The Karmapa is one of the most important holders of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. His present reincarnation, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje, was born in Lhasa (Tibet) in 1983. He is the son of Mipham Rinpoche of Dzakhog, Derge, East Tibet, a renowned master of the Nyingma school, and of Dechen Wangmo from the Trime Sengar Labtrang family at Sengri Dorje Yuyi Dzong in the Derge province.
Even as a young boy, he already repeatedly declared himself to be the Karmapa. Künzig Shamarpa, second to the Gyalwa Karmapa in the Kagyu school, therefore investigated the circumstances surrounding the child. In particular, he focussed on certain spiritual procedures to identify the Karmapa's reincarnation, a century-old tradition essential to the Kagyu school.
In 1994 the young Karmapa finally fled Tibet. As there was no longer any danger from the Chinese government, the Künzig Shamarpa officially announced him to be the authentic reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa: on March 17th, 1994, he welcomed the then eleven-year old in New Delhi (India) and introduced him to the public as the 17th Holder of the Black Crown, Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje.
Since then the Gyalwa Karmapa has lived in India where he has undergone a rigorous spiritual training under the direction of Künzig Shamarpa. The Gyalwa Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje’s education covered the entire field of Buddhism in theory and practice: it included the ‘Profound View Tradition’ of Nagarjuna and the ‘Vast Conduct Tradition’ of Asanga. He is the holder of a considerable number of empowerments of Buddhist tantras brought to Tibet by Marpa. He also holds the mahamudra teachings from the mahasiddha traditions of Saraha and Maitripa and other Indian Buddhist masters, and the ‘Six Doctrines’ and other teachings of the highest Buddhist tantras emphasized by the Indian Buddhist master Naropa.
In the year 2003 the title of a vidyadhara was bestowed upon the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa by his main teacher, Künzig Shamarpa, to mark the formal completion of his monastic education in the sutras and tantras and his mastery of all aspects of the teachings of the profound lineage. Since then he continues to deepen his own training in Buddhism. In addition, the Gyalwa Karmapa frequently travels to Europe, Southeast Asia, and the US to give guidance to his disciples on the Buddhist path.
Read more about the history of the Karmapa’s reincarnations here.
For the introduction video of The 17th Gyawal Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje, click on image or here.