Letter to International Dharma Community from His Eminence Beru Khyentse Rinpoche
To all the disciples who have great faith and devotion in His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpai Dorje, and followers of the Karma Kagyu tradition around the world, in both the east and west. I would like to clarify certain issues, especially to all those disciples in Australia and New Zealand.
I was recognized by the 16th Karmapa, Rigpai Dorje as the Karma Kagyu incarnation of Beru Khyentse. Here, through pure motivation and without taking any sides in the Karmapa issue and the general Kagyupa story, I would like to clarify certain issues. So, please allow me to have this opportunity.
Concerning all the controversies regarding the Karmapa incarnation, this problem has caused samaya to be broken and confusion within the Karma Kagyu Sangha and devotees. Deep at the bottom of my heart all these happenings has given me great sadness and sorrow. The 16th Karmapa did not leave these problems behind with us. These problems have been created by some of our great lineage holders, administrators and other people who are under their influence. They have made these mistakes, and therefore created all these problems.
According to the prophecy made by the fifth Karmapa, Deshin Shekpa, as a result of our lack of merit we would face this obstacle within the Karma Kagyu lineage. In particular, due to our lack of merit, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche passed away, which has been a great loss to all of us.
One month before Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche passed away, we were in Rumtek, in Karmapa's Monastery. At that time Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche told me that there would be obstacles among the Karma Kagyu high lamas in the future. At that time, I did not realize that he was giving his prediction about the future. However, I finally realized that he actually foreseeing what was going to happen.
Until now, I have mentioned this matter only to a very few people and have never registered them. This was the first time that Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche told me that he was very worried. He said that in the future, two of our great high lineage holders will have conflict between themselves and this is where we will face a difficult situation. He said that he would not be able to resolve the situation but Beru Khyentse would be the mediator between the two Rinpoches. Without taking any sides he said that I should offer my advice to the Rinpoches. He repeatedly told me this. I told Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche that I am a humble person, and as the two Rinpoches are higher in rank, they will not heed my advice. At that time, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche did not mention anything specifically about the Karmapa.
Just before the parinirvana of Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, I offered my respect to him at the hospital. At that time I also took the opportunity to request him to enlighten me on the Karmapa issue. I asked him whether the Karmapa himself had left any recognition letter for his future reincarnation. He said that he had no idea of any such letter by His Holiness. He said that even if there is none, if the four Karmapa regents discuss harmoniously and can come to a common decision, then that should be enough. If they cannot compromise, where each regent recognizes a different Karmapa, then they will have a very complicated problem.
The truth is clear now. This problem does not come from outside, as this is an internal problem. I do have great respect and faith in HH Urgyen Thrinley as the Karmapa and I believe he is also the Karmapa because HE Situ Rinpoche recognizes him and HH the Dalai Lama also recognizes and supports him. I have great faith in HE Situ Rinpoche for he has the pure wish to benefit the Karma Kagyu doctrine and all sentient beings.
As for HH the Dalai Lama's involvement, he has been told by HE Situ Rinpoche and Gyltasab Rinpoche that all the Karma Kagyu lamas, both high and low, will accept this incarnation, which is supposed to be mentioned in the letter they held. Then HH the Dalai Lama said if that is so, he will issue a letter of support. At that time, HH the Dalai Lama thought that all our great Kagyu Lineage holders were of one mind. He was not aware that there was already a problem and disharmony between the regents. If he had known, he may not have issued the support letter or at least, he would have delayed his decision in issuing the support letter.
At around the same time, June 1992, just as all the regents had left, I arrived in Dharamsala. The purpose of my visit was to meet with HH the Dalai Lama, and to inform him about the Karma Kagyu conflict, which had started in Rumtek. We had a lengthy discussion on all the Rumtek problems. HH the Dalai Lama mentioned to me that just a few days back, HE Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche came and visited him followed by Shamarpa Rinpoche the next day. He invited them to come together so that he could offer them some advice. But instead they went to see him separately. However, HH the Dalai Lama recalled that while they were young they grew up together and both of them received education under the directions and guidance of the 16th Karmapa. Therefore, they are like HH the Karmapa's spiritual heart sons. Since they are both Dharma brothers, they should be harmonious between themselves. If they are not able to do so, the least they could do is not to cause harm to each other, which is not right. This was the advice from HH the Dalai Lama. What I am telling is the truth; I did not make up this story. I do visit HH the Dalai Lama regularly for his advice.
