A Book Release for Dharma King: The Life of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa in Images

The third publication to be released during the commemoration of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, was Dharma King, a magnificent volume of photographs of him, carefully arranged and captioned to tell the narrative of this radiant master’s inspired life. Interspersed among the images are specially selected texts by him, including his prophetic poems, a commentary on refuge, a talk on bodhichitta (by one who embodied it), and a guru yoga.

In his introduction, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa writes [link to the full text]:

The aim of this publication is not merely to collect historical images, but to produce certain feelings and emotions. This book should serve as something impervious to the processes of birth and death, allowing us to know and to feel that we have never been parted from the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa—that he is in fact with us still.

For those who did not have the great fortune to meet him themselves, I hope this book offers a glimpse of what it meant to encounter him personally. The 16th Gyalwang Karmapa seldom gave Dharma teachings through words, but taught intensively through physical gestures, and tamed beings through his mere presence. As a tribute to this special quality of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, this book offers these images as a basis for experiencing his physical presence….

I make aspiration prayers that all those who see these photos or hold this book in their hands may receive the full benefit of his actual presence.

Recalling the tremendous difficulties of the era in Tibetan history when Rigpe Dorje lived, the Karmapa explains:

Great beings are not born great, but in the course of their lifetime from birth to parinirvana, their activities naturally come to reflect their greatness….

Except through sheer spiritual power and fierce commitment, it is hard to imagine how anyone could bring the lineage through such radical changes intact, much less lead it to flourish. Yet looking at these photos, we can feel clearly the spontaneous joy of his perseverance, which makes his accomplishments seem so effortless. I am deeply inspired by the 16th Karmapa’s resilience in the face of these obstacles. I take courage in how much he could achieve despite the great adversities he faced.

The Karmapa concluded:

Just as the images of all the places he visited and the people he met are united here in these pages, my heartfelt aspiration is that we can all join together to work side-by-side to benefit the beings of this new century. I pray that this will happen soon; the magnitude of the suffering of beings is too great, and the social and environmental challenges facing the world today are too heavy for us to bear separately, and can only be fully addressed if we are united.

The book was introduced during the celebration by the American nun, Ani Damcho, who worked closely with the Karmapa to produce this volume. She noted that it “pays tribute to one of the major ways that His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, impacted the world, through what can be described as ‘liberation through seeing,’ or thongdrol in Tibetan.”

On the process of creating the book, she commented: “His Holiness the 17th Karmapa himself oversaw each phase of the production of the book, from the original concept to reviewing choices of photos, tracking down rare historical images himself, creating the calligraphy that appears as the book’s opening page, and contributing the foreword.” Louise Light designed the book and restored many of the photographs.

The Dharma King is indeed a stunning visual biography. As Ani Damcho describes it:

From rare photos of the 16th Karmapa’s parents and birthplace, Dharma King carries us along through each phase of the remarkable life of this exceptional spiritual leader. It allows us to accompany him on his early pilgrimages to India, Nepal and Bhutan, on his 1954-1955 trip to Beijing, and then across the mountain passes into exile in 1959. It takes us through the process of building a new seat at Rumtek in Sikkim, reestablishing a ritual calendar and monastic practices, and it depicts his preservation and appreciation of Tibetan opera and other traditional arts, as well as his intense efforts to support the printing of Tibetan texts, his activities to care for his heart sons and to lead his lineage through this immensely challenging period in its history. The images visibly demonstrate that the 16th Karmapa weathered these stormy times with unshakable tranquility and strength.

The book was co-published by Altruism Press and KTD Publications and can be ordered in North America from KTD Publications: http://www.namsebangdzo.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=978193460849

And in Europe from Sequoah Verlag: http://www.maitreya.at/DHARMA-KING---Book-on-16th-Gyalwang-Karmapa-/


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Recorded during the 37th Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, India. January 28-30, 2020.