Flag of Tibet
(stopped in 1951)
Introduction to
Tibetan Buddhism/Vararayana

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

(UpaSaka Ordinee in the Milwaukee Sangha
of the Drikung Kagyu Order,
-- June 1997 -- )

I have always been drawn to Tibetan Buddhism, or that form of Buddhism (as not all aspect of Buddhism have the same philosophy and beliefs just like in other religions) that was taught in Tibet. It could be that it is familiar to me possibly as I may have had one or more past lifetimes in this area.

Also in our research with the crystal skulls, some links with Tibet have come up and while I was writing my story Crystal Skull Chronicles, I felt it was important to include the Tibetans in the story. A thought came to me one day (May, 1997), why not put out a message in a Tibet Buddhist news group and see if I can begin a dialogue via email with a practicing Buddhist, to make sure that some of my ideas were really how things were. So this is how I met Trinlay Khardo, who responded to my message.

Since early May of 1997, we have been sending emails back and forth and I discovered that the philosophy and spiritual belief of Tibetan Buddhism are not exactly the way I thought it was. So I thought for our New Age section dealing with Indigenous cultures, it might be a good idea to have a page about Tibetan Buddhism from a person who is actively involved.

Therefore I thank Trinlay for taking the time to share this information with our readers ....

Namaste ....

Joshua "Illinois" Shapiro

Tibetan Buddhism/Vararayana

with Trinlay Khardo

This page is just a brief introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, and hopefully if the reader is still interested provide some good leads.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me either directly (phone or normal mail, or by email). My contact information is below:

Trinlay Khardo, P.O. Box 24707 brown deer, wi 53223
email: trinle@earthling.net

ok, I'm just a householder (Upasaka ordinee) with Milwaukee Sangha, (or what's left of it) of the Drikung Kagyu order of Vajrayana (Tibetan Buddhism). I'm a student of Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche (since February 1995), but I'm pretty ordinary, and subject to crisies like anyonelse in samsara...

(by the way, I do Graphic Design and Illustration, as well as handbound journals which I'm happy to make to order -- this page will soon have some of my artwork here too.)

If you have any questions or just want to talk please email me. I will probably reply within a few days, if not within hours.)

Trinlay Khadro

Tibetan Buddhism/Vajrayana

art "taking happiness and suffering along the path"

Tashi Delek!

On this page I'll try to keep it brief, direct and simple. for further information there are links to other sites, many set up by Dharma centers at the request of their Lamas. They can information more clearly than I can in many cases, and a great deal of the basics are too extensive to go over in this kind of forum.

Also please be aware that while book learning/smoozing on line can be a source of information. Teachings are just not the same as in person face to face with the Teacher. You will just NOT find a Lama in a chat room giving teachings or empowements, "transmission" requires the face to face encounter with the teacher. Though it may be surprising how available the Lamas are. My own quite often makes teaching tours to his small centers scattered across the US, we see him maybe 2x a year with luck. If you live in a large metropolitan area, there may very well be a resident Lama in a local Dharma-center that is listed in the phone book. (Yellow pages; Churches Buddhist)

My personal preference it to call "Tibetan Buddhism", Vajrayana (Diamond/ indestructible path) which is the proper name, since this form of Buddhism is also common in Mongolia, Siberia, parts of China, and also in Japan.

There are 4 major orders (Japan varies quite a bit in it's version of Vajrayana so YMMV in that case): Gelugpa, Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma. Which each has several sub-orders, each with it's particular flavor. There is a tendency to define the Gelugpa and Sakya as more conservative, and the Kagyu and Nyingma as more "mystical".

Vajrayana is a branch of Mahayana which means that the motive of one's practice isn't only for one's own liberation, but to gain it for the benefit of all the sentient beings.

"All mother sentient beings, especially those enemies
who hate me,

Obstructors who harm me, and those who
create obstacle on my path to liberation,

May they experience happiness, be separated from suffering,
and I will establish them in the state of
the most perfect and precious Buddhahood."

Altruistic Motivation from one of the Refuge prayers

All mother sentient beings refers to the idea that at some time, every being has at one time been our loving and nurturing mother.

The Bodhisattvas, whom we attempt to emulate, love each and every sentient being, as a mother loves their only child.

Some Basic Protocols

Buddhist Ethics (very simplified overview ...)

Mandala of Bhutadamara
(Pronounced: 'byung-po 'dul-byed-kyi dkyil-'khor)

-- Central Tibet, 14th century --
The four-armed Bhutadamara,
"Turmoil of the Spirits",
(example of Tibetan Buddhist Manadla)

Please be mindful that these are hardly commandments but rather heading to futher discussion of ethics, though even as guidlines a good way to stay out of trouble.


1) refrain from killing
(Do not give rise to the view of extinction.)

2) refrain from stealing
(do not take what is not offered freely.)

3) refrain from lying
(do not exaggerate your level of ordination or knowlege.)

4) refrain from sexual misconduct

5) refrain from the use of intoxicants
(do not use any substance in a way that clouds judgement.)

Having Wisdom, Morality, and Samadhi


right understanding
right thought


right speech
right action
right livelihood


right effort
right mindfullness
right concentration


Karma literally translates as Action. As in the things that you DO rather than things that happen TO you.

Karma has causes, karma itself, and karma results.

Actions taken with the inspiration of Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity, are likely to be virtuous.

Actions taken with the inspiration of Desire (greed, Anger, or Ignorance are likely to be non-virtuous.)

