13th Karmapa, Düdul Dorje


During the previous three reincarnations, relations between the Lhasa government and the Karma Kagyu order had remained difficult. Through his extraordinary skill, Düdul Dorje was able to begin the process of healing the relationship. He did so not through political negotiation, but through the pure exercise of his spiritual powers. One year when the Kyichu River breached its banks, threatening to flood Lhasa, it was recalled that Padmasambhava had made a relevant prophecy many centuries earlier, suggesting that if one day Lhasa was in danger of inundation, the Karmapa’s help should be sought. When the city officials duly requested Düdul Dorje’s assistance, he composed a special letter to be placed on the floodwaters, and from Tsurphu invoked the compassion of Avalokiteśvara. The waters receded, and, with them, some of the animosity that had complicated the Karma Kagyu relationship with the Lhasa-based government.

He later visited Lhasa, and it is said that when he was offering a white scarf to the central Jowo image, its arms moved and have remained in the new position ever since. Düdul Dorje was also received by the Eighth Dalai Lama, in gratitude for his timely intervention during the threat of flooding. The Thirteenth Karmapa was broadly known for his overwhelming compassion for beings. The force of his compassion was so palpable that animals used to flock to him of their own accord—birds, mice, cats, rabbits and bees. Due to that, it is said that he was able to impart something of the Dharma to them in this way.