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    Tibetan Religion
     The origin of Buddhism

    Shakyamuni is the founder of Buddhism. His family name is Gautama and his given name is Siddhartha. Because his father was the king of Shakya, he was affectionately known as Shakyamuni after the enlightenment, which meant "Saint of Shakya". According to the Buddhism history, Shakyamuni was born in 624 BC and died in 544 BC, and he was a prince of Kapilavastu in the north of ancient India (in Nepal today), belonging to Kshatriya caste. Shakyamuni's father was the king of Kapilavastu. His name was Shuddhodana. His mother was Mahāmāyā, who was the first daughter of Suprabuddha from Devadaha, the city across the river from Kapilavastu. According to local custom, Mrs. Maya went back to her parents' home to delivery. She gave birth to Shakyamuni on the way to Lumbini Park, which is Luomeide Temple in the Rupandehi district in the south of Nepal.
    Mrs. Maya died seven days after the birth of Shakyamuni and Shakyamuni was raised by his aunt Gautami when he was a child. He learned all the knowledge and skills that a person of royal lineage should possess (which were five kinds of knowledge). He married his younger female cousin Yasodhara when he was 16, and then their son, named Rahula, was born.
     According to his memory, he had three palaces (three seasons palace) to live in different seasons, one to against the cold in winter, one to against the hot in summer, and the last one to against the damp in rainy season. He wore expensive clothes and had rich meals; he watched people singing and dancing in the yard, enjoying the luxury life. Shakyamuni's father, King Suddhodana, had high hopes for his son and hoped that Shakyamuni would inherit the throne to be the "Chakravartin" who could unify the whole country. According to the teachings of Buddhism, when Shakyamuni visited the Four doors, he realized the torment of life, birth, death, illness, old age, etc., imagining that he himself could not escape from such fate to generate a great deal of caducity in human lives. Finally, he abandoned his royal life and became a monk to practice Buddhism, and at that time he was 29 years old.
    After becoming a monk, Shakyamuni crossed the Ganges to the south and reached the capital of Magadha, Rajgir, he look for believers of Samkhyain, Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta, who implicit perched in the mountains near Rajgir to practice meditation. They tortured the bodies by various ascetic practices for spiritual liberation. However, in Shakyamuni's mind, their doctrine still could not be the real way to get free in life. Then he went to Uruvilva in Bhagava, sitting next to Phalgu River for meditation and practicing austerities, but after 6 years, he failed to get the desired results. So he decided to abandon the fast and ascetic practices, he went to Bodh Gaya and sat under a pippala for deep mediation. Finally, he realized his dream of full and supreme enlightenment in the morning of the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, when he was 35. Shakyamuni formed his own unique concept of observing and analyzing matters after his enlightenment. In order to make his ideological theories understood and accepted by others, he started his missionary activities lasting for 45 years. Shakyamuni preached sermons to five people in Sārnāth outside the Banares and finally these five people were all converted to Buddhism, who was the first disciple of the Buddha. Shakyamuni established the organization of Buddhism (the assembly of monks and nuns or the Sangha) in his missionary process. It's generally acknowledged that when Shakyamuni did missionary work for the first time in Sārnāth, five people became Buddhists, which was the beginning of Buddhism "Sangha". The Sangha was gradually enlarged in missionary process, because he had a large number of disciples.
    The missionary way of Shakyamuni was random and special. On different occasions, he preached different contents to different people by means of verses, essays, stories, metaphor, straight description, questions and answers, etc. to talk to monks about being out of death and life to attain supreme enlightenment and talk to lay people about moral charity. He allowed his disciples to preach by local dialect instead of standardized Sanskrit. This made his thoughts spread widely in the society. At the beginning of doing missionary work, Shakyamuni only accepted male disciples. When he went back to visit his father, Shakyamuni enlightened his maternal aunt Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī and from then on, he started to accept female disciples and Gautamī was the first "Bhikkhuni".
