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Denominations of Buddhism: Tibetan

Tibetan Buddhism

We talked about Tibetan Buddhism a little bit a few weeks ago, so if you don’t remember, go back to (Podcast Episode 4: Tibet) for a quick review. I am not going to explain the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan occupation again today, but these concepts are very important to Tibetan Buddhism. If you are a new subscriber, check out the link above to read that material.

For the most part, Tibetan Buddhism was limited to Tibet and the surrounding regions until the occupation of Tibet by China in 1950. Tibetan Buddhists were forced into exile, and their beliefs quickly spread outward to the rest of the world. It is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and America.

Tibetan Buddhism uses tantras, much like Vajrayanas, and they break Buddhist practices into four successively more difficult steps. The steps work on the individual’s personal ego, the spiritual self, and personal Truth.

There are two major sub-schools of Tibetan, known commonly as “red hat” and “yellow hat” schools. When you see pictures of Buddhist monks in the big red or yellow hats, you can be pretty sure they are Tibetan monks. The specific differences between the two are mostly due to different lineages, which we discussed a bit yesterday.

Tibetan is one of the more popular forms of Buddhism in the West, and several well-known celebrities follow the Tibetan way, including Richard Gere, Steven Seagal, Jet Li, and Alan Ginsberg.

4 comments to Denominations of Buddhism: Tibetan

  • Eric


    Your knowledge about Buddhism is shallow. Which would be OK if you went to reputable Buddhist sources and parroted what they said when you run into an area you don’t know. (Better still to ponder them and introduce your own questions and revelations) But using Wikipedia is the WORST place to look for source material. Wikipedia articles are written by whomever cares to write them – which in most cases are not necessarily informed people and can be re-written by any idiot with a PC and a grudge. Wikipedia is the only encyclopedia that LIES to you!

    P.S. Alan Ginsberg is dead.

  • Ouch! Zing!

    While it’s true that I do occasionally cut and paste some things from Wikipedia, they’re all things I have experienced from other, more definite sources. I absolutely agree that Wikipedia is not the final word on anything, but if it corroborates what I have already learned to be true, I have no problems using their material when appropriate. Other than that, I can’t defend against what you say because you didn’t argue about anything specific.

    P.S. Yes, Alan Ginsberg is dead. So is Buddha. They still both famous Buddhists.

  • Eric


    I’m sorry I was harsh. If I was and expert, I wouldn’t be listening to podcasts. But you admitted you didn’t know much about Buddhism outside Zen, so you went to Wikipedia. It is, for the reasons given, a better last resort than a first one. I imagine you have plenty of primary texts you can work from or better yet, experts you can consult. You could ask them to record their insights for the podcast or record a discussion. Or at least recite their work with some flattering citation so they’ll be tempted to record later.

    P.S. I erred. In Zen terms: Buddha and Alan Ginsberg not dead/not born.

  • Eric


    I’m sorry I was harsh. If I was an expert I wouldn’t be listening to podcasts. You said you didn’t know much about Buddhism outside Zen. But for the reasons mentioned, wikipedia should be a last resort and not a first one for getting information. Surely you must have better text resources or even experts you can consult. I would recommend asking an expert for his or her views and even getting recorded responses or discussions with them for your show. Or at least just cite what they say.

    P.S. I erred. In Zen terms, the Buddha and Alan Ginsberg: not dead/not born.