Masters of esoteric knowledge and miraculous practices, the lineage of the Karmapas is the earliest of all the recognized incarnate lineages and is said to descend from the great Indian tantric master Tilopa through a chain that includes Naropa, Marpa, and Milarepa. The Karmapas are distinguished by their black crowns, said to have been woven by dakinis and symbolizing the activity of the buddhas. Unlike other Tibetan Buddhist lineage heads, each Karmapa has specific knowledge of his next reincarnation and leaves behind a "Last Testament," a letter to his disciples describing the place and circumstances of their future rebirth, the name of their parents, and so on. At a very young age, each successive incarnation is often able to recognize himself as the Karmapa. In their recounting of the histories of the seventeen Karmapas, the authors reveal the universal and marvelous concealed in the everyday world. Their lively account peppered with anecdotes is the most comprehensive in the West on this subject, with information from Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian, French, and English sources.
"An unprecedented work, the most complete on the subject in the West. It offers a rich, lively reading on many levels: spiritual, historic, and societal, and contains numerous anecdotes and information drawn from Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian, French, and English sources." —Université Bouddhique Européenne
"In their book the authors retrace a very lively portrait of the seventeen Karmapas, a history in which the marvelous is part of daily life." —Le Point Magazine
"Wonderful work and very complete. Each chapter retraces the biographies of the seventeen spiritual leaders who are closely linked to the history of Tibet."—Info-Yoga Magazine
"The Karmapa, one of the highest Tibetan dignitaries, is the only one to be compared with the Dalai Lama. The authors retrace the biographies of the seventeen Karmapas who have shaped Tibetan history since the twelfth century." —Bouddhisme Actualité