The Fourteenth Karmapa
Thekchok Dorje (1798 – 1868)
Theckchok Dorje was born in
the village of Danang in the Kham region of eastern Tibet. He was born in
mid-winter, and the histories say that flowers spontaneously blossomed and
many rainbows appeared. The baby recited the Sanskrit alphabet.
He was recognized by
Drukchen Kunzig Chokyi Nangwa, the holder of the thirteenth Karmapa's letter
giving the details of his forthcoming reincarnation. He was enthroned and
later ordained by the ninth Tai Situpa. The Karmapa received teachings and
the lineage transmissions from Situ Pema Nyinche Wangpo and Drukchen Kunzig
Theckchok Dorje lived very
simply and exemplified the ideal monk. He was gifted in poetry and
dialectics and participated in the ri-me (non-sectarian) movement, whereby
many noted scholars showed great interest in each others' traditions and
teachings. This exchange was particularly intense between the Kagyu and
Nyingma traditions, with the Karmapa passing on teachings to Jamgon Kongtrul
Thekchok Dorje received
some tantras from the Nyingma visionary treasure-revealer Chogyur Lingpa and
those rituals were subsequently introduced into the Tsurphu calendar.
Chogyur Lingpa had
important visions of future Karmapas, up to the twenty-first. These were
noted down and memorialized in a thangka, a Tibetan form of sacred painting.
The fourteenth Karmapa's spiritual heir was the great ri-mé (nonsectarian)
master and prolific author, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.
Thekchok Dorje taught
widely in Tibet and recognized the tenth Situpa, Pema Kunzang. Thekchok
Dorje passed into parinirvana at the age of 71, leaving detailed
instructions on his next incarnation.