In my opinion, it is possible that there can be two Karmapas in order to benefit sentient beings because the Karmapa can manifest in many different forms. For example, in 1981 while the Karmapa was in Chicago, after undergoing treatment, not only his health did not improve but his sickness deterrioted. While he was approaching death, one of his close disciples appealed to HH the Karmapa, 'Please do not pass into parinirvana but remain in this world and guide us with your compassion. Therefore, may you have a long life'. The Karmapa replied, 'My body has been infected with lots of disease therefore I would like to replace my body. Do not worry, I will return.' He highlighted that in many universes a hundred million Karmapas have manifested. The Karmapa is also the Buddha's emanation, thus until all the thousand Buddhas have come and their doctrine is not diminishing, my activity of the Karmapa emanations will not end.
This is why I believed that there could be two Karmapas. Some people commented that previously there have never been two Karmapas, therefore in the future there cannot be two Karmapas. This type of mentality creates obstacles among the Karma Kagyu lineage. I think this stubborn attitude is not beneficial for anyone of us. For example, during the Buddha's time, there were no conflicts among the Buddhas' followers (eg. the Theravadas). However, after the Buddha passed away, among the Theravada Sanghas, many traditions were established. Then there was discrimination between the different Sangha and as a result, eighteen traditions developed. We are all followers of HH the 16th Karmapa, why should we fight internally among ourselves? There is no reason or need for us to harm each other. It would be best for us to be united and harmonious. If that is not possible, then we should not have bad thoughts or commit harmful acts. This will be good; otherwise these actions, which are against the Dharma, can cause many people to leave the Dharma or follow other traditions. This is not beneficial for anyone at all.
Many people have circulated letters saying that Beru Khyentse is on Kunzig Shamarpa's side. They said that I am his supporter. They even said that I followed the wrong Karmapa. These people are generally under the influence of some other people who are extremist. Most of the Karma Kagyu Dharma Centres have been told not to invite Beru Khyentse and that I should not be allowed to visit their Centre. They have also instructed their disciples not to attend my Dharma teachings or initiations. They have been doing this for the past ten years and they are still practicing it. Until today, I have not taken any sides with any Rinpoche. There are people advising me to take sides, but in order to respect the late Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche's advice, I have decided not to take any side.
I have due respect for all of these high Rinpoches because they are all related to the golden rosary of the Karma Kagyu lineage. The meaning of Karma Kamtsang is the Karmapa's doctrine. From the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa, who is one of the four major Kagyupa and also the chief disciple of Gampopa, to the 16th Karmapa are interrelated with these two Rinpoches past incarnations. Their relationship has been either guru-disciple or vice-versa. The 16th Karmapa has recognized all of them, who are equally high. I respect all of them. This is my decision, which I will not change.
In the history of the Kagyu lineage, Kunzig Shamarpa Rinpoche was the holder of the 'red hat.' The reason why Kunzig Shamarpa Rinpoche himself can recognize the Karmapa is because he has this ability to do so. For that reason I highly respect Shamarpa Rinpoche and HH Karmapa Thaye Dorje as the true Karmapa.
In 1987, I had a dream and some signs regarding the Karmapa's reincarnation. I dreamt of a very young and strong boy with fair complexion. He was inside a house sitting on the bed, wearing a pair of blue colored pants and shirt. Then, one young lady who I believed was his mother, wearing a Tibetan chuba and a colorful apron came inside from another door walking towards me. The house resembled the old Lhasa style. When I woke up I clearly recalled my dream, I had a feeling that the late Karmapa would be reincarnated in Tibet.
In the year 2000, a big Kagyu Monlam organized by our Kagyu temple, was held in Bodhgaya, India. The Kagyu Monlam was carried out concurrently with the enthronement ceremony of the 4th Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, named Karma Mingyur Drakpa Senge, which was performed by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche. At that time HH Karmapa Thaye Dorje's parent came and attended the ceremony. At one look at the Karmapa's mother's face, I immediately recognized it as the same face that I saw in my dream. From then onwards, I have a feeling of certainty that Thaye Dorje is the Karmapa.
