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The Gyalwa Karmapas are unique among the great Lamas of Tibet, having reached full enlightenment centuries ago. During a previous incarnation Karmapa was at the side of the historical Buddha as the great Bodhisattva Chenrezig or "Loving Eyes." In Sanskrit his name is Avalokitesvara.
Karmapa spent many lifetimes as a yogi in India. From the year 1110 to the present day he has been taking successive conscious rebirths as the Karmapa or the "Black Hat Lama." He was the first recognized Lama of Tibet. In 1959, during the Chinese destruction of Tibet, the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje managed to leave the country with his students and the most precious relics of his lineage, thus securing the transmission of the Karma Kagyu lineage. With the help of increasing numbers of Western students the full knowledge about the nature of mind has reached the modern world. In the winter of 1994 at the age of 10, the present 17th Karmapa, Thaye Dorje, recognized by Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, escaped occupied Tibet to freedom in India, where he is now being introduced to the modern world.
Lama Ole Nydahl
Lama Ole Nydahl and his wife Hannah were the first western students of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa. He recognized them as protectors of his lineage and asked them to work for him. Since 1972, after three years of training in the Himalayas, Lama Ole has given Diamond Way teachings in a new town nearly every day around the world. He is always accessible to his students, and his spontaneous joy and disregard of "holy cows" exemplifies the freedom everyone can reach through the fearlessness of Mahamudra. >>>