The Karmapa is the supreme spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu, or Kamtsang Kagyu, school of Tibetan Buddhism. This lineage of profound meditation practice traces its origins to Shakyamuni Buddha and the primordial buddha, Vajradhara. It was transmitted in the eleventh century by the India mahasiddha Tilopa to the scholar Naropa who passed the vast teachings and mediation practices on to the Tibetan translator Marpa. It was Marpa who brought the teachings to Tibet. Marpa's main disciple was the great yogi Milarepa who passed the teachings on to Gampopa. Gampopa transmitted them to the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. Since then, the Kagyu lineage has been led by a succession of reincarnations of the Gyalwa Karmapa. The line of the Karmapas is self-announced; each incarnation leaves a letter predicting his next rebirth. All great Kagyu teachers regard His Holiness Karmapa as the embodiment and source of all of the blessings of the lineage.
His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje was born in Tibet in 1985 and was recognized in 1992 through a prediction letter left by his predecessor, the Sixteenth Karmapa Ranjung Rigpe Dorje. The Seventeenth Karmapa spent the first fourteen years of his life in Tibet, and in early 2000 made a dramatic escape to India where he currently lives in a temporary residence near Dharamsala, India. He awaits permission from the Indian government to return to Rumtek Dharma Chakra Centre, his seat-in-exile.
For official news of His Holiness Karmapa's current activities and a chronicle of his time in the land of the Buddha's birth, visit His Holiness in India.