17th Gyalwa Karmapa"Buddhism is a way of life through which we develop the qualities of our mind.
This way of life is very unusual, as it is a means to attain happiness without harming others.

THE 17th GYALWA KARMAPA

Shamar Rinpoche gave the following interview at Dhagpo Kagyu Ling in August 1986

Q- Rinpoche, can you speak about Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, the reason for its existence and its evolution?
R- The history of Dhagpo Kagyu Ling dates back to 1974 when the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa visited Europe.  Invited to France, he travelled to Paris and Dordogne.  
The reason for establishing a centre in this place?  That would be because first of all, this area is rich in culture and history as well as providing favourable conditions for the diffusion of Buddha’s teachings.  The Buddha dharma conveys deep knowledge of human nature and, in particular, the Kagyupa School is known for its meditative tradition and the quality of its meditation masters where it gets its name “The Practice Lineage”.  
Meditation is certainly one of the best responses to the problems of our time.  All beings, (that is, what we call life endowed with a mind) identifying their mind to something substantial (an “I” or “me”) and are linked by this realistic fixation; this is exactly what leads to dissatisfaction and creates all sorts of suffering.  But the nature of the mind does lend itself to neither time, nor space nor matter.  When the thinker identifies with a material nature, numerous defects appear and in consequence, suffering and frustration are felt.  This suffering is nothing more than a creation of the mind; the mind itself being devoid of substance.  The mind perceived as material is linked to the physical manifestation of the outer world and thus finds itself “distracted” from its true essence.  
The Kagyupa School maintains a highly effective meditative tradition.  The necessity and usefulness to integrate such a rich meditative practice has been understood by certain Westerners, in Europe and in France and has led them to truly look for meditation teaching and acquire knowledge.  At the same time, the Gyalwa Karmapa knew that the moment had arrived, for him to spread his activity throughout the world, and in particular in Europe, in order to help westerners.  So, among all the places he visited, he chose this land in Dordogne as the single place where original dharma would remain in a permanent manner.  From this centre, an authentic transmission would spread for the well-being of people in France and other European countries, forever.   
That being the case, M. Bernard Benson offered the Gyalwa Karmapa fifty hectares of land.  
Despite meagre material conditions and lack of decent housing, the Gyalwa Karmapa dispatched the eldest of his nephews, Jigmé Tséwang Rinpoche to represent him.  He also chose Lama Guendune Rinpoche, the best and most qualified of his lamas, the one who had the greatest experience in meditation, to teach westerners.  
When they arrived in Dordogne, they found that the conditions of their new life were that of a primitive people:  a few lived in old cars, using just a couple of stones and wood to cook their food.  
Upon arrival, the lamas were not in search of a new land.  They had after all come from a land of great spiritual and cultural tradition, and they had known better material conditions in India.  
Their motivation, based on the bodhisattva vow to accomplish the well-being of others, was to transmit the Holy Dharma.  What is the best way to accomplish the well-being of others?  That would be to share the dharma with them, the highest form of giving: the supreme activity of a “bodhisattva”.  The gift of dharma cannot be compared to any other form of generosity. A material gift is just remarkable, but it is temporary, it doesn’t last long.  At best, it cannot go beyond the limits of this lifetime.  I do not want to say that material generosity can be disregarded; it is on the contrary, useful and profitable to many.  But, among the different forms of generosity, the gift of dharma is superior, which is why we aim to share it.  Conscious of the fact that this generosity will give beings the means for their own liberation, for this life and those to come, we have been working hard, neither hesitating nor backing away from material difficulties.  In light of many hardships, we have practiced patience!  Even though the perspectives of establishing a centre here were not always present, the Gyalwa Karmapa predicted that something very beneficial would develop here and we have faith in his word.  
We also thought that it was our job to do our best for the people in this country by offering them the dharma.  
As for the primitive situation that I evoked earlier, (a hearth of stones, etc.) we’ve made a lot of improvements:  what was once a stable is now a temple.  Everyone understood the necessity to improve the situation, and the results are visible…
The continuation of this progress carries over into the reception, so that those who come for teachings find comfortable conditions for their stay.  
The whole of these efforts will remain in France.  The Tibetan lamas receive nothing in return, nothing except the satisfaction of practicing the generosity of the dharma, corresponding to their wishes.  Another important point of progress is the Karma Teksoum Tcheuling centres, linked to Dhagpo Kagyu Ling.  Their development is the condition that will allow the extension of the centre in the future:  the construction of a large building ( the Institute) better adapted to receive more and more participants at teachings, offering a better reception, a few rooms intended for guests, in a limited number that we may not detract from the location.  We must not harm the environment and it is not our intention to do so. The landscape of this area is beautiful, but it is equally important that the essence be beautiful too; it should be enriched by human and spiritual beauty, not only natural.  Our efforts must, from now on be directed towards these achievements.  

