- Karma Kagyu
Karma Kagyu (bo-tw|t=ཀརྨ་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད|w=karma bka'-brgyud), or Kamtsang, is the largest lineage within the
Kagyuschool,Fact|date=July 2008 one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu is the "Gyalwa Karmapa". The Karma Kagyu are sometimes called the "Black Hat", in reference to the Black Crownworn by the Karmapa.
The Karma Kagyu was founded by the first Karmapa, Je
Dusum Khyenpa. It is headed by the Gyalwa Karmapa, a reincarnate lama ( tulku). Followers believe that the Karmapa's appearance as the first historical consciously reincarnate teacher was predicted by the Buddha in the Samadhiraja Sutra(lit: "Discourse on the Kings of Meditative Concentration").
The Karma Kagyu school belongs to the
Vajrayanabranch of Mahayana Buddhism. It is a Triyana(all three turnings of the Wheel of the dharma) school (e.g., monksand nunskeep the vowsof Vinayawhile laypractitioners hold the Upasakavows) and a Rime (non-sectarian) tradition.
The central teaching of the Karma Kagyu is the doctrine of
Mahamudra, also known as the "Great Seal". This doctrine focuses on four principal stages of meditativepractice (the Four Yogas of Mahamudra):
* The development of single-pointedness of mind,
* The transcendence of all conceptual elaboration,
* The cultivation of the perspective that all phenomena are of a "single taste",
* The fruition of the path, which is beyond any contrived acts of meditation.
It is through these four stages of development that the practitioner is said to attain the perfect
realizationof Mahamudra. Mahamudra is practiced both independently and as the completion stage of Vajrayana practice.
Within the Karma Kagyu, meditative practice is almost invariably presented in a progressive manner. Early practice includes
Shamathameditation (calm abiding; single-pointedness), introduction to Buddhist historyand philosophy, and initiationinto the lower Tantras- classically across the Yidams( deities) Avalokiteshvara(Tibetan "Chenrezik"), Taraand AmitabhaBuddha. This is followed by " Ngondro" (the practice of the Four Extraordinary Foundations) and Vipassanameditation. During the traditional three-year retreat, retreatants usually focus their practice on the Six Yogas of Naropa. At the Anuttarayogatantralevel of practice, the principal Yidams of the lineage are Vajrayogini, Hevajraand Chakrasamvara.
While one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Karma Kagyu is its emphasis on meditative practice, all forms and levels of Buddhist history and philosophy are also taught, most notably the
Shentongbranch of IAST|Prāsaṅgika Madhyamakaphilosophy.
Lamaof the Karma Kagyu is the Karmapa, who always presides as lineage holder once he has reached his majority and received all the necessary training and transmissions. From the death of one Karmapa until the next takes his seat as lineage holder, one (or more) of the previous Karmapa's principal disciplesholds the lineage. The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa left the lineage in the hands of four eminent Lamas; the 14th Shamar Rinpoche, the 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche, the 3rd Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpocheand the 12th Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche.
At the next level of precedence, all Kagyu Lamas who have been accorded by His Holiness the title
Rinpoche(Lit: precious one) are highly regarded as trustworthy teachers. Those who hold the Khenpodegree have completed the equivalent of a doctoratein Buddhist studies. There are (both currently and historically) many female Kagyu Lamas. Probably the most well-known active female Kagyu Lama in the West is Ani Pema Chödrön.
* [http://www.kagyu.org/ Karma Kagyu Lineage: Official web site]
* [http://www.karmakagyu.org/ The Karma Kagyu Institute]
* [http://www.karma-kagyu.org Karma Kagyu Tradition: Official web site]
* [http://www.diamondway-buddhism.org/ Diamond Way Buddhism Worldwide]
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