The Karmapa is FREE!

photo of His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa Lama, Ugyen Trinley Dorje
from Rev. Amber Lightfoot's private collection.

Some years ago, I was introduced to a Tibetan Buddhist lineage of spirituality. The carrier of that knowledge to me was/is a great woman, Erma Pounds of the Phoenix Karma Thegsum Chsling in Tempe, Arizona. It was a blessing to meet this carrier of such ancient wisdom, as she is the closest thing to a living Bodhisattva I’ve ever met in physical form.

Through Erma I discovered the Karma Kagyu Lineage, and the 17th Karmapa Lama, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, considered to be a living Buddha. I rediscovered meditation, and a way to live my life from love and compassion – vs. the Warrior Tradition I was involved with, and apprenticed to at that time.

I was blessed to receive a picture of the Karmapa (smiling and radiating an inner glow), and items which have been blessed by his hands (carried by me to this day in my Medicine Bag). One of the members of our group (Sangha) had recently returned from a trip to Tibet, and shared these items with us. Truly a rare gift! I share this picture with you, as it was shared with me – I have found that simply meditating on the image of the Karmapa has the ability to shift one’s awareness.

This 15-year-old young man (our press says he’s 14 – Tibetan Buddhists count age from the point of conception vs. physical birth), embodies energies I’d never seen in another human being – even through a picture. I became troubled knowing that he was in Tibet – and that the Chinese occupation had taken dramatic tolls on the Holy People there, and still does. Hence the Dalai Lama’s escape to Dharmsala, India for refuge in 1959.

I prayed for his release from that oppressive form of Spiritual Slavery, and for his physical release as well. Last July I carried those prayers to the SunDance Tree, not knowing when, how, or if those prayers would be answered. I danced his picture to the Tree of Life, and prayed hard for he, and all who are oppressed.

Then one day in January – I walked past the kitchen table, and noticed the front page story, and a photograph of the Karmapa. He had indeed escaped from Tibet – a 900 mile trek over the Himalayan Mountains! Tears of joy burst spontaneously from me – it was the most incredible sign of change to me! I am a seeker of freedom for myself, and all of humanity – indeed all sentient beings.

This was the greatest sign I could have seen for the New Year, and the New Millennium. Freedom is imminent, based on the omens I see!

Aho, I have Spoken.
by Rev. Amber Lightfoot

Following you will find the news stories as carried by The Chicago Sun Times on January 11, 2000:

Buddhist sect leader, 14, flees 900 miles

Meets with Dalai Lama after trek across Himalayas.


pic quote: Ugyen Trinley Dorje, shown in an updated photo, is recovering from scraped hands and blistered feet after his defection from China.

A 14-year-old-boy, revered as the third-most important spiritual figure in Tibetan Buddhism, has fled China across the Himalayan mountains and arrived in the northern Indian capital of Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leadership.

Ugyen Trinley Dorje, known as the 17th Gyalway Karmapa Lama to his Buddhist followers, trekked about 900 miles from his monastery near the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and arrived in Dharmasala on Wednesday, where he met with the Dalai Lama, exiled Buddhist leader and Nobel peace laureate.

The government in Beijing, which had touted him as a "patriotic" Buddhist, acknowledged his departure but suggested it was due to a split in his movement rather than disillusionment with life in China.

Perilous Trek to Freedom
By David Graves

London Daily Telegraph

DHARMASALA, India – The 14-year-old head of one of the four major sects of Tibetan Buddhism escaped from Chinese government rule by trekking 900 miles over the Himalayas to India.

Ugyen Trinley Dorje, known as the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Lama to his Buddhist followers, was recovering from scraped hands and blistered feet Friday at the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile.

The boy had been installed by the Chinese as a symbol of their rule over Tibet. His defection is a major embarassment to the Communist government and apparently a surprise to his Indian hosts.

He joined other monks who have recently been pouring over the Himalayas by the hundreds, escaping the latest crackdown on religion in Tibet – code-named "Strike Hard" by the Chinese.

The government in Beijing, which had touted him as a "patriotic" Buddhist, acknowledged his departure but suggested it was due to a split in his movement rather than disillusionment with life in China.

When the Karmapa arrived Wednesday, he met with the Dalai Lama, aides to the exiled leader said Friday. Few others have spoken to him, and the Dalai Lama’s administration has been reluctant to comment for fear of reprisals in Tibet and out of consideration for India, which recently has made progress in trade relations with China.

A spokesman for the Karmapa said he would not comment until the Indian government announces that it will allow the Karmapa to remain in exile with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhists’ spiritual leader who fled from Tibet in 1959.

The Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu religious order, crossed Nepal on a route followed by most Tibetan refugees, said sources close to the Dharmsala administration. He entered without a visa and traveled across India.

He eluded his increasingly watchful guards at the 800-year-0ld Tsurphu monastery in central Tibet by telling them he was going on a retreat, the sources said.

He and a few monks set out across the mountains Dec. 28, walking for days along rocky paths bordered by thorny bushes that scraped their hands, the sources said. A jeep and other modes of transportation were used later.

At the guesthouse where the Karmapa was recovering from his escape Friday, in the shadow of the Dalai Lama’s official residence under the Dahaladhar Mountains, monks swathed in burgundy-and-saffron robes mingled with plainclothes Tibetan security men and Indian police.

At the Dalai Lama’s residence, officials confirmed that the Karmapa had arrived unexpectedly in Dharmsala on Wednesday and immediately met with the Dalai Lama.

It was the first time the two men, both regarded by their followers as the living presence of Buddha, had met, and officials said it was "quite an emotional moment for everyone involved."

Later, the Dalai Lama began a retreat, in which he will meditate and pray for 2 ½ months. Tenzin Taklha, deputy secretary in his personal office, said that during the retreat the Dalai Lama will make only one public appearance and give no interviews or audiences.

Contributing: Associated Press, Washington Post