The Transmission Lineages

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Continuity of teaching

The Transmission Lineages

Every human being is different, and therefore Shakyamuni Buddha gave a wide variety of teachings to meet the different needs of each individual. His disciples put them into practice until they actualized them and thus became accomplished beings in their turn. After the Buddha’s death, his teachings were gradually written down during the gatherings of three councils.

Over the centuries, the Buddha’s words and methods have been passed down in India and throughout Asia from accomplished teachers to students, forming different lines of authentic transmission.

The Kagyü Tradition

From India to Tibet

Approximately one and a half millennia after the departure of Shakyamuni Buddha, Northern India was home to a large number of prominent Buddhist masters–holders of key meditation transmissions and instructions.
Among them, Tilopa (988-1069 CE), an accomplished teacher, received four specific transmissions. When introduced into Tibet, these made up the tradition known as Kagyü in Tibetan, which includes these four transmissions. Tilopa in turn passed them on to his disciple Naropa (1016-1100 CE).
Teachers, such as the yogis Saraha and Maitripa, are among the important figures who shaped the teachings transmitted within the Kagyü tradition.
These teachings first reached Tibet in the eighth century. After an interruption, a second phase of dissemination and translation took place in the eleventh century.
The Tibetan translator Marpa (1012-1097 CE) traveled to India several times and studied with Naropa and Maitripa. He brought all these transmissions back to Tibet. Having mastered them, he passed them on to his famous disciple Milarepa (1052-1135 CE) among others.
Under Milarepa’s student Gampopa (1079-1153), the Kagyü tradition branched out into several lineages, the main one being the Karma Kagyü lineage, which bears the name of its founder, the first Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa (1110-1193 CE).

“I think it is important to remember where we come from and what our roots are. We can start with our parents–whether they are our biological parents or others–who are the origin of our life. In the same way, our spiritual life began with the teachers we have met and who have guided us to this day. It is very important to know and remember this connection.”

Thaye Dorje, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

The Karma Kagyü Lineage

The First Continuity of Reincarnated Lamas

A Heritage of Over 900 Years

As mentioned earlier, the Karma Kagyü Lineage has its roots in India and began in Tibet in the 12th century with the first Karmapa, Düsum Khyenpa. A disciple of Gampopa, he received complete instructions from the corps of the Buddha’s teachings, which he realized.
His reincarnation, the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi (1204-1283 CE), was the first recognized reincarnated lama of Tibet.
Since then, the Karmapas have manifested themselves in an unbroken continuity of reincarnations up to the present day.
The spiritual referent of the Karma Kagyü lineage today is Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa.

The Sources of the Transmission

The primary sources of the Karma Kagyü lineage are the “words of the Buddha” accompanied by the commentary of the Indian masters who came after the Buddha. These sources constitute the Buddhist canon, which in Tibetan consists of the Kangyur (the words of the Buddha) and the Tengyur (the commentaries).
Masters of the lineage such as the third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339 CE), and the eighth Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje (1507-1554 CE), made significant contributions to the creation of these collections.

The Specificity of the Teachings

Although written teachings play a crucial role, within the Karma Kagyü lineage orally transmitted teachings hold an important place. In addition, special attention is given to meditation.
The Karma Kagyü Lineage brings together the heritage of two specific traditions: the Mahamudra tradition and the Kadampa tradition. Mahamudra, or Great Seal, is the direct understanding of the nature of mind. It is the highest meditative training. The gradual path of the Kadampa teachings can be traced back to the Indian Buddhist master Atisha (980-1054 CE) and incorporates the practice of mind training (Tib: lojong) from the Great Vehicle.

Sources : Text – | Header image – Dhagpo Kundreul Ling.

Tusum Kyenpa,  the 1<sup>st</sup> Karmapa

Düsum Khyenpa, the 1st Karmapa


Il y a plus de 2500 ans, le prince indien Siddartha prenait conscience du mal-être et de l’insatisfaction inhérents à notre vie humaine. Aspirant à s’en libérer, il abandonna sa vie princière pour suivre les enseignements de plusieurs ermites renonçants et pratiqua diverses austérités.

Spiritual mentors

Spiritual mentors

Siège européen de la lignée de transmission Karma Kagyü, le centre d’étude et de méditation Dhagpo Kagyu Ling est actuellement placé sous la guidance spirituelle de Thayé Dorjé, le 17e Gyalwa Karmapa et de Jigmé Rinpoché, son représentant en Europe.

Becoming Anchored in Europe

Becoming Anchored in Europe

En réponse à la requête de ses étudiants occidentaux, le 16e Karmapa a envoyé en France en 1975 d’éminents lamas et a expliqué que cinq ressources complémentaires étaient nécessaires pour que l’enseignement du Bouddha s’ancre en Europe.

Dhagpo Kagyu Ling

Dhagpo Kagyu Ling

En 1975, M. et Mme Benson ont offert au XVIe Karmapa un terrain et un corps de ferme en Dordogne pour y établir un centre bouddhiste. En 1977, Karmapa a nommé ce lieu Dhagpo Kagyu Ling, le lieu de transmission de la lignée de Gampopa, et en a fait son siège européen.