Mikyö Dorje was born in Satam, Kham. According to the legend, he said after being born: "I am Karmapa." and was recognized by Tai Situpa. In this case there was another child from Amdo who also claimed to be Karmapa. Gyaltsab Rinpoche, the regent of the region, thought of a test to decide who was the real Karmapa. This was the first time that a test was used to determine a reincarnation. Later this became the standard method for all major lamas.
Mikyö Dorje left many Buddhist writings and introduced guru-yoga. He was also a skillful painter and metal craftsman. He was invited by the emperor of China, however he said that the emperor would die before he could get to him; and according to the legend it happened as well.