Message of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa

There are numerous students connected with the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism in many European countries. There are also many people who have a direct connection with the Karmapa, who, for the last twenty years or so, have been expressing the wish that I would come to Europe. This has become a very important purpose in my life. Since my childhood I have kept the aspiration very firmly in my heart, and this year there is a strong hope that I may be able to visit Europe. This is good news for me and for those who have invited me. I hope that this year all our expectations and aspirations to meet together in Europe will be fulfilled.

I am very grateful to all of you, all the centres and students who have been making preparations for such a long time with prayers and aspirations that I would be able to come. Therefore, I hope to visit Europe not only this year but also many times in the future.

It’s very difficult to remember past lives. Although we may have lived countless lives before, we do not necessarily remember them. There are many complicated hurdles between lives and many karmic obscurations. When I was very young I used to look at children’s books from Europe. Somewhat inspired by them, I sometimes had an experience of being within a natural surrounding in ancient Europe, where I was living in a very pleasant and happy way.

I think that for me the most important thing is to follow in the footsteps of the 16th Karmapa. I wish to follow on from whatever activities he started and imprints he left with his body, speech and mind on Europe and the people of Europe, continuing his activities and laying a good foundation in my students. This is my first wish.

Secondly, as a Buddhist leader living in the 21st century I also hope to work towards bringing not only outer material progress, but also inner happiness and well-being to all the people of this world. Finding a way to create outer conditions as a means to develop inner peace and joy, this is where I place my hope and efforts.

It is not only that I like Western culture, but also I consider myself as someone who has a great love for Western civilization. In particular I have great admiration for Western technology, poetry and many of the things which originated from Europe. I find the history of Europe very moving and I am constantly studying it with great interest.

I believe that all religions are trying to bring all the people of the world out of the slumber of ignorance and nearer to the true nature of reality. I fully trust that the Christian religion, like all others, is working towards sowing the seeds of benefit and happiness for humanity. As a Buddhist and as a human being, I consider love, kindness, friendship and affection towards one another to be some of the most important and natural qualities of human life. I think all religions are trying to work on developing these qualities in all beings. I believe that all religions are working to promote positive conduct and inspire people. Therefore, I think that they are certainly all very beneficial.

I think the world is moving together very quickly. Communication has become very fast, and understanding between East and West is growing. Because of this development, the concept that the whole world is one is becoming more evident. Therefore, it becomes very important for all of us to regard the world as a whole and try to work for the benefit of all sentient beings. I myself also try to work towards that goal. I think this resolve is very much the need of the times for all of us human beings.

I don’t have any special aspiration to spread Buddhism, though, of course I do have the responsibility and the duty to bring the Dharma practice to those who have connections with the Dharma. I am ready and waiting to fully serve and guide Buddhist practitioners according to the Dharma. However, whether you call it Dharma or not, I believe that the main thing is to become a good person, to have good thoughts and to act positively; to become a source of benefit for all beings. Sometimes I feel that using the name of a religion – in this case Buddhism – is not very useful, because it gives the impression of being something limited and exclusive.

This world is a huge family with millions of members, and all of us are dependent on each other. It is important that we should respect and appreciate each other, recognising each other’s importance. We should try to create a world with kindness and love. I think in the future we all share the responsibility of creating a more equal and loving world. I would like to work towards that end to the best of my ability. I think it is important for all of us to do the same.

Ogyen Trinley Dorje
The 17th Karmapa


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