February,  2001
Dear People,

Fantastic news. The Indian government has given His Holiness Karmapa refugee status which means he can now travel. For over a year he has
wanted to visit the Buddhist holy sites in India and one of the first places he will visit is Sarnath--the place where the Buddha gave his first teaching. He will be staying at Vajra Vidya for part or all of the Namo Buddha Seminar. Below is a copy of a good news release which explains this in detail.

Secondly, I got many, many requests for the teaching on Vajra Vidya by Thrangu Rinpoche and have decided to simply send it to everyone. So here
it is:

Thrangu Rinpoche Speaks About The Vajravidya Institute

   Among all the Buddha's enlightened activity, the central event was turning the wheel of Dharma in Sarnath very near Varanasi.  This makes
it a special place, the most important among all the places related to the Buddha.  If people can practice in this hub of the world, it will activate the Buddha's blessing and alleviate, sickness, famine, and war.  On the contrary, if Dharma activity were to decline here, the situation of the world would also deteriorate.

   During the time of King Ashoka, the Dharma spread widely in India and in foreign lands and people's lives were happy.  With time, the Dharma
receded and the situation in India became worse as she came under the power of a foreign power and the situation in the world as well deteriorated with the two World Wars and then the takeover of Tibet.

   During the last century, a monk named Dharmapala from Shri Lanka built in Sarnath a large temple, called Mulaghandakirti, and placed
Buddha statues inside.  Afterwards, India regained her freedom and the world situation began to improve, so I think that if the Dharma flourishes, the whole world is benefited.  For this reason, making great efforts, I have built the Vajravidya Institute in Sarnath.

   In addition to the temple and living quarters, the new complex has an institute for higher Buddhist studies, which is very important.  When the Tibetans had to flee their country, the statues, stupas, and texts were almost all lost.  Some Tibetan lamas escaped to India, and among them were quite a few great lamas.  So at that time, there were problems, but due to the presence of these highly realized masters, the danger of losing the Dharma was not so great.  Now these great lamas are gradually passing away, and in general, I feel that if we did not train fine people who have good qualities and practice experience, we will lose many of the oral instructions that are so precious.

   In the past, the people living in the Himalayan region, from Ladakh in the West to Bhutan and Mön in the East, went to Tibet to study and then returned to their homelands to practice and teach the Dharma.  In this way the Dharma was maintained and propagated.  However, since 1959, it is not possible to go to Tibet to study, and so in India each tradition of Dharma with its particular path of study and practice has built their respective institutes.  These institutions are critical for maintaining the Dharma and also give those in Tibet, who wish to study, a place to go when they are not allowed to study there.

   In terms of maintaining the Karma Kagyu tradition, if things do not turn out well, the continuum of oral instructions, the texts and commentaries of the previous Karmapas would be lost and the lineage would suffer great ruin. Therefore, the Institute in Varanasi, with its two sections of study and practice, was built to sustain the great tradition of these teachings.

  It is also possible that in the future, students from abroad will be able to study at Vajravidya Institute.  Visas are relatively easy to obtain for India, and there is a tradition of foreigners coming to the Varanasi area to study at its major universities-Hindu University, Sanskrit University, and the DM University (for Tibetan Studies).  Varanasi is rather like Oxford or Boston with many institutions of higher education constellated in one place.
    At Vajravidya, the students focusing on the textual tradition, study Madhyamaka philosophy, the Pararmita Sutras, and the Vinaya along with the VIIIth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje's commentaries.  Dialectics and logic are studied through The Ocean of Reasoning by the VIIth Karmapa Chodrak
Gyatso.  From the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, come the Profound Inner Nature, Distinguishing Wisdom and Consciousness, and Revealing the
Essence.  Also studied are the Supreme Continuum by Arya Maitreya, the two volumes on Hevajra, the Three Vows, and so forth.  This deep study
of these texts allows their tradition to be maintained within the understanding of the students, who can then pass this on to the next generation.

     At the Institute, there are currently seventy-one monks, including those who practice the meditative rituals, those who focus on textual study, and their teachers, and there are plans to eventually increase their number to two hundred.  In general their income, if they have one, is very small, and so if anyone could help them, it would be a very beneficial.  Six hundred dollars completely supports one monk for one year.  It would be a tremendous kindness and great blessing to help in this way.

   Next year, the Namo Buddha Seminar will take place at Vajravidya Institute.  In this part of India, the weather is fresh in the winter and the blessings are palpable since it is located right near the Deer Park where Shakyamuni Buddha first taught the Dharma.  A perfect place for study, it is also easy to travel from Sarnath to Bodhgaya where the Buddha was enlightened and, also, to visit the XVIIth Karmapa, Orgyen Trinle Dorje, who may come to visit the Institute.

by Thrangu Rinpoche
Translated by Michelle Martin

From Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service, India

DHARAMSALA, Feb 3 - The Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim may not be the immediate destination of the 17th Kamapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorjee, but
after being granted refugee status by India, he will soon be fulfilling his desire to visit the Buddhist religious centres of Bodh Gaya and Varanasi.

Though the uncertainty over the status of the Karmapa in India has finally  come to an end, he has still not been given the go-ahead to make a trip to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, the seat of the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Confirming the granting of refugee status to the Karmapa, the Minister for Religion and Culture in the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, Mr Tashi Wangdi, said that all other formalities would be worked out step by step.

Mr Wangdi said that since it was the desire of the Karmapa to visit Bodh Gaya and Varanasi ever since his arrival in India, almost a year back, his  programme to these places was being chalked out. "We are hopeful that the Indian authorities will soon grant him permission to visit Rumtek in Sikkim, as it is the legitimate seat of the Karma Kagyu sect, set up by the 16th Karmapa," said Mr Wangdi.

Even though there were reports of celebrations by Karmapa's followers all over the world over the grant of refugee status to the head of the Kagyu sect, yet those close to him were still awaiting a written confirmation from New Delhi. "Though it has been communicated to us that the Karmapa has been granted  refugee status, he too is waiting for a written reply, which is expected to reach us within a day or two," said one of his close aides.

Karmapa aides revealed that the decision by India to grant him refugee status had been greeted with jabiliation in Taiwan, Europe and Rumtek in
Sikkim.  Though there was disappointment amongst his followers that he would not be able to visit Rumtek immediately, they were glad that the
one-year period of  uncertainty had finally come to an end.

Mr Wangdi, too, said that though it had been a long wait, they were confident that they would get a positive response from India. He said that the six other persons, including the Kamapa's sister, who had fled with him from Tibet, had also been granted refugee status. He, however, denied any immediate move to shift the Karmapa from the Gyuto Tantrik Monastery in Sidhbari, which was meant to be a temporary abode initially.

Clark Johnson
1390 Kalmia Avenue
Boulder, CO 80304-1813
Phone: (303) 449-6608
Fax: (303) 440-0882
Email: cjohnson@ix.netcom.com

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