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Introduction to the controversy about Karmapas
A few historical points
1959 : Karmapa flees to India
Difficulties in 16th Karmapa's times
Years 1980 Through 1990
Events beginning 1992
Events during May and June 1992
Propaganda campaign
Orgyen Trinley, Situ Rinpoche's Karmapa
Events during November and December 1992 in Rumtek
Some information about Sikkim
Year 1993 - situation deteriorates in Rumtek
Recognizing the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje
Year 1994
Controversy: opposing viewpoints
Relationship between Shamar Rinpoche and Dalaï Lama
A quick glance at events from years 1995 to 1999
Year 2000
Year 2001
Chronology of Events
Bibliography and data sources
french version
receiving mail updates
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Relationship between
Shamar Rinpoche and Dalaï Lama

Differing points of view about Karmapa between Shamar Rinpoche and Dalaï Lama

Shamarpa's position about Urgyen Trinley

Mail exchange between Shamar Rinpoche and the Dalaï Lama Office

From Dalaï Lama Office to Shamar Rinpoche, on Feb. 3, 1997
Letter of reply from Shamar Rinpoche, on Feb.7, 1997
Shamar Rinpoche and Dalaï Lama meet in Washington, on june 20th, 2000
Letter from Shamar Rinpoche to Tenzin Geshe Tethong, on Jul. 29, 2000


Differing points of view about Karmapa between Shamar Rinpoche and Dalaï Lama

In a recently published article in "Bouddhisme Actualites" (Bouddhist News) - a French weekly - Shamar Rinpoche talks about his relationship with the Dalaï Lama. Having first expressed his respect towards the religious master, he explains: " The Dalaï Lama heads a government-in-exile . So he applies a policy. In this context, it is better for him to have the Kagyu school under his rule, and it is my duty to oppose it. Previously, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa disagreed with him on these matters, for the very same reasons. Back then, Karmapa had reminded him that the Kagyu school had always been independant and that he did not want to associate the spiritual realm of Buddhism with the mundane realm of tibetan politics.

Today, this is the point about which we are still opposed . However, we do have a mutual understanding of our reciprocal position."

In his various press releases, the Dalaï Lama does not hide his political views. His central concern is always the tibetan's people interest.

Interviewed about Urgyen Trinley, he answers :"Karmapa Rinpoche (Ed. note: meaning Urgyen Trinley) was fully aware of what was happening in his country, religious suppression, prison, tortures, environment destruction, genocide through sterilization of tibetan women, volontary drug availability and emergence of behaviors meant to demean people." Further, the Dalaï Lama says: "One can say there is an obvious connexion between Karmapa Rinpoche's arrival (Ed, note. in India) and the preservation of tibetan culture." "Actually, the true reason why Karmapa Rinpoche fled, is there is no freedom in Tibet. That is why he could not stay." "Now, he has stayed in India since several months, and he shows great determination in his fight for the tibetan people and religion." These words from the Dalaï Lama are quoted from "La legende du Karmapa" (Karmapa's Legend) written by Ann Riquier, and published in France by Editions Plon.

There is such a political use of Karmapa's name on the Dalaï Lama side, that now international media start citing Karmapa Urgyen Trinley a possible successor to the Dalaï Lama, what he denies.

The (scarce) speeches from Urgyen Trinley are quite amazing for anyone who knew the 16th Karmapa. The later's words were always totally uninvolved with partisan discourses. He never supported more the tibetan cause than that of any people, and was greatly suspicious towards the tibetan government. He forbade his entourage to deal in politics and firmly expelled from Rumtek any who would depart from this rule.

Let us recall what was the 16th Karmapa's view for Tibet's future. In his work "Le livre bouddhiste de la sagesse et de l'amour" (The bouddhist book of wisdom and love), (Michel Lafon, publisher) author Gilles Grasdorff interviews the 17th Karmapa Trinlay Thaye Dordje and reminds us of the predictions the 16th Karmapa said to Guendun Rinpoche: " Moreover, it will be very difficult for Tibet to be independant again, and even in this case, we surely could not go back there. We will remain here, in India. There will come a time when difficulties will arise for some disciples who will have no place to go ...(...) In Tibet, there will come a time when Dharma will be restored and people will again be able to practice, but to a lesser degree, certainly not like before, when Tibetan could devote their lives to practice. .. In Bhutan, where the situation is stable now, there is no guarantee it will remain such ... In Sikkim, as well, everything is fine now, but it may change overnight ... As for Rumtek , sadly, matters will not remain as they are..." These excerpts show how little concerned with going back to Tibet the 16th Karmapa was. To him, it was past history, and his works in India showed he was completely occupied with India and the West. The wishes he asked his disciples to fulfill after his death, concerned these countries only. Building Tsurphu again was no priority to him. What mattered to him was Dharma , whatever the country .

