THE SIXTEENTH GYALWA KARMAPA, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, was born in Tibet in 1924. He was recognized by Tai Situpa. Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje accomplished extensive retreats in his youth. His Holiness went on pilgrimage to Samye, Lodrak, and then to Bhutan. In 1945, Tai Situpa gave him full ordination vows and further comprehensive Kagyu teachings on the giving of empowerments. He also received from the Nyingma master Urgyen Rinpoche complete transmission of the Nyingma teachings of Terton Chojur Lingpa.
During the communist invasion in 1959, the Karmapa left Tibet with portable spiritual treasures and relics and 150 tulkus, monks and lay people. He settled in Rumtek, Sikkim, India. By 1966, the construction of the new Rumtek monastery was complete, and the relics were installed. This was to be the hub from which Kagyu Dharma would spread throughout the world.
In 1974, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje set out on his first world tour. He took a second tour in 1977. As did the previous Karmapas, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje performed startling miracles. Numerous times he left footprints in rocks. He once tied sword blades in knots. During a visit to the Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona, he made rain for the drought-stricken area.
The Sixteenth Karmapa died in 1981 in Zion, Illinois, north of Chicago. After his death, his body remained upright in meditation posture for three days, and the area over his heart was warm. During his cremation, his heart fell from the blazing body. The heart is now a venerated relic, stored in a stupa at Rumtek monastery. Bones that remained after the cremation of Rangjung Rigpe Dorje formed Buddhas and many relics. The Sixteenth Karmapa is best known for having brought the Dharma out of Tibet into the Western world.
Teachings and comments by the Sixteenth Karmapa on this site:
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