Posts Tagged ‘Lineage’

by Naomi Levine

The first Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was predicted by the Buddha. He travelled throughout Tibet and received all the transmissions that anyone had. Once he even received transmission from a blind person. When he was over 80 and his hand shook so much he couldn’t write, he tied a pen to his hand. He composed the well-known prayer for the well-being of Tibet.

The second Jamgon Kongtrul was the son of the 15th Karmapa, Khakyab Dorje. The father had great devotion for his son. They had actually discussed the reincarnation beforehand and worked out that Jamgon Kongtrul would reincarnate as the 15th Karmapa’s son. The 16th Karmapa would refer to the second Jamgon Kongtrul when he had doubts about Mahamudra. Thus he was also a teacher to the 16th Karmapa.

The third Jamgon Kongtrul passed away very young. Many people believe, said His Holiness, that had he not passed away, many problems in the Karma Kagyu may not have happened. He served the 16th Karmapa so well that the Karmapa said he would never be able to repay him.

‘When I was in Tibet there were some restrictions in recognising tulkus. However I recognised some 40 tulkus, some overtly and some secretly. Out of the forty that I recognised that of Jamgon Kongtrul was the clearest and the one I had the most confidence in. I request you all to support him in his activities.’

This morning the 4th Jamgon Rinpoche gave a reading transmission of Calling the Lama from Afar, to a packed audience in the shrine room at Tergar. There had been only a last minute announcement of this event sent round the circuit mainly by word of mouth. As he recited the last stanza of the prayer, his voice was so like that of the previous Jamgon Kongtrul that some of us dropped into the heart centre and wept spontaneously.

When he strode confidently out the door, it seemed that the 4th Jamgon Rinpoche had suddenly manifested his lineage through this spontaneous wave of devotion from his disciples. How wonderful to see it!


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by Naomi Levine

I am the Head of the Lineage

This discrete but unmistakeable declaration from HH Karmapa came after the second day of teaching on the Kagyu Lineage Prayer; and while it was hardly news to the many thousands of devotees gathered in the Monlam Pavilion, it was the first time I had ever heard His Holiness make such a definitive statement. There were other surprises as well in this informative overview of the lineage masters. One of them was what I can only describe as the restoration of the Shamarpa to his historical place in the lineage.

According to historians the first Karmapa was Karma Pakshi, although Dusum Khyenpa was the first holder of the Black Crown. Dusum Khyenpa was not known at the time as the first Karmapa but was given the name of Karmapa because of his vision. He became known as Karmapa, the performer of the activity of all the buddhas. Some historians say the lineage became known as Karma Kagyu because Karmapa was practising for a long time in Karma Gon, one of the seats of the Karmapas in East Tibet. The name of the lineage was therefore Karma Kagyu.

There are different ways of viewing the time span of the lineage. Chogyur Lingpa, the 19th century terton, predicted 7 reincarnations and 13 manifestations in nirmanakaya form. Another prediction mentions 21 Karmapas, and yet another prediction of the 5th Karmapa refers to 25 Karmapas. There could also be 1002 Karmapas who could be performing the activities of the Karmapa rather than holding the throne. This could mean that Karmapa’s activity will not end until the liberation of all beings, His Holiness said.

Which brought us to the subject of reincarnation. This is a person who takes rebirth from one main enlightened master. A reincarnation cannot be more than one person. However, a tulku can manifest many people each acting independently. One great master can have many manifestations, e.g. manifestations of body, speech and mind. This is a high level of realization.


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