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Dear Dharmafriends,

today two 17th Karmapa are enthroned Trinle Thaye Dorje and Ogyen Trinle. Both act according to the high ideal of a Bodhisattva, a fact we should deeply rejoice it. Sadly the people around high Lamas often are motivated by worldlier interests. Since the early 1990ies a conflict among the followers of the late Karmapa arose: Who was his authentic reincarnation? I often hear that Karmapa Thaye Dorje was fake, because the most of the Karma Kagyü followers are with Ogyen Trinle (which is true only for Asia and Northamerica). They argue also that the most beloved and best known representative of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama himself, had approved him. How could one, who like him emanates so much love and compassion, fail? It may seem that I try to proove that Ogyen Trinle was not the Karmapa, but that’s not true. I want to show nothing else but the fact that those who say that the “proofs” of those, who supposedly clearly show that Ogyen Trinle was the one and only authentic 17th Karmapa, are not very convincing.

Already historically it had never been the role of the Dalai Lama to choose the Karmapa, except during the lifetime of the 13th Dalai Lama, who as King of Tibet passed a law that the incarnations of all schools needed his approval (with the side effect that his government tried to install the son of a minister as a fake 16th Karmapa).

In 1992 Tai Situ Rinpoche presented a prophecy letter. He claimed the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa would have given him the letter a decade earlier. This Sacred Letter of Prediction was ever since presented as proof for the authecity of his candidate Ogyen Trinle. But from the first moment when it was shown in March 1992, it was seriously questioned by the highest regent of the Karma Kagyü School, Shamarpa. Situpa refused Shamarpa’s wish to test it forensically. Others Lamas question the authenticity of the letter as well, among them Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.

A prophecy of Chokgyur Lingpa supposingly shows clearly Ogyen Trinley to be the Karmapa. But this as well is not 100% convincing, as is shown in the corresponding post.

Some supporters of Ogyen Trinley, among them started to engage in serious misinterprations and wrong thranslations of previous Karmapas, again in order to “proove” that their candidate was the only true one:  Thrangu Rinpoche misinterpreted predictions of the 5th and the 16th Karmapa, in order to proof that their choice was the right one. But the prediction of the 16th Karmapa which Thrangu Rinpoche interprets in a manipulating way, without this misleading interpretation, fits perfectly to Karmapa Thaye Dorje.

I hope all of this will be convincing enough that the followers of Ogyen Trinle consider Karmapa Thaye Dordje as well. And might wish to meet him, as I went to see Ogyen Trinle as well. The lesson to be learned by the Karmapa conflict is that, given the fact that Tibetan and Chinese politics are more and more involved in the choice of reincarnation, we cannot trust the fact that a Lama is the reincarnation of such-and-such but see for ourselves, whether his qualities inspire us and convince us.

With my very best wishes, and may all this rather diminish than increase our confusion!

Yeshe Kun


(The photo shows the 16th Karmapa’s summer house in Rumtek and might be seen as symbolical for the difficult times the Karma Kagyü lineage went through).

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