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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2010 47 the Sixteenth Karmapa made his first trips to the West, this repu- tation was largely limited to Asia. His visits to the United States in 1974, 1976, and 1980 were whirlwind affairs, with large groups of monks and fellow teachers journeying through Disneyland, the Capitol Building in Washington, Hopi Indian lands, and un- told venues large and small. Many students like me fell in love with the Sixteenth, for his abundant warmth and playfulness. He died at fifty-seven, having spent the last twenty-two years of his life outside Tibet. THe perSon noW KnoWn as the Seventeenth Karmapa be- gan life as Apo Gaga, a boy born in 1985 in a poor nomad family in Chinese-occupied eastern Tibet. By then Tibetan monks had already started to search for the Sixteenth Karmapa’s reincarna- tion. In 1992, at the age of seven, with the Dalai Lama’s blessing, Apo Gaga was declared to be the Karmapa tulku. After his recognition, the young boy was installed at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet, the Karmapas’ ancestral home. He underwent the traditional training and education of a tulku and also oversaw the rebuilding of the monastery, which had been almost destroyed during the Cultural revolution. Despite the government’s appar- ent support, it eventually became clear that the Chinese would not allow the Karmapa access to the teachers and teachings he would need to fulfill his role. He resolved to leave Tibet. on December 28, 1999, the Karmapa pretended to go into retreat, but instead he dressed in civilian clothes, left the monastery, and began a secret and elaborate journey by car, foot, horseback, helicopter, train, and taxi. Seven days later, he arrived in Dharamsala, India, seat of the He loves art, music, and computers and has written several songs. He is deeply concerned about people his age and the world they are inheriting. Contemplating the Seattle skyline during his first U.S. tour. PhotobyJamesGritz©KarmaPaFoundation