The Karmapa Controversy
The Dalai Lama has also caused divisions in the Kagyu lineage by appointing the 17th Karmapa (Urgyen Trinley Dorje). A large percentage of Kagyupas don’t follow the Dalai Lama appointed Karmapa, instead they follow the Karmapa appointed by the Shamarpa (Trinley Thaye Dorje).
Below is part of an interview in Buddhism Today with Trinley Thaye Dorje (the Karmapa appointed according to the traditions of the Kagyu lineage).
Buddhism Today: How is a Karmapa recognized?
Trinley Thaye Dorje: The main holders of the Karma Kagyu Lineage are the so-called Black Hat Karmapas and the Red Hat Karmapas. The first refers to my own line of reincarnations. The later refers to the line of reincarnations of the Kunzig Shamarpas. In many cases the Karmapas have recognized the respective next Shamarpa and the Shamarpas in turn the next Karmapa. This is also what has occurred with my recognition. It was the 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche who confirmed that I am the incarnation of the 16th Karmapa.
Of course, the whole principle of reincarnation is not easy to understand, in particular if one is not familiar with Buddhism. Normally, samsaric beings are reborn through the power of their karma and their emotions. In the case of the successive lines of the Karmapa reincarnations this is different. Taking rebirth happens due to the wish to be reborn to help sentient beings. In this way I took rebirth as the 17th Karmapa.
Buddhism Today: The Dalai Lama has not recognized you as the Karmapa. Would such recognition be important for you?
Trinley Thaye Dorje: The Dalai Lama is certainly a great man. The Karma Kagyu school, however, is an independent lineage and, according to our tradition, the Karmapas have to be confirmed in this Karma Kagyu lineage and not by the Dalai Lama. There is no need for that.