2001/04/29

The Observer: Interview with His Holiness Apr 29, 2001 (United Kingdom)


BY LUKE HARDING

THE LHATOK region of eastern Tibet is about as remote as the country gets. Only a few hardy nomads eke out a living here, tending their yaks and wandering across a vast expanse of grassland enclosed by white mountains.

It was here 15 years ago that Ogyen Trinley Dorje was born, a baby whose life would eventually cause the Chinese government a great deal of embarrassment.

It was when he was eight that a search party arrived at his parents' yak hair tent and solemnly announced that their mission was over. They had found the Karmapa, the latest incarnation of one of Tibetan Buddhism's most senior leaders.

Three suns promptly appeared in the sky. Before that, 'it would have seemed extremely disrespectful to have imagined I might be the Karmapa,' he said yesterday.

Dorje was bundled off to Tsurphu monastery, 30 miles from the capital, Lhasa. The boy's status was swiftly recognised by the Chinese government, which spent six years grooming him as a pliant rival to the Dalai Lama.

By late 1999, however, the Karmapa had had enough of Beijing's script. He jumped off the monastery roof, got into a waiting car and was driven away. He managed to cross the border into Nepal three days later. 'We didn't know what they would have done had we been caught. Only they know that,' he said last night.

The Karmapa's dramatic escape - which echoed the Dalai Lama's flight from Tibet 40 years earlier - captured the West's imagination and made him a celebrity.

But it also plunged the boy lama into a political chess game. Shortly after greeting the Dalai Lama for the first time, with blistered feet and cracked cheeks, the Karmapa found himself more or less locked up in a monastery near Dharmasala, the scruffy hill station in northern India which is home to the Tibetan government in exile.

'I sometimes wondered who had taken my freedom away,' he said. 'It wasn't that much different from my previous state in Tibet, where I was constantly watched.' The Indian security guards who lived downstairs rarely allowed him out.

Two months ago, however, India finally granted him political asylum, allowing him to give this, his first full interview with a journalist. 'He's beautiful,' one slightly dotty American disciple gushed, shortly before I was ushered into the boy's reception room, decorated with Buddhist wall hangings and flickering candles.

She was right. With cherubic red cheeks and an open, expressive face the Karmapa looked every inch an incarnation of Buddha, which his followers believe he is.

Had he as a young child had any idea who he was? 'Very simply a human being. I never thought of myself as the Karmapa,' he said.

Dorje was one of the youngest of nine children. His family was nomadic, moving three times a year across an almost deserted landscape of wild flowers and mountains, herding yaks, goats and sheep.

'We lived like native Americans,' he recalled. 'We survived on animal products such as butter, meat and milk. It was an extremely isolated and natural environment. Because of that in the region there was a great degree of faith in Buddhism.

'My family was neither wealthy nor impoverished,' he added. The only drawback to this romantically bleak and 'undisturbed' place was winter. 'The winters were very cold, with biting wind,' the Karmapa said.

His life was transformed after he was recognised as the seventeenth Karmapa, the head of the powerful Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism which emerged in the twelfth century.

Chinese Communist Party officials started courting him soon after he was installed in Tsurphu monastery in 1992. They whisked him off on tours of China, showered him with toys - his favourite was a remote controlled lorry - and introduced him to Jiang Zemin, the Chinese President.

'The whole thing was presented to me as if it was a vacation or tour,' he said. 'As a Tibetan, I had thought of the Communist government as something that was negative, which was harming us. But when I met Jiang Zemin at a function in Tiananmen Square my impression of him was neutral. I didn't get the impression of him as either good or bad.'

But the Karmapa, who had been recognised by the Dalai Lama, never intended to be Beijing's protege. He made it clear he wanted to go to India to meet several of his religious teachers who were in exile there. The Chinese government refused, repeatedly.

So after mulling over an escape for a year, he and a handful of followers, including his sister Ngodup Palzom, set off across western Tibet in darkness, intent on reaching freedom.

'There were five or six checkpoints across the road. But since we were driving at night the barriers were open. We reached the first of two army camps. Someone shone a flashlight at us, so I jumped out with two attendants and circumvented the camp by walking over the hills.

'The others travelled through, unquestioned. We rejoined them, and drove through the final camp unchallenged.'

