Links to pictures, albums, videos, etc. follow
Karmapa in Seattle 2008 by Julie Adler and Daniel Kane:
These notes are paraphrases taken at different times during the teachings,
with unintended errors in context and meaning, therefore please read . . . not as a transcribed "teaching." Formal
recordings are likely to be made available in the near future.
May 31, 2008 Saturday morning
A spiritual teacher must possess the necessary qualities. There is no ID card
for spiritual teachers, so the way we find a teacher is to get to know who they
are. We should approach a teacher as we would get to know teachers in the formal
Western education process.
Faith alone will not mean we will practice correctly. Asking someone to be our
teacher should occur after we get to know their motivation and conduct. In this
day and age, we should not focus on the shortcomings of the teacher. In this
age, all teachers will appear to have defects.
Besides, a perfect person would seem weird to us! (laughter)
The main duty of the student is to emulate the positive qualities of the
teacher, not to critique their every move.
When doing a puja (offering) the real mandala is immense, it is the whole world
and all its beings as pure, free of all problems, everything in its purest form.
The ultimate Refuge is a manifestation of Buddhahood.
The suffering of others is difficult to comprehend; we see and hear about it
every day, but we don't feel it in our hearts. We need to have a strong desire
to help them, to take their suffering on ourselves.
Take the feelings of fear (that we don't want to suffer) and make it meaningful
by cultivating compassion for them instead of our mundane feelings about life
Attachment to outer objects is much weaker than our self clinging. We have such
a fear of losing ourselves that it prevents us from allowing the deity to
manifest. We should use our strongest creative powers.
Compassion is the willingness to never give up on sentient beings.
Saturday night (Sangha Gathering)
The Karmapa began with, "It's always good to see a loved one again after they
have died so on behalf of the 16th Karmapa, it's good to see you again."
Then he went on to relate to everyone by saying that as a young person in the
21st century, he also struggles a lot with mental afflictions. And he has the
aspiration that we experience joyfulness rather than suffering. He says to
himself, `I'm not such a bad guy, an okay person.' If nothing else, he offers
that his mere presence in the world is to help us experience love and happiness.
Once he gets back to India and reflects on his trip, he [said] he'll probably
think, `there's no choice but to go back to America.'!!!
We need to have continual motivation, strong intention to bring the body, speech
and mind under the service of good motivation. In this way, we do need to
instruct ourselves also.
Here in the West, I see many of my friends, who have very busy lives and seem to
take each little detail of their life and their activities so seriously, they
get upset if they are 10 minutes late – - when I first saw this I thought it was
some kind of practice (laughter). We should be more relaxed in our
activities and not take every detail so seriously.
Don't get caught up in self-talk during hardships and obstacles. Fear of loss is
ever present is our minds which makes us more tense and paranoid. Allow more
space, more openness. We should be more relaxed and not attempt to power our
minds all the time.
Highly realized beings also go through hardship, but it is the way they meet the
hardship that is different.
Q: For dharma students, what are the most important study topics in this
K: We've become [begun?] too late for many of these practices. But if we
engage in actions to accumulate merit, this will be of benefit to the world. Due
to changes in technology and external advancements, we have obtained power to
change the world and create the causes for change but now we have to become
mindful of the dangers in the world.
The world is in danger of being destroyed. It's very important for us to engage
in actions as a whole, for the world. Rather than individual practice
goals, seeking personal liberation is no longer
sufficient whatsoever. In years before, yogis attained enlightenment, by
going away for years and years, bringing 1 or 2 students to the level of
realization but that model is not practical now. We need practitioners who
benefit the world as a whole while at the same time practicing. We need to have
people who are both practicing and helping. Being out of the world, those
who go off separating themselves from others, is now not an effective model for
the dharma practitioner.
Go beyond limited concepts of what it means to have a Buddhist practice. The
goal is to help all sentient beings, not just Buddhists. Step outside the
boundaries of being only with Buddhist
people, in Buddhist environments. There are many aspects to helping.
Education and cultivating positive qualities – take them and readily share your
knowledge. Go beyond Buddhist conceptions and the clinging to our Buddhist
concepts in a limited way.
Q: What are the serious obstacles we Westerners should be aware of?
K: You should tell me what they are! Distractions are a great obstacle. It's a
question for each of you. Often we get distracted by new objects.
