About Vajrayāna

Vajrayāna practices are connected to specific lineages in , through the of lineage holders.

Others might generally refer to texts as the .

It includes practices that make use of , , , and the visualization of deities and .

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Eight Manifestations Of Guru Rinpoche

Nyingma Lamas – The decentralized network of practitioners

Nyingma traditional histories consider their teachings to trace back to the first Buddha Samantabhadra (Güntu Sangpo) and Indian mahasiddhas such as Garab Dorjé, Śrī Siṃha and Jñānasūtra. Traditional sources trace the origin of the Nyingma order in Tibet to figures associated with the initial introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century, such as , Yeshe Tsogyal, , , Buddhaguhya and Shantaraksita. Nyingma teachings are also known for having been passed down through networks of lay practitioners .
1000-armed Avalokiteśvara dated 13th - 15th century AD at Saspol cave (Gon-Nila-Phuk Cave Temples and Fort) in Ladakh

Avalokiteśvara – The embodiment of compassion

Avalokitasvara is the bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. In Sanskrit, is also referred to as Lokeśvara ("Lord of the World"). In Tibetan, Avalokiteśvara is Chenrézig and is said to emanate as the , the and other high lamas. An etymology of the Tibetan name Chenrézik gives the meaning of one who always looks upon all beings with the eye of compassion. One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokiteśvara vowing .
A leaf from a Prajñāpāramitā (Perfection of Wisdom) manuscript.

Tibetan Buddhist practices – Schools, sutras & tantras

Apart from classical Mahāyāna Buddhist practices like the six perfections, Tibetan Buddhism also includes tantric practices, such as and the as well as methods which are seen as transcending tantra, like . In Tibetan Buddhism, practices are generally classified as either Sutra (or Pāramitāyāna) or Tantra ( or Mantrayāna), though exactly what constitutes each category and what is included and excluded in each is a matter of debate and .

Nyingma tantras – Beyond the methods of Highest Yoga

The doxography employed by the Nyingma tradition to categorize the whole of the Buddhist path is unique. Nyingmapas divide the Buddhist path into 3 sutra systems, 3 outer tantras and 3 inner tantras. In the later schools the inner tantric teachings are known as Anuttarayoga Tantra, which corresponds to in the Nyingma system, while the Mahamudra teachings of the later schools are said to lead to similar results as the Dzogchen teachings. The main Dzogchen .

Buddhist tantras – Manipulation of the subtle body

The Buddhist Tantras are a varied group of Indian and Tibetan texts which outline unique views and practices of the Buddhist tantra religious systems. Buddhist Tantric texts began appearing in the Gupta Empire period though there are texts with elements associated with Tantra that can be seen as early as the third century. By the eighth century, Tantra was a dominant force in North India and the number of texts increased with numerous Tantric pandits writing .
Milarepa, wearing the distinctive white shawl (zen) of a Ngagpa

Honorific titles in Tibetan institutions and clergy

Buddhist monasticism is an important part of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, all the major and minor schools maintain large monastic institutions based on the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya (monastic rule) and many religious leaders come from the monastic community. There are also many religious leaders or teachers (called and Gurus) which are not celibate monastics and in some cases the lama is the leader of a spiritual community. Some lamas gain their title through being .
Buddha Amitayus in his Pure Land Sukhavati.

Dzogchen practices – Awakening rigpa

Dzogchen ("Great Perfection" or "Great Completion"), also known as atiyoga (utmost yoga), is a tradition of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism aimed at discovering and continuing in the ultimate ground of existence. The primordial ground is said to have the qualities of purity (i.e. emptiness), spontaneity (lhun grub, associated with luminous clarity) and compassion (thugs rje). The goal of Dzogchen is knowledge of this basis, this knowledge is called rigpa (Skt. vidyā). There are numerous spiritual .
Thangka depicting the Refuge Tree of the Karma Kagyu Lineage by Sherab Palden Beru, c. 1972

Tibetan Buddhist meditation – Reveling the nature of consciousness

In Tibetan Buddhism, the central defining form of Vajrayana is Deity Yoga (devatayoga). This involves the recitation of mantras, prayers and visualization of the yidam or deity (usually the form of a Buddha or a bodhisattva) along with the associated mandala of the deity's Pure Land. Advanced Deity Yoga involves imagining yourself as the deity and developing "divine pride", the understanding that oneself and the deity are not separate. "Yidam" in Tibetan technically means "tight .
An 18th century Mongolian miniature which depicts a monk generating a tantric visualization.

Vajrayana practices – The tantric samaya vows

along with Mantrayāna, Guhyamantrayāna, Tantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Tantric Buddhism, and Esoteric Buddhism are names referring to Buddhist traditions associated with Tantra and "Secret Mantra". Practitioners of Vajrayāna need to abide by various tantric vows or pledges called samaya. These are extensions of the rules of the Prātimokṣa and Bodhisattva vows for the lower levels of tantra, and are taken during initiations into the empowerment for a particular Unsurpassed Yoga Tantra. The special tantric vows .
The Four Guardian Kings in Burmese depiction.

Lokapalas – The Heavenly Kings and protector spirits

Lokapāla means "guardian of the world" in Sanskrit and Pāli. The term has different uses depending on whether it is found in a Hindu or Buddhist context. In Hinduism, lokapāla refers to the Guardians of the Directions associated with the eight, nine and ten cardinal directions. In Buddhism, lokapāla refers to the , and to other protector spirits. Lokapāla is one of two broad categories of Dharmapāla (protectors of the Buddhist religion) -the other category .