Shamarpa’s Statement Reveals Dalai Lama’s Role In Karma Kagyu Conflict

(Left) His Eminence the 14th Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche (Shamarpa); (Right) His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

The opinion piece below was sent to dorjeshugden.com for publication. We accept submissions from the public, please send in your articles to [email protected].

 


 

By: Shashi Kei

The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley has been in the news quite a bit lately. In a relatively short span of time, the prominent figure once touted as the Dalai Lama’s successor has gone from celebrated protégé to fodder for gossip magazines and tabloid news. While media attention is now trained on Ogyen Trinley and he is portrayed in a less than desirable light, it would be remiss to not acknowledge the forces that are truly responsible for shaping the Karmapa fiasco. The same forces have thrust Tibetan Buddhism centre stage into the Sino-Tibetan conflict and transfigured the religion into mere apparatus for statecraft. It is well known that since 1959 when the Dalai Lama formed his government-in-exile in Dharamsala, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), these two have imposed their authority on every aspect of Tibetan politics and also Tibetan Buddhism. Frequently in their trespass, centuries-old traditions that have safeguarded the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism have been laid to waste. The Karmapa controversy is only one vital tradition that they violated. But unlike many that the Tibetan leadership have desecrated, they could not sweep this under the rug because of the outspokenness of an illustrious and highly respected Kagyu lama, known as the Shamarpa or Shamar Rinpoche who in spiritual terms is regarded as equal to the Karmapa and Dalai Lama.

The Shamarpa

The Tibetan leadership have always been tight-lipped about the Karmapa affair so there was a dearth of accurate information about the circumstances that led to the outbreak of the Karmapa controversy. However, in 2012, ten years after the Dalai Lama anointed the Chinese-enthroned Karmapa Ogyen Trinley and thrust the Karma Kagyu onto a collision course with itself, the Shamarpa issued a startling public statement. The Shamarpa Statement1, as it has become known, provided a detailed account of events leading up to, and following the Dalai Lama’s endorsement of Ogyen Trinley as the head of the Karma Kagyu.

The Statement was a severe indictment of the Dalai Lama and the CTA. It exposed the deception of the Tibetan leadership and the misrule that has come to characterize the Tibetan leadership in-exile. In addition, the Statement exposed the Dalai Lama and CTA’s wilful negligence and disregard for the national security of India, which had shouldered the burden of providing asylum for the Tibetan refugees for sixty years.

The Shamarpa’s Statement is self-explanatory but there are a number of points that highlight the brazen corruption and lawlessness of the Tibetan leadership.

 

1. The Dalai Lama and CTA’s complete disregard for the repercussions of their actions on the Karma Kagyu

The essence of the Shamarpa’s statement is that the Dalai Lama and CTA could have easily avoided the catastrophe at multiple junctures but chose not to. Instead, the Dalai Lama’s unjustified – and unprecedented – interference in the Karma Kagyu tradition deceived the sect.

His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and the young Shamarpa

The Karma Kagyu tradition predates the line of the Dalai Lamas and the Gelug lineage by several centuries. It follows a well-established tradition of the Shamarpa and Karmapa recognising each other’s reincarnations. This is something the Dalai Lama would have known and could have chosen to honor.

At the beginning of the dispute when one of the Karma Kagyu regents, Tai Situ Rinpoche went behind the Shamarpa to get the Dalai Lama to sanction an attempt to subvert a well-entrenched Karma Kagyu tradition and enthrone a China-sponsored Karmapa, the Dalai Lama should have abstained. The Dalai Lama could have summoned the Shamarpa to confirm or refute Tai Situ Rinpoche’s claim and provided an opportunity for the conflict to be resolved on the spot. Alternatively, he could have called for a meeting of all four regents of the Karma Kagyu and arbitrated a solution.

He did none of the above. Instead, the Dalai Lama acted in a manner that is tantamount to usurping the Shamarpa’s right and duty. The Dalai Lama and CTA portray themselves as a non-sectarian Buddhist government that protects the integrity of Tibetan Buddhism. But when they were called to do just that, they instead exploited the situation for their own gain.

 

2. Was the Dalai Lama tricked or was it a sinister plot?

Casual observers may believe that the Dalai Lama was merely ‘mistaken’ and possibly deceived by Tai Situ Rinpoche into endorsing Ogyen Trinley. This assumption makes a mockery of the clairvoyance all Dalai Lamas, being emanations of Avalokiteshvara, supposedly possess. Therefore it was not a matter of the Tibetan leadership being duped but a matter of the Dalai Lama and CTA recognizing an opportunity to supplant the Karma Kagyu school.

