Interview with the Karmapa Lama

The Karmapa Lama is “the only senior Buddhist leader recognized by Beijing, the Tibetans and India.” He’s also a 24 year old who likes hip-hop and violent video games. Recently, he gave an interview in the Times of India. It’s an interesting reflection of the ways Buddhism continues to adapt to the times.

He also speaks a bit about tensions between Tibet and China, but more or less just echoes the Dalai Lama’s policy. No surprises there. What is a bit of a surprise is his attitude about video games:

Is that why you play war games on your play station because many might say it’s inappropriate for a Buddhist monk dedicated to peace to play war games?

Well, I view video games as something of an emotional therapy, a mundane level of emotional therapy for me. We all have emotions whether we’re Buddhist practitioners or not, all of us have emotions, happy emotions, sad emotions, displeased emotions and we need to figure out a way to deal with them when they arise.

So, for me sometimes it can be a relief, a kind of decompression to just play some video games. If I’m having some negative thoughts or negative feelings, video games are one way in which I can release that energy in the context of the illusion of the game. I feel better afterwards.

The aggression that comes out in the video game satiates whatever desire I might have to express that feeling. For me, that’s very skilful because when I do that I don’t have to go and hit anyone over the head.

But shouldn’t meditation take care of that?

No, video games are just a skilful method.

His comments on the India vs. China tension are also interesting if, again, not surprising:

Obviously I can’t speak from the perspective of a politician who is active in these communications. Obviously the government of each country has its own interests in the ongoing conversation. They are doing what they can to advance their own interests. I’m not able to comment on what those interests might be. But if I were to make some observations and guesses from my own vantage point, it seems to me that the Chinese government is acting somewhat deliberately in attempts to slightly irritate the government of India.

Because of this the neighbourly relationship has suffered a little bit. India has always been a relatively peaceful country, a country that has always had a reasonably good record of valuing peace, India does not seem interested in pursuing any type of conflict, however, India is on the rise in the world and perhaps the Chinese government feels some type of impulse to blunt this rise somehow. Perhaps that is what is causing some of the things we see today.

Tangentially relevant to this blog’s area of focus? Yup. But still interesting, no?

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0 thoughts on “Interview with the Karmapa Lama”

  1. Because of this the neighbourly relationship has suffered a little bit. India has always been a relatively peaceful country

    India has always never been a country until after the British left.

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  2. India has NOT recognized this candidate for the title “17th Karmapa”. The fact that the boy is not allowed to travel freely is a result of this.

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  3. @ Alex: Interesting, do you have a source for that? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it seems unlikely to me that the Times of India, which is what I was quoting from, would get something like that wrong.

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  4. >“the only senior Buddhist leader recognized by Beijing, the Tibetans and India.”

    Patently false. Beijing does recognize Tenzin Gyatso as the 14th Dalai Lama. Beijing merely hates his guts.

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  5. I don’t know that much about this stuff, but Karmapa Lama seems like a good person to sort things out. He can speak to Tibetan young people’s frustrations in a way that HHDL sometimes cannot and sometimes it takes a sharper edge to move negotiations forward—the Chinese will know that they’re dealing with the whole package in a way. The Karmapa Lama also doesn’t have the same up and down history with the Chinese, so he could negotiate afresh, perhaps.

    I’ve always thought it’s a pity that India and China haven’t been able to sort out their differences. Those old pictures of Nehru and Zhou Enlai hugging always make me wistful about missed opportunities…

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  6. He sounds intelligent. I’d like to see him take a higher position. His view on India and Chna is also rather interesting, he echoes my thoughts on the situation.

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  7. >He sounds intelligent.

    He sounds like someone who lives at the pleasure of the Indian gov’t. He eats India’s food, sleeps under India’s roof and watched by India’s security services.
    Apparently your notion of “intelligent” is someone who’s career prospects consists of sucking India’s cock.

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  8. Times of India is indeed wrong in saying that the Karmapa “the only senior Buddhist leader recognized by Beijing, the Tibetans and India”. What they mean to say is that he was the first new major lama to be recognised by both Beijing and the Tibetan exiles since the Cultural Revolution. There have been a few more since the Karmapa, mostly lamas associated with the Karmapa or Tai Situ, such as the 11th Pawo and Chöseng Trungpa (the reincarnation of Chögyam Trungpa).

    It’s also true that this Karmapa has not been legally recognised by India. India is not really in the business of recognising or not recognising lamas, but the point is that he has not been allowed to take possession of the previous Karmapa’s properties in India. See, for example, the final paragraph of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumtek .

    (Custer, I’m totally going to respond to your comment on Tibet Talk from a long time ago. Sorry; haven’t been doing much blogging lately.)

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