Holiness discussed a broad range of other topics as well, occasionally delving into his impressive English vocabulary, to the great delight of the sold-out audience.

The day concluded with a blessing audience for members of the Buddhist organizations that have worked together to plan and administer His Holiness’s visit. At this audience, His Holiness answered the pre-submitted questions of the audience and extended his heartfelt gratitude to those who have made his trip to the United States possible: the United States government, the Indian government, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and, most importantly, his students and dharma friends in the United States.

At the beginning of the teaching, a representative from Mayor Bloomberg's office presented His Holiness with a framed poster proclaiming this His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Week in New York City.

Other major events in New York in the past two days included a Dharma teaching for Tibetans at Hunter College, and a visit to Tibet House. His Holiness also met with an audience of children and families from the Ronald McDonald House. Blog reader Divya Jyoti posted this comment, which summarizes the feelings of everyone involved in His Holiness Karmapa's first New York City visit:

I was with a group of parents and children from the Ronald McDonald House to have an audience with His Holiness last evening. I wish to thank His Holiness for his compassionate response and blessing of the children and families. His love was felt by us all. Let the healing begin.
Most gratefully,
Divya Jyoti and the families at the Ronald McDonald House NYC

Additional photographs and highlights from His Holiness' Big Apple teachings and activities will be posted very soon, even as the blog begins to turn its attention to the coming events in upstate New York, New Jersey, Colorado and Washington. Over the coming days, the blog's regular Karmapa Foundation staff writer will be joined by special guest contributors including Tyler Dewar, Diane Gregorio, and others. Tyler works closely with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche as his primary translator, and Diane is Rinpoche's Chief of Staff for the organization of Karmapa's visit to America. We are honored to have their participation and look forward to their contributions to the blog.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Karmapa Urges Action to Help China's Earthquake Victims

His Holiness Karmapa ended his afternoon teaching today by speaking again about compassion. His Holiness said that we need to share our love and affection with all countries in the world, and that there are many places in the world right now where people are experiencing horrific suffering. We need to extend ourselves to those who are suffering not only in our minds but practically as well. His Holiness mentioned the recent tragic cyclone in Myanmar (Burma) and the massive earthquake in China. Relief efforts in Myanmar, he said, may be complicated by the political situation there, according to reports -- but there is definitely very direct action that can be taken to help the earthquake victims in China. His Holiness urged everyone hearing his message to do whatever they can to help those stricken by the China earthquake.

One way to help is by donating to organizations working on earthquake relief in China.

Oxfam (Oxfam America and Oxfam Hong Kong) has committed $1.55 million to an initial response focused in Sichuan and Gansu provinces. Oxfam was working in Gansu Province on development projects prior to the disaster.

WorldVision has a team on the ground and is providing blankets and tents to 10,000 people to start, while assessing what other survival items are most urgently needed.

Mercy Corps, through its local partner China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA), is mounting an emergency response for survivors. They are procuring critical supplies such as food, water, clothing and shelter supplies to rush to affected families.

Network for Good provides direct donation links to a number of organizations that are rushing emergency aid to the region.

"The Gyalwang Karmapa has never forgotten the people of America for an instant"

Today was an incredible day for Buddhism in America. His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, gave his first public teaching in the West, at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. His Holiness sat regally on a sofa in front of the audience of nearly 3,000 people, a giant three-story-tall thangka image of Shakyamuni Buddha hanging behind him. Jumbotron screens on either side of the stage brought close-up views to audience members throughout the Hammerstein. His Holiness Karmapa was introduced by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Mr. Tashi Wangdi, Representative to the Americas for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa at Hammerstein Ballroom, May 17, 2008.
Photographer: Gregg Rock. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa spoke of how happy he is to finally be able to visit America and how much affection he has felt towards Americans since he first encountered these “odd-looking people” when he was eight years old and was recognized as the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa and brought to Tsurphu, seeing Westerners for the first time.

“I’ve been waiting to come here since the age of eight,” His Holiness stated, evoking joyful laughter and a round of applause from the audience. His Holiness noted that the 16th Karmapa established a strong connection with the people of America that lives on in the deep love and affection he feels for the American people.

“The American people have never been outside the mind of the Gyalwang Karmapa,” His Holiness stated. “The Gyalwang Karmapa has never forgotten the people of America for an instant.”

“I’ve only been here for three days,” His Holiness also stated, “but since the moment I came to America, I have really, really enjoyed it.”

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa at Hammerstein Ballroom, May 17, 2008.
Photographer: Gregg Rock. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness taught morning and afternoon sessions on “Awakening the Heart of Enlightenment.” In the morning he spoke about the development of patience and working with difficult emotions and challenging situations.

