K a r m a . K a g y u . T r a d i t i o n

Gampopa (1079-1135)

Excerpts from The Banner of the Pleasing Biography of Gampopa (kun-khyab-snyen-pa'i-ba-den) by the eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje

Gampopa was born in Nyal in East Tibet. His father was a physician who brought up his son to follow in his foot-steps. Gampopa married in his early twenties and had two children, who both fell prey to an epidemic in the region. Gampopa was very distraught, especially when his wife also fell ill. He did all he could but there was no way to cure her and as she died she begged him to devote his life to the practice of Buddhism.

At the age of twenty-six Gampopa took ordination as a novice monk in the Kadampa tradition. He studied with many masters and developed a good understanding of the teachings. At the age of thirty-two he heard of Milarepa. At once he had an experience of intense devotion and realized that Milarepa must be his destined teacher.

He set out in search of Milarepa and was able to find him after many hardships. He received the complete Kagyu teachings from him. Then he travelled to Dagpo in the South Eastern part of Central Tibet, where he remained in meditation retreat for many years and founded the monastery Daglha Gampo. He soon attracted many disciples. Gampopa was also a fine writer noted for his deep insight.

From among the main disciples of Milarepa he was entrusted with the complete Kagyu transmission.

Gampopa's four main disciples founded the four 'greater' branches of the Kagyu lineage. The eight 'lesser' divisions developed later. Gampopa passed away at the age of seventy-five, having spread the Kagyu teachings far and wide.

From among his foremost disciples, Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa became the next lineage holder.

The First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193)




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