The Karma Kagyu lineage has been passed on from a realised teacher to student for over a thousand years. Having an authentic Buddhist teacher is essential to one’s development in the Vajrayana.
The Kagyu lineage has many accomplished teachers as examples of enlightened activity. Their methods are accessible, providing a clear way to follow for any student wishing to practice and attain a similar result. Below are the main teachers that are relevant to the West.
Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa
A fully enlightened master, the 16th Karmapa was the main teacher of Lama Ole and Hannah Nydahl. ‘Karmapa’ means ‘activity of all the Buddhas’ and he showed this in his constant fearless and joyful actions. He was also known as the ‘King of the Yogis’.
Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, His Holiness the 14th Sharmapa
The Sharmapas are second in the Karma Kagyu lineage only to the Karmapas. The 14th Shamar Rinpoche, Mipham Chokyi Lodro, played an important central role in the protection of the Karma Kagyu lineage, and was an accomplished teacher.
Thaye Dorje, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa
The oldest reincarnate lineage of Tibetan Buddhist masters is that of the Karmapas. The current, 17th Karmapa Thaye Dorje, is responsible for over 900 monasteries and meditation centres around the world, including Diamond Way centres.
photo credit Thule G Jug
Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche
A key figure for Buddhism in Nepal, Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche also had a huge influence in the West. He gave many teachings and oversaw the construction of the largest Buddhist stupa in the west at Benalmadena in southern Spain.
Lama Ole Nydahl
With his wife Hannah Nydahl, Lama Ole was given the task by his main teacher the 16th Karmapa to spread lay Karma Kagyu Buddhism in the West. Travelling constantly since the 1970’s, he has founded over 640 Diamond Way Buddhist centres worldwide.
Friend, translator, and confidante to the highest lamas of the Karma Kagyu lineage, Hannah Nydahl (1946-2007) was also a skilful and compassionate Buddhist teacher.
Lama Jigme Rinpoche
Lama Jigme Rinpoche received extensive teachings from his uncle, the 16th Karmapa, and was asked by Karmapa to be his representative in the West. He is a highly respected, warm and engaging teacher.
Maniwa Lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche
A highly respected master of the Karma Kagyu lineage, Lama Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche has led students to collectively recite billions of mantras, earning him the title “Maniwa”. Rinpoche often takes time from his work in the East to teach at Diamond Way events.
The Western Diamond Way Buddhist teachers
Lama Ole Nydahl travels around the world every year, but cannot be everywhere. He has empowered many of his close students to teach on his behalf. Between them they cover every country where there are Diamond Way centres, giving lectures about Diamond Way Buddhist topics.