Chödrak Gyatso was born in Chida in the north of Tibet. According to the legend, he said at the age of five months: "There is nothing on this world, except for emptiness." He was recognized as Karmapa at the age of nine months.
He spent a large part of his life protecting animals and teaching people to give up hunting and fishing. His main activities were to prevent and solve conflicts between the tribes and building bridges and roads to connect the different areas. The best medicine against all problems and conflicts was saying "Om mani padme hum" one million times. Chödrak send a lot of gold to India to enable the gilding of the statue of the Gautama Buddha near Bodhgaya.
According to Karma phrin las, Dri lan yid, 91-92, his teacher, Chödrak Gyatso, the Seventh Karmapa, interpreted the nature of Zhentong (gzhan stong) accepted by the Third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje who, in turn, had probably influenced, and been influenced by, the great Zhentong master, Dolpopa.
He was also an accomplished scholar, most famous for authoring the Ocean Of Logic, which is considered the most important text on pramana in the Kagyu tradition. He also authored an important commentary on Asanga's Abhisamayalamkara called The Lamp Of The Three Worlds.