Wednesday, June 4, 2008

HH Karmapa in the USA!

As you will know, HH Karmapa has finally been allowed to leave India and travel internationally. He has been saying for a few years now that his dream was to learn English and travel to the West, especially the USA.

Of course this is not the first major journey he has made. In order to receive teachings and to escape Chinese oppression, Karmapa relatively recently had to leave his home in Tibet and trek over the Himalayas to India where he now lives [above Gyuto Monastery, near Dharamsala].

It is widely believed, now he is free to travel, HH Karmapa will be much like his 'former self' - his previous incarnation, the 16th - travelling, teaching and touching the hearts and minds of the many people he meets along the way.

Just like his former self, he is a strikingly formidable Master already. He has the most tremendous presence - full of Wisdom and Compassion. He is also quite unpredictable and obviously holds a much broader vision and view of phenomena than most.

It will be exciting - to say the least - to be alive and interested in Buddhism during the coming decades.

In many ways, Buddhism is said to be at a crossroads. While the East becomes saturated by western 'culture', the West is fast becoming an authentic receptacle for the Buddha's teachings.

In fact, many prominent Masters have been saying for some time that the Buddhist tradition has almost died out in the East and that they are working tirelessly to preserve and transmit it to their students, especially those in the West, in the hopes they will in turn re-introduce these precious wisdom teachings to the East!

Whatever the outcome, time is of the essence.

There will come a day - and maybe sooner than we think - when we will find ourselves in a Dharma landscape bereft of the 'great' Masters we now perhaps take for granted. Just as all the legendary Masters of previous generations passed away, so too will all the bastions of our time.

HH Dalai Lama and Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh [to name just two luminaries] are now quite elderly although their strength and resilience are trademarks of their vast compassionate energy.
When they have passed on, it will surely be to HH Karmapa the world will turn for guidance on the future path of Buddhism and the benefit of beings.

So, what exactly is this young Crazy Wisdom Master doing during his first flight of freedom.
Well, as you can see, he has gone right to the cradle of western might - the USA - where he has no doubt planted many seeds for the future and rubbed shoulders with the great and the good [not forgetting the weak and the disenfranchised].

It is hardly an accident that we are looking at Karmapa, in the above photo, with Mickey Mouse. He even went so far as to wear the most famous black hat in the west. Mickey Mouse 'ear hats' are iconic and represent so much of what is best and worst in our fabulously vacuous yet well-intentioned corner of the universe.

Maybe there was even a hint of irony involved in the photo opportunity...

I recall reading some years ago that Martin Scorsese's glorious movie Kundun [about HH Dalai Lama having to leave Tibet] had been at least part-funded by Disney, and that it was forced unexpectedly to 'close' only a couple of weeks after it was first screened to world-wide acclaim.

What happened was Disney had just received license to drip-feed its gigantic empire of cartoons, movies and toys into CHINA!

Needless to say, they didn't want to offend the overlords of their new market - and who knows, maybe Disney were coerced [perish the thought].

In the event, Kundun was dropped [completely and utterly] and could not be viewed at any 'cinema near you' whatsoever!

And when i say Disney drip-fed their products into China, i mean their strategy was to start at the very beginning of their huge catalogue and slowly introduce every last element bit by bit - to maximise their potential profits, of course.

This master-plan to sacrifice HH Dalai Lama, Tibet, Buddhism per se, and arguably America's greatest director, was all done so Disney could launch its China account with none other than - yes - you guessed it - Mickey Mouse.

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