The Special Connection
with the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa


A Long-Life Prayer (Shapten) for Akong Rinpoché


It should be remembered that—at the time of 1977 Karmapa visit—we were still in very early days of Tibetan Buddhism in the West and that relatively few lamas had visited. The notion of “long-life prayers” for our teachers was one quite new to us and discovered mainly through the visits of Kalu Rinpoché and then the Gyalwang Karmapa.

Katia and myself and a few of the practising members of the Samye Ling community starting wanting to recite such a prayer for Akong Rinpoché and I was delegated to request one from the Gyalwang Karmapa, which I did. He did not say yes, he did not say no, but simply acknowledged our wish. At one point, in late December, I was called up to the day-room used by His Holiness, which was at the time a yoga room in the “New Building”.

Smiling so beautifully and surrounding me with great warmth, the Karmapa said that I had requested it and that he had written it, giving me a page of lined paper with his own writing: three four-line verses of shapten—long life prayer.

Very, very happy and excited, Katia and myself took it to Khenpo Tsultrim, to get help with the translation. Khenpo-la was very struck by the beauty and profundity of the prayer. He said a translation would not be easy and that some terms could be read several ways, some of them very deep. According to him, it was more like a mantra than just a prayer. Nevertheless, and not without some effort, we managed to make a translation and it became the main long-life prayer used for Akong Rinpoché for the following thirty-five years. Furthermore, it was such an accurate and meaningful appreciation of everything not only that Rinpoché was (in 1977) but also of what he was yet to become. It was quite prophetic.

Spreading everywhere the sublime activity of the lineage that transmits realisation of absolute truth, and wearing the armour of pure intention rooted in bodhicitta, you care for beings and look after them. You clearly manifest the teachings of the realisation tradition, fully matured within you. May the truth of your aspirations endure forever.

Holding and upholding the teaching of the practice lineage of the four transmissions and following the profound example of the extraordinary lives of the great masters of our tradition, you nurture beings. Through the power of the truth of your former good deeds, aspirations and prayers, may forever shine this sun whose lights illuminate the teachings of the Victorious One.

Working with inexhaustible clarity of intelligence in an infinity of places, you manifest all sorts of extraordinary skills and qualities in order to conquer the thick darkness of ignorance which obscures the essential nature of beings. We pray that this buddha-emanation which gives us certainty of our own buddha-nature may live long among us.

This prayer was slightly modified in 2013 by the Tai Situpa to become a “swift return” prayer for his next incarnation to appear soon.

......continue to the next part of the story: Rinpoché's role in the passing of the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa