9th Karmapa, Wangchuk Dorje


In his ninth reincarnation, as Wangchuk Dorje, the Karmapa again took as a major activity the composition of texts that would guide his and future generations in their practice. Unlike Mikyö Dorje with his wide-ranging corpus of texts, Wangchuk Dorje focused primarily on Mahāmudrā.

Rooted in the direct encounter with ultimate reality, Mahāmudrā is often described as beyond words and beyond concepts. Training in Mahāmudrā must generally be conducted under the personal guidance of a qualified teacher who can point disciples to the direct experience of the nature of their own mind. As such, Wangchuk Dorje was accepting an enormously challenging explanatory task, since Mahāmudrā, by its very nature, eludes conceptual formulation.

Nevertheless, Wangchuk Dorje’s own realizations of Mahāmudrā and his exceptional skill in articulating those realizations combined to bear fruit in the form of three texts: Ocean of Definitive Meaning, Pointing Out the Dharmakāya and Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance. These three compositions form the backbone of Mahāmudrā explanation in the Karma Kagyu today. As a later Karmapa pointed out, without these texts by Wangchuk Dorje, the Karma Kagyu today would have few written resources to turn to in order to explain Mahāmudrā practice.