India has been a special place for him and the Karmapa says it has helped him personally gain in many ways particularly in developing his spiritual powers including patience. “Particularly for Tibetan people, India is a very special country. Many of them have fled to India from Tibet. So for all Tibetan people, India really occupies a special place in our hearts,” he says. “It has been 17 years since I myself came to India. Personally, during this period, there have been some difficult times. But since I came, India has helped me develop my spiritual powers including patience,” Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, told PTI in an interview. The spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism has come up with a book “Interconnected: Embracing Life in Our Global Society”, published by Wisdom Publications and distributed by Simon & Schuster, in which he says that the crucial next step is to move beyond theoretical understanding of our interconnectedness, to begin to actually feeling connected.
“…It has been far more beneficial for me to be in India than to have stayed in Tibet. I have been able to do and learn so much and have met so many people I would never have been able to meet had I stayed within my comfort zone,” he writes in the book. The book is structured in three parts – ‘Seeing the Connection’, ‘Feeling the Connection’ and ‘Living the Connection’.
You may also like to watch:
This book is primarily based on discussions the Karmapa had with a group of students from a US university in 2013. On growing hatred and conflict on religious lines, he says, “When we talk about religions, those practising these religions are all humans. Because humans have different emotions naturally they have different greed, hatred and mental frictions. And because they are not able to really counter their mental frictions the way they should, religion becomes a way and these mental friction increase.
“This is actually the fault of the practitioner. The situation is related to the practitioner and to the individual and it is difficult to say that this is unilaterally and categorically a question of religion.” Themes also explored in the book include the way electronic connectivity is transforming the way we relate, loneliness, consumer culture, animal protection and environmental sustainability.
Asked if personal connections are seeing a decline, the Karmapa says, “These days due to development in technology, making connections has become easier for people and because it has become so easier people really don’t value them. They do different things but most of these are meaningless. People don’t value relations they have with other people.
“How important it was when we used to receive a letter from someone when we were young. We would read it again and again and really value the latter. But now, it has become so easy for people to connect virtually that they have lost interest in personal connections.” He says another factor is that people don’t have the time to make connections with each other.
“Families don’t have the time to sit and have conversations and instead they prefer to exchange messages or call each other. So what is happening is that people are getting more and more lonely,” he rues. Asked if he also feels lonely at times, he says, “Yes. This is because of my responsibility. Also as a Karmapa you have a special role to play and cannot lead a normal life anymore.”