Q – Rinpoche, can you precisely explain your role and position at Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, in regards to your general activity?  
R – My position is that of the Sharmapas.  In Tibetan, Sharmapa means “the Holder of the Red Hat” (Sha = hat, mar = red, pa = he who is the holder).  I am officially the eleventh holder in the line of Sharmapas, but from the incarnate point of view, I am the fourteenth reincarnation.  Between the tenth Sharmapa and myself, the seat of the Sharmapas was vacant; there were some incarnations but they were not enthroned for political reasons, not for spiritual reasons but only political, similar to what happened at the moment when Nalanda University was destroyed during the Muslim invasions.  Currently, I am the eleventh reincarnation of the lineage holder of the Sharmapas, but the fourteenth reincarnation of the Sharmapas.  From the second to the tenth incarnation, all the Sharmapas were responsible for organizing the Gyalwa Karmapas monasteries.  The Karmapas, “the holder of the Black Hat”, and the Sharmapas, “Holder of the Red Hat”, could not have separate administrations.  Therefore, after the death of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the responsibility of his monasteries fell me and when the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa is of age to take up the direction of the monasteries, I will be his second.  
Dhagpo Kagyu Ling is one of his main seats in the world, and the first in Europe.  It was created with the goal of dispensing the Karmapa’s activity, his spiritual generosity in particular throughout Europe.  This is why I am intimately linked to this centre.  I take responsibility and it weighs even heavier on my shoulders these days.  This is why, even if my time is limited, I often come for long periods to teach at Dhagpo Kagyu Ling.  Many other centres invite me to come, but I cannot accept due to a lack of time as well as this particular responsibility towards Dhagpo Kagyu Ling.  

Q – Rinpoche, many people believe that you have to be a monk in order to practice the dharma. What do you think?  
R – It is not our aim that everyone who practices the dharma becomes a monk or a nun. What for? What we want is to create the conditions for those who want to receive Buddha’s teaching:  one person gave it to millions.  Our intention has never been to establish a monastery here in Dordogne, only reserved to monks and nuns.  It is not in our interest to recreate the structure of Christian monasteries, absolutely not.  The teachings and courses are dispensed to all, monks and laymen alike.    In Buddhism, it is not important for disciples to enter a monastic lifestyle, but rather they follow the teachings.  One becomes a monk in order to increase his opportunities to practice the dharma.   Monk means: he who has abandoned work, family, etc. and who essentially consecrates his time to practice.  That is what it is to be a monk.  It is a personal choice, there is not one rule, one institution, and we have no intention to establish such a rule here.  There is already a monastic structure but it is not exclusive, and in the future, lay people will be able to continue to play the same role.  It will be as it is now; monk and lay people will participate together in the development of the dharma.  In Tibet, the monasteries are open to everyone.  If some wanted to definitively stay at the monastery to practice, then they became monks.  Others came only to receive teachings, to get knowledge, etc.  Then they went home again.  It is the same thing that goes on today.  That is what we would like to continue to do.  

Q – Rinpoche, can you talk to us more specifically about retreat centres?  What is their function?  

R – The retreat centres are privileged locations where we can carry out spiritual practice to its highest degree, all the way to its ultimate goal.  Conditions are assembled in order to concentrate wholly on one’s practice, consecrating all of one’s time to obtain the fruit; without that, it is impossible. We establish these centres of study and practice for those who desire to bring their practice to its term.  

Q – Rinpoche, can you please explain the role of the Karma Teksoum Tcheuling?   
R – The Karma Teksoum Tcheuling are centres that are directly linked to Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, the personal seat of the Gyalwa Karmapa in Europe.  Les KTT are like the threads that the Gyalwa Karmapa weaves around the world and which I try to expand.  Together, this includes centres around the world, in Europe, America, in Asia and in Australia.  It is important that the members of these centres feel linked to one another, as all being linked to the Gyalwa Karmapa’s activity.  The task of the Karma Teksoum Tcheuling is essential to allow for the accomplishment of the Karmapa’s wishes of bringing the dharma to the greatest number of beings.  The energy deployed by the members of these local centres is what will bring meaning to a project such as Dhagpo Kagyu Ling and which will make the vast plan of the Gyalwa Karmapa come to fruition.  This is why I request that all of you here bring even more energy and effort to accomplishing this plan.  That truly will be of great benefit for everyone who lives in the country.  
All those who feel united by this specific link to the Gyalwa Karmapa should, to the extent that it is possible, help in cultivating the Karma Teksoum Tcheuling, so that they become a tangible reflection of the spiritual eminence of the Gyalwa Karmapa.

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