By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 10: The two main claimants to the title of the foremost religious head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorjee, will join hands to recognise the reincarnation of a ranking lama Shamar Rinpoche to bring unity and cement the future of the lineage.
“It is extremely important that Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation be recognized without any mistake or confusion, without any “our side” or “their side.” Having a unanimous recognition is absolutely crucial for Buddhism in general and our lineage in particular, and with this in mind, Gyalwa Thaye Dorje and I intend to cooperate in the search and recognition,” Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee said Sunday at the 37th Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya through live video feed.
He added that the issue warrants a “wider perspective” as well as “long term view” for the betterment of the particular school of Tibetan Buddhism. He said, “I see the reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche as a crucial point for bringing unity to the Kamtsang, and am putting effort into it. If the reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche is disputed, in the future, all the Kamtsang high lamas will be disputed and the Kamtsang will be completely split.
“The attachment and hatred will be the same as in a feud that lasts for generations. If we fall under its power, all the majesty and power of over nine hundred years of history will be destroyed.”
The move is seen as another step by the two lamas to mend division and promote unity within the lineage that over the last few decades saw internal rift and discord between main rival camps. In late 2018, the two met in France and later released a joint statement where they said they talked about ways “to heal the divisions that have unfortunately developed within our precious Karma Kagyu lineage in recent years. We view it as our duty and responsibility to do whatever we can to bring the lineage together.”
The Karmapa controversy stems primarily due to the emergence of opposing claimants to the title of the age-old Karma Kagyu lineage. The Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje who escaped Tibet in the year 2000 was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 17th Karmapa and enjoys backing from key ranking figures in the lineage such as Tai Situpa.
Rumtek monastery, also called Dharmachakra centre in Sikkim, considered as the main seat of Karma Kagyu lineage in exile is also the focal point of this sectarian tension between the two organizations, Tsurphu Labrang (supporting Ogyen Trinley Dorje) and Karmapa Charitable trust (supporting Thaye Dorje).