The central teaching of the Karma Kagyu is the doctrine of Mahamudra, also known as the "Great Seal". This doctrine focuses on four principal stages of meditative practice (the Four Yogas of Mahamudra):
It is through these four stages of development that the practitioner is said to attain the perfect realization of Mahamudra. Mahamudra is practiced both independently and as the completion stage of Vajrayana practice.
Within the Karma Kagyu, meditative practice is almost invariably presented in a progressive manner. Early practice includes Shamatha meditation (calm abiding; single-pointedness), introduction to Buddhist history and philosophy, and initiation into the lower Tantras - classically across the Yidams (deities) Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan Chenrezik), Tara and Amitabha Buddha. This is followed by Ngondro (the practice of the Four Extraordinary Foundations) and Vipassana meditation. During the traditional three-year retreat, retreatants usually focus their practice on the Six Yogas of Naropa. At the Anuttarayogatantra level of practice, the principal Yidams of the lineage are Vajrayogini, Hevajra and Chakrasamvara.
While one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Karma Kagyu is its emphasis on meditative practice, all forms and levels of Buddhist history and philosophy are also taught, most notably the Shentong branch of Madhyamaka philosophy.
At the next level of precedence, all Kagyu Lamas who have been accorded by His Holiness the title Rinpoche (Lit: precious one) are highly regarded as trustworthy teachers. Those who hold the Khenpo degree have completed the equivalent of a doctorate in Buddhist studies. There are (both currently and historically) many female Kagyu Lamas. Probably the most well-known active female Kagyu Lama in the West is Ani Pema Chödrön.
Group Loses Legal Bid to Retain Control Over Disputed Monastic Seat of the Karmapas; Indian Supreme Court Rejects Claim of Tsurphu Labrang, Clearing the Way for the Karmapa Charitable Trust to Regain Control of Rumtek Monastery.
Jul 21, 2004; Byline: International Karma Kagyo Buddhist Organization NEW DELHI, India, July 21 (AScribe Newswire) -- Today, the International...