A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Buddhism scales a mountain from the far side

Tibet although a neighbour to Nepal and India didn’t have Buddhism reach it till about 13 centuries after Buddha’s death. A large part of this was the different cultures, as well as the indigenous shamanist religion which resisted it. This shamanist movement was called Bon. Also until Ling Songstan Gampo unified the smaller kingdoms under a central authority, Tibet was more tribal then national. King Gampo travelled through his kingdom, looking for a wife. He found one in Napal, who happened to be a Buddhist. Eventually he converted, and then later made Buddhism the state religion. The Bon successfully resisted, until the 8th century, when king Trisong Detsan enticed Padma Sambhava to come from Nepal to be a teacher. AS well as overcoming Bon resistance, Padma Sambhava translated the Dharma so the common man could understand it. This national religion helped solidify the nation. Unlike China and Korea, the government didn’t rise up against Buddhism. Tibet became a theocracy, a nation ruled by divine right. Buddhocracy might be a more correct term, as in the 16th century the 1st Dalai Lama(teacher whose wisdom is as great as the ocean) took the throne of Tibet. This was a first in the world, a nation ruled by a monk. The Tibetan form of Buddhism has a tantric influence from India, it is called Vajrayana(Diamond Path). Scholars and Buddhist disagree if it is a third school, alongside Theravada and Mahayana, or a branch of Mahayana. In the 14th century a new reformist school called Gelug(way of Virtue)developed. Combing elements of the three existing schools of the time, and drawing more from the Indian roots then the Chinese it became the largest in Tibet. It was the Gelug who instituted the office of the Dalai Lama.


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