In the afternoon, to the apparent delight and astonishment of the audience, the teaching was preceded by a musical tribute by the legendary performer Lou Reed, accompanied by two other musicians. Reed sang his song “Perfect Day” (from the 1972 album “Transformer”) and a new song called “Power of the Heart.” Reed emphasized the song’s closing lyric “the power of the heart” with a gesture pointing to the Karmapa’s seat on the stage. His Holiness then entered the stage and shook hands with Reed and thanked him for the performance, and said in English “Now it’s my time” — again evoking laughter from the entire audience as the Karmapa took his seat.

Sometimes mixing English words or phrases into his Tibetan, His Holiness taught in the afternoon on compassion and the inseparability of self and other. He cited Shakyamuni Buddha as an example of someone who completely transcended any notion of difference between self and other and was the complete embodiment of altruistic compassion. Although the historical Buddha walked the earth 2500 years ago and is no longer living, His Holiness said, the Buddha’s love and compassion are very much alive and we can still feel their repercussions today.

His Holiness also spoke about afflictive emotions such as anger and desire. The problem, he said, is not that we feel attraction or rejection towards something — it’s that we go too far, and one-sidedly adopt or reject an entire thing on the basis of one (or a few) attributes — we confuse the attributes with the thing that appears to possess them.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa at Hammerstein Ballroom, May 17, 2008.
Photographer: Gregg Rock. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Karmapa's Aspiration at Ground Zero

During his visit to the WTC Tribute Center at Ground Zero yesterday, His Holiness Karmapa inscribed the following aspiration in the guest book, translated here from Tibetan (from Kagyu Office):

Through peaceful hearts,
Peaceful feelings,
And peaceful intelligence,
May this world truly move
From darkness to light.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Karmapa Visits NYC Museums and Says Prayers at Ground Zero

On this very rainy Friday in New York City, His Holiness Karmapa took advantage of the opportunity to see some of the sights the city has to offer. The Karmapa’s large traveling party of about 30 people was a roaming sea of robes and umbrellas as they made their way around Manhattan. Among the black umbrellas, some of the senior members of the party had blue umbrellas emblazoned with the Karmapa’s “Dream Flag.”

The Karmapa visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the morning, where he was received as an honored guest and given a VIP tour of various galleries: Medieval, European Renaissance, Asian, and more. When the main part of the tour was over His Holiness was asked what other artwork he would like to see, and he expressed a wish to see the more contemporary galleries. One observer noted that His Holiness seemed particularly intrigued by paintings by Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. The Karmapa is, himself, a painter and visual artist, and recently completed a major thangka painting that will be hung in Rumtek.

His Holiness also visited the Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library, after having lunch at Rockefeller Center at a restaurant overlooking the ice skating rink.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa visiting the
Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library in New
York City, May 16, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz.
Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Later in the day, His Holiness visited Ground Zero, where he was again welcomed and given a VIP tour by the co-founders of the Tribute Center. Talking with some of the monks in the traveling party before the Karmapa arrived, the tour guide stated: “What happened here happened because of hate. The reason why this place exists is because we have to find a way to enlighten people so this doesn’t happen again.”

After touring the exhibits and displays about the tragic events of 9/11 and the people whose lives and families were impacted by those events, His Holiness stopped to talk to Theresa Mullan, the mother of Michael Dermott Mullan, a firefighter whose life was taken on 9/11. She showed the Karmapa photographs of her son from an album she carries with her, and gave him a laminated memorial card with Michael’s name and photograph on it, which the Karmapa put into his pocket.

After speaking with Mrs. Mullan, His Holiness signed the Tribute Center’s guest book, writing several lines in Tibetan. The Karmapa was then escorted outdoors to a section of the 9/11 memorial site that is closed to the public — the last dignitary to visit this section was the Pope. His Holiness offered flowers and prayers to honor the victims of 9/11.

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa offers flowers and prayers at
Ground Zero in New York City, May 16, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz.
Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Finally, His Holiness visited the Rubin Museum of Art, where he was given another VIP tour of the museum’s collection of precious Tibetan and Himalayan art and cultural artifacts. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa paused for a few moments in front of a rupa (statue) of Tara which is said to have been sculpted by the 10th Karmapa, Choying Dorje (1604-1674).

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa at the Rubin Museum of Art
in New York City, May 16, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright
2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

In the News

Two major news stories about the Karmapa have been published since his arrival in New York yesterday.

This morning the New York Times has published an article: "Young Spiritual Leader Arrives in New York, Ready to Teach and Be Taught."

“It is the first time I’ve ever visited the United States, and it’s a bit like a dream,” said His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje, one of the most important leaders in Tibetan Buddhism.

