Letter from His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa
After becoming a monk at the age of twelve, Choje Lama Phuntsok engaged in general studies. At the age of 19, he received from the sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, novice and full monk's vows, the two traditions of bodhisattva vows, and the initiations of Chakrasamvara, VajraVarahi, and Gyalwa Gyamtso. In brief, he received well all three vows: the pratimoksha, the bodhisattva and the mantrayana. From that time onward, he received many initiations and reading transmissions mainly from Jamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche, and also from the other heart sons of the Karmapa, plus many genuine reincarnate lamas and other holders of the teachings. Further, he studied the various sciences, the main treatises, and how to create the three supports: images to represent the Buddha's body, calligraphy to write his speech, and stupas to represent his mind. He also learned the foundational drawings for mandalas of various tantras, placing of colored sand within them, and so forth. Of the Karma Kamtshang, he learned without error all the instructions for practicing the different tantras.
Age the age of thirty-two, he received from Choktrul Dabzang Rinpoche the initiations, reading transmissions, explanations, methods of meditation, and oral instructions for the practices so that he could blend these with his mind. All of these were all related to the three roots of his own Kamtshang tradition. In order to sustain the great kindness of his retreat master, Lama Phuntsok entered three-year retreat to mature these teachings and examine their commentaries.
In 1990, according to the suggestion of Khyabje Jamgon Kongtrul Chokyi Senge Rinpoche, he founded the Karma Lekshay Ling primary school and a place of study and practice. Then, after making continual efforts and numerous requests to various institutes of study, he was able to start the Winter Debates. In 2002, Karma Lekshay Ling's monastery for ritual practice and institute for higher Buddhist studies were separated, and Karma Lekshay Ling is now in the process of constructing a new building for the institute. Here, the main texts to be studied are the general Buddhist texts of pramana and the major treatises, plus those treatises and manuals particular to the Karma Kamtshang tradition, including those by the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, the seventh Karmapa Chodrak Gyamtso, the eight Karmapa Mikyo Dorje, Situpa KunKhyen Chokyi Jungne and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. The institute now has about seventy students and there are plans to expand this number.
As explained above, Lama Phuntsok is an individual who has worked for the Dharma with very sincere intention and served with his efforts, all of which have created many positive results. I rejoice in all his activity and with this letter confer on him the position of Choje Lama within the Kagyu hierarchy. His sincere intention to benefit the Dharma is most excellent, and yet he remains a monk without a stable support. Reflecting that many drops collected together will add up to an ocean, I request that you give whatever support you can to Choje Lama Phuntsok. Such accumulation of merit will not be wasted and will certainly mature into an immediate cause for attaining the omniscient level of Buddhahood. As he has before, Choje Lama Phuntsok Rinpoche maintains his commitment to fully develop our teachings and continues his tremendous endeavors in that direction.
With the ornament of continual prayers that all his efforts to benefit the teachings follow his sincere intention will be successful and attain their goal, this letter was given along with a pure white and flawless scarf and blessed cord, in Dharamsala of the noble land of India, in glorious Gyuto Ramoche University, by the seventeenth one to holder the name of the Karmapa, Ogyen Drodul Trinley Wanggi Dorje.
November 23, 2002