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15.08.2014
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy indigenous to the Indian subcontinent and encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs, and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha (meaning "the awakened one" in Sanskrit and Pali). Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada ("The School of the Elders") and Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle").
While Buddhism remains most popular within Asia, both branches are now found throughout the world. Buddhist schools vary on the exact nature of the path to liberation, the importance and canonicity of various teachings and scriptures, and especially their respective practices. Taking "refuge in the triple gem" has traditionally been a declaration and commitment to being on the Buddhist path and in general distinguishes a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist.
Tibetan Buddhism, also called LAMAISM, distinctive form of Buddhism that evolved from the 7th century AD in Tibet. By the 14th century the Tibetans had succeeded in translating all available Buddhist literature in India and Tibet; many Sanskrit texts that have since been lost in the country of their origin are known only from their Tibetan translations. Zen, Chinese CH'AN (from Sanskrit dhyana, "meditation"), important school of Buddhism in Japan that claims to transmit the spirit or essence of Buddhism, which consists in experiencing the enlightenment (bodhi) achieved by Gautama the Buddha. Zen teaches that the Buddha-nature, or potential to achieve enlightenment, is inherent in everyone but lies dormant because of ignorance.
Vajrayana (Sanskrit: Vehicle of the Diamond [or Thunderbolt]), also called TANTRIC BUDDHISM, important development within Buddhism in India and neighboring countries, notably Tibet. The practice of mental concentration leading ultimately through a succession of stages to the final goal of spiritual freedom, nirvana. The guttural centre or subtle Sphere of Speech (VISHUDDHA-CAKRA) at the base of the throat. Symbolically a dorje represents the 'thunderbolt of enlightenment,' that abrupt change in human consciousness which is recognised by all the great religions as a pivotal episode in the lives of mystics and saints. The Bell held in the left hand, representing the female aspect as wisdom; the Dorje, or male held in the right hand, aspect as method. The Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE.[1] He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end ignorance, craving, and suffering of dependent origination, realize sunyata, and attain Nirvana. Estimates of Buddhists worldwide vary significantly depending on the way Buddhist adherence is defined.
It is based mainly on the rigorous intellectual disciplines of Madhyamika and Yogacara philosophy and utilizes the symbolic ritual practices of Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism).


Notable early teachers were the illustrious 8th-century Tantric master Padmasambhava and the more orthodox Mahayana teacher Santiraksita. The Tibetan canon is divided into the Bka'-'gyur, or Translation of the Word, consisting of the supposedly canonical texts, and the Bstan-'gyur, or Transmitted Word, consisting of commentaries by Indian masters.In the second half of the 20th century Tibetan Buddhism spread to the West, particularly after the subjugation of Tibet to Chinese Communist rule sent many refugees, including highly regarded "reincarnated lamas," or tulkus, out of their homeland. The school arose in the 6th century in China as Ch'an, a form of Mahayana Buddhism; though introduced centuries earlier, Zen did not fully develop in Japan until the 12th century. It is best awakened not by the study of scriptures, the practice of good deeds, rites and ceremonies, or worship of images but by a sudden breaking through of the boundaries of common, everyday, logical thought. Vajrayana, in the history of Buddhism, marks the transition from Mahayana speculative thought to the enactment of Buddhist ideas in individual life.
Meditation occupies a central place in Buddhism and combines, in its highest stages, the discipline of progressively increased introversion with the insight brought about by wisdom, or prajna.The object of concentration (the kammatthana) may vary according to individual and situation. In the Christian tradition, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus is a well known example and that of Muhammed on the mountain is fundamental to Moslem belief.
Hence Phu Dorje, Ang Dorje (young Dorje) and Nima Dorje (Monday Dorje) or, more usually, Dorje. Mahayana is found throughout East Asia and includes the traditions of Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Shingon, Tiantai (Tendai) and Shinnyo-en. The foundations of Buddhist tradition and practice are the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the community).
Tibetan Buddhism also incorporates the monastic disciplines of early Theravada Buddhism and the shamanistic features of the indigenous Tibetan religion, Bon. With the arrival from India in 1042 of the great teacher Atisa, a reform movement was initiated, and within a century the major sects of Tibetan Buddhism had emerged. Tibetan religious groups in the West include both communities of refugees and those consisting largely of occidentals drawn to the Tibetan tradition. In its secondary developments of mental tranquillity, fearlessness, and spontaneity--all faculties of the enlightened mind--the school of Zen has had lasting influence on the cultural life of Japan. Training in the methods leading to such an enlightenment (Chinese wu; Japanese Satori,) is best transmitted personally from master to disciple.
For Buddhists, it is what occurred to the historical Buddha and to all those who experience kensho-satori, the dropping away of 'self'. In some classifications, Vajrayana - practiced mainly in Tibet and Mongolia, and adjacent parts of China and Russia - is recognized as a third branch, while others classify it as a part of Mahayana.


The Dge-lugs-pa, or One of the Virtuous System, commonly known as the Yellow Hats, the order of the Dalai and the Panchen Lamas, has been the politically predominant Tibetan sect from the 17th century until 1959, when the hierocratic government of the Dalai Lama was abolished by the People's Republic of China.
Dealing with inner experiences, the Vajrayana texts use a highly symbolic language that aims at helping the followers of its disciplines to evoke within themselves experiences considered to be the most valuable available to man. The Tibetans call this "the Great Death" to distinguish it from that physical one which will be the experience of us all. The Soto (Chinese: Ts'ao-tung) sect, transmitted to Japan by Dogen on his return from China in 1227, prefers the method of sitting in meditation (zazen). Vajrayana thus attempts to recapture the Enlightenment experience of the Gautama Buddha.In the Tantric view, Enlightenment arises from the realization that seemingly opposite principles are in truth one.
The Buddhists, however, describe the culminating trancelike state as transient; final Nirvana requires the insight of wisdom.
The passive concepts Sunyata ("voidness") and praj–a ("wisdom"), for example, must be resolved with the active karuna ("compassion") and upaya ("means"). The exercises that are meant to develop wisdom involve meditation on the true nature of reality or the conditioned and unconditioned dharmas (elements) that make up all phenomena.Meditation, though important in all schools of Buddhism, has developed characteristic variations within different traditions. This fundamental polarity and its resolution are often expressed through symbols of sexuality (see yab-yum).The historical origin of Vajrayana is unclear, except that it coincided with the spread of the mentalistic schools of Buddhism.
In China and Japan the practice of dhyana (meditation) assumed sufficient importance to develop into a school of its own (Ch'an and Zen;), in which meditation is the most essential feature of the school.
Neo-Confucianism, which became the guiding principle of the Tokugawa feudal regime (1603-1867), also was originally introduced and propagated by Japanese Zen masters.In modern Japan, Zen sects and subsects claim some 9,600,000 adherents. It flourished from the 6th to the 11th century and exerted a lasting influence on the neighbouring countries of India. Considerable interest in various aspects of Zen thought has developed also in Western countries in the latter half of the 20th century, and a number of Zen groups have been formed in North America and Europe. The rich visual arts of Vajrayana reach their culmination in the sacred mandala, a representation of the universe used as an aid for meditation.



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