Karmapa Rinpoche, the head of Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, who is often regarded by international media as the third highest Tibetan lama, said he will return to Tibet and "share the happiness and misery” with Tibetans when the situation would allow him to be of benefit to the Tibetan people.
After spending 17 years in exile, Karmapa has said for the first time in public that he had left a written message behind when he escaped for India in 1999. “In it, I wrote ‘I have made many failed efforts to be able to go abroad. Now having no other option, I am doing this way as a final solution. However, in the future if I could be beneficial to Tibet, the Land of Snow, I will return soon,’ that’s what I wrote,” he said, speaking in Tibetan to about 4,000 Tibetans and devotees in Toronto, Canada on Sunday, June 4.
He had previously said that the Chinese authorities had turned down his multiple requests to travel to India before his escape. When Karmapa, then 14 year-old, met with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, North India for the first time on January 5, 2000, he reportedly told Tibet's spiritual leader that he came to India because he could not serve the Tibetan people in Tibet under the current circumstances.
Karmapa secretly left his monastery in Tibet on December 28, 1999 after announcing that he was going to follow a strict retreat at his monastery near Lhasa.
When the young Karmapa suddenly arrived in Dharamsala on January 5 2000, it shocked the world and humiliated Beijing.
After a period of awkward silence, the Chinese authorities announced that Karmapa had left a message, in which he had said that he was going to India to obtain a sacred hat that belonged to his predecessor, the 16th Karmapa, who had left it in Rumtek Monastery in India. However, Karmapa dismissed that statement in 2001, according to the Guardian. “Why would I want to bring the hat back from India? All that accomplish would be to place the hat to Jiang Zemin’s head,” he reportedly said.
Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje is the 17th Karmapa recognized by both the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government in 1992. However, a Tibetan lama in India named Shamer Rinpoche recognized another Tibetan boy in 1994 named Tinley Thaye Dorje as the 17th Karmapa. Since then, there has been a dispute among the followers of Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The followers of Shamer Rinpoche, who is also a high lama in Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism recognize Tinley Thaye Dorje, who has recently declared he was no longer going to be a monk, as the 17th Karmapa.
Although Karmapa is the head of only Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the 17th Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje has received great respect and hope from across Tibetan communities. Often described in international media as the third highest lama of Tibet, Karmapa also draws worldwide popularity.
Karmapa was met by Prince Charles in London as he stopped by the United Kingdom for the first time, and upon his arrival in Canada, the Tibetan lama was welcomed by some members of the Canadian parliament.