Despite his youth, he is revered by followers as a master teacher, and on Thursday he began his whirlwind tour of the United States, an 18-day visit to New York, New Jersey, Boulder, Colo., and Seattle.

Yes, he is that Karmapa: the young master who made headlines across the world at age 14 with his daring escape from China to India across the Himalayas in 1999.

And in an article published online yesterday titled "The World's Next Top Lama," TIME magazine profiled the Karmapa and wrote:
When a reporter noted that the Kagyu lineage is known for its stress on practice and that his own generation is not known for its patience, the Karmapa delivered some advice that his American followers could no doubt appreciate. "If people have no patience," he said, "they have no patience, and I can't insist that they develop it. But I've observed that human life without patience becomes unworkable. My experience has been that I've been forced to develop patience with unchangeable situations."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A New York State of Mind

The energy in New York since the Karmapa's arrival this morning is hard to describe. So long hoped-for and so long planned-for, the visit is finally a reality and His Holiness Karmapa is here in America with us again.

The folks over at the Chronicle Project have posted an audio clip from 1982 in which Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche led the Shambhala community, three months after the 16th Karmapa passed away in Illinois, in a supplication for the Karmapa to return: "Your Holiness, please return to us." It gives one a sense of the magnitude of this visit and how long it has been anticipated within the American Buddhist community. Since 1982!

Everyone has felt the anticipation building over the past few weeks as the Karmapa's arrival was approaching. The amount of detailed planning and preparation that has gone towards this visit over the past year and a half is almost unquantifiable. And now that His Holiness is here, the anticipation has transformed into a sense of joy and wonder.

Here are some additional photos of His Holiness Karmapa from this morning.

His Holiness Karmapa in New York City before the welcoming
ceremony, May 15, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz.
Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa in New York City before the welcoming
ceremony, May 15, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz.
Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa at the welcoming ceremony in New York City,
May 15, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa accepting an offering at the welcoming ceremony
in New York City, May 15, 2008. Photographer: James Gritz.
Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Greeted by Local Children at New York Airport

Along with the delegation of dignitaries and Tibetan lamas who greeted His Holiness Karmapa at the airport in New York City this morning were a group of local children who offered flowers and khatas (white scarfs) to welcome His Holiness to America. (Click on one of the photographs below to enlarge it.)

His Holiness greets the children waiting at the airport.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

Children waiting for Karmapa to arrive. Photographer:
James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

A young boy eagerly anticipates the Karmapa's arrival.
Photographer: James Gritz. Copyright 2008 by Karmapa Foundation.

His Holiness Karmapa has arrived in America!

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, arrived in New York City this morning, setting foot for the first time on American ground.

After flying from India, His Holiness was greeted at the airport early this morning by a group of dignitaries and spiritual leaders, and escorted by motorcade to a private welcoming ceremony in Manhattan. A group of approximately 150 attendees welcomed His Holiness with a traditional Tibetan tea & rice ceremony.

During the ceremony, His Holiness remarked on how happy he is that his long-planned inaugural visit to America has finally come to fruition, and he expressed the aspiration that he might meet again and again with students here.

His Holiness Karmapa receives traditional
'khata' (white scarf) offerings from representatives
of the various New York sponsoring sangha centers.
(Photographer: Dennis Hunter. Copyright 2008
by Karmapa Foundation.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ticket Availability Update

Tickets for His Holiness Karmapa's public teachings are going fast, but some events still have a few tickets available, as of this afternoon.

Tickets are still available for the morning teaching session on "Awakening the Heart of Enlightenment" -- this coming Saturday, May 17th, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Click here for tickets. The afternoon session at the Hammerstein is now effectively sold out.

A handful of tickets remain available for the Karmapa's public teaching the following day, Sunday May 18th, at the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom. His Holiness will teach two sessions (with an intermission) starting at 2pm. Click here for tickets.

For those who wish to see His Holiness on the West coast, there are still tickets available for the day-long public teaching at Seattle's Paramount Theatre on Saturday, May 31st. His Holiness will teach two sessions on "Building a Strong Foundation for Spiritual Practice." Click here for tickets.

Monday, May 12, 2008

His Holiness Karmapa on 'Oneness' and Interdependence

In this beautiful film clip and interview on YouTube, courtesy of the people at Global Oneness Project, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa reflects upon the meaning of 'oneness' in the world today.

"The power of oneness begins as an internal experience," His Holiness teaches. "It comes from the mind’s way of thinking or discerning. We have studied and meditated a great deal on ultimate truth. This kind of study and meditation contributes to an ability to conceptualize oneness, sustain a holistic way of thinking, and foster an all-inclusive and broad universal vision."