The Dalai Lama and his choice of Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

The Shamarpa’s statement revealed that the Dalai Lama was informed on at least two separate occasions of the Shamarpa’s disagreement to Ogyen Trinley’s enthronement as the 17th Karmapa.

(i) The first of these was on June 7, 1992 after the Shamarpa arrived in Rumtek to challenge Tai Situ Rinpoche’s claim of having discovered a secret prediction letter indicating Ogyen Trinley to be the rightful 17th Karmapa.

(ii) The second was on June 29, 1992 when the Shamarpa personally informed the Dalai Lama of his intention to find and recognize the genuine reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, meaning to say, the Shamarpa clearly did not agree to Ogyen Trinley being recognized as the correct 17th Karmapa.

It is vital to note point (ii) above, that the Shamarpa personally delivered a written note to the Dalai Lama stating his unequivocal objection to Ogyen Trinley. However, instead of taking steps to correct his mistake and avoid an escalation of the conflict, we learn that the Dalai Lama sent a delegate to secure the Shamarpa’s assurance that he would not oppose Ogyen Trinley’s claim to the Karmapa throne. This itself should raise many valid questions. What right did the Dalai Lama have to deny the Shamarpa his spiritual duty? There is no tradition in Tibetan Buddhism that allows the Dalai Lama to spiritually override the Shamarpa or indeed any teacher or any head of the other Tibetan Buddhist schools. If the Dalai Lama is said to be the emanation of Avalokiteshvara, then the Shamarpa is said to be an emanation of Amitabha. One Buddha is not higher than the other and accordingly one cannot over ride the other in spiritual matters.

Karmapa Ogyen Trinley

Regardless, mere weeks later, on July 23, 1992, instead of respecting the Shamarpa’s stance, the CTA formally issued a special official notification confirming Ogyen Trinley to be the rightful 17th Gyalwa Karmapa. Again, what right did the CTA have to override the Shamarpa’s spiritual authority? The CTA claims to be a democratic and secular government and nowhere in the CTA’s Charter is it empowered to meddle in the spiritual affairs of the Tibetan Buddhist schools, let alone mount a coup. Very clearly the CTA had more interest in empowering a China-enthroned Ogyen Trinley for unknown reasons, than it did in making sure that the genuine 17th Karmapa was found and enthroned.

In their notification, the CTA claimed that:

According to formal announcements issued from Rumtek, the Sacred Letter and its interpreted indications were approved by the four regents at their last Council Meeting held at Rumtek on March 19, 1992.

That was an outright lie and the Shamarpa’s statement confirmed this deception. In truth, at the said meeting, the four regents had, on the contrary, agreed to have Tai Situ’s prediction letter locked away due to its dubiousness and submitted for forensic testing, not act on it, as the CTA had asserted.

The CTA’s special notification also claimed that the Dalai Lama “granted his final seal of approval and recognition to the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa not randomly or hastily for any reason, but after satisfying himself by means of hearing a series of reports from all those concerned; studying and paying due consideration to the overall matter; and reconfirming the final indications with exclusive traditional examinations”.

His Holiness the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje

Again, this is false. The Dalai Lama’s endorsement of Ogyen Trinley was hurried; it was granted the very day after the Dalai Lama received the Shamarpa’s formal notification of the latter’s stated intention to find and enthrone the genuine reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa. More importantly, hurried or not, neither the Dalai Lama nor the CTA had any authority to do what they did.

At this juncture, any reasonable reader would wonder what might have been the reason behind the suspicious manner in which the Dalai Lama and CTA hastily endorsed Ogyen Trinley – knowing full well that the Shamarpa did not agree.

The Shamarpa provided a hint in his statement when he stated:

I also understood that Situ was not the only one involved in making the fake letter. It was forged by his hand for certain but he was clearly not the only one behind this.

The Karmapa controversy is the fruit of a conspiracy to overthrow the Karma Kagyu leadership and defile the purity of Tibetan Buddhism. In truth, no one should be shocked by the contempt the Tibetan leadership have shown the Karma Kagyu. What they did to the Karma Kagyu is not an exception but the rule, characteristic of the Dalai Lama’s administration. The same CTA have similarly injected malice and acrimony into the Gelug sect via the Dorje Shugden conflict; enforced its will on the succession process of the Sakya; and imprisoned a popular Nyingma lama, Dudjom Rinpoche, on trumped-up charges to rein him in. This is not to mention allegations that the CTA have even hired contract killers to dispose of those in their way.