    When Shakyamuni founded the Sangha, in the beginning, the Sangha did not have a strict system. Whoever believed the teachings of Shakyamuni could join this party regardless of the race, name, richness or poverty. People lived equally inside the Sangha. Later, in order to avoid the confounding mixture of the Sangha, avoid the opposition to the laws, regulations and morals of the secular society, and make the Sangha take activities easily, a more specific rule was set to regulate that slaves, debtors, murderers, cracks men(except the ones who regretted), the disabled, patients and the ones who were younger than 20 years old could not join the Sangha. They also gave relevant status to the believers who stayed at home, and all the laymen could be the disciples of the Buddha as long as they complied with "Five Disciplines" such as no killing. At first, the Sangha mainly wandered around and begged for food without a fixed residence. Later, in order to adapt to the demand of settlement and union in the rainy season, the Buddhist temple was settled in the place where the monks stayed. In the progress of group living of monks, daily life details in clothing, diet, tools, manners, residence, medicine, etc. were formulated gradually as the precepts obeyed by all monks. After Shakyamuni died, his body is cremated and a dagoba is built to hold a memorial ceremony for his relics (sarira).
     Stories about Shakyamuni's whole life were not specially written in Agama and Hinayana vinayathe, which were early Buddhist Sutras. The Tripiṭaka mainly recorded words of Shakyamuni. In words documented in sūtrapiṭaka and vinayapiṭaka, every paragraph of scripture and the explanation formulating the first commandment were described in detail. Though these records were not completed, they also included those people's memory of Buddha's thought and act, who directly contacted Buddha. In addition, through his own mouth, Buddha documented his early life experiences in the Sutta Pitaka and the Vinaya Pitaka.
    Tibetan Buddhism

               Songtsen Gimp

    Tibetan Buddhism started in the middle of the 7th century. Songtsen Gampo, who was the king of Tibet at the time, converted to Buddhism under influences of his two wives Princess Wencheng from Tang and Bhrikuti from Nepal. He sent 16 ministers including Thonmi Sambhota, etc. to India to learn Sanskrit and Buddhist scriptures. After they returned from India, Thonmi Sambhota invented the Tibetan script and started to translate some Buddhist scriptures. To the middle of the 8th century, Trisong Detsen, who was the king of Tibet at the time, welcomed Padmasambhava to Tibet from India, and subdued the originally prevailing Bon, and thus Buddhism was promoted.
    After coming into Tibet, Guru Padmasambhava built the Samye Monastery, held vows taken ceremonies for those who pursued to become monks, founded Sangha, and translated numerous Buddhist scriptures in Sanskrit. Thus Buddhism spread flourishingly at the time. But in the middle of 9th century, the Tibetan Buddhism was damaged at one time, which was called the Langdarma's extincting of Buddhists, and there had been a time (From 842 to 978) that the Buddhism was quiet. Later, it was introduced again from the original Xikang region, and the Tibetan Buddhism was able to revive. Atisa of Bangladesh Buddhist entered into Tibet in the 11th century and started to promote Buddhism in 1042, and meanwhile, Bhikkhu RenQin {sang pu}, Bao Xian and others translated a lot of sutras. In the history of Tibet, the period before Langdarma's extincting of Buddhists is called the Snga-dar Era and the revival of Buddhism is called Phyi-dar Era.
    After that, many Indian Buddhist scholars, in particular those from Nalanda Monastery and Vikramashila which were destroyed along with other Buddhist temples in Bihar of India by the invaders in 1203, came to Tibet, the interpretation course was therefore entered into a very thriving period, and the majority of more than 6,000 scriptures of Tibetan Tripitaka were directly translated in Sanskrit. Therefore, there are abundant contents of the late Buddhist theories of India recorded in the Tibetan Tripitaka, especially the Indian classical logic, sadvidya, gso-ba-rig-pa, etc. Such works get a huge amount and are very important. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is well known that Tantrism is the most popular and outstanding. The teaching system of Gelug(Yellow Hat Sect) in each odera in Tibet can be regarded as inheritance of the remained style of study and specifications of Nalanda Monastery in India. 
    The long-term scattering and splitting pattern of Tibet led to frequent fighting among the independent political powers in different regions, which also promoted competition among those regions and development in many aspects. Since the 10th century, there was a larger development in agriculture, and handicraft industry and commerce began to rise, especially in the valleys of rivers. Commercial markets have been formed in Dingri and Nielang in Ali area and Lazi and Guermo in Houzang area; Places such as Guge in Ali and Rodin in the north started to mine gold. The number of temples constructed in this period, only in Dbus tsang alone, was more than 200, most of which were controlled by local feudal lords. Combination of the lord with the temple chief made temples become the base where local secular forces and Buddhist forces meet each other.

    After the middle of 11th century, Tibetan Buddhism has entered into periods of forming various religious sects, religious sects of Nyingma, Kadam, Sakya, Kaggu, Gelug,  etc. appeared one after another, and five religious sects made stronger influences.
