Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa

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Rangjung Rigpe Dorje
Karmapa16 3 gross.jpg
Title16th Gyalwa Karmapa
Other namesHis Holiness Rangjung Rigpei Dorje
Personal
Born(1924-08-14)August 14, 1924
DiedNovember 5, 1981(1981-11-05) (aged 57)
Religion Tibetan Buddhism
School Karma Kagyu
Other namesHis Holiness Rangjung Rigpei Dorje

The sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (August 14, 1924 – November 5, 1981) (Wylie Rang 'byung rig pa'i rdo rje) was spiritual leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in Denkhok in the Dergé district of Kham (Eastern Tibet), near the Dri Chu or Yangtze River.

Karmapa title

The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu, itself one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Wylie transliteration Method for transliterating Tibetan script

The Wylie transliteration system is a method for transliterating Tibetan script using only the letters available on a typical English language typewriter. It bears the name of American tibetologist Turrell V. Wylie, who described the scheme in an article, A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription, published in 1959. It has subsequently become a standard transliteration scheme in Tibetan studies, especially in the United States.

Karma Kagyu one of the main schools of tibetan buddhism

Karma Kagyu, or Kamtsang Kagyu, is probably the 2nd largest and certainly the most widely practiced lineage within the Kagyu school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The lineage has long-standing monasteries in Tibet, China, Russia, Mongolia, India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and current centers in at least 62 countries. The spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu is the Gyalwa Karmapa, and the 2nd through the 10th Karmapas were the principal spiritual advisors to successive Emperors of China. The Karma Kagyu are sometimes called the "Black Hat" Lamas, in reference to the Black Crown worn by the Karmapa.

Contents

Biography

After the 15th Karmapa's passing, the Karmapa's attendant, Jampal Tsultrim, hid for months believing that the 11th Tai Situpa would punish him. However, the attendant finally revealed that he possessed the sacred letter of prediction, which matched exactly with the proceeding the 11th Tai Situpa was already undertaking to find the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. The 11th Tai Situpa later recognized the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.

Tai Situpa is one of the oldest lineages of tulkus in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism In Tibetan Buddhism tradition, Kenting Tai Situpa is considered as emanation of Bodhisattva Maitreya and Guru Padmasambhava and who has been incarnated numerous times as Indian and Tibetan yogis since the time of the historical Buddha.

He was taken to the Palpung Monastery where the 11th Tai Situpa, Pema Wangchok, gave him ordination, the Bodhisattva vows and many teachings. Beru Khyentse Lodro Miza Pampa'i Gocha taught him the tantras. Bo Kangkar Rinpoche taught him the sutras. Jamgon Palden Kyentse Oser taught him Mahamudra and the Six Yogas of Naropa. He regarded the 11th Tai Situpa, Pema Wangchok, and the 2nd Jamgön Kongtrül Khyentse Öser as his root gurus. [1] In 1931, at the age of seven, he performed his first Black Crown ceremony. He received his hair cutting ceremony at age thirteen from Thubten Gyatso, 13th Dalai Lama. [2]

Palpung Monastery building in Dêgê County, China

Palpung Monastery is the name of the congregation of monasteries and centers of the Tai Situpa lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism as well as the name of the Tai Situ's monastic seat in Derge, Kham. Palpung means "glorious union of study and practice". It originated in the 12th century and wielded considerable religious and political influence over the centuries.

Mahamudra

Mahāmudrā literally means "great seal" or "great imprint" and refers to the fact that "all phenomena inevitably are stamped by the fact of wisdom and emptiness inseparable".

Naropa Indian Buddhist Mahasiddha

Nāropā or Abhayakirti was an Indian Buddhist Mahasiddha. He was the disciple of Tilopa and brother, or some sources say partner and pupil, of Niguma. As an Indian Mahasiddha, Naropa's instructions inform Vajrayana, particularly his six yogas of Naropa relevant to the completion stage of anuttarayogatantra.