Protecting our minds is an individual endeavor. What
is important is to meet that with mindfulness, to distinguish what to adopt and
what to reject. I'll pray for you – that you don't experience great obstacles
or if you do, I'll help remove them with
you. I'd be happy to fight the obstacles for you and we will see who wins!
(big cheer from audience)
Since being in America, I have contracted many of your obstacles. When I
get back to India, I'll have to practice really hard in order to remove them.
Q: Many students emphasize formal sitting but not much study. Can you
talk/advise on this?
K: The fundamental difference between practice and study – we study to increase
our intelligence, further our knowledge on many topics but study is not
genuinely connected to our heart, it's more connected to the brain. Practice
leads to a genuine shift in our hearts and minds.
To practice however, without prior study is not good. If we don't know the
reasons why we practice, it's not good. The real essential point brought forth
by practice is to monitor the shift in our heart and mind. Feeling the
process of positive qualities coming to light every day, delivering our heart to
that state, is what we should aim for. If the mind stays at the level of
conceptual dry practice however, then it's nothing more than study.
Genuinely practicing compassion, the mind and heart are not separated.
There should be a recognition of the vivid experience of mind taking on
compassion itself. At the level of mere understanding or a little experience but
no follow through is not genuine practice.
Q: Most lay practitioners have limited time and resources for formal extensive
practice. How can we Western students best establish the lineage in our
K: You saved the worst question for last. (laughter) There should be a strong
continuity of practice, a firm resolve. We should remind ourselves what we
want to accomplish and refresh this resolve every day, for momentum on the
path. Stick to this daily to witness progress. Body speech and mind have to work
as servants of this goal.
Perhaps make a goal per month. Rely on mindfulness, set it up like the watchman.
Create external supports such as `reminder notes' or use objects. When we work
on computers, we take breaks to help our eyes. In the same way, we should
take care of our minds, refresh them periodically, every hour or three times a
day. Mindfulness is the seed you take with you and see how it grows.
In the West, there are no limits to our busy-ness.
We need to become teachers to ourselves, not just relying upon the instructions
that our gurus provide but on our own instructions coming from ourselves. What
we are lacking is instructions from ourselves -- we already have an abundance of
our gurus' pith instructions. I have
started doing this –- when I first arrived in India, there were no teachers yet
to guide me so I rested my mind, relaxed and waited for that certain answer or
instruction to come. We need to seek out
instructions from our own minds.
To end, the Karmapa said, "I'll come again, no matter how long it takes" and
then he recited an aspiration prayer for the audience.
Sunday morning, June 1st, 2008
The Karmapa said that the 2nd Karmapa (Karma Pakshi) was an emanation of
Chenrezig and therefore, there is no need to further research or trace the
connection between Karmapa and Chenrezig.
The Karmapa's inspiration for Chenrezig is his blind grandmother who has already
accumulated over 10 million Manis. She is still in Tibet and still remains so
cheerful. Her recitation of the Manis is related to the great hope she has had
for the future, it fills her with great joy. His mother is also on the way
to approaching 10 million Manis. These [two] are influential figures for
him. He grew up in a devotional environment to Chenrezig and that is his
spiritual inheritance. Via phone, his mother told him that even if she only has
the chance to do one Mani, she dedicates all the merit to him. And she
aspires that it become part of his virtue. The love is passed down in the
family, transmitted through the mantra. This is how it feels to him. It is his
family heirloom, the most sacred and he is now offering it to all of us.
This has been the profound gift of his family.
As for the connection with Chenrezig, it runs through the heart of every
Tibetan. And also the Karmapa has a special connection to Chenrezig. May
you enjoy the love and light of all the Karmapas.
The way to establish lineage in our homelands is to have strong resolve , a pure
motivation and develop momentum in order to make progress.
Americans are very courageous, always speak of `possibility' and have a deep
respect for the truth, these are good qualities on the spiritual path.
[These] Miscellaneous notes from Julie Adler & Daniel Kane [are posted here with
May they be of some benefit.
explained by Himself, by others, old, new, Tibetan, Western, Chinese)
More From the Seattle Part of the Visit
- BlueOregon : "The Karmapa Visits the Northwest" by Jeff
Allworth + comments by many.
- May 30/08, The Seattle Times (USA) "Seattle-ites Get Spiritual
Insight: The Karmapa visits" by Janet I. Tu, religion reporter :
TIME magazine referred to him as "the world's next top lama."
Elle Magazine named him one of "25 People to Watch."
