Editor’s Note: If you’d like to get up to speed on this…er, issue…you can catch up on the previous chapters here, here, and here. The below communication is from one Kirk Moulton, and below that the spokesperson for His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. ~ Angela Raines
Since you have been covering the story of Bardor Tulku Rinpoche and the events at KTD, I respectfully submit this letter from His Holiness Karmapa concerning these events. This is his response from my letter requesting clarity, with permission to share here. I also submit my own commentary.
Kirk Moulton, L.Ac.
To all the Karma Kagyu community:
The past several years have been hard for all of us [in the general Karma Kagyu Buddhist community in the West, particularly].
Many of you may know of my devotion to Bardor Tulku Rinpoche for over 20 years. Fewer may realize that Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche was my refuge lama, and a constant source of inspiration. I have been concerned about letters “supposedly” coming from Khenpo Rinpoche and others claiming that Bardor Rinpoche has broken samaya [loyalty or trust] with Karmapa.
While Bardor Tulku assured me that neither he nor Karmapa share this sentiment, I felt it would be helpful to ask HH Karmapa directly his feelings about Bardor Tulku and his activity at KPL. I specifically asked him if we had broken samaya for practicing the Barway Dorje termas or having devotion to Bardor Rinpoche. Below you will find the response directly from HH Karmapa, written in the hand of WOSER RAPTEN, Coordinator of Kamtsang Monasteries & Dharma Centers.
I think we need some answers as to why we were led to believe that Bardor Rinpoche had violated samaya, when clearly he has not. It is my greatest wish that our communities become reconciled and for us to understand that all the lineages are here for one reason, to help us practice Dharma. All of the great teachers we admire have had teachers from different lineages, even different religions.
I am still a member of the Chicago KTC and therefore KTD. Many of us believe it would be a positive step if the KTD board would give us an accounting of who wrote/translated what and when. There is too much innuendo and confusion on these issues.
Also, we believe it would be helpful if Khenpo Rinpoche and the board would state publicly that neither Bardor Rinpoche nor those practicing Barway Dorje are in violation of samaya with himself or HH Karmapa. There are many students who feel confused or even disloyal when they want to receive teachings from Bardor Rinpoche.
Many of you may not know that very few of the practices done at KTD/KTC’s originate with the Marpa Kagyu. Karma Pakshi, Medicine Buddha, Green Tara, and Amithaba are all terma. Chenrezig was written by a Shangpa Kagyu lama. In his letter, HH Karmapa wanted KTD/KTCs to “focus” on Karma Kagyu as everyone feels that it should. He further posits that Barway Dorje and Karma Kagyu are not “mutually exclusive”. We don’t have to choose one or the other, they are both blessed by his Holiness and many other Kagyu lamas. One thing Bardor Rinpoche has always made clear is that he never intended to teach his termas at KTD/KTC’s as he felt that would be a conflict as his role of senior teacher in the Karma Kagyu.
Many of you know that a number of KTD/KTC members have left for other groups over what they have felt to be an extreme mishandling of Bardor Rinpoche’s resignation and other issues at KTD. My greatest hope is to see those people return to our Dharma centers – many of which they helped build. I cannot imagine that the KTD board does not feel the same.
Letter from HH Karmapa follows below.
Yours in the Dharma,
Dear Mr. Moulton,
Thank you for your letter dated 30 July 2010 to His Holiness, Gyalwang Karmapa.
We have discussed your letter with His Holiness, who appreciates your long association with the Chicago KTC and your commitment to Ven. Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, who has been an inspiring teacher to many students.
His Holiness understands that recent developments at KTD have caused pain and confusion to many devotees. Ven Bardor Tulku Rinpoche has been a close disciple of the XVIth Karmapa and has contributed much to the establishment of KTD and KTCs. His separation from KTD/KTCs is, therefore, a painful process. In such a situation it is important for students to remain firm in their practice.
Although Karma Kagyu lineage and Barway Dorje Terma are not mutually exclusive, His Holiness has directed that the KTD and associated KTCs focus on Karma Kagyu lineage with Ven Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche as the main spiritual guide. He is pleased that Ven. Bardor Tulku Rinpoche has established Kunzang Palchen Ling as it can provide focused teachings on Barway Dorje Terma.
In so far as the issue of Samaya is concerned, His Holiness has guided that the most important consideration for a student is one’s root teacher and main practice, and to maintain one’s Samaya toward them mainly. Ven. Bardor Tulku Rinpoche is an important Rinpoche who had XVIth Karmapa as his root guru; therefore, maintaining Samaya with him would be sufficient for your practice.
This does not mean that you have broken Samaya with His Holiness.
In view of the close association between the Karma Kagyu lineage and Barway Dorje Terma in the past, it is His Holiness’ heartfelt wish that KTD and KPL will maintain friendly relations, and that both the Karma Kagyu and Barway Dorje lineages will flourish in America.
With best wishes,
Coordinator Kamtsang Monasteries & Dharma Centers
CAMP: Gyuto Ramoche Temple