The following article is from the Summer, 1992 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.


The 17th incarnation of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa has been found and recognized by the regents and incarnate lamas of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. As is traditional, the current incarnation has also been recognized by His Holiness the XlVth Dalai Lama.

Ven. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, abbot of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery in Woodstock, NY, seat of the Gyalwa Karmapa in the West, said letters from the regents, H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche, H.E. Tshurphu Gyaltsap Rinpoche and H.E. Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, made the announcement in June.

The new Karmapa is 8-year-old Ugyen Tinley, born in the nomad community of Bakor in the Lhathok region of Eastern Tibet. His father's name is Karma Dondrub Tashi.

He was identified by a letter left by His Holiness the XVIth Karmapa, as is traditional in the line of the Karmapas. This letter clearly predicted the new incarnation's location and circumstances.

Once identified, the new incarnation was accompanied to his traditional seat at Akanishta Tolung Tshurphu Monastery near Lhasa, Tibet, by a procession of 300 monks and lamas.

The Eminences have also announced that plans for the enthronement of H.H. the XVIIth Karmapa are underway and will be announced when finalized, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche said.

The Kagyu lineage was founded on the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted directly to the Indian mahasiddhas Tilopa and Naropa. Naropa's disciple Marpa the Translator brought these teachings to Tibet and passed them on to the great Tibetan yogi Milarepa and his student Gampopa. Tshurphu Monastery was founded by the first Karmapa, Tusum Khyenpa, in about 1190 C.E., and served as the Seat of the lineage until 1959, when the XVIth Karmapa led many of his followers out of Tibet into exile.

In the early 1960s, he established his Seat at the Dharma Cakra Center in Rumtek, Sikkim. In addition, he established many other monasteries and gave teachings and aid to the Buddhist sangha in India, Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan.

In 1974, His Holiness made his first trip to Europe and North America. He founded Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery and many of its related centers on a subsequent visit in 1978. In numerous cities in the U.S. and Canada, he gave extensive teachings on the nature of Buddhism, compassion and enlightenment and also performed the Black Hat Ceremony, a blessing unique to the Karmapas since the time of the Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (1206-1283). Karma Pakshi was the first recognized tulku, or reincarnated enlightened teacher, in Tibet's history. H.H. the XVIth Gyalwa Karmapa passed away in 1981 in Illinois.

The Gyalwa Karmapa is traditionally considered to be an incarnation of the activity aspect of the Mahabodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who was predicted in the Samadhirajasutra teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha as the Activity of the 1,000 Buddhas, or Karmapa in Tibetan.