The Fourteenth Karmapa, Thegchog Dorje (1798-1868)

14th-Karmapa-Thegchog-DorjeTHE FOURTEENTH GYALWA KARMAPA, Thegchog Dorje, was born in midwinter, yet flowers spontaneously blossomed and many rainbows appeared. The baby recited the Sanskrit alphabet. He was discovered, enthroned and later ordained by the Ninth Tai Situpa .

Thegchog Dorje lived very simply and exemplified the ideal monk. He was gifted in poetry and dialectics and participated in the spirit of the times, known now as rime (nonsectarian), whereby many noted scholars showed great interest in each other's traditions and teachings. There was a particularly intense exchange between the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions, with the Karmapa passing on teachings to Kongtrul Rinpoche and Jamyang Chentse Wangpo.

Thegchog Dorje himself received the Vajrakilaya tantra from the Nyingma visionary treasure-text-finder Chojur Lingpa. The ritual was subsequently introduced into the Tsurphu calendar. Chojur Lingpa had important visions of future Karmapas, up to the twenty-first. These were noted down and painted in a thangka.

The Fourteenth Karmapa's spiritual heir was the great rime master and prolific author, Jamgön Kongtrül, Lodrö Thaye.


Text reprinted with permission of Altea Publishing from Karmapa, by Ken Holmes. Copyright 1995 by Altea Publishing.