In 1996 Kunzig Shamarpa Rinpoche mentioned that HH Karmapa Thaye Dorje would be coming to Bodhgaya for his hair-cutting ceremony. He requested to carry out the ceremony in my monastery, and informed that the Karmapa would also be staying there. I happily agreed and said that I would make all the necessary arrangements.
Ever since HH Karmapa Thaye Dorje visited my place, HE Tai Situ Rinpoche's people have been unhappy with me. The Bodhgaya Karma Kagyu monastery has been regarded as an enemy and we are ignored. As for me, if HH Karmapa Urgyen Thrinley Dorje visits Bodhgaya and if he wants to come and stay in my monastery, I would be very happy to have him.
In 2001 when I visited Dehradun I called, through my attendant to liase with their secretary to meet HH Karmapa Urgyen Thrinley and HE Tai Situ Rinpoche. They set the condition that in order for me to make this visit successful; I must issue three statements in a letter for circulation to everyone.
The first statement is that I must accept my past mistakes and apologize. Secondly, I should not take the opposite side and that I should speak against them. The third is that in the future I should go totally through the International Kagyu path, as the Shamarpa side is non-international. I was told that I should make these three statements before being allowed to meet the Karmapa.
Obviously, I could not accept their condition. Therefore I was not able to meet the Karmapa or HE Situ Rinpoche. This was indeed the reason why His Holiness Karmapa Urgyen Thinley Dorje did not visit our monastery when he came to Bodhgaya last year. It was not because that I did not invite him. As I have mentioned earlier, I am non-sectarian and I do not take any sides. It was not because I rejected the Karmapa and would not welcome Him, but it was because they do not want to come. I would like to clarify that the problem lies with them and not me. Even until today, I have pure devotion and faith for both the Karmapas.
I regard both Rinpoches equally, as the late Karmapa has recognized these two high Rinpoches. They are both like my left and right eye; therefore I see no difference in between them. There will be no benefit at all if I take any sides, but instead it will be harmful to the Kagyu doctrine. Therefore, may I request everyone to have that same mentality? I beseech all of you not to harm the Kagyu doctrine but allow the Dharma lineage of Kagyupa to flourish. Taking sides will not benefit anyone but instead the consequences will be very detrimental.
I would like to say a few words especially to the Australian and New Zealand Karma Kagyu disciples. In 1979, His Holiness the 16th Karmapa appointed me as his representative to Australia and New Zealand. He then sent me to these two countries thereby giving me full authority. I have preserved the 16th Karmapa's original taped message. If anyone of you would like to listen to this tape, please contact this email address firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rigpedorje.com to listen to Karmapa's own voice recording and translation.
In 1979, I arrived in Australia, as the 16th Karmapa's representative to teach and to establish Karma Kagyu Centres. I stayed there for six months. I first arrived in Sydney at Karmapa's Centre, Kagyu Dongak Choling. The 16th Karmapa was the founder of this Centre and he gave the name. I spent time here giving initiations, teachings, refuge and bodhicitta vows and whatever was necessary. Then I visited Melbourne, and named Kagyu Evam Choling Centre. Here, I have also given initiations, instructions on the preliminary practices, teachings on meditation and many other Dharma teachings. Somewhere near Sydney, my disciple, Margaret offered me about 200 acres of land. This is where I founded my own Centre, named Karma Tashi Choling. I have given extensive teachings here apart from many other Australian cities and towns for the benefit of others.
Then, I was in New Zealand for two months, at the invitation of His Holiness the late 16th Karmapa's disciple, David Cull. He offered a piece of land near Auckland to the late 16th Karmapa, requesting Him to give it a name. The Karmapa named the Centre, Karma Kagyu Thigsum Chorkhorling. I gave initiations, refuge and bodhicitta vows, instructions for preliminary practices, Mahamudra and many other teachings here. I also traveled to many other places in the North and South Island giving teachings. In Auckland, its founder, the 16th Karmapa, established the NZ Karma Kagyu Trust. I was appointed as the Spiritual Director. All the deeds and documents were prepared and submitted to the New Zealand Government for registration.
