Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche talks with compassionate activist Erika Berg

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Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Erika Berg met at Nalanda West to talk about Berg’s new book “Forced to Flee: Visual Stories by Refugee Youth from Burma.”

Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche spoke with Erika Berg, compassionate activist and author of Forced to Flee: Visual Stories by Refugee Youth from Burma, at Nalanda West following His Holiness the 17th Karmapa’s “A Call to Compassionate Action” event in Seattle.

Berg, who facilitates visual storytelling workshops with refugee youth along the borders of Burma and in the U.S, hosted a Call to Action table at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall during the public teachings His Holiness gave on Saturday, May 9. Seven other organizations dedicated to social justice and compassionate action — Bodhi Seeds,  LoveCityLove, YouthCare, Backbone Campaign, Compassion Games, Roots of Empathy and Compassionate Seattle — also hosted tables, providing information and ways for volunteers to put compassion into action.

Erika Berg_Forced to Flee_HHK_Seattle_Call2Compassion_2015Berg’s new book Forced to Flee: Visual Stories by Refugee Youth from Burma illustrates Burma’s ongoing struggle for democracy as told through artwork created by refugee youth forced to flee their home country due to ethnic violence and persecution.

Ta Kwe Say, a Burmese youth refugee and one of the artists whose work is featured in Berg’s book, joined five local youth leaders working in social justice on a panel with His Holiness Karmapa during “A Call to Compassionate Action.”

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HH Karmapa teaching on compassionate action, in Seattle


Youth leaders from organizations dedicated to social justice and compassionate action joined His Holiness on stage at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall.

On the unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon of May 9, over 1600 people stood in line at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall in anticipation of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s final public teaching on his two-month trip to the United States. Titled “A Call to Compassionate Action,” the event was a two-part program.

Mitra Mark Power, a senior teacher at Nalandabodhi, welcomed the large crowd.  Senior Nalandabodhi teacher and translator Mitra Tyler Dewar introduced His Holiness, remarking on three important qualities of the Karmapa — the authenticity of his lineage, his heart of innovation and his profound inspiration. Seated in front of a vivid photograph of Mt. Rainier, His Holiness spoke of the need for compassion to go beyond philosophy and to be responsibly translated into action. He gave examples of methods for actively cultivating compassion, adding that with true compassion there is no distance between oneself and others. Realizing there is no separation, then compassion and love will naturally arise.

With Mitra Mark moderating, a panel of six youth leaders from organizations dedicated to social justice and compassionate action joined His Holiness on stage. A short video introduced each leader: Silas Follendorf with YouthCare, Jennifer Hotes with Love City Love, Rekeda Roundtree who teaches Roots of Empathy, Burmese refugee Ta Kwe Say plus two youth ambassadors for Seeds of Compassion, Olivia Smith and Habib Behjatnia.

Watch the first part of “The Call to Compassionate Action” here:

In the evening, HHK gave an eloquent yet accessible teaching on how to practice and develop compassion through understanding its source and the way everything connects to everything else. Benefitting others starts on the inside, he said, and we need to transform ourselves so that we become the nature of benefitting others. Extending love to others, His Holiness said, is part of human life.

Watch the entire teaching here:

Compassionate action organizations and program collaborators hosted Calls to Action at tables throughout the event space, encouraging attendees to act on His Holiness’ and other leaders’ calls to grow our compassion, to make it real and immediate and to put our love into action now. Organizations included: Compassion Games, Bodhi Seeds, Nitartha Institute, Seeds of Compassion, Youth Care, Roots of Empathy and Love City Love.

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Public Teachings by His Holiness to be Webcast Live from Seattle

HHK-Karmapa-BRANDING-NEW-FINAL per DBG_04.08.15_web lo-resWe are delighted to announce that the last public teachings of His Holiness the Karmapa’s two-month trip to the United States will be webcast live from Seattle Saturday, May 9th.

There will be two sessions: from 2 pm to 4 pm and from 7 pm to 9 pm, Pacific Coast time. His Holiness will offer a teaching entitled “A Call to Compassionate Action” and will engage in a panel discussion with area youth leaders working for social justice. Further details about this event can be found by clicking here.

Both sessions will be livestreaming

We hope you all can join!

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The Significance of the Karmapas, a talk by Mitra Karl Brunnhölzl


In his talk “The Significance of the Karmapas,” given at NalandaWest on Friday, May 1, Mitra Karl Brunnhölzl spoke about the 900 year-old lineage of compassion and awakening embodied by the Karmapa.