They crossed Nepal on horseback, by helicopter and on foot to enter India, where the Karmapa was virtually imprisoned by intelligence agents in Gyuto Monastery, near Dharamsala.

The Karmapa has made it clear he wants to travel to his sect's principal monastery, Rumtek, in Sikkim. But so far the Indian government has prevented him from going. China has never accepted Sikkim as part of India, and it seems officials fear his presence there would further offend Beijing.

The Chinese government, for which the Karmapa's flight was a public relations disaster, issued a ludicrous statement after his escape claiming that he had gone to India merely to collect a sacred black hat and religious instruments. He would be back soon, they hinted.

But he told me: 'Having received the status of a refugee I don't plan to return to Tibet unless the Dalai Lama does.'

Meanwhile, he and his sister still spend most of their time in the monastery. They have had no contact with their family left behind in Tibet.

The Karmapa, who has acquired a Pekinese dog, Dekyi, and a white cockatoo, spends most of his days studying Buddhist texts and meeting disciples, who include Richard Gere and Pierce Brosnan. He also writes poetry, reads poems and paints. 'I'm exploring painting myself without instruction,' he said.

The Karmapa is clearly a serious and exceptionally intelligent 15-year-old. Few can doubt his credentials as a future Tibetan leader, although one dissident regent in his sect has accused him of being a Chinese stooge, and appointed a rival Karmapa in his place.

The stooge claim seems to be unfounded. The Dalai Lama has ruled out the Karmapa as a potential successor. Yet few doubt he is likely to fill the interregnum which would follow the 65-year-old Dalai Lama's death, before the leader's next incarnation is discovered.

The interview over, we walk on to the Karmapa's roof terrace. The boy, clutching a well-behaved Dekyi, poses for photographs beneath a red, white and blue Buddhist flag.

The sun is shining but the sky is thunderous. We are far from Tibet, But the snow-covered mountains above hint at what the Karmapa has left behind, probably forever.

All Material Subject to Copyright





http://www.kagyuoffice.org/karmapa.reference.media.observer.010429.html


2001/04/28

The Telegraph: “Daunting audience with a 900-year-old teenager” April 28 , 2001 (London)


BY MICK BROWN

FEARS for the Karmapa's safety since his flight from Tibet to India, can make meeting him a daunting experience. On the three occasions I have met him since his arrival in India 16 months ago, the procedure has always been the same.
First one must negotiate the armed police who prowl the steps leading to the Gyuto monastery where he lives. At the door, one is searched and one's name and passport number logged, before being led up the four flights of narrow stairs to the audience room, where yet another screen of security men stand.

Then there is the imponderable weight of his spiritual ancestry to consider. The present Karmapa - the 17th of his line - is believed to be the repository of an unbroken line of teachings going back 2,500 years to the time of the Buddha himself, and the Karmapas are the oldest line of identifiable reincarnates in Tibetan Buddhism. The first Karmapa was recognised about 900 years ago - 400 years before the first Dalai Lama.

Regarded as the great miracle-workers of Tibetan Buddhism, they are unique in leaving instructions at their deaths about where their next incarnation will be found. The 16th Karmapa who died in 1981, was believed to have the ability to control the weather, talk to birds and leave imprints of his hand and feet in solid rock. His letter of prediction was found eight years after his death, leading to the discovery of the present Karmapa, living in a nomad family in eastern Tibet.

Enthroned at the ancestral seat of Tsurphu monastery in 1992 with the permission of the Chinese, the Karmapa remained in Tibet until last year, when he fled to India to join the Dalai Lama in exile.

Since arriving in India, he has been confined in the small Gyuto monastery in Dharamsala. Last month, after finally being formally granted refugee status, he was allowed to make a pilgrimage to Buddhist sites in India; but he is still forbidden to travel to his seat of Rumtek monastery, in Sikkim, which was established by his predecessor the 16th Karmapa after his flight from Tibet in 1959.

His court at Gyuto is a miniature of the system that has served successive Karmapas for centuries. His inner circle is made up of his monk tutors and personal attendants, including members of the party who escaped with him from Tibet. Among these are one of the lamas who planned the escape (another remained behind), and the Karmapa's elderly chamberlain, who serves his meals, prepares his clothes and ministers to his daily needs, and who fulfilled the same functions for his predecessor.

