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Tibetan Buddhism

Buddhadharma or Buddhism began to come to Tibet sometime in the seventh century during the time of King Songtsen Gampo. In the eighth century, Buddhism began to take root in Tibet, during the time of King Trisong Detsen. Acharya Padmasambhava and Abbot Shantarakshita helped the King to bring dharma to Tibet and translate the teachings into the Tibetan language.

The lineages of Buddhism were transmitted to Tibet through many centuries and gradually developed into eight streams or lines of transmission, from teachers to students, eight major practice lineages known as the "Eight Great Chariots" or the "Eight Practice Lineages."

Over the centuries, the Buddhism of Tibet developed into four main streams or lineages known as the "Four Major Schools of Tibetan Buddhism": Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug.

All Tibetan Buddhist schools and practice traditions trace their origin directly back to Buddha Sakyamuni. In addition, each school traces its founding in Tibet to a particular person, who in turn is connected to a particular tradition in India.


The Vajrayana

In addition to practicing:

  • the foundational vehicle, taught in the sutras that the Buddha himself spoke,
  • the Mahayana sutras, and extended commentaries and teachings on the Bodhisattva path,

Tibetan Buddhism also includes the material of the Vajrayana, which is closely associated with the teachings of Padmasambhava. For further information on this approach to meditation and practices, please see our Practice Overview page.

The V.V. Thangru Rinpoche, H.H. the Dalai Lama, H.H. the 17th Karmapa