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Monday, 21 December 2015 00:21

Former Lives of the Karmapas

Former lives of the Karmapas - coverFormer Lives of the Karmapas
— as told by the 15th and the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa

Wondrous tales from the former lives of the Karmapa - the head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.

First and foremost of the Tibetan 'tulkus' (reincarnate lamas), the seventeen incarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapa have long been famous as the guiding light of the Karma Kagyu tradition and erstwhile gurus of the emperors of China.

The Fifteenth Karmapa once told Khyentse Rinpoche about ten former lives, mainly in other time-space dimensions, in a series of stories now known as Sakarchupa.

Later, when the Sixteenth Karmapa was eight years old, he told many a story of his previous lives to one of his gurus, Gongkar Pandita, who carefully kept in writing the nectar of the young Karmapa's words. However, when His Holiness had to leave Tibet, Gongkar Pandita was himself unable to escape and his precious records were no longer available.

Refuge tree of KarmapasIn 1976, His Holiness and his party were driving through Himachal Pradesh through a place called, by Tibetans, Dzalendara. It was raining very slightly and the peacocks were singing softly. His Holiness had the car stopped and said to his attendents, "I have come back to my motherland". He then told the following wondrous story …

These eleven tales describe vividly the power and purity of the Karmapa emanations and show us their determination to work skilfully for the welfare of all beings-human, animal and yet others-sometimes at the cost of their own lives.

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