The Dalaï Lama, as a political leader, can but only work for going back to Tibet: it is his country, and most Tibetans live there. And so there are two coherent views colliding in this 17th Karmapa controversy:


- the political view from the Dalaï Lama, who uses these events for what he perceives as the tibetan people' interest


- the spiritual view from Shamarpa who seeks only to find again his spiritual master, so that the transmission of buddhist teachings within the Kagyu school can go on


Shamarpa's position about Urgyen Trinley

Shama Rinpoche never fought against Urgyen Trinley, recognized by China and the tibetan government. He can but accept this fait accompli.

As a practical viewpoint, Urgyen Trinley's presence in Tibet is not a bad thing. China backs Dharma, Tsurphu monastery is being rebuilt and enlarged, the Kagyu lineage is in the forefront and receives subsidies from Beijing, Tibetans have a lama, religious activities are promoted. All this brings about a renewal for Dharma. Shamarpa considers that this Karmapa has a political role, that he is a puppet for Chinese and other interest groups. He can not prevent this state of affairs, which, after all, might have some usefulness.

Nevertheless, he has recognized the authentic Karmapa and proposes to all (China, Dalaï Lama, JAC from Sikkim) to recognize two Karmapas. Karmapa Urgyen Trinley for the Tsurphu seat, and Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje for the Rumtek seat in Sikkim.

Having two Karmapas never bothered him, because this would be a good mean to stop controversy within the Kagyu lineage. This is what he proposes in June 2000 to the Dalaï Lama when they meet in Washington.

This idea can not be accepted by Situ Rinpoche who recognizes ony one Karmapa, his own.


Mail exchange between Shamar Rinpoche and the Dalaï Lama Office

Shamar Rinpoche met the Dalaï Lama several times , in 1992 and most notably, in 1997 and July 2000. Shamar Rinpoche informed the Dalaï Lama he does not recognize Uryen Trinley as the authentic Karmapa , but that he knows a disciple of the 16th Karmapa who would have information about this reincarnation. The Dalaï Lama encourages him to proceed with his search.
On the face of it, each meeting between the two lamas is very cordial. Nevertheless, various mails sent as follow-ups by the private office of the Dalaï Lama often give a distorted version of the exchanges during these meetings, as can be seen below.

From Dalaï Lama Office to Shamar Rinpoche,

Letter dated Feb. 3, 1997

Holder of the Karma Kagyu Lineage.

I hereby send you our response to the points you raised at your meeting on the 3rd of January 1997 with H.H. the Dalai Lama. (List of the points you mentioned during the meeting:)

You expressed the desire that H.H. the Dalai Lama meets with and gives the novice-vows of monastic ordination to the young reincarnate of H. H. the 16th Karmapa (who you have recognised) and that the young reincarnate's parents also meet with H. H. the Dalai Lama.

You said that Chobgye Tri Rinpoche also recognises the same reincarnate.

You also requested the Dalai Lama's permission that Urgyen Trinley be the Throne-Holder of the Karmapa's seat in Tibet Tsurphu Monastery and that the reincarnate that you have recognised be the Holder of the Karmapa's seat in India, Rumtek Monastery.

Our response:

In the past you've repeatedly informed H. H. the Dalai Lama that the late Karmapa left instructions regarding the circumstances of his future reincarnation with a bhikshu who has adhered to the moral ethics of monastic tradition in a very pure manner and that when the time is right you would inform H. H. the Dalai Lama of the contents of these instructions. H. H. the Dalai Lama responded that if there is an authentic source regarding these instructions, a second Karmapa-reincarnation is a possibility. However, at His Holiness's recent meeting with you, when analysing the implications of what you said, it seems to us that the older bhikshu you have spoken of is Chobgye Tri Rinpoche.

