Emails have begun flooding in to us, asking with incredulity whether the news people are hearing can possibly be true that the Indian government did not approve His Holiness the 17th Karmapa's application for permission to travel to Europe for his much-awaited visit to his Dharma centers there.
Unfortunately, it is really true. His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje will not be going to Europe this June (and so of course neither will we). Here is the letter from Ringu Tulku announcing this sad turn of events.
Despite all the hopes that had been raised, and the joyful anticipation that is now suddenly dashed, His Holiness is here, receiving people with his usual tranquil presence and and that undercurrent of intensely powerful joy that is one of his trademark qualities. Watching His Holiness direct the fullness of his attention to each person coming before him, you would never think that he had actually heard this devastating news.
In terms of the possibility of truly remaining joyful under adverse conditions, in terms of the possibility to train our minds to maintain equanimity and stay focused on what we can do for others, and in terms of not grasping onto anything as real and inherently existent, watching His Holiness' response to this setback is a very powerful and very inspiring teaching.
Although the trip is not happening now, still much virtue has been created merely in the process of planning and organizing. During our own small efforts to prepare to participate in the tour, we made many wholesome connections with people in Europe, and created new Dharma friendships along the way. That is surely true for many others hoping to hear His Holiness' teachings--and certainly much more the case for all those who have been working with such sincere motivations to lay the groundwork for His Holiness' visit in June. We will not meet our new friends in Europe this time around... but we know that the connections made in the course of attempting to create goodness in the world are never lost, and are never finally anything but a cause of joy. From this, we take heart, as we prepare to wait for the moment when the conditions come together so that the seeds of this goodness now planted can yield what will surely be a bountiful harvest in future.
In the meantime, efforts are underway to ascertain the reasons for the denial of travel permission, and as that becomes clear, we may gain a fuller understanding of what went wrong and how it might be corrected next time. His Holiness needs this permission to travel from his temporary residence here in northern India, due to his particular status as a refugee and as a prominent leader of the Tibetan people, and it is granted only at the discretion of the Indian governmental agency in charge of such matters. We will share what we can as it becomes clearer.