Five Things You Might Not Know about Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is an esoteric religion with secret teachings, empowerments, and symbolic meanings. Even though Tibetan Buddhism is spreading to the West, and now there are so many teachers and great monasteries outside of Asia, for many people Tibetan Buddhism is still highly incomprehensible.
Tibetan Buddhism is not easy, and it takes years or sometimes lifetimes to fully understand what it is about. In this article, we will explore five things you might not know about Tibetan Buddhism.
Elderly Tibetans are the most active in their faith and practice.
As Tibetans age, the reality that their life is coming to an end motivates them to get rid of bad karma to improve their standing in their next life. Younger Tibetan Buddhists go to temples to make merit for their next life, but they often lack the urgency of their need to tip the good karma scale.
Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism the same thing.
Tibetan and Vajrayana Buddhism are both following Mahayana tradition. But most of Vajrayana is not Tibetan. Most of Tibetan Buddhism is not Vajrayana.
Vajrayana is the prestige teaching within Tibetan Buddhism. There are several countries (China, Japan, Cambodia) where Vajrayana Buddhism is not Tibetan.
Vajrayana is a form of Tantric Buddhism that developed in India and neighbouring countries, notably Tibet. Vajrayana, in the history of Buddhism, marks the transition from Mahayana speculative thought to the enactment of Buddhist ideas in individual life.
There are different schools of Tibetan Buddhists, and the Dalai Lama is the head of only one of them.
There four main school of Tibetan Buddhism: The Nyingma school, The Kagyu School, The Sakyapa school, The Gelugpa school - Its tradition is headed by the Dalai Lama.
To be a Tibetan is to be a Buddhist
Tibetans often say, “To be a Tibetan is to be a Tibetan Buddhist.” Buddhist traditions are intertwined in festivals, cultural mores, family life, holidays, births, deaths, and people’s motivations. Nearly 97 percent of Tibetans are Buddhist, which means they need someone to bring them the good news of everlasting peace and the message that their sins are forgiven apart from any good works.
Tibet's monasteries are also schools for monks.
Tibetan monasteries are not only for prayers and meditations, but are also complex social institutions, functioning as schools, libraries, medical clinics, and so on. In Tibet's history, monasteries also functioned as local government buildings. Often the children in the monasteries are orphans or from really poor families. The families would give their child away for several years, because they know the monastery will take a great care of their children, their will be fed, have place to sleep, friends and education.