The Karma Kagyu lineage is headed by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
The Kagyu Lineage is one of the four main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, of which the Karma Kagyu is the largest of 8 Kagyu sub-schools. As with all Tibetan Buddhist schools, the Kagyu school teaches all three levels of the Buddha's teaching: Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana.
Its speciality lies in the profound meditation techniques of mahamudra and special tantric practices called the "six yogas of Naropa" that are used to speed up realisation of the true nature of mind. These profound teachings were gathered by an illustrious line of Indian patriarchs, including the great 11th century master Tilopa, who was the one responsible for integrating the mahamudra teachings with the tantric practices.
Through continuous transmission from realised master to gifted disciple 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.