Mitra Karl opened the evening by saying that talking about the Karmapa is like a firefly talking about the light of the sun. His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje is the 17th appearance of the form of the Karmapa and is the most diverse in his appearance of all the Karmapa’s, which Mitra Karl said fits with our age of diversity. The 17th Karmapa is seen as a world leader, environmentalist, poet, visual artist, computer nerd, vegetarian, youth leader, great vajra master, head of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and living Buddha. As a bodhisattva, His Holiness works for the benefit of others, Mitra Karl said, and his main job is to help us see beyond our mental restrictions, to relax and laugh. Great masters laugh a lot, he said, and humor is an essential element of a bodhisattva.

Mitra Karl’s talk included a brief history of each of the Karmapas, who all composed numerous texts on medicine, poetry, astronomy, arts and crafts, logic and debate, in addition to significant Buddhist teachings and texts.

Before questions and answers began, Mitra Karl concluded his talk by citing some of his own experiences with the 17th Karmapa. He encouraged audience members to maintain an open mind when they attend His Holiness’ public teaching on May 9 and/or if they should have the great good fortune of meeting His Holiness the 17th Karmapa.

Mitra Karl Brunnhölzl was trained as a physician and presently works as a Tibetan translator and Buddhist teacher. He studied Tibetology, Buddhology, and Sanskrit at Hamburg University and Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy and practice at the Marpa Institute for Translators in Kathmandu. Currently he works as a translator and interpreter for the Tsadra Foundation, Nalandabodhi, and the Nitartha Institute. In 2009 he was appointed as the first Western khenpo (abbot in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages) by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.
Mitra Karl is the author of several books on Buddhism: The Center of the Sunlight Sky, Straight from the Heart, In Praise of Dharmadhātu, Luminous Heart, Gone Beyond, Groundless Paths, The Heart Attack Sutra, Mining for Wisdom within Delusion, and When The Clouds Part.

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HH Karmapa returns to his North American seat


His Holiness Karmapa recently returned to Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, his North American seat established by the 16th Karmapa over three decades ago. On April 17th, HH Karmapa arrived at KTD Monastery in Woodstock, New York. The following day His Holiness gave a teaching on taking refuge, which he decribed as the essence of Dharma. Later that afternoon, HH Karmapa conferred the refuge vow in Sanskrit to over 1,500 participants in Kingston, New York. The following days His Holiness gave the Karma Pakshi empowerment and later taught on the foundational Buddhist principles. His Holiness also visited a local Christian Orthodox church and gave a teaching to the Woodstock community in honor of Earth Day.

Here is HH Karmapa teaching on the meaning of refuge in Kingston:

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Joining heart and mind – HHK’s teaching in Manhattan

MG_4934During his recent visit to New York City, His Holiness Karmapa met with the New York Tibetan community, visited the Rubin Museum of Art, viewed a modern Tibetan art exhibit, and attended a poetry reading at the Lhatse library. On his final evening in Manhattan on April 14th, HH Karmapa gave a teaching on “Joining the Heart and the Mind”.

In his last event in New York City for this trip, His Holiness the Karmapa taught on the key issue of how we make true connections between the emotions of our hearts and the abstractions of our mind. The evening event was organized by the Karmapa Foundation, and took place at the New York Society for an Ethical Culture, whose mission closely parallels the Karmapa’s in a commitment to ethical relationships with others, social justice and stewardship of the environment. With its soaring arches and warm wood interior, the Society’s hall has a spacious yet intimate feeling.

The Karmapa was introduced by Daniel Goleman, the science writer famous for developing the term “emotional intelligence” and all that it implies. He noted how important it is that the Karmapa has been meeting with university students, “because these are the people of the 21st century who will shape the future, and hopefully it will be the compassionate world we are going to hear about tonight.” Goleman also took the occasion to thank the Government of India for its support in allowing the Karmapa to make this tour and expressed the hope that the Karmapa would return for many more visits. Read the full article

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Welcome the Karmapa’s return to Seattle with an offering!


Have you ever wished for the opportunity to offer a gift, to share a meal, or to arrange a bouquet of flowers for His Holiness Karmapa?

Have you ever wished for the opportunity to offer a gift, to share a meal, or to arrange a bouquet of flowers for His Holiness Karmapa?

What might you offer to His Holiness the 17th Karmapa if you had the opportunity? Wherever you are in the world, we ask for your help to let friends and well-wishers know they can offer love and support–in any amount of $1.00 or more–for His Holiness’ visit to Seattle, by clicking here.

It’s easy to share the link! Imagine watching the live webcast feed of the public talk and seeing the beautiful arrangement of flowers next to His Holiness Karmapa, and knowing that your donations helped place them there. Or, perhaps the dinner that His Holiness eats after the evening talk is supported by your donation. Maybe your gift will make a special welcoming or a special farewell possible to offer His Holiness Karmapa. Your donations will go toward making all of these wishes and more come true.

