A younger Urgyen Trinle Dorje recites
"Om Mani Padme Hung"


Firsth Interviews with H.H. Karmapa

1. Karmapa, to "Paris Match", 18-25th May 2000

2. Karmapa - Second Interview "Le Figaro Magazine"

1. Karmapa, to "Paris Match", 18-25th May 2000:

The Karmapa has given his first interview, to the French magazine "Paris Match". It was given in Dharamsala on 4th May to Patrick Amory. It was apparently arranged through Ward Holmes, sometime the Karmapa's English tutor at Tsurphu. Holmes was also present at the interview, along with a French translator.

The Karmapa makes explicit criticisms of the Chinese regime. He refers to Tibet and China as "two countries", and to China as an oppressor. "The TIbetan people are oppressed, by their large neighbour," he says.

"The Chinese engaged me in pleasing talk, but I think that they were only looking to manipulate me," he said, according to Amory. "They would have been able to succeed if I had remained in Tibet. Their real aim was to oblige me to take a position against Tibetan independence and against the Dalai Lama."

He also notes that Tibetans are not free to speak out, and he comments on the treatment of monks and nuns and on the destruction of monasteries.

But he says his purpose in escaping was not to harm the Chinese, but to follow the path shown by the Dalai Lama, and to work "for the freedom and for the happiness of all beings". He makes a highly conciliatory comment about the factional dispute over his title.

Robbie Barnett
18th May 2000


The article includes a lengthy introduction by Amory, but at the end it
reports the Karmapa's responses to Amory's questions. I have translated
here mainly the ones related to political issues. There are several
other comments about Buddhism and encouraging peace in the world, but I
have not included all of these. I attach at the end the French version
of the extracts and the full text.

EXTRACTS from interview with the Karmapa, 4th May, Dharamsala

(Patrick Amory, "The Karmapa - At 14, he is more than 1,000 years old", Paris Match, 18-25th May)

The Karmapa: The study of human history and of civilisations demonstrates that great peoples have, at all times, oppressed small peoples. The TIbetan people are oppressed, for instance, by their large neighbour, and the fact that the TIbetans do not feel free to express themselves creates conflicts between the two countries, namely Tibet and China.

I was born in Tibet. My parents are Tibetan nomads. I am a living part of this world. I have this rebirth, and so I should do my best to help my people, but also, because I am a human being, to help the world as a whole.

Personally I have not suffered that much as a result of the Chinese. For them I represented the name of the Karmapa and this responsibility protected me a little. I certainly had relative influence in China, but that did not mean much. Insofar as I fled, it was not to harm the Chinese. I simply decided to follow the path opened by the Dalai Lama and to come here, to India.

When a monk bears the name of Karmapa, he has a delicate role to play and even a monk can work in a negative way if he uses his name in a bad way.The Chinese spoke nicely to me, but I think that they were onlylooking to manipulate me. They would have been able to succeed if I had remained in Tibet. Their real aim was to oblige me to take a position against Tibetan independence and against the Dalai Lama.

Of course there were numerous times when I had the chance to go out of my monastery at Tsurphu and to see the state of suffering in Tibet, down to the smallest villages. I saw so many destroyed monasteries from which the monks and nuns had been expelled. For myself, I was able, thanks to international support and the good wishes of the Chinese authorities, to rebuild a complete section of Tsurphu monastery that the Cultural Revolution had totally destroyed.

As for me, I escaped the same way as most TIbetans do, making for Nepal by the shortest road, then India. The exact route doesn't matter much, the routes into exile are all unfortunately similar. And I still cannot say if my exile will be beneficial. Now I intend to try to make every effort for the freedom and for the happiness of all beings.

[Concerning his throughts about his family:] As the 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa I should be concerned only by the responsibilities that come with this title. Little details do not count. If I can act and achieve results, then my escape will have been a beneficial thing.

It is easy to say that I will go to France soon. Of course I do wish to go. In the tradition of the Karmapas, to travel is a mission in order to give messages and teachings throughout the world. But as long as the Indian government does not give me permission to go out of this monastery, I have to remain here.

Buddhism can help to resolve a lot of conflicts because prosperity and better health in the world are part of its objectives. And the principal aim of the Dharma is the happiness of all sentient beings.

2. Karmapa - Second Interview "Le Figaro Magazine"

The Karmapa has given a second interview to the press; like his first one, it is to a French paper, this time Le Figaro Magazine. The interview was on 7th May in Dharamsala.

In the interview he stresses that he has no hatred for the Chinese, and he makes no politicised remarks about Tibet being a country, unlike his Paris Match interview on 4th May. He implies unhappiness with the refusal of the Indians so far to allow him to go to Sikkim, and adds that he plans to learn English.

