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.
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.