During his education he received all the Kagyu transmissions and was also taught by the Sakya Trizin for many years. In the beginning of 1940 he went into retreat, and in 1947 started a pilgrimage to India together with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. [3] Rangjung continued his education with the 10th Mindrolling Trichen of the Nyingma School and it was concluded with the Kalachakra initiation of the Gelugpa School. Rangjung had therefore received all the major teachings of all the major Tibetan Buddhist schools.

Sakya Trizin Buddhist Lama

Sakya Trizin is the traditional title of the head of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Dalai Lama Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teacher

Dalai Lama is a title given by the Tibetan people for the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the classical schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.

The eleventh Mindrolling Trichen, Trichen Jurme Kunzang Wangyal Standard Tibetan: འགྱུར་མེད་ཀུན་བཟང་དབང་རྒྱལ་ was a lama of the Nyingma-school, the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism and had been responsible for the administrative affairs for the school in exile as the ceremonial head of the lineage. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest Tibetan masters.

The 16th Karmapa continued his predecessor's activities, travelling and teaching throughout Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim, India and parts of China. His activity also included locating the rebirths of high reincarnate lamas spontaneously, without meditation.

Tibet Plateau region in Asia

Tibet is a region covering much of the Tibetan Plateau in modern-day China. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Tamang, Qiang, Sherpa, and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 5,000 m (16,000 ft). The highest elevation in Tibet is Mount Everest, Earth's highest mountain, rising 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level.

Bhutan Landlocked kingdom in Eastern Himalayas

Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked country in South Asia. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is bordered by the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China in the north, the Sikkim state of India and the Chumbi Valley of Tibet in the west, the Arunachal Pradesh state of India in the east, and the states of Assam and West Bengal in the south. Bhutan is geopolitically in South Asia and is the region's second least populous nation after the Maldives. Thimphu is its capital and largest city, while Phuntsholing is its financial center.

Nepal A landlocked country in the Himalayas

Nepal, officially Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is located mainly in the Himalayas, but also includes parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. With an estimated population of 26.4 million, it is 48th largest country by population and 93rd largest country by area. It borders China in the north and India in the south, east and west while Bangladesh is located within only 27 km (17 mi) of its southeastern tip and Bhutan is separated from it by the Indian state of Sikkim. Nepal has a diverse geography, including fertile plains, subalpine forested hills, and eight of the world's ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Kathmandu is the capital and the largest city. Nepal is a multiethnic country with Nepali as the official language.

Escape from Tibet

Political circumstances altered Tibet radically with the 1950 takeover by China. Karmapa, along with the Dalai Lama, government officials, and other high lamas, attended talks in Beijing to negotiate a settlement. This succeeded for a while, but in 1959 the Chinese government insisted on land reform, and the conflict with the lamas who owned a lot of land accelerated.

Land reform changes to land ownership

Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulations or customs regarding land ownership. Land reform may consist of a government-initiated or government-backed property redistribution, generally of agricultural land. Land reform can, therefore, refer to transfer of ownership from the more powerful to the less powerful, such as from a relatively small number of wealthy owners with extensive land holdings to individual ownership by those who work the land. Such transfers of ownership may be with or without compensation; compensation may vary from token amounts to the full value of the land.

In February of that year Karmapa took 160 students from Tsurphu Monastery and escaped to Bhutan, taking the lineage's most sacred treasures and relics with them. [4]

Tashi Namgyal, the King of Sikkim, offered land to the Karmapa near the site where the 14th Karmapa had established a monastery. It was here that his new seat, Rumtek Monastery, was built in 1966. The traditional seat of the Karmapa, Tsurphu Monastery, still exists, but the number of monks is restricted. [5]

Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa, seated, with Freda Bedi at Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, 1971 Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa with Gelongma Karma Kechog Palmo (Freda Bedi) at Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim in 1971.jpg
Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa, seated, with Freda Bedi at Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, 1971
Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa with Pope Paul VI, January 17, 1975. Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa with Pope Paul VI.jpg
Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa with Pope Paul VI, January 17, 1975.

