What is the difference between Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism?

I’ve been reading a book on the fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism, and I’ve become a little confused while reading it because it’s a bit differnt from what I’ve previously learned about Buddhism. I don’t know what other schools of Buddhism I’ve learned about…I just remember doing random research. anyhow, what’s the difference between Zen and Tibetan Buddhism? is it a huge difference?

4 thoughts on “What is the difference between Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism?

  1. It started in Indian / Tibet and went to China and ended up in Japan. Zen is a specialized Japanese form of Zen using Koans [paradoxical riddles to enable enlightenment] which the other branches of Buddhism don’t use. So I would say, it comes down to the rituals and methods used to reach enlightenment that distinguishes them apart. IMHO.

  2. They’re both offshoots of the Mahayana (Greater Vehicle) school of thought.

    These schools are characterized by accepting a large body of text after the reign of Asoka in India as authentic. It’s kind of a “canon” issue, but that word has strong cultural implications in the west that don’t fit the Buddhist world in general.

    But in a strange way, they also seem to be almost diametrically opposed.

    Tibetan Buddhism seems to be the very incarnation of Buddhism as a religion, while Zen/Ch’en Buddhism tends to be the epytome of Buddhism as a philosophy. Ch’en is the Chinese name by the way. The movement started in China. Zen is the Japanese word.

    Ch’en is also thought to have been strongly influenced by, and to also have strongly influenced Taoism. Ch’en/Zen tends to focus on quiet forms of meditation, where one seeks to silence one’s mind. It tends to discourage complicated theology and yes, Zen is the movement where they have koans. In some Zen ceremonies, students and master sit in a circle and ask nonsensical questions and give nonsensical answers to each other. There’s a certain kind of question and answer format, but I understand it can get very free-flowing and strange.

    Tibetan Buddhism is mixed in with monarchic traditions and the Dalai Lama title is a title tought to be passed on through different incarnations of the same being. They have a pantheon with many deities. They have prayers, chants. They also meditate, but they tend to favor imagery-based meditation, or feeling-based, as opposed to the Ch’en Buddhists, who generally meditate on emptiness, etc…. (Meditation in the orient is a whole subject on its own – keep in mind all of this is very diverse).

    To give you an idea, maybe:
    Here’s a Tibetan ritual.

    They can draw complicated mandallas in the sand. It takes hours, sometimes a whole 2 days of work. And they are beautiful works of art. But then, they erase them, because it was never important. It would be easy to dismiss the Tibetan view as a bit outside of mainstream Buddhism because of the complex theology, but rituals like these show a deeper aspect of the thought process behind it. It is very ceremonial, but then they act as thought it doesn’t truly matter.

  3. http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/guidejapanbuddhismbm6.pdf

    above are nice books.

    but don’t compare different sects of Buddhism. Just read what they have to give and widen your knowledge. become a member of a Buddhist group on http://www.groups.yahoo.com (e.g.http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JourneyToNibbana/)

    yes, there are differences in different sects of Buddhism. read a history of Buddhism http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q=+history+buddhism+&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

    edit: you will need a dictionary or more http://what-buddha-said.net/library/Buddhist.Dictionary/dic3_p.htm search online for buddhist dictionary

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