The Dalai Lama and CTA have been supremely successful in convincing the world that they are a ‘Buddhist government’ that protects Tibetan Buddhism while their actions have only turned the religion into a war zone. Theirs is not a triumph of spirituality or of preserving Tibetan Buddhism. Theirs is a triumph of slick propaganda and manipulating the press.

 

3. The Dalai Lama and CTA’s negligence (if not complicity) in facilitating the infiltration of a China-trained agent into a position of influence in India.

The 14th Shamarpa, Mipham Chokyi Lodro was known to be extraordinarily astute, straightforward in his dealings, upright and noble in character, and steadfast in observing Buddhist principles.

The 14th Shamarpa, Mipham Chokyi Lodro.

In addition, he had received the highest teachings and transmissions from more than ten highly accomplished Buddhist masters from various sects. He was an accomplished scholar, learned in both sutras and tantras, who also commanded the trust and respect of the Indian government.

So, when he claimed in the Statement, “Situ Rinpoche collaborated with the Chinese government, according to the interests of the Government of China”, it warrants attention. As a matter of fact, Indian intelligence was apprehensive of the Chinese-endorsed Karmapa who had been guided into a position of prominence by the Tibetan leadership.

Bahukutumbi Raman, a former Indian intelligence official believed that Ogyen Trinley was a Chinese agent sent to divide the Tibetan community upon the passing of the Dalai Lama. He was quoted as saying, “They (the Chinese) hope they will be able to use him to influence the selection of the next Dalai Lama.”2

Raman was not alone in this belief. Indian media further reported that the security establishment led by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval believed that the Karmapa, who “… supposedly fled from Tibet as a 14-year-old in 2000 – that daring escape itself is a move of gigantic Bollywood proportions – is a Chinese spy… and that he couldn’t have escaped the impenetrable Chinese security in the depth of winter3 .

This suspicion of Ogyen Trinley may yet be proven to be correct seeing the way he has fled India and secured a Dominica Republic passport that now allows him unfettered access to where he needs to go.

Tai Situpa

Whether the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley is a Chinese agent or not is not the point. The issue is how easily the Tibetan leadership formed a pact with Tai Situ Rinpoche, who is known to promote Chinese interests against those of India. The charges against Tai Situ are not merely hearsay; he was banned from entering India and continues to be viewed with utmost suspicion by Indian security services4.

As the result of the Tai Situ and Tibetan leadership pact, a Chinese-mentored Karmapa who could one day sway sentiments against India in its delicate relationship with China, was empowered to have dominion over the second largest Tibetan Buddhist sect with followers in India, China and the world. What is more, the traditional seat of the Karmapa is in Sikkim, a strategic vantage in any Sino-Indian engagement.

The Shamarpa’s Statement shows that the Dalai Lama and CTA paid no regard whatsoever to India’s internal security or its interests. This is especially damning seeing how India has placed its land, sovereignty and people in harm’s way by protecting the Tibetan people. The same ingratitude was on display when the Dalai Lama recently despatched his emissary, Samdhong Rinpoche on a secret mission to China to negotiate terms for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet. The clandestine manner of the Dalai Lama’s negotiation with China without India’s knowledge is disturbing for it implies that India’s interest could well be bargained away if the terms suit the Dalai Lama.

 

4. An Insight into the Dalai Lama’s Mind, and that of the Shamarpa

Within the Karma Kagyu tradition responsibility to recognize the Karmapa lies with four regents. In recent times, three of these regents have recognized competing candidates, confusing followers all over the world. Orgyen Trinley Dorje (left) was recognized by Tai Situ Rinpoche; Trinley Thaye Dorje (middle) was recognized by Shamar Rinpoche; and Dawa Sangpo Dorje (right) was recognized by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche. In-fighting between supporters of these candidates continues until today, a fact that has fractured the tradition deeply. Add to this the fact that the Dalai Lama interfered by backing Orgyen Trinley, a move with no traditional basis, the schism became a heated debate within the Tibetan community. In response, Shamar Rinpoche claimed that Orgyen Trinley’s recognition was incorrect, that he had evidence of this and that the Dalai Lama had no business in meddling in the affairs of the Kagyu lineage. Now Orgyen Trinley, who the Dalai Lama and the CTA nurtured for a decade has abandoned them and prefers to have freedom as a citizen of Dominica.

The Dalai Lama is a Nobel laureate who is perceived to be a man of peace, love, tolerance and wisdom. He is supposedly Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion. However, the Karmapa controversy has given the world a rare insight that contradicts the public persona he has assiduously cultivated over decades.