Focus on the West

In the beginning of the 1970s the Karmapa made the prediction [ citation needed ] that Tibet would have a hard struggle gaining independence and even if it did, it would not allow the refugees to return. Rumtek would not be a good place either, and although Sikkim and Bhutan are still stable, they can deteriorate as well. However the Western world will embrace Buddhism, so he sent Lama Gendün to Europe. [6]

In 1974, with the help of Freda Bedi, he embarked on his first world tour, travelling to Europe, Canada and the United States, giving several Black Crown ceremonies, and attended an audience granted by Pope Paul VI. In 1976-77 he began a more exhaustive tour, giving extensive teachings, visiting nearly every major city in Europe.

The sixteenth Karmapa helped foster the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism to the West. He established Dharma centers and monasteries in various places around the world in order to protect, preserve, and spread Buddha's teachings. As part of an initiative by the Tibetan government-in-exile to consolidate the organizations of Tibetan Buddhism, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje became the first formal head of the Kagyu School, although the earlier Karmapas had long been considered the most prestigious and authoritative lamas of that school.

Death

In 1980-81 the Karmapa began his last world tour, giving teachings, interviews and empowerments in South East Asia, Greece, Great Britain, Canada and the United States. Rangjung Rigpei Dorjé died on November 5, 1981 in the United States in a hospital in Zion, Illinois. Doctors and nurses at the hospital remarked on his kindness and how he seemed more concerned with their welfare than his own. [7]

1965 photo of Karmapa in Sikkim by Dr. Alice S. Kandell 1965 photo detail, Karmapa, religious leader of Sikkim (cropped).jpg
1965 photo of Karmapa in Sikkim by Dr. Alice S. Kandell

One doctor was also struck by the Karmapa's refusal of pain medication and the absence of any signs of feeling the profound pain that most patients in his condition report. [7] Upon his death, against hospital procedure but in keeping with Tibetan tradition and with special permission from the State of Illinois, his body was left in the hospital for three days and his heart remained warm during this time. [8] [9] [10]

He was cremated in Rumtek. [11]

Legacy

Like his predecessors, he was primarily a spiritual figure and therefore not involved in politics. He instead made efforts to keep the spiritual traditions of Tibet intact and in this way helped to preserve the identity of Tibet as a unique and individual culture.[ citation needed ]

Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, as with all other Karmapas and tulkus, is accepted by Tibetan Buddhists as a manifestation of an enlightened being. [12]

Watch collection

The 16th Karmapa was very fond of watches. He had a collection of various kind of watches. One of his favourites was an 1800s pocket watch, which he gifted to Gyan Jyoti.

Notes

  1. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche: : Blazing Splendor. The memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, as told to Eric Pema Kunzang and Marcia Binder-Schmidt, Marcia, Hong Kong, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2005, pg. 272.
  2. Simhas.org Archived 2006-09-07 at the Wayback Machine Biography of the 16th Karmapa. (Retrieved: September 16, 2006)
  3. citation needed as none of the official biographies nor the Dalai Lama himself state this.
  4. Diamondway Buddhism Archived 2009-02-20 at the Wayback Machine Biography 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje. (Retrieved: September 16, 2006)
  5. SaveTibet.org Archived 2007-10-24 at the Wayback Machine Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002. (Retrieved: September 16, 2006)
  6. Karmapa Thaye Dorje, Het Boeddistische boek van Wijsheid en Liefde, page 76, 9080582352 (Dutch translation).
  7. 1 2 16th Karmapa, The Lion's Roar (DVD), link Archived 2006-11-19 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Kagyu.org Archived 2006-12-06 at the Wayback Machine Biography of 16th Karmapa. (Retrieved: September 16, 2006)
  9. Lama Ole Nydahl, Tibets geheimen voorbij, page 176, 908058231X (Dutch translation)
  10. Karmapa Thaye Dorje, Het Boeddhistische boek van Wijsheid van Liefde, page 46, 9080582352 (Dutch translation. original title: Le livre bouddhiste de la sagesse et de l'amour)
  11. Lama Ole Nydahl, Tibets geheimen voorbij, page 179, 908058231X (Dutch translation)
  12. Rinpoche, Sogyal (2002). The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. New York: HarperCollins. p. 355. ISBN   0-06-250834-2.

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References

Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Khakyab Dorje
Reincarnation of the Karmapa Succeeded by
Disputed: between
Ogyen Trinley Dorje
and
Trinley Thaye Dorje