Posted by: nickwardscenarios | October 15, 2009

Buddhist self-destruction: the tragedy of Tibet

Statement of Lama Ole Nydahl concerning questions about the present tragedy in Tibet:


Lama Ole with Hannah who gave me the Dharma name Karma Tsewang Namgyal in 2002, Fremantle, WA


” During my years of involvement and staying in the Himalayas since 1968, I have not met a single Tibetan who saw the Chinese annexion of their country in a positive light.

chinese invade tibet

During the first years their main complaint was that between 20-25 % of the country’s inhabitants had starved due to mistaken agricultural directives from Beijing or been killed in prison camps or during self-criticism meetings or acts of war.


The destruction of their religion, the gutting of its monasteries and inhuman treatment and killing of its leaders stayed engraved on their minds and was constantly mentioned. As the Chinese put the blame for the Cultural Revolution on the “Gang of Four” and Deng started a liberal period, many Tibetans were willing to at least work under the given conditions.


As the Chinese started influencing the choice of incarnate Lamas, however, and brought such massive amounts of foreign immigrants into Tibet, that the nature of their country totally changed and they became a minority, this new wave of unrest probably became unavoidable.


As everywhere, when men with stones in their hands face machine guns this is a total tragedy and it should not be impossible for such a great power as China to give them the autonomy which is all they can realistically expect. May this become possible before yet more lives are lost and the entry of the great and cultural Chinese nation into the world’s free and democratic states is seriously questioned.


The Tibetans are not a violent race and there must be ways that their rightful wishes for freedom can be met. It will be a great and unforgettable act on the side of the Chinese otherwise far-seeing leadership if they can do this.” Yours Lama Ole Nydahl, Denmark

‘If you mention the name Lama Ole to a follower of the Tibetan Karma Kagyu Buddhist school, chances are you will get either of two responses – a smile or a grimace.


The response depends on whose “side” the follower is on.


A major split has developed in this school, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, possibly the most popular and accessible school in the West.


Crucial to the school is the lineage holder, the high master. Tibetans believe in reincarnation and that high lamas on the brink of enlightenment reincarnate, coming back again and again to help others on the path to nirvana. Just like the Dalai Lama, who is said to have come back again and again, so with the head of the Karma Kagyu school, the Karmapa.

16th Karmapa

There was only one 16th Karmapa, who died in 1981. Now the problem is that there are two 17th Karmapas.


Lama Ole supports Karmapa Thaye Dorje, recognized by Shamar Rinpoche, a high lama in the Karma Kagyu school.


Thaye Dorje is not the lama who made the headlines in January 2000 with his dramatic escape from Tibet and his arrival on the Dalai Lama’s doorstep in Dharamsala in India.


That’s Karmapa Urgyen Trinley, who was recognized by Tai Situ Rinpoche, another high lama.


The Dalai Lama endorsed Karmapa Urgyen Trinley’s recognition.

If you are confused, it’s understandable. The fact that there are two separate groups of Tibetan lamas who have recognized and support two separate Karmapas has resulted in violent clashes, court cases and distinctly un-Buddhist behavior.


But if the Tibetans are split, so are the school’s Western followers. Each side bad-mouths the other. Critics say Karmapa Urgyen Trinley was fraudulently recognized, claiming a letter said to have been written by the 16th Karmapa pointing to where he would be reborn was a fake. They claim the lama is not the “real” Karmapa.


And they are angry with the Dalai Lama, who belongs to the Gelukpa school, interfering by publicly stating his acceptance of the boy. Critics on the other side dispute the recognition of Karmapa Thaye Dorje and question why Shamar, who recognized him, challenged his competitors, then backed down, then appeared to have changed his mind and challenged again.

It is virtually impossible as a follower of the Karma Kagyu school to tiptoe along the knife-edge that divides followers of the two Karmapas. You either believe in one or you believe in the other. Period. Buddhist centers have split or joined one side or the other. In the West, the split has not happened without heartache.

Before one understands how traumatic this competition for the Karmapa throne has become for Western followers, the controversy has to be understood against the backdrop of struggle and transition suffered by the Tibetans.


After the Dalai Lama and more than 100,000 Tibetans fled Chinese oppression in their homeland in 1959, they tried to pick up their lives in exile, with their headquarters now in Dharamsala.


This has proved to be largely a success story, in terms of civil administration, public profile and preservation of their culture and religion.

