Vajrayana in BuddhismWHEN TROOPS FROM THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC

of China entered Tibet in 1956, they caused a massive exodus of Tibetan Buddhist religious prac­titioners, who traveled across the Himalayas to India and little by little further west. Refugees of the Tibetan dias­pora, Tibetan lamas (gurus) and scholars of Buddhist philosophy reached the United States in less than ten years and, with their emphasis on meditation in action and the transmutation of daily life into

enlightenment, rapidly spread the teachings of Buddhist Tantra through­out North America. The spiritual and philosophical ex­perimentation fashionable in the early ’70s gave particular impetus to this movement and a generation of American Tantric Buddhists was created—thousands of Westerners living or studying closely with their Tibetan masters, who lived much of the year in North America in order to be close to their new disciples.

 

Since the first edition of Buddhist America in 1988, much has changed in this community of allied Western students and Eastern teachers. Some of the Westerners, having studied Tibetan Tantra for twenty-five years, have begun to teach. The death of their gurus has been a con­sistent theme as well, for many of the founding fathers of American-Tibetan Buddhism have died in the last ten years and have been replaced by their chosen regents and by a new wave of Tibetan teachers brought to us courtesy of the continuing Tibetan diaspora.

In the last ten years our knowledge of this complex and multifaceted religion has improved as well. The prac­tice of American Tantric Buddhists has in general ma­tured, becoming less naive and more nuanced. It has become clear that Tibetan Buddhism is vastly more com­plex than its Western devotees had originally suspected; this is not a path whose practices can be learned in a mere ten years. In fact, only a fraction of the main teachings of Tibetan Buddhism have so far been communicated in English. The long and arduous process of transferring the lore and wisdom of Tibetan religion from a conquered land to a busy, burgeoning commercial and industrial society will easily take several more generations before it is completed.

Tibetan teachers have established hundreds of medita­tion centers in Canada and the United States. Most of them are small urban groups meeting weeknights for a few hours and meditating intensively on weekends. A few large-scale meditation centers and monasteries have been built in rural spots. These are the loci of more intensive practice programs and places of individual retreat. These groups and centers are serviced by a handful of lamas who travel on circuits around the country.

about Buddhism:
Valentine’s Day. A giant snowstorm dumped two feet on our little temple. I had been living next door in a small retreat cabin and when I got up t
  PROSTRATION PRACTICE IS AN IMPORTANT FEA- ture of ngondro (foundation) practice in the Vajra­yana system. The ngondro in its simplest for
  Dathun is Tibetan for “month-long prac - tice.” More specifically, it’s a twenty-eight day re­treat designed by the late Chog
Tantric teachings are being taught on this continent in a tremendous variety of ways. Some Tibetan Buddhist churches have organized them into extensive curricula based on a particu
There has been a change in the study habits of American Tantric Buddhists over the last ten years. When Tibetan Buddhism was first taught in the West, there were very few translati
Group meditation practice has never, to my knowledge, been done by Tibetans. In Tibet, such “formless” prac­tices as breath meditation or the silent contemplation of arising t

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