Chöying Dorje - Tenth Karmapa


Tenth Karmapa Chöying Dorje was born on eighth day of third lunar month of year of Wooden Dragon (1604) in Golog, in eastern Tibet. His mother during pregnancy had auspicious dreams about Guru Rinpoche and the newborn boy she named Urgyen Khyab (who is protected by the men from Urgyen).

It is said in biographies of Tenth Karmapa that as soon as he was born he rose on his feet, did one step towards each of fourth directions of space, exactly like the new-born Buddha Shakyamuni two thousand years earlier. Then future Karmapa sat down, crossed his legs and his parents heard him repeating mantras of Bodhisattva’s Loving Eyes and Prajnaparamita (Transcendental Wisdom).

Chöying Dorje spent his early infancy in place Machu in a court of a local prince Changa Mova where he was very revered as an extraordinary gifted child. He was showing an exceptional talent for painting – but it had to develop fully in a future. Except of this, young Karmapa was very kind with animals. One day he saw a sheep being sheared. Bursting in tears the child ran to the owners of the sheep - to ask that they don’t cause any harm to animals. On another occasion he saved a deer that were hunted. First, Karmapa calmed down the dog, chasing after a deer, and when the hunter came near, he gave him money so that he could carry on his household without killing animals.

Small Karmapa had a lively sense of humor. One day his father, sitting on a horse, put the boy in the seat in front of him. Son immediately asked the reins, wanting to control the horse, and sang a song that idle travel does not make sense: everyone should strive for enlightenment.

At age of eight Chöying Dorje was officially recognized as embodiment of Karmapa – Sixth Shamar Rinpoche announced it and during a solemn ceremony enthroned him in the Nyngchi Ling monastery. During this festive ceremony Karmapa had a vision of Mahakala, protector of Karma Kagyu transmission lineage. It was an important and auspicious sign. A few days later Chöying Dorje was walking with monks along the side of river Dzachu. Suddenly he noticed a huge stone right in the middle of the rapid stream. The boy asked monks to bring this stone and cut it in half. It was very heavy, but Karmapa was insistent, saying it should be done for a benefit of sentient beings. When the stone was cut, they found there thousand green caterpillars, writhing in agony. With great kindness in response to their terrible suffering, Chöying Dorje said mantra of Loving Eyes. Gradually caterpillars ceased to tremble and quietly died.

After some time Tenth Karmapa arrived in Tsurphu. There Pawo Tsuglag Gyamtso was waiting for him. After a joyful meeting, Pawo initiated Karmapa as a novice and gave him several initiations, transmissions of texts and oral instructions from the heritage of Karma Pakshi, Rangjung Dorje and Chödrag Gyamtso.

During the time Karmapa was growing up, political climate in Tibet steadily worsened. After studying with Pawo Rinpoche, Karmapa received an invitation to the court of Karma Phuntsog Namgyal – the ruler of Tsang Province. This prince was supporting Kamtsang and Drukpa schools. Later, after the fall of Rinpung dynasty he extended area of his influence to all Tibet. Phuntsog Namgyal asked Karmapa to pray for a peace, because Mongolian Khan with his dangerous army was threatening to invade his territories. Karmapa performed several ceremonies and the warfare didn’t happen.

When he returned in Tsurphu, Chöying Dorje was continuing his education and Pawo Rinpoche gave him a full transmission of Kagyu teachings. At age of twenty-one Karmapa received a full initiation into monkhood and went into retreat to meditate and realize all teachings he had received.

Later, travelling together with Shamar Rinpoche, Situ Rinpoche and Pawo Rinpoche, Chöying Dorje visited Lhodrag, where he received news about decease of the ruler of Tsang. Widow of Phuntsog Namgyal requested Karmapa to perform after-death ceremonies on behalf of her husband. To fulfil this request Karmapa and his entourage headed to Lhasa, the palace of Samdrup Ling.

After these ceremonies Chöying Dorje did a pilgrimage to Samye, the first monastery of Nyingma school, and under the guidance of Shamar Rinpoche gave Bodhisattva vow. From Samye Karmapa went to the caves of Guru Rinpoche and Milarepa, located near the Kailash mountain. In Chuvara, at the place of Milarepa’s decease, Chöying Dorje established a new place for meditational retreats. When he later arrived to monastery Dag Lha Ghampo, he painted there a huge gilded fresco depicting the sixteen Arhats and their followers.

Around that period Shamar Rinpoche became sick and soon died.

