Gerry Wiener, who first began is Buddhist studies with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1971, recently joined the Karmapa Center 16 Board of Directors and will oversee the center’s information technology.
A software engineer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, Gerry is also a Tibetan translator. After the parinirvana of his teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, in 1987, Gerry continued his studies under Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and, with his guidance, has focused on the development of the Nitartha Digital Library.
Gerry first met His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa in Boulder, in 1974, when Trungpa Rinpoche hosted His Holiness. Gerry received many teachings and witnessed several Black Crown ceremonies during His Holiness’s 1974 and 1980 visits to the United States. Recalling a memory from 1974, when as a member of Trungpa Rinpoche’s Vajra Guards he was asked to drive the Black Crown from Stapleton Airport in Denver to Boulder, Gerry said, “The crown was next to me, sitting on the lap of one of His Holiness’s monks. I remembered thinking, ‘I need to be so careful and not get into an accident!’”
Continuing to serve in his role as Vajra Guard, Gerry traveled to Los Angeles and stayed in the same house with the Karmapa, where he had a momentary but powerful experience. He was woken early one morning, around 5 a.m., to help His Holiness attend his birds in the backyard. “I helped His Holiness up the stairs,” Gerry said, “and he put his hand on my hands for support. I had the feeling of not being in this realm anymore, for the briefest amount of time. I felt he is in this realm, but he is not part of the samsaric realm that we abide in.”
Gerry attributes much of his good fortune in meeting the 16th Karmapa to “tashi tendrel” or karmic connection or coincidence. “We’ve been taught, and I feel this to be the case, that lineage is important,” he said. “Without teachers like the Buddha, and lineage masters like Tilopa, Marpa, etc., we really don’t have a lineage that actually goes through the 16th Karmapa and then to my first teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, without whom I would not be (on this path) today. I want to express great gratitude to Trungpa Rinpoche, who opened the door and cared for me in a very distinct way and also, without His Holiness, there would be no Trungpa Rinpoche whom I would know, so there is some kind of tashi tendrel or karmic connection or karmic coincidence, some fortuitous karma going on that allowed me to become a Buddhist, to study with Trungpa Rinpoche, who was recognized by His Holiness and eventually to meet His Holiness.”
Along those same lines, Gerry said, he received a Praise to His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa written by Trungpa Rinpoche and had the good fortune to translate it. Below is an excerpt from the translation. The full translation will eventually reside at Karmapa Center 16.
IN PRAISE OF HIS HOLINESS THE 16TH GYALWANG KARMAPA
By Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Translated from Tibetan into English
by Gerry Wiener
In the mandala of profound brilliant Vajradhatu, you are the Supreme Guru of the simplicity of samsara and nirvana. Vajra luminosity, the delight that transcends words, the great bliss Heruka, holder of wisdom, the single and changing nirmanakaya, Rigpe Dorje, seeing your activities — how wondrous. You do not abide in any specific place. You are not contrived by anyone. Your activities continue without interruption. Karma Ka, I always pay homage to you. Not observed having a beginning or end, you possess the profound and vast dharma. Eternal form of Dorje Chang, you are Vajradhara in person.
Listen to Gerry read the translation:
If you’d like to share your memories or photos of His Holiness with us, please send them to: email@example.com.