Buddhism forms the core of Tibetan society and the main Buddhist schools of Gelukpa, Karma Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya have done well in re-establishing themselves in the Indian subcontinent and in centers around the world. While the record of the high lamas who run these schools has not been without blemish – a few sex and drug scandals blotting their image – the transition from the largely feudal confines of old Tibet to an acceptance by the wider world is ongoing and bearing fruit.’


My view: As a result of his unwelcome (and historically unprecidented) intervention in the 17th karmapa ‘selection’ (to appease China, believe it or not, that’s how politically sophisticated the Chinese are), the Dalai Lama has become a highly politicised meddlesome character and it is right that Obama should delay meeting him until he has first discussed with China the full range of China’s disturbing disregard for human rights the world over. This will include discussion of Tibet’s right to self-determination, Tibet’s right to protection from Chinese influx and to nationhood. Most importantly the world should seek to ensure that the teachings are protected. The teachings are of immense, priceless, value.
Will the real Dalai Lama stand up?

Geshe Thubten Tensing (Gulukpa), who graciously gave me the Dharma name Thubten Trinley (‘Tingley’) in Darwin, Australia. 2004. A sweet and patient ‘bookish’ monk with a story to tell about the ‘real’ Dalai Lama. Do I mean that the Dalai Lama is some kind of cover, an actor or a stooge? Am I a Buddhist? Philosophically, yes. Religiously, no. I am not a non-buddhist. That’s about it. I like the Dalai Lama and I have often been inspired by his books, his appearances and his often brilliant one-liners. When asked about death he once replied: ‘Don’t get me on to my favourite subject’.


search-term: maitraya

added 10/1/2011

pull the other one, anna chapman (Kushchenko) part 2

‘The spy who became Putin’s pin-up’ (painting of Anna Chapman, as Red Tara,  by  Nick Ward, 2010 (detail)- thanks to today’s Times)

Red Tārā, of fierce aspect associated with magnetizing all good things.


Dynamic ‘black hat’ Lama Ole Nydahl will be in Moscow 24 January 2011 following twenty day Russian teaching adventure: check him out, Anna – and take the Putin – and Russian High Financiers. The ‘Boxer’ Lama can handle it before heading to Israel. A great, tireless and fearless teacher of the timeless and precious Buddhist teachings from Tibet (well, pre-partition India originally, at least in its Indian form – that’s controversial!) – unless you accept, as I do, and many Tibetan Buddhist bookish monks are trained not to, that the indigenous Bon magical stuff played its part in the compelling brew that is the Tibetan brand, but don’t quote me or Lama Ole might kick sand in my face all over again. Tough master. Bouncer and gate-keeper type. True though in the sense of necessary – that don’t make him lovable (to the politically correct).

added 26 Jan 2011:

Karma works in mysterious ways, that’s for sure.

search term: karmapa 16

Perhaps Lama Ole should have kept the ‘real’ 17th Karmapa the secret the High Lamas intended it to be (in order to both protect the Dharma and outwit the Chinese) is my latest (highly controversial) theory.

Another theory is that the two Karmapas should get together – I believe the 16th Karmapa, by all accounts in this shabby and distracting tale, is more than capable of undertaking some kind of hitherto undisclosed post-death practice by which both of these Buddhist practitioners are visited with searing insight – that’s an aspiration shared, I imagine, with many ‘mellon-headed’ Westerners – including artists like myself – artist-dramatist to be precise – wishing faithfully to make perfect ‘use’ of these teachings yet unable (by nature of being a dramatist) to cease to search amidst the ruins of what it is that makes us, potentially, divinely human. Judge me by my work not by my periodic statements in various disguises (some based on reality-models, historical personages. spirit-kings, rollingminders – you get the picture). I do not do autobiography – nor have I ever – yet in these Tibetan master-teachings there is something of home, whatever I think that means. Whatever ‘I’ means. Laugh out loud!

