A blast from the past… Gendun Rinpoche on the 16th Karmapa’s 1977 visit to the West

From the 1977 underground publication "International Times"

From the 1977 underground publication "International Times"

We just stumbled upon an interesting and historic text published in an ameteur ‘underground’ newsletter from 1977. “The International Times,” as it was called, seems to have been produced by and aimed at the UK’s hippy subculture, and ran regularly between the late sixties and mid eighties. There is now an online archive displaying these publications. The text in question concerns the 16th Karmapa, and is written by the great Kagyu master Lama Gendun Rinpoche in France, in anticipation of the 16th Karmapa’s second visit to the West in 1977. As one can see by the design and presentation of the text, in those times the hippy generation had become interested in Tibetan Buddhism. In more recent times, as interest in Tibetan Buddhism became more widespread and mainstream, and particularly with the Diamond Way Buddhist centres established by Hannah and Lama Ole Nydahl, the Kagyu teachings moved from the fringes to the middle of Western society, free of the confusion and mixing of spiritual teachings, which often characterized those earlier days.

The newsletter states: “His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa is expected here in June [1977]. He will probably stay here for eight weeks. The precise date of his arrival is uncertain because, due to the success of his tour of the U.S., his stay there keeps getting prolonged. Gendun Rinpoche will be giving a three-week teaching course in Hay for those who can camp. Anyone interested in further details should write to the centre.”

The full text by Gendun Rinpoche is presented below.

A Short Explanation Regarding the Significance of the arrival of His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, by Lama Gendun Rinpoche

Long ago, after seeing the suffering of beings in the six realms, compassion arose in the minds of all buddhas. In order to free all beings from the suffering of countless rebirths in the circle of conditioned existence, they gathered and prayed for the merit of beings to ripen so that they might be liberated from their obscurations and unskillful actions of body, speech and mind, the perfect, deep and clear meditative absorption took place and Karmapa, emanation of the Great Compassionate One, Lord Chenrezig, was named and thus appeared on earth.

From the first incarnation, Dusum Kyenpa, down to the present incarnatation, Rangjung Rikpi Dorje, the Karmapas have shown themselves continuously.

In the past, countless numbers of buddhas have manifested throughout the ten directions of space, showing to beings the holy teachings of the enlightened ones. In the present Dharma Age we are under the guidance of the teachings given by Shakyamuni Buddha. In the future, the Wheel of the Dharma will be turned by His Holiness Karmapa, who will then be known as the Buddha Drugpa Sinjay.

The precious Guru Padmasambhava has said, and in my opinion it is true that if one sees the face of the Karmapa, or hears his voice, unimaginable defilements and obscurations are removed and rebirth in the lower realms is prevented.

In a text spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha (kr-wo-gnam lchag-we-spyad-leg) it is said “from all the ten directions, all buddhas gathered in the centre of the mandala and predicted that one called Karmapa will become in order that the dharma may flourish.”

And (in the mdo-dsdus-pas-les) it is said “In countless numbers of worlds, countless Karmapa incarnations will appear.”

16th Karmapa & Gendun Rinpoche in Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, France 1977 (Photo: Peter Mannox)

16th Karmapa & Gendun Rinpoche in Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, France 1977 (Photo: Peter Mannox)

Again (in the mgna-pas-les) it is said “In the ten directions, throughout space, hundreds of thousands of buddhas are seated; and in hundreds of thousands of worlds, countless Karmapa tulkus appear.”

In another text spoken by Buddha (mdo-ting-azine-rgyal-po-les) it is said: “After my teachings are finished, there will appear like the roaring of a lion, an emanation of the Great Compassionate One, Chenrezig, this bodhisattva, called Karmapa will cause the fruit of dharma to ripen and spread. At that time, all who have heard his voice, seen or remembered him, will gain liberation.”

And again (in the mDo-Lang-Kar-gSheds-pa-les) it is said: “The lineage of the Black Hat One (the Karmapas) will continue without interruption for as long as the age of a Thousand Buddhas lasts, for the benefit and welfare of all sentient beings without limit.”

All of the above quotations were not spoken by just anyone, but were very clearly stated by Shakyamunl Buddha himself.

I think it is therefore important for us to know that this enlightened being will be coming to Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, France in a few months, For those with no knowledge of dharma, and, for the benefit of all beings, I have written these few lines so that all may have the opportunity to see His Holiness and to clearly understand the nature and the power of the blessings his presence will convey. If one sees the face of Karmapa, one is sure to be purified from all unskillful actions of the past. It is of very great importance to have confidence and that is why I’ve written this short paper.

– Gendun Rinpoche

Other posts which may be of interest :

Leave a Reply