We, on the 18th of January 1997, through our representative in New Delhi, gave you a copy of a letter from Chobgye Tri Rinpoche addressed to H. H. the Dalai Lama. In 1996 our representative in Nepal approached Chobgye Tri Rinpoche to ask how he had recognised the reincarnate that you have put forth. Chobgye Tri Rinpoche, in response, wrote to H. H. the Dalai Lama that he hadn't made the recognition. This letter made it clear that you don't have an authentic source for your claim. Thus, there is no possibility of a second Karmapa-reincarnation.

There can be just one head of the Tsurphu and Rumtek Monasteries. There is no possibility of two heads. H. H. the Dalai Lama has clearly & comprehensively recognised the Karmapa-reincarnation residing in Tibet. Regarding this there is no room for change. Also you, at a previous meeting with our representative of the Department of Religious Affairs and representatives of the various Tibetan Religious Lineages, said that you have no intention of creating disturbance regarding the position associated with the traditional seat of the Karmapas.

Regarding H. H. the Dalai Lama's meeting with and giving monastic ordination to the reincarnate, we said that it is very important to consult with and clarify all details with the Situ and Gyaltsab Rinpoches as well as their associates. Your response was that this can be done, that it can be done through the Department of Religious Affairs. Thus the Department of Religious Affairs has sent the minutes of your meeting with H. H. the Dalai Lama to you and the individuals associated with this issue.

On the 29th of January Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Trangu Rinpoche, a representative of Situ Rinpoche, two Kagyu-representatives, the treasurer of the Black Hat tradition, the president of the small Zung Drel Association, the president of the Sikkim Hla-De Association, the vice-president of the Himalaya Association, representatives of nineteen centers in eight countries, seventy-nine representatives of thirty-two monasteries in India and Nepal called on the Ministers of the Tibetan Government in exile on the 29th of January. They also called on H. H. the Dalai Lama on the 30th of January. In brief they discussed what is outlined below. The people meeting with H.H. the Dalai Lama told him that as to the history of the Karmapas and associated predictions there has, up till now, never been, at the same time, a number of reincarnations, such as reincarnations of body, speech and mind. Also, if His Holiness gives an audience and monastic vows to the young reincarnate, problems and arguments in the Kamtsang Kagyu Lineage will never come to an end. Therefore, the individuals present insisted, it isn't feasible to recognise the young reincarnate as a body, speech or mind incarnation of the Karmapa or to give an audience and monastic vows.

Therefore, for the sake of preventing further problems and for the sake of reconciliation, H. H. the Dalai Lama can not give an audience or monastic vows to the young reincarnate for the time being. Please keep this in mind.

The Office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama
The 3rd of February 1997
Mr Lojin


Letter of reply from Shamar Rinpoche

To The Private Office of the Dalai Lama. Dharamsala
Feb. 7, 1997

I have received your letter dated the 3rd of Feb. 1997, where you informed me of H. H. the Dalai Lama's decision concerning the topics I discussed with him on the 3rd of Jan. 1997. What was decided then has, according to your letter, changed. There are, in your letter of the 3rd of Feb., points you did not discuss at the meeting. It may be that you forgot to mention those points while we were talking face to face. It seems that you after our meeting remembered those points, points that are far removed from the truth, and that you then wanted to communicate them. I have stated my response to each of your points below.

Chobgye Tri Rinpoche is a Lama that I have respect for and faith in. Therefore, what he told me in private about the late Karmapa's reincarnation I regard as the auspicious words of a holy man. However, I took his indication to be one source among others and to be investigated. Fundamentally, it is on the basis of my own efforts that I have arrived at my decision. I have pursued many avenues, until there were absolutely no doubts in my mind. I have, in using traditional methods, supplicated enlightened deities in order to receive their indications. I have no need for requesting the assistance of Chobgye Tri Rinpoche or any other individual. H. H. the 16th Karmapa Rigpa'i Dorje recognised me to be the Shamar reincarnation. It is over thirty years ago that he enthroned me and established this. In the Karma Kamtsang Lineage the Shamarpas are the authority adjoining that of the Karmapas. Thus there is no individual to succeed a Shamarpa in taking the decision who is the authentic reincarnation of a Karmapa. However, I do not insist upon tradition for the sake of forcing others to comply with my decision. It is up to the Karma Kamtsang follower whether or not he desires to respect tradition or chooses another approach.