11th March 2011. One more theory! Sent to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales via Stuart Laing, Master, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University and copied to the Dalai Lama following his announcement that he is to renounce ‘political’ power in Tibet:
Dear Charles,
Please forgive me for dispensing with the formal address – there just isn’t the time, besides you’re just Charles in the popular imagination! In the last couple of days I have been posting messages on this excellent site on the benefits of mantra-meditation with a specific focus on my speciality sculling-mantra. I came to it having made two decisions at the same time back in 2000; to try mantra meditation and to get back into a sculling boat having not done so since I was a natural boat-mover as a school boy at The King’s School, Ely, where my father was Headmaster and coach (not always an easy combination). So, as I wasn’t in the mood to sit still, it seemed natural to kill two birds with one stone if you’ll excuse the distinctly un-Buddhist metaphor and scull to the chosen mantra (which remains a secret between me and my boat). My interest in Buddhism began to blossum as a result of the mantra-meditation – I did not come to this great philosophical system as a book-reader alone. One thing leads to another. Here are my latest thoughts on the Kamapas ‘problem’:… published here first, Your Royal Highness:
As the wildmind exchanges make clear the diaspora of Tibetan High Lamas has, paradoxically perhaps, been of enormous benefit to Occidental Buddhists – and it makes me wonder if the Chinese invasion and subsequent slaughter and destruction was predicted by many of the High Lamas before 1959 and if, as such things are surely possible, they, in the Bardo state – the state of very highly advanced conciousness between death and re-birth – these beings chose – or directed their re-births – to places where the teachings would be ‘safer’ and more likely to flourish well away from Tibet. It is a moving thought.
End of message, for the time being. I hope that Prince William will take the time to connect with the Aboriginal People of Australia in his forthcoming trip Down Under. Two days ago, having posted my blog   a telling search-term appeared on the Nick Ward Scenarios dash-board: ‘help the old people’. ‘Helping’ the Old People of Australia, the Aboriginal people means travelling to where the Law (or lore, if you prefer) is strong – that meant, in my case, The Kimberly, West Australia. What more can I do right now, as an artist-dramatist? The work has no end is the answer to that rhetorical question.
With kind regards,
Yours etc Nick
Banjo Nick
China is running away with the manufacture of the new technolgies for the sustainable green future the Prince of Wales has been campaiging for for more years than I can remember. Great Britain should immediately reconsider the shamefull dependency on arms-trading and war which has resulted directly in the slaughter of innocents in the Middle Eastern by oil-rich Dictators. Speak out!
added 14th March (as the Prince of Wales has just serendipitously driven by the window of the Flack Social Enterprise (temporary) shared office space on Newmarket Road, Cambridge – where I have the use of a computer and free coffee and biscuits):
Nuclear Power Stations are not safe in the long-term. Period.

added 10th March 2011: Dalai Lama to Step Down as Tibetan Political Leader‎ – Voice of America

search-term: anna chapman x

11th Feb 2011 : Letter from Shamarpa to the Venerable Sandhong Rinpoche concering this matter:

a scoop for the delightful Anna in Russia with love

From Tingley (Trinley) a Jester was born.

Om  Mani Padme Aum (Om)
Karma Thubten Trinley’s definition

”These are the six syllables which prevent rebirth into the six realms of cyclic existence. It translates literally as ‘OM the jewel in the lotus HUM’. OM prevents rebirth in the god realm, MA prevents rebirth in the Asura (Titan) Realm, NI prevents rebirth in the Human realm, PA prevents rebirth in the Animal realm, ME prevents rebirth in the Hungry ghost realm, and HUM prevents rebirth in the Hell realm.” —Karma Thubten Trinley


added here 18 May 2013: Until Guantanamo Bay is closed we have no moral authority in the West:


Guantanamo petitionThursday, 9 May, 2013 10:11From: “LUCAS, Caroline” <>Add sender to ContactsTo: “LUCAS, Caroline” <>Dear all,


In my last email bulletin  I included a link to a petition about Shaker Aamer, the last remaining UK citizen held in Guantanamo Bay detention centre. The link was to the Government’s e-petition site and, unfortunately, you can no longer add your name to that petition. However, there is a petition here which is still collecting signatures, so please do add your name in support if you want Shaker to be allowed to return home. For more details about this case and my work on it please see here.


Thank you to those constituents who alerted me to the problem with the petition I originally mentioned.


Best wishes, Caroline


Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Tel: 020 7219 7025

If you would like to receive weekly email news bulletins from Caroline Lucas please reply to this message putting ’email bulletin’ in the subject line.



  1. […] Statement of Lama Ole Nydahl concerning questions about the present tragedy in Tibet: Lama Ole with Hannah who gave me the Dharma name Karma Tsewang Namgyal in 2002, Fremantle, WA " During my years of involvement and staying in the Himalayas since 1968, I have not met a single Tibetan who saw the Chinese annexion of their country in a positive light. During the first years their main complaint was that between 20-25 % of the country's inhabitants … Read More […]

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