Ogyen Trinley Dorje

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Ogyen Trinley Dorje
Ogyen Trinley Dorje Portrait.jpg
Religion Vajrayana
School Karma Kagyu
Born (1985-06-26) June 26, 1985 (age 30)
Chamdo County, Tibet Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China
Senior posting
Title His Holiness
17th KarmapaCo-claimant along with Thaye Dorje
Predecessor Rangjung Rigpe Dorje
Religious career
Reincarnation KarmapaCo-claimant along with Thaye Dorje

Ogyen Trinley Dorje (Tibetan: ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗེ།Wylie: O-rgyan 'Phrin-las Rdo-rje; born June 26, 1985), also written Urgyen Trinley Dorje (Wylie: U-rgyan 'Phrin-las Rdo-rje; or Orgyen Trinley Dorje or Ugyen Trinley Dorje), is a claimant to the title of 17th Karmapa.

The Karmapa is head of the Karma Kagyu school, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Thaye Dorje are the persisting claimants to that office and title.


Born in Lhatok Township, Chamdo County, Tibet Autonomous Region, China, to primarily nomadic parents,[1] Ogyen Trinley Dorje is said to have identified himself to family members as the Karmapa early in childhood. (The identification of the 17th Karmapa is disputed. See Karmapa controversy.) Known as Apo Gaga, he was seven years old before he was recognized by a search party headed by the Tai Situpa, following instructions Situpa claims were left to him by the previous Karmapa in a prophetic letter hidden in a locket. Ogyen Trinley Dorje was installed at Tsurphu Monastery (Wylie: Mtshur-phu), the traditional seat of the Karmapa in Tibet, recognized by both the 14th Dalai Lama and the official sanction of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, who declared him to be a "living Buddha", the first time the China's communist government has officially confirmed a tulku. Already a year later the Chinese announced during the UN-Human Rights Conference in Vienna, that they would train him in Tsurphu for his future task as successor of HH the Dalai Lama.[2]

At the age of 14, he escaped to India through Nepal,[3] arriving at the Tibetan exile quarters at McLeod Ganj on January 5, 2000. Ogyen Trinley Dorje had felt that he was unable to obtain in China the specialized instruction he needed to complete his studies and to realize his full spiritual authority. He resides at Gyuto Monastery in Sidhbari, near Dharamsala.

From May 15 - June 2, 2008, he made his first trip to the West, visiting several cities in the United States (notably New York City, Boulder, Colorado, and Seattle)[4] and was formally enthroned in the North American seat of the Karmapas at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra monastery in Woodstock, New York.[5] All across the country, he gave multiple teachings on compassion and the environment, gave the reading transmission for a new form of ngöndro, and bestowed several empowerments, including those of Avalokiteśvara and Padmasambhava. He also spoke about the special challenges of the rapid pace of modern society, and the virtues of the Internet as a tool for the study and practice of Buddhism.

In July 2008 he requested permission to visit monasteries in Lahaul and Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh and in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. The Government of India initially refused to allow these visits without giving a reason. It was speculated that the reason might have been that these areas are close to the border with China and that the 2008 Summer Olympics were approaching even though the Karmapa had made it clear that he does not promote Tibetan independence and has no political stance on China.[6] India eventually allowed his tour, which began in Ladakh, followed by Lahaul and Spiti, including the famous Tabo Monastery.[7]

Ogyen Trinley Dorje at age 14

Requests to visit USA and Europe in 2010 were denied by the Indian government.

On 9 July 2011, Dorje arrived back in the United States for his second visit. From 09 - 17 July, he participated in the Kalachakra initiation bestowed by the 14th Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C., then traveled by train to his seat at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra and also visited both his center in New Jersey and Hunter College in New York City, returning to India on 4 August. During his visit, he taught extensively on compassion, gave Refuge, and bestowed the empowerments of both the Four-Armed and Thousand-Armed forms of Avalokiteśvara. He also granted an interview with Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times, which was published on 28 July 2011.[8]

Buddhist vegetarianism[edit]

"Gyalwa Karmapa" (Ogyen Trinley Dorje), by painter Claude-Max Lochu, exhibition for the project of Temple for Peace in France, 2008

On January, Ogyen Trinley Dorje mandated a purely vegetarian diet in all his monasteries and centers and strongly urged vegetarianism among all his students, saying that generally, in his view, it was very important in the Mahayana not to eat meat and that, even in Vajrayana, it is preferable for students and practitioners not to eat meat.[9]

Buddhist environmentalist[edit]

Commenting on the Buddhist tradition of life release, where animals destined for slaughter are bought, blessed and natively released, Orgyen Trinley Dorje indicated that the meaning of this concept was broad and that practitioners should use their intelligence to expand the tradition.[10] Similarly, when addressing the 2007 Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, he indicated that planting a single tree can be more beneficial than performing life release for many beings; recommending that monasteries should plant one to two thousand trees. In addition he urged monks to practise restraint when sponsors offer technology upgrades.[11]

On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Orgyen Trinley Dorje gave 108 instructions on protecting the environment.[12]

At the second conference on environmental protection (3 to 8 October 2009, Gyuto Monastery), he stated that "For too long, people have behaved thoughtlessly and ignored the damage to the environment that they are creating and, if this continued there was a great danger that it would be too late to do anything."[13]

On October 24, 2009, Ogyen Trinley Dorje supported international climate action day at a gathering at McLeod Ganj in northern India.[14]


