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By Daniel Burke
c. 2008 Religion News Service

(UNDATED) When many Americans think of Tibetan Buddhism, one man comes to mind: the Dalai Lama. The jet-setting, best-selling, Nobel Prize-winning 72-year-old monk has become the most recognizable Tibetan in the world.
But another charismatic Tibetan monk, the Karmapa Lama, 22, may be the face of Tibet’s future.
Many Americans are getting their first glimpse of the Karmapa, who is revered as a reincarnated, living Buddha, as he visits New York, Seattle and Boulder, Colo., May 15-June 2.
Like the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa has been living in exile in India since he escaped from Chinese-controlled Tibet in 1999.
Though the Dalai Lama is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, he represents only one of four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. That school, the Gelug, became politically dominant in Tibet in the mid-17th century.
Roughly similar to the branches of mainline Protestantism, the four Buddhist schools share basic Buddhist beliefs but differ in practices and the interpretation of texts.
The Karmapa, known officially as His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, leads the Kagyu tradition.
Dating to the 12th Century, Kagyu is nearly 200 years older than the Dalai Lama’s school. There are about 29 official Kagyu groups and centers in the U.S.
The mentorship between the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa is unusual within Tibetan Buddhism. For centuries, the schools fought viciously for supremacy but they have bonded over mutual dislike of Chinese rule in Tibet.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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