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Nyingma monks are not generally required to be celibate. 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. Marpa's most important student was Milarepa, to whom Marpa passed on his teachings only after subjecting him to trials of the utmost difficulty.

In the 12th century, the physician Gampopa synthesized the teachings of Marpa and Milarepa into an independent school. As its name indicates, this school of Tibetan Buddhism places particular value on the transmission of teachings from teacher to disciple. It also stresses the more severe practices of hatha yoga. The central teaching is the "great seal" mahamudra , which is a realization of emptiness, freedom from samsara and the inspearability of these two. The basic practice of mahamudra is "dwelling in peace," and it has thus been called the "Tibetan Zen.

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Sakyapa is today the smallest of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. It is named for the Sakya "Gray Earth" monastery in sourthern Tibet.


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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. The Sakyapa school had great political influence in the 13th and 14th centuries. Gelugpa or Dge-lugs-pa or Gelukpa, "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.

It was founded in the late 14th century by Tsongkhapa, who "enforced strict monastic discipline, restored celibacy and the prohibition of alcohol and meat, established a higher standard of learning for monks, and, while continuing to respect the Vajrayana tradition of esotericism that was prevalent in Tibet, allowed Tantric and magical rites only in moderation. Three large monasteries were quickly established near Lhasa: at Dga'ldan Ganden in , 'Bras-spungs Drepung in , and Se-ra in The abbots of the 'Bras-spungs monastery first received the title Dalai Lama in From to , the Dalai Lama was the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet.

Until the Chinese takeover in , the Dalai Lamas resided in Potala Palace in Lhasa in the winter and in the Norbulingka residence during summer. He and his successors came to be regarded as reincarnations tulkus of the bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteshvara. Ta-le is the Mongolian equivalent of the Tibetan rgya-mtsho, meaning "ocean," and suggests breadth and depth of wisdom.

The title was applied posthumously to the abbot's two predecessors. He established, with the military assistance of the Khoshut Mongols, the supremacy of the Gelugpa sect over rival orders for the temporal rule of Tibet. During his reign the majestic winter palace of the Dalai Lamas, the Potala, was built in Lhasa.


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The sixth Dalai Lama, Jamyang Gyatso — , was a libertine and a writer of romantic verse, not well-suited to his position. He was deposed by the Mongols and died while being taken to China under military escort. The eighth, Jampel Gyatso — , saw his country invaded by Gurkha troops from Nepal but defeated them with the aid of Chinese forces.

The next four Dalai Lamas all died young, and the country was ruled by regents. The 13th Dalai Lama, Tubten Gyatso — , ruled with great personal authority. The successful revolt within China against its ruling Manchu dynasty in gave the Tibetans the opportunity to dispel the disunited Chinese troops, and the Dalai Lama reigned as head of a sovereign state. He was recognized as the incarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama in , enthroned in , and vested with full powers as head of state in He fled to exile in India in , the year of the Tibetan people's unsuccessful revolt against communist Chinese forces that had occupied the country since In he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end Chinese domination of Tibet.

This was quite explicit. Once I was accepted into the monastery I became part of this family and was warmly received and cared for. But I also found myself tied by a strong sense of familial allegiance to which my individual preferences and desires had to be subordinated.

Vajrayana Buddhism

My first duty was neither to myself nor my teacher but to the family. It was never once suggested that I had to devote myself to Kusan Sunim as if he were a buddha. At no point did I have to make an oath of allegiance to him in order to receive instruction. Everyone in Songgwang Sa nonetheless held him in high esteem. I slowly came to realize that what made the affective difference for me was that Korean Son had evolved and was embedded in a Confucian rather than a feudal matrix of values.

The Origins of Buddhism | Asia Society

Confucianism is an ethical and political philosophy based on the principle of maintaining harmony within five core social relationships: between ruler and subject, father and son, brothers, husband and wife, and friends. For harmony to prevail, each person must understand their place in the social order and behave accordingly. In this way, authority and responsibility are more widely distributed throughout society rather than being concentrated in a single figure or elite group. The Tibetan and Japanese traditions, by contrast, evolved and were embedded in a feudal society, where unquestioning loyalty and obedience to the feudal lord were of paramount importance in maintaining social order.

