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Tibetan Religion

China is home to a multiplicity of religious beliefs, with the world's three major religions - Buddhism, Catholicism and Islamism - all having large congregations, organizations and activity venues in the country. Buddhism in China mainly includes Han Chinese language Buddhism, which spread into China in 2 B.C.; Tibetan language Buddhism, which spread into Tibet in the 7th century; and Pali language Buddhism, which spread into China in the 13th century. Tibetan Buddhism refers to Tibetan language Buddhism, and is also known as Lamaism.

Tibetan Buddhism has exerted extensive and profound influence on the Tibetan race. Buddhism spread into Tibet in the 7th century, and gradually infiltrate Tibet's history, politics, economics, culture, exchanges and habits and customs to become the most extensively worshipped religion of Tibetans. Prolonged ethnic cultural exchanges also enabled Tibetan Buddhism to make its way into the Mongolian, Tu , Yugu, Luoba, Moinba, Naxi, Purmi and other ethnic minority nationalitites throughout China. Buddhism has long been widely worshipped in China's Tibet Autonomous Region, as well as Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, and the Xinjiang Uygur and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions. It has also made its way into Sikkim, Bhuttan, Nepal, the Mongolian People's Republic and Buryat in the Republic of Russia.

More than 1,400 Tibetan monasteries and other religious venues were renovated and opened following the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951. Chinese government and policies for religious freedom enable 34,000 monks in various monasteries to freely study Buddhist sutras and hold various types of Buddhist activities in their respective monasteries. In addition, the broad masses of religious have set up shrines, Buddha halls and sutra recitation rooms in their homes, and undertake pilgrimages to sacred sites.

Formation of Tibetan Buddhism

Books on the history of Tibetan Buddhism record the following legend of how Buddhism spread to Tibet: On one particular day in the 5th century, Lhathothori Nyantzan, forefather of the Tubo Kingdom, was resting on the summit of Yungbolhakang. He suddenly found several Buddhist treasures falling from the sky. While the Tubo King had no idea what they were for, a mysterious voice from the sky informed him that the 6th Tsampo (king) of the Tubo Kingdom would know the use of the objects.

According to historical documents, these treasures were brought to Tibet by Indians Buddhists. Upon seeing that Tibetans had no idea of their significance, the Indian monks had no choice but to secret them in a safe place and return to india. The fact remains that Buddhism did spread into Tibet during the reign of Tubo King Songtsan Gambo in the 7th century.

Songtsan Gambo did his best to establish friendly ties with neighboring countries in order to strengthen economic and cultural exchanges and learn from the advanced cultures of various races. In the process he married with Princess Khridzun of Nepal and Princess Wencheng of China's Tang Dynasty (618-907). Each princess journeyed to Tibet with a statue of Buddha, and once there set about building the Jokhang and Ramoge monasteries in Lhasa. Artisans accompanying the princess were involved in the construction of monasteries, and Buddhist monks in their tourages began translating Buddhist scriptures. Buddhism thus spread to Tibet from Nepal and Han areas.

Tibet reeled under power struggle for more than half a century following the death of Songtsan Gambo. Buddhism failed to flourish until Tride Zhotsan, great grandson of Songtsan Gambo, finally took power. In 710, Tride Zhotsan asked for the hand of and eventually married Princess Jincheng of the Tang Dynasty. The new bride moved the statue of Buddha, which Princess Wencheng brought to Tibet, to the Jokhang Monastery. Meanwhile, she arranged monks accompanying her to the Tubo Kingdom to take in charge of the monastery and related religious activities. She engaged in a painstaking effort and finally succeeding in persuading the Tubo court to accept monks fleeing from Western Regions and build seven monasteries to house them. While the measures further boosted the development of Buddhism in Tibet, they nonetheless sparked discontent amongst ministers worshipping the Bon religion. The ministers left no stone unturned to obstruct the development of Buddhism, with to situation lasting until Trisong Detsan, the son of Tride Zhotsan, came to power.

Trison Detsan relied on Buddhism to fight ministers who rallied behind the Bon religion. As part of the effort, he invited Zhibatsho and Padmasambhava, famous Indian monks, to build the Samye Monastery in 799. Seven noble children were later tonsured to the monastery, which became the first monastery in Tibetan Buddhist history to tonsure monks. The event thus pioneered the tonsure system of Tibetan Buddhism.

In addition to inviting Indian monks to Tibet, Trisong Destan sent trusted emissaries to China's hinterland to invite monks to lecture in Tibet. Mahayana became one of the many Han monks who contributed to ensuring that Han Buddhism flourished in Tibet. Mahayana remained in Tibet for 11 years lecturing on Buddhism and completing nine books on Buddhist tenets.

Tubo kings in ensuing dynasties did their utmost to promote Buddhism by building monasteries and commissioning the translation of Buddhist sutras. At the same time, they granted monks royal incomes and even encouraged them to become involved in government affairs in order to undermine ministers who supported the Bon religion. The policy spawned the deep hatred of said ministers, who eventually arranged for the assassination of Tritso Detsan in 842. The ministers threw their support behind Darma, the brother of Tritso Detsan, to become the new Tubo king. This was in turn followed by the large-scale suppression of Buddhism in the region.

