The 17th Karmapa’s scheduled trip to Europe was recently cancelled when India refused to provide permission to travel or reason for the refusal. The Karmapa was slated to visit Germany Switzerland, Denmark, Poland, France, England, Belgium, Spain, Scotland and the Netherlands. The following letter was released by the Coordinator of the Karmapa’s proposed European visit, Ringu Tulku on his website.
Dear Dharma Friends,
I am sad to announce that the proposed visit of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje was not approved by the Government of India. The visit was scheduled to take place from 27th May to 2nd July in nine countries of Europe.
The Kagyu Office, the Administration of Gyalwang Karmapa was informed of the decision by the Tibetan Government in Exile on 3rd April 2010. The process has begun to find out why this visit was not possible and what positive conditions are needed to make the visit possible in near future.
I know a huge number of followers and friends in Europe were eagerly waiting for the visit of Gyalwang Karmapa and I know that all of you are sad and disappointed.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the organizers, volunteers and donors for working so hard to prepare for the visit in last many months. Your cooperation and support were beyond any expectations.
I hope and pray together with you that the visit will happen in very near future and that all of us would be able to receive his teachings in Europe.
A group of Buddhist nuns that were slated to join the 17th Karmapa also commented on the events saying…
Unfortunately, it is really true. His Holiness will not be going to Europe this June (and so of course neither will we). Yet despite all the hopes that had been raised, and the joyful anticipation that is now suddenly dashed, His Holiness is here, receiving people with his usual tranquil presence and and that undercurrent of intensely powerful joy that is one of his trademark qualities. Watching His Holiness direct the fullness of his attention to each person coming before him, you would never think that he had actually heard this devastating news.
In terms of the possibility of truly remaining joyful under adverse conditions, in terms of the possibility to train our minds to maintain equanimity and stay focused on what we can do for others, and in terms of not grasping onto anything as real and inherently existent, watching His Holiness’ response to this setback is a very powerful and very inspiring teaching.
In the meantime, His Holiness’ staff is in the process of trying to ascertain the reasons for the denial of travel permission, and as that becomes clear, we may gain a fuller understanding of what went wrong and how it might be corrected next time. His Holiness needs this permission to travel from his temporary residence here in northern India, due to his particular status as a refugee and as a prominent leader of the Tibetan people, and it is granted only at the discretion of the Indian governmental agency in charge of such matters. We will share what we can as it becomes clearer.
While I hope that this is cleared up (or at least good reason provided by the Indian government) it is not the first time the Karmapa has been denied permission to travel abroad. As report by the Buddhist Channel in 2008 when the Indian government did not allow the Tibetan leader to visit areas near the China border ahead of the Beijing Olympics. The sights to be visited in 2008 included various monasteries in Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh as well as Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian government never provided any reason for the cancellation.
And Barbara over at her blog about Buddhism had this to say concerning the posible reason why India is not allowing the 17th to travel …
There is a lot of talk that His Holiness the Karmapa will become the symbolic spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists when His Holiness the Dalai Lama dies. But the Chinese have been grooming their substitute Panchen Lama for that position. Perhaps Beijing wants to squelch the Karmapa’s growing popularity.
The following was an interview by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche about the scheduled visit and the Karmapa’s interest in engaging with the youth of Europe.