The Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus
Tibetan Buddhism is the generic term applied to the form of Buddhism practiced not just in Tibet, but also in neighbouring Himalayan regions of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Spiti, Lahul and Ladakh. Further afield, it is also practiced in Mongolia and the neighbouring Mongol regions of China (Inner Mongolia) and Russia (Tuva and Buryatia), as well as in the distant Kalmyk Republic by the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Tibetan Buddhism also has an estimated ten to twenty million followers in Western Countries, and is exemplified for many by the person of the 14th Dalai Lama, living since 1959 in exile in Dharamsala, India. Its religious canon is in Tibetan, and its altruistic goal is to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, the vehicle for this purpose being a blend of Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings, Tantrism and a belief in reincarnation A Tibetan diaspora has spread Tibetan Buddhism to many Western countries, where the tradition has gained popularity. Among its prominent exponents is the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. The number of its adherents is estimated to be between ten and twenty million.
Tibetan Buddhism comprises the teachings of the three vehicles of Buddhism: the Foundational Vehicle, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. The Mahayana goal of spiritual development is to achieve the enlightenment of Buddhahood in order to most efficiently help all other sentient beings attain this state. The motivation in it is the bodhicitta mind of enlightenment — an altruistic intention to become enlightened for the sake of all sentient beings. Bodhisattvas are revered beings who have conceived the will and vow to dedicate their lives with bodhicitta for the sake of all beings. Tibetan Buddhism teaches methods for achieving Buddhahood more quickly by including the Vajrayana path in Mahayana.
Buddhahood is defined as a state free of the obstructions to liberation as well as those to omniscience. When, in Buddhahood, one is freed from all mental obscurations, one is said to attain a state of continuous bliss mixed with a simultaneous cognition of emptiness, the true nature of reality. In this state, all limitations on one’s ability to help other living beings are removed.
It is said that there are countless beings who have attained Buddhahood. Buddhas spontaneously, naturally and continuously perform activities to benefit all sentient beings. However it is believed that sentient beings’ karmas limit the ability of the Buddhas to help them. Thus, although Buddhas possess no limitation from their side on their ability to help others, sentient beings continue to experience suffering as a result of the limitations of their own former negative actions.
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