HH 17th Karmapa
Traditionally, the Karmapas are said to recognise themselves in each incarnation. Following the tradition of many centuries, the child was tested and formally recognised by the highest lama in the Karma Kagyu after the lineage head himself, the 14th Shamar Rinpoche, and given the name Trinley Thaye Dorje, meaning Limitless Unchanging Buddha Activity.
Having escaped from Chinese-controlled Tibet in 1994, His Holiness Karmapa has lived in New Delhi and Kalimpong for many years. He travels extensively throughout India, attending significant events such as the Kagyu Mönlam in Bodh Gaya each year, teaching and granting empowerments to students.
In 1997, H.H. the 17th Karmapa Trinley Thaye Dorje was officially invited to Bhutan for the cremation ceremony of Topga Rinpoche where he was received with full honors. A three-hour drive from the Bhutanese border to the capital Thimpu took seven hours as thousands of well-wishers greeted him along the road. On October 17th 1997, three thousand people came for his blessing and the whole royal family including the king and four queens received him as the 17th Karmapa.
In October 1999, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa embarked on his first international teaching tour and gave initiations to several thousand people in Singapore and Taiwan. The beginning of the new millennium was marked by his historic first visit to the West. In Dusseldorf, Germany, Karmapa was enthusiastically received by 6,000 students from several hundred Diamond Way Buddhist centers from over 30 countries.
In the summer of 2003, H.H. the 17th Karmapa conducted his first official program in the United States, giving a series of empowerments and teachings. On July 19th and 20th 2003, he gave the Karma Pakshi and Medicine Buddha empowerments in San Francisco, California. The event was hosted by the Diamond Way Buddhist Centers, USA.
His formal education was completed in 2003, at which time he received the title of Vajracharya, or Great Tantric Master.
His Holiness Karmapa has the spiritual responsibility for over 900 monasteries and meditation centres worldwide, including the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute (KIBI), which runs courses in Buddhist higher education.