Through the power of great compassion for all begins suffering in this degenerate time, Yeshe Dorje (1676-1702) took rebirth when the transmission of the teachings on ultimate liberation had been suppressed and diminished. Rainbow-colored lights filled the sky to announce his birth into a noble family in Meshuk, in eastern Tibet. The young Karmapa inspired the people around him with detailed accounts of visions of deities and by demonstrating knowledge of past, present, and future events. His numerous accomplishments led the great terton, Migyur Dorje, to proclaim, "The Dharma Lord of humans and nonhumans alike, Karmapa, the Supreme Emanation, has been born!" The proclamation spread in all directions, and the preeminent lamas of the Kagyu lineage compared the prediction letter written by Choying Dorje with the circumstances of the child's birth. After finding every point in agreement, they escorted Yeshe Dorje to Tsurphu Monastery.
Throughout his long journey, Yeshe Dorje bestowed blessings on the crowds of lamas, disciples, and people of valley and steppe who thronged the route to catch sight of him. Upon his arrival at Tsurphu, he ascended the Great Lion Throne, and donned the bejeweled, azure-blue, vajra crown of the Great Lord of the Doctrine of the Lineage of the Essential Meaning. The community of monks then performed elaborate ceremonies to invoke auspicious conditions for the future of the Dharma. The supreme masters of the lineage came to Tsurphu to bestow on him the Mahamudra, Six Yogas of Naropa, and many other transmissions of his own tradition, as well as those of the great tertons Migyur Dorje and Taksham Nuden Dorje. Karmapa brought all of these transmitted methods to perfection.
During the life of the previous Karmapa, many Kagyu monasteries had suffered great damage at the hands of the Mongol chieftains. Yeshe Dorje restored Tsurphu, adding many new images and shrines. Through his teaching and miraculous power, he rekindled the lamp of the doctrine and became the object of veneration for scholars and masters everywhere. When the supreme ruler of Tibet, the Fifth Dalai Lama, passed away, the regent who assumed authority appointed Treho Rinpoche, an important personal assistant of the Dalai Lama, to serve as chief lama of the state monasteries. Treho Rinpoche came to Tsurphu to ask the Karmapa for instruction. He soon became Yeshe Dorje's disciple and helped in many ways to heal the divisions that had arisen among the various schools.
Yeshe Dorje demonstrated the accomplishment of enlightenment in astonishing ways. Sometimes he manifested to several students at the same time in different locations. He used blessed water to restore sight to a famous lama of Tingri, who was blind in both eyes. Through his omniscience, he located the reincarnations of the masters of the Kagyu lineage in many different parts of Tibet and Nepal. After entrusting his close students with the sacred letter predicting his next incarnation, Karmapa Yeshe Dorje passed away at the age of twenty-six.