After that I returned to India and met the 16th Karmapa, Rigpai Dorje, who was in New Delhi at that time. I handed over all the Trust deeds and documents of all the Australian and New Zealand Dharma Centres to His Holiness. His Holiness was extremely pleased with all the arrangements and I was also feeling very happy, as the 16th Karmapa is my root guru.
Then in 1980, I paid a visit to His Holiness the Karmapa in Sikkim, at his seat in Rumtek. His Holiness Karmapa told me that; now the New Zealand Centre needs a resident lama (monk). The 16th Karmapa said, "Khyentse Rinpoche, ideally this resident lama should come from your monastery as you are my representative in New Zealand and you have studied the entire Kagygupa teachings. Furthermore, your name has also been included in the New Zealand Trust. Therefore you should send this lama from the Mainpat settlement Monastery to New Zealand."
As a result, the leader of our camp, Namkai Dorje and I had a discussion on which lama to send to New Zealand. We finally decided to send Karma Samten and Karma Shedrup. We then informed the Karmapa who said that he respected and would stand by our decision on whichever lama to send to New Zealand. The 16th Karmapa said he trusted our recommendation for these two lamas because he was not familiar with them. We confirmed and sent Karma Samten and Karma Shedrup as the resident lamas to look after the Centre. This is the history of how the present resident lamas were chosen to New Zealand. The 16th Karmapa did not appoint them personally as resident lamas but they were appointed based on my recommendation. It is important that I make this is clear because the actual story has not been told.
Since His Holiness the 16th Karmapa Rigpai Dorje passed away, they have been trying to put me to shame, making up their own story about the Centre. They have nothing to substantiate what they say, they are without any evidence or no tapes to view. Every year the resident lamas have been printing and distributing pamphlets and circulars in Australia and New Zealand. They are filled with lies in order to manipulate and deceive the disciples so that they can take advantage of them. Generally, these things are not healthy for the Dharma, especially as it creates obstacles for the Karma Kagyu doctrine and the Karmapa's lineage. Therefore, may I request all great lamas, please give them your advice, telling them that whatever they are practicing is not good.
It was the wishes of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rigpai Dorje, to establish Centres and to provide resident lamas to benefit and bring happiness to New Zealand through the Dharma. But instead, resident lamas have been using the Centre for their own benefit and personal gain. This is against the wishes and intention of the 16th Karmapa.
Fifty years ago in Tibet, when Lama Pong Re Rinpoche passed away, he was just an ordinary Rinpoche. But suddenly he has now been given high-ranking lama status and reputation by their parents, who are actually the resident lama. He has been given this high position to gain wealth and control of the disciples. This seems to be their ultimate purpose. If you have any doubts about this, you can check with our high Kagyu lamas.
Take for example, our lineage Gurus, Marpa, Mila, Gampopa, Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa, they were all great practitioners, meditators and self-arising Lamas. This Karma Kagyu lineage rosary of incomparable gurus needs no introduction. They were not recognized through any recognition letters. These lies and false stories are of grave consequences. Geshe Kharak Gomchen said, "during these degenerating times, when lamas mix with the eight worldly Dharmas, it is like horseracing, the fastest horse wins". In the same way, whoever is the most intelligent gets something naturally. Finally, at the time of death when the body and mind is separated then the fruit of negative karma will take its effect.
The 1st Jamgon Kongtrol Lodro Thaye said that although externally one may look like a good practitioner, but internally if the mind has not mixed with pure Dharma then it is like a poisonous snake. Likewise to hide the emotions when the conditions arise, the five poisons of ignorance, anger, attachment, jealousy and misery comes out which is a big obstacle and very bad for the Dharma.
This has been my third time to these two countries; Australia and New Zealand, to give initiations and Dharma teachings. This was at the request of non-sectarian Dharma Centers or 'Rime'. At this time, my resident lamas whom I have personally chosen and appointed make me feel very sad and disappointed. Although I am not involved in any Kagyu politics, they said I am a Shamarpa supporter. Furthermore, they stopped all the Kagyu followers from attending my teachings. Other resident lamas were also not allowed to meet me. They have distributed threatening letters to all disciples everywhere. The fact that only a few disciples could come and attend my teachings was really painful.
For me, I am feeling happy and peaceful for being non-sectarian and having fulfilled the wishes of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rigpai Dorje.
Auckland, New Zealand
3 November 2003