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Lions Roar : May 2019
For more answers to frequently asked questions, information on Buddhist concepts, and practice guidance, visit “Explore Buddhism: Your Essential Guide” at lionsroar.com/explore. BEGINNER’S MIND When I’m in airports I sometimes see Buddhist monks or nuns, but they’re all wearing different color robes. How can I tell what Buddhist tradition and country they’re from? There’s a wide variety in Buddhist monastic dress, from traditional orange robes to contemporary-looking black ensembles. Generally, the color and con- struction reflect the nun or monk’s Buddhist school and the Asian culture in which it developed. However, even within traditions there will be differences in dress, depending on the monastic’s status, role, or practice. So the most we can tell you is who a monk or nun is likely to be if they’re wearing a particular color. Here are four different colors of monastic dress you may very well run across. If you see someone wearing the traditional orange robes most com- monly associated with Buddhism, they’re likely from the Theravada school predominant in South and Southeast Asia. (Note, though, that Hindu priests can wear very similar robes.) A monk or nun wearing maroon is probably from the Tibetan tradition, and if they’re wearing a brocade shirt or vest, they’re an important teacher. If you spot a Buddhist monastic wearing black DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIER WITH SO MANY lineages, practices, and unique terms, the world of Tibetan Buddhism can be confus- ing. Here is a short primer on the four main schools and some of their key practices. Gelugpa: Established in the fifteenth century, the Gelug- pas are the newest and largest school. The Dalai Lama is always a Gelugpa (although not technically its head). Key practices include the Madhyamika (Middle Way) logics and the Lam Rim (Stages of the Path) system. Nyingma: The Nyingmas (Ancient Ones) are the original Buddhists of Tibet. Their founder was the legendary Vajrayana master Padmasambhava, who is said to have first brought Buddhism to Tibet. The nine- step (yana) Nyingma path culminates in the renowned practice of Dzogchen. Kagyu: The Kagyu (Ear-Whispered Lineage) special- izes in Vajrayana practices passed orally from teacher to student. The lineage traces its origins to the Indian scholar–yogi Naropa, his Tibetan student Marpa, and the celebrated poet–yogi Milarepa. Key practices include Mahamudra and the Six Yogas of Naropa. Sakya: The Sakya is the smallest of the four major schools. The lineage was founded in the eleventh cen- tury by Drogmi, a scholar and translator who studied with Indian masters, including Naropa. A key practice is Lamdre (“Path and Its Fruit”). RAYFENWICK LION’S ROAR | MAY 2019 32