Long Life Ceremony for Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje lead the long life ceremony on Sunday morning, December 18th, along with Rinpoches and spiritual representatives from the various Kagyu lineages, the lay and monastic community of Rumtek and the like from all over the Himalayan Buddhist community, requesting the 14th Kunzig Shamarpa to extend His life for the sake of the lineage and all sentient beings. The long life ceremony was held at the Karma Dhargye Chokhorling Monastery in Bodhgaya, the current residence of the 2nd Beru Khyentse Rinpoche and the 4th Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, who were among the many lamas in attendance for the ceremony. Seven days prior to this event, continuous prayers were held there in preparation for this occasion. His Holiness Karmapa Thaye Dorje initiated the ceremonial offerings to His precious teacher the 14th Shamarpa Mipham Chokyi Lodro, while thousands of devotees from the Himalayas and the world over filed in to the main prayer hall spilling out into the streets of Bodhgaya with silk scarves in hand to offer their respects to the Shamarpa and to thank him for his tireless efforts in preserving the strength and integrity of the Karma Kagyu tradition.
It was with this motivation that representatives from Rumtek gave a statement for the public gathered there to pray for the long life of Shamar Rinpoche, expressing their immense gratitude to the present Shamarpa and explaining the important role the previous Shamarpas have played in protecting and rebuilding the Karma Kagyu tradition in the past. The speech provided contextual continuity with a historical backdrop to show why it is that the present Shamarpa has carried this torch in His present incarnation as a protector of this 900 year tradition, in accordance with His position as the Red Hat Karmapa.
Below is an excerpt from this statement, translated from the original Tibetan:
”We, the spiritual leaders, khenpos, monks, nuns, lay people and legal administrators of the sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, all genuine followers of the Karma Kagyu lineage, would like to confirm our commitment to offering and performing regularly the long life prayers for the Fourteenth Gyalwa Shamarpa Rinpoche, so that He may live eternally to continue turning the wheel of Dharma for the sake of limitless sentient beings, so that they may be liberated from the lower realms and freed from confused states of mind. Moreover, we unanimously offer our gratitude to the Gyalwa Shamarpa Mipham Chokyi Lodro for dedicating all of His blessings and inner-most efforts towards preserving and protecting our precious lineage.
The Karma Kagyu lineage flourished throughout the Himalayas and China, beginning with the dharma activity of the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. Unfortunately, some malevolent administrators of the Third and Fourth Dalai Lamas resented the fame of the Karmapas. This rivalry between the administration of the Dalai Lamas and the Karma Kagyu came to a head in 1642, during the life of the Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje, when the chief administrator of the Fifth Dalai lama collaborated with the Mongolian lord Goshir Khan to start a bloody war in Tibet. They managed to overthrow the Government of Tibet, which was sympathetic to the Karma Kagyu, and installed the Dalai Lama as the Ruler of Tibet. By the end of the takeover, they had destroyed ninety percent of the Karma Kagyu monasteries existing at that time. This resulted in the Tenth Karmapa, at the age of forty, having to escape as a refugee through the jungles of South Tibet all the way to Yunan. It was only when the Karmapa came to the age of eighty did the Fifth Dalai Lama allow Him to return to His own monastery in Tsurphu, after it was certain that the Karma Kagyu’s influence had been substantially diminished.
After that, it took several generations to regain the esteem of the Karma Kagyu to a semblance of its former glory. Through the painstaking effort and dedication put forth by the Eleventh and Twelfth Karmapas together with the Seventh and Eighth Shamarpas, the lineage managed to be restored.
In the beginning of the eighteenth century, once again regents of the Tibetan Government attacked our lineage. Tshomonling Lama Ngawang Tsultrim had maliciously spread slanderous lies about the Shamarpa to the Chinese Emperor, Qianlong, in Beijing. Chinese law had once again been provoked to intervene in Tibetan affairs and a ban was placed on the Shamarpa’s reincarnation. These rivals of the Karma Kagyu had managed to suppress our lineage’s influence for the second time.
Nevertheless, the Thirteenth Karmapa, the Eighth Situpa Chokyi Jungney, the First Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and Fourteenth and Fifteenth Karmapas all managed to do their part to revive the lineage and it again began to thrive. This revival lasted through the life of the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa until His passing into Parinirvana in 1981.
In 1992, in the absence of the late Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, the third disaster for the Karma Kagyu lineage occurred, and in a very peculiar way. Though the first and second attack to the lineage came from outside forces only, this third and most recent attack on our lineage came directly from within. Two Spiritual leaders with a number of sympathetic lamas attempted to sell the name of Karmapa to establish their authority over the Karmapa’s administration and gain access to the wealth of the seat of the Karmapas. Collaborating with rival administrators of the Karma Kagyu and particularly that of the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, along with the Government of China, these cunning Lamas attacked the seat of the Gyalwa Karmapa and, by way of collusion with their co-conspirators, effectively tried to change the lineage of the Karma Kagyu all together. All of this has been proven in a court of law and the genuine spiritual leaders and abbots of the four major schools of Himalayan Buddhism are witnesses to these sordid events.
This unprecedented attack from within the school makes it all the more difficult to preserve and protect our lineage. Nevertheless, due to the commitments of the past incarnations of the Shamarpas and particularly the present Fourteenth Gyalwa Shamarpa Rinpoche’s relentless efforts and skillful methods, the lineage has been protected and defended, like a mother bird swooping swiftly to her nest to guard her eggs before being devoured by a snake. For the future of the Karma Kagyu, in order to prevent the elimination and contamination of our lineage, The Gyalwa Shamarpa Rinpoche’s blessings and support is still very much required. Therefore, the spiritual leaders, khenpos, monks, nuns, lay people and the legal administrators of the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, all genuine followers of the Karma Kagyu, unanimously offer all the merit gained here from praying to the Buddha Amitayus, that the Fourteenth Gyalwa Shamarpa Rinpoche lives eternally for the sake of our lineage and the benefit of all sentient beings. “