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Two Karmapas to jointly recognise the reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche

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Karmapa Thaye Dorje (L) and Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje (R) holding the joint declaration (Photo/Facebook)

By Tsering Dhundup

DHARAMSHALA, Dec 5: Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Karmapa Thaye Dorje, foremost leaders of the Karma Kagyu lineage, issued a joint statement on December 4, 2023, to affirm their collective responsibility and agreement in recognising another key religious figure in the lineage, Shamar Rinpoche. The statement emphasized the need for a unified approach to avoid disagreements and divisions within the Karma Kagyu lineage.

In what is seen as yet another move to mend past rift and misunderstanding in the Karma Kamtsang lineage, the two Karmapas expressed their joint responsibility to recognize Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation and ensure his education, empowerment, transmissions, and pith instructions. The statement asserted that Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation is a crucial point of concern within the Kamtsang and hence interference from uninvolved parties in this process would not be accepted.

The leaders urged followers of the Karma Kagyu lineage commitment to prevent future disputes over the reincarnations of Kagyu masters, particularly the Karmapa and his Heart Sons.

The development follows Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee’s statement in February 2020 at the 37th Kagyu Monlam in Bodh Gaya through a live video feed where he stressed the importance of recognizing Shamar Rinpoche’s reincarnation without mistakes or confusion, stating that a unanimous recognition is crucial for Buddhism and the Karma Kagyu lineage. He highlighted the potential consequences of a disputed reincarnation, leading to division and a lasting feud within the lineage.

The move by the two lamas is being received positively by followers of the lineage which has experienced internal discord in recent decades. In late 2018, the leaders met in France and released a joint statement committing to heal the divisions within the Karma Kagyu lineage.

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. His counterpart Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje was recognised by another prominent religious figure Shamar Rinpoche who passed away in 2014.

One Response

  1. A political move to preserve an outdated and discredited process within Tibetan Buddhism, which is not the same as Vajrayana Buddhism.
    By the alleged crimes of one of the two alleged Karmapas, and by the ridiculous disputes and warring factions within the Kagyu Sangha, the office of Karmapa is now redundant. Any pathetic attempt, by the two claimants to the throne, to jointly find and train a new Shamarpa is just the dying throws of an outmoded medieval system of Tibetan spirituality. I pray to the Great Mother that they do not succeed in picking another unfortunate child to be torn from the bosom of his mother and placed on a throne of bewilderment. I pray for healing for all of the Sanghas of these two pretenders to the throne and I sincerely hope that this will be the start of the end of an inhumane system and practice. The Tulku system. I am very pleased to know that Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche is also highly critical of the Tulku system and the abominable effects on unfortunate children chosen to be suppressed in their childhood from any normal nurturing and placed in the ‘care’ of male only institutions. The monasteries. And placed on thrones to be declared ‘special ‘.

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