The young Karma Pakshi assimilated the deepest teachings effortlessly and required only one reading of a text to be familiar with it. He was already enlightened. Nevertheless, Pomdrakpa made a point of formally passing on all the teachings through the traditional empowerments, so that the stream of the empowerment lineage would be unbroken. This has been the case ever since: despite their innate clarity, young Karmapas receive all the transmissions formally.
The second Karmapa spent much of the first half of his life in meditation retreat. He also visited and restored the monasteries established by the first Karmapa and is famous for having introduced to the Tibetan people communal chanting of the OM MANI PADME HUNG mantra of compassion.
Each attempt to capture, or even kill, the Karmapa was thwarted by the latter's miracles. At one point the Karmapa 'froze' a battalion of 37,000 soldiers on the spot, by using the power of mudra, yet all the time showing compassion. He eventually let himself be captured and put in exile, knowing that his miracles and compassion would eventually lead to Kublai Khan having a change of heart--which did in fact happen. Returning to Tibet towards the end of his life, he had an enormous (sixteen-meter) statue of the Buddha built at Tsurphu, to fulfill a dream he had had long before. The finished work was slightly tilted and Karma Pakshi straightened it by sitting first in the same tilted posture as the statue and then righting himself. The statue moved as he moved. Before dying, he told his main disciple, Urgyenpa, details concerning the next Karmapa's birth.
Text reprinted with permission of Altea Publishing from Karmapa, by Ken Holmes. Copyright 1995 by Altea Publishing.