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No Ordinary Teenager - An Interview With The Karmapa
May 31, 2000

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His Holiness the XVII Karmapa
His Holiness the XVII Karmapa is a very handsome fourteen-year-old boy, who is also one of the most powerful spiritual leaders in Tibetan Buddhism. I had the rare chance to spend the morning chatting with this amazing young man at the Gyuto Tantric Monastery, in northern India.

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Andrew outside of Gyuto Tantric Monastery, wearing white scarf and red ribbon, presented by H.H.
His Holiness the Karmapa surprised many and became famous around the world when he escaped Chinese occupied Tibet in January of this year. He walked to freedom in India where he was greeted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community there.

H.H. the Karmapa can often be seen, even if it's from far away, on the roof of the monastery. He stands up there, looking down through binoculars at the people who are looking up at him. When I first arrived, he was leaning over the side. He looked at me when I walked up the stairs. I greeted him with namaste, my fingers pointing upward and touching, and he returned the greeting.

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Andrew with Lama Puntsok, deeply spiritual man and nice guy
When I entered the monastery, Lama Phuntsok, who is His Holiness' assisant, greeted me. Lama Phuntsok agreed to give me fifteen minutes with His Holiness to ask your questions. I was brought upstairs and into His Holiness' room.

I sat kneeling on the floor in front of a table and his throne. What would you ask a teen-age boy who is the third most powerful figure in all of Tibetan Buddhism? Well, most of the questions I asked H.H. were sent to me by you, the students, so there were questions of all types.

Our conversation lasted forty-five minutes instead of the planned fifteen. During that time we mainly talked about philosophy and religion, but I also learned that H.H. enjoys many types of music and sometimes watching sports. He rarely watches television, and when he does, it's usually the news. He likes all kinds of animals, but especially cute ones that are not too hairy. He does not go to school exactly, but he has private tutors who train him hard. He enjoys reading, especially books on history.

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H.H. seated on his Lion's Throne in formal attire
I will always remember my meeting with His Holiness, especially at such an important time in his life, when the world is just coming to know him. I hope you all continue to learn about him and his life in Tibetan Buddhism in the future.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

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