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In April last year, I was lucky enough to be granted an audience with H.H. the 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje. I remember his pure radiance and his calm, assertive energy. He seemed so different from anyone I’d ever met before. I asked him a question based around forgiveness–and even though my memory of his actual words has faded, the message has not.

I was surprised when I found out he is visiting the U.S. Part of me wishes that I was able to fly up to NY, WA or somewhere and see him. Yet, another part is glad I cannot. I have a special memory of the meeting that was held near Dharamsala, in Himachal Pradesh at his “home”. I’ll never forget that meeting and I still have the red cord with the blessing knot tied around my wrist.

For some reading regarding his U.S. visit so far:

The 22-year-old living Buddha seemed joyfully aware to feel no jet lag whatsoever. So far. “Maybe tonight,” he said in English on Thursday. “But not yet.” He had just arrived at a Midtown hotel with his security detail after a 14-hour flight from New Delhi to Newark.

“It is the first time I’ve ever visited the United States, and it’s a bit like a dream,” said His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje, one of the most important leaders in Tibetan Buddhism.

Despite his youth, he is revered by followers as a master teacher, and on Thursday he began his whirlwind tour of the United States, an 18-day visit to New York, New Jersey, Boulder, Colo., and Seattle.

Yes, he is that Karmapa: the young master who made headlines across the world at age 14 with his daring escape from China to India across the Himalayas in 1999.

His followers regard him not only as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, who died in 1981, but also as the 17th incarnation of the first Karmapa in the 12th century, in an unbroken lineage going back 900 years. They revere him as leader of the Kagyu sect — called the black hat or black crown sect — one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

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“A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, ‘I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, violent one, the other wolf is the loving compassionate one.’ The grandson asked him, ‘Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?’ The grandfather answered, ‘The one I feed.'”

– Blackhawk

I feel like that a lot at the moment. As if there are two of me inside both fighting over the scrap of my body remaining. I have to be conscious every moment about the one that I choose and the actions which I take. This year has been a difficult one, but I feel it all stemmed from my visit to India. It is certainly true what they say, that speaking with a great spiritual being such as the Dalai Lama or the Karmapa can cause old karma to ripen. I think that has certainly happened for me. Of course, that isn’t taking away my responsibility but just acknowledging how this all began.

I really need to get back into my photography. I feel as though I’m missing something. A part of me. But tell me, what is there to photograph in Cincinnati, OH? Nothing really, is there? I just can’t for the life of me fathom anything but trees and more trees. And I am NOT a nature photographer. It is hard having a child that I need to care for, so that I need to do any escapades before noon. Rather limiting. Perhaps I will go investigating and see if I can find any.. people. *shrug*

I am exhausted today. Not really in a positive frame of mind, but trying to force myself. Fake it until you make it, right?

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” – Denis Waitley

Well, today was the day. We saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama!!!!! I never thought it would happen in my entire life-but here I am. Sitting here. I was only three feet away from him at one point. Amazing.

Anyway, the day from the beginning; We rose early, and left Kashmir Cottage a little after 8am. The puja wasn’t set to start for a while, and HHDL wasn’t even set to show up for certain. Ju Lee and Adam had walked up around 6 via the Lingkor. I wasn’t brave enough for that. There was a steady stream of people into Namgyal when we got there. The security was quite heavy, but by now I’m sort of used to that; getting patted down and scanned everywhere. Eventually we got through into the yard and I found a seat vaguely between Ju Lee, Jana, and Adam. 

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Day Five–Karmapa, Debating, and the ‘Great Mother’ Part Two

Our return to the nunnery was somewhat silent and thoughtful as we all seemed to be caught up in digesting the Karmapa’s words. Kate and I took a brief walk around and wore our Kurta’s to lunch after which we changed and had a little time to wander around the nunnery and reflect on the days events.

The afternoon was dominated by a meeting with the senior class of nuns. They each introduced themselves and spoke a little of what they hoped to achieve–several for example, hoped that one day they could ordain and become geshe. There’s a huge debate over whether or not nuns should be allowed to do this. When they began to tell a little of their stories of how they escaped Tibet it was overwhelmingly sad. I felt a very strong connection since I left England and really have no way of returning. My flight certainly was not as trecherous or as physically demanding, but I have faced my own hardships. It was inspiring to hear all that they had overcome. At the end I spoke up and told them all that I understood a little of what it was like to have no way to return to your country. It was hard and it really upset me. No one responded to what I said, and that felt like a huge affront. I think that’s what upset me the most. However, after the session ended and the nuns dispersed for debate one of them came over, grasped my hand tightly and said “don’t be sad. When Tibet is free, you can come there with us.”

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Day Five–Karmapa, Debating, and the “Great Mother” – Part One

We were supposed to see the Karmapa today, but he called and cancelled, so after breakfast Ju Lee and I decided to take a walk out of the back of the nunnery and into the fields. Itis so peaceful and beautiful out here–the sound of running water washing away any feeling of stress or weariness.

The further we walked, the closer the mountains seemed. It was intoxicating. Occasionally we’d see a villager carrying wheat or some other crop bundled tightly on her head. The fields of wheat were amazing. Small terraces almost as far as the eye could see in either direction. The pale stalks would ebb and flow like gentle waves on a shimmering lake. My eye was naturally drawn to the movement and it was easy to become lost in rippling thought.

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