Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism is a distinct form of Buddhism that emerged from the 7th to 10th centuries CE.  Initially transmitted from India, the Tibetan version incorporates several aspects from various religious traditions including the ritual practices of Vajrayana Buddhism, the monastic disciplines of Theravada Buddhism, as well as aspects of the Tibetan indigenous religion called Bon. Tibetan Buddhism is based on both the Madhyamika and Yogacara philosophical schools,  which emphasizes rigorous intellectual discipline, logic, and meditation. Tibetan Buddhism is considered by many to be the most scholastic branch of Buddhism. By the 14th century, monks had translated all of the Buddhist texts into Tibetan. Besides the traditional Buddhist texts, the Tibetan Buddhist canon also consists of hundreds of volumes from various sects within Tibetan Buddhism, including many that are considered Tantric texts.  Perhaps the well known of these texts is the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead).  Tibetan Buddhism is characterized by its doctrine of the "reincarnating lamas" - lamas (the word is the Tibetan translation of guru) are spiritual and political leaders.  The most well known of Tibet's lamas is the Dalai Lama, who is believed to be the special incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the all-seeing bodhisattva who, in the form of the Dalai Lama, protects and works for the liberation of the Tibetan people.  The Tibetan Buddhist pantheon of bodhisattvas, buddhas, and other semi-divine figures is vast and complex; practitioners worship and interact with these figures through a variety of complex ritual practices that include various forms of meditation, recitations of mantras, contemplation of mandalas, prostrations, offerings, and prayer.


Quick Facts

Formed 650
Adherents 6,000,000
Deity Buddhist pantheon
Sacred Text Tantras, Tibetan Book of the Dead, Life of Milarepa
Origin Tibet
Headquarters Lhasa, Tibet (Dharamsala, India in exile)
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