"...However, in the 900 years of their history the Karmapas have been entirely spiritual, even as gurus to the emperors of China in the 12th century. "For … 900 years," he told the Times of India in March 2009, "the Karmapa has been a very apolitical figure … who has concentrated solely on spiritual leadership, not involved in any way with governmental leadership. So I think it would be very difficult to change that historical pattern overnight and turn the role of the Karmapa into something more than strictly a spiritual teacher."
When I met him in November, he reiterated that his spiritual role required freedom of movement. "Traditionally the Karmapa travelled a lot to different places to meet the people who wanted to see him. Ever since I became the Karmapa I lost my personal freedom and choice but I have gained the opportunity of benefiting others. But sometimes I cannot play the role of Karmapa anymore. I don't have the right environment."
What distresses him is to be caught in the game of politics. The Indian government have offered no explanation for denying him permission to travel. When they cancelled the 2010 Europe tour, word leaked out that the tour was "too big and for too long". Nonetheless, simpler itineraries over shorter periods were also turned down without explanation.
Now for the first time he categorically disclaims any possibility of succession to the Dalai Lama. Clearly the strain was becoming intolerable.
"There is already a system in place for the Dalai Lama's regency. It is not necessary to already be an important public figure in order to become the regent, if one has the capability. I have the responsibility of being the spiritual leader of a lineage and I don't need extra responsibility. I cannot do beyond what a human being can do. The name "Karmapa" means the one who takes responsibility for all the buddhas' activities. This is overwhelming enough. I don't need more."
-interview with The Guardian, December 1, 2010
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