Tibetan Buddhism

I was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism through the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Tibetan Buddhism, sometimes referred to as Lamaism, is the form of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan region beginning in the 7th century CE.

Tibetan Buddhism incorporates Madhyamika and Yogacara philosophy, Tantric symbolic rituals, Theravadin monastic discipline and the shamanistic features of the indigenous religion, Bön.

Among its most unique characteristics are its system of reincarnating lamas and the vast number of deities in its pantheon.

Buddhist Sacred Texts

Between the 11th and 14th centuries, the Tibetans translated every available Buddhist text into Tibetan. Today, many Buddhist works that have been lost in their original Sanskrit survive only in Tibetan translation.

Distinctive Beliefs of Tibetan Buddhism

In common with Mahayana schools, Tibetan Buddhism includes a pantheon of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors. Arya-bodhisattvas are able to escape the cycle of death and rebirth but compassionately choose to remain in this world to assist others in reaching nirvana or buddhahood.

Dharma protectors are mythic figures incorporated into Tibetan Buddhism from various sources (including the native Bön religion, and Hinduism) who are pledged to protecting and upholding the Dharma. Many of the specific figures are unique to Tibet.

Four Schools of Tibetan Buddhism

There are four principal schools within modern Tibetan Buddhism:

  1. Gelug (Geluk, “School of the Virtuous”), also called the Yellow Hats, is the youngest of the Tibetan schools, but is today the largest and the most important.
  2. Kagyü (“Oral Transmission School”;) is the third largest school of Tibetan Buddhism. Its teachings were brought to Tibet by Marpa the Translator, an 11th century Tibetan householder who traveled to India to study under the master yogin Naropa and gather Buddhist scriptures.
  3. Nyingma (“School of the Ancients”) is the oldest of the Tibetan Buddhist schools and the second largest after Geluk. The Nyingma school is based primarily on the teachings of Padmasambhava, who is revered by the Nyingma school as the “second Buddha.”
  4. Sakya is today the smallest of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It is named for the Sakya (“Gray Earth”) monastery in southern Tibet. The abbots were devoted to the transmission of a cycle of Vajrayana teachings called “path and goal” (Lamdre), the systemization of Tantric teachings, and Buddhist logic.

Buddhism

Buddhism

The teachings in Buddhism of Lord Buddha have been a part of my life for many years going back to when I studied for a Bachelor of Theology at McGill University in the Faculty of Religious Studies in the 70’s.

Tibetan Buddhism – Trungpa Rinpoche

Buddhist practice influences my daily life. I was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism through the teachings of Trungpa Rinpoche in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Pure Land Buddhism

I was introduced to the Pure Land Buddhist Mahayana traditions of China. Pure Land Buddhism is a branch of Buddhism focused on Amitābha “The Buddha of Infinite Light.” Kuan Shih Yin / Guanyin is part of my daily practice.

Buddhist Teachings

The basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

Buddhism is a religion, or philosophy, that originated in India based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama an Indian prince who became who the Buddha. The word Buddha is derived from ‘budhi’ or to ‘awaken’. Siddhartha awakened when he 35 years old.

To many people, Buddhism goes beyond religion and is more of a philosophy or ‘way of life’. It is a philosophy because philosophy ‘means love of wisdom’ and the Buddhist path can be summed up as:

  1. to lead a moral life,
  2. to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and
  3. to develop wisdom and understanding.

Schools of Buddhism

Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and practices. Generally speaking Buddhists usually classify themselves as belonging to one of two schools of Buddhism namely Theravada or Mahayana. Although some say that there are three schools Theravada, Mahayana, and Tibetan Buddhism.

Buddhist Resources

You can find a growing list of Buddhist resources to help you explore Buddhism.

Points of Reference