During our recent meeting we just touched on the subject of Chobgye Tri Rinpoche and the associated issue. I have, during the Karma Kagyu Conference in New Delhi 1996, clearly explained each and every detail of my encounter with him and the tape-recordings of the Conference are available everywhere. I'm aware of that Chobgye Tri Rinpoche was approached by your representative in Nepal and that Chobgye Tri Rinpoche gave his response in a letter to H. H. the Dalai Lama. He wrote me too and I have enclosed a copy of his letter. Thus it is clear that the details I disclosed at the Karma Kagyu Conference ten months ago accord with the truth. As you mentioned in your letter, at my recent meeting with H. H. the Dalai Lama I did not go into these details. This is because I presumed that H. H. the Dalai Lama has knowledge of them as the resolutions of the same Conference are common knowledge. However, you pretend that I implied that Chobgye Tri Rinpoche is the person I have knowledge of as the individual who is in possession of H. H. the Karmapa Rigpa'i Dorje's instructions as to his reincarnation. In fact, I did not utter one word in this direction to H. H. the Dalai Lama. I also did not say that the person in question is a bhikshu upholding moral ethics in a very pure manner. What I did say was that this individual is a disciple of the late Karmapa, a disciple who has kept his relationship with the Karmapa pure and who the late Karmapa held in high esteem. In 1994 when I met with H. H. the Dalai Lama at the Centaur Hotel close to New Delhi's Airport he said, that the person in question would be a bhikshu upholding pure moral ethics. At the time I immediately responded that this is not the case. At our recent meeting H. H. the Dalai Lama stated the same thing again, but as I thought it quite unimportant I did not attempt to correct him which I now apologise for. However, your mention of a bhikshu's moral ethics also apply to the discipline of a bodhisattva, so in fact it is not necessary to correct your words.

It was for the sake of showing respect to H. H. the Dalai Lama that I requested an audience with His Holiness on behalf of the young reincarnate of the late Karmapa. It is common knowledge that during the later part of the late Karmapa's life, H. H. the Dalai Lama and H. H. the Karmapa were in constant opposition. For the sake of discontinuing this trend I did my best to establish an auspicious connection when requesting that H. H. the Dalai Lama gives monastic vows to the late Karmapa's reincarnation, who I have recognised. I never requested that His Holiness acknowledge the young reincarnate as a body, speech or mind incarnation. I have no need at all for such an acknowledgement because H. H. the Karmapa is not obliged to request permission to take rebirth in this world. The claim that he needs a visa to enter this world is laughable to each and every individual in the three realms that make up our universe. China's new political trend has allowed the recognitions of the Karmapa and the Panchen. In this situation the Private Office of the Dalai Lama's political response was inadequate. The Office made public that China's choice of the Karmapa's reincarnation is authentic but it rejected China's choice of the Panchen's reincarnation for its own gain. I, the Shamar reincarnation, have put an end to the attempts to drag the Lineage of the Karmapas in the dirt. This, to prevent politics from entering the ways of religion, is of benefit not just to the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism, but to all schools that are based in a lineage of successive reincarnated masters. To prevent this is extremely beneficial in terms of remaining self-governing. The Private Office of the Dalai Lama stated, among other things, that it would merely consider to allow a body, speech or mind reincarnation of the late Karmapa on the basis of a reliable letter of instruction by the late Karmapa. This amounts to a medieval dictatorial command and I understand that this is the approach that you desire. But it is completely unacceptable to me. Our Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje is completely beyond the trap of such deceptive political schemes. As is known throughout the world he is fully established as one of the twenty-one Karmapas in accordance with the prophecy of the fifth Karmapa Deshin Shegpa. There is no need whatsoever to request a reconfirmation of this fact in the disguise of a body, speech or mind reincarnation. Such a reconfirmation has never before, from the time of the first Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa, been required. So why would it be necessary today?


