H.H. the 17th Karmapa at Tsurphu Monastery

Message from Lama Lodu Rinpoche

As you all know by now, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje has arrived in India and is residing at Dharamsala, an event that is extremely fortunate for all of us who are living outside of Tibet.

Over the years, everywhere I go I have encountered people asking the same question: When will the Karmapa come out of Tibet? My answer has always been that I did not know, since I did not have information on how or when this might take place. This qustion has been put to me by Tibetans and Westerners alike, often with great emotion and tears, as those asking it had no way of knowing if they would be able to see the Karmapa in their lifetime. Monks and lamas, as well as lay practitioners throughout the East and West, have expressed the same sentiment-that to see His Holiness would bring meaning to their lives.

Suddenly, without warning, we are faced with a dream come true. It has been an amazing surprise to everyone, including myself, that this great fortune is suddenly ours. But there is also another side to the story: we have all heard in the news and on the Internet that there is controversy surrounding this event and so we must also take this into account.

The title Karmapa refers to one who embodies enlightened activity; "karma" means "activity" and "pa" means "one who is", and the Karmapa is one who undertakes all the activities of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. When such a powerful source of enlightenment emerges in the world it is not a simple matter at all, due to the fact that we live in a very dark age and one in which many beings are engaged in unvirtuous actions and are afflicted by impure views. Because of this general environment of negativity and obscuration, we cannot even perceive enlightened purity, so our merit is continually diminished and negativity is further reinforced, creating obstacles that interfere with enlightened activity in the world.

One example of this is the case of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni, who came into the world to benefit beings but was hindered by his own cousin Devadatta. However, he was able to overcome this and other obstacles and to attain enlightenment. At that time people had less obstructions and negativity, and more merit and purity than we do today, so it was possible for the Buddha's teaching to come into the world and be of benefit. Similarly, Guru Padmasambhava, Milarepa, and all the other great masters who came after the Buddha had in one way or another to face enormous obstacles, but through their diligence they were able to overcome them, enabling the human beings around them to become more spiritually mature and capable of receiving their teachings.

The controversy and obstacles presently surrounding the Karmapa must not be approached with anger, cruelty, or criticism but rather we must apply our full devotion to the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, the lineage, and our teachers, and we should turn loving kindness and compassion toward all beings, most particularly our enemies and those who contradict our aims and wishes. It is best to engage our speech, minds, and bodies in positive behaviour and to avoid negativity as much as possible. This is the only humble and truthful way to respond to the present situation.

It is important to remember that the confusion that exists here is due to our own ignorance. As for myself, I believe in the view of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, truly a Buddha and all-knowing, who had a clear vision of where the Karmapa would be reborn and has publicly described the particulars of the location and geography, which agree exactly with the 16th Karmapa's letter of prediction. This amazing, perfect match completely dispelled any doubts I may have had.

In addition, I visited Tsurphu monastery in Tibet in 1995 to receive the blessing of His Holiness Urgyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, and when I saw him, all my confusion dissolved. When I heard his words, I was completely transported and didn't feel like I was even on this earth. For awhile, I didn't really know what was happening, but when I came out of the room where His Holiness had received me, an old teacher of mine saw me and thought I must have a bad case of altitude sickness, as my face was so red and my breathing so hard. Another man who was with us thought maybe I should be taken to Lhasa to see a doctor, but I had no discomfort in mind or body; in fact, I have never had such a joyful feeling. To me this indicates that His Holiness is a true Buddha. This is my own experience of meeting him and I am not saying that because I believe you have to also. But now you may have the opportunity to meet him and see for yourselves. You might have a similar experience and then you will know what I'm talking about.

In light of this great and fortunate occurrence, I would like to ask my own students, disciples, and patrons to do the following practice:

First, visualize Amitabha Buddha, with the help of a picture or statue, looking carefully and concentrating on his image. Bring your mind to one-pointed focus on Amitabha and recite the mantra OM AH MI DHE WA HRI for at least one circle of the mala; then visualize that Amitabha is with you and relax your mind without thinking of the past, present, or future. Leave your mind in this non-conceptualized state, yet fully aware.

Next, visualize four-armed Avalokiteshvara, with the help of a picture or statue, and bring your mind, without any thoughts, to concentrate on it one-pointedly, saying the mantra OM MANI PEME HUNG for at least one circle of the mala. Then dissolve Avalokiteshvara within you, disintegrate your mind into spaciousness, free from thoughts of past, present, or future, free of conceptualization, yet fully aware.

Next meditate on Guru Padmasambhava, familiarizing yourself with his image or picture, and bringing him to your mind one-pointedly, not allowing any thoughts to enter, and say OM AH HUNG BENZRA GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG at least one circle of the mala, or more if you wish. Then dissolve Guru Rinpoche's image into yourself and relax your mind without thoughts of past, present, or future yet fully aware.

Finally, if you have met the 16th or 17th Karmapa, visualize either of them as vivid, clear, and transparent-not tangible like flesh-or, if you have not met them you may use a picture of any of the Karmapas, bringing the image into your mind with concentration and one-pointedness, without allowing any thoughts to enter, then recite KARMAPA KHENNO as many times as you can. Merge the image with yourself, disintegrating everything and freeing yourself from thoughts of the past, present, and future, and bring your mind to the non-conceptual level while remaining clear and fully aware.

The Karmapa mantra is the mantra of all Buddhas and bodhisattvas. As I have said, KARMA indicates the activity of the Buddhas and PA means "one who is"; KHENNO means "know me", which is to say that this mantra calls to all the Buddhas to consider one's suffering and confusion. Since all the great masters who teach true Buddha-Dharma are messengers or emanations of the Buddha, this mantra can be addressed to whomever is the source of your devotion.

You may do the above in the sequence given or you may do any one part alone, but at the end you must dedicate the sincere wish that the merit of this spiritual practice will bring happiness to all sentient beings forever. This practice is called the Three Kaya: the first is Dharmakaya, the second Sambhogakaya, the third Nirmanakaya, and the fourth embodies the three in one as the speech, mind, and body of the Buddha. If it is done with loving kindness, compassion, and devotion from the core of your heart, it will be wonderfully effective.

The following is the original practice, as composed by the Karmapa:

It is extremely important to engenerate refuge and Bodhicitta here.

Boundless Lord, Dharmakaya itself,

[Amitabha, Buddha of infinite light]

Noble and excellent Avalokitesvara,

Who is the mighty Samboghakaya,

The one who arose from a lotus,

Guru Padmasambhava, who attained the wisdom body [Nirmanakaya]

And the great glorious Karmapa

Who gathers all [the three kayas] in one essence,

We pray that you grant us your blessings.





This part originated from H.H. Karmapa's speech nectar. Following is the dedication prayer:

By this merit that we have accumulated

through reciting and meditating in this manner,

may I, all those with whom I come in contact, and all beings,

miraculously be born in Dewachen.

As soon as we are born there, and reach the tenth level of Bodhisattva,

may we send out emanations in the ten directions, for the benfit of others.


O wonderful Buddha of Limitless Light,

To your right is the Lord of Great Compassion

[Avalokitesvara], and to your left is the Bodhisattva of Great Power [Vajrapani].

You are surrounded by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, measureless in number.

In this land called Dewachen there is joy and happiness without limit.

May I be born there as soon as I pass from this life,

without taking birth anywhere else. Having been born there, may I see

Amitabha's face. May the Buddha's and Boddhisattvas of the ten directions give us their

Blessings so that the wish expressed in this prayer may be accomplished without hindrance.



I wrote this message from a retreat in Mendocino County as soon as I heard the good news and I very much hope that it will bring great benefit to all of you who read it. My best regards to you all.


Lama Lodo

Kagyu Droden Kunchab, San Francisco

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