Main article: Karmapa controversy

Mipham Chokyi Lodro, 14th Shamarpa (the second-longest recognized tulku lineage in the Karma Kagyu tradition, and who in previous incarnations has held and transmitted the Kagyu lineage between Karmapas), did not recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje and instead proclaimed Trinley Thaye Dorje (Wylie: Mtha'-yas Rdo-rje), whom he purportedly identified a few years earlier than the recognition of Orgyen Thrinley Dorje in a dream as the true Karmapa. Shamarpas camp argue that until the reincarnation line of the Shamarpas was forbidden by the government of the Dalai Lama,[15] the successive Shamarpas were the persons in charge to recognize the Karmapas, whereas the Dalai Lamas played no role in the recognition.[16]

Many of the previous Karmapas have left a letter stating the details of their rebirth (this is an aspect of the special self-recognizing siddhi of the Karmapas) to assist in the recognition of their future incarnation, and thus the Shamarpa's recognition through a dream has come under scrutiny. On the other side Shamarpa questioned the authenticity of the "prophecy letter" which the 16th Karmapa allegedly had written and asked Situ Rinpoche for a forensic test of the letter, which Situ Rinpoche refused.[17] Ogyen Trinley Dorje is supported by the majority of the Kagyu hierarchy,[18] including two lamas who have played a role in finding previous Karmapas: Tai Situpa and Goshir Gyaltsab. A fourth such lama, the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul, died early on during the controversy. Orgyen Trinley Dorje was enthroned at Tsurphu Monastery.

Other high Kagyu lamas who support Ogyen Trinley Dorje include the 9th Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche;[citation needed] the 9th Thrangu Rinpoche;[19] the 7th Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and his Nalandabodhi organization;[20] the 12th Surmang Choseng Trungpa; the 7th Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche;[citation needed] the 3rd Tenga Rinpoche;[21] the Third Bardor Tulku Rinpoche; Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche; Bokar Tulku Rinpoche;[22] Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche (abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra);[23] Sakyong Mipham and his organization, Shambhala Buddhism;[24] Drupon Rinpoche and Lama Norlha Rinpoche, among others. He is also recognized as Karmapa by both the current 14th Dalai Lama and the government of China.

Also sided with Orgyen Trinley Dorje are tulkus he has identified, such as the 11th Nenang Pawo, and those identified by Tai Situ Rinpoche such as the 3rd Kalu Rinpoche. There are now two recognitions of the 4th Jamgon Kongtrul, one sided with each Karmapa.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Reincarnation and enthronement of the 17th Living Buddha Karmapa". China Tibet Information Center. 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2010-08-17. 
  2. ^ "Die Presse", June 17th 1993, page 2: "Am Rande der Konferenz".
  3. ^ "Press Statement from the 17 year old Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje April 27, 2001, Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University, Sidbhari, Distt. Kangra, HP, India" (Press release). Worldbridges Tibet. April 27, 2001. Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  4. ^ His Holiness the 17th Karmapa's visit to his North American Seat in the USA
  5. ^ YouTube video
  6. ^ Tibetan spiritual leader not allowed to go near China border
  7. ^ India Okays Karmapa’s Visit to Border Areas
  8. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (2011-07-28). "A Young Lama Prepares to Be a Tibetan Leader". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Talk on Vegetarianism, by Orgyen Trinle Dorje, Karmapa XVII, As Translated Simultaneously by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche January 3rd, 2007, Full Moon Day, During the 24th annual Great Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, India
  10. ^ kagyu.org: Karma Triyana Dharmachakra
  11. ^ kagyumonlam.org: Kagyu Monlam Chenmo -- Teachings -- More Words on the Environment (2007/12/27)
  12. ^ A Message from the Gyalwang Karmapa: 108 Things You Can Do
  13. ^ Gyuto Monastery in Dharamsala Hosts Conference on Environmental Protection
  14. ^ Karmapa supports international climate action day
  15. ^ see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamarpa#Controversy
  16. ^ Prof. Geoffrey Brian Samuel in: “Affirmation of Geoffrey Brian Samuel,” Lama vs. Hope and Ors, CIV-2004404-001363, High Court of New Zealand Auckland Registry, November 11, 2004.
  17. ^ https://karmapaissue.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/the-letter-of-prediction/
  18. ^ Yardley, Jim (2011-02-08). "Tibetan Lama Faces Scrutiny and Suspicion in India". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-02-08. After the death of the previous Karmapa, a bitter feud broke out between the high lamas charged with identifying his successor: at least two other people now claim to be the Karmapa, though a majority of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, recognize Ogyen Trinley Dorje. 
  19. ^ "The Karmapa Controversy". HomePage of Thrangu Rinpoche. Archived from the original on 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2011-02-08. I have concluded with absolute certainty that Urgyen Trinley Drodul Dorje from Tibet is the 17th Karmapa. 
  20. ^ "Lineage Masters". Nalandabodhi: Gateway to the Buddhist Science of Mind. Nalandabodhi. 2009. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  21. ^ Lettre de Tenga Rinpoché à Sharmapa et Topgala
  22. ^ Lettre de Bokar Rinpoché à Sharmapa et Topgala
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ "Shambhala Welcomes His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa to America!". shambhala.org. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Shambhala International (Vajradhatu). 2008. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 


Buddhist titles
Preceded by
Rangjung Rigpe Dorje
Reincarnation of the Karmapa
Co-claimant along with Thaye Dorje

Recognized in 1992