Similarly, with respect to Rumtek Monastery, the then Dharma King of Sikkim offered that property to H. H. the Gyalwa Karmapa Rigpa'i Dorje who constructed his seat there. As H. H. the Dalai Lama, from the time of H. H. the Gyalwa Karmapa Rigpa'i Dorje, has never had any right of influence there, there is absolutely no need for his permission to allow or not to allow a Karmapa to take possession of his rightful seat. However, Situ bribed the previous Chief Minister of Sikkim Mr. Nar Bhadur Bhandari who, using the local armed forces, took over the Monastery by force. But Mr. Bhandari lost the election. Now, Rumtek Monastery is subject to litigation in the Indian courts. This legal dispute is the only circumstance that hinders the young reincarnate from going there. His going there does not depend on a permission from H. H. the Dalai Lama. All of us are the same in that we are refugees. Why bother to request permission to enter Sikkim from a fellow refugee? The fact that H. H. the Dalai Lama does not have the authority to prevent the supreme Karmapa Thaye Dorje to occupy his throne, to take possession of his monastery in New Delhi, clearly demonstrates that he also has no right of influence over Rumtek Monastery. Rumtek Monastery is situated in India, because of that and for many other reasons I, out of concern, insisted on requesting H. H. the Dalai Lama that this kind of immoderate course of action that can not achieve its aim be given up. I did say that we will not attempt to obtain influence over the Tsurphu seat of Karmapa Urgyen Trinley. Similarly, as Rumtek Monastery is situated in India, neither the Government of China nor Gyalwa Karmapa Urgyen Trinley have laid claim to Rumtek Monastery. All Monasteries and Institutions in India that belonged to the late Gyalwa Karmapa Rigpa'i Dorje, the Rumtek Monastery: the Karmapa Institute in New Delhi and other branches in India the late Karmapa, who was the legal possessor, transferred to the Karmapa Charitable Trust. Therefore, if the Private Office of the Dalai Lama makes a lot of inadmissible claims as to property that does not belong to it, the rumours that the Tibetan Government in Exile is up to placating the Government of China for its own purposes, that the Tibetan Government in Exile tries to make out that Sikkim is part of Tibet will be proven to be true. Thus, both the name of the Dalai Lama and his aims will be negatively affected.

Furthermore, regarding the great Gyalwa Karmapa obtaining an audience with H. H. the Dalai Lama, you spoke of difficulties, that you among other things, must request the permission of Situ Rinpoche. This is clearly stated in your letter. Just so, it is satisfactory for us if the present decision to not grant an audience is maintained for as long as the Karmapa is not yet an adult as our primary concern regards his education. Another reason for why an audience is not desirable at this point is that we have lost our country and we have taken refuge in India. Situ and Gyaltsab can not meet here in India because Situ is barred from entering the country and Gyaltsab is barred from leaving the country as both of them have transgressed the laws of India. It is simply because of the kindness of the Indian Government, the fact that this country's policies are peace-loving, that they at this point have not been imprisoned. Personally, I have not fallen into the abyss of having to ask for permission from two of the most discredited individuals among us refugees.

Our Karmapa, the supreme Trinley Thaye Dorje, resides in India where the government shows respect and veneration for him. India is a country of great consequence for Tibet and the Tibetans. It is the source of Tibetan Buddhism and it is the country that gave shelter and protection to the Tibetans who fled Tibet in 1959. India has showed us Tibetans great kindness. Two of the most powerful nations in Asia are India and China, and as I mentioned above, the Indian Government holds Karmapa Thaye Dorje in high esteem. To attempt to gain circumstances better than those would amount to discarding with a diamond in order to obtain a semi-precious stone. We are perfectly satisfied with the present state of affairs, our joy is comparable to the joy of samadhi (meditative absorption) at the highest level. As you know, all of us are dependent on the Government of India for our welfare, there are no other options. With respect to our Lineage it is up to us, who are part of that lineage, to achieve its aims. Right now, except for the situation at Rumtek Monastery, our aims have been accomplished. The Rumtek Monastery property, its land and its movable assets are protected as a result of my efforts. Regarding the difficulties of the monk-body, the Sikkim Police Force is charged with keeping order. These difficulties are to be resolved by the court, that is how law abiding individuals go about solving disputes. Therefore, we're simply waiting for the court's ruling.

