What is Tibetan Buddhism?

Understanding the fundamentals…

Buddhism spread from India to several Asian countries. In these countries, Buddhism naturally developed according to the country’s culture and way of living, this is a natural phenomena. This trend will also take place and develop similarly when Buddhism continues to spread in other Western countries in the future. 

Some refer only to external appearance to understand Tibetan Buddhism, and think that Tibetan Buddhism is only about rituals and mantra recitations, tantra practice, making offerings, or meditation… But in actual fact, these are not main practices and only could be regarded as secondary branch practices.

Buddhism was taught by Buddha in order to subdue our mind. Therefore we Tibetan Buddhists regard mind training as the main practice, and continuously observe the states of our mind, the way we talk, as well as physical conduct in our daily lives. We do our best not to harm others, and analyse continuously to avoid inflicting harm. We also try to recognize our own faults and thereafter make efforts to correct our own mind. This is really the main essence of Buddhist practice. Because truly, whether you are human or animals, all sentient beings are inter-connected with one another, including the environment as well. It is totally impossible for us not to rely on others and be dependent on one’s own ability to produce happiness. We need to analyse this and understand that one’s happiness is totally related to the happiness of others. This is the first step.

So, there are two roots to the understanding of Buddhism, one is: dependent arising through dependent imputations, and dependent arising through cause and conditions. These are not the thoughts made up by religious practitioners (in our case, Buddhists), but this is a natural situation. So if we understand these two kinds of dependant arising, we will also automatically understand the causes and conditions of happiness, suffering, their sources, and how we can achieve cessation. This is not a fantasy of religious thoughts, ths is natural truth. If we understand the above, then we will automatically gain belief in Buddha’s words and hence, take refuge in Buddha who showed us this path and the Sangha who followed his words. 

In short, we need to achieve strong belief in Buddhism through only reasoning that one has founded, not just because “this is Buddha’s words“, “these are the words of one’s Master“. Ignorant superstitions is not the way of Buddhist faith. Buddha himself taught us to analyse his words precisely. If you find reliable reason to believe, then accept it. “But my words are not only to respect“, Buddha said. So, we need to analyse Buddha’s words, and we are allowed to analyse. This is religious freedom.

On top of mind training, in order to increase one’s mental power, motivation and enthusiasm, and to accumulate both merit and wisdom, hence we practise making offerings, giving, meditation and so forth. This is considered the second branch of Buddhist practice. However, without having stable fundamentals of the first part, you will not achieve the aim of Buddhist practice. 

Therefore, one should not engage in Buddhist practice because of superstitions, instead one needs to develop faith through understanding. First, you need to understand, and after that you need to be able to analyse through your intelligence. Through one’s analysis, you achieve very firm faith and when you practise, it will be meaningful. Therefore first, one needs to engage in listening and study, and after that you need to think about whatever you have listened. And after contemplation, you obtain understanding and you will be able to further meditate on that. So in all, listening, thinking and meditating – this is the step by step order, and should not be mixed up.

For mind training, there are a vast number of texts and sutras that needs to be studied and put into basic practices. And if it suits your mind and capacity, then you can practice Tantra.  

His Holiness the Dalai Lama divided Buddhist teachings into three categories: Among Buddhist teachings, the two noble truths and the other related basic teachings belong to (1) Buddhist Science; debate on these matters are (2) Buddhist views and tenets; and finally real actual (3) Buddhist practice. This categorization is very meaningful. Whether you are a religious practitioner or not, the former two is necessary and worthwhile for all human beings to understand and learn.

In short, both Theravada and Mahayana-Sutra-teachings belong to fundamental studies of Tibetan Buddhism. And within Mahayana, there is also Tantrayana. Hence we have complete study and practice of Buddhist teachings. Literature which needs to be studied are Buddhist canon texts which have been translated into Chinese, as well as sub-commentaries by the great Panditas and Mahasiddhas from Nalanda University of India (17 Nalanada Masters). These are the main texts, and therefore Tibetan Buddhist traditions such as Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyud and Gelug all relied on the same sources (from Nalanda). Because of this, Tibetan Buddhism is of pure Nalanda tradition. Some people call Tibetan Buddhism “Lamaism“, and divided from Buddhism, but in fact, that is just a name created by those who have lack of understanding.

