Plucked from a humble nomad family to become the leader of one of Tibet’s oldest Buddhist lineages, the young Seventeenth Karmapa draws on timeless values to create an urgent ethic for today’s global community.
We have always been, and will always be, interconnected—through family, community, and shared humanity. As our planet changes and our world grows smaller, it is vital we not only recognize our connections to one another and to the earth but also begin actively working together as interdependent individuals to create a truly global society.
The Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is uniquely positioned to guide us in this process. Drawing on years of intensive Buddhist training and a passionate commitment to social issues, he teaches how we can move from a merely intellectual understanding to a fully lived experience of connection. By first seeing, then feeling, and finally living these connections, we can become more effective agents of social and ethical change.
The Karmapa shows us how gaining emotional awareness of our connectedness can fundamentally reshape the human race. He then guides us to action, showing step by step how we can change the way we use the earth’s resources and can continue to better our society. In clear language, the Karmapa draws connections between such seemingly far-flung issues as consumer culture, loneliness, animal protection, and self-reliance. In the process, he helps us move beyond theory to practical and positive social and ethical change.
Dorje (The Heart Is Noble), the contested 17th Karmapa and head of the Kagyu Buddhist lineage, provides lucid teachings on seeing, feeling, and living interdependence in the contemporary world. Though the world is increasingly defined by globalization and extensive networks of digital technologies, the Karmapa writes, from an individual's perspective it can be surprisingly easy to forget how interconnected human beings are. He asserts that all beings are equal in their wish to be happy and to be free from suffering, and that it is in light of this basic fact that interdependence and current inequalities should be understood. Insight into interdependence can be accomplished through three steps: seeing (an intellectual, observational analysis), feeling (developing emotional awareness and changes of heart), and living (seeing responsibility as opportunity for compassionate action). He comments thoughtfully on topics such as climate damage, economic inequality, and social media to showcase the multifaceted ways one is embedded in interdependent relationships. Through accessible observations on contemporary situations, he skillfully incorporates the Buddhist teaching on the three marks of existence: impermanence, suffering, and non-self. The Karmapa's newest may cover familiar subjects, but is a nuanced, subtle, and rich contemplation on lived interdependence, providing a striking example of compassion and wisdom.