Karmapa Remains in the U.S.

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The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje will remain in the U.S. indefinitely.  This was related in a blog post by October 17, 2017.  The move may signify a pivot from India to the U.S.  It certainly indicates the relaxation of Indian control over his travel and, by extension, the fate of an important strand of Tibetan Buddhism.

Writing on the Buddhistdoor website, (https://www.buddhistdoor.net/news/karmapa-extends-stay-in-us-health-concerns-cited)  Justin Whitaker notes the official reason given is health.  ” … the Karmapa traveled from Germany to the US to visit his ailing 80-year-old senior attendant Gelek Kunchok, who has been hospitalized in New York. While there, the Karmapa himself underwent a general health check-up, which reportedly revealed some causes for concern.”

Health concerns offer a face-saving reason for not returning to India.  According to some critics India has exerted excessively tight control over the Karmapa’s activities ever since he arrived in India from Tibet in 2000.  There have been rumors within India that he was a Chinese plant or “spy;” these surfaced most clearly during a foreign currency controversy involving his staff in 2011 (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/feb/10/karmapa-lama-cash-beijing-chinese).  Regardless of the rumors, his travel both within India and overseas has been tightly regulated.  He only made his first overseas trip in 2008.  At the same time the Karmapa’s primary role has been as a religious teacher with widespread support among followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Karmapa’s own website still features his normal busy schedule for the cool season:

Pre-Monlam Teachings on The King of Samadhi Sutra
February 22–24, 2018

35th Kagyu Monlam
February 26–March 5, 2018

Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering
March 8–25, 2018

If his stay in the U.S. will indeed be indefinite, his office will need to revise these schedules in the coming week.s

 

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