The Kagyu Lineage was brought from India by Marpa in the 10th century and continued through the activities of his principal student Milarepa, the great yogi. Milarepa’s main student, Gampopa, passed the lineage on to many students, the foremost being Düsum Khyenpa, the 1st Karmapa. The lineage of Karmapas, successive reincarnations of Düsum Khyenpa, protected and expanded these teachings in an unbroken line down to His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje.
Tibetan Buddhism, and particularly the Kagyu Lineage, is built on the foundation of the Hinayana, the first turning of the wheel of Dharma, and the renunciation of samsara. Based upon that, and seeing the suffering of all sentient beings, it includes many skillful means to alleviate that suffering, both for oneself and for others, which is the Mahayana, the second turning of the wheel of Dharma. Finally, the ultimate path taught in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is the Vajrayana, the diamond-like vehicle, which teaches the methods for attaining liberation in this very lifetime through directly seeing the nature of mind.
Through the blessings and teachings of the Kagyu forefathers, this lineage has both an extremely powerful monastic and lay tradition. From this point of view and practice, disciples can apply their discipline to all aspects of life, whether in a monastery or driving to work.