Monday, June 2, 2008

The Dalai Lama has also caused conflict and disharmony in other Tibetan Buddhist schools/lineages

Scroll down to see an open letter, remarks from the rightful leader of the Karma Kagyu tradition (the Sharmapa), links to this controversy, and a reply to Robert Thurman’s letter.

An Open Letter
Extracts from An Open letter to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Kathmandu, 17th March 2001

In 1961 the Tibetan government in exile proposed to merge the four Tibetan schools into one religious body headed by Your Holiness. This policy inflicted serious spiritual suffering on much of the Tibetan exile community. Rallying behind Karmapa's authority, thirteen Tibetan settlements challenged the Exile Government's plan and as a consequence the whole scheme was abandoned. Later in the seventies Karmapa came under blame because he had chosen to defend the autonomy of the three other lineages….

In July 2000, Your Holiness' involvement in the matter went even further. Your Holiness informed H.H. Shamar Rinpoche in writing that even if an authentic prediction from the 16th Karmapa was found and presented, it would not sway your insistence that Urgyen Trinley is the Throneholder-Karmapa. By doing so Your Holiness would retrospectively deprive the undisputed 16th Karmapa of his right to determine his own reincarnation. Such a preposterous claim goes against the Karma Kagyu tradition and sets the stage for a take-over of the Karma Kagyu School by Your Holiness' School and Government.

Up until Your Holiness' interference in 1992, no other Dalai Lama has ever played a role in the recognition of a genuine Karmapa. As Your Holiness well knows, the Karmapa incarnations precede the Dalai Lama line by over three hundred years. There is no historical precedent for Your Holiness' current involvement.

We highly respect and support Your Holiness' struggle for the welfare and freedom of the Tibetan people. We therefore request you to apply the same goodwill in the case of the Karmapa controversy. For the sake of the integrity of our lineage, we urge Your Holiness to gracefully bow out of this internal conflict of the Karma Kagyu School. We also ask for Your Holiness' support regarding our view that the whole world will benefit by preserving the rich diversity of all four schools, including the Karma Kagyu.We sincerely make wishes for Your Holiness' long life and continued health. Most respectfully, for and on behalf of all delegates to the International Karma Kagyu Conference
H.H. Luehrs (Chairman)

Later Comments from the Sharmapa
“I believe that the Karma Kagyu should be able to choose its own spiritual leader in the traditional way,” Shamar told his students. “Ogyen Trinley was not chosen in the traditional way, but through political interference from the Tibetan exile government, the government of China and many others. All the other religious schools of Tibet are able to choose their leaders on their own. Why can’t we choose ours? His Holiness Dalai Lama is putting politics before religion in this case.

“Because his devotees in foreign countries are not in the habit of questioning his actions, they blindly support His Holiness Dalai Lama in this case. I call such followers ‘package believers.’ They follow the Dalai Lama because he is a Buddhist teacher and leader of Tibetans, so that is all they need to know. They just accept the whole package without investigating for themselves whether what His Holiness does is really right in this case. For example, if I had a house, and the Dalai Lama wanted to take it for himself, these package believers among his devotees would say that I am wrong to protect my property or even to complain, and that he is right to take it.

“I understand when Tibetans feel this way; their livelihood may depend on being on good terms with the Tibetan exile administration in India. Maybe they would lose their job if they questioned the Dalai Lama’s right to choose the Karmapa. But for people around the world, this is an unhealthy development in Buddhism. If one man is so admired around the world that he can do anything he wants without fair scrutiny, then he is effectively a dictator. There is no oversight. And, if the Karma Kagyu school cannot choose its own leader, does this set a precedent for the other religious schools of Tibet? Will the Dalai Lama choose their leaders too?

Dharma is about thinking for yourself. It is not about automatically following a teacher in all things, no matter how respected that teacher may be. More than anyone else, Buddhists should respect other people’s rights—their human rights and their religious freedom.”

The Shamar Rinpoche also says elsewhere: "But if His Holiness is merely using his immense popularity in the Himalayas, in India , and around the world in an attempt to usurp control over the Karmapa Labrang, then I must respectfully reject his opinion about Rumtek. I realize that HH Dalai Lama wants to unite the Tibetan people to work for their freedom. But that is no reason to trample on the human rights and religious freedom of Buddhist believers. As our cause is just, so we should respect human rights in all situations, not only when it is convenient for us to do so.

All leaders, no matter how virtuous, must have limits on their power. Many popular, charismatic leaders in the past have used popularity and prestige to set themselves up as dictators. Perhaps these leaders had good intentions and hoped that by increasing their own power they could accomplish more good in the world. But in the end, absolute rule has always led to suffering.I hope and pray that His Holiness will not act like such a dictator, and that he will not use mass support to claim authority over the Karmapa that he does not have and to trample the religious freedom of Karma Kagyu believers."

