The Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet’s 17th Karmapa

Mick Brown. In some ways a rather odd biography. Written by a British journalist who also wrote a biography of Richard Branson and the seemingly pop‐culture Spiritual Tourist, this book reports myriad miracles (ancient and contemporary) in such a neutral, journalistic tone that the author seems credulous, yet also recounts interviews with antagonists on all sides of a central conflict. The author states several times that he is not a believer.

Brown sets out the very interesting story of Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the young 17th Karmapa, recognized by both the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama. The Karmapa was born and enthroned in Tibet, but escaped to India in 2000. Brown also gives an overview of the controversy that still exists within the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism over Ogyen Trinley Dorje’s recognition. A simple web search on “Karmapa” returns first a web site for the other contender recognized by Shamar Rinpoche, in addition to many of those which follow. The “Karmapa conflict” website makes it clear than Shamar Rinpoche considers Brown not to be an objective journalist.

Yes, religion is a human institution.