Buddhism is a religion or way of life that has its origins about 2,500 years ago when Siddhartha Gotama, known as the Buddha, became enlightened or 'awakened'. The word Buddhism comes from 'budhi' meaning 'to awaken'.
The nature of this awakening is difficult to communicate, but can be described as the complete realisation of the true ultimate nature of ourselves and all phenomena. This realisation frees us from the clouded and deluded mental condition that is the real cause of all suffering.
Following his enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism (called the Dharma, meaning truth), which clearly describe the paths to awakening.
Over the centuries the Buddha's teachings have been kept alive as they have passed from teacher to student, with the help of written scriptures and oral teachings, but also through example, practice, and other subtle forms of transmission. The 'lineage' has become an important vehicle for ensuring the accurate transmission of these teachings, and for guarding against incorrect, less skillful interpretations of Buddhist practice.
The Karma Kagyu Buddhist lineage traces its origins back to the Buddha through the Tibetan Marpa Lotsawa. Marpa travelled to India and Nepal repeatedly to study under various highly accomplished Buddhist teachers. His greatest student was Milarepa, the most revered yogi in Tibet.
Milarepa passed the teachings on to his most accomplished student Gampopa who founded the lineage known as the Dhakpo Kagyu. Since then, for nearly 900 years the wisdom of the Kagyu Lineage has been embodied in a succession of reincarnate teachers, the principal of whom is the Gyalwa Karmapa.
Kagyu Choeyang Ling was founded by Lama Assi with the blessings of His Holiness 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet
In Tibet, due to the extremely profound and diligent practice by so many devoted Buddhist yogis, monks and lay practitioners, and the remarkable spirit of a people living isolated in the high Himalayas, the full spectrum of Buddhist teachings have faithfully been kept intact and very much alive.
Their legacy is the many highly realised Buddhist teachers (or lamas) who are now living and travelling in most parts of the world. We are fortunate that so many people now have the opportunity to benefit from this extraordinary living tradition.
Click here for detailed information about the Kagyu lineage history.