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Lama (Tibetan : བླ་མ་, Wylie : bla-ma; "chief" ) is a title for a teacher of the Dharma in Tibetan Buddhism. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru , meaning "heavy one", endowed with qualities the student will eventually embody. The Tibetan word "Lama" means "highest principle", and less literally "highest mother" or "highest parent" to show close relationship between teacher and student.
Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual mastersor heads of monasteries. Today the title can be used as an honorific title conferred on a monk, nun or (in the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya schools) advanced tantric practitioner to designate a level of spiritual attainment and authority to teach, or may be part of a title such as Dalai Lama or Panchen Lama applied to a lineage of reincarnate lamas (Tulkus).
Perhaps due to misunderstandings by early western scholars attempting to understand Tibetan Buddhism, the term lama has historically been erroneously applied to Tibetan monks in general. Similarly, Tibetan Buddhism was referred to as "Lamaism"by early western scholars and travelers who perhaps did not understand that what they were witnessing was a form of Buddhism; they may also have been unaware of the distinction between Tibetan Buddhism and Bön. The term Lamaism is now considered by some to be derogatory.
In the Vajrayana path of Tibetan Buddhism, the lama is often the tantric spiritual guide, the guru to the aspiring Buddhist yogi or yogini . As such, the lama will then appear as one of the Three Roots (a variant of the Three Jewels), alongside the yidam and protector (who may be a dakini , dharmapala or other Buddhist deity figure). The mind of the lama is considered Buddha – one's highest potential, the lama’s speech is dharma, and the lama’s body is one's guide and companion on the way to enlightenment, meaning the lama is the perfect embodiment of the sangha. Another expression of Lama can be expressed through the 3 Kayas.
Tibetan Buddhism is the form of Buddhism practiced in Tibet, where it is the dominant religion. It also has adherents in the regions surrounding the Himalayas, in much of Central Asia, in the Southern Siberian regions such as Tuva, and in Mongolia.
A tulku is a reincarnate custodian of a specific lineage of teachings in Tibetan Buddhism who is given empowerments and trained from a young age by students of his or her predecessor.
The Shamarpa, also known as Shamar Rinpoche, or more formally Künzig Shamar Rinpoche, is a lineage holder of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and is regarded to be the mind manifestation of Amitābha. He is traditionally associated with Yangpachen Monastery near Lhasa.
Ole Nydahl, also known as Lama Ole, is a lama providing Mahamudra teachings in the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Since the early 1970s, Nydahl has toured the world giving lectures and meditation courses. With his wife, Hannah Nydahl (1946-2007), he founded Diamond Way Buddhism, a worldwide Karma Kagyu Buddhist organization with over 600 centers for lay practitioners.
There are currently two separately enthroned 17th Gyalwang Karmapas: Ogyen Trinley Dorje and Trinley Thaye Dorje. The Karmapa is the spiritual leader of the 900-year-old Karma Kagyu lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Rimé movement is a movement involving the Sakya, Kagyu and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism, along with some Bon scholars.
Thrangu Rinpoche was born in 1933 in Kham, Tibet. He is deemed to be a prominent tulku in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, the ninth reincarnation in his particular line. His full name and title is the Very Venerable Ninth Khenchen Thrangu Tulku, Karma Lodrö Lungrik Maway Senge. "Khenchen" denotes great scholarly accomplishment, and the term "Rinpoche" is an honorific title commonly afforded to Tibetan lamas.
Ogyen Trinley Dorje, also written as Urgyen Trinley Dorje. Ogyen Trinley Dorje has been recognized and enthroned as the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa.
Trinley Thaye Dorje is a claimant to the title of 17th Karmapa.
Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé, also known as Jamgön Kongtrül the Great, was a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, poet, artist, physician, tertön and polymath. He was one of the most prominent Tibetan Buddhists of the 19th century and he is credited as one of the founders of the Rimé movement (non-sectarian), compiling what is known as the "Five Great Treasuries". He achieved great renown as a scholar and writer, especially among the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages and composed over 90 volumes of Buddhist writing, including his magnum opus, The Treasury of Knowledge.
