Dispatches from the Front
His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Welcomes Shambhala Delegation
(Dharamsala, India: 20 November 2002) - His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa, told Shambhala representatives visiting India and Nepal this week that he is looking forward to coming to the West and continuing the connection between his lineage and the worldwide Shambhala Buddhist community.
"For a long time it has been my wish to meet the students of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche," His Holiness said. "This is a great and joyful occasion. It has fulfilled my aspirations."
The delegation includes Lady Diana Mukpo and her husband, Lamen Dr. Mitchell Levy; Richard Reoch, the President of Shambhala; Archarya Larry Mermelstein; Director of the Office of International Affairs Peter Volz; Andy Karr, Rupon; and Lisa Fiore, Lady Diane's attendant.
The delegation met His Holiness at Gyuto Monastery, near Dharamsala in Northern India, where the 17-year-old head of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism has lived since his flight from Tsurphu monastery in Tibet two years ago. Although he has been granted refugee status in India, he has not been permitted to travel to the seat of the Karmapas at Rumtek monastery in the eastern Indian state of Sikkim or to travel internationally.
Meeting of His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa, with Lady Diana Mukpo and Lamen Mitchell Levy
Lady Diana Mukpo, Lamen Mitchell Levy, Director Peter Volz and attendant Lisa Fiore met His Holiness on the morning of Monday, Nov. 18th, at Gyuto Monastery, near Dharamsala.
They recalled the close bond between the 16th Karmapa and The Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, who had helped host him during his three visits to North America.
His Holiness said he takes great interest in the connection between the Vidyadhara and the 16th Karmapa and has been studying documents from the Shambhala community. He said he realized that the Vidyadhara had come to the West and "taught the dharma in a very particular manner." He urged Shambhala students to continue practicing in this distinctive way.
His Holiness said that the Vidyadhara had laid the basis for the proclamation of the dharma in the West, after which the 16th Karmapa had come to meet the students. The dharma clearly flourished thereafter.
His Holiness said he was looking forward to the time when he would go to the West to continue this work, along with the Shambhala community.
"We assured His Holiness that the thousands of students who had a strong connection with the 16th Karmapa were eager to receive him, as well as countless others who are longing to make a connection with him when he visits the West," said Mr. Volz. "We offered all possible assistance to His Holiness in arranging and supporting his first international visit."
Dr. Levy reminded His Holiness that on the visits of the 16th Karmapa to North America in the 1980s, he had been shown the culture of the West, and said we would be willing to do that again for him. His Holiness responded, "It doesn't matter if it is good or bad, I have to see it."
His Holiness accepted Dr. Levy's offer to serve as His Holiness' physician, as he had for the 16th Karmapa.
Meeting of His Holiness with Shambhala President Richard Reoch, Archarya Larry Mermelstein, Director Peter Volz & Andy Karr, Rupon
Earlier during the visit, the delegation had supplicated His Holiness for receipt of the lung for "The Guru Yoga of the Four Sessions," by the Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje. "We made this request as an expression of the connection between our community and His Holiness," said Mr. Volz. "We first practiced this guru yoga when the 16th Karmapa passed away in 1981, and continue to do so, especially on the anniversary of the Gyalwang Karmapa's paranirvana."
The delegation began their audience with His Holiness by chanting the "Supplication to the Takpo Kagyu" -- one of the few occasions on which he has heard it recited in English - followed by the short mandala offering and request for teachings. At that point, His Holiness gave the lung in Tibetan.
Richard Reoch then presented the Sakyong's letter, inviting him to visit our centers.
His Holiness expressed his thanks to the Sakyong and said that he wished to meet the students of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, for a long time and that this was a great and joyous occasion, which fulfilled his aspirations. "He said that now that the President of Shambhala and other leaders of the Shambhala community had come, and because we had a close connection with the 16th Karmapa and were holders of the Kagyu lineage, it felt as if he was meeting other members of his family," Mr. Volz said.
His Holiness said he left Tibet in order to receive further teachings and that he wished to spread the dharma to all sentient beings, particularly those in North America.
He said he looks forward to visiting North America and said he would like the Shambhala community's help in that. "I look forward to working with you, including your kusung and kasung," he said.
Banquet with His Holiness's' General Secretary and Staff
All members of the delegation were guests at a banquet given in their honor by Tendzin Namgyal, His Holiness' General Secretary. In attendance were Lama Phuntsok, private secretary to His Holiness, and senior staff member Gompo Tsering, who acted as interpreter.
In a speech, General Secretary Tendzin Namgyal expressed his appreciation for the visit and said it felt like the coming together of a family. He said he looked forward to continuing what had begun, particularly as the time grows closer for His Holiness' visit to the West.
In reply, Mr. Reoch conveyed a warm greeting on behalf of the Sakyong, repeated the offer of the community's assistance in planning the visit and presented gifts to him. These included books and other mementos from the consecration of the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, whose site had been selected by the 16th Karmapa.
Meetings with Tai Situ Rinpoche and visit to Sherab Ling Monastery
While in New Delhi at from Nov. 14-17, the members of the delegation were guests of Tai Situ, Rinpoche, one of the most senior teachers in the Kagyu lineage. He hosted two meals and invited the delegation to a private teaching on primordial goodness for his New Delhi students.
Tai Situ was delighted to receive a greeting from Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche. "Please tell the Sakyong that I consider him my very good friend, and please give him my best wishes," he said. "My prayers are for the total success of the Sakyong's work, all of it. He doesn't need any of my good wishes, of course, but every little bit helps." He continued, "The Sakyong is the son and heir of Chogyam, Trungpa, Rinpoche," he said. "He is Mipham Rinpoche. The lineage connection between us is deep and strong. This has not always been obvious because of certain practicalities, but more important is that it endures."
Tai Situ invited the delegation to visit and rest at his monastery, Sherab Ling, two hours' drive from Dharamsala in the northern India state of Himachal Pradhesh. Subsequently, three members of the delegation traveled to Sherab Ling on November 19th, where they were received as honored guests and presented with the 14-volume collected works of the renowned Eighth Tai Situpa as an offering to Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche.
Meetings with Thrangu Rinpoche
The delegation conveyed the Sakyong's warm regards to Thrangu Rinpoche, who is currently teaching His Holiness, and presented a letter to him from the Sakyong requesting him to give specific teachings to the Shambhala Community. Thrangu Rinpoche also devoted time to assisting Acharya Larry Mermelstein, on behalf of the Nalanda Translation Committee, with continuing work on "The Sun of Wisdom," a text written by the Vidyadhara in Tibet - part of his collected works brought back from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche's 2001 trip to Surmang.