Continuation of Chapter Two
(d) THE DEVELOPMENT OF BUDDHISM
A major group of Buddhism were formed around the middle of the third century: Mahayana (meaning major vehicle)
The Mahayana group called the original Buddhist group hinayana means "The Lesser Vehicle." It is called by its followers: Theravada, "The way of the ancient." This is more conservative and closer to the original teaching of Gautama. It spreads over the most part of south and southeastern Asia. Some Mahayanists prefer to call the Hinayanists' teachings "Fundamental teachings" instead of "The way of the ancient".
Mahayana means "The Greater Vehicle." It spreads over northern India, Kashmir, central Asia, Korea, Japan and China---particularly Tibet.
This sect of Buddhism is more adaptable to change and to accommodate the needs of different regions and of different eras. It has been more acceptable than the Theravada Buddhism.
From the Mahayanists' point of view, Mahayana is designed to help the masses to attain enlightenment while the Theravada is designed to enlighten oneself.
It is said that Buddhism was introduced into China in the Han region (middle plain region 中原）approximately around third century B.C. Tantric Buddhism was introduced during the early fourth century together with other exoteric scriptures.1.21
the legend, around 520 A.D., Bodhidharma, a Hindu Buddhist monk
belonging to the Brahmin
caste, came to China via the sea.
He embarked at Canton
(Guangzhou) and traveled north to
the then capital of China
and had an audience with the
Emperor Wu Ti of Liang
dynasty. The Emperor was disappointed
that their viewpoints
differed. Bodhidharma eventually went to the Shaolin monastery in the Henan province where he
blend in and not call attention to himself. He
meditated for nine years facing
a stone wall and passed away. He was credited as the founder of the Chan
This was the legend of the Chan sect. Some historians
This was the legend of the Chan sect. Some historiansthink that Bodhidarma was a fictional character, created by the Sixth Patriarch.
eighth century, three Indian monks, Subhakarasimba
are eight major sects1.3 of Mahayana Buddhism
the third century, there was an important
Tantra went through different stages of
was developed during the third and fourth century. It enriched Buddhism by the appurtenances of magical tradition
1.31 was developed during the middle of
3. Kalacakra was developed during the tenth century. Kalacakra emphasizes astrology and syncretism.
CHAPTER III HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF TIBETAN RELIGIONS
(a) SHAMANISM AND EARLY BUDDHISM OF TIBET
not clear when Buddhism came to Tibet. According
reliable version is that Buddhism was brought
Buddhism was introduced, BÍn was the main
(author of Dao De Jing). The ancestors of Lao Tze were knighted in the region of BÍn. BÍnism is a polytheistic religion. It was popular among the nobles.
to the legend, BÍn was founded thirteen
there were three different worlds: the
a BÍn scholar named Pandita Shamthab Ngonpo
later half of the eighth century, during the period
of King Trisung Detsan
(755-797) who was a devoted Buddhist, a BÍn scholar named Gyalwa Changchub translated
Dharma seized power, he destroyed Buddhist
monks and forced them to live secular
lives. BÍn became the
main religion of Tibet. Assassination
of Lang Dharma was being
planned. A monk who was well versed
in martial arts volunteered
to carry out the plan. His name
was Lhalung Paldor. He
rode a white horse painted with water
soluble black paint,
and wore a black cloak with white lining
and concealed a sword
under the cloak and a bow and arrows
the reign of Trisung Detsan, BÍn religion became
When Buddhism was first introduced into Tibet, it encountered difficulties with the Nobles and the BÍn priests.
Around the year of 775 A.D. king Trisung Detsan invited two scholar monks from the Han region to translate Buddhist scriptures and to preach Buddhist doctrines. He also invited the then famous Tantric monks Shantirakshita and Padma Sambhava from Kashmir and India (now Northern Pakistan) to teach Buddhism to the Tibetans.
According to the legend, Padma Sambhava was born eight years after the death of Sakyamuni and was more than a thousand years old 1.33 because of his training in Tantra.
As his name implies, he was born in the shape of a lotus blossom. Padma Sambhava sympathized with the BÍn religion. One of the assigned duties of Padma Sambhava was to subdue the demonic forces that were obstructing the building of the first Buddhist monastery (Samye Monastery) in Tibet. After subduing these forces, he traveled throughout Tibet subduing other local demonic forces and preaching Buddhism as well. Because of his supernormal powers that he had developed from his tantric training, and through the introduction of the tantric deities and magical forces, Padma Sambhava was able to appeal to the local shamanist priests (Bonpos) and their followers to accept tantric Buddhism.
