The Karmapa

H.H. The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa

All things in their nature are of the mind.
Being of the mind, there is nothing,
Not even the tiniest thing like an atom,
Or a mote of dust which is not of the same mind nature.
All is nakedly pure, unmade by the lower mind.
This realization is the state of illumination of the Buddhas of the Three Times…
Their symbolic “Buddha Palace of Light.”
In their profundity or attainment-gambhria-
Is the Buddha being, the Fruit, the Real.
Remain within this profundity, undistracted.
No need to discipline body or voice,
All will come spontaneously.
There is nothing in THIS to realize:
Understand that whatever is apparent is without own-being.
All phenomena are egoless and
Dharmadhatu, the mind realm, is completely free of thought.
The great transcending knowledge beyond duality is the Holy Spirit
In which all is sameness.
As the Great River flows on whatever meditation sitting you do silently,
This then is always the Buddha’s nature, enlightenment.
The world just isn’t there,
And all is the great Bliss.
All dharmas and every single thing is void in essence,
And being void cannot be grasped by the mind,
So automatically we are cleansed of attachment.
Beyond intellect, within the mind nothing arises.
This is the path of all the Buddhas-enlightened ones.
-By Rungjung Rigpi Dorje, The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa

The future Buddha, the sixth of this fortunate eon, inseparable from Avalokitesvara, Gyalwang Dusum Khyenpa was born in 1110 CE. He became the chief disciple of Gampopa and attained the realization of absolute unity. In establishing the Kamkhyim Temple in Litang, he began the lineage of the Kamtsang Kagyu. His main disciple was Drogon Rechenpa to whom he transmitted the complete lineage of absolute unity. Since that time, the Golden Rosary of the Kagyu lineage has been passed down in an unbroken transmission. The Buddhas of the ten directions empowered Dusum Khyenpa as the Karmapa and his incarnations have continued to the present through the prophecies of each previous incarnation. Dusum Khyenpa established Tolung Tsurphu Monastery, and from there, his incarnations have extended their activity, building monasteries throughout the upper, middle, and lower parts of Tibet, and further in China, and India.

In the later years of his life, the XVth Gyalwang Karmapa, Khakhyab Dorje, stayed in strict retreat on the mountain above Tsurphu Monastery. To his disciple, Golok Gelong Jampal Tsultrim, he gave a protection amulet, wrapped in multicolored thread, and said, “This is a protection for you. In the future, a messenger will come in great haste from Palpung Monastery and at the time you should open this amulet.” One month later, on the 27th day of the third Tibetan month, in the Water Dog year, Khakhyab Dorje entered into parinirvana.

Through his pure vision, the XIth Tai Situpa, Pema Wangchok Gyalpo, saw the precious reincarnation of the Karmapa: he was born in the town of Denkhok, in the Derge region of Kham, to the family of Athubtsang; his father was named Tsewang Phuntsok and his mother, Kalzang Chodron. Tai Situ Rinpoche sent a messenger to Tsurphu to ask: “If you have the sacred letter of prediction from the previous Karmapa, please bring it to me.” The administration of Tsurphu Monastery then looked for the letter, but it was not found. Lodro, the General Secretary of Palpung Monastery, and Bakdro, the General Secretary of Tsurphu, met with His Holiness the XIIIth Dalai Lama in order to present a formal request. In accordance with the vision of his pure wisdom, the Dalai Lama bestowed the Buktham Rinpoche, the official letter with his seal of final confirmation, recognizing the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa.

When Gelong Jampal Tsultrim heard this news, he opened the protection amulet given to him by the previous Karmapa and gave to Tsurphu Monastery the letter inside, which was written in symbolic language. When the letter arrived in Tsurphu, its meaning was deciphered and the Karmapa’s place of birth, and so forth, was found to correspond exactly with the pure vision of the XIth Tai Situ Rinpoche.

When the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa was eight years old, Tai Situ Rinpoche
enthroned him at Palpung Monastery in a ceremony that brought together
rinpoches and lamas from all the Kagyu monasteries. At that time, Situ
Rinpoche offered to the Karmapa the name, Palden Rangjung Rigpe Dorje.
The name Rigpe Dorje came from a treasure, found by Chokgyur Lingpa and
containing a prophecy of Guru Rinpoche with names of future Karmapas.
Afterwards, Situ Rinpoche accompanied the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa to his
seat at Tsurphu Monastery. From the Xlllth Dalai Lama, the Karmapa received
the hair cutting ceremony and the name, Thubten Rikdrol Yeshe. Situ
Rinpoche performed a second enthronement ceremony at Tsurphu.

In his younger years, the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa extensively studied and
reflected on Buddhist teachings. His root lama was the XIth Tai Situpa, Pema
Wangchok Gyalpo, who offered to the Karmapa the novice, bikshu, and
bodhisattva vows, as well as the teachings of the Eight Great Chariots and all
the initiations and reading transmissions of the Kagyu lineage without
exception, which he received as water flowing from one vessel to another.

From the second Jamgon Kongtrul, Khyentse ozer, the XVIth Karmapa
received initiations, reading transmissions, and profound instructions, which he studied and deeply contemplated. In addition, from many rime (nonsectarian) masters, he received and perfected numerous profound instructions. At his Seat of Tsurphu, he engaged in extensive activity for the benefit of the Kagyu lineage. The XVIth Karmapa brought to the path a multitude of practitioners from Tibet, China, and many other countries.

In 1959, due to the political problems in Tibet, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa went to Sikkim at the invitation of the King and the faithful followers there, who helped to build his monastery, Shedrub Chokhor Ling in Rumtek. His Holiness gave the complete Kagyu initiations and reading transmissions to numerous rinpoches and lamas. Turning the wheel of Dharma, he extended his vast activity throughout the world. In January of 1981, the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa gave to his heart son, the Xllth Tai Situpa, a protection amulet with a brocade cover, and said, “This is your protection amulet. In the future, it will confer great benefit.” On November 5th, 1981, the XVIth Gyalwang Kannapa passed into parinirvana.

The Sacred Letter of Prediction From His Holiness the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa:

Emaho. Self-awareness is always bliss;
The dharmadhatu1 has no center nor edge.
From here to the north [in] the east of [the land] of snow is a country where divine thunder spontaneously blazes2
[In] a beautiful nomad’s place with the sign of a cow 3
The method is Dondrub and the wisdom is Lolaga. 4
[Born in] the year of the one used for the earth 5
[With] them iraculous, far-reaching sound of the white one: 6
[This] is the one known as Karmapa.

His is sustained by Lord Donyo Drupa;
Being nonsectarian, he pervades all directions;
Not staying close to some and distant from others, he is the protector of all beings:
The sun of Buddha’s Dharma that benefits others always blazes.

(1). Chos kyi dbying, the expanse of all phenomena and equivalent to shunyata or emptiness.
(2). The XVIIth Karmapa’s place of birth is Lhathok: “Lha” means divine and “thok” means thunder. In the text,
thunder is poetically called “gnam Ichags” or “sky iron.”
(3). The name of the nomadic community where the Karmapa was born is Bakor; “ba” means “cow” and Dharma term
for cow, “‘dod jo,” is used in the text.
(4). Method refers to the father and wisdom to the mother.
(5). His Holiness was born in the Wood Ox year; a tree lives from the earth and an ox is used to plow it.
(6). This refers to the sound of the conch shell that miraculously resounded in the air for about an hour after His Holiness’ birth.

Translated during July, 1992, in Rumtrek, Sikkim, by Michele Martin. Information drawn by FOB from His Holiness The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, published by The Publication Committee, Karma Lekshey Ling School, Kathmandu, Nepal

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