Karmapa Lama outlines social vision in new book

The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje playing with a child

The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje plays with a child in Bodh Gaya, India, on 27 December 2012. File photo/Kagyu Office/Kakee Keith Liao

Tibet Sun Onlinenews

ON THE WEB, 20 June 2013

One of the foremost Tibetan spiritual leaders, the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, has released a new book in which he presents his social vision based on the Buddhist concept of interdependence, particularly in the arenas of environment and social activism.

The Heart is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out, published by the Boston-based Shambhala Publications, was released by renowned social activist Aruna Roy at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.

In the book, the 27-year old Tibetan spiritual leader presents “major issues facing global society in the 21st century, ranging from food justice to gender issues to conflict resolution,” according to a statement released by the Karmapa Office of Administration.

A group of distinguished guests — Rajiv Mehrotra, trustee and secretary of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of the Dalai Lama, Indian diplomat and writer Pavan K Varma, and Vandana Shiva, noted author and environmentalist — attended the launch, which also included a discussion of the book.

The Dalai Lama, in a foreword to the book, said that the volume demonstrates “the contribution Buddhist ideas can make to contemporary conversation.”

In the book, the Karmapa stresses the Buddhist idea of interdependence and its rich underpinnings, and how a keen understanding of the idea would allow us to be mindful in our actions.

He also points out that everybody including himself (who is a spiritual leader of the 900-year old Karma Kagyu order of the Tibetan Buddhism) has “responsibilities based on what we receive from the world.”

“The Karmapa argues that we each bear an ethical responsibility to care for the society and planet on which we depend,” the statement said, “and explains how to tap into our basic human capacity for compassion as a sustainable source of motivation in working for environmental and social justice.”

The book is a compilation of the exchange the young spiritual leader had on various topics with a group of American students who visited him in Dharamshala in May 2011.

Commenting on the book, well-known social activist Aruna Roy said: “The 21st-century world will be led by youngsters with a great responsibility to take positive action and protect our natural environment. By looking inwards and recognizing our positive qualities, we can restore balance to the world.”

A keen patron of ecological preservation, the Karmapa has founded Khoryug, a nation-wide group aimed at educating and raising environmental awareness among the monastic community. He has also addressed the Mind and Life Conference, a prestigious forum of exchange between Buddhists and scientists, on the issue of environment.

In 2008, he made his historic first visit to America, followed by a second visit to attend Kalachakara Empowerment Ceremony in Washington DC in July 2011. He currently resides at Gyuto Monastery, near Dharamshala, India, and spends much of the winter teaching in Bodh Gaya and Benares, two main centres of Buddhism.

Born in Tibet and recognised there as the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, he made newspaper headlines when he fled Tibet as a 14-year-old boy, reaching Dharamshala, the seat of the exiled Tibetans’ Central Tibetan Administration, in January 2000.

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