What is the history of Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism explained simply

Tibetan Buddhism simply explained - actually hardly possible, because Tibetan Buddhism is very complex in many ways. Nevertheless we dare to try a simple explanation. Just as there are different schools / directions in the other main religions, they also exist in Buddhism - we know Zen Buddhism, which differs from Buddhism as it is practiced in Thailand or Sri Lanka, and Tibetan Buddhism is currently in us West known by prominent followers such as Richard Gere and of course the most important leading figure in Tibetan Buddhism, HH the 14th Dalai Lama.

The beginnings



[/ one_half] [one_half_last] The history of Tibetan Buddhism goes back to the 7th century. to the time of the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, who united Tibet and married two Buddhist women - Princess Bhrikuti from Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng from China. Buddhism began to gain a foothold in Tibet under him, even if there were few Buddhists at the time and their temples looked like simple chapels. At that time, most of the Tibetans were followers of an animitic-shamanistic religion or the Bon tradition.

According to Songtsen Gampo, King Trisong Detsen invited the Buddhist monk Shantarakshita and the yogi Padmasambhava to strengthen Buddhism. But it was difficult to convince the people of Tibet to turn their backs on the Bon religion. Also, because of spiritual obstacles, he could not build monasteries. This is where Padmasambhava came into play, who removed these obstacles by destroying local demons or converting them to Buddhism (according to legend). In doing so, he also laid the foundation for the tantric tradition in Tibetan Buddhism: Factors in our life that are apparently negative can also bring us forward on our spiritual journey - they do not have to be subjugated or destroyed, but can be integrated into our path. [/ one_half_last]

Practices and Beliefs

Although Buddhism is commonly referred to as a religion, Buddha is not viewed as either a god or a supernatural being. Rather, he is a person who has managed to recognize the truth and thus to attain enlightenment. Enlightenment is not understood to be a transcendent concept outside of our world, but the realization that beneath our ignorance there is bliss.

The 4 main schools of Tibetan Buddhism (more on this below) emphasize the importance of the three turns of the wheel of teaching. The Dharma (= the teaching) refers to the teaching of the Buddha, which he passed on after his enlightenment, while the three rotations refer to the phases of the Buddhist traditions in the course of history. The first turn is usually referred to as "Hinayana" or "small vehicle": In this tradition, the main focus is on taming one's own mind. This school is often called Theravada and is practiced mainly in Burma and Thailand. Later, the "Mahayana" tradition or the "great vehicle" has evolved which focuses more on the practice of compassion for the benefit of all beings. Zen and Tibetan Buddhism are in this tradition.

What is special about Tibetan Buddhism, however, is the third turning of the wheel of teaching: the “Vajrayana” or “indestructible vehicle”. The teachings of Vajrayana are only taught by a special teacher, because these practices are secret and are only passed on to those people who have been appropriately prepared. The Vajrayana practices are tantric teachings and begin with so-called "ngondro" practices, which include prostration, mantra recitations, mandala formations and visualizations. This is followed by “Sadhana”, a longer practice that goes even deeper into the tantric teaching. The tantric path is often referred to as expedient because one is meditating on the challenging aspects of life in one's meditations, making them an important part of one's spiritual path to enlightenment.

The 4 schools of Tibetan Buddhism

Of course, all Tibetan schools trace their roots back to Buddha himself, but all of them have their own specific story. The Nyingma School is the first school of Tibetan Buddhism founded by followers of Padmasambhava. “Nyingma” can be translated as “old”.
The Nyingma school is a yogi-like tradition that consists of loose structures of teachers and followers - in contrast to the monastic systems that emerged later. A specialty of the Nyingma are the "hidden treasures" or "terma". Padmasambhava and his closest disciples hid hundreds of texts, ritual objects and relics in secret places to protect the teachings of Buddhism from destruction by those hostile to Buddhism.

The Kagyu school traces its origin back to the Indian yogi Tilopa (988-1069). Like many other important figures of the Kagyu, he had a difficult life, during the day he stamped sesame seeds into oil and in the evening he led suitors to the prostitute Dharima, who is considered to be an important pioneer in his life. He was an ardent practitioner who found the path to enlightenment. Tilopa developed a system of meditation known as "Mahamudra" or "great seal", which he passed on to his disciple Naropa. Marpa, a heavy drinker from Tibet, came to study with Naropa and brought the teachings to Tibet. Marpa became known as the Great Translator for translating these teachings into Tibetan. Milarepa, one of the greatest sages of Tibet, was Marpa's disciple.

The Indian teacher Virupa is often cited as the founder of the Sakya School, whose teachings were passed on to the Tibetan Drokmi Lotsawa Shakya Yeshe (992-1072) when he traveled to India. Drokmi Lotsawa passed his duties on to Khon Konchok Gyalpo, who built a monastery out of gray earth. Hence the name of the school "Sakya" = "gray earth".



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The most important school today is the newest tradition: The Gelugpas, whose most important personality is HH the Dalai Lama. Tsongkhapa is considered to be the founder of the school. founded the Ganden Monastery in Tibet. One of Tsongkhapa's disciples later became the 1st Dalai Lama. The Gelug School is also known as the “School of the Virtuous” because it has very strict rules and emphasizes monastic discipline and celibacy. Tsongkhapa summarized the Mahayana teachings of the philosophers Nagarjuna, Asanga and Dignaga in his work Lam-rin chen-mo (“Great Explanation of the Step Path”) together. The “Lamrim stepped path to enlightenment” is the basis of the path of enlightenment taught by the Gelugpa to this day. [/ One_half_last]



Tibetan Buddhism is practiced today in India in Ladakh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and in regions of the exile communities in India (e.g. Karnataka, Bihar, Orissa, Asssam), Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet. With the exception of Nepal and Tibet, we also travel everywhere, often with a focus on Tibetan Buddhism.

Daniela Luschin-Wangail2020-10-22T08: 32: 36 + 02: 00