His closest confidants are two middle-aged lamas, one of whom he refers to as "uncle", both highly educated in Buddhist philosophy, fluent in English, well-travelled and politically astute. Then there is the outer circle, or labrang, made up of a handful of lay people who administer the Karmapa's affairs.

In the 16 months that his entourage has been confined in Gyuto, the small, cramped warren of rooms of the monastery have come to resemble a refugee camp. Monks sleep on camp-beds, dormitory style, and administrators have been working amidst a tangle of papers, cardboard boxes and piles of clothes. Adding to this disarray is the daily avalanche of offerings from devotees who arrive at the monastery to receive his blessing.

While only 15, the Karmapa is a tall, powerfully built figure, whose presence seems to fill the room. His smile can change in an instant to an expression of fierce intensity which devotees call "wrathful". Even his closest attendants confess that they feel uncomfortable holding his gaze for too long.

Conversing with him, one is left in no doubt that he has a strong mind of his own; his comments yesterday about China's President Jiang suggest he also possesses sharply ironic sense of humour.


Material Subject to Copyright  



2001/04/27

Transcript of Press Conference of the Karmapa (April 27, 2001)


  Transcript of a Press Conference with His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa

held April 27, 2001 at Gyuto Ramoche
Tantric University, Sidbhari, Himachal Pradesh, India
(Note: for a list of translations into other languages available on the internet, click here)






---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Japanese Broadcasting Corporation: How long are you going to Stay in India? Will you go back to China?

His Holiness Karmapa: Having come here to India from Tibet as a refugee and in accordance with that having received the status of a refugee, I do not plan to return to Tibet until HH the Dalai Lama returns. I will go back with him.


Ajit Jagra: I would like to know what actually inspired you to come to India since you have lots of followers all over the world?

His Holiness Karmapa: One of the most important reasons why I was inspired to come to India was so that I would be able to see or visit the sacred places of this country [India].


Norway Radio of Tibet: Your Holiness, since you have come to India, the government of China has asserted that you did not come to take up residence in this country, but only to reclaim the Black Hat and other possessions of your predecessor; that you would be returning to China, and that you left a letter behind you in Tibet that stated that?

His Holiness Karmapa: It is true that I left a letter behind me, but as I wrote the letter myself, I'm perfectly aware of what was in it and what wasn't. I said in the letter that I left because, although I had for a long time, persistently and repeatedly, requested permission to travel internationally, I had never received it and so I had to leave. I did not in the letter mention the Black Crown, the Black Hat. Why would I want to retrieve that from India and bring it back to China anyway? The only thing that would be served or accomplished by doing so that would be to place that Hat on Jiang Zemin's head.


Italian News Service: Your Holiness in your statement you never mentioned the Shamarpa who is the second highest Kagyu lama and has accused you of being a Chinese agent. What is your opinion of this?

His Holiness Karmapa: Up to this point, I have done my best to deal with the situation in an appropriate way and therefore I saw no reason to it speculate about it or write about it in my statement as that would only make things worse.


The Week: I just wanted to ask the Karmapa whether while he was in Tibet there was any pressure placed upon him by the Chinese to recognize the Panchen Lama that they selected?

His Holiness Karmapa: There was no particular pressure placed on me to support the Chinese government's recognition of their Panchen Lama, but I was invited to his hair cutting and ordination.


PTI: Sir, It took you only thirty hours to come out of Tibet into Nepal and yet it took you more than five days to reach Dharamsala within a free country. Why so? [question repeated] Why did a journey of 1500 kilometers take 30 hours and yet it took 5 days to reach here [Dharamsala] form Nepal. It's been said that [inaudible] helped you reach Nepal. Is Situ Rinpoche an agent of the Chinese?

His Holiness Karmapa: The reason why parts of the journey took longer than others was because of the distance to be traveled and the difficulty of traveling in that region. The whole journey took 8 days and I think I have explained the times pretty clearly in my statement. I don't think I can say anything clearer than that. As far as his Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche is concerned, while I was in Tibet, I repeatedly asked the government of China for permission to invite him to Tsurphu so that I could receive the empowerments, transmissions, and instructions that I wished to received from him. But they refused to allow Tai Situ Rinpoche to enter China, saying that he could not come because he had too close a connection to HH the Dalai Lama and was, therefore, inadmissible to the country of China. I think that if what you said were true, that they would have been delighted to let him in.


