the time this happened, Buddhism had already spread far beyond India to
many lands, including to Tibet. A gifted and determined Tibetan named
Marpa Lotsawa wanted to obtain further instruction from Indian masters
known to have received pure and direct transmission of the Buddha's
teachings. So, during the 11th century, he made the long and perilous
journey from Tibet to India three times over the course of his life.
Receiving teachings from several enlightened masters, among them
Naropa, Marpa then returned to Tibet, bringing the precious teachings
with him. Once home, he translated them into Tibetan, practiced and
taught them to others, and through this process laid the foundations of
the Kagyu Lineage.
Marpa, now called 'Marpa the Translator' because of his great work in translating the Buddha's teachings into Tibetan, gave the entire body of teachings to his chief disciple, the famous Tibetan yogi and poet, Milarepa. Milarepa in turn passed them on to the yogi, Rechungpa, and the monk, Gampopa.
was Gampopa who, during the 12th century,founded the first monastery
that laid down the monastic tradition of the Kagyu Lineage. He then
passed the teachings on to the first Karmapa, Dusum Chenpa. Since that
time, the teachings have passed in an unbroken line through successive
incarnations of the Karmapa, and now continue with the present
incarnation, His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ugyen Drodul
It is through this continuous transmission from realised master to gifted disciple that the teachings of the Kagyu Lineage have remained pure and undiluted to this day, and because of this tradition of orally transmitted teachings and emphasis on meditation practice, the Kagyu Lineage is also known as the 'Practice Lineage'.
In 1959, the seeds of Tibetan Buddhism spread all around the world as many teachers, masters and practitioners fled as refugees in the wake of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. The Kagyu Lineage established centres in many countries, including Kagyu Samye Ling, the first major centre of Tibetan Buddhism in Europe.