Check out this Reuters article on Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the most widely recognized claimant to the title of 17th Karmapa. It’s part of a growing trend to identify the Karmapa as “the next Dalai Lama.” Given the Dalai Lama’s cultural currency worldwide, this has serious political implications.

All claims to the Dalai Lama’s legacy involve a degree of strategic positioning. The current controversy between Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s followers and those who recognize Trinley Thaye Dorje instead—and the role of the various governments and religious orders involved—only amplifies it this time around.

The Karmapa himself will have a great deal of influence on the situation, and he has hinted that maybe he doesn’t want to assume any spiritual leadership role as sweeping as the fourteenth Dalai Lama’s. In any case, pay attention to how this situation develops—for better or worse, it will determine a lot about the future of Buddhism (and not just Tibetan) across the globe.

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