H. H. the Dalai Lama, in terms of his responsibilities, has until now, again and again, advised the Tibetans in exile to be prepared to go back to Tibet, that they shouldn't set up their permanent homes outside Tibet, that they shouldn't even set up furniture in their homes. To make efforts toward going back to Tibet is His Holiness's responsibility, but the Rumtek Monastery is not. Therefore, my final request to the Private Office of the Dalai Lama is that it does not involve His Holiness's name in this problematic issue because Rumtek Monastery is a Sikkim Monastery and as such there is no possibility of bringing it with one to Tibet. In your letter of the 3rd of Feb. you clearly stated that if our young reincarnate is granted an audience with H. H. the Dalai Lama there would be endless problems. If this is your true view-point why did you then from the very beginning act as the very people who added fuel to this fire of problems. The consequence of this course of action is that the people of Sikkim have come to suffer the most. Would it be of any benefit if H. H. the Dalai Lama appears as the individual who has created disturbance in one of the states in India? I request you to apply a more far-seeing approach. You ought to be cautious in your undertakings! The blazing fire of political schemes ignited by Situ and Gyaltsab who used the Karmapa reincarnation as a pretext was, on the basis of peaceful means, put out by me before it had consumed everything. Documents relating to the course of events, from the beginning to the end, prove this. But is it not the case that H. H. the Dalai Lama, in that he has accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, should act on the basis of methods that bring about peace and happiness, methods that are a hundred times more peace-loving than my own. Recently, a group of people associated with Situ and Gyaltsab obtained an audience in Dharamsala with H. H. the Dalai Lama. They made out that they represent a large number of monasteries and Buddhist Centres in many countries. But we know very well who they are. Previously, Situ and his associates bribed the then Chief Minister of Sikkim, Mr. Nar Bhadur Bhandari who by then had become dictatorial. In consequence, they destroyed their root-Guru's seat, which is an extremely evil deed. At the time Mr. Kunzang Sherab, who, I was told, is in the present under investigation by CBI (the Central Bureau of Investigation), and his associates, among others a group of juvenile delinquents from Lal Bazaar, Gangtok, gave gifts of food and clothing to a number of crazed Sikkim subjects. Thus, they were able to bring these individuals to Rumtek. The resulting gathering they referred to as 'The International Kagyu Meeting'. At this 'Meeting' resolutions that are blatant distortions of the truth were made. The resolutions they then submitted to the Land Revenue Office of Gangtok. The Office came to know that the 'Meeting' had no legal authority to take the decisions it had taken, that it in fact was illegal. Therefore, the Office did not accept the resolutions. It is these very individuals who had an audience with H. H. the Dalai Lama. But as we are not children, we are far from being impressed either by these people or their number. If, hypothetically, these people were who they pretend to be, as I mentioned earlier, they are still associated with two of the most discredited people in our community, that is, they are followers of lawless individuals. Therefore, we are not at all impressed. Furthermore, I was told that H. H. the Karmapa's General Secretary was among this group of people during their audience with H. H. the Dalai Lama. Regarding this, the late Karmapa Rigpa'i Dorje appointed two General Secretaries. The older General Secretary passed away many years ago. The younger General Secretary, Tragpa Yongdu, nephew of the late Karmapa, is still alive and well. Therefore we enquired at the Embassy of China if the Tibetan Karmapa Urgyen Trinley had dispatched a General Secretary to H. H. the Dalai Lama's residence in Dharamsala. The answer was that this is not the case, that not a single person has been sent to Dharamsala. So, be aware of that the 'General Secretary' who came to His Holiness' residence is an impostor.

H. H. The Shamarpa Chokyi Lodrö
The Karmapa Monastery
New Delhi Feb. 7, 1997


Shamar Rinpoche and Dalaï Lama meet in Washington, on june 20th, 2000

Statement of Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche Concerning His Meeting with H.H. the Dalai Lama on June 20, 2000

On June 20, 2000, I had the privilege of meeting with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C. I feel fortunate to have enjoyed a frank, cordial and thorough exchange of views with him about the issues surrounding the Karmapa problem. H.H. the Dalai Lama informed me that he will insure that Urgyen Trinley is not emeshed in the controversy between Situ Rinpoche and me. I greatly respect him for taking this position, and I wholeheartedly support it.

Regarding the disagreement between Situ Rinpoche and me, H.H. the Dalai Lama requested that we try to settle our differences and develop an amicable relationship. In deference to His Holiness and for the sake of harmony within the Kagyu community, I am open to this possibility. Since the start of our discord, I have only reacted passively and defensively to Situ Rinpoche's claims, accusations and overtly hostile actions. If his coalition stops its aggressive maneuvering, the problem will naturally dissolve.

