Interview with H. H. the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee

by Tsering Dhondup, The Times of Tibet , Feb 25, 2005

Toronto, Canada -- H. H. the Karmapa: In my view, the essence of Buddhism consists in reducing physical, mental and verbal defilement. Here is the transcipt of the interview with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorjee

Tsering Dhondup: It is said that at the time of your birth numerous auspicious signs were witnessed in your village. Do you remember your past life and the circumstance of your birth?

H.H. Karmapa: Frankly speaking, I do not remember anything about my birth; I am a normal child like any other. What has or has not happened were beyond my decision. Yes, my parents and relatives told me that there were numerous auspicious signs- signs like the sound of conch shell being blown, which occurred during the time of my birth, was similar to that witnessed when the 5th and 13th Karmapa were born.

Tsering Dhondup: How do you compare your life here in India to that back in Tibet?

H. H. the Karmapa: Tibet is my country and I feel that I was happy living there; but I do not feel any unhappiness living in India.

Tsering Dhondup: What in your view is the essence of Buddhism?

H. H. the Karmapa: In my view, the essence of Buddhism consists in reducing physical, mental and verbal defilement. We should not harm other beings even if we cannot help them. It is important to develop love, kindness and sincere motivation. It is very important to practice these Bodhisattva qualities and contemplate on the essence of Bodhichitta.

Tsering Dhondup: How can one manage negative emotions like attachment, fear hatred, pride, etc?

H. H. the Karmapa: Lord Buddha has shown that there are limitless methods to tackle one's problems. We must understand these methods. The important qualities are contemplation on the loving kindness, compassion, emptiness and meditation and practice them in our daily life. We must sincerely dedicate these qualities for the benefit of other sentient beings. It is also very important to have a genuine master to guide one in the right way.

Tsering Dhondup: The human society is beset with numerous problems, or rather, conflicts. How do you think they could be best addressed?

H. H. the Karmapa: There are many problems in our society and all these occur due to selfish motives. Important tools to resolve conflicts can be developing compassion to other beings, developing sincere motivation and putting effort to bring unity and harmony. It is important to think others as more important than oneself.

Tsering Dhondup: How can we make our life more meaningful by applying the concepts of Buddhist philosophy?

H. H. the Karmapa: Our body, speech and mind are laced with defilement due to which we find ourselves subject to various kinds of suffering. We must strive for happiness by training our mind. If we manage to train our mind, we can bring peace, happiness, harmony and joy for all sentient beings. The problem is that we are not practically achieving them because we fail to train our mind. Buddhism is a very strong tool for taming the mind and bringing it to a peaceful state. So, if we can train our mind, we can definitely achieve peace and happiness, which is the ultimate aim of our life.

Tsering Dhondup: How do you compare modern life to the ancient?

H. H. the Karmapa: The only difference that I find between ancient and modern life is the development of modern scientific technology. With the development of science and technology, there are fast communication between nations and individuals. But despite the absence of these, I feel that our ancient ancestors had more joy and happiness. People in the past were more peaceful, more motivated, more patriotic, and there was more love among the people. I respect the ancient people because they were very genuine and sincere in nature and understanding. And ancient culture is richer.

Tsering Dhondup: Do you have any special advice for our readers?

H. H. the Karmapa: I have not much things to say now, yet I believe that it is very important to build one's life in a very meaningful way. Thinking about making one's own life as well as dedicating work for the goodness of other beings is equally important. The modern life is more busy and tougher, so it is important to strive to build sincere intention, motivation and indulge in positive and pure actions. As a Tibetan, we should not waste our time. We must do our own work as well as we must think about our nation to bring more unity and harmony among ourselves as well as with other people. Development of positive wishes is also very valuable.

Source: Tibetan Review