His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, is the head of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu Lineage and guide to millions of Buddhists around the world. Currently 33 years old, the Karmapa made a dramatic escape from Tibet in the year 2000. Travelling the world, the Karmapa teaches traditional Tibetan Buddhist dharma while also speaking on themes such as environmental conservation, feminism and digitisation of the dharma.

We live in a time when human actions are the cause of great suffering, a source for unimaginable destructive power, and the reason for irreversible environmental damage. And yet, we also live in a time of hope. A time when young people are engaged more than ever in cultivating their minds, their compassionate hearts and mindful action.

As the Karmapa, I am visited by hundreds of young people every year – some who travel from various parts of the world to Dharmasala, India where I live, and some who live a few kilometres away. While they may come from very different backgrounds and have very different life experiences, I often see how much they have in common as individuals. What is revealed in our private conversations is their deep desire to be of benefit to the world, to make a positive difference for their communities and loved ones, and to rise above whatever circumstance or difficulties they face. This combination of pure motivation, altruism and courage is the essence of Buddha nature – the seed of enlightenment – to me.

As a young person who is getting older every day, I want to say to other young people: the moment is now. Find your purpose, hone your compassion, plan your strategy, because your actions can end suffering, can bring peace and non-violence to this hurting world and restore environmental balance to the planet.

At the same time, young people have a great deal of pressure on them. We feel pressured to do well in school, to get a good job, to be successful in life, and the pressure bears on us from all sides since the world today is so much smaller. Things seem to progress at an unimaginable rate, and we find ourselves unable to rest mentally in our effort to keep up. We are more aware than previous generations of how difficult things are around the world and how hard it is to achieve social change. It is not easy to be young today. And yet. Only humans can solve the problems made by humans.

So, what I say to you is this: just as you will take on this work, so will I, and together we will find the wisdom and courage needed.


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His Holiness’s message is an extract from:

Generation Y, Spirituality and Social Change, edited by Justine Afra Huxley.

A new collection of stories and interviews with young adults and their allies exploring the landscape emerging around spirituality and social change, reflecting both the energy and inspiration of the next generation and the tremendous challenges they face. It points towards an exciting evolution in the way we are relating to the sacred.

With stories from: Adam Bucko, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Kara Moses, Abbas Zahedi, Camille Barton, Bruna Kadletz, Dekila Chungyalpa, Matt Youde, Amrita Bhohi, Sun Kaur, and many others. With supporting stories from senior leaders including: Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner, Bhai Sahib Dr Mohinder Singh, and more.

Watch the video book trailer for Generation Y, Spirituality and Social Change 

Learning from Generation Y and Z 

Engage Dr Justine Huxley to give a talk or workshop on these themes, with young people from the book:  justine@stethelburgas.org

Intergenerational dialogues

St Ethelburga’s is also now hosting intergenerational dialogues for senior faith or business leaders to come together with young social activists who hold a vision of spirituality and faith in our future.  These dialogues create safe space and use a restorative justice dialogue process to explore how the generations can work together. For more info: justine@stethelburgas.org 


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