Letter from the Four Vajra Regents

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More than ten centuries ago, Buddhism was brought from India to Tibet and since then, eight main lineages developed, now known as four lineages: the Nyingma, the Kagyu, the Sakya and the Gelug.

They all collected and transmitted various teachings, forming the Vajrayana path of Buddhism, which offers the practitioner a unique spectrum of potent meditation techniques.

The unbroken lineage of the Kagyupas is one of the most ancient in Tibetan Buddhism. It emphasizes mainly the practice of meditation, and the Gyalwa Karmapa, the supreme head of this lineage, was the first recognized reincarnate lama ("tulku") in Tibet.

Tsurphu Monastery in Central Tibet is his original main seat. With the arrival of His Holiness, the XVIIth Gyalwa Karmapa on June 15, 1992, at this monastery, there has been a considerable amount of visitors from Tibet and all parts of the world who come in order to receive his blessing.

To my great joy, the rebuilding process of Tsurphu Monastery is progressing steadily and the religious tradition of the monastery is reviving again in the inspiring presence of His Holiness Karmapa.

I appreciate that this information will be made available, also because it may clarify questions tourists and pilgrims have when they come to Tsurphu for pilgrimage or to receive the blessings of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. It is my prayer and heartfelt wish that the Dharma teachings of the Karmapa and his Buddhist activity will flourish throughout the world!

May it bring happiness, clarity and light to all sentient beings!



Situ Rinpoche is an emanation of the future Buddha Maitreya, who in statues and paintings, is shown sitting, with either one foot or both feet on the ground, or walking. The indication is that Maitreya will be not only be a teaching Buddha, but one of action and direct contact. That has been Situ Rinpoche's style since he began teaching western students in Sikkim and India at a young age.

His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche has been contemporary for any age since his first incarnation in the 11th century in Tibet, at that time a disciple of the Fifth Karmapa. The Chinese Emperor Tai Ming Chen gave him the title "Tai Situ" and the line of Situpas has since been inseparable from that of the Karmapas, each, through the ages, recognizing and caring for the other -- students and teacher, teacher and student.

At the time of the birth of the current Situpa, there were auspicious signs -- a bright light appeared in his mother's bed chamber on the eve of his birth, two solar orbs in the sky, and a column of white smoke on a totally inaccessible peak on the day he was born. After his discovery by the Karmapa, over 1000 horsemen, headed by the King of Derge, the personal envoy of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, emissaries from the kingdoms on Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and China, and hundreds of incarnate Lamas escorted him to his enthronement at Palpung Monastery, his traditional seat since his eighth incarnation.

Tai Situpa Rinpoche is a holder of the Golden Chain of the Mahamudra transmission and is one of the four chief Lineage holders of the Kagyu Lineage He also is an emanation of Padmasambava, Marpa, and Hevajra. Besides being an eminent scholar, he speaks English and is an expert communicator at appropriate levels for anyone. He is an accomplished philosopher, artist, poet, and has many other skills.


Dear Friends,

This is to introduce Tsurphu Foundation directors Mr. Ward Holmes and Mrs. Katja Oberwelland Holmes and to authorize them to raise funds for projects related to Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet, the seat of His Holiness the XVII Karmapa.

Projects include the making of various films about the activities of the Karmapa and other projects having to do with the restoration of the entire monastery complex of Tsurphu, that is now once again the Home of the Gyalwa Karmapa.

Any assistance or donations given to Tsurphu Foundation to complete these projects would be greatly appreciated, as they are for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Tai Situ Rinpoche
and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche


Dear Dharma Friends,

Tsurphu Monastery is one of the most important monasteries of the Buddha Dharma in Tibet. It is the seat of all the great enlightened Gyalwa Karmapa incarnations since the 11th century. They have all lived there imparting their teaching and blessing.

At the time of the cultural revolution Tsurphu monastery was completely destroyed. It is our hope to reconstruct the entire monastery complex so that the future Gyalwa Karmapas, the 17th through the 21st, will revive all the teachings. Thusly Tsurphu Monastery will continue to be the center of great spiritual activity.

We are most grateful for the volunteer work of Mr. Ward Holmes, who is our director of the Tsurphu Foundation, an organization set up to raise funds for Tsurphu Monastery. We thank all those who have thus far given to this project and encourage continued support for a speedy completion of this project.

Thank you most sincerely,

The Sharmapa Rinpoche
P.O. RUMTEK-737135,


Dear Dharma Friends,

All sixteen incarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapa have worked only for the benefit of beings. From the time of the 1st Karmapa, the center for all their activity has been Tsurphu Monastery in Central Tibet. Now through tremendous effort of people from all over the world, the process of rebuilding this original seat of all the Karmapas has begun. I sincerely encourage all friends of His Holiness and those who feel a connection with the Kagyu lineage to aid in the preservation of this precious tradition. Whatever assistance you can offer will help to regenerate this greater center of blessing and realization.

