16th Gyalwa Karmapa was one of the most respected and loved Tibetan teachers of his time. Born in 1922 he left Tibet at the time of the Chinese invasion in 1959, and moved to Sikkim, where he had already established a monastery, and he lived there until he died of cancer in 1981.
During that time he trained four main disciples whom he had brought from Tibet when they were still children, and whose life-task would be to train his own reincarnation. The Karmapa always identifies where he will be reborn, on what day and who his parents will be before he dies.
Unfortunately, however, as everyone interested in Tibetan Buddhism knows, there has been a long standing and still unresolved dispute about just who the reincarnated Karmapa is, with two contenders being identified, and some quite acrimonious debate involved, partly because the identification letter left by the Karmapa is normally quite cryptic and therefore inconclusive
The documentary, which was made in 1983 includes historical footage of the Karmapa mainly from the time after he left Tibet, and includes his visits to America, where he established various centers. There are also interviews with his disciples and with Chogyam Trungpa, who first invited him to the States and who was present at his magnificent funeral in Sikkim.
We don’t hear much from the Karmapa himself, but his loving presence is clear, and the witness of the various people who met him, including the astonished doctors in the States who were treating him when he was dying, is ample testimony to the man who was regarded by many as a living Buddha.
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The Karmapa in America
Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim
Monks at Rumtek Monastery
Tai Situ Rinpoche
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
The Funeral in Rumtek Monastery