Dagyab Kyabgoen Loden Sherab                   

06/01/2014 

 

《認識佛法之基礎概念》

佛法從印度傳播至東方許多國家,為了順應各式傳統文化、民族風俗、各別需求,所以佛法的外表難免會些許差異,這是很自然的情形,將來傳播至西方各國,也必然如此。

某些只從外表來認識藏傳佛教,或者認為藏傳佛教有許多儀式、咒語等等⋯主要著重密咒修持、禮拜、供養、禪修,但這一切其實並非主體,只是次要的旁支末節而已。

所謂的佛法,是佛陀闡述如何調伏自心的方法。所以藏傳佛教,主要以修心的次第為主,在每天的日常生活,不斷觀察自心的狀態、說話的方式、乃至身體的姿態,僅力做到不傷害他人、以及如何避免造成傷害,並且認識自己的缺點,進而設法改進自己,藏傳佛教認為,這才是佛法重點中的重點,因為無論是人與動物,甚至與環境之間,都是息息相關的,沒有不依賴、或不依靠他人,而能自己獨自生活,若不是因為他人,唯一的自己絕對沒有辦法獲得快樂,因此明白自己的快樂是由他人的快樂所決定,是最初的第一步。

因此佛教的根本思想有兩種,一是『依靠而假立』的緣起法、二是『因果』的緣起法,這些絕非宗教虛設的教義,而是基礎的真理,是天經地義的道理,若能真實體會,就會自然理解苦樂的因緣條件、產生的根據、消除的方法,如果自己對以上道理詳細了解,自然會對佛陀法語產生信心、也因此尊稱闡述如此道理者為導師、也會恭敬對待僧伽,更因此皈依三寶。

總而言之,因為自己透徹的瞭解原因,所以才相信佛法,這才是我們需要的信心,不然如果只因為“這是佛語”或以“上師這麼說”為理由,無知的迷信並不是佛教的信仰方式,佛陀在經中也談到:『應該善巧地觀察佛語,相信道理以後才實際去修持,我的佛法並不是為了恭敬而已。』所以,佛語必須觀察、並且可以觀察,也因此佛教是個自由的宗教。

在修心的次第之上,為了增強心力、渴慕、力量等⋯或為了累積福德、智慧資糧,因此供養、佈施、禪修,這些可以說是佛法的第二次第,但是第一次第的基礎如果不穩固,所修持的佛法其實很難達到目地。

所以佛法不應由迷信而修持,需要透過瞭解進而產生信心,既然如此,最初應先了解,了解後更需透過自己智慧去判斷,更進一步透過判斷產生堅固信心,如此加以修持才是有意義的,因此最初多聞、然後思維聽聞的意義,之後經由思維獲得肯定之後,再進一步實修,以如此次第無誤地聞思修,並應該如階梯般學習大小二乘。

當自己學習的時候,無論是詳細或簡略次第,顯乘部分必須依據經論學習;每天日常生活中,奠定修持基礎,在這之上,如果自己有適合的慧根,才學習密咒乘。

達賴喇嘛尊者將佛法當中的世俗諦、勝義諦等⋯基位真理,稱為『佛教科學』、並將分析二諦的部分稱為『佛教思想』、以及『佛法修持』的實際次第,共三個不同的部分,這樣的劃分有許多好處,無論有沒有宗教信仰,前兩者對全人類而言,都是值得學習、必須學習的。

簡而言之,藏傳佛教根據小乘佛典奠定基礎;在這之上學習大乘佛經,並學習同樣屬於大乘學處的密咒乘,因此無論學習或是修持,皆是最完整的佛法。而學習的主體,除了翻譯為藏文的佛經外,亦有印度聖境那爛陀寺著名的17位大班智達,由頂尖智者、成就者為了解釋佛語所著作的論典。因此西藏的教派,無論薩迦、格魯、噶舉、寧瑪,追根究底,學習佛法的根據皆是相同的,因為藏傳佛教乃是那爛陀寺法脈的繼承者,某些稱呼藏傳佛教為『喇嘛教』者,是對上述道理有所不知所取的綽號罷了。

察雅依怙主·洛滇謝熱 

2014/01/06