Mr. Ward Holmes (Karma Yongdu Gyatso) has been a disciple of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa for many years. He has served His Holiness faithfully at his North America seat, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, New York, USA. He has visited Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet, the original seat of all the Karmapas on many occasions. Due to his great devotion and faith, he offered to assist Drupon Dechen Rinpoche, His Holiness' representative there, with the raising of funds to restore this most precious of Kagyupa Seats.

We are happy to authorize Mr. Holmes to collect funds for the rebuilding of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa's main seat, the source of our precious Karma Kagyu Lineage and Home of all the Karmapas.

By these efforts may all virtue increase!

His Eminence Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche



At the fateful time of the so-called Cultural revolution, the external and internal shrine of TSURPHU DOWOLUNG GANDOLA Monastery, main seat of the glorious Karmapa, TUSHITA on earth, the Chakra of Vajra Yogini's heart, had been completely destroyed. Recently under the Chinese Government's reform policy, some remarkable works have been undertaken in the restoration of the monastery and enthronement of the reincarnation of the Buddha Karmapa.

There is a still the major task of erecting an image of LHACHEN DZAMLING GYEN,(ornament of the world) that had been destroyed and the complete restoration of the whole of the Tsurphu Monastery complex and surrounding summer garden buildings.

Keeping these incomplete tasks in our mind, we, the administrative committee of Tsurphu monastery, have designated our sincere and earnest American friend Yongdu Gyatso (Ward Holmes) as our special representative. We rely and entrust him with the task of providing information and collecting funds for the monastery.

Therefore, through this opportunity, we hereby make an appeal to our western Dharma friends to cooperate with our representative in every way possible.
An acknowledgement will be sent to all our benefactors for their contributions towards the rebuilding of Tsurphu Monastery through our representative, Yongdu Gyatso.

Your contribution, in whatever form it may be, shall be used for this said purpose. Thank you very much!

Ugyen Trinley Dorje
Seventeenth Karmapa
Drupon Dechen Rinpoche
Head Lama & Administrator



From Ven. Drupon Dechen Rinpoche

This is a brief history of the temple and shrine of Ogmin Tsurphu, the eminent place of accomplishments that resembles the Vajra Seat of Supreme Enlightenment (Bodhgaya), where all the Buddhas of the three times have attained and will attain enlightenment.

When perceived by the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the sacred lords of accomplished Yogis, Tsurphu is in its ultimate sense of the nature of the syllable E of dharmadhatu, the bhaga of the Vajra Queen, the source of dharmas, the Vajra Lion Throne. It is the densely arrayed realm of Akanishta, the realm where all Sambhogakaya Buddhas attain enlightenment.

Moreover, the Buddha realms of Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya as perceived by these accomplished beings, such as the higher, medium and lower Kacho, the 24 lands and 32 places are beyond thought and description. Still, I shall here describe the history of Tsurphu in accordance with the perception of mundane, ordinary people.

The Lord of the Dharma, the glorious Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa, was of the nature of all the Buddhas of the three times such as the past Buddha Shenphen Namrol, the future Buddha Drukpa Senge, and the present Buddha Amitabha. There have been countless bodily manifestations of him; Bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, accomplished masters such as Saraha, learned pundits such as Shri Vira (Ashvagosha) and Nagabodhi; Kings, such as Indrabodhi; and in Tibet, Gyalwa Choyang, Putowa Rinchen Sel, Kharak Gomchung and others. In one billion realms one billion Karmapas, holders of the black crown, established innumerable beings in maturity and liberation. Among them was the name Khonpa Sumitra, predicted by Sakyamuni.

The first in the continuous garland of incarnations of Karmapas was Dusum Khyenpa, when at the time of carrying out the acts of an incarnated Nirmanakaya, he was born in the area of Treshe in the Sharda part of Dokham in Greater Tibet, into a family of a tantric layman with pure samayas.

At an early age he had visions of numerous gurus and yidams. In particular, as Palden Lhamo was fulfilling her activities, he saw her as constantly following him. When eight years old he brought the Dharma protectors under his command. When 11, he turned back a whole army, at 15 he overcame some personal obstacles. When 16 years of age, he took ordination as a monk from Khenpo Chokyi Lama at Treka Drak. The moment his hair was cut, he saw wisdom dakinis as many as the dust motes on a vast field presenting him with the crown of Indrabodhi, a hat made of the hairs of dakinis. From then on he performed the ceremony of the Black Vajra Crown.