Karma Kagyu, or Kamtsang Kagyu, is a widely practiced and probably the second-largest lineage within the Kagyu school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The lineage has long-standing monasteries in Tibet, China, Russia, Mongolia, India, Nepal and Bhutan, with current centres in over 60 countries. The spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu is the Gyalwa Karmapa; the 2nd through 10th Karmapas were principal spiritual advisors to successive emperors of China. The Karma Kagyu are sometimes called the "Black Hat" lamas, in reference to the Black Crown worn by the Karmapa.
Khakhyap Dorjé, 15th Karmapa Lama was born in Sheikor village in Tsang, Tibet. It's said at birth he spoke the Chenrezig mantra, and at five he was able to read scriptures. He was recognized as the Karmapa reincarnation and enthroned at 6 by the ninth Kyabgon Drukchen.
The Tibetan term Ngöndro refers to the preliminary, preparatory or foundational practices or disciplines common to all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and also to Bon. They precede the Generation stage and Completion stage.
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche is the title of a tulku lineage of Tibetan Buddhist lamas. They originate with Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, one of the most illustrious lamas of recent history, known for his central role in the rimé or non-sectarian movement in 19th Century Tibet. Jigme Namgyel is the present Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. He is the second or third incarnation, depending on whether Lodro Thaye is counted.
Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö was a Tibetan lama, a master of many lineages, and a teacher of many of the major figures in 20th-century Tibetan Buddhism. Though he died in 1959 in Sikkim, and is not so well known in the West; he was a major proponent of the Rimé movement within Tibetan Buddhism, and had a profound influence on many of the Tibetan lamas teaching today.
Diamond Way Buddhism is a lay organization within the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The first Diamond Way Buddhist center was founded in 1972 by Hannah Nydahl and Ole Nydahl in Copenhagen under the guidance of Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa. Today there are approximately 650 centers worldwide, directed by Ole Nydahl under the guidance of Trinley Thaye Dorje, one of two claimants to the title of the 17th Karmapa. Buddhist teachers such as Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lama Jigme Rinpoche visit Diamond Way Buddhist centers and large meditation courses.
Mipham Chokyi Lodro, also known as Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, was the 14th Shamarpa of the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Shamarpa is the second most important teacher of the Karma Kagyu school after the Karmapa. The Karmapas are sometimes referred to as the Black Hat Lamas, referring to their Black Crown.
TibetanTantric Practice, also known as "the practice of secret mantra", and "tantric techniques", refers to the main tantric practices in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The great Rime scholar Jamgön Kongtrül refers to this as "the Process of Meditation in the Indestructible Way of Secret Mantra" and also as "the way of mantra," "way of method" and "the secret way" in his Treasury of Knowledge. These Vajrayāna Buddhist practices are mainly drawn from the Buddhist tantras and are generally not found in "common" Mahayana. These practices are seen by Tibetan Buddhists as the fastest and most powerful path to Buddhahood.
Shedra is a Tibetan word meaning "place of teaching" but specifically refers to the educational program in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries. It is usually attended by monks and nuns between their early teen years and early twenties. Not all young monastics enter a shedra; some study ritual practices instead. Shedra is variously described as a university, monastic college, or philosophy school. The age range of students typically corresponds to both secondary school and college. After completing a shedra, some monks continue with further scholastic training toward a Khenpo or Geshe degree, and other monks pursue training in ritual practices.
Classes of Tantra in Tibetan Buddhism refers to the categorization of Buddhist tantric scriptures in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism inherited numerous tantras and forms of tantric practice from medieval Indian Buddhist Tantra. There were various ways of categorizing these tantras in India. In Tibet, the Sarma schools categorize tantric scriptures into four classes, while the Nyingma (Ancients) school use six classes of tantra.