Tibet, a pearl on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, has attracted a lot of followers from all over the world. It has a unique landscape, snow towering mountains, holy lakes, mysterious Tibetan Buddhism, Culture, and many other fantastic things for you to explore.
Tibetan Buddhism is the most widely practiced religion in Tibet. It is rooted in Mahayana Buddhism and has been practiced throughout Tibet for more than a thousand years. Throughout the millennium, Tibetan Buddhism has evolved into a unique and vibrant type of Buddhism. It has also developed a unique body of teachings and philosophies.
This body of teachings and philosophies is rich and voluminous. Yet, it can be condensed into five essential doctrines, namely: The Four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Path, the doctrines on Karma and Reincarnation, and the practice of Meditation. In this article, each of these Tibetan Buddhism beliefs will be briefly discussed.
Four Noble Truths:
- Dukkha (anxious suffering, unsatisfaction)
- Samudaya (arising, origin)
- Nirodha (Ending or Cessation)
- Magga (Noble Eightfold Path)
The Noble Eightfold Path:
- the understanding of the fact that life is fraught with suffering and that suffering originates from our different cravings. This clear understanding is necessary to achieve enlightenment.
- Right Thoughts (Samma sankappa)—Clear thoughts are achieved once you have a clear understanding of the Noble Truths. Thoughts shape a person. Thoughts also lead to actions. Wrong thoughts lead to wrong actions. Right thoughts, however, lead to the right actions, renunciation, loving-kindness, and harmlessness (compassion).
- Right Speech (Samma vaca)—Right thoughts lead to the right speech. Moreover, the right thoughts should be coupled with the right speech. Hence, a person who wants to achieve enlightenment should develop the habit of right expression and communication.
- Right Action (Samma kammanta)— Right actions are the offshoots of the right thoughts. Right thoughts, of course, should be complemented by the right actions. With the right action, you can gradually escape the lingering effect of the karmic cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. You can also free yourself from this karmic cycle with the right actions.
- Right Livelihood (Samma ajiva)— A person who wants to achieve enlightenment should also find the right livelihood. Your work should never harm anyone. If it harms someone, then it is not the right livelihood.
- Right Effort (Samma vayana)— All our actions require effort on our part. Hence, to achieve enlightenment, one should exert the right effort toward that goal. The right effort also includes nurturing good habits like practicing meditation and mindfulness.
- Right mindfulness (Samma sati)— The right mindfulness refers to the right awareness. It involves constantly observing and watching yourself, including your thoughts, feelings, and imagination. Right mindfulness includes Anapanasati or mindfulness of breath which complements Vipassana or insight.
- Right Meditation (Samma samadhi)—refers to the practice of correct meditation. It also includes a deep concentration. Moreover, it includes the practice of different types of meditations.
The Relationship between sky burials in Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism
Most Tibetan people believe in Buddhism. Thousands of pilgrims stream to Lhasa annually to pay homage to the greatest Buddhist temple in the city. The sky burial, therefore, is a custom intertwined with the Buddhist beliefs in Tibet.
In the Tibetans culture, it is believed that the Vultures are holy birds. This is because, unlike other birds of prey such as eagles and hawks, vultures do not kill their prey. They wait until the animal dies before descending on it. The condors at burial site have perfected the art of feeding only on deposited human bodies an act which makes Tibetans believe that the birds have been sent directly from heaven for that specific reason.
After the condors and the vultures have had their fill, the body carriers burn the remains in presence of Lamas and monks who bless the spirits of the dead through prayers and chants. The chants are meant to free the spirit of the dead from the body and cleanse it of all its sins.