HUNDREDS of Scots will make a pilgrimage to Germany this week to hear a spiritual guru, known as a living Buddha by millions of followers around the world, make his European debut after spending more than a decade in India unable to travel at will.
Campaigners are delighted that His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who made a dramatic escape from Tibet for Northern India in 2000 and shares a similar spiritual significance there as the Dalai Lama, has been granted permission to come to the West after a number of thwarted attempts.
The 28-year-old commands a global respect amongst Buddhists and is regarded as a modernising force whose appeal cuts across age groups, nationalities and those of all faiths and none.
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High lamas including Akong Tulku Rinpoche, the founder of Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in the Scottish Borders who was murdered in China last year, have regarded him as the latest incarnation of a religious guru whose lineage stretches back over centuries.
The monastery at Samye Ling, now run by Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, has in the past attracted David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Billy Connolly and Leonard Cohen, follows the same kagyu lineage as the Karmapa and offers up regular prayer for him to visit.
The fact that he has been allowed go to Germany brings him one step closer to his goal of visiting Scotland and other European countries.
The young guru is seen to have lots of energy and enthusiasm and is determined to contemporise ancient texts passed down through a 900 year unbroken lineage for new audiences, while at the same time maintaining the core tradition.
During the 11-day visit to Nurburgring and Berlin, the 17th Karmapa will champion causes including environmental protection, equality for women, vegetarianism and social responsibility.
He will also insist that religion and science are not mutually exclusive.