Australian newspaper: Do you intend to work with the Dalai Lama in the cause of promoting world awareness of Tibet and in the cause of Tibetan independence or autonomy?

His Holiness Karmapa: As I mentioned in my statement earlier, what has made Tibet so famous throughout the world is its religious tradition and culture. So I regard it as my duty and responsibility to support the religion and culture of Tibet as much and as vigorously as I can. I think that by doing this I will benefit Tibetans and the people in Tibet and benefit the situation in Tibet as well. In that sense, in the sense of supporting Tibetan religion and culture I will assist His Holiness the Dalai Lama as much as I can.


The Daily Telegraph: Your Holiness, you are one of the most famous lamas of Tibet and are regarded as someone who can know the past and future. Would you, therefore, care to comment on where you will be in 15 years?

His Holiness Karmapa: Never mind the future, I will forget tomorrow what I said today.


Are you worried about Tibetan culture becoming extinct because of the state of affairs in China?

His Holiness Karmapa: [As a Dharma practitioner not involved in politics], all I can say is that every nation has its own distinct spiritual tradition and culture. If any of these are in danger of becoming extinct, I would hope that that would not happen.


Newsweek: Are the Chinese waiting for the Dalai Lama to pass away in the hopes that that will be the end of the Tibetan independence movement and that they will thereafter be able to fully absorb Tibetan culture within Han Chinese culture?

His Holiness Karmapa: His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not that old and is in very good health.
In addition, I constantly pray for his longevity and I am confident that the situation of his passing will not occur for a long time. It is quite possible that before then the political situation in China will change considerably. In addition, the power of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's aspirations and compassion is inconceivable. With regard to the youth of Tibet, I think the most important thing is for them to concentrate on the preservation of the spiritual and cultural traditions of Tibet. And His Holiness the Dalai Lama regularly gives them the same advice.

BBC: What future would you like to see for Tibet?

His Holiness Karmapa:
Since the foundation of the spiritual tradition of Tibet is non-violence and peace, my greatest aspiration is that Tibet abide in the future in a state of non-violence and peace or tranquillity.


The Times: I understand that you have recently spoken about your parents. Do you have any concern about your parents being ill-treated or your followers? And do you know where your parents are?

His Holiness Karmapa: Of course, one's parents are extremely important to anyone, because in a sense our parents are of the greatest kindness to us of anyone. And therefore, for me as well, the situation and circumstances of my parents are very important. Nevertheless, for the reasons I explained in my statement, I felt it was necessary for me to leave them behind. In this situation, I do not know the precise details of my parents' circumstances.

However, I continually pray for the welfare of my parents and everyone in Tibet.


Star News: What sort of cooperation have you received from the Indian government? What restrictions, if any, have they placed on your travel?

His Holiness Karmapa: In general the Government of India has been extremely helpful and generous to me. In particular I have been given permission to reside in the country and was also given permission to go on pilgrimage.


Hindustan Times: Karmapa, it is said that you were being reared by China for a political purpose. If so, what was that purpose, particularly in regard to Tibetan independence?

His Holiness Karmapa: I have heard it said that in a sense the Government of China was planning to make use of me. I was certainly treated as someone very special. For example, when I was taken on tour in China to Beijing, I was well-treated.

But I came to suspect that there might be a plan to use me to separate the people within Tibet from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.


Asahi Shimbun: Your Holiness, do you plan on learning English and other foreign languages to communicate with other cultures as has His Holiness the Dalai Lama?

His Holiness Karmapa: Having been born in Tibet, in addition to Tibetan, I speak what I would call slightly broken Chinese, and I am acquiring a little bit of English and have the intention of learning Japanese some day.


Times of India: Why did it take you such a long time to interact with the media? And don't you think that the interest the Western media has shown in you is a ploy to [?discredit, tape not clear] China?

