Gyalwa Karmapa is a totally enlightened being, an emanation of Bodhisattva Chenresi, the Buddha of Compassion.
His spiritual role as the maximum authority of the Kagyupa Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism has its origin in a tradition that began in the 11th century. It was then that this Buddhist school, which was started by Tilopa and his disciple Naropa, followed by Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa, transmitted the realization of the Mahamudra in all its purity to the first Karmapa. This has been maintained to the present day in an uninterrupted line through the successive reincarnations of Karmapas, and now it is the 17th Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje who ensures the continuity of the unceasing activity of the Buddha of Compassion.
H. H. Karmapa was born in Lhasa (Tibet) where he began his intensive training, centred on the study of Buddhist philosophy and meditation. He has received all the essential transmissions and monastic education in the sutras and trantras, in addition to all other aspects of the profound lineage of the Practice.
The Sutra Lankavatara refers to H. H. Karmapa in the following words, "Those who contemplate his face, even once, will be freed from their dark veils. Simply seeing him leads to liberation".