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His Holiness Karmapa Arrives in New York

May 16, 2008

The following message is from Acharya Eric Spiegal on the arrival of His Holiness Karmapa in New York City yesterday:

I thought I would just report about the welcome ceremony for the 17th Karmapa. He arrived at 5 a.m. this morning, a little on the early side -- everyone got up really, really early or maybe some people were still up. Many of us kept waking during the night, worried that we'd overslept.

His first stop in North America was the Shambhala Center of New York. In the first two visits of the previous Karmapa, Shambhala was the sole host of the visit and on the third we shared it with Karma Triyana in New York. This time there were many, many sanghas involved. The room was beautiful and buzzing and filled with Tibetans, lamas and western students.

When His Holiness entered, he took his seat on the throne -- we have a quite large throne and he made a joke gesture like it was dizzy up there. A long mandala offering was done in Tibetan, followed by traditional offerings of Body, Speech and Mind -- there were three sets of these offerings, I believe for Karma Triyana (the Karmapa's sangha), Shambhala and Nalandabodhi (Venerable Ponlop Rinpoche's sangha). Lady Diana Mukpo made the offerings on behalf of the Shambhala mandala. Lastly, khatas were offered by all of the many sanghas represented.

Then His Holiness spoke briefly, in Tibetan. He said that he was shocked to be here, and suddenly I realized that although to us, or at least me, he is somewhat monolithic, to him, this is the first time he has been able to travel freely to the west and sit in a North American shrine room and begin his activity here. It was a heartbreaking moment. He said that yesterday he was in India and now he is in North America and he had to look at everyone to realize it was true. He thanked the previous Karmapa and the previous Trungpa Rinpoche for making this possible. I'm sure there was a bit more, but it was very simple and warm.

Deborah Garrett, who has been working on this for a very long time, coordinating a huge host of sangha from Shambhala and other communities, offered a lovely and genuine welcome. Personally, I was very moved that his first stop in America was in our shrine room, which had just be re-furbished with new Rigden shrine and new cushions shortly before Shambhala Day this year. Seeing the many sangha, and that students of the Vidyadhara Trungpa Rinpoche were senior teachers for so many of them, and younger students of the Sakyong also coming up and taking their place in the organization and welcoming, made me feel that the dharma is really spreading and deepening.

We we left, it was only 7 am. New York City was just waking up and there were Tibetan lamas all over the streets of Chelsea. Those of us who could went home for our beauty naps.

There is so much suffering in this world realm. May the Rays of the Golden Sun of Dharma lighten the load just a bit.

Offered with appreciation for my good fortune being present at this event,

Eric Spiegel

(This announcement was from the Shambhala News Service)