Challenge Grant Met!

Great thanks to all the generous benefactors of The Karmapa Center 16!

We are pleased to announce that kind donors have meet our $200,000 challenge grant, and more! This brings us $400,000 closer to our Phase I fundraising goal of $985,000 for property purchase and fees associated with planning studies and operational costs. We are now 86% of the way there!

We have received a further extension of the final purchase date and are diligently moving forward with all necessary studies and planning with the appropriate agencies. So, if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to contribute to the land purchase, don’t worry: there is still time to get in on the “ground floor” of this project!

34th Anniversary of the 16th Karmapa’s Parinirvana Commemorated at The Karmapa Center 16

ON OCTOBER 21st, 2015, the Tibetan Tsurluk lunar calendar anniversary, Lamas and guests gathered at Karmapa Center 16 to mark the 34th anniversary of the parinirvana of the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa. The previous Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, passed away on November 5th, 1981 at the American International Clinic (now Cancer Treatment Centers of America) in Zion, north of Chicago, Illinois. The Karmapa Center 16 is located approximately 5 miles west of the exact parinirvana site, in neighboring Wadsworth, Illinois. This year marked the first time the anniversary of His Holiness’ passing was officially commemorated in this historic area itself.

In the days approaching the anniversary, Lamas and guests gathered from around North America preparing the shrine, feast substances and elaborate torma offerings. On the morning of October 21st, Venerable Dilyak Drupon Rinpoche lead a Guru Yoga practice of the 16th Karmapa composed by Rangjung Rigpe Dorje himself, with recent additions by H.E. Gyaltsab Rinpoche. After tea and lunch breaks, practice concluded with a Mahakala puja.

Lama Phuntsok shared his mixed feelings recalling the parinirvana in 1981, when he was present in Zion. Although the occasion being commemorated was a sad one, he was happy that the 16th Karmapa’s legacy was being recognized in this landmark area. Lama pointed out that while ordinary beings die wherever their karma propels them, His Holiness the 16th Karmapa was a fully realized being and thus made a conscious choice to pass in this specific place. Lama said that although he does not know what His Holiness’ reasons were, he is certain that it is important for students of the Kagyu lineage to remember and mark this site.

Lama Rabten explained that the site of the 16th Karmapa’s parinirvana is, for our lineage, a pilgrimage site equivalent to the four major sites of the historic Buddha’s life. Specifically, the Zion area is equivalent to Kushinagar, the site of the Buddha’s parinirvana. We don’t need to travel all the way to India to connect with the blessings of the lineage and accumulate the merit of pilgrimage – we have a sacred site right here in North America.

Lama Tenam and all the other Lamas expressed a shared aspiration that Karmapa Center 16 can host annual commemorations of the 16th Karmapa’s parinirvana, that many Lamas and dharma students can gather here to practice, and that this beautiful, relaxed place can gradually develop as a major pilgrimage site.

Join our campaign to purchase The Karmapa Center 16 land by October 31st, 2015

His Holiness, the 16th Karmapa with Chogyam Trungpa RInpoche in the United States.

We have an incredible opportunity to purchase the Wadsworth, IL land located 5 miles west of the 16th Karmapa’s parinirvana at the cancer center and blessed by the 17th Karmapa. We invite you to join us in this auspicious undertaking to establish this pilgrimage site in North America!

As we complete ecological and traffic studies to prepare for the county and village meetings and permit approval process, we are simultaneously fundraising to purchase the land. To date, approximately $300,000 has been raised… 

in order to close on this property, we require an additional $650,000 by October 31, 2015.  

How can I help, you ask?

We’re so very glad you did! There are several ways to make a connection to the project and contribute meaningfully:

  • Donate in the following ways:
    • Online
    • Write a check to “The Karmapa Center 16” and mail to: 41230 Kilbourne Road, Wadsworth, IL 60083
    • Wire transfer or direct deposit by contacting us at, Subject line: DONATION
  • Spread the word
    • Tell your friends!
    • Share the news on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn
    • Contact us at for brochures/pledge card packages to distribute
  • Share your stories, experiences, pictures and memories with the 16th Karmapa by emailing us at
    • Video yourself sharing the story
    • Write your story
    • Scan your pictures or memorabilia

We look forward to hearing from you!

HHK blesses proposed Stupa ground
HHK17 blesses the proposed HHK16 parinirvana stupa ground at The Karmapa Center 16

17th Karmapa Blesses Proposed Stupa Ground & Visits CTCA

We are pleased to share the news that His Holiness the 17th Karmapa stayed at the Karmapa Center 16 land during his 2015 tour of the U.S. on Sunday, May 3rd and Monday May 4th.

