Tag Archives: karma kagyu

Buddha’s Not Smiling

Below are some excerpts of a review of the book Buddha’s Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today, by Erik D. Curren. The review was written by Lama Karma Wangchuk.

History belies the Shangri-La image of Tibetan lamas and their followers living together in mutual tolerance and non-violent goodwill. Indeed, the situation was quite different. Old Tibet was much more like Europe during the religious wars of the Counter-reformation than a neighborhood in Berkeley, California where synagogue, mosque, church and dharma center make cozy neighbors….For hundreds of years in Tibet, lay followers of each religious school clashed with each other for control of the government of central Tibet or rule over provincial areas. Lamas had to defend their monasteries and landholdings from supporters of the other schools as well as from the central government …

One of this book’s most valuable achievements is to show, for perhaps the first time in English, how the complex sectarian conflicts of Old Tibet followed the lamas when they fled into exile in 1959. At first, faced with the Chinese invasion in the fifties and early sixties, Tibetans experienced a period of unity and the Karmapa and Dalai Lama enjoyed a close friendship. But in exile, things changed. “Hundreds of years of habit would not die so easily,” Curren writes, “and after a few months in India, competition between the administrations of the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa resurfaced. The Dalai Lama and his ministers had just lost their country. In exile, they wanted to create a unified Tibetan community. To achieve this new unity, exile leaders in their new headquarters in the Indian hill-town of Dharamsala began making plans to extend their control over the five religious schools of Tibet .”

Curren’s account of the United Party initiative will be shocking to many readers. The United Party was a plan run by the Dalai Lama’s brother Gyalo Thondup to unite all Tibetans, regardless of their region or religious affiliation, into a coherent group able to stand together against the Chinese. The most controversial part of the plan was a scheme to combine the four Buddhist schools and the Bon religion—governed separately for more than five hundred years back in Tibet —under a single administration led by the Dalai Lama. “When word of the United Party’s religious reform got out in 1964, the exiled government was unprepared for the angry opposition that leaders of the religious schools expressed. To them, this unification plan appeared as a thinly disguised scheme for the exile government to confiscate the monasteries that dozens of lamas had begun to re-establish in exile with funds they had raised themselves.”

The sixteenth Karmapa led the opposition to the United Party, serving as spiritual advisor to a group of refugees from thirteen resettlement camps in India and one in Nepal—the “Fourteen Settlements” group—thus earning the enmity of the Dalai Lama’s ministers in Dharamsala. Under the Karmapa’s leadership, the opposition group succeeded in stopping the religious consolidation plan, and in the mid-seventies, the United Party closed up shop. But apparently ministers in Dharamsala were looking to avenge their political defeat. In 1977, an assassin claiming to be working for the Tibetan exile administration shot and killed the political head of the Fourteen Settlements, Gungthang Tsultrim. As Curren writes, “When apprehended in Kathmandu, the murderer, Amdo Rekhang Tenzin, told the Royal Nepalese Police that the Tibetan exile government had paid him three hundred thousand rupees (about thirty-five thousand dollars) to assassinate Gungthang. Even more shocking, the hit man claimed that Dharamsala offered him a larger bounty to kill the sixteenth Karmapa.”

Advertisements

The Karmapa Controversy

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2955341&dest=-1]

The above video clip includes interviews with Trinley Thaye Dorje and Shamar Rinpoche about the recognition of the 17th Karmapa. Below is another excerpt from the new book A Great Deception – The Ruling Lama’s Policies.

After the Sixteenth Karmapa passed away, the Dalai Lama took the unprecedented step of using his own power to force the selection of the Karmapa’s reincarnation. This was entirely unwarranted because historically the selection has always been an intenal matter solely under the jurisdiction of the Kagyu spiritual tradition itself. There were two candidates: one born in Chinese-occupied Tibet, the candidate officially recognized by the Chinese authorities; and the other born in India and recognized by the great Kagyu spiritual master Shamar Rinpoche. Shamar Rinpoche’s lineage has been closely connected with the Karmapa lineage since the 13th century, and he has been considered second only to the Karmapa himself within the Kagyu tradition. The Dalai Lama sided with the Chinese and ‘officially’ recognized their candidate, a decision that caused chaos within the Kagyu tradition, producing a deep schism between those who follow the Dalai Lama and those who follow Shamar Rinpoche. This schism has divided this spiritual tradition against itself, and at times has led to violence.

This is just one paragraph from the section entitled The Karmapa Affair in A Great Deception.