    Nyingma Sect (Kagyupa) formed in the 11th century, is the earliest sect appeared in the Tibetan Buddhism. This sect absorbed and reserved a lot of Bon religion colors, paid attention to looking for and exploring the scriptures hidden by Buddhist during the ancient period of Buddhist persecutions by Glandar-ma, believed the Buddhism they were promoting was handed down from Tubo Period in 8th century, and therefore was ancient and old, and it was thus called Nyingma (Nyingma, means ancient and old in Tibetan). Since the monks of this group only wear red hats, this religion is also called The Red Sect. The Red Sect focuses on practices of the tantric sects and its thoughts are influenced by Chinese Language Buddhism, which is similar to "understand the mind and see the disposition" of mainland Zen. Today, the Red Sect is not only spreading in Tibetan areas in China, but also can be found in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Belgium, Greece, France and America.
    Kadam Sect was established in 1056. In Tibet language, "ga" means the Buddha language and "dang" means the professor. "Kadam" means to guide ordinary persons by the Buddha's edification to accept Buddhist truth. This religious group mainly studies exotoric Buddhism and holds the point of firstly study exotoric Buddhism and then esoteric Buddhism, whose religious laws spread widely and influence all groups of Tibetan Buddhism. Since Gelug became popular in the 15th century, former monks and temples belonging to Kadam were all made into Gelug. Since then Kadam disappeared in Tibetan society.
    Sakya (Flower Sect) was founded in 1073, and due to the fact that the location of the principal temple of Sakya was in grey, it was named as Sakya(in Tibetan it means white earth). Due to the three flower strips of red, white and black painted on the walls of Sakya Sect's monasteries, which are the symbols of Manjushri, Kwan-yin and Vajrapani, Sakya Sect is also known as Flower Sect. During Sakya's process of formation of sectarian system, expansion of the religious influence and the spreading feudal forces, the historic "five Sakya patriarchs" appeared. Among them, Sakya, Pandita, Kunga and Gyaltsen, the Fourth Sakya Patriarch, were called to Liangzhou by the Emperor of Yuan Dynasty in 1247 to discuss about the ownership of Tibet. After that, the Sakya Pandita liaised with all the feudal forces in Tibet and paid allegiance to Mongolia. After the death of Sakya, Phatpa, who was known as the fifth issachar progenitor, became the senior official of the central government of the Yuan Dynasty and was in great grace of the emperor of the Yuan Dynasty and he was called as "Teacher of the state", "Teacher of the emperor", "Karmapa", which made the Sakya as the representative of rule in Tibet of Yuan Dynasty. In Ming Dynasty, Kunga Tashi, who was an eminent monk of Sakyapas, went to Nanjing to have an audience with Ming Emperor Yongle and got raised from "King of Mahayana", who was one of the top three kings of the dharma in Ming Dynasty.
    Kaggu (White Sect) was established in the 11th century, attached importance to Tantric learning, and Tantric learning must be conducted in the way of oral communication, so the sect is called Kaggu (means orally teaching in Tibetan). Because the founders of this sect, Marpa and Milarepa, wore white monk dress when they were doing sadhana practices, so Kaggu was also called White Sect. The White Sect was originally divided into Shangpa Kaggu and Dagpo Kaggu. The Shangpa Kaggu has declined during 14th and 15th century. The Kaggu Sect people talked about today generally refers to Dagpo Kaggu. Dagpo Kaggu had strong power, with the largest number of branches, of which some either was the local power having direct control of Tibet, or was the dominating local feudal force in some regions.
    Gelug Sect (Yellow Hat Sect) founded in 1409 was formed during the religious reform promoted by Tsongkhapa, the well-known religious reformer in the history of Tibetan Buddhism in 15th century, and is also the sect formed latest in Tibetan Buddhism. Tsongkhapa was born in the period when the Sakya regime was replacing by the Phag-mo gru-pa bKa'-brgyud regime; at that time, the upper monks directly participated in the struggles of political and economic power, and their life became increasingly decaying, so that they were gradually falling from favor in the society. Aiming at such situation, Tsongkhapa made a call on valuing Buddhist disciplines, gave lectures about Buddhism here and there, and wrote books as well as established theories about Buddhism. He attacked the monks who did not obey the Buddhist disciplines, and actively pushed forward the reform of Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibetan lunar January of 1409, he initiated a Dharma Assembly for Praying in Jokhang Temple, which is the Prayer Meeting Festival passed from generation to generation till now. After the Dharma assembly, Tsongkhapa built the famous Gaden Monastery, and founded Gelug (Gelug, means good at obeying rules in Tibetan), which is known for its strict rules in obeying monastic discipline. Because Tsongkhapa and his followers all wore yellow mitres, the sect was also commonly known as Yellow Sect. After the foundation of Yellow Hat Sect, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Kumbum Monastery, and Labrang Monastery were founded successively, together with Gaden Monastery, they are called the six major Gelug Sect monasteries. Moreover, Yellow Sect also created Dalai and Panchen, the two biggest systems of reincarnation of living Buddha.
