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