We are asking everyone to share this opportunity with your friends — via Facebook, Twitter, email, and good old word of mouth. It’s an easy way to help people support His Holiness to benefit sentient beings, no matter where we are in the world! As His Holiness’ “Aspiration for the World” says, “May we fulfill our countless and boundless wishes!” We thank you.

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HH Karmapa speaks of environmental stewardship at Yale University

On April 7, His Holiness Karmapa spoke about the role the heart plays in helping to protect the environment during his Chubb Fellowship Lecture on “Compassion in Action: Buddhism and the Environment” at Yale University.

On April 7, His Holiness Karmapa spoke about the role the heart plays in protecting the environment during his Chubb Fellowship Lecture on “Compassion in Action: Buddhism and the Environment” at Yale University in New Haven, Conneticut.


As a child living in a rural area in eastern Tibet, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje recalls a natural environment that was pristine and untarnished by modern development. It was there, he said, that he first experienced a feeling of “intimate connection” with and respect for the natural world.

“Where I was born, we regarded and experienced our environment as a living system, a living being: The mountains, the sources of water were all regarded as the dwelling places of what I would call holy spirits of various kinds,” the Karmapa told the packed audience in Woolsey Hall. “We therefore respected every aspect of the environment as part of a living system. We didn’t wash our clothes or even our hands in flowing water sources. We didn’t cast any kind of garbage or any kind of other pollutant into our fire in our hearth. We regarded the entire environment as innately sacred.”

Today, the Buddhist leader hopes to inspire others to see the interconnectedness of humans and their environment, and discussed that theme in the lecture on “Compassion in Action: Buddhism and the Environment.”

- From the Yale News article “Protecting the environment begins in the heart, says Buddhist leader”  Read the full article

For a report on HH Karmapa’s meeting with environmental activists at Yale, Read the full article



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HH Karmapa Teaches On Meditation

The 17th Karmapa teaches meditation, warns against commercialization and answers questions about meditation practice.

The 17th Karmapa gives a teaching on meditation at Karma Thegsum Choling dharma center in New Jersey.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa gave a teaching on meditation — the first on his current U.S. tour — on April 4 at Karma Thegsum Chöling (KTC-NJ), a dharma center in southern New Jersey. Addressing over 700 people, the Karmapa spoke about meditation and commonly held misperceptions about it.

Reflecting on his experiences at the beginning of the tour, HHK remarked that while visiting the headquarters of Google and Facebook he saw that the companies were creating spaces for their employees to meditate and were emphasizing mindfulness in the workplace. “It is excellent that everyone has the opportunity to practice meditation,” he said. However, while commending their efforts, he struck a strong cautionary note.

“Given that meditation must by its very nature be a personal, individual thing that each person experiences in their own way, based on their own needs and dispositions, based on their own investigation, I think it must never be commercialized or used for commercial purposes.”

He returned to this theme later, pointing to the way yoga is sometimes marketed as a form of physical exercise, although traditionally it is a highly rigorous form of spiritual training. “Nowadays many people are interested in Buddhism and especially meditation. But they think of meditation as some kind of spiritual therapy, like spiritual massage. They hope that by practicing meditation they will be able to reduce the stress and pressure that they feel in their busy lives and relax. This is fine, but it is not a complete practice of meditation as taught in Buddhism. That requires a more exclusive or intensive training.”

At the end of his talk, His Holiness answered questions from the audience on a range of topics from ngondro practice to depression to the use of modern technology and mindfulness. Read the full article

At the same venue the following day, HH Karmapa led a group from the dharma center in shamatha meditation, answered questions about meditation practice and then conferred an empowerment for Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom. A separate article includes the Karmapa’s meditation instructions and practice. Read the article on meditation




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HH Karmapa Speaks At Harvard On Caring For The Earth And Others

His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa gave a talk at Harvard about caring for life on earth.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa gave a talk at Harvard’s Memorial Church about caring for life on earth.

His Holiness the 17th Karmapa spoke to a capacity crowd at Harvard’s Memorial Church on March 26. Professor David Hempton, Dean of the Faculty of Divinity, welcomed the Karmapa, who gave a talk on “Caring for Life on Earth in the 21st Century.”

Considered an environmental activist, His Holiness covered a range of topics from what it means to care for the earth and its inhabitants to the HDS Buddhist Ministry Initiative, his plans to establish full ordination for women in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, LGBT rights and race relations.

At the end of his talk, the Karmapa said he wanted to leave the audience with one thought: “When we talk about disasters in this world, we usually think of things like epidemics and famine, but there is one source of disaster that we often fail to recognize—a lack of love.” He urged everyone to feel “a love that is courageous … with each and every other living being and with this environment itself.”

Read the complete article here: “Caring for Life on Earth in the 21st Century

Watch the event at Harvard University.



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