Since his first interview he has clearly come under some pressure to be more discreet in his criticisms of China. According to the journalist, "two Indian plainclothes policemen stand behind me and interrupt us at each question, making not only the monk attendant [who translates for Gauthier] uncomfortable, but also the young Karmapa, who often replies in monosyllables or by using religious sayings".

The Karmapa adds a new piece of information, which shows how inside Tibet the status of the Dalai Lama transcends sectarian limit: he says that he made the decision to escape "when they asked me to speak badly of the Dalai Lama in public". He says that he refused to do this, a position which will further complicate China's efforts in Tibet to get all monks and nuns to denounce the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama in a separate interview states that the Karmapa is the third in "the Tibetan hierarchy" - a statement which I believe refers not to a religious hierarchy, and not to the Panchen Lama, but to the state/historical hierarchy which the Tibetan government observes in ranking the Sakya Trizin second to the Dalai Lama in state occasions because of the historic role of the Sakyapas as leaders of Tibet in the 13th century, and of the Karmapas similarly later. Le Figaro by chance shows an excellent photograph of the seating order of the three lamas at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Dalai Lama's enthronement held on 18th February in Dharamsala. The Dalai Lama adds that he will take responsibility for certain aspects of the Karmapa's education, a statement which will further worry those Kagyupas who think the whole effort is a Gelugpa or Dharamsala plot to take over their leader.

The Dalai Lama also explains that one of the reasons why Delhi is not allowing permission to go to Sikkim is because of the continuing dispute over the succession (the other reason is because China has not formally recognised Sikkim as part of India).

Robbie Barnett

Interview with the Karmapa, 7th May 2000, Dharamsala

(Francois Gauthier, "Les Confidents du Karma-pa et du dalai lama au Figaro-Magazine". Le Figaro Magazine, Paris, 13th May 2000, pp. pp.26-29)

Why did you flee Tibet, your holiness?

Karmapa: So that I could better serve the cause of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism, which I could not do when I was under the control of the Chinese. Was the escape dangerous? Did you suffer?

Karmapa: There is always danger when one is on the path of the Dharma. Yes, I also felt the cold a lot [j'ai aussi beaucoup souffert du froid].

What route did you use?

(An attendant shakes his head. The Karmapa smiles and refuses to reply). Were you maltreated by the Chinese?

Karmapa: No, I was well treated. But they began to use me for their propaganda? And I realised that when I would become an adult they would do that more and more and that I would be able to do nothing [je n'y pourrais rien].

When did you make the decision?

Karmapa: When they asked me to speak badly of the Dalai Lama in public, and I refused.

What was your feeling when you arrived in India?

Karmapa: I was so happy. I had achieved my dream after so many obstacles.

And when you met the Dalai Lama?

Karmapa: A feeling of immense respect, he is a great master.

What role do you envisage for yourself, now that you are free?

Karmapa: A spiritual role: to bring [apporter] peace to the world.

Did you know what was going on in Tibet when you were there, the arrests, the torture, at the hands of the Chinese?

Karmapa: Yes, I was perfectly aware of what they were doing to my people, but I have no hatred towards the Chinese.

What is your feeling towards India?

Karmapa: Gratitude. (He hesitates) But I would like to be allowed to go to my monastery.

What are you going to do now?

Karmapa: To study Buddhism with the greatest masters.

To read?

Karmapa: I read a lot when I was in Tibet, but now I am going to learn English in order to be able to read in that language.

Interview with Dalai Lama (extracts)

Four months after the Karmapa's escape, what is the situation?

Dalai Lama: "Excellent. You know that the Karmapa is a living Buddha, the 17th reincarnation of the the Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Kagyu sect, and the third in the Tibetan hierarchy. Thus the leaders of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism are reunited in India, outside the reach of the Chinese. When he arrived in Dharamsala, I was the first to be surprised, because I was not aware of his escape, which he had kept totally secret. He is a formidable child, wise beyond his years: he has 800 years of reincarnations behind him!

What is he going to do now?

Dalai Lama: He is going to have the freedom to study under the guidance of the best teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, all the high lamas who succeeded in escaping from occupied Tibet. I am personally going to take care [m'occuper] of certain aspects of his education: he is going to learn English, history, geography, to begin to learn the realities of today's world?.

When will he be able to go to Rumtek monastery In Sikkim, the traditional seat of the Karmapa in exile?

Dalai Lama: (Hesitates). You know that there is controversy, because a second child claims to be the Karmapa? It is very sad. Also the Indian government has not yet given us permission to send him to Rumtek. We are waiting. But the Karmapa is a little disappointed. It's understandable.

Saturday, May 27, 2000   WORLD TIBET NEWS