Tibetan Buddhism Schools

Yogācāra (literally "yoga practice"; "one whose practice is yoga") is an influential tradition of Buddhist philosophy and psychology. The 4th-century Gandhāran brothers, Asaṅga and Vasubandhu, are considered the classic philosophers and systematisers of this school, along with Maitreya. Yogācāra philosophy is meant to aid in the practice of yoga and meditation and it sets forth a systematic analysis of the Mahāyāna path of mental training.

Mādhyamika ("Middle Way") also known as Śūnyavāda (the Emptiness doctrine) refers to a tradition of Buddhist philosophy and practice founded by the Indian philosopher Nāgārjuna (c. 150 – c. 250 CE). The foundational text of the Mādhyamika tradition is Nāgārjuna's Mūla-Mādhyamika-kārikā (Root Verses on the Middle Way). Mādhyamika thought is the dominant Buddhist philosophy in Tibetan Buddhism. For Mādhyamika thinkers, all phenomena (dharmas) are Empty


Mādhyamika philosophy obtained a central position in all the main Tibetan Buddhist schools, all whom consider themselves to be Mādhyamikas. Mādhyamika thought has been categorized in various ways in India and Tibet. In Tibetan Buddhist scholarship, a distinction began to be made between: Autonomist (Svātantrika) and Consequentialist (Prāsaṅgika), approaches to Mādhyamika reasoning. The distinction was invented by Tibetans, and not made by classical Indian Mādhyamikas.

The followers of idealism are naturally known as Vijñāna-vādins. They are called Yogācāras. The word Yogācāra (literally, a practiser of yoga) originally meant an ascetic, but gradually was employed for an idealist or the School. The idealistic thought in Buddhism is already found in Mahāyāna- sūtras, but first systematized by Maitreyanātha, the master of Asanga.

Mādhyamika doctrine involving the Śūnya -vāda as in the Mahāyāna-sūtras is systematized by Nāgārjuna (A.D. 200?).Now the Mādhyamikas are those who followed the middle path of the Buddha. But what is this middle path?“Those ignorant people who see existence and non-existence do not see the cessation of the visible which is blissful.”

 Tibetan Mūlasarvāstivāda Monks

The Mūlasarvāstivāda was one of the early Buddhist schools of India. The origins of the Mūlasarvāstivāda and their relationship to the Sarvāstivāda sect still remain largely unknown, although various theories exist. The Mūlasarvāstivāda monastic order still remains in Tibetan Buddhism. Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya is one of 3 surviving Vinaya lineages Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya is extant in Tibetan and Chinese translation. Mongolian ordination follows this rule as well.

Dölpopa’s Great Stūpa at Jomonang, Tibet

The Jonang is one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Jonang is particularly important in that it has preserved this complete Kālacakra system, which is now also practiced in other schools. The 11th century Kālacakra yogi Yumo Mikyö Dorje (b. 1027) is regarded as one of the earliest Tibetan teachers of a Shentong View - an understanding of the absolute radiant nature of reality.

Padmasambhava -- Guru Rinpoche -- Statue

The Nyingma School is the oldest of the 5 major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Vajrayāna revealer Guru Padmasambhava in 8th century. "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Ngangyur, "school of the ancient translations" or "old school". The Vajrayāna or Tantra of the Nyingma School traces its origins to Guru Padmasambhava and also to Garab Dorje and to Yeshe Tsogyal

Sakya Monastery in Ponpori Hills

Sakya ("pale earth") school is one of 5 major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The name Sakya ("pale earth") derives from the unique grey landscape of the Ponpori Hills in southern Tibet near Shigatse, where Sakya Monastery, the 1st monastery of this tradition, and the seat of the Sakya School was built by Khön Könchok Gyalpo (1034–1102) in 1073. Sakya was founded by scholar Drogmi.

Marpa Lotsawa | Kagyu

The Kagyu school, which translates to "Oral Lineage" or "Whispered Transmission" school, is one of the main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Kagyu lineages trace themselves back to the 11th century Indian Mahāsiddhas Nāropa, Maitrīpa and the yogini Niguma, via their student Marpa Lotsawa (1012–1097), who brought their teachings to Tibet. Tibetan Kagyu tradition gave rise to a large number of independent traditions.