     Introduction to the picture of the six great divisions in the wheel of karma

    The picture of the six great divisions in the wheel of karma, which is also called the Karma Figure or the figure of Life-Death-Rebirth, has been used as a teaching tool to illustrate the basic Buddhist cosmology and the doctrines of life-death-rebirth of beings, suffering, and detachment methods from suffering. The whole image is a great round circle bitten and hugged with four limbs by the huge devil Yama King with a hideous face, which symbolizes the six ways that all have to experience for being reborn and because it controls the avijja, there is no escape eternally. In the upper right of the picture, it is the figure of transmigration theory which was taught and guided by Shakyamuni. The upper left of the figure shows, by practicing Buddha Dharma, all living creatures from the six ways will eventually escape Samsara and arrive at the pure Buddha-land. 
    The first circle (the innermost circle) has the pigeon, the snake, and the pig, representing greed, anger and attachment, which are called" Three Banes". It is the root of all kinds of evil karma, namely three unkind roots, which is listed the first in root boredoms, and is the root cause of all beings' pain of reincarnation. 
    The second circle is divided into two semi-circles—one is black and the other is white, which is an illustration on doctrines of life, death and dharma. There are three small figures in the black semi-circle, representing the dharma bodies to be reincarnated in animals, hungry ghosts and hell ways. In this semi-circle, it comes straight to the point that all beings do evil karma because of being driven by three boredoms, greed, anger and attachment, and then are reincarnated in animals, and hungry ghosts and into hell due to evil karmic consequences after their death. The heads of animals, hungry ghosts and all beings in the hell in the picture are all downwards, which illustrates that these three forms of life are painful reincarnation in the way down. The other side is white, in which there are three figures with heads up, representing Bardo body of these three life forms of heaven way, Asura way and human way. In this circle, the dharma says all beings will be incarnated to heaven world, Asura world or human world because of karmic consequences resulting from doing good karma (white). These three life forms are less painful than former three evil ways, and they are namely called [three ways up] or [three good ways].
    The third circle is divided into six parts, which are three upward good ways of heaven way, human way and Asura way and three downward evil ways of hell, hungry ghosts and animals. It becomes six ways of beings or six worlds, namely six karmic consequences led by all karmic forces and emotions in Buddhism. The right above is the heaven way, which is carved with the peak of Mount Sumeru surrounded by the sun and the moon, on which there is Angong Palace. This way is clean and brilliant, and luxurious and splendid, and cannot be in analogy with human world. Human way is on the right of heaven way and it is where people live. Ashura place is on the left of the heaven way with an image of Ashura holding kinds of weapons. 
    The hell way is just under the heaven way, there's a dark Gate of Hell and a horse face prison guard is attempting to throw the guilty person into the oil boiler. This way is the concentration of pain and is the most miserable place. 
    On the right of the hell way is the way of hungry ghosts where every hungry ghost holds one person with his mouth biting on the person's head. 
    On the left of hell way is the animal way. It is carved with a lion, a cow and a horse, which are driven by human beings and are cannibalistic. This way is where all animals gather. 
    Wherein, the hell way is the most miserable and painful one, and the heaven way is the happiest and best one. 
    The fourth Circle (the most outer circle) is divided into 12 pictures representing the 12 karmas of reincarnation and the samsara of time, which shows the process of life-death's samsara for all the living creatures in six ways, i.e. the Twelve Nidanas in Buddhist terms: ignorance is the condition for karmic activity; karmic activity is the condition for consciousness; consciousness is the condition for name and form; name and form is the condition for the six entrances; the six entrances is the condition for contact; contact is the condition for feeling; feeling is the condition for emotional love or craving; emotional love is the condition for grasping; grasping is the condition for becoming; becoming is the condition for birth; birth is the condition for old age and death.

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