Although Buddhism was not introduced into Tibet until the
Seventh Century C.E., the people of Tibet understand all of their history
from a distinctively Buddhist perspective. In fact, Tibetan Buddhism
teaches that the people of Tibet are actually the offspring of the
bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara. Moreover, the time before
the arrival of Buddhism is known as the time of preparation. During this
time of preparation, the kings and people of Tibet were adherents of Bon
(pronounced “pern”) “which at that time was not an organized religion, but
rather a vaguely defined collection of shamanistic and animistic practices”
(124). By the sixth century CE, Tibet had evolved into a sizeable empire.
This expansion brought Tibet into contact with Buddhism and set the stage
the arrival and eventual triumph of Buddhism in Tibet. Although there were
periods of persecution, especially in the Tenth Century, a distinctive form
of Tibetan Buddhism emerged by the 13th century. This distinctive
Buddhism was called "vajrayana:" the way of the diamond thunderbolt.
The Buddhism that evolved in Tibet recognized different
levels of teaching and practice. The first level, “hinayana” focuses on
quieting the mind and turning negative emotions into positive energy. The
second state, “Mahayana” centers on the development of compassion. The
highest stage is known as vajrayana. At this highest stage, individuals
harness all of the energies of body, mind and spirit to achieve
enlightenment within a single life time.
In fact, when guided by a
spiritual leader (lama) by using the techniques described in the
tantras (literally, "instructions", Tibetan scriptures) one can achieve
enlightenment in 3 years and 3 months. Thus, rather than simply quieting the mind in meditation, vajrayana ritual focuses on
action, sound, sight and movement.
In particular, it makes use of: mantras (chants),
mudras (hand gestures) and mandalas (icons).
A unique feature of meditation in Vajrayana Buddhism
is deity visualization. in which the individual visualizes the deities and seek to merge
experientially with them. In other words, they not only visualize
deities/bodhisattvas, they imagine themselves becoming that deity. Such
Also notable among Tibetan/Vajrayana Buddhism is the
Dalai Lama. In Tibetan Buddhism, the spiritual leader was thought
to have the power to choose his reincarnation. The most important of the
spiritual leaders who chooses to reincarnate himself is the Dalai Lama.
Literally, Dalai Lama means "teacher of the ocean of wisdom." The Dalai
Lama, however is more than just a spiritual leader who chooses to return
for the sake of his follower; he is also the embodiment of the Buddha of
Dalai Lama is believed to have incarnated himself 14 times.
More about Tibetan Buddhism