Divine Friends: The Karmapa and Trijang Rinpoche

By: Mar Nee

H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche is among the most prominent and important teachers of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, responsible for bringing almost all the teachings of this lineage out of Tibet in the late 1950s. It would be safe to say that almost every Gelug practitioner in the world today can consider Trijang Rinpoche one of their spiritual grandfathers. And yet, though Trijang Rinpoche is also known the world over as being one of the 14th Dalai Lama’s root Gurus, many continue to disparage him, shun him and reject his teachings.

This animosity is for no other reason than his practice of Dorje Shugden, in this and his previous life; this is even in spite of the fact that H.H. Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, the current incarnation, has received explicit permission from H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama to continue his Shugden practice.

However, while the Buddhist world rages on about the sectarian tendencies of Shugden practitioners and the incorrectness of this practice, we might want to turn to the great example of the high Lamas to see another kind of truth. DorjeShugden.com has recently discovered these old pictures of the previous 16th Karmapa and the previous incarnation of Trijang Rinpoche. Study for a moment the close friendship that they clearly enjoyed, evident even in an old photograph.

So closely connected were these two high lamas that it is documented in their biographies and biographical thangkas that in one lifetime, the Karmapa and Trijang Rinpoche even “swapped” incarnations – the Karmapa took rebirth as a boy who would be recognized as Trijang Rinpoche, and Trijang Rinpoche took rebirth as a being who became the 8th Karmapa. Each then assumed the role as leaders within each other’s tradition. This shows clearly that at the highest level of the enlightened mind, there is absolutely no difference in capability, wisdom and compassion to help all sentient beings. They show us in this wonderful example that the teachings of every sect lead us ultimately to the same state of mind; it is only us, the unenlightened ones, who focus so strongly on the differences between schools and faiths.

That they are spiritual leaders of two distinctly separate schools within Tibetan Buddhism is not an issue; nor has it ever been one. It has only been among anti-Shugden proponents that cries of sectarianism have been hurled against Gelug practitioners and Dorje Shugden devotees. In reality, there is no real basis to these accusations – the spiritual leaders of these different schools can attest to that.

 

The Loving Support of the 16th Karmapa

As the Tibetan Buddhist community continues to rail against the practice of Dorje Shugden, let it be known that one of the strongest supporters of our Protector was this same 16th Karmapa. There is a story to illustrate this, as follows:

In the 1970s or 1980s, the 16th Karmapa went to an opening of a Nyingma monastery in Nepal. In that monastery was a statue of the Nyingma protector Dorje Drolo, which had been modified to step on an effigy of Dorje Shugden. The Karmapa was very angry when he saw this. He asked, “Who made this? Where did this lineage come from? Show me the monk who did this!”

More than that, the Karmapa predicted then to the Nyingmas at the monastery, “You will have no choice in the future but to practice this protector; there will come a time when you need him”, referring of course to Dorje Shugden. He then ordered for the statue’s removal and left the monastery very unhappily.

This incident was then recorded by the very famous Buddhist master, H.E. Dagom Rinpoche, as evidenced in this sungbum below.

So what of sectarianism? And is it really written in the books, as we are told to believe? The living example of two wonderful old lamas, their mutual friendship and respect for each other’s practices – as evidenced in the photographs and story above – show us otherwise. They exemplify the beautiful truth that sectarianism is never a part of any real practitioner’s path.

Please share these photos with practitioners from all traditions and join us at DorjeShugden.com to rejoice in what is truly important – harmony and friendship, whatever our sects, backgrounds or faiths.

 

Further reading:

Biography of Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche
Zemey Rinpoche’s Incarnation Receives DS Initiation
Enthronement Ceremony of the Zemey Rinpoche’s Incarnation

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5 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. HH Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche supported the 16th Karmapa as the choice of spiritual head of the “Thirteen Settlements”, settlements of Kagyu, Sakya and Nyingma worshippers in India. This made the Dalai Lama and the exiled government very angry. As a result, the government-in-exile paid an assassin to kill the 16th Karmapa, fortunately however this did not happen.

  2. I rejoice to see these two lamas together. I have both Karmapa and Dorje Shugden on my shrine. Perhaps I was one of these lama’s cats in a past life when they were friends. Very beautiful. Thank you.

  3. HH Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang has been the spring for all our attainments and support within the Tibetan community before and after being in exile. Trijang Rinpoche has been the back bone of spirituality even in difficult times.

    It is hard for a person like me who has been in the Tibetan community for as long as I can remember not to remember the kindness of Trijang Rinpoche. If there’s such a thing as sectarianism, it is only the product of selfishness

  4. Speaking of the Thirteen Settlements, these 2 pictures depicted here of HH Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and the 16th Karmapa is the exact occasion where the 16th Karmapa paid Trijang Rinpoche a visit and requested Trijang Rinpoche to represent and head the Gelugs within the Thirteen Settlements.

  5. This has been said over and over again but it is so apparent that politics should never be mixed with religion.
    I am certain that people look up to highly attained practitioners because they are wise, compassionate etc full of virtues which all citizens want their leaders to possess. Unfortunately, once a High Lama takes over the politics of the land, the religion becomes tainted and marred. Then all these accusations of sectarianism , unfair practices, discrimination etc will start to emerge.
    Best to separate religious leaders from politics.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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