His Holiness Karmapa: I agree that it took a long time for me to meet with the media. I wanted to straightforwardly present the true story of my coming here, but my situation did not allow me to have this kind of press meeting until now. In answer to your second question, I think it is not only the Western media but also the Asian media that are interested in my situation, and as they are all free to take interest in whatever they wish, I cannot guess and do not know the motivation behind their interest.


Reuters: I think we got only half the answer to a question posed by my colleague. What specific restrictions have been placed upon your travel in India?

His Holiness Karmapa: Having been given permission or status to reside in India, I am free to travel within this country. The restrictions on this or exceptions to this are that I may not go to Sikkim and I may not go to Sherab Ling, which I find confusing.


Reuters: How do you react to the assertion of some Karma Kagyu followers that Thaye Dorje is the real Karmapa?

His Holiness Karmapa: The identity of the Karmapa is not decided by a popular vote or a debate between groups. It is decided only by the prediction of the previous Karmapa.


London Times: What do you do on an average day?

His Holiness Karmapa: I study and practice Buddhism.



Translations into other languages (note: the referenced translations are not official translations of the Kagyu Office and are provided for convenience):




Press Statement of the Karmapa (April 27, 2001)


Press Statement from His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje[1]

              
On December 28, 1999, under the cover of a dark night, my senior attendant and I escaped from my monastery in Tibet and fled to India to seek refuge. The decision to leave my homeland, monastery, monks, parents, family, and the Tibetan people was entirely my own--no one told me to go and no one asked me to come. I left my country to impart the Buddha's teachings in general and, in particular, to receive the excellent empowerments, transmissions, and instructions of my own Karma Kagyu tradition. These I could only receive from the main disciples of the previous Karmapa, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, who were predicted to be my teachers and who reside in India.


“There have been various reports in the press about my escape, and so I will simply and briefly tell the truth about my journey. In great secrecy, my companions and I made our plans, using various stories to cover our true activities. For example, when the preparations were complete, I announced that I was entering a traditional, strict retreat and would not come out for some days. This story worked and prevented us from being pursued right away.

“On December 28, around 10:30 at night, my attendant and I slowly climbed down from my room and jumped onto the roof of the Protector Mahakala's shrine room. From this building, we leapt to the ground where a jeep was waiting nearby with Lama Tsultrim and a driver. We left immediately. The story had been given out that Lama Tsultrim and his companions were going on a journey. As if preparing for this, they had driven in and out of the monastery several times during the day, and, therefore, everyone knew about this trip and we could easily leave. Usually, the monastery was strictly guarded, but no twenty-four hour guards were posted and we also left through a side road.

“After a while, Lama Tsewang and another driver joined us at a designated place. We decided to head directly towards western Tibet since few travelers used this road and the check posts were not so strictly guarded. Driving day and night, we stopped only to change drivers. By taking back roads through the hills and valleys, we evaded check posts and two army camps. Through the power of my prayers to the Buddha and through his compassion, we were not discovered and arrived in Mustang, Nepal, on the morning of December 30, 1999. Continuing the journey on foot and horseback, we crossed over several passes and finally reached Manang as I had planned. This part was extremely difficult and exhausting due to the poor and often dangerous condition of the paths and the freezing cold weather. During this time, I was tired and not very well physically, yet despite the difficulties, I was completely determined to reach my goal.

“Once in Manang, a close friend of Lama Tsewang Tashi helped us hire a helicopter. We landed in a place of Nepal known as Nagarkot and then went by car to Rauxal. From there, we traveled by train to Lucknow and continued with a rented car to Delhi, arriving at last in Dharamsala early on the morning of January 5, 2000. I went straight to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the very embodiment of compassion, and he received me with his great love and affection. My joy knew no bounds.

“Ever since my arrival, the Dalai Lama has given his continual and generous assistance. Following his wishes, the Office of Religion and Culture from the Tibetan Government in Exile has made arrangements for my temporary stay at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University. Situ Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and other major Kagyu lamas, in addition to reincarnate lamas and followers from all the other traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, have come to visit and kindly shown their concern for my well being. This was a source of great happiness for me.

“Pursuing my aim in fleeing Tibet, I am now receiving from Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche all the empowerments and transmissions of the Kagyu lineage that are possible under these present circumstances. Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche and other Kagyu masters are teaching me the treatises of the Buddhist philosophical tradition. In this way, I am preparing for my life's work to teach and study Buddhism and to encourage compassion and wisdom within the hearts of all beings.

