As the 17th Karmapa is the leader of the oldest lineage of reincarnate masters in Buddhism, Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, is holding a wisdom that has been, and continues to be, transmitted over many centuries.
At the same time, Karmapa engages with young people at every opportunity. Why? Karmapa himself is a young leader, part of the Millennial generation. And more than half of the world’s population is under the age of 30. For Karmapa, young people are therefore essential to engage with for peace in our world:
“From the moment they are born, young people are a living, walking, talking sponge. They absorb everything there is to learn. So this is a very special time of life when they have great exposure to nurturing Inner Wealth – a unique opportunity for Peace.”
Young people’s voices matter. In Karmapa’s Wealth of Europe initiative, he polled young people in Europe about the values that mattered most to them. Even in the face of financial crisis, young people said that non-material values, such as volunteering and giving, were more important to them than money.
AIESEC, the largest student organisation in the world, was one of the partners of the Wealth of Europe initiative, as well as The Prince’s Trust and several other youth leadership groups across the continent. The Wealth of Europe initiative reflected that for most young people, helping and inspiring others is more important than simply serving ourselves. For Karmapa, they are pointing the way to a new kind of wealth and prosperity – one that is based upon non-material values.
“If there is richness within each and every one of us – Inner Wealth – then there is an almost limitless supply in the vision and values of our young people.”
Respect for one’s elders is integral to the Karmapas, and Tibetan culture as a whole. As a young man, each Karmapa receives the unique insights of the Karma Kagyu lineage from an elder lineage holder (usually the Shamarpa).
And each Karmapa passes them on again to another young lineage holder. In this way, valuable knowledge is kept alive through generations, and enriched with transmissions from other Buddhist lineage elders.
In the same way, our education and spiritual growth as human beings is catalysed when different generations learn from each other.
Karmapa sets an example through his profound respect for all of his elders and teachers, and by listening deeply to young people. He teaches the next generation, through talks with primary school children, university students, and groups including The Prince’s Trust Youth Ambassadors. Karmapa describes these ambassadors, who participated in the Wealth of Europe initiative, as:
“Great examples of people who have taken a lot of responsibility for themselves, for their actions and emotions, and have cultivated their Inner Wealth for the benefit of wider society.”