Tibetan Buddhism
  Temple & Lama
  Prayer Flag


Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism derives from the confluence of Buddhism and yoga which started to arrive in Tibet from India briefly around the late eighth century and then more steadily from the thirteenth century onwards. Indian Buddhism around that time had incorporated both Hindu yogic and tantric practices along with the classical teachings of the historical Buddha who lived around 500 BC. It acknowledged that there were two paths to enlightenment ( complete transcendence of identification with the personal ego ). One path was that taught in the sutras according to the historical teachings. The heart of sutra practice was based on morality, concentration, and wisdom ( not identifying with the personal ego ).
The other path, which has become the cornerstone of Tibetan variations, was tantric.

This practice blended the sutra teachings with techniques adapted from Hindu systems of yoga and tantra.

Tantric systems transform the basic human passions of desire and aversion for the purpose of spiritual development. Rather than denying such primal urges, tantra purifies them into wholesome and helpful forces. It is very much like trying to deal with a wild horse charging towards you. One way is denial: put up your hands and shout out, "stop, stop!" Probably you will be bowled over by the animal. Another, more clever, approach is to step aside and then jump on its back as it charges past you. In such a case, you have a chance to start coaxing it to move in certain directions, and over time you may be able to direct it into a stable. Truthfully, one needs some skill in both self-control and acceptance if one is to be successful with tantric work.

Tibetan Tantra ( also known as the Vajrayana ) incorporates the major aspects of both the Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhist teachings. It is basically an esoteric extension on these themes. Hinayana and Mahayana are two schools of Buddhist practice that have basically similar goals and techniques but somewhat differing philosophies. For instance, Theravadin Buddhism ( known for its Vipassana meditation ) is a Hinayana teaching and Zen Buddhism is a Mahayana teaching. Tantra itself has various schools which can be grouped by the relative emphasis they place on working with exoteric and esoteric practices.

(This article is extracted from http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~greg.c/tibet.html)