The Dalai Lama even casually reneged on his word to give the Shamarpa’s candidate, the Karmapa Thaye Dorje his semi-monk vows. A sacrosanct ceremony like that should be a cause to rejoice for any Buddhist but the Dalai Lama instead stood by his decision to empower the China-enthroned Karmapa. His eager endorsement of Ogyen Trinley was bereft of regard for Karma Kagyu tradition and without care for India’s national security. Even when it was abundantly clear that he had made a grievous error5.

We see from the Shamarpa’s Statement, the audacity of the Tibetan leadership. And this is from the perspective of its assault on a Tibetan Buddhist school that the Dalai Lama does not control. Imagine how much more brutal the Tibetan leadership has been in its aggression against Dorje Shugden practitioners who largely belong to the Gelug school that the Dalai Lama does control. The Dalai Lama has insisted that he is but a simple monk but perhaps this is meant to be understood in the same way when we say that Pope Benedict IX was but a simple priest.

 
1 http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/news/the-shamarpas-statement/

2 (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/india-says-one-of-the-karmapas-is-ungrateful/)

3 Ibid

4 http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/news/ban-on-tai-situ-rinpoche-dharana-at-jantar-mantar/

5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=43&v=QJJXYAz3Bz0

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17 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. The Dalai Lama shouldn’t have interfered with the recognition of the Karmapa. Being the Tibetan leader doesn’t grant him any right or power to take over the this holy process of recognizing the most important role of Karma Kagyu. The Karma Kagyu has existed for centuries, their history is even longer than the Gelugpa lineage. They know how to recognized their own spiritual leader. No one need the Dalai Lama’s involvement in this. The Karma Kagyu traitor Tai Situpa who invited him to do this must have his own agenda, and when the Dalai Lama agreed to do so also means that he has his own agenda. Both are not ordinary people. They know better than anyone else what is religion and what is politic. Therefore the only reason they both did this, must be due to politics and nothing else.

    • 👍yes! You are so right!

      His Holiness Karmapa Thaye Dorje is the genuine 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, no doubt about it. Karmapa Chenno😍

      The late 14th Shamarpa said, “Soon, these will all end and the real Karmapa will be revealed through the power of his love and compassion for all beings”. (From “Buddha’s not Smiling” by Erik D. Curren).

      C53FF113-0E3B-47CD-808A-BC0B0B3F6558-18675-000017D7CDAA77F7

  2. Although it does not surprise me to note the selfishness of the Dalai Lama and CTA to use Tibetan Buddhism as a tool of their political dominance in the Tibetan Buddhism traditions, the extend to which lies are documented in this instance of the Karma Kagyu selection of the Karmapa is totally brazen and without any level of integrity and ethics.

    As a laureate it is expected the Dalai Lama be a man of peace, tolerance and love, not forgetting as a high lama and emanation of Chenrizig, there should be an unwavering show of the virtuous qualities.

    The question is why degrade Tibetan Buddhism with all the disharmony and divisive acts? Is it the intention of the Dalai Lama and CTA to stop the propagation of this special tradition of Buddhism?

    Not only harm is caused to Tibetan Buddhism with all these divisive conduct but the lack of gratitude for the security of India who had so kindly host the Tibetans for the last 60 years.

    As a non Tibetan Buddhism, I hope that more truth is prevailed so the sharp disciples will not heed to the disharmony and schism caused.

  3. Perhaps CTA received some beneficial gain from Tai Situ, that’s what encourages the exile government to step in. Couldn’t be any possibility for CTA, to whom greedy, hence agony hunger of power and fortune. On another point, might be CTA’s plot behind DL to grip this opportunity to empower this sect. CTA is very cunning.

  4. Why must Buddhism become so complicated. Full of lies, conspiracies and deception. Whatever sect the followers are in they have the right to their own affairs instead DL and cta had to take matters into their own hands when shouldn’t have in the first place. Sad to say the problems in gelug is not even dealt with properly. And the biggest issues are of Dorje Shugden. Meddling in other affairs for selfish reasons. Banning Dorje Shugden followers from practicing without logic again for selfish reasons. When will DL and cta realize the damages they have done to so many people. Why can’t they just stop and deal with what concern them now. Lift Dorje Shugden ban. Mend broken bonds with China. Clear the misunderstanding for the kagyu. Do something right please.

  5. Why in the first place Dalai Lama meddle into the affairs of Karma Kagyu lineage? Is this part of the plot to continue to make Tibetans separated and be in constant unrest so that CTA can continue to control them?

