Buddhism’s Vajrayāna: Rituals
Followers of Vajrayāna often call it the “third turning of the Wheel of Dharma,” the idea being that Vajrayāna is the culmination of the previous two “turnings” (Theravāda and Mahāyāna, respectively). Historically, there is some truth to this view, as Vajrayāna emerged much later than those earlier sects. Sometime around the third century CE, Vajrayāna teachings arose in India and spread throughout the Buddhist world, eventually disappearing in Theravāda lands and having only a brief heyday in China. However, Vajrayāna came to dominate the Himalayan region (Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, etc.) and found a ready welcome in Japan, where it is called Shingon (lit. “true word”) and remains a major school of Buddhism.
Vajrayāna evinces no doctrinal break from Mahāyāna (it freely draws upon Mādhyamika, Yogācāra, and Tathāgatagarbhateachings) but reflects the infusion of practices from various Indian movements as well as the indigenous Himalayan religion of Bon. Because Vajrayāna flourishes...
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