Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Waiting for Buddha Followers Anticipate Arrival of Young Holy Leader

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Waiting for Buddha Followers Anticipate Arrival of Young Holy Leader

Article excerpt

WOODSTOCK, N.Y. -- The placid face of a towering Buddha and the sonorous sound of chants lend this mountainside monastery an air of tranquility. But lately the Buddhists are abuzz. They are convinced His Holiness will come.

His Holiness is a Urgyen Trinley Dorje, a strapping 14-year-old Tibetan boy revered as the 17th incarnation of the Karmapa, the third most important leader in Tibetan Buddhism.

After making a daring escape from Tibet into India, the young monk is now expected to visit North America, a journey likely to boost the profile of Buddhism in this country.

"We have been expecting this for 12 years," said Chojor Radha, an interpreter at the monastery. "I never really lost hope. I knew it would come."

The Karmapa has remained in India since his escape from Chinese rule in January. The Indian government has been urged to grant refuge to the Karmapa by the Dalai Lama, viewed as the spiritual leader of all Tibetan Buddhists.

The government has not ruled on the request. But the Karmapa could possibly travel on documents issued by Tibet's government in exile.

Though no travel plans have been announced, the Karmapa's followers are certain he will come. And some Buddhists see a sign in the Karmapa's millennium prayer for peace, which gave tidings "especially, throughout the land of America."

Bardor Tulku Rinpoche, a resident lama at the Woodstock monastery, about 85 miles north of New York City, says a visit likely to be next year by the Karmapa is "definite." The monastery is the main seat in North America -- where about 250,000 practice Buddhism -- for the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. About two dozen Tibetans and Westerners live here year-round. Many more come to pray and learn from resident lamas, who teach around the continent.

The 16th Karmapa chose this site near the village of Woodstock in the 1970s. He died in 1981, leaving the 17th Karmapa to witness the fruits of his vision. A suite for the Karmapa with a cushioned throne and a bed stands ready. Or almost ready, considering that he is a growing boy.

"His Holiness' bed we have to replace," said Tom Schmidt, a monastery administrator. …

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