That's a lot of responsibility and acclaim for a 22-year-old.
But, in a sense, this young man was born into the role. He is the
Karmapa, one of the most prominent lamas -- or teachers - in Tibetan
Buddhism, and a person regarded as a likely successor to the Dalai
Lama as the symbol of Tibetan Buddhism worldwide.
The Karmapa arrived Thursday in Seattle as part of a two-week U.S.
tour -- his first visit to the West. He plans to meet with local
Buddhists and give public teachings.
The Karmapa is traditionally regarded as third in prominence among
lamas, after the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, said Robert Thurman,
professor of Indo-Tibetan Studies at Columbia University and author
of the new book "Why the Dalai Lama Matters."
The Karmapa's U.S. tour is significant, Thurman said, because "it's
good for the world to note that there are these younger lamas who can
become major spokespersons for the Tibetan people."
His visit is "a very big deal for us," said Dzogchen Ponlop, the
Seattle-based Buddhist monk who organized the tour. "His presence
brings a lot of blessings, a lot of inspiration."
The 17th Karmapa, named Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, was born to a
nomadic family in eastern Tibet.
He is considered to be the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa,
although there is controversy surrounding the matter.
Another boy was also identified as being the reincarnation of the
16th Karmapa, and that young man also has a strong following,
particularly in Asia and Europe. But most Tibetan Buddhists,
especially in America, regard Ogyen Dorje as the Karmapa, and he was
confirmed as such by the Dalai Lama, Thurman said.
The Karmapa -- who is a leader of the Kagyu order, one of the four
major schools within Tibetan Buddhism -- made international news when
he escaped Tibet eight years ago, fleeing across the Himalayas to
India. There, he met with the Dalai Lama.
That was significant, Thurman said, because for centuries there was a
strained relationship between the Kagyu school and the Gelug school,
to which the Dalai Lama belongs.
That the Karmapa and Dalai Lama have a "wonderful mentor,
senior-junior relationship bodes very well for unity between these
important lamas and their orders," Thurman said. "This is very
important for the unity of the Tibetan community."
Thurman also thinks the Karmapa's U.S. visit -- he spoke to sold-out
audiences in New York and Boulder, Colo., earlier this month - could
help gain support for the Tibetan cause.
Thurman said China believes "when the Dalai Lama is gone, people will
forget about Tibet. This helps people know this is not going to be the case."
Nonetheless, the Karmapa's visit is nonpolitical, emphasized Ponlop,
the tour organizer and Seattle-based monk who founded Nalanda West, a
center in Fremont dedicated to fostering American Buddhism.
Unlike the Dalai Lama, who is both spiritual and [viewed as a] political leader of
Tibetan Buddhists, the Karmapa's role has historically been
spiritual, Ponlop said. "I don't see him getting involved in politics."
While the Karmapa will be teaching here, he will also be learning
about the West.
"It's good to get him exposed to Western culture," said Ponlop, who
has known the Karmapa since he was a boy.
Ponlop said the Karmapa is an inquisitive young man, open to ideas
from the West. And "his participation in our goal to establish
American Buddhism is indispensable."
America has an open, pioneering spirit, but at the same time, there
is much anxiety, pain and rage, Ponlop said.
"There is this sense of need for spiritual insight," he said. The
presence of the Karmapa "helps us connect with our own heart."
Janet I. Tu: firstname.lastname@example.org
Public teaching [?], Boulder, CO:
From New York
blog, May 20, NYC***
Try to find J. Gritz'
photo #22 of HH greeting Lou Reed at the Hammerstein
Ballroom in NYC.
HH at Kunzang Palchen
Ling, Red Hook, NY
11 Great Photos of
Karmapa at KTD
Jersey, more rainbows
KTD's gallery of press photos
King of Yogis visits US
HH Karmapa arrives
- May 15/08, Time Magazine, "The World's Next Top Lama" by David Van
To the apparent astonishment and delight of his American retinue, the
baby-faced 22-year-old who may one day replace the Dalai Lama as the
world symbol of Tibetan Buddhism and icon of Tibetan aspirations said
today, on his first trip here, that he hoped he might be able to spend two
months a year in the United States, raising the possibility that in decades to
come, America could become an important focus for that community.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, or head of the Kagyu sect of
Tibetan Buddhism, sat at his ease in a throne-like overstuffed chair
in New York's Waldorf Towers hotel, rimless rectangular glasses
perched on his pleasantly round, shaven head, a yellow shirt peeking
out from underneath a dark red robe, feet in pebbled brown loafers.