Later, when 20 years old, he went to central Tibet, where be studied to perfection the Tripitaka and the meaning of the vast tantras at the great Dharma College of Sangphu and other places. He also received in their entirety all the oral instructions of the Kadam Tradition. From Lord Rechungpa and others, he received the oral instructions of Secret Mantra which he then practiced. In particular he received the oral instructions of the profound mahamudra, free from mental constructs, from Gampopa.

For six months he practiced without his hands leaving the posture of meditation and he became known as the most persevering meditator among 800 disciples of Gampopa.

In all the practice places of Tibet, in Central, Tsang, upper and lower Dokham, he concentrated on practice and he manifested the signs of the purification of the nadis, pranas and bindus. Ascending in actuality the sacred royal throne of the unchanging great bliss of mahamudra that transcends thought, he displayed countless miracles and signs of accomplishment.

From the Lord Dharma Dakpo, he received this prediction:

"Son, make Kampo Gangra in Kham your place of practice and your benefit for beings will pervade Central Tsang and Kham."

According to this prophesy, Rinpoche the glorious Dusum Khyenpa, built the higher, lower and middle seats of Karma Gon, Kampo Gangra and the temple of Kamkhyim. In particular, at glorious Tsurphu in Tolung, the foremost of all seats, Dusum Khyenpa stayed from the age of 75 until he passed into nirvana at age 84.

Here he had visions of numerous deities of his personal practice and empowered and blessed innumerable fortunate disciples. Giving them teachings, he established them in ripening and liberation.

There is manifested a Nirmanakaya renowned by the name Karmapa in each of the infinite Buddha fields. Among them, in this realm, the one known as "Karma" the enactor of the activity of the Buddhas, was prophesied by both Buddha Sakyamuni and Mahaguru Padmakara. It is said in the Blazing Meteoric Iron Tantra:

"In the mandala of complete purity,
The Buddha of the ten directions embodied in one
Will, in order to manifest accomplishment in one lifetime
Appear with the name of Karmapa."

In the Manjushri Root Tantra is said;

"At the top of the excellent Black Crown
He wears the great and supreme black hair,
With the resplendent great jewel,
He has the adornment of an incarnated Buddha.'"

In the sutras and tantras, the oral and the treasure teachings, he has been extolled with the vajra tongue such as these words describing the appearance of the Black Crown that liberates through sight:

In the Treasure Predictions of the incarnated treasure revealer Ngadak Nyang it is said:

"In order for the activity of Jinasagara
And Avalokiteshvara of great compassion,
To tame China, Tibet and Mongolia,
They with the name of Karmapa, will appear at
Tsurphu as Dusum Khyenpa and
As a manifestation of the speech of Avalokiteshvara,
He will come down from Tushita for the benefit of beings.
The first secret action known as Dusum Khyenpa,
Will wear the black hat, the crown of the family that signifies magnetizing.

"Each moment he will guide countless sentient beings.
Whoever sees, hears of, thinks of him, or is touched by him will be born in the presence of the Noble One after that life."

In the treasure predictions of Ratna Lingpa it is said:

"Upholding the activity of Avalokiteshvara, the mantric yogin with awesome behavior, Endowed with the name 'Human Saint Karmapa' will transverse the whole land. He will tame beings and protect them with skillful means and compassion. "

Thus he has been praised as being an emanation of Avalokiteshvara in the various Treasure Predictions of all the undisputed great revealers, the renowned representatives of Padmakara, who have appeared up through the fifteenth, sixty year cycle such as Dor je Lingpa, Karma Lingpa, and others.

Orgyen Rinpoche, with his vajra speech, has said:

"When seeing his face for but the fraction of an instant,
The karmic obscurations of seven rebirths will surely be dispelled."

In these ways, it has clearly been demonstrated in the prophesies that he is not different from the noble Great Compassionate One. In the words of the great Lord Karmapa himself:

"This monastery of Tsurphu in the Dowo Valley
Is without an equal in this world of ours.
For the one who sees, or visits, or even thinks of it just once,
The misdeeds and obscurations of aeons will surely be dispelled."

There have been predictions for each in the string of names of:

The 1st Dusum Khyenpa, the 2nd Karma Pakshi, the 3rd Rangjung Dorje, the 4th Rolpai Dorje, the 5th Deshin Shekpa, the 6th Tongwa Donden, the 7th Chodrak Gyatso, the 8th Mikyo Dorje, the 9th Wangchuk Dorje, the 10th Choying Dorje, the 11th Yeshe Dorje, the 12th Changchub Dorje, the 13th Dudul Dorje, the 14th Thekchok Dorje, the 15th Khakyab Dorje, and the 16th Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.

