Gelong T.SHENPHEN , may I ask about Tibetan Buddhism?

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Posted by David on June 04, 1999 at 07:59:08:

Dear friend Gelong,

I have only studied Buddhism for 5 years, and have done so only in the Ch'an school. I have done a little study on my own of Theravada also - mainly reading parts of the Pali Canon and the teachings of a few Theravada masters. However, I have read only minimal Tibetan teachings and seen the Dalai Lama talk once, so I don't know much about basic principles of the Tibetan approach.

I am happy with Ch'an, but feel that if I knew more about the essentials of Tibetan practice, that I could help people with a new interest in Buddhism better since many are interested in Tibetan Buddhism.

To try to give you an idea of what I ask about, in Ch'an, the "sect's" basic principle is something like "Buddha Mind is Ordinary Mind." This prinicple is not unique to Ch'an (or Zen) as you know, but it has shaped the emphasis Ch'an puts on various aspects of the practice. It is responsible for the "flavor" of Ch'an. Whereas so called "gradual schools" put more emphasis on dualistic concepts involving changing (or dissolving) the mental tendencies. Different doors to the same house, but people like different doors, it seems useful to know about them.

I think there are different schools of Tibetan Buddhism too, which probably also have their own ways. But is there a basic principle or set of principles that underlie the emphasis Tibetan Buddhism puts on certain methods, etc.?

I don't think I have made this question very clear in my own mind or in this message, but anything you can tell me will be very much appreciated.

In Dharma,
David Slaymaker

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