His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa visits Helsinki, Finland
For the first time in the many lives of the Karmapas, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje makes a historic visit to Helsinki, Finland on the 12th of June, 2007. Though only for a single day and two nights, His Holiness made the most of his visit to Helsinki, which included television news coverage and newspaper reports.
Karmapa Thaye Dorje began his day in the capital city with a visit to the Helsinki Diamond Way Buddhist Center for blessings. His Holiness took a moment to enjoy a cup of tea with the people of the center while Lama Ole Nydahl reminisced about the early days of Dharma activity in Finland.
Then, it was off to Market Square for some site seeing. His Holiness was guided for an hour or two around the harbor while he waited for the meeting with the mayor of Helsinki, Jussi Pajunen. Television crews were there to capture His Holiness’ first impressions of the city to air later that night on the evening news.
The meeting with the mayor was a mixture of lightheartedness and formalities. His Holiness presented Mayor Jussi Pajunen with a statue of Amitayus, the Buddha of limitless life, along with a katak (traditional silk scarf) as a gesture of goodwill. The mayor seemed pleased to meet His Holiness and informed him that it was an auspicious day as it was national “Helsinki Day”. There was a short conversation about the activities and functions of the Karmapa in Europe and around the World. However, the time ran out as his Holiness was scheduled to meet with yet another state official.
Karmapa Thaye Dorje was invited to meet with the Minister of Education, Hakan Mattlin and the senior advisor, Jani Hiitola. The Minister of Education is also responsible for the religious affairs of Finland. They enjoyed an exchange of ideas and statistics as Mr. Hakan gave a presentation of the variety of religious activities in Finland. Mr. Hakan explained the individuals’ rights to openly practice any religion and to choose whether or not they want to belong to any particular religious community. According to the World Audit Democracy profile, Finland is the freest nation in the world, in terms of civil liberties, freedom of the press, low corruption levels and political rights.
Afterwards, His Holiness went to a local city meeting hall for the Finnish sangha meeting. The meeting room was decorated with images from the epic Finnish poem Kalevala. In keeping with the traditional atmosphere of the room, Karmapa Thaye Dorje was presented the traditional offerings of body, speech, mind, activity and quality with unique Finnish gifts representing these 5 aspects. The presenters were dressed in traditional Finnish costume and His Holiness was serenaded with a traditional Finnish folk song. A film was shown showing the progress that has been made over the years as Dharma has developed there in Finland.
That evening, His Holiness gave the “jenang” or “Blessing Empowerment” of the Guru Yoga of Marpa. Marpa is known as the father of the Kagyu tradition in Tibet, having gone through three arduous journeys to India and Nepal to receive the lineage transmission from his guru Naropa. Marpa is also famous for, among other things, being the guru of Tibet’s famous Yogi Milarepa.