Reputedly stern, the Karmapa, who spent half an hour with TIME, was
both remarkably well-tempered and focused for a man who had just come
off a 14-hour flight -- by far his longest since he arrived in India
eight years ago as a teenager after a swash-buckling escape from
China by foot, horseback and plane. Asked whether he had slept on on
his way here, he replied in English, "Sleep, but not well. Lot of . . ."
and he did an expert mime of transatlantic turbulence.
Dorje's two-week American trip, which will include stops in New York
City, his sect's center in Seattle and the vast monastery his
adherents have nearly completed in Woodstock, N.Y., is a literal
"coming out." The Indian government, wary of relations with China,
had not until now allowed the young man, whom the Dalai Lama had
taken under his wing, to travel internationally. Followers here who
have not seen their leader since his predecessor died in 1981 (they
believe four years passed before his reincarnation) will bask in his
attention and teachings. "The previous Karmapa visited the U.S.
several times and his dharma activity here was vast," he said (this
time through a translator). "It is my hope to continue that." He
added, "My work is not going to be conducted only among other
Buddhists, but to help everyone." He also said he wants to "look at
things not only from a Buddhist perspective," but from the viewpoint
of other faiths as well -- a tall order.
And although he confirmed an adviser's caution that Kagyu leaders
have no tradition of engaging in politics, he noted, "As far as I'm
concerned, the situation in Tibet, particularly the political
situation, has reached a level of emergency." He sees his teacher as
a major player in dealing with it: "The Dalai Lama is both the
spiritual and secular leader of all the Tibetan people, and is
recognized as such all over the world, and the Dalai Lama has a
tremendous responsibility in his great efforts to bring about a
peaceful resolution." But he noted that "in the Tibetan tradition we
regard the connection between a lama and his spiritual teacher to be
sacred." And "like all Tibetans, I will continue to support him in
this as best I can in the future."
Indeed, when the Dalai Lama, currently a relatively healthy 72, dies,
the Karmapa could end up his replacement as the face of Tibet. He
could never be the next Dalai Lama. "Karmapa," like "Dalai Lama," is
its own reincarnate title. Nor could he become the hands-on political
leader of a Tibetan government or government-in-exile, a job the
Dalai Lama has ceded to a prime minister. But a recent YouTube video
shows the Dalai Lama talking to the Karmapa and Ling Rinpoche, the
19-year-old reincarnation of another high monk. The older man tells
them, "You two . . . are still young, and when I die you will be the
ones who continue my work." In the video, the Karmapa starts
slightly, and his eyes roll back a moment before he regains composure.
The video, which seems authentic, reinforces sentiments the Dalai
Lama expressed in public in 2001 and acknowledges the Karmapa's
unique portfolio. The Karmapa is traditionally regarded as the third
most important person in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama and
the Panchen Lama, who disappeared years ago and whose replacement,
picked by the Chinese, is not recognized by most Tibetans. He is
unusual among a new generation of leaders because of his birth and
training as a high lama in Tibet. He speaks fluent Chinese, and
attracted numerous Chinese adherents before fleeing. The Karmapa's
close relationship with the Dalai Lama knits up a historic tension
between their two lineages, and helps make him a unifying figure.
Robert Thurman, an expert in Tibetan Buddhism at Columbia University
who knows the Dalai Lama well, has had repeated contact with the
Karmapa and will soon publish a book titled
Why the Dalai Lama
Matters, worries that "if [the Karmapa] is pressured by devotees to
travel and teach too much at too young an age at the expense of his
studies," it could prevent him from "manifesting his full strength."
But if he is allowed to mature, says Thurman, "50 years from now my
son may have to write a book saying Why the Karmapa matters."
Meanwhile, for the head of a major Tibetan lineage to spend a sixth
of every year in the United States would be a tremendous boost for
the Buddhist community here. The Karmapa's p.r. representative claims
he has attained a near sell-out of 21,000 seats at teachings he will
give here (starting with one Saturday at Manhattan's Hammerstein
Ballroom) almost solely on the strength of e-mail chains. Many in the
audience will be his age. 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." It is
a virtue to recommend as well to those hoping for a solution for
This editor would like to thank very much everyone who
made, preserved (and will preserve) the memory, and to all who made this visit