“In 1959, my previous incarnation, HH the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, was also forced to flee Tibet and come to India as a refugee. He settled in Sikkim and, with the assistance of the Central Government and the State Government of Sikkim, he was able to build the Dharmachakra Center, Rumtek Monastery, which became the basis for his worldwide activity. It was venerated and famous everywhere as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage. Therefore, HH the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile, Tibetan people from all over the world, and the Buddhist community of India, in addition to almost all Kagyu lamas and members of their Dharma centers, consider it extremely important that I go to my main seat in Rumtek. They have made repeated requests that I be able to do so. From my point of view, going to Rumtek Monastery would be like returning home to continue the activity of my predecessor. This is why I consider it so important.

“I am fully confident that I will be able to go there since Sikkim is a state of India. I am also confident that just as my predecessor did, I will be able to travel abroad to meet my numerous disciples and fulfill their spiritual needs. With this end in mind, I have submitted an application to the proper authorities.

“I am especially grateful to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile, and the people and Government of India, all of whom have shown great kindness and generosity in providing for my stay in India. With great appreciation and respect, I offer them my thanks.

“In the past, the Gyalwa Karmapas did not engage in political activity and I can do nothing but follow in their footsteps. Concerning the future path of Tibet and the Tibetan people, I endorse and fully support everything that His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama stands for. Embodying universal love, compassion, and nonviolence, he is the supreme leader of Tibet and the champion of world peace and human rights.

“Recently, HH the Dalai Lama and my disciples in Sikkim and the rest of India, in addition to disciples and centers abroad, made earnest and repeated requests to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, and the Foreign Minister to grant refugee status to myself and those with me. After due consideration, the Indian Government decided to grant us refugee status.

“With this new status, I was able to go on pilgrimage for five weeks, visiting major sites of Buddhism in the sacred land of India. In these places, I gave blessings and initiations according to the wishes of numerous disciples who came from near and far.

“Today, many people from the media in the East and West have come here for this press meeting. I consider it a precious occasion and give my thanks to each and every one of you. I thought it was important that the world know the true story and my true purpose in coming here. This was not possible until now, however, due to circumstances beyond my control. I hope that after this press meeting today, you will sincerely help everyone to know the truth. Tashi Delek.”
Karmapa's Current Activities


[1] for Press Meeting held April 27, 2001 at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University, Sidbhari, Himachal Pradesh, India



http://www.kagyuoffice.org/karmapa.reference.officialreleases.010427Statement.html

Karmapa Press Converence April 27, 2001 (Worldbridges.Tibet)






Press Statement from His Holiness the 17 year old Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje April 27, 2001, Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University, Sidbhari, Distt. Kangra, HP, India

On December 28, 1999, under the cover of a dark night, my senior attendant and I escaped from my monastery in Tibet and fled to India to seek refuge. The decision to leave my homeland, monastery, monks, parents, family, and the Tibetan people was entirely my own: no one told me to go and no one asked me to come. I left my country to impart the Buddha's teachings in general and, in particular, to receive the excellent empowerment, transmissions, and instructions of my own Karma Kagyu tradition. These I could only receive from the main disciples of the previous Karmapa, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, who were predicted to be my teachers and who reside in India.

There have been various reports in the press about my escape, and so I will simply and briefly tell the truth about my journey. In great secrecy, my companions and I made our plans, using various stories to cover our true activities. For example, when the preparations were complete, I announced that I was entering a traditional, strict retreat and would not come out for some days. This story worked and prevented us from being pursued right away. 

On December 28, around 10:30 at night, my attendant and I slowly climbed down from my room and jumped onto the roof of the Protector Mahakala's shrine room. From this o building, we leapt to the ground where a jeep was waiting nearby with Lama Tsultrim and a driver. We left immediately. The story had been given out that Lama Tsultrim and his companions were going on a journey. As if preparing for this, they had driven in and out of the monastery several times during the day, and, therefore, everyone knew about this trip and we could easily leave. Usually, the monastery was strictly guarded, but no twenty- four-hour guards were posted and we also left through a side road. 