In spite of inadequate evidence and proper religious procedure, I concurred that Urgyen Trinley Dorje be a Karmapa and the seat holder of Tsurphu monastery in Tibet. I fully appreciate the reasons behind His Holiness's initial consent to naming Urgyen Trinley as a Karmapa: the government of China, in collusion with some Kagyu lamas, had already recognized him as Karmapa. If the Karmapa Urgyen Trinley's flight from China in late 1999 was indeed for the genuine purpose of gaining religious freedom, I congratulate H.H. the Dalai Lama and our Tibetan Government in Exile over this development.

During my discussion with H.H. the Dalai Lama, I clearly reiterated my unwavering position that the Karmapas and Shamarpas always have shared equal authority within the Karma Kagyu Lineage. Throughout the disagreement with Situ Rinpoche and his followers, my primary concern has been to protect the spiritual integrity and pure lineage of the Karma Kagyu. As historically is the role of the Shamarpa and according to accepted Karma Kagyu practices, I managed to find the genuime reincarnation of the late 16th Karmapa Rigpe Dorje. The 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje alone is, and always will be, the spiritual Karmapa of the Karma Kagyu.

Karmapa Thaye Dorje is proving himself an exceptional religious leader by manifesting many spiritual qualities. From an early age, he has steadfastly displayed a compassionate and gentle nature. In the past year as he has traveled throughout the world and offered blessings and teachings to countless people, they have experienced him as a Boddhisattva and accepted his authenticity.

I am very grateful that H.H. the Dalai Lama was willing to meet the Karmapa Thaye Dorje in 1997. Although this could not occur due to a threat of violence from Situ Rinpoche's party, I deeply appreciate His Holiness's kind intentions. I am also pleased to have had the fruitful meeting with H.H. the Dalai Lama last month in Washington, and I look forward to a continuing, cordial dialogue with him.

July 10, 2000


Letter from Shamar Rinpoche to Tenzin Geshe Tethong, on Jul. 29, 2000
Private secretary to H.H. the Dalaï-Lama
Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India.


Tenzin Geyche Tethong July 29, 2000
Office of H. H. the Dalai Lama
Dharamsala, H. P. India

Dear Mr. Tenzin G. Tethong,

Thank you for your letter of July 14, 2000. I would like to clarify an apparent misunderstanding contained in it.

When I met with H. H. the Dalai Lama on January 3, 1997, I did not identify Chogye Trichen Rinpoche as the person who has the Sixteenth Karmapa's instructions regarding the rebirth of the Seventeenth Karmapa Thaye Dorje. I also did not request any recognition for Thaye Dorje to be Karmapa, nor did I request permission for him to be the seat holder of Rumtek Dharma Chakra Center.

During my visit with His Holiness I requested that he grant an audience to the Karmapa Thaye Dorje who had been independently recognised and enthroned according to traditional Karma Kagyu methods. H. H. the Dalai Lama happily agreed to this, but unfortunately the audience could not take place at the appointed time because of threats of violence made by Situ Rinpoche's party.

Regarding the matter of how I recognised the Karmapa Thaye Dorje, I informed H. H. the Dalai Lama that I started the investigation of the baby boy after hearing the auspicious indications that Chogye Trichen Rinpoche reported to me. This has been my consistent position from the beginning, which I stated publicly and in writing at the International Karma Karma Kagyu Conference ten months before my meeting with H. H. the Dalai Lama.

After my meeting with His Holiness I again clarified this point. A letter to me from the office of H. H. the Dalai Lama dated February 3, 1997, with an enclosed copy of Chogye Trichen Rinpoche's letter to the Tibetan Government in Exile dated July 29, 1996, refers to this issue.

Chogye Trichen Rinpoche's letter verifies that he had indications. However, it does not refer in any way to a request by the Office of the Tibetan Government in Exile regarding the Sixteenth Karmapa's instructions. In my reply to the Tibetan Government in Exile, I again tried to clarify this point, and stated that Chogye Trichen Rinpoche is not the person who has the instructions of the Sixteenth Karmapa.

During my most recent meeting on June 20, 2000, with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he again casually referred to Chogye Trichen Rinpoche as having the instructions of the Sixteenth Karmapa. Out of respect for His Holiness I did not argue this point directly, but told him that I have a copy of the letter mentioned above.

I will not respond to other issues raised in your letter at this time, however I feel that I must mention the actual role of Chogye Trichen Rinpoche so that the record is clear and correct. I fully understand that because of your busy schedule and many responsibilities it is difficult for you to check all of these details. However, if you trace the past records the chronology will become clear.

With regards,
Shamar Rinpoche