Which is to say, Tibetan Buddhism in the US pop-cultural psyche is a monolithic and benign spiritual tradition built around simple wisdom, loving calmness and unflinching non-violence.
This belief in an uncomplicated, compassionate and progressive Tibetan Buddhism is what allows us to reliably portray Tibetan Buddhists as sympathetic victims in the media.
However pervasive the stereotype, though, the US vision of Tibetan Buddhism is anaemic, to say the least. Sure, compassion is central to the faith. Modern history brings us the stories, often neglected in the West, of the CIA-backed violent insurgency that Tibetan buddhism essays Buddhists waged against the Chinese occupation from the s to the mids — and of an all-Tibetan refugee unit formed in India to fight the Chinese in a war.
Far from being easy to grasp and anodyne, Tibetan Buddhism is rich in tantric practices, the impenetrably esoteric ideas and techniques used to try to slingshot spiritual seekers directly towards the enlightenment they seek to attain within this lifetime to best help others.
It is difficult to succinctly sum up the diverse tantric traditions and sub-traditions, each of which contains a trove of doctrines and practices, some of which monks intentionally obscure from lay audiences, for fear that they will be misused or misunderstood by non-initiates.
Perhaps the best-known esoteric tradition in the Tibetan buddhism essays is the Kalachakra Initiation, the ceremony in which the Dalai Lama or other high-ranking monks slowly construct beautifully intricate mandalas out of coloured sand, and then wipe them away.
Laypeople in the West usually read this ritual as simple religious art married to a lesson on the impermanence of everything.
But building the mandala is part of a larger ritual process meant to prepare young acolytes for spiritual transformation. To drastically over-summarise, the mandala becomes a representation of, and portal into, the abode and mind of an enlightened deity, which monks can mentally travel through, psychically mainlining the whole of Buddhist thought from an elevated perspective.
The mandala is seen as so magically charged that its dissipation actually spreads spiritual benefit into the wider world. Many tantric practices are similarly opaque and magical to outsiders, yet, because they deal with compassion and meditation, remain somewhat comprehensible to the pop-Western mind.
But other tantric traditions harness toxic emotions such as hatred, pride or desire to fuel the spiritual quest. Take for example karmamudra tantric practices, in which a spiritual practitioner, sometimes a monk and sometimes not, uses sexual intercourse to speed towards enlightenment. The sex is ritualistically controlled, and meant to help one inhabit the mind of enlightened beings.
But the details of how that works are incredibly unclear to anyone outside of the tradition, and there is active debate within Tibetan Buddhist circles about how, when or even if it should be practised, much less described to laypeople.
It is easy to see how these traditions could be warped, after all — how someone could spin a sex-as-spiritual practice into a form of coercion, dressing up carnal desires in sanctified garb, and foisting them on otherwise unwilling partners. This diversity of practices and perceptions of them speaks to the fact that, contrary to popular Western perceptions, Tibetan Buddhism is hardly monolithic.
The Dalai Lama is not the pope of all Tibetan Buddhism, as many seem to believe, but the head of one of four major schools, the Gelugpa. The current Dalai Lama just happens to be a particularly famous frontman whose charisma has united diverse Tibetan Buddhists into one movement.
Today, he preaches cooperation between different forms of Tibetan Buddhism, but until the s he embraced the veneration of an exclusively Gelug protector spirit — one that punished anyone who polluted the school with teachings from other traditions. After all, it takes most monks a lifetime of rigorous education and practice to grasp even a few corners of it all.
But the gap between our rosy, flat picture of Tibetan Buddhism and its reality is vast. It is not inexplicable, though. It is the result of the headspace that Americans were in when they first encountered Tibetan Buddhism, and the way in which, in turn, that Tibetans reacted to the American gaze.
Buddhism found a beachhead in the US during the first half of the 19th century, when Chinese immigrants arrived on the West Coast. These communities remained fairly isolated in a nation that largely saw them as racially inferior; their strange faith of ritualistic offerings and chanting was just one more bizarre, damning thing about them.
When Americans and other Westerners did engage with Buddhism around this period, usually as Christian missionaries in Asia, they tended to walk away with a grim picture.
They interpreted its doctrines of emptiness and non-attachment as life-denying nihilism. These terms actually refer to the idea that nothing has firm or inherent meaning. Instead, everything is interdependent and in constant flux.
So rather than latching on to fixed views of our worlds, and by doing so courting suffering, we ought to embrace the flux.
Western observers often warped this into the notion that nothing means anything, and that we should be indifferent to everything.Syndicate this Essay. Support Aeon Donate now Tibetan Buddhism, in the pop-cultural psyche of the United States, is the Dalai Lama’s face, grinning from a cover in the self-help section of your nearest bookstore.
It’s a monk in a maroon robe sitting calmly in a full-skull electrode cap as researchers probe his mind to learn how meditation. The Tibetan buddhism is one of the most popular assignments among students' documents. If you are stuck with writing or missing ideas, scroll down and find inspiration in the best samples.
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Tibetan Buddhism is known as the tantric path of Buddhism. This path blends the teachings of the Sutra path and the techniques of yoga and tantra. The basis of tantra is transforming the basic human emotions of desire and hatred into healthy and useful forces for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment and growth.
Although Tibet’s vast geographic area and its many adjacent neighbors—India and Kashmir, Nepal, the northern regions of Burma (Myanmar), China, and Central Asia (Khotan)—are reflected in the rich stylistic diversity of Tibetan Buddhist art, during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, Pala India became the main source of artistic influence.
Read this essay on Tibetan Buddhism. Come browse our large digital warehouse of free sample essays. TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD The Tibetan Book of the Dead is most well known to the West. Written by a Tibetan Monk. and the Vajrayana ("Diamond Vehicle," often simply called "Tibetan Buddhism") B.
Concept of deity(s) and . Tibetan Buddhism is known as the tantric path of Buddhism. This path blends the teachings of the Sutra path and the techniques of yoga and tantra. The basis of tantra is transforming the basic human emotions of desire and hatred into healthy and useful forces for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment and growth.