The new ruler of Tsang was Desi Karma Tenkyong Wangpo, known for his hostility to the monasteries of Sera and Drepung. As a result of his policies in Tsang, riots broke out.They led to the invasion of Mongols, who quickly flooded the whole of Tibet.Karmapa, ahead of the troops of Mongolian Khan went to Jang Sa-tham, which lies near the border between China and Tibet. Local prince Karma Chime Lavang received Karmapa very kindly. While in a forced exile, Chöying Dorje dedicated his time to teaching local residents tradition of Karma Kagyu and also helping the poor and taking care about monasteries.

While he remained in Jang Sa-Tham, local army defeated the breakaway part of the invader’s forces, capturing three hundred thousand soldiers. Chime Lavang was about to direct those warriors against the main forces of Mongolian army, commanded by Gushri Khan, follower of Gelug school. His army was robbing Tibet at the time. When Choying Dorje heard this plan of a prince he declared this war’s operation would be an action opposite to Buddhist ethics, based on a goodness and non-violence. He convinced the ruler, saying:
- I have given a vow to not harm any living being, even tiny insects. So, please, don’t send your army to Tibet.
Chime Lavang was listening Karmapa’s advice and withdrew his army.

When this problem was solved, Chöying Dorje again began to teach Dharma to people and founded another monastery, calling it Ogmin Ling. To many people he gave monk’s initiation and teachings on Tripitaka texts.

One day Karmapa heard about new incarnation of Shamar Rinpoche and immediately left Jang Sa-Tham to find personally his closest student. Disguised as a beggar, he was able to pass unharmed through the lands involved in the war. When he finally arrived in the Golog region he found the boy and recognized the new incarnation of Shamarpa. It is said that beggars costume didn’t confuse the kid and without a doubt he said that the one who arrived was Karmapa. At Suchu Karpo monastery Chöying Dorje gave the kid a Refuge and some preliminary teachings of Kagyu tradition. New Shamarpa received a name of Yeshe Nyingpo.

On his way through Golog, Chöying Dorje also found and enthroned the new incarnation of Gyaltsab Rinpoche. Then, already in Kham, he met young Situ and Pawo Rinpoche. He took his young students to Jang, introduced Karma Kagyu doctrine to them and soon he left this welcoming place to return to Lhasa, where he hasn’t been almost thirty years.

On his way he met Tulku Minjur Dorje, a student of Chagme Raga-Asi Rinpoche who was a founder of a Karma Kagyu sub-school called “Nedo”. Some people considered Chagme to be an emanation of Karmapa Mikyö Dorje. While studying a text, which Minjur Dorje presented as Terma (hidden Dharma-treasury), created by Guru Rinpoche, Karmapa announced that it’s an original text. In response Minjur Dorje gave all other Termas, found by him, to Chöying Dorje. The most known teachings from the heritage of Minjur Dorje is his detailed instructions for a meditation to Second Karmapa Karma Pakshi.

In a year of Water Bull, Choying Dorje arrived to Lhasa and immediately wanted to meet with Dalai-lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyamtso. He kindly received Karmapa, thanking him the army of Jang didn’t enter Tibet. During this meeting Ngawang Lobsang Gyamtso and Choying Dorje were discussing Mahamudra and Karmapa received a promise that if it would be necessary, Tsurphu monastery would receive a protection.

When Karmapa left Lhasa, he went to a valley where Yeshe Tsogyal, consort of Guru Rinpoche, has been born. There Choying Dorje and his followers stopped near the lake, which according to a legend, appeared there when Tsogyal was born, and visited several caves, where Guru Rinpoche has been meditating.

Finally, after many years of wandering, Chöying Dorje returned to Tsurphu. Once, in 1673 Mahakali appeared to him and in this vision Karmapa noticed signs of his impending death. Then he gave details about his next rebirth to his assistantKuntu Zangpo, Shamar Rinpoche and Gyaltsab Rinpoche.

Chöying Dorje passed away at dawn on the day of the full moon, in the second month of the year of Water Tiger. He was seventy years old. His remains and relics his students placed in a stupa, which was placed in Tsurphu, next to stupas of all other Karmapas.

Between the closest and most significant spiritual sons of Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje were Shamar Yeshe Nyingpo, Gyaltsab Dragpa Choling, Kuntu Zangpo, Situ Mipham Trinley Rabten, Pawo Trinley Gyamtso, Karma Chagme Raga Asi Rinpoche, the great Terton of Nyingma school Jetsun Nyingpo, ruler of Janga Sa-Tham - Karma Tsewang Rinchen, prince Karma Rinchen Phuntsog, Tibetan prime-minister Karma Tenkyong, treasurer Karma Samdrup, Taglung Ngawang Tashi Paldrup, Surmang Garwang Rinchen Nyingpo and Fourth tulku Surmang Trungpa.