Tibetan Buddhist Society

José Ignacio Cabezón

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137989
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Tibetan Buddhist Society


Prior to the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet, it was already well established in neighboring regions such as India, the land of its origin, and China, where it was introduced during the Han dynasty. Up to the seventh century CE, the religion of Tibet consisted of astrological, divinatory, propitiatory, healing, exorcistic, funerary, and other rites. This amalgam of practices, especially under the pressure exercised by the introduction of Buddhism, came to be systematized into the religion known as Bon. Although there has always existed a tension in Tibet between the imported religion of Buddhism and the indigenous religion of Bon, it is also the case that each has influenced the other. In particular a good deal of the this-worldly, magical character of Tibetan Buddhism is a result of Bon influence. Tantra, the esoteric tradition of Buddhism, also had a strong magical element, and to that extent was compatible with Bon. This article discusses the transmission of Buddhism to Tibet, Mongolia, and the West, as well as the factors in the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism.

Keywords: Buddhism; Tibet; Bon; Mongolia; Western world; tantra

Article.  7682 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Interfaith Relations ; Buddhism

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »