His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa
Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje
Compiled by Ken Holmes
Many people have heard of the Dalai Lama, but fewer are aware of the unique role of the Gyalwa Karmapa, Tibet's very first 'reincarnate' lama. In June 1985, among the nomads of Eastern Tibet, the Karmapa took birth again for the 17th time in this millennium, fulfilling the hopes and prayers of millions of Buddhists of the Kagyu tradition worldwide.
Like so many of his fellow lamas, the previous Karmapa, the 16th, left Tibet at the time of the Chinese invasion in the 1950s, brining with him a treasury of Buddhist teachings which had been preserved for more than 800 years in the isolated beauty of 'the land of the snows'. Since that time these teachings have taken root in many countries around the world.
After the 16th Karmapa's death in 1981 his followers had to wait until 1992 to discover his reincarnation. He was found exactly in accordance with instructions left in a letter he himself had concealed in an amulet given to one of his chief disciples, the 12th Tai Situpa. The Dalai Lama subsequently gave his official approval and the 17th Karmapa was enthroned in his traditional seat at Tsurphu, not far from Lhasa, in Tibet.
Drawing on a quarter-century of experience close to the senior lamas of the Kagyu tradition, including the 16th Karmapa, Ken Holmes presents extremely useful and not always widely available information on topics such as the Karmapa's uniqueness, his lineage, reincarnation, the land of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism itself - particularly that branch of it that the Karmapa embodies so perfectly. He has created this book as 'simple advice from a friend' in the hope that it will help those who meet the Karmapa to gain more benefit from their experience and others to discover someone who will doubtless be an important figure in the coming century.
Holmes. About the 17th Karmapa, his discovery and enthronement, the Karma Kagyu lineage and Vajrayana Buddhism as practised by this lineage of the Karmapas.
Published by Altea Publishing 1995, ISBN 0 9524555 4 4.
The author maintains a website about the book.
Cover photo by Magda Wangyal: H.H. the 17th Karmapa, Summer 1995
The Black Crown Ceremony
Previous unpublished photo © Tibetan Clipart
Source of text: "Karmapa" by Ken Holmes