Rewriting History

There are many cases in which myths about the 16th Karmapa are created, either to prove one’s own importance or the importance of the own teachers. Of course its done as well to prove that one’s choice of the 17th Karmapa is the right one. Many of them are presented on this wordpress site, among them the wrong translation of the 5th Karmapa prophecy. Another famous story is the fabrication that the 16th Karmapa’s heart would have been falling out of the cremation stupa and landed directly on Situpas feet, a fairy tale Situpa himself later contradicted (he said it came out of the fire and was shown to him).

More serious is the misinterpretation of a prophecy of the 16th Karmapa himself, written by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche in 1994 (see here).

To some  Tibetan it doesn’t seem to be a problem to modify prophecies along with their needs. We shouldn’t take their corresponding information too literally, but investigate ourselves. And this free style is not limeted to only one camp of the “Karmapa controversy”: 1996 Khenpo Chödrak Rinpoche explained the followers of Karmapa Thaye Dorje, that the prophecy letter of Situ Rinpoche was wrong, as it gave a false year for the birth of Karmapa Ogyen Trinley. This was a misunformation (which Khenpo Chödrak luckily didn’t repeat in later years).

On the website of Akong Rinpoche we find a false quotation of the 16th Karmapa:

“Working with inexhaustible clarity of intelligence in an infinity of places, you manifest all sorts of extraordinary skills and qualities in order to conquer the thick darkness of ignorance which obscures the essential nature of beings. We pray that this buddha-emanation which gives us certainty of our own buddha-nature may live long among us.” These four lines were added by Situpa to the original text of the late Karmapa, who never had called Akong a Buddha-emanation. On the websites of Samye Ling, its written that HH the 16th Karmapa appointed Akong as his “representative in Europe”. This is untrue, as it is an undisputed fact that gave Jigme Rinpoche this task.

The prophetic dream of the Dalai Lama confirming Ogyen Trinle as Karmapa is not a lie, but not very convincing: “I had a kind of dream of the location, the area where the present reincarnation was born. There are stones and meadows. It looked like a high altitude and faced south with beautiful streams. That is the main picture. Then someone, some source without form, was telling me, “This is the place where the Karmapa is born.”.”3

Just imagine how many valleys like the one discribed in this dream exist in Tibet. It is in no way a confirmation of the place where HH Ogyen Trinle was born….



2Dharmanektar, Zeitschrift des Kamalashila Instituts, Sonderausgabe 9/2010, pg. 58.

3Martin, Michele, Music in the Sky: The life, Art & Teachings of the 17* Karmapa, Qgven Trinley Dorje, Snow Lion Pubs 2003, pg 29.

6Kotwal, Raj: God’s own Death, Shunyata, Gangtok 2013., pg. 218.

7Brown, Mick: Dance of 17 Lives, The incredible True Story of Tibet’s 17th Karmapa, Bloomsbury 2004, pg 80.