This is the masterful portrait of the late 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the great Tibetan Buddhist master known as the Black Hat Lama. The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, one of the four great lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. His line of successive reincarnations has its origins in the 13th century when it was the first to identify tulkus, reincarnations of Buddhist teachers. He is recognized as the embodiment of the teachings of his lineage, one that traces its source from teacher to disciple through Tibet‘s great teachers Milarepa and Marpa to India‘s Naropa and Tilopa all the way back to the Shakyamuni Buddha.
Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, was born in Tibet in 1924. During the 1959 invasion by the People‘s Republic of China, the Karmapa left Tibet and settled in Rumtek, Sikkim, India. The construction of his new Rumtek monastery was completed in 1966.
In 1974, the Karmapa set out on his first world tour; he undertook a second tour in 1977. While traveling in 1981, he died in Zion, Illinois, north of Chicago. He was returned to Rumtek for cremation.
The film journeys with him in North America where he visited the Hopi Nation, offered teachings and performed the Black Crown Ceremony (Vajra Makut), enjoyed everything from zoos to video arcades, and initiated the construction of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, New York, the seat of his lineage in North America. His cremation in Rumtek is vividly documented.
The narration script was written by the late Rick Fields, the well-known author of How the Swans Came to the Lake and a founding editor of Tricycle and The Vajradhatu Sun.
Features rare interviews with renowned Tibetan Buddhist lamas Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Filmed on location in Sikkim and North America, with archival footage from France