Shortly after assuming power, Darma set out to suppress Buddhism, but was soon assassinated by Tibetan Buddhists, and war erupted between the different power factions. Slaves, who were thrown into the abyss of misery, rose to revolt. Tibet was torn apart by various forces. The "diffusion of Buddhism'' was thus halted.

The early 10th century witnessed the entry of a feudal society in tibet, with each of the Tubo ministers occupying a part of the kingdom and becoming feudal powers in their respective localities. They proceeded to promote Buddhism in order to strengthen their own rule. Buddhism was thus revived in Tibet. In terms of form and content, however, Buddhism rising in Tibet during tit particular period was worlds apart from Tubo Buddhism. The 300-odd years of struggle between Buddhism and the Bon religion resulted in each absorbing the strong points of the other. Buddhism became increasingly Tibetanized as the region entered the feudal stage. Tibetan Buddhism emerged and entered a stage of rapid development.

Six Syllable Mantra - Om Mani Pad me Hum

The Reincarnation of the Living Buddhas
The mantra OM MANI PADME HUM (or HUNG) sometimes gives rise to fanciful or mysterious translations. However, it is simply one name of Chenrezig placed between two sacred and traditional syllables, OM and HUM.

OM represents the body of all Buddhas; it also begins nearly all mantras;
MANI means "jewel" in Sanskrit;
PAD ME the Sanskrit pronunciation, or PEME in Tibetan means "lotus";
HUM represents the mind of all Buddhas and often ends mantras.

MANI refers to the jewel that Chenrezig holds in his two central hands and PADME to the lotus he holds in his second left hand. Saying OM MANI PADME HUM names Chenrezig through his attributes: "the one who holds the jewel and the lotus." "Chenrezig" or "Jewel Lotus" are two names for the same deity.
Each syllable allows us to close the door of painful rebirths in one of the six realms composing cyclic existence:

OM closes the door of rebirths in the world of the gods (devas)
MA the door of the world of demigods (asuras)
NI the door of the human realm
PAD the door of the animal world
ME the door of the world of hungry ghosts (pretas)
HUM the door of the hell worlds.


Each syllable has a purifying effect:

OM purifies the veils of body
MA purifies the veils of speech
NI purifies the veils of mind
PAD purifies the veils of conflicting emotions
ME purifies the veils of latent conditioning
HUM purifies the veil that covers knowledge.

Each syllable is a prayer in itself:

OM is the prayer addressed to the body of the Buddhas
MA the prayer addressed to the speech of the Buddhas
NI the prayer addressed to the mind of the Buddhas
PAD the prayer addressed to the qualities of the Buddhas
ME the prayer addressed to the activity of the Buddhas
HUM gathers the grace of the body, speech, mind, qualities, and activity of the Buddhas.

The six syllables correspond to the six paramitas, or transcendental perfections:

OM corresponds to generosity
MA to ethics
NI to patience
PAD to diligence
ME to concentration
HUM to wisdom.

The six syllables correspond to the six buddhas reigning over the six buddha families:

OM to Ratnasambhava
MA to Amoghasiddhi
NI to Vajradhara
PAD to Vairocana
ME to Amitabha
HUM to Akshobya.

The colors that correspond to each syllable are:

OM = white
MA = green
NI = yellow
PAD = blue
ME = red
HUM = black.

Lastly, one links each syllable to the six wisdoms:

OM = wisdom of equanimity
MA = wisdom of activity
NI = the wisdom born of itself
PAD = the wisdom of dharmadhatu
ME = discriminating wisdom
HUM = mirror-like wisdom.

Benefits of reciting the Six Syllable Mantra

Extracted from The Daily Enlightenment

By reciting the mantra, the gates leading to rebirth in the six realms of samsara is closed. This powerful mantra's sound and vibration invoke the blessings of all Buddhas to liberate the sufferings of all sentient beings. It removes negative karmas and defilements like greed, anger and ignorance that causes rebirth in the six realms of samsara namely the hell realms, hungry ghosts realms, animal realms, human realms, demi-god realms and god realms. This mantra is so precious and holy that it embodies the Buddha's holy speech. By listening to it with faith and understanding, one is sure to obtain good rebirths after death. If any animal or insect should hear this mantra before dying, it would be reborn to Amitabha's Pure land. While reciting the mantra with mindfulness and a proper understanding , one is ensured of its effectiveness to increase positive merits and the spiritual power of compassion. By dedicating the merits of recitation to all beings and especially our loved ones in times of pain and sickness, all sufferings will dissolve.

 

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FLY IN FLY OUT TIBET TOUR
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3 Night Tour to Lhasa
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TIBET TOUR PACKAGE
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Tibet Overland Tour
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A Glimpse Of Celestial Lhasa
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TIBET POPULA PROGRAMS
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4 days wonders in Lhasa
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6 Nights Lhasa & Shannan tour
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6 Nights Tibet 'Switzerland Views' Tours
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9nights/10days trip to Mt. Everest
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