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Buddhadharma : Summer 2008
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 20 0 8 32 On Becoming Karmapa an exclusive interview with His Holiness the seventeenth Karmapa by melvin mcleod Could you tell us about the Buddhist training that you are receiving? Since I was young, I have had the opportunity to study and practice dharma. I have been fortunate to receive dharma teachings from many qualified masters. As a result, I can say that I now possess some small understanding of the dharma and its many facets. What is most important is to use one’s study of dharma texts to bring oneself closer to the dharma itself. This is something that each person must do for themselves, and it is what I am concentrating on, what I am put- ting my main effort into. First, you feel that there is some gap between yourself and the dharma. Then you strive to make that gap smaller, to bring yourself nearer and nearer to dharma. What do you feel you have to do to fulfill your role as the present Gyalwang Karmapa? Is it to achieve this unity between yourself and the dharma that you are talking about? In anticipation of his historic first visit to the West, I had the honor of traveling to India to interview His Holiness the Sev- enteenth Karmapa. I met him at his hotel in New Delhi as he was en route to his home in McLeod Ganj. Since I had received instruc- tions and transmissions from his predecessor, the Sixteenth Karmapa, in my early days as a Buddhist practitioner, this interview had great meaning for me personally. I found the Seventeenth Karmapa to be a young man of extraordinary self-possession. Striking physi- cally, he was direct but self-contained, and his smile had a touch of wryness. Our inter- view was conducted through an interpreter, and though His Holiness did not speak any English during the half hour or so we were together, he followed carefully and seemed to comprehend my questions as I asked them. This interview affords us a rare insight into the style, priorities, and aspirations of this young teacher and lineage holder who is now beginning what I’m sure will be a long and important role in Buddhism in the West. —Melvin McLeod, Editor-in-chief (Top)©HisHolinessTHe17THGyalWanGKarmapa&KaGyumonlamcHenmo