10th Karmapa, Chöying Dorje


The Tenth Karmapa lived through a turbulent time that brought dramatic changes to the position of the Karma Kagyu in Tibet. Yet his response to those changes provides an inspiring example of perseverance, equanimity and pure goodness in the face of adversity.

The 17th century’s sectarianism resulted in the return of Mongol forces to Tibetan soil. In one terrible attack, the entire Great Encampment was demolished, its residents all killed. Only Chöying Dorje and an attendant managed to escape, and eventually made their way to the independent kingdom of Lijiang far to the east. Though Chöying Dorje found himself bereft of the usual conditions for spreading the teachings of his lineage, he inspired the Lijiang rulers to become devoted supporters who offered him a welcoming haven and new base for his activities.

In order to safeguard the future of the lineage, the Tenth Karmapa reportedly made secret excursions into Kham and Amdo, traveling incognito, to bring the Sixth Tai Situpa and other important young Karma Kagyu incarnations back to Lijiang for training. In the meantime, with the characteristic creativity and resolve of the Karmapa, Chöying Dorje found other activities that allowed him to bring beauty to the world. The Tenth Karmapa created at least one sacred image Each and every day of his adult life.