May 17, 2008

HE REALLY AM THIRD:

Young Tibetan spiritual leader on first tour of U.S. (Glenn Collins, May 16, 2008, IHT)

The 22-year-old living Buddha seemed joyfully aware to feel no jet lag whatsoever. So far.

"Maybe tonight," he said in English on Thursday. "But not yet."

He had just arrived at a New York hotel with his security detail after a 14-hour flight from New Delhi to Newark, New Jersey.

"It is the first time I've ever visited the United States, and it's a bit like a dream," said His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of the most important leaders in Tibetan Buddhism.

Despite his youth, he is revered by followers as a master teacher, and Thursday he began an 18-day visit to the United States, a whirlwind tour of New York, New Jersey, the Colorado city of Boulder and Seattle that ends June 2.
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Young Tibetan spiritual leader on first tour of U.S.

Yes, he is that Karmapa: the young master who made headlines across the world at age 14 with his daring escape from China to India across the Himalayas in 1999.

His followers regard him not only as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who died in 1981, but also as the 17th incarnation of the first Karmapa in the 12th century, in an unbroken lineage going back 900 years. They revere him as leader of the Kagyu sect- called the black hat or black crown sect - one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Karmapa has been traditionally recognized as the third most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism, after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, said Robert A. F. Thurman, professor of Buddhist studies at Columbia University.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 17, 2008 6:44 AM
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