During his stay, he visited the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and received a tour from Bill Kelly who showed the group the room where His Holiness the 16th Karmapa stayed. The space has been remodeled and is now a part of administrative offices. He was also able to meet Dr. Chris Stevenson whose father was a key supporter of His Holiness receiving care in Zion.

Monday, May 4th, HH blessed the proposed stupa ground and conducted a smoke puja with Rinpoches, Acharyas and Lamas in attendance. Wadsworth Mayor Glenn Ryback, Village Administrator, Moses Amidei, and several Village Trustees, CTCA staff, donors from near and far, local friends and family, volunteers and staff were present to celebrate the event.

The ceremony was held in the center of the proposed stupa site under a sun rainbow this glorious Monday. The land was lush and green with flowers blooming everywhere and birds singing in the pond and trees.

Architectural Plans

The preliminary draft plans drawn by architect Keith Spruce show that the parinirvana stupa will be on the western third of the ten-acre property. The 30 foot stupa will be enclosed by a building with the entrance facing east towards the cancer center. This stupa and meditation hall will offer seating for over 100 meditators and enable circumambulation around the stupa from the inside as well as the outside. The current proposal includes windows around the top portion of the stupa in order to be visible from the outside.

The current 17th Gyalwang Karmapa continues to employ ethical programs for living in harmony with the environment, such as the Khoryug Environmental Protection Program: Khoryug Vision. To this extent, our goals include environmental conservation and sustainable environmentally responsible practices proposed wherever possible for new construction, remodeling or removal of buildings proposed on this site. For example, we are considering uses of gray-water recycling, composting toilets & dry urinals, green roofs, natural native landscaping, natural storm water retention and processing on-site, pervious pavement areas, low-energy use buildings utilizing passive and active energy conservation system, among other considerations. Our intention is to minimize the impact on the natural environment as much as possible while restoring and harmonizing our proposed site development plans with the natural rural surroundings and improvements.

Proposed Stupa Site

We have located a lovely 10-acre property in Wadsworth, IL 5 miles almost directly west of the cancer center. We are leasing the property with option to buy with successful completion of appropriate studies, permits and approval of the Wadsworth Village Board.

The property includes an existing single-family and caretaker’s house where we Lamas and religious workers reside. In the back third of the land is where we are planning the building of the stupa.

Place of Parinirvana

The American International Hospital where His Holiness attained Parinirvana still exists, but has grown and expanded and changed ownership. It is one amongst a network of centers, now called Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Midwest Regional Medical Center. People refer to this facility as the Chicago Center, although it is located in Zion, IL, about 45 miles north of the heart of the city of Chicago. The cancer center is about a mile and a half from Lake Michigan in the State of Illinois, approximately three miles from the Wisconsin border. Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of the US and Canada, formed by glaciers. Illinois Beach State Park creates a recreational accessible space for humans and animals alike.

Directly west of the cancer center is Shilo Park alive with a pond, geese and ducks and other waterfowl. To the north is Historic Shiloh House, the former residence of the city’s founder, Dr. John Alexander Dowie—who preached divine healing and whose intention was to build a religious utopia and planned industrial community in the early 1900s (+ more). The park was designed/built as a central point with “spokes” extending outward in all directions. From what we’ve researched, this design had some kind of religious energetic significance. It seems interesting that Dowie chose this specific place to build a utopian society, with God as ruler, and His Holiness 16th Karmapa also chose this location to pass into Parinirvana.

Additional Historical Information

After the organization of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion, Dowie dreamed of a city where his congregation would be free from the evils of the world, a city where God would be the ruler. He first looked for land south of Chicago in the Blue Island area, but the land was not suitable, so he looked north of the city. In the fall of 1899, Dowie visited the land north of Waukegan and envisioned what he would come to name “Zion City.” After successfully securing options on approximately 6,600 acres of land, he unveiled his plan for Zion City at the Watchnight Service the eve of the New Year 1900. It would be a city where his congregation could worship, work, and play free from the temptations of the world. Zion City was the only city, besides Washington D.C., that had plans completed before the first spade of dirt was turned. There would be places of employment—he imported a lace mill from England—schools, and recreational facilities, all controlled by John A. Dowie. The land would be leased to the people, with definite restrictions, for 1100 years. Dowie reasoned that Christ’s return was to be within 100 years and then the millennium, after which there would be no need for leases. 
The people would share in the profits of the industries in Zion City and the profits, tithes, and offerings would be sufficient for the support of the Christian Catholic Church in Zion.