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.



Interview with the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

from 'The Week' Indian news website by Vijaya Pushkarna / Lumbini

How is your education going?

Even before I was recognised as Karmapa I was being taught Buddhism and philosophy. Now I study them in a much more detailed manner, particularly the Karma Kagyu rituals. I don't go to a regular school. I started learning English when I came to India [from Tibet]. The whole idea is to prepare me for my role as Karmapa. I also learn a bit of French and other western languages, so that eventually I don't need a translator. Besides, I study subjects like history, geography, science and maths.

Did you miss the company of boys your age?

Yes. There are moments when I miss them. But I have a greater responsibility. The way I was brought up, there was very little time for recreation. I had a lot of reading to do.

What kind of books do you read?

I read all sorts of books including cartoons and science fiction. I like watching movies on television when I have the time.

What are the TV programmes you like most?

I've enjoyed watching Star Wars.

What is it that attracts the west to Buddhism?

They lead a fast life and are on the lookout for peace of mind. They turn towards Buddhism to calm their minds. By practising dharma under the Karma Kagyu tradition, they find peace. Meditation helps them get a clear view of life.

What is the biggest problem facing people today?

People are suffering all over the world. There is a lot of violence, which is increasing with each passing day.

How does Buddhism address it?

The Buddhist practitioner knows how to address it. But the way things are, he should practise dharma even harder. That is good for his body and mind. Meditation will give you a great push forward.

Buddhism is taking different forms in different countries.
Buddhism has a lot to it. The practitioners in different parts of the world understand it differently and teach their own way. And each one takes from it whatever he wants, and understands it in a way that suits him.

Are all true to the original texts of the Buddha?

Yes, the teachings and the goal are the same. Only the paths are different.

What is your normal day like?

I get up at 6.30 in the morning and start the day with meditation. From 8 to 11, it is time for Tibetan scriptures, philosophy, dharma, the teachings of the Buddha and subjects like maths, history and geography.
Simpa Dorje from Varanasi teaches me dharma, philosophy and history of Buddhism. I have to practise writing and learn to teach as well. I meet visitors from 11 to 1 and also take my lunch. From 1 to 3, I do my homework, and then meditate for an hour. I have a break of an hour and a half from 5 p.m., after which I do a short puja. Before going to sleep I meditate again.

When do you find the time for TV and films?

Whenever I have free time, mainly during weekends.

Do you keep in touch with your family?

Yes. They live in India. I met them when I was in Delhi. I meet them as their son, not as the Karmapa.

Do you travel a lot?

Yes. I've visited Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Spain and Germany. I like to travel, but right now I am tied up with my studies.

What is your message to Buddhists?

Carry on with your practice, follow the teachings of the Buddha and do good.
December 10, 2001

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