He was successful in spreading Buddhism in Tibet. Part of the religious rituals, deities and religious theories of the BÍn religion were absorbed into the Tantric Buddhism. Today, Padma Sambhava is addressed in Tibet as Guru Rinpoche.
(Esoteric) Buddhism came to Tibet, Ch'an
(Zen) Buddhism had been
in Tibet for many years. According
to Buddhist legend Ch'an
(Zen) Buddhism was introduced into
middle part of China
from India by an Indian monk Bodhidharma
around 520 A.D. After
absorbing local culture, including the
It also means "to weave," which
denotes action. Today, it still
Tantric Buddhism is a sect of Buddhism that was well developed by the third century in India, before the development of Hindu Tantra. The difference between Hindu Tantra and Buddhist Tantra lies in the perception of divine powers (shakti). The Hindu Tantra emphasizes divine power, which is their focus of interest, while the Buddhist Tantra emphasizes wisdom (prajna). The Buddhist deems that the divine power (shakti) corrupts and creates illusion and only wisdom (prajna) can liberate it. Thus, the Tantric Buddhists try to use divine power and transform it into prajna (wisdom) so that it becomes one of the forces of enlightenment.
Tantric Buddhism in China (including Tibet) is also known as Vajrayana Buddhism. (See II (d) The Development of Buddhism).
The Tantric followers call themselves the sons and younger brothers
of the Adamantine Vehicle.1.11
Tantric Buddhism consists
of two major schools: the Eastern
Tantra, one has to learn it from a qualified
teacher. Teaching is
carried on from mouth to ear. The Tantric
writings can only be
understood through a teacher. Tantra emphasizes
master and disciple (teacher-student)
relationships. The teacher
Because of political struggles and wars, and because the different groups emphasized the different aspects of the Buddhist doctrine, eventually Tibetan Tantric was divided into four major groups; namely the red sect, the yellow sect, the white sect, the variegated sect. (Some deem that there are five major groups-----including the black sect.)
Red sect, (Red Cap) Nyingma was founded in the
During the eleventh century, it
started to build monasteries.
to other sects, the Nyingmapas are initiated
into the Tantras early
and spend little time on other sacred
Sambhava was credited to be master of this sect.
White sect, bKa-rgyud, which means "Order of oral
transmission." The name
is derived from the fact that the
teaching is passed on
orally by master to disciple. It is
very similar to the Red
sect in that it stresses tantric practice
and spends little time on Buddhist philosophy. s
swith only a thin layer of clothing.
The White sect can be further
grouped into four different
b. phag-mo-grll-pa (Pagdru)
c. Karma-pa (Kama)
d. hBrug-pa (Dug)
3. The Yellow sect, (Yellow Cap) Gelug came from a reformed version of the bKagdam sect (Bromslon). The name Yellow sect is the abbreviation of "Yellow Cap sect." Its lamas wear bright yellow colored headdresses.
sect was one of the earliest sects of Tibet.
One of its principal Buddhist
writings is Atisa's work of
a. The lowest: seeking happiness in this world , considering only their own interest.
b. The second: seeking
happiness for their own but more
c. The third: having the salvation of all at heart.
sect was founded by Lopsang Drakpa, who is better
The Gelug sect stresses discipline and learning. Often Lamas of this sect are expected to spend twenty years on sutra and scholastic study before starting on the Tantras. Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama are from this sect.
Variegated sect, Sakya, is very similar to the Yellow sect.
(c) THE BLACK SECT
sect originally was the primitive BÍn religion
religious scholars do not classify BÍn religion as
one of the Buddhist sects.
BÍn later absorbed the teachings of Buddhism and mixed with the rituals of polytheism.
In Tibet, the followers of Black BÍn usually do not mingle with the followers of other sects and do not marry followers of other sects. During the period of the 13th Dalai Lama, an injunction was issued to restrict the activities of the BÍn religion. Now, it is said that the 14th Dalai Lama expressed that the BÍn religion that had accepted Buddhism can be accommodated.2