Buddhist practice is about practicing virtue, and living from a compassionate heart.

Finding your Lama

Don't be in a hurry, taking Refuge is a REAL commitment. Dilletantism is very much frowned upon, and is considered an unhealthy practice. It IS reccomended that the student examine the teacher for several years before taking Refuge. This isn't always possible, but it is very important to be cautious. There are many very good, traditional lineage Lamas available throughout the world. It is possible to encounter an excellent Teacher who is the perfect teacher for many students, but not the perfect teacher for the particular student. Be patient, don't rush, and don't go in with expectations.

There is no need to go to a person channeling a "Tibetan master" when the real thing may be only a phone call away. Don't go in expecting to be immediately recognized by the Lama, unless you have been a regular and long time student it's not going to happen. Don't expect to be picked out of the crowd for "special" teachings, or picked out of the crowd as some special incarnated being.

However, DO some serious homework before starting the search or meeting the Lama.. there ARE some seriously frightening fakes out there.

Some good intro books are "Entering the Stream" from Shambhala Publishing, and "The Compassionate Buddha" by Conze, a bit of a backround, as long as it's based in a solid source will help one to spot nonsense when it's being sold as Buddhadharma. Also traditionally (and IMHO) it is vital to START with the basic material and not jump ahead to the more interesting/ exciting esoterica... the esoterica is meaningless without the basics in place.

(CAVEAT: "Surfing the Himalayas" and anything by T.Lobsang Rampa should be regarded as "fantasy fiction" and not a Dharma resource... Rampa is the only person I know of to be publically flamed in print by real Lamas ... please see the article "Fictitious Tibet: The Origin and Persistence of Rampaism" by Agehananada Bharati, appearing in the Tibet Society Bulletin, Vol. 7, 1974)

When choosing books on Tibetan Buddhism if it's in the catalogues of either Snowlion or Wisdom Publications it's a good source! Read with a critical eye and cross reference. (In my personal experience, with books as well as my real life Lama, cross referencing helps me to clarify my own understanding, as well as sort out anything I may have misunderstood.)

Quotes from the Tibetans
About Life

The Dalai Lama

Some quotes from the Dalai Lama shared on June 1st, 1997 while visiting children in Denver, Colorado. These quotes come from an article written in the Denver Post, on this date, written by Bruce Finley which were forwarded via World Tibet News as an email to Trinlay (see our Tibetan Buddhist/Tibet links page for contact information, if you would like to read other news related to Tibet).


Even when dealing with perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing, or Chinese agents of "cultural genocide" in his homeland, the only effective response: "is through compassion, without losing compassion," the Dalai Lama said during the PeaceJam Youth Conference at Regis University in Denver.

"If we let out anger, hatred of people, what use? The result is more frustration in our own minds, perhaps more nights of sleeplessness."

It was the start of a long weekend in which the Dalai Lama, the political and religious leader of Tibetans and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is teaching compassion to as many Americans as possible.

On Westerners converting to Buddhism:

"It is better to follow your own tradition, including your (Judeo-Christian) religious tradition," he said. "Changing tradition is not easy, and sometimes makes an unhappy situation."

On economics:

"One thing that needs serious thought is our obsession, in the economic field, with growth. . . . I very much favor socialism rather than capitalism. . . . In certain situations, I call myself a Marxist."

On the future:

"We can't control time. . . . My generation, we are beginning to say 'goodbye, this world.' Now you are the people, the future is your hands. . . . It is possible to work hard for common good. Think. Think more. If the whole society faces some problem, then one individual can't escape from that. . . . Government can't do much. . . . I was much inspired while you were planting the flowers."

Throughout the day, the Dalai Lama (now 61 years old), chosen at age 2 as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, emphasized the importance of hope. Even when it comes to his greatest fear, Chinese annihilation of Tibetan culture, he insisted:

"there is hope." A seemingly irreversible erosion of Tibetan daily life, from food to respect for the land, "does not mean no hope," he said.

Confronting China aggressively is not the right approach, said the Dalai Lama, who did not oppose Clinton's recent decision to grant China "most-favored-nation" status on trade. Rather, the monk called for an engaged, friendly relationship that might encourage greater respect for Tibetans.

.... the Dalai Lama said:

"everything comes down to human nature, which is basically positive, not aggressive and destructive."

"Whether you believe basic human nature is positive or negative, that is up to you," he said. "I don't want to argue."

Yet he couldn't resist a little experiment. He asked all the teenagers who believe human nature is basically positive to raise their hands. He grinned widely at the response.

"And those who feel human nature is negative?" No hands went up.

"I believe that the Tibetan Buddhist culture has the potential to create a happier humanity," he said.

Words from Pandita Sakya Shri

written by Karmala Raja Dipa

if I suffer, I am happy for I take upon
myself the suffering of all beings:

May both my aims and those of others
be spontaneously accomplished!

Final Comments, Other Resources

On this page we have tried to give an overview of Tibetan Buddhism. For more information, please click on the link below for a list of other web sites that share more information.

Tibetan Buddhist & Tibetan Sites
(Click here to view our Tibetan Online Resource Page!!)

If you wish to speak to Trinlay via email for comments on this page or have questions, please feel free to email him at:

( or write to his address listed above )

Namaste -- In Peace & Compassion

Trinlay & Joshua

Indigenous Cultures
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Attn: Joshua "Illinois" Shapiro
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Last Modified by Illinois: 1/16/98