Fate of the Earth
Editors and Translators:
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
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.
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, lets go back in time to the 800s 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.
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 Buddhisms
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 Lamas
exile in 1959.
The 16th Karmapa
17th Karmapa after his escape
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.
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 governments
attempts to turn the 17th Karmapa into a puppet had failed.
So had Sharmapas 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
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 Russias and Chinas
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.
has happened? Forty Immutable Parables will give you the answer,
if you dare to go look for it.
three pictures for all of you:
a few Days:
visit to Olema: Californias most sacred spot and a peek
into past volumes of Harvest of Gems both unpublished and unedited