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Tibetan Buddhism

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

How does one achieve Nirvana?

How does one achieve Nirvana?

Tibetan Buddhism is the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet. It includes the teachings of the three of Buddhism: Mahayana, Vajrayana, and Hinayana.
Mahayana Buddhism

The Mahayana Buddhist tradition means that the goal of all meditation is to achieve enlightenment (or Buddhahood). This is the opposite of personal liberation. The motivation for Mahayana practice is the mind of enlightenment.

Buddhahood is to be free from obstructions in order to achieve liberation and to be free of the obstructions that inhibit omniscience. When one is freed from mental impediments, one attains a state of continuous bliss and at the same time one has the cognition of the true nature of reality where all limitations on one’s ability to help all other living beings are removed.

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This includes the attainment of omniscience: knowing all. From the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism, when one conceives of a particular object, the mind gives rise to the appearance of that object. In other words, what we think we will give a form of reality. In perceiving the empty nature of all phenomena, as well as each of their relative characteristics, one becomes both omniscient and omnipresent.

Vajrayana Buddhism

The Vajrayana practice is the fastest method for attaining Buddhahood for qualified practitioners. While the Mahayana path is a path to enlightenment in its own right, the teachings from Mahayana must be heeded for the Vajrayana to work. The Vajrayana path is considered to be a path within the Mahayana which uses special means or practices to accelerate the process of awakening.
Hinayana Buddhism

Hīnayāna is used by Mahayanists to refer to the doctrines, or traditions that are concerned with the achievement of Nirvana. Other doctrines are used to achieve liberation, but not Hinayana.

Nirvana is a state that is free from any mind-contaminants such as lust, anger or craving; and it is a state of perfect peace unobstructed by psychological problems. It is the highest form of happiness. But this is not the happiness notion of everyday life, nor one known by Western culture; rather it is the enduring, transcendental happiness integral to the calmness attained through enlightenment.

Tibetan Buddhism Traditions

If Nirvana is the goal, how is it attained? Tibetan Buddhism has four main traditions to achieve these goals:

  • Nyingma, The Ancient Ones – In this school, emphasis placed on meditation.
  • Kagyu, Oral Lineage – This is an oral tradition which concerned the experiential dimension of meditation.   
  • Sakya, Grey Earth – This school very much represents the scholarly tradition.
  • Gelug, Way of Virtue – This is based on the foundations of the Kadampa tradition. The Dalai Lama heads the Gelukpa school.
When a Tibetan Buddhist practices these traditions, he or she is well on the way to reaching that place of Nirvana.


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