His Holiness the XVI Gyalwa Karampa, the spiritual leader of Kagyu Tibetan Buddhists, will arrive in Boston this afternoon to begin a week of public talks, spiritual ceremonies and meetings with members of the Divinity School and officials including Gov. Edward J. King.
The religious leader of thousands of monasteries throughout India, Bhutan, Nepal, and, more recently, of meditation centers in the West, the Karmapa is the 16th incarnation in an unbroken lineage of spiritual teachers dating from the 12th century.
Followers believe the Karmapa fulfills the Buddha's prophesy that a teacher of great compassion, a Bohisattva, would come to the world to help alleviate the suffering of humanity.
The spiritual leader of the more than 20 million followers of Kagyu Buddhism, one of four main orders of Tibetan Buddhism, he will offer a community blessing at the Dharmadhatu Meditation Center in Boston tomorrow, talk on "Fearless Compassion: The Activity of Enlightenment" in Memorial Hall Wednesday, and meet with King on Friday.
Bill Karelis '69, coordinator of the Dharmadhatu Buddhist meditation center in Boston, said yesterday the Karmapa's "genuineness arouses people, he has some kind of combination of brilliance and gentleness which is very attractive to people."
"He is coming to Boston at the invitation of his students, in response to their openness and inquisitiveness toward his teachings," Karelis added.
On Sunday, the Karmapa will perform at the Opera House the ceremony of the Vajra Crown, believed to transmit the energy and intelligence of the enlightened mind.
Karelis said that during the ceremony the Karmapa becomes the "embodiment of compassion for a moment for everyone."
Born Ranjung Rigpe Dorje in Eastern Tibet in 1924, the present Karmapa was discovered, in accordance with tradition, by a letter left by the previous Karmapa telling of the time and place of his rein-carnation.
As a child the Karmapa learned the religious traditions of his predecessors and, in 1958, anticipating tension on the China-Tibetan border, he fled to India through Bhutan with a large group of monks, carrying religious texts and ceremonial objects