Links to this controversy
Statement on HH Dalai Lama's Comments about Rumtek Monastery
The Karmapa Conflict
The Karmapa Controversy

Shamar Rinpoche's response to the attack by Dalai Lama supporter Robert Thurman
Letter to Robert A. F. Thurmanby Shamar Rinpoche

Excerpts from letter to Robert A. F. Thurman by Shamar Rinpoche

Here I agree with you completely. However much you are concerned by this issue - as you clearly are - I'm sure you can be sympathetic to how much more concerned I am. Traditionally, the Shamarpas lead the Karma Kagyu lineage in concert with the Karmapas. This means that I have the responsibility to protect the Karma Kagyu lineage. Please think about how strongly you feel, then put yourself in my shoes for a moment, and imagine how important it is to me to protect the autonomy of the Karma Kagyu.

I understand that you support H.H. Dalai Lama one hundred percent and support completely the Gelukpa school which is the only school you are devoted to. The attempt to give full authority over the four schools to H.H. Dalai Lama, however, cannot be supported and indeed does not have the support of any of the other schools.

Now I will move away from your letter and present you with a question for reflection: if you use the political situation at the time of the 10th Karmapa to prove that the Dalai Lamas have the authority to recognize the Karmapas, you should also consider that from the time of the Great 5th Dalai Lama it has been obligatory that the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas be approved by the Emperors of China. Setting the precedent that you attempt to do here, how will you prevent in the future, the Chinese government from claiming its historical right to recognize the Dalai Lamas?The heads of the Karma Kagyu, Drikung Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya lineages have never required the approval of either the leaders of China or the Dalai Lamas. The precedent you are setting here will pave the way for the collapse of every school of Tibetan Buddhism, Gelukpas included. Please consider the long-term effects.

The general outrage surrounding the whole Karmapa controversy is starting to resemble the howling of crafty coyotes so enthralled by their hunt that nobody can hear the soft voice of a lamb trying to sound a warning. Situ Rinpoche totally failed to prove the so-called prediction letter to be authentic, yet still this letter is waved around by many of his collaborators as some kind of authentic proof.


jacky said...

The heads of the Karma Kagyu, Drikung Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya lineages have never required the approval Dalai Lamas.
Since I was a child, I always knew that Dalai Lama and PanChen Lama were the two high ranking monks in Yellow sect. (through my high school classroom of world religion). In my mind they both have authority over 50% of yellow sect believers.
In the early 1990s, I first came into contact with Tibetan Buddhism then I realized Dalai Lama was regarded by his supporters as the head of all sects.
It is always in my mind, where did he have that authority from?

Since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama it has been obligatory that the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas be approved by the Emperors of China. The current Chinese government is inherited that right. The current Chinese government has made it clearly; their job is to rubber stamp the approval. They are just checking to see if the traditional way of selecting the reincarnated living Buddha is followed but they will not interfere with the selection. They are just checking if the procedure is followed then they rubber stamped it.
Dalai Lama supporter twisted every thing around saying Chinese government was choosing, it was not the case, they are just rubber stamped it. Check it out with the Chinese embassy to confirm.

Merge the four Tibetan schools into one religious body headed by one person is already destroying religious tradition. I think this is really bad religious practice; it is purely political. If someone said all Buddha schools in the world would be under him what does us Buddha followers would think?

In China (including Tibet) everyone can practice religion freely with no restrictions as long as they are not mixing politics with religion.

(I was living in China for 7 years).

Anonymous said...

Urgyen Trinley, was enthroned as the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa in Tibet, China; and got the relevant Chinese Communist Government religious department recognition, thanks to Tai Situ Rinpoche's presentation of the "prediction letter" of the 16th Karmapa. During the process of finding 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Tai Situ Rinpoche was secretly contacting the Great 14th without the knowledge of the religious department of China. The Great 14th hand picked Urgyen Trinley as the reincarnation of 16th Karmapa. When everything was ready Tai Situ Rinpoche presented the procedure of how the boy Urgyen Trinley would be found to the Chinese religious department for approval. They examined the steps and procedure of searching for the boy as compared to the traditional way, and then they approved it. Months later the Chinese religious department found out the secret contact between Tai Situ Rinpoche and the Great 14th to hand pick the reincarnated boy; they could not do anything because it was too late.

When it was time to search for the reincarnation of 10th PanChen Lama, the Chinese religious department became more careful, because of the above reasons. As soon as the Great 14th was trying to hand pick a boy as 11th PanChen Lama, they disqualified the hand pick procedure as it was not according to tradition, so they took the hand pick boy away. In this way, the followers of Great 14th cannot create more trouble. All those who knew Tibet religious history would know, the 1st PanChen Lama was the root guru of Great 5th Dalai Lama and the 1st PanChen Lama had 100% influence during that time on religious matter. Since the Great 5th until the Great 14th, all Dalai Lamas was trying to take religious power away from PanChen Lamas.

The Great 14th against all historic tradition, involved himself in hand picking reincarnated “living buddhas” is clearly political without regard to religious tradition. That means he wants to stay as the political head and controls all religious activities with no opposition is allowed. This hand picking only started with the Great 14th and no Dalai Lamas before him was doing it. (Hand picking and recognition is different).

Shamar Rinpoche, in accordance with Kagyu tradition, found and recognized Thaye Dorje as the rightful 17th Karmapa.
In the same way the current 11th PanChen was found accordance to tradition. I support both as authentic.