17th Karmapa in London: A Retrospective Pt.2, 2007

In our second retrospective post, we would like to share some inspiring impressions of H.H. 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje’s second visit to the UK at the invitation of Diamond Way Buddhism UK, in June 2007.

Reports of other visits of the 17th Karmapa to London can be found here (2005) and here (2009).

Poster for 17th Karmapa in London August 2007

In advance of his visit, Gyalwa Karmapa recorded an “e-blessing” which was displayed on his MySpace page:

H.H. 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje | MySpace Video

The theme of the weekend Dharma programme was “Highest Wisdom of the Buddha”. On Friday 8 June, Lama Ole Nydahl opened the programme with an introductory lecture entitled “Ancient Wisdom, Modern Style” in the Camden Centre on Euston Road.

Gyalwa Karmapa’s teachings were held once again at the Friends Meeting House, where he taught on his first visit in 2005, and in his previous incarnation in 1974. On Saturday 9 June, he gave explanations about the development of Compassion and Wisdom, and the essence of the Enlightened Attitude (Skt. Bodhicitta). The Karmapa-News website published the following excerpt from Gyalwa Karmapa’s teachings:

“We are here to do our best to contribute towards the society we live in. This is only possible through Loving Kindness and Compassion. We are all the same, in that we live in this realm of human existence. I say we are all the same because we all have the same quality of Buddha-nature. Without nurturing it in a proper way, its ability ceases to shine. Dharma is nothing new. We did not create it. It is something very natural. Buddhism is only a name used in our relative existence.”

Afterwards Gyalwa Karmapa performed the Buddhist refuge ceremony for those wishing to become Buddhists, and gave the Bodhisattva Promise. He also gave the oral transmission of The Great Seal Wishes composed by the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, one of the main texts studied in Diamond Way Buddhism.

Earlier on that day Gyalwa Karmapa, his entourage and Lama Ole Nydahl informally met members of the UK Diamond Way Buddhist centres, when he was shown a presentation about Dharma activity in the UK. The presentation included the results of a scientific study made by students in Liverpool over the past year recording the quality of life people have reported after completion of each part of the Four Foundational Practices (Ngondro). Following a summary of the work of each UK Diamond Way Buddhist centre, Gyalwa Karmapa responded:

“The progress is amazing… I know it is difficult. You are all contributing in your own ways. We try to accumulate merit, develop our own positive mind and do for others as well. What you are doing is the motivation and activity of generosity. You all are doing a very fine practice. Develop bodhicitta. We have great circumstances so we should do our best…”

H.H. 17th Karmapa Trinlay Thaye Dorje

H.H. 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje | MySpace Video

White Liberatrice

On Sunday 10 June, Gyalwa Karmapa gave the empowerment of White Liberatrice (Skt. Tara). This was particularly poignant, as White Liberatrice was the main yidam of Hannah Nydahl, who had passed away in April that year. He prefaced the empowerment with praise for Hannah’s life’s work. In particular he praised Hannah for her kindness and compassion, which he explained were limitless qualities. Hannah had given everything in her way for the Dharma and worked tirelessly until the very end of her life. She also kept the promises she had given to Gyalwa Karmapa’s predecessor, the 16th Karmapa.

For the empowerment Gyalwa Karmapa’s throne was adorned with the same brocade that had been used by the Karmapas since the 5th Karmapa, Deshin Shegpa. He stated:

“White Tara has been my practice for as long as I can remember. It is a practice to generate genuine Loving Kindness and Compassion.”

17th Karmapa and Lama Ole Nydahl in London, June 2007

Gyalwa Karmapa concluded the Empowerment that evening by expressing his gratitude to everyone for the two wonderful days. Together with all present he dedicated the positive impressions accumulated over these days for the benefit of all sentient beings. In the evening a celebratory meal was held at The Montague on the Gardens Hotel, with Gyalwa Karmapa, Nendo Rinpoche, Lama Ole Nydahl and other distinguished guests, together with the course team of volunteers from the Diamond Way Buddhism UK sangha who had worked very hard to organise the weekend’s events.

Karmapa London 2007

17th Karmapa in london 2007 © Richard Pohle, The Times

While in London Gyalwa Karmapa gave an exclusive interview for The Times newspaper:

Karmapa is said to be the seventeenth reincarnation of his lineage, and head of the Karma Kagyu school of Buddhism, one of four schools in Tibet. He was recognised as the reincarnation at the age of 11, and left for India and years of study, prayer and meditation.

He plays no role in politics. Since his activity is outside Tibet, relations with the Chinese are correct, if distant. With the aura of centuries of tradition and mysticism, the Black Hat Lama is nevertheless a thoroughly modern religious leader who takes his global responsibilities very seriously…

…He finds the West’s material wealth astonishing. What could Tibetan Buddhism offer it? “There is interest here in the development of the mind. In Asia, and especially those parts where Buddhism is established, that knowledge of the mind is great. It can break through all cultural and material differences. It can generate compassion and loving kindness.”

Buddhism has made big strides in the West. Given its traditional tolerance and inclusiveness, was it possible for followers to embrace Buddhism while retaining another faith? “If one wants to commit onself, there are no barriers except to embrace the message. But promises should not be mixed, otherwise there will be difficulties”.

The Daily Mirror and London’s Metro also featured stories.

The visit was a great success and an enormous blessing for the continued development of Diamond Way Buddhism and the Karma Kagyu Lineage in the British Isles. In future posts we aim to provide some more excerpts of video coverage of Gyalwa Karmapa’s visits to the UK.

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