The Fifteenth Khakhyab Dorje (1871-1922), took birth in central Tibet in the region of Nyangtod. His parents were accomplished practitioners, living in accord with the ten principles of virtuous conduct. Several great masters experienced visions pointing to Khakhyab Dorje as the incarnation of Karmapa. In particular, the goddess Palden Lhamo appeared to Migyur Wangyal, head of the Drukpa Kagyu school, and showed him the region, house, family, and child clearly revealed in her hand-held mirror. At her urging, he proceeded to Nyangtod and identified the child. Although, for the sake of the child's well-being, Migyur Wangyal temporarily set a seal of secrecy upon his identity, Karmapa's fame spread so quickly that he was soon visited by a constant stream of human and celestial visitors.
At the age of six, Khakhyab Dorje proceeded to Tsurphu, where he was enthroned with great ceremony. Without the benefit of any teaching, he displayed a profound understanding of countless subjects. An atmosphere of miracles surrounded him, and on many occasion the sky filled with displays of rainbows and rolling peals of thunder. Once, he was asked to consecrate a temple in the faraway region of Litang. Though unable to go in person, he drew an image of the place on paper and playfully poured scented rice on it at the appointed time. In the same moment in Litang, white clouds gathered in the sky, pouring down a rain of scented rice grains that blessed the temple inside and out.
Khakhyab Dorje traveled to Palpung Monastery in eastern Tibet to receive the transmission of the lineage at the feet of his supreme master, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye. While at Palpung, Karmapa recognized the birthplace of the Eleventh Tai Situ Rinpoche in a vision. He quickly drew the layout of the particular valley, the form of the mountain opposite, the river and its bridges, and the appearance of the house, including the location of all its windows and doors. Guided by the drawing, the search party found the child without difficulty. Khakhyab Dorje enthroned the young Tai Situpa and personally supervised all the details of his education and care. Afterwards, Khakhyab Dorje went into retreat at Tsari, a sacred place marked by a naturally formed image of the deity Khorlo Dechog. There, he demonstrated the ability to pass unobstructed through the solid rock of the mountain, and other displays of the interpenetration of mind and matter confirmed his mastery over the four elements.
In 1898, Karmapa undertook the long journey to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, where he bestowed the transmission of Mahamudra upon the King and many devoted followers. During the last ten years of his life, the Karmapa remained in strict retreat, in intensive meditation without interruption. At the age of fifty-two, he entrusted to his personal attendant the sacred prediction letter describing the circumstances of his next incarnation. Then, he assumed the vajra meditation posture and passed away to the sphere of peace and clear light without center or boundary, the dharmakaya body of the ultimate nature.