Karma Kagyu Buddhism

The Kagyu (practice) lineage of Tibetan Buddhism traces it roots back to Vajradhara Buddha whose teachings were brought to Tibet from India by Marpa the Great Translator.

The teachings have been passed on in their entirety by oral transmission and practice, from teacher to disciple, up to the present day. The teachings were transmitted from Vajradhara Buddha to Tilopa (988-1069) from Tilopa to Naropa (1016-1100) and from Naropa to his student Marpa (1012-1099). Marpa’s disciple, the famous tantric yogi Jetsun Milarepa (1040-1123) passed the teachings on to Gampopa (1084-1161) who established the monastic order of the Kagyu. Gampopa transmitted the teachings to the first Gyalwa Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193).

Since then the lineage has been headed by a succession of reincarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapa. The present head of the Kagyu lineage is His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje. The richness of Tibetan Buddhism lies in its tradition of preserving the teachings in their entirety, with each disciple fully realising the teachings before transmitting them on to their own student. Central to the Kagyu tradition is the practice of Mahamudra – the

Refugee Tree (Click to enlarge)

study of the true nature of the mind.

His Holiness The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje

His Holiness 17th Gyalwa Karmapa was born to nomadic parents in the Lhathok region of Tibet in 1985.

His parents, who had many daughters and one son, wanted to have another boy. They were told by the yogi abbot of Kalek, a Karma Kagyu monastery, that they might have a son but if they did they must place him at Kalek monastery. They agreed and a short time later they had a son. He was sent to Kalek Monastery where he spent four years as an unrecognised reincarnate lama.

Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje, is the supreme head of the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He currently resides at Gyuto Monastery in India.

In 1992 His Holiness was recognised by the monks at Tsurphu Monastery as the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-81). His identification was later confirmed by His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Preparations were made for his journey to Tsurphu Monastery, the main monastic seat of the Gyalwa Karmapas. Before the party set out, three suns appeared in the sky and were seen by many hundreds of people in the surrounding area. His Holiness 17th Karmapa was enthroned at Tsurphu Monastery on September 27th 1992 where he lived and studied the dharma until his departure from Tibet in 2000.

On 28th December 2000, the fourteen-year-old Gyalwa Karmapa and a handful of attendants secretly left Tsurphu Monastery at night and escaped from Tibet. On January 5th, he arrived safely in Dharamsala, India, where he was met by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Since then, His Holiness Karmapa has lived at Gyuto Ramoche Tantric University near Dharamsala where he has continued his Buddhist studies. His principal teacher has been Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, eminent scholar of the
Kagyu lineage.

His Holiness Karmapa received his novice monastic ordination from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, assisted by his Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche, on July 24th 2002.