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Yeshe Dorje - Eleventh Karmapa

Eleventh Karmapa Yeshe Dorje was born in Markham in year of Fire Dragon (1676). Even in childhood, the boy often had extraordinary visions and he was glad to tell about them, amazing his parents. Amazement transformed into veneration when his relatives realized that behind the stories of the child are high spiritual attainments involved, accumulated during many lifetimes.

Tertön Minjur Dorje, known as a master of Kagyu and Nyingma schools, recognized the incarnation of Karmapa in the boy. This news spread around very fast and Shamar Rinpoche sent his representatives to Markham. When they saw the kid they gave a notice to Shamarpa that the time and place of birth of Yeshe Dorje and other details corresponds to those given in the farewell letters left by Tenth Karmapa. Shamar Rinpoche in his Dechen Yangpachen monastery arranged a big feast in honour of the new incarnation of Karmapa. Then they took the boy to Tsurphu and Shamarpa there officially enthroned him. When Yeshe Dorje took vows of laity, his traditional teachings began. His teachers were Shamar Rinpoche, Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Third Karma Trinley. Karmapa received full transmission of Kagyu transmission lineage. At this point his name – Yeshe Dorje – was given. This name chose for him tertön Minjur Dorje, founding it in predictions regarding Eleventh Karmapa done by Guru Rinpoche.

When Shamar Yeshe Nyingpo left this world, Karmapa was studying under guidance of Minjur Dorje and other tertön of Nyingma school – Tagsham Nuden Dorje. Both meditation masters gave the boy many teachings regarding the content and meaning of “hidden treasures”.

When Yeshe Dorje was still very young, in a year of Water Dog, Fifth Dalai-lama died. The power in the country was given to Desi Sangye Gyamtso, the successor of Dalai-lama, who continued the policy of peace and harmony. A significant role in relationships between Gelug and Karma Kagyu schools had Tewo Rinpoche – Karma Tendzin Thargye, who was serving to Fifth Dalai-lama, in the same time being one of the closest students of Karmapa Yeshe Dorje.

The year of Wooden Pig arrived and Yeshe Dorje experienced a vision telling that in Nepal, near the mountain Jomo Gangkar, Eight Shamarpa has been born. Karmapa’s representative’s found this kid and returned in Tsurphu together with him. With permission of Desi Sangye Gyamtso, procession also moved through Lhasa. When the young incarnation arrived at Karmapa’s residency, Yeshe Dorje enthroned him and gave him the Red Crown, a constant attribute of lineage of Shamarpa’s. Some while later Yeshe Dorje found also new incarnations of Situ, Pawo and later Tenpi Nyinche and Chokyi Dondrub.

Fully enlightened qualities of Yeshe Dorje were expressed the best way in his teachings and in his amazing activities occasionally. Once, demonstrating the power of his realization, Karmapa appeared in several bodies at the same time and with each body instructed the astonished audience.

Eleventh Karmapa’s lifespan was very short – shorter than life of all other Karmapas. In 1702 he gave a letter with description of details of his next rebirth to Shamar Rinpoche, with this act appointing him as his successor. Soon after that, at age of twenty-six, Yeshe Dorje died. In the moment of his death many people saw in the sky, across the sun, appeared his figure with figures of two of his closest disciples next to him.

Main disciples of Eleventh Karmapa Yeshe Dorje were Eighth Shamarpa Palchen Chokyi Dondrub and Tewo Rinpoche Karma Tendzin Thargye.