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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2010 45 On the day his first visit to america was unexpectedly announced, i booked a ticket. after the dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, his holiness the seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa (“the Karmapa,” for short) is the third most important spiritual leader in the tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, and the one who may carry that tradition forward in the twenty-first century. i rearranged my schedule and jumped through some hoops to make the trip, but my little journey was nothing compared with his. in 1999, at the age of fourteen, the seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen trinley dorje, made a stunning escape from Chinese-controlled tibet that attracted the world’s attention, and the eyes of the world have remained on him ever since. the dalai Lama has hosted him at Gyuto Monastery in india since his escape, and is thought to be preparing him to continue his global message of peace, coop- eration, and human kindness. But what has made the Karmapa even more interesting is that he’s not afraid to rock the boat: he talks about the environment, vegetarianism, and the role of women— and how Buddhist institutions needed to align themselves more with the modern world on these issues. his youth contrasts markedly with the grandfatherly countenance of the dalai Lama, and he has decades of work ahead of him, time to have a real impact on the world of my children. as i sat in the cavernous hammerstein Ballroom in midtown Manhattan waiting to hear his first public pronouncement in america, i wondered, What kind of a person is he? Will his voice resonate with people of a younger generation? how will he bring together his ancient spiritual tradition and his concern for the problems of today’s world? Barry Boyce is senior editor of the Shambhala Sun. He is co-author of the rules of victory and editor of the new Shambhala Sun anthology in the face of fear: Buddhist Wisdom for Challenging times. PhOtOByJaMesGritz©KarMaPafOundatiOn The 17th Karmapa New Face of an Ancient Lineage At 24, the Seventeenth Karmapa shares the concerns of his generation— peace, feminism, the environment. He is also the leader of a profound meditation lineage. As BArry Boyce tells us, how he combines them will help define Buddhism in the 21st century.