In particular, it is stated:

"Until the end of the teachings of the thousand victorious ones,
The string of the Karmapas, the tamer of beings, will not be broken."

Approximately 870 years have passed since the initial construction of the Tsurphu Monastery of the practice lineage of Karma Kamtsang in the Dowo Valley. Tsurphu Monastery, the seat of the Karmapas, is the terrestrial realm of Akanishta and the celestial mandala of enlightened mind.

All aspects of Buddhism in the Dharma land of Tibet were completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. In particular, it is now evident that during the Cultural Revolution the congregation of the Sangha at the Tsurphu Monastery and especially its sacred images and representations of the enlightened Body, Speech and Mind that were installed and consecrated by successive lineage of Karmapa incarnations, most eminent and rare in this world, were all destroyed without a single exception.

However, from 1981 onward, due to a more liberal policy in the country, we are now in a time when it is allowed to restore the Doctrine of the Buddha and we have obtained a decree permitting the rebuilding of the full structure of Tsurphu Monastery. Personally, I, Drupon Dechen, was bestowed the golden flower of a command by our sacred protector, the Great 16th Supreme Victorious One (His Holiness Karmapa), telling me to leave India in order to restore the Monastery of Tsurphu. Accordingly, I arrived at Tsurphu in 1984. In 1985 we received a grant of 100,000 Chinese Yuan (equal at that time to $33,000 U.S.) through which we began the reconstruction of the main part of the monastery. It is estimated that at least five million Chinese Yuan ($820,000 U.S.) will be necessary for the completion of the temple complex along with the shrine images.

For the purpose of the Teachings of the Buddha through your good intentions and strong aspirations, just like many small streams make a big river, I request all people interested in religion and Dharma, of high or low status, in all foreign countries, to give donations each according to his or her ability and send them to my assistant Karma Yongdu Gyatso (Ward Holmes) who is a disciple of His Holiness the Karmapa.

Best wishes to everyone from all of us at Tsurphu, August 1986

Drupon Dechen Rinpoche at Tsurphu Monastery.


Drupon Dechen Rinpoche presently presides at Tsurphu Monastery, overseeing everything there: the education of the monks, the various annual ceremonies, the general overall and continuous rebuilding projects. Before His Holiness the 16th Karmapa passed away, he told Drupon Rinpoche to go to teach in the West. He politely declined and His Holiness then asked him if he would return to Tibet to take charge of rebuilding Tsurphu. So in 1984 he once again returned to Tibet.

He was born in Kham and at the age of 13 he became a monk. At 26 he arrived at Tsurphu where he completed his first 3 year meditation retreat. Since that time he has completed over 19 years of retreat in solitude meditation. He is known to be a highly realized and accomplished meditation master, having guided many individuals through the traditional 3 year retreat experience.

He is now over 75 years old and wants to spend his last days at the monastery with His Holiness Karmapa. The monks of Tsurphu say this incarnation of the Ven. Drupon Dechen Rinpoche will most likely be the first in a series of his own lineage of Tulku reincarnations.


September 28, 1992

Dear Disciples and Dharma Friends,

This letter comes to you with our greatest thanks for all the work you have done for the Dharma during these past years. It makes us very happy. Now that His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa has returned to Tsurphu, he is looking forward to years of study and practice, and to traveling abroad. His Holiness hopes to meet again soon old disciples and friends, and new ones as well, and to continue this relationship as the years go by, working for the benefit of all sentient beings.

May you all receive the blessing of the Buddha,

Tolung Tsurphu Monastery
On behalf of His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa

His Holiness the XVIIth Gyalwang Karmapa sends his blessing

Tolung Tsurphu Monastery,
Nakhar Village, Gurum District
Tolung Dechen Dzong,
Lhasa, Tibet, PRC


Boudhanath, Nepal

Tsurphu Monastery is the original seat of all the previous 16 Gyalwa Karmapas. It is the palace Mandala of Chakrasamvara. Whoever has an opportunity to even see this great Monastery (where all the Karmapas have lived and many great masters and Mahasiddhas have attained enlightenment), the doors to a lower rebirth will be closed.

It will increase one's merit, so that the accomplishment of Kyerim (one pointed concentration on the development stage of visualizing the deities) and Dzogrim (the dissolution stage of dissolving the created visualization into emptiness and then residing in the natural uncontrived state of the mind) will increase!

H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche visited Tsurphu monastery in the autumn of 1990 and performed the purification ceremony and prayers that the reconstruction work will be quickly completed and that the Kagyu Lineage will flourish as before in Tibet as well as the rest of the world.

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