Buddhism and the Karma Kamtsang
What is a Buddha?
The journey to this ultimate state involves freeing the mind from its grosser limitations, such as anger, selfish desire, pride etc., and also its subtle limitations, mainly consisting of conditioned thought- patterns of dualistic perception (subject-object, me-you, mind-body etc.).
Sakyamuni was the fourth.
General - the Buddha and His Teaching
The dharma is perpetuated through the ages, as a living tradition of enlightened experience and as a philosophy, by those members of the Buddhist community who have themselves already achieved unmistakable insight.
These are known as the realized sangha.
They reached what are today Japan, Indonesia, Mongolia and Russia, and countries (such as China, Burma etc.) on the way from India to these continental extremities. Today they are to be found throughout the world.
The teachings themselves are addressed to 3 different audiences:
Each of us is unique. We have different needs and different aspirations.
... the hinayana - the first two audiences mentioned above.
... the mahayana - the third audience. Their path, which has a broader ethical dimension and a wider and deeper scope of meditation, is underpinned at all times by a compassionate longing to achieve the ultimate potential of one's own existence in order to be truly capable of helping others.
It is special on account of the very powerful, customized, meditation techniques which it employs.
All three aspects of the Buddha's teaching were perpetuated in Tibet. There is not really such a thing as "Tibetan Buddhism", inasmuch as its content is chiefly composed of the Buddhism flourishing in India between the 8th - 12th centuries C.E.,
transplanted into Tibet over those centuries during a great wave of activity animated by both Indian and Tibetan Buddhist masters (fortunately so, for it was eradicated in its native India in the centuries which followed).
Of the three sorts of Indian Buddhism, the vajrayana (also often referred to as tantra) survived in a living and integral form only in Tibet, although some traces of it are found, in a more rarefied and hermetic way, in Burma and Japan.
Of these, the oldest is the Nyingma, founded when Buddhism was first implanted in Tibet in the 8th century, and the youngest is the Gelug, dating from around the 14th century, the most well-known present-day figure of which is HH the Dalai Lama.
The Kagyu tradition
The central point is always one and the same: how to emerge from the transient ups-and-downs, pains and limited pleasures of worldly existence, based in illusion, and find the permanent, ultimate happiness which is the true nature of existence? Illusion and truth, relative and ultimate.
What distinguishes the Kagyu from the other traditions is the way in which the Buddha's teaching is formulated and the extremely powerful meditation techniques it employs to enable one to experience and make real the meaning of the Buddha's teaching.
... the first stream of teachings comes from the Buddha, in the form of Vajradhara, through a succession of Indian masters including Saraha and Nagarjuna and ending with Maitripa in 11th century India.
Thus both streams of mahamudra went to Tibet due to the incredible strong- minded diligence of Marpa who, in his search for understanding, made the perilous journey from Tibet to India three times and who spent over 20 years there under the guidance of Naropa absorbing the finest of Indian vajrayana Buddhist teachings.
Milarepa was to become Tibet's most famous yogi, on account of his completing the journey to enlightenment within just one lifetime and also through his unequalled diligence meditating in a thin cotton robe in caves high in the snow-clad mountains.
Whereas Milarepa achieved enlightenment in one life, Gampopa is seen as someone who remains for countless cosmic ages as a [[10th level [bodhisattva]], in order to assist Buddha after Buddha in bringing their teachings to the world.
Both names (as do many Tibetan names) originate in places. Dagpo was, in fact, the name of Gampopa's birth place and Gampo is the name of the holy mountain on which he established the first Tibetan Kagyu monastery.
In between each successive Karmapa reincarnation, the continuity of the lineage of spiritual insight was ensured by his chief disciple at the time, who re-transmitted the details of the teachings to the reincarnation of his previous guru.
This unbroken succession, from Tilopa down through Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa, the Karmapas, Situpas, Sharmapas, Gyaltsabpas and the other gurus, is known as the Golden Rosary of Kagyu teachers:
Nagarjuna Buddha Vajradhara
1st Karmapa Dusum Chenpa
Drogon Rechen (Situ)
Karma Pakshi (Karmapa 2)
Rangjung Dorje (K3)
Rolpe Dorje (K4)
Kacho Wangpo (Shamar)
Deshin Shekpa (K5)
Tongwa Donden (K6)
Paljor Dondrup (Gyaltsab)
Chodrak Gyamtso (K7)
Tashi Paljor (Sanje Nyenpa)
Michö Dorje (K8)
Wangchuk Dorje (K9)
Choying Dorje (K10)
Yeshe Dorje (K11)
Changchup Dorje (K12)
8th Tai Situ Choji Jungne
Dundul Dorje (K13)
10th Shamar Mipam Chodrup
9th Situ Pema Nyinche
Tekcho Dorje (K14)
Yonten Gyamtso (Kongtrul)
Khachap Dorje (K15)
11th Tai Situ Pema Wangcho
Chentse Ozer (Kongtrul 2)
Rangjung Rikpe Dorje (K16)
The 17th Gyalwa Karmapa is Urgyen Trinley Dorje, presently at the traditional Tibetan seat of the Karmapas: Tsurphu monastery in Tibet. The main lineage-holders at present are the Khentin Tai Situpa and the Goshir Gyaltsabpa.