Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Buddhism’s Vajrayāna: Meditation

  • John ThompsonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9251

The most recent branch of Buddhism is Vajrayāna, sometimes called the “third turning of the Wheel of Dharma,” with Theravāda and Mahāyāna being the first and second turnings, respectively. Sometime around the third century CE, Vajrayāna teachings arose in India and spread, coming to dominate in the Himalayan region (Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, etc.). Because it is mainly confined to the Indo-Tibetan region, this discussion uses Sanskrit and Tibetan terms and emphasizes meditations and symbolism found in the Tantras, secret ritual texts, all of which make Vajrayāna an incredibly powerful religion, from a psychological perspective.


Vajrayāna meditation is typically integrated with rites and ceremonies and is based firmly on the Mahāyāna idea of all beings already having “Buddha-nature.” One meditation similar to zazen is “Great Perfection” (Dzogchen), a practice associated with the ancient Nyingma School, in which the practitioner directly realizes the pure nature of the mind....

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Christopher Newport UniversityNewport NewsUSA