Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism. This has been translated from a Chinese word signifying Chan. The word is said to be derived from Sanskrit word dhyana which mean meditation. Zen signifies an experimental procedure in the form of a meditation undergone by Buddhists to attain enlighten for self realization. It is a Southern Indian Pallava prince turned monk Bodhidharma came to China and taught this. The Zen Buddhism is established in China, the Shaolin Temple. This has emerged as a distinguished school of Buddhism. In the 7th century AD this was documented for the first time in China.
Tibetan Buddhism on the other hand is an association of various Buddhist religious beliefs and thoughts projecting the characteristics of Tibet and various religions of the Himalayas. They are found in India, Bhutan and northern parts of Nepal. Tibetan Buddhism is also practiced in parts of Mongolia.northeast China and Russia.The doctrine of Tibetan Buddhism includes the teachings of the three vehicles of Buddhism. These three vehicles are Foundational Vehicle, Mahayana and Vajrayana. On the event of the uprising of the Tibetan culture during 1959, the whole world has become familiarised with it. It has spread to the western countries.
But I am Tibetan Buddhist.
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Mostly a difference between the rituals, chants, dress, statuary and of course history, but they do in fact have a great deal in common. I can and have switched comfortably from one to the other and both seem familiar.
Probably one big difference that comes to my mind is the role of teacher. In Tibetan Buddhism, it’s more like guru worship in that the teacher is revered and catered to. In Zen, the teacher is more a spiritual friend. You wouldn’t call your Tibetan teacher “Ralph” but you could call your Zen teacher that.
Also, Zen allows much more doubt and questionning. Tibetan does allow it, but once you hit about 20 questions they suggest you knock it off. In Zen you can fight all you want as long as you are respectful.
Doubt is a key element in Zen, but the training can be rigorous at times. Zen tends to throw you right into the fire of meditation, while in Tibetan seems to me you talk more and study more.
I love Zen. Less furniture in the room and nobody wears those funny hats—-but either one is a good choice for you.
If you’re a head person go with Zen. If you are an emotional person, go with Tibetan.
Who would want to be Buddhist? Remember that all of Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, China is Buddhist. During the wars Korea, vietnam, thailand divided into North and South and proceeded to slaughter each other in horrible ways.
They preach peace but they are very cruel and war like. So do muslims, and you will have a hard time convincing men who are in the middle east years later they are peaceful.
You need to read history. No Vietnam vet thinks Buddhist’s are peaceful.
They poured kerosene on themselves and burned themselves up in the streets in protest.
Other little things like that.
Buddhism has two great traditions: Theravada (southern) and Mahayana (northern). Each of these traditions has many schools within them and each carries forward a rich collection of teachings and techniques.
Zen Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism are both schools in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. They both emphasize the “great bodhisattva way” – to help all beings attain enlightenment.
Both schools also emphasize the importance of practice as the path to enlightenment, although the practices differ considerably.
The Tibetan school (which has several sub-schools) also puts emphasis on scholarly study. The Zen school (which also has several sub-schools) puts much less emphasis on intellectual knowledge.
Finally, both traditions can be quite formal in their approach to training and practice, although the forms differ quite a bit. Some people respond more to one style than the other.
The primary differences have to do with how the mind is trained.
In the Tibetan tradition, many of the mind-training techniques involve imagery or working with emotional content. Tibetan Buddhists also cultivate a devotional relationship with their teacher, or guru, and thus receive the support of that teacher.
Generally, Tibetan Buddhist practices can only be learned through direct instruction from a teacher.
In the Zen tradition, the emphasis is on sitting meditation during which the practitioner counts the breath, repeats a mantra, or just sits and watches the mind. Zen encourages self-sufficiency in the practitioner (discouraging any dependence on a teacher).
Zen meditation is easy to learn. This short video does a good job of introducing the basics of practice:
Both traditions offer rich and mature teachings, and each can help you awaken to your inherent wisdom and compassion.
The best way to learn more would be to visit centers in each tradition, if possible, and see if you feel a pull in one way or another. There’s no better way to learn to meditate than with the direct instruction of a senior practitioner.
Here are two good lists of Buddhist centers around the world:
Best wishes on your path!
Zen is the way of no way: it trusts in neither emptiness nor non emptiness- to them, Buddha is nothing but this very mind and enlightenment is the moon. Zen meditation is called Zazen and in Zazen there is no object of meditation, not even the breath.
Tibetan is deistic, and has a traditional culture of worship to many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help them generate their pure nature within themselves. Tibetan meditation often involves prayer and reciting mantras like “Om Mani Padme Hum”.
“Many roads lead to the path, but basically there are only two: reason and practice.”