Two Karmapas issue joint statement on the reincarnation of Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche

- through Henry Oudin

Published on


His Holiness Ogyen Trinley Dorje and His Holiness Trinley Thaye Dorje issued a joint statement on Monday regarding the reincarnation of Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, also known as Shamarpa. In the declaration, they outline their mutual plans to work together towards the recognition, education and spiritual growth of the next Shamarpa.

The title of Karmapa is awarded to the head of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. He represents the longest continuous line of reincarnated masters, or tulkousin Tibetan Buddhism, dating back to the first Gyalwa Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa (1110-1193).

Due to a lineage dispute – noted in the statement below – there are two individuals today who are recognized as Karmapa by different groups of people. In recent years, the two men, Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje, have met several times in an effort to bridge the divide within the lineage.

Yesterday's joint statement was published on the websites of both Karmapas and is reproduced here in its entirety:

A joint statement regarding the reincarnation of Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche

December 4, 2023

The tradition of recognizing the reincarnation of tulkus is a special feature of Tibetan Buddhism generally accepted to have begun with the Gyalwang Karmapas. Starting with the First Shamarpa, Tokden Dragpa Senge, a direct disciple of the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, the Shamarpa lineage has one of the longest histories of any Tibetan tulkus lineage. Most Shamarpa incarnations have been included in the Golden Garland of Karma Kamtsang. They have had a considerable beneficial impact on Buddhism and the Karma Kagyu teachings. However, after the tenth Shamarpa, Chodrup Gyatso, passed into parinirvana, the recognition and enthronement of Shamar Rinpoche's incarnations was prohibited for approximately 170 years. It was a great loss to the teachings and left an irreparable hole in our history.

It is in this spirit that the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa enthroned Shamar Mipham Chokyi Lodro, which was a great kindness. But the merit of his students was insufficient to prevent the Sixteenth Karmapa from passing to parinirvana at a very young age. And before the ensuing conflicts within the Kamtsang could be resolved, Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche also passed into parinirvana, which was a source of much sorrow.

Whether we view this in terms of the influence of successive Shamarpas or the fact that the Sixteenth Karmapa restored recognition of the Shamarpas, we see that it is our responsibility to continue to recognize the reincarnations of Kunzig Shamarpa. That the recognition be error-free and undisputed would be of enormous benefit in bringing together the Karma Kagyu. So we both take on this responsibility that we both have. Despite many difficulties, we met several times and had deep conversations that greatly increased our sincere intentions. To summarize the results of our discussions:

1. Recognition of the reincarnation of Shamar Rinpoche will be a joint effort on our part. None of us will do it separately.

2. In order for Shamar Rinpoche's Yangsi to live up to his name, we will both take joint responsibility for his education, initiations, transmissions and fundamental instructions.

3. Since the subject of Shamar Rinpoche's reincarnation is a matter of crucial concern within Kamtsang, we will not accept any interference from uninvolved parties.

In conclusion, we in the Karma Kamtsang are students of the same teacher, vajra brothers and sisters in one dharma lineage. Fossiling arguments and creating schisms among us is nothing but a disservice to our predecessors in the lineage and a method for us to destroy our own lineage. Thus, it would have a strong positive impact for every devotee of the Karma Kamtsang to recite, with deep regret for his past actions, the Vajrasattva mantra at least one hundred thousand times and the three-section Sutra one thousand times, as soon as possible. as possible. We should also have the firm resolve that from now on, the precious Lineage of Practice will never again divide into two factions and that there will never again be disputes over the reincarnations of the Kagyu masters, especially the Karmapa and his Sons of Heart. It is extremely important that all of us in the Karma Kamtsang line of practice have a samaya as inseparable as milk mixed with water, and come together as a single, cooperative whole. We ask you all to keep this in mind.

Thaye Dorje
Ogyen Trinley Dorje


The Shamarpa lineage is another influential lineage of reincarnated lamas in the Kagyu tradition, dating back to Drakpa Senge (1283-1349), who was a student of the third Karmapa. The two lineages have historically maintained close ties, with the Karmapas and Shamarpas often alternating between teachers and disciples.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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