Rewriting History

The worst about the whole Karmapa controversy is the amount of myths about the 16th Karmapa which were created, as many people came to the conclusion: As Shamar Rinpoche and Situ Rinpoche accused each other of serious lies, the logical implication is: One of the two is wrong and that means: high incarnates are not necessarily better than ordinary beings. As trust and devotion is one or even the basic condition of the Vajrayana, incredible damage was created. Of course the good side of is: people understood that spiritual devotion doesn’t mean blind believe, as Buddha himself encoraged in the mentioned Kalama Sutta.

One example is the wrong translation of the 5th Karmapa prophecy, another 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 wrong version of the longlife prayer the 16th Karmapa had written for Akong Rinpoche:

“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.

In revanche, the website, written by followers of Shamar Rinpoche, rediculized Akong Rinpoche, doubting that he was an authentic reincarnation of a master: “In order to satisfy the villagers, the 11th Situ rinpoche recognized one of the village children who then became known as Akong Tulku

As Akong Rinpoche was doubtlessly recognized by the 16th Karmapa this is poor slander.

Again: Dharma is not about brands,  or titles or highth of thrones. So if a teacher is a Tulku or not, better check with heart and mind whether his deeds are authentic and whether his teachings and advices are helpful for you.





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.