    • I think this is the only valid explanation. CTA doesn’t want their people to question them on their incapability to fight for Tibetan cause, the best way is to make Tibetans stupid and split them up. Then even some of the Tibetans have questions over certain issue, they would not cause any big impact.

  6. The Dalai Lama should just focus on spiritual matters and stop politicking in spiritual affairs especially those he has no power over. The CTA should just focus on helping Tibetans in their livelihood, their social and commercial growth instead of meddling into spiritual affairs especially the Dorje Shugden issue.

    • Exactly.. the world has enough wars & why create more?

      Dalai-Lama-on-Healers

  7. News of the Dalai Lama and CTA is becoming hot topic. How come they never realize of what they are doing is wrong. As a goverment or political party, the CTA should not get involved with religious issues. The way they handle an issue is not being open enough and doing it the wrong way. This way they making more parties angry because they not grateful to their host country and doing things behind their back and quietly.

  8. The CTA is well known for interfering in Tibetan Buddhist matters. They will continue to do so as long as they can get benefit for themselves. CTA like to use Tibetan Buddhism to attack China and Karmapa controversy is one of their political tools. And CTA ignore the Karma Kagyu sec has suffered greatly due to their interference. It was the same that Dorje Shugden practitioners has suffered greatly due to CTA banned the practice. CTA don’t care how you suffered, they only care how much financial aid they can get.

  9. Karmapa issue has becoming more know in the public eye these day. No matter what CTA and His Holiness should not interfering Kamar Kagyu intener problem and cause the Kagyu sect divided. CTA has using politic power to control all the religious affair but not bring unity for religion affair. The result of Karmapa issue uncontrol and growing bigger become one of example failure of Tibetan government in exile.

  10. It’s always harmful to mix spiritual with politic. The Dalai Lama should just stay on with spiritual and within his own school. Why should he get involve in other’s lineage? It’s apply the same concept here where would the Dalai Lama be ok when the Karmapa intervene in Gelupa matter? If not, why interfere others?

    Obviously all these action by CTA and Dalai Lama are purely with political agenda. The funny thing here is that Tibet has lost their country and now living in exile on other’s people land which had a tenure for another 40yrs plus India is befriending China what would be the faith for the Tibetan in India?

    And the most important key question that the Tibetan and also all the people around the world that concern on world peace, religious freedom, human rights and humanity is ‘why the Tibetan leadership discriminate/separate/being violent/support self-immolation’ to their own Tibetan? Why further create all this unnecessary problem for their people which by right the Tibetan leadership should unite all Tibetan and work out on how bring their people back to their homeland.

    The Tibetan in India is really in a negative state and it’s really shameful for the Tibetan leadership who divert their priority from protecting their people, uniting their people, improve the welfare of their people in to creating more trouble for their people.

  11. What did I just read? Instead of uniting Tibetan, spreading Tibetan Buddhism, turning the Dharma wheel, spreading Dharma to every corner to the world, this is what they like to do? Interrupting other lineage’s successor, and showing over power? Come on CTA, mind your own business first, you are already full of s**t, yet you want to show your power over in spirituality? Come on, I think His Holiness should concentrate in spiritual practice and not get involved so much in politics? Him and his government just made the whole religion look more and more complicated. This is not Tibetan want to see. This is not Buddhists want to see. When is this going to end?

  12. All these are purely political play among the power seeker. Knowing that people will flop over and taking side, hence this is being set up to control people’s mind and to split Tibetan apart. Any other reason if having two Karmapas? They are being set a 2 different political parties although the two Karmapa themselves are not intended to.

    When people stand together and unite, they are strong. When people are split and take side, they are weak. When you are weak, outsider can attack you easily and take over. That’s what happening to Dorje Shugden practitioners. When a group of people have same faith, talk with the same mind and unite, very powerful. But Tibetan never unite. They have been played off by their leaders for their own benefits. Hence fail to return to their home land.

  13. The recognition of the 17th Karmapa is supposed to be very serious, holy and transparent. Why the rush especially when there’s disagreement raised by one of the key people?

    June 7, 1992: Shamarpa challenged Tai Situ Rinpoche’s claim of having discovered a secret prediction letter indicating Ogyen Trinley to be the rightful 17th Karmapa.

    June 29, 1992: the Shamarpa personally informed the Dalai Lama of his intention to find and recognize the genuine reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa

    July 23, 1992: instead of respecting the Shamarpa’s stance, the CTA formally issued a special official notification confirming Ogyen Trinley to be the rightful 17th Gyalwa Karmapa.

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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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