In the latest issue of Snow Lion, Ngawang Zangpo, translator of Jamgon Kongtrul’s The Treasury of Knowledge: Books 2-4: Buddhism’s Journey to Tibet, writes about the Four Orders of Tibetan Buddhism. Everyone knows about the Gelugs, Kagyus, Nyingmas, and Sakyas, but in what ways do they differ and diverge in doctrine? He writes:

The four orders of Tibetan Buddhism are, simply put, institutions—containers that house diverse scriptural transmissions and lineages of meditation techniques. The institutions were likely founded with the intent to preserve and promote specific scriptures and meditations, yet those institutions’ missions invariably evolved over the centuries. For example, while Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, and Milarepa—non-monks all—might view with astonishment the many Kagyu monastic networks erected in their name, Gampopa, Dusum Kyenpa, Pamo Drupa, and the others who founded those networks might be equally amazed at their modern content. What a strictly Kagyu practitioner learns today as the lineage’s core curriculum of theory and practice would hardly have been considered kosher in the founding fathers’ day.

Read the whole piece here.

[Image: The Nagas giving the Wisdom Sutras to Nagarjuna, by Robert Beer]

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