Question: Rinpoche, I have a number of questions about His Holiness Karmapa. The first one is, did any of the Karmapas attain buddhahood?
Rinpoche: I believe so, yes. My guru, the supreme leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage and the Kagyu lineage at large, is the embodiment of Chenrezig, yes, yes.
Question: Can you say something about The Seventeenth Karmapa, how he’s doing, what he’s like, what his situation in Tshurpu is like, how his education is progressing?
Rinpoche: Yes, I have had the great opportunity and privilege to see him about four times now in different situations. It was really an inspiration of the highest level. I don’t want to go into detail about that, but, in general, His Holiness is physically extremely healthy, and mentally he is extremely intelligent. He has performed lots of miracles, although that is not very important But miracles have happened anyway.
Tshurpu Monastery [the traditional seat of the Karmapas and the present home of The Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa] right now has over 400 monks. And Tshurpu’s retreats— almost every one of the Karmapas had their own retreat in the mountains around Tshurpu, which range from something like 12,000 to 15,000 feet above sea level—most of these retreats in the mountains around Tshurpu are now occupied by very good practitioners, mostly by nuns, actually. Most of them are nuns coming from all parts of Tibet. And the monastery itself has two retreat centers, both having monks doing three-year retreats for quite some time now. His Holiness sees people every day. When I was there he was seeing people every day at two o’clock in the afternoon. And every day several hundred people were there to see him, coming from all parts of Tibet, from Europe, from America, from everywhere, Southeast Asia, everywhere. And then, from time to time, he also gave empowerments. And everything is really wonderful; really, really good. I must tell you that Tshurpu Monastery officially is allowed by the Chinese government to have only 100 monks. But, now there are 400 monks.