Introduction to Buddhism


Buddhism is a 2,500 year old tradition first taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, in India. The Buddha taught a philosophy and many meditation practices for being more happy in life. Through practicing the Buddhist teachings, we become peaceful and kind, and we are able to benefit others instead of causing them trouble.

Do the Buddha’s teachings still apply to us in the 20th century? Well, the Buddha mostly talked about the mind, and the nature of the mind hasn’t really changed since the Buddha’s time. Even though people in India in 500 B.C. didn’t have to deal with things like satellites, computers, and nuclear weapons, they did know what it’s like to be

These are the same feelings that trouble us today. Most of the suffering that we experience is mental or emotional suffering. The Buddhist teachings tell us how we can work with negative emotions to overcome suffering and achieve a state of lasting happiness.

Everybody wants to be happy and to be free from suffering. The problem is that most of us think that something outside of us is going to make us happy: if we could only get the right car, the right job, the right boyfriend or girlfriend. Or if we could just get away from the people that make us miserable.

But common sense tells us that none of this is going to give us any lasting happiness. Cars break down, jobs are “downsized”, people we care about leave us or die. Somebody will always be around to annoy us. In short, nothing goes the way we want it to for long. If we expect something outside of us to make us happy, we are only going to be disappointed.

Buddhism teaches that happiness depends mostly on the Mind. It is our attitude towards life and what happens to us that decides whether we are happy and relaxed, or worried, uptight and miserable.

Overview of Tibetan Buddhism

Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism: http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddhism/index.php

Buddhist traditions originating in Tibet preserve the Hinayana and Mahayana schools of Buddhism. Additionally, Tibetan Buddhist teaching include the Vajrayana teachings. Below is a brief overview of the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism and traditions.

The particular feature of the Kagyu lineage is that the teacher, after having mastered the teachings, clears away defects – relating to intellectual understanding, and meditation experience, and the various levels of realization. Upon completion of the process, the teacher is able to point out and introduce Mahamudra to the disciple. The Kagyu teachings have been transmitted and preserved this way, in an unbroken line from Buddha Vajradhara to Tilopa (988-1069) until the present time H.H. XVII Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Drodul Trinley Dorje.

The Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism traces its origin to the Indian adept, Guru Padmasambhava. This is the oldest school of Tibetan Buddhism. It is based on a lineage of teachings and traditions introduced during the reigns of the Buddhist Kings of the Yarlong Dynasty in the eighth and ninth century by Padmasambhava, Shantarakshita, Vilalamitra, and others.

The Sakya tradition originated in the eleventh century, and has been closely associated with the Khon Family. Khon Lui Wangpo Sungwa became a disciple of Guru Rinpoche in the eighth century. Through the next thirteen generations, the Dharma continued to be propagated through the Khon family. Sakya Monastery was built In 1073 by Khon Konchok Gyalpo who established the Sakya Tradition in Tibet. He studied under Drokmi the Translator (992-1072) and became a master of many deep teachings.

This is lineage combines the teachings and practices of the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya with the Sutra and Tantra systems of Indian Buddhism and the intellectual heritage of Nagarjuna and Asanga. It was founded by Gyalwa Tsongkhapa (1357-1419). Tsongkhapa’s disciple, Gyalwa Gedun Drupa was the first of the fourteen successive rebirths of the Dalai Lama. The present Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, known to his followers as Vajradhara Vagindra Sumati Shasana Dhara Samudra Shri Bhadra. He was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 in recognition of his tireless efforts on behalf of world peace.

Lineage discriptions provided from New Jersey KTC

Karma Kagyu Lineage

The Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism is one of the four major lineages of budhist teachings developing in Tibet. The oldest lineage in Tibet was the Nyingma. The Sakya and Kagyu linages were formed over 200 years later, followed by the Gelug lineage, which was a reform of the earlier Kadam lineage. Each of the lineages traces its roots through successive teachers back to the teachings of the Buddha.

The teachings of the Kagyu lineage are traced back to Tilopa and were passed from teacher to teacher. The First Karmapa (1110 – 1193) received the teachings from Gampopa. Since then, the Kagyu school has been headed by the successive incarnations of the Gayalwa Karmapa.

Two major paths

As with all major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the Kagyu lineages emphasizes study and practice of the classic points of sutra and tantra. Sutras present the basic teachings and methods to understand and purify the causes of the cyclic suffering of existence (Skt. Samsara). The tantras present advanced practices that help one progress quickly on the path by using subtle states of consciousness. In the Kagyu tradition, the tantric teachings take the form of two paths:
■“The path of skillful means” – working with visualized forms, the subtle body and subtle energies, such as the Six Yogas of Naropa;
■“The path of liberation” – developing a clear and direct understanding of the Nature of Mind, called “Mahamudra” in the Kagyu lineage.

The head of the Kagyu tradition of Buddhism

The head of the Kagyu lineage is His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. He was born in Tibet and escaped into exile in India in 2000. The North American monastic seat of His Holiness the Karmapa is Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, New York.