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Sun, Nov 14, 1999 - Page 3 News List

Karmapas bring blessings and controversy

BUDDHISM Two young men, each hailed as the spiritual leader of the same Tibetan Buddhist sect, came to Taiwan last week sparking debate over their legitimacy

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

This claim was backed by religious scholar Chiang Tsan-teng (江燦騰) from Taiwan's National Tsinghua University.

Ironically, Taiwanese politicians exacerbated the political divide even before the masters arrived.

At the end of last month, KMT legislator Cheng Yung-chin (鄭永金) led 51 legislators, including speaker Wang, in demanding that the Cabinet-level Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission (蒙藏委員會) approve the Bhutanese candidate's visit and allow only him to use the title of Karmapa.

They also asked the Police Administration to provide favorable entry visas for his entourage and a motorcade during his visit.

This move immediately aroused protest from supporters of the Tibet-based Karmapa.

The Huayu Foundation and the Chinese Karma Kagyu Association wrote to the Presidential Office, the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, claiming the Bhutanese Karmapa was a fake and should not be allowed entry to Taiwan.

Chen, a long-time follower of the Tsurphu Temple (楚布寺) in Lhasa, Tibet, said the recognition of the Tibetan Karmapa had conformed to the lineage convention of Kama Kagyu.

"There has always been only one Karmapa in the history of Kama Kagyu, and it is impossible to have other incarnations of him living at the same time. This can be found from the historical records and lineage conventions of Kama Kagyu," Chen said.

New Party legislator Hsieh Chi-ta (謝啟大) also demanded organizers not use the name of Karmapa to promote the Bhutanese Karmapa.

"I hope this event will not turn into a political struggle in Taiwan," Hsieh said.

According to Cheng, Lopon Rinpoche, the abbot of Tainan Kama Kagyu Temple, contacted his staff in March this year for help in organizing the visit of the Bhutanese Karmapa. He said he thought the visit would be beneficial and promised to help.

In an attempt to end the fight, Kao Kung-lien (高孔廉), chairman of the Cabinet-level Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, then ordered both sides not use the name Karmapa in promoting their activities. If they failed to comply, the commission said it would deny entry of Tibetan monks to Taiwan in the future.

"Taiwanese politicians like to be associated with religious leaders and sometimes use them as campaign tools," said Chiang.

"The question of who is the real Karmapa only makes sense to those who are willing to practice Buddhism. Getting too obsessed with comparison and contention only brings us trouble and obstacles to the practice," said Chen Yu-ting (陳宇廷), Chen's oldest son and the director of the Huayu Foundation.

Please see tomorrow's edition for a report on the growing popularity of Tibetan Buddhism in Taiwan.

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