H. H. Karmapa: Vegetarianism, Online Education and Nuns’ Ordination

Since this is our official 75th episode of the Wisdom Podcast, we thought we would rebroadcast our very first episode in commemoration of this meaningful milestone here at Wisdom. For this special conversation, host Daniel Aitken traveled to Dharamsala, India, to meet with His Holiness the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, leader of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness talks about the efficacy of listening to Dharma classes, receiving empowerments, and taking ordination vows online, touching on the differences between Tibetan and traditional Western education and how each benefits from dialogue with the other. He further shares some thoughts on how Western Dharma centers could be improved; he talks about vegetarianism, including anecdotes from his own and his previous emanations’ experiences with vegetarianism; and he discusses his recent involvement planning to re-establish the tradition of full ordination for Tibetan Buddhist nuns.

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Interconnected: Embracing Life in Our Global Society

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.

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His Holiness the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the head of a 900-year-old lineage and one of Buddhism’s most important spiritual leaders. He is known for his eloquence—grounded in rigorous Buddhist education—in advancing universal human values. He is the seventeenth incarnation in the Karmapa lineage, which dates back to the twelfth century. After escaping Tibet in 2000, H. H. the Karmapa settled in India and now resides in his temporary home at Gyuto Monastery. He teaches traditional Tibetan Buddhist Dharma, while also remaining a strong advocate for topics such as environmental conservation, the ordination of Buddhist nuns, as well as the digital preservation of ancient texts.