As Buddhism has moved from one culture to another in the course of its history, it has come to adopt the social frameworks of its new hosts. Neither a feudal nor a Confucian model is thus intrinsically more suited to the practice of the dharma. If we go back to the time of the Buddha in 5th-century BCE India, we can see how Gotama sought to found his community on the republican model of society that still prevailed in the Vajjian confederacy of clans rather than adopt the new form of imperial monarchy that was emerging throughout the Eastern Gangetic basin.

The history of Buddhism in India, however, shows that over time it adopted increasingly monarchic and feudal models of organization, particularly as Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of the dharma became more widespread. Instead, he envisaged a community that would be governed by the impersonal law of the teachings he had delivered, just as a republic is ultimately governed by a rule of law rather than any individual ruler.

All that matters is whether, when put into practice, it can effect a real change in the way you live. While the concept of the guru was present in the Upanishads that predated the advent of Buddhism, Gotama rejected it in favor of finding a good friend kalyanamitta , whose role was to help you enter the eightfold path and thereby become independent of others in your practice of the dharma. The student is still required to pass through these Hinayana stages of practice, but for the sole purpose of advancing to the superior Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings that can lead those of great capacity to complete enlightenment in a single lifetime.

And for that, devotion to the guru is indispensable. By the time Buddhism made its way to Tibet in the 8th century CE, it had fully incorporated the guru model of spiritual authority that prevailed in the Indian tradition. As Buddhism further evolved in Tibet, the doctrines and practices of the Vajrayana were merged with feudal structures of power, which together produced the distinctive teachings and institutions of Tibetan Buddhism that we know today.

Coupled with the system of reincarnating tulkus , a spiritual aristocracy emerged whose autocratic rule extended into every valley, village, and town of the land.

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By this time I had disrobed, was married, and lived in an experimental Buddhist community in Britain. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to address issues of ethical misconduct among Buddhist teachers. The Dalai Lama was concerned about the number of letters he had received from Western students who claimed to have been mistreated by Tibetan lamas. In most cases, this had to do with alleged sexual abuse.

One of the teachers mentioned in this regard was Sogyal Rinpoche, who in August was forced to resign as the head of the Rigpa community because of these and other allegations. Although Sogyal had been invited to attend, neither he nor any representatives of Rigpa came to the gathering. Only three other Tibetan lamas were present, none of whom was prominent in the West.

At the beginning of our three days together, the Dalai Lama made the point that it is meaningless to consider anyone a teacher unless they have students. He emphasized how it is thus the student who invests the teacher with authority. For the teacher then to use that authority to take advantage of the student for his own personal ends constitutes a profound betrayal of the trust invested in him.

In the Vajrayana, where you are required to devote yourself completely to the guru, the degree of vulnerability on the part of the student and potential for abuse on the part of the teacher are ratcheted up considerably. Since you have vowed not to criticize the guru and have been instructed to regard whatever he says or does as the enlightened activity of a buddha, there is nothing, in principle, that he could not ask of you.

Should the de-exoticizing of Tibetans in the comic serial be interpreted as progress?

Tibetian Tantric Masters [3]

Is the ease with which revered Buddhist practices are mocked an indication that we are eliminating much of the humanity remaining in our culture, including that of the Americans with hopes, fears, and evolving worldviews interested in the religions of other persons with hopes, fears, and evolving worldviews? You can also find the lengthier article here. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you.

I asked these questions to my students. Here are some of their responses :. Cami Carlomagno wrote: "The evolution of Doctor Strange represents the evolution of a growing disenchantment in American culture, which over-emphasizes the importance of secular-scientific knowledge at the expense of knowledge passed down through other cultures. Kathlyn Avery commented: "What makes Dr. Strange so strange is not his mystical powers or the unique origin story, but rather the cultural appropriation that came with his creation. Instead, Dr. Strange meditates, and practices occult magic he has learned from the Ancient One.

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Though the creation of Dr. Strange and the Ancient One allowed Americans to find religious meaning in a different culture, it also perpetuated a stereotypical view of Tibet. Jayden Barrington added: "With Orientalism at its foundation, Doctor Strange comics liberally combined multiple Asian cultures to entice a larger audience of curious youth. Though the presentation was far from ideal, the comic succeeded in exposing readers to systems that differed from capitalistic, secular materialist systems.

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