The Fate of the Earth

The Fate of the Earth

Dear Editors and Translators:

Well, looks like the flu bug is almost licked by me and it was definitely no fun. But karma always works in strange an unknown ways. I would like to take the time to welcome the latest members of our team: Fredrik and Malin our new Swedish editors. Welcome Fredrik and Malin. I also hope to have good news from India and Bulgaria soon. Then our international team will finally be in place and I will be able to devote my energies completely to the creative business at hand.

It should be obvious to you all by now that spiritual power is more important and safer than any other kind of power: Psychic, magical, political, economic, or technological. These other powers are double-edged swords. With that precautionary message….

Today I am addressing the Kagyu war in a short update. As some of you may know. Last year the 17th Karmapa escaped Tibet and was given a warm welcome by his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharmasala: The Tibetan capital in exile. The flight of Urgyen Tinley Dorje to India now completes a story that started with the death of the 16th Karmapa, Ranjung Rigpe Dorje in Chicago in 1981.

Harvest of Gems narrates the struggle that broke out between the rival Lamas over the succession of the 16th Karmapa. But the story ended with uncertainy over the outcome of this struggle. To put some context to these past and recent events, let’s go back in time to the 800’s AD. It was back then that the great Indian adept Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to the wilds of Tibet. Europe was still sleeping, but Charlemagne had started the first moves towards a new and revived Europe. Constantinople was still the greatest center of power and culture in the West, but in Asia much more powerful and ancient kingdoms were coming and going in India. Padmasambhava lived in India during a time of great religious and economic revival. This is later fully explored in Forty Immutable Parables.


The Muslim wave was beating at both Europe and India and this clash of cultures would have profound global repercussions in the future. But Tibet was now the scene of Buddhism’s last major penetration. It was Padmasambhava who carried this final Buddhist crusade to the Land of the Snows. This great sorcerer Lama pacified not only the local Bon priesthood, but also all resisting demon allies that were in alliance with them. Padmasambhava founded the oldest Tibetan Buddhist sect, the Ngyingma who were ultimately succeeded by the Sakaya and Kagyu sects and finally the Gelupa sect which has the Dalai Lama as its figurehead. Today all four sects now live in exile since the invasion of the Chinese communists in 1950 and the Dalai Lama’s exile in 1959.

The 16th Karmapa

The 17th Karmapa after his escape

The Kagyu sect was founded by the great Tibetan saints Marpa and Milarepa. Since their passing a succession of reincarnating lamas called the Karmpas have taken control of the Kagyu throne and Black Crown. Legend has it that there will be only 25 reincarnations in this lineage. Also the 5th Karmapa predicted a split between the succession of the 16th and 17th Karmapas. This did indeed came to pass. The writer was new to Tibetan Buddhism when the split occurred in 1992. My “ reconnection “ to Tibetan Buddhism began with an “ accidental “ trip to Tibet in 1984 and my first empowerment with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1989 in Los Angeles. By the time of the split my spiritual pilgrimage in America was well underway and my ties to the Kagyus in particular were quite strong. It was in this context that I went to Eurasia in 1993 and did pilgrimage with many Kagyu leaders in Bodgaya. Particularly, Kalu Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche, and Lama Wangchen. I also met Situ Rinpoche in Sikkim a year after he had found the new Karmapa in Tibet in 1992.

Harvest of Gems chronicles the dirty war between Situ and the renegade regent Sharmapa. There is no need to go into further details. But last January the Earth shook as Situ welcomed the new 17th Karmapa after his dramatic escape from Tibet by car and foot. The long stalemate came to an end. The Chinese government’s attempts to turn the 17th Karmapa into a puppet had failed. So had Sharmapa’s attempts at foisting a false boy onto the throne. It is now only a matter of time before the true Karmapa is enthroned finally at Rumtek. Yet, the writer cannot but feel uneasy today. Where there is great karma there is always great mara. Where there is powerful light, demon hordes are not far behind.

Michael with Situ in Rumtek, 1994

The Kagyu war has left the Tibetans with serious divisions and the continuing tensions between India and China over Sikkim and an accelerating nuclear arms race in the region leaves little to celebrate about nowadays. A Muslim revolution continues to sweep the region even as it eats away at Russia’s and China’s frontiers. This combustionable mix of high-tech weapons and ideology is definitely a new and more lethal demon drama. The writer himself plans to go on one final pilgrimage to Asia next year to pay his respects to the 17th Karmapa at a time when his own relations with the Tibetan religious hierarchy has become lukewarm at best.

What has happened? Forty Immutable Parables will give you the answer, if you dare to go look for it.

Now three pictures for all of you:

In a few Days:

A visit to Olema: California’s most sacred spot and a peek into past volumes of Harvest of Gems both unpublished and unedited in English.


All contents of this site © Finberg Books by Michael Arthur Finberg