The Future Has Begun
On the 25th May 2014, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, boarded an Indian Airlines flight from New Delhi, bound for Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.
This was the moment that his European students had been praying for since 1992. In that year, a seven-year-old nomad boy from Eastern Tibet was recognised as the reincarnation of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who forty years ago first visited Europe. He was one of several highly realized Tibetan Buddhist masters, including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who came to Europe during the seventies, bringing the ancient wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism to the West.
It was during the seventies and early eighties that the first Tibetan Buddhist centres were established in Europe. The 16th Karmapa’s last visit to Europe was to London in 1980, the year before he passed into parinirvana. Since then, his European devotees have been waiting for his return with great expectation.
Horst Rauprich, Director of the Karma Kagyu Trust, Germany, summed up their feelings:
“We have waited thirty four years for his return. This is the fulfilment of our dreams and aspirations. The whole of Europe has been waiting and now he comes.”
The first leg of the 17th Karmapa’s public programme will be at Kamalashila Institute for Buddhist Studies in Langenfeld, south-western Germany. A senior member of Kamalashila Institute recalled, “In Summer 1999, we finished and inaugurated the new Kamalashila Institute and dedicated it to His Holiness the Karmapa’s Buddha activities, but we have had to wait fifteen years for him to come. Since 1999 all our activities have been directed towards that day.”
Kamalashila Institute is the main seat of the Karmapas in Europe. His Holiness will stay there from 28th May until 2nd June, and will give teachings at the nearby Nürburgring.
For those who cannot attend, there will be a live webcast accessible through www.kagyuoffice.org/webcast and available in eight languages.
On 4th June, the Karmapa will arrive in Berlin for the second leg of his official programme and begin a series of public talks and teachings at the Estrel Convention Centre, from 5th to 8th June. These too will be webcast.
This first historical visit to Europe concludes on 9th June, when His Holiness flies back to India, the country he now regards as home, having fled there from Tibet in 2000.