After a while, Lama Tsewang and another driver joined us at a designated place. We decided to head directly towards western Tibet since few travellers used this road and the check posts were not so strictly guarded. Driving day and night, we stopped only to change drivers. By taking back roads through the hills and valleys, we avoided check posts and two army camps. Through the power of my prayers to the Buddha and through his compassion, we were not discovered and arrived in Mustang, Nepal, on the morning of December 30, 1999. Continuing the journey on foot and horseback, we crossed over several passes and finally reached Manang as I had planned. This part was extremely difficult and exhausting due to the poor and often dangerous condition of the paths and the freezing cold weather. During this time, I was tired and not very well physically, yet despite the difficulties, I was completely determined to reach my goal. 


Once in Manang, a close friend of Lama Tsewang Tashi helped us hire a helicopter. We landed in a place of Nepal known as Nagarkot and then went by car to Rauxal. From there, we travelled by train to Lucknow and continued with a rented car to Delhi, arriving at last in Dharamsala early on the morning of January 5, 2000. I went straight to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the very embodiment of compassion, and he received me with his great love and affection. My joy knew no bounds. 

Ever since my arrival, the Dalai Lama has given his continual and generous assistance. Following his wishes, the Office of Religion and Culture from the Tibetan Government in Exile has made arrangements for my temporary stay at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University. Situ Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, and other major Kagyu lamas in addition to reincarnate lamas and followers from all the other traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, have come to visit and kindly shown their concern for my well being. This was a source of great happiness for me. 

   Pursuing my aim in fleeing Tibet, I am now receiving from Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche all the empowerment and transmissions of the Kagyu lineage that are possible under these present circumstances. Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche and other Kagyu masters are teaching me the treatises of the Buddhist philosophical tradition. In this way, I am preparing for my life's work: to teach and study Buddhism and to encourage compassion and wisdom within the hearts of all beings.

In 1959, my previous incarnation, HH the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, was also forced to flee Tibet and come to India as a refugee. He settled in Sikkim and, with the assistance of the Central Government and the State Government of Sikkim, he was able to build the Dharmachakra Center, Rumtek Monastery, which became the basis for his world-wide activity. It was venerated and famous everywhere as the main seat of the Karma Kagyu lineage. Therefore, HH, the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile, Tibetan people from all over the world, and the Buddhist community of India, in addition to almost all Kagyu lamas and members of their Dharma centres consider it extremely important that I go to my main seat in Rumtek. They have made repeated requests that I be able to do so. From my point of view, going to Rumtek Monastery would be like returning home to continue the activity of my predecessor. This is why I consider it so important. 

I am fully confident that I will be able to go there since Sikkim is a state of India. I am also confident that just as my predecessor did, I will be able to travel abroad to meet my numerous disciples and fulfil their spiritual needs. With this end in mind, I have submitted an application to the proper authorities. 

I am especially grateful to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile, and the people and Government of India, all of whom have shown great kindness and generosity in providing for my stay in India. With great appreciation and respect, I offer them my thanks. 

In the past, the Gyalwa Karmapas did not engage in political activity and I can do nothing but follow in their footsteps. Concerning the future path of Tibet and the Tibetan people, I endorse and fully support everything that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama stands for. Embodying universal love, compassion, and non-violence, he is the supreme leader of Tibet and the champion of world peace and human rights. 

Recently, HH the Dalai Lama and my disciples in Sikkim and the rest of India, in addition to disciples and centers abroad, made earnest and repeated requests to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, and the Foreign Minister to grant refugee status to myself and those with me. After due consideration, the Indian Government decided to grant us refugee status. 

With this new status, I was able to go on pilgrimage for five weeks, visiting major sites of Buddhism in the sacred land of India. In these places, I gave blessings and initiations according to the wishes of numerous disciples who came from near and far.

Karmapa ended the press statement with these lines spoken in what he called his english with "rough pronounciation". 


"Today, many people from the media in the East and West have come here for this press meeting. I consider it a precious occasion and give my thanks to each and every one of you. I thought it was important that the world know the true story and my true purpose in coming here. This was not possible until now, however, due to circumstances beyond my control. I hope that after this press meeting today, you will sincerely help everyone to know the truth."

Tashi Delek
                                                                                          -His Holiness The 17th Karmapa