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Karma Kagyu Lineage

The Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism is best known as the lineage through which the wisdom teachings of Mahamudra meditation are transmitted. These teachings were first developed through the realization of the Indian mahasiddha Tilopa in the eleventh century AD. This realization was passed down from guru to disciple through Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa and successively through the 17 Gyalwa Karmapas up to the present time. The current spiritual leader of the Kagyu lineage is the 17th Karmapa, His Holiness Orgyen Trinley Dorje.

Karmapa means "the one who carries out buddha-activity" or "the embodiment of all the activities of the buddhas." The Karmapas have incarnated in this form of nirmanakaya, or manifestation body, for seventeen lifetimes, as of the present, and all have played the most important role in preserving and propagating the Buddhist teachings of Tibet. The arrival of a master who would be known as the Karmapa was been prophesied by the historic Buddha Shakyamuni and the great tantric master of India, Guru Padmasambhava. Throughout the centuries, Karmapas have been the central figure in the continuation of the vajrayana lineage in general and Kagyu lineage in particular, and have played a very important role in the preservation of the study and practice lineages of Buddhism.

The Seventh Karmapa founded the Thrangu Monastery in Tibet some 500 years ago and appointed one of his most gifted disciples to be its abbot. This was the first Thrangu Rinpoche. The ninth Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, was born in 1933 in Kham, Tibet. Rinpoche is the highest scholar of the Kagyu school and has been responsible for the education of the most accomplished of the Kagyu order. He is a full holder and teacher of the Kagyu Vajrayana lineages and holds a direct transmission of the teachings of the special Shentong philosophical tradition.

Source (2nd paragraph): www.kagyuoffice.org

H.H. the 17th Karmapa