It has been recorded in Buddha's time in the "Samadhi Raja Sutra" that during the Dharma ending age, a mahasatta called Gampopa (a disciple of Milarepa) would be born in this world to help liberate sentiment beings from their ignorance. Similarly this sutra also clearly mentioned about Karmapa.
The Black Hat Lama
In the Vajra Crown Ceremony, His Holiness puts on the Black Crown and enters into a medidative state in which his mind of Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. It is said that whoever sees the Karmapa wearing this Black Crown, even in an image like the one here, will receive his blessing and eventually attain liberation.
Tibetans in the Kagyu tradition are devoted to the Karmapa as their spiritual leader. What is important is complete obedience to the guru due to karmic connection. The other ancient traditions of Tibetan Buddhism also have their own leaders.
The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje
The Kagyu Lineage is one of the four major Lineages of Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet. Its main branch, and the largest, is the Karma Kagyu, which has been guided over eight hundred years by the successive incarnations of its Supreme Head, the Glorious Karmapa. With the spread of Vajrayana Buddhism beyond Tibet over the last fifty years, the numerous Karma Kagyu Dharma centers have been founded all over the world, under the inspiration o H.H. 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ranjung Rigpe Dorje, with the aim of making the complete teachings of the Buddha available all over the world and independent of any state, religion, or political institutions.
Over 766 Buddhist centers and monasteries of the Karma Kagyu lineage in 57 countries follow H.H. 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje who was recognized by H.H. 14th Shamarpa Mipham Choyi Lodro.
According to the 800-year-old tradition of the Karma Kagyu lineage, successive reincarnations of Karmapas and Shamarpas recognize each other. In the history of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa was the first reincarnated Tulku or Lama and Shamarpa was the second.
H.H. the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje is presently the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born on May 6, 1983 in Tibet. He is the eldest son of the 3rd Mipam Rinpoche, a great Nyingma Lama, and Dechen Wangmo, the daughter of a noble family descending from King Gesar of Ling. His father is the third reincarnation of the 1st Mipham Rinpoche, who was the head of 13 Nyingma monasteries in Kham, Tibet. He is a descendant of many generations of doctors and learned medical scholars. H.H. 17th Gyalwa Karmapa was enthroned in New Delhi on March 17, 1994 by H.H. Shamar Rinpoche at the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute. His name is Trinley (Buddha Activity) Thaye (limitless) Dorje (unchanging).
Thaye Dorje recognized himself in a very direct way. As a very young child, about three years old, he was telling everyone, "I am the Karmapa." Over the years, he manifested many other remarkable qualities. Once as a young boy, he was reading an ancient Buddhist text about the logic of emptiness. After reading thru the first section once, he immediately knew it by heart -- he recited the whole text by heart to the people present.
At the age of 11, after he and his family left Tibet, he was officially recognized as the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa by the 14th Kinzig Shamarpa, the second highest Lama in the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Traditionally, it is the Shamarpa's responsibility to recognize the philosophy and meditation, and for the